Ever since the 3.5mm headphone jack became a rare commodity, the race to build the best possible Bluetooth headset has been on.
Everyone from Razer, Samsung to Apple have thrown their hat into the ring, offering a wide range of options, all with advantages and disadvantages. Now Creative Labs, the company behind some of the best sound cards of the ’90s is stepping in, with their new Outlier Air. This small sport wireless headset promises sweat-resistance, in-ear controls, and hours worth of battery while on the go, all for 79.99. While not the best avalable, for the price, the Outlier Airis hard to resist.
Built for consumers looking to be free of wires, the Outlier Air offers an easy design and concept. They manage a fantastic battery, in headphones and with the case, meaning you will have little to worry about while on the go or working out. The IPX5 certification means sweat , minor water spillage, or even the sporadic downpour should be no issue, at least were the headphones are concerned.
The Outlier Air and the included battery case have a solid feel throughout. While they may not be on the top echelon of Bluetooth headphones in terms of price, they have a built quality that says otherwise. They are light enough to carry with you throughout most daily routines and are easy to charge when needed.
Popping the headphones and pairing as easier then I expected. Once you pair the left headset on most smartphones, it will simply prompt you to pair its brother, and you are ready to go. The headphones offer a 5.6mm graphene driver that is clear enough to hear when outside or in a loud room. They also allow for easy mono sound for out-door safety, by simply dropping one of the headphones in the case. Although it should be noted, that while the Outlier Air maybe IPX5 certified, the case is not, so ensure you let them dry off if wet, or covered with any sort of water.
One nit-pick we did find while reviewing the Outlier Air was the resistance at play with the on headphone buttons. It is great to have the option to call an assistant, answer a call, or skip tracks if you are forced to crush a headphone into your ear to do so, it is less than ideal.
Sound quality-wise, while not ideal, the Outlier Air does manage to have a rather impressive soundscape. The bass frequencies can be overpowering at times, overwhelming many of the other sounds while listening to music, or spoken-word audio. But even with this, there is a great separation of audio, making instrumental and classical sound marvellous, that is no surprise considering this is the same company that brought us Super X-Fi amplifier. From classical, rock, or even electronic, the Outlier Air offers sufficient audio quality to keep most people happy, even if it can sound a bit muddy at some frequencies.
While in a quiet environment the Outlier Air sounds clear and responsive, the same can’t be said when you move or to more crowded, noisy spaces. Walking on a busy sidewalk, or in a gym, you will find sound can sound muffled, and even overpowered at times. This could be in part due to the ear tips included with the unit. They do not offer the level of isolation I have seen with some competing brands, but that being said, they do the job well enough, especially for the price.
While testing, I managed to achieve over 8 hours of playback with the Outlier Air. Now, this is not the best I have seen with headphones of this ilk, but it is some of the best within pricepoint. The 60mAh battery found in the Creative Outlier Air should give most people all the battery they need for most days. The 360mAh charging case should also give enough power for two additional charges, giving well over a days of use without the need to rush for your charger. Although, should you run out, the charging case and headphones only take 2 hours to top up with the included USB-C adapter.
For anyone looking for the Outlier Air as a companion for your smartphone, and want to actually be able to make calls, it is good to see they sound great for calls in most real-world situations. Due to the fact they relay calls through both right and left channels, and each earphone offers an integrated microphone, calls sound clear, crisp and responsive. Even when tested in noisy environments, I never had an issue with people understanding me or had any audio issues that made things difficult to understand.
While the Outlier Air may not be the best headphones on the market, they offer an amazing value for money proposition. The Outlier Air are comfortable, affordable and is packed with features that should satisfy even the most discerning buyers. While they don’t have the polish or isolation seen in other brands, for $79.99 the Outlier Air is a must-buy for anyone looking to go wireless.