Two minute review
In recent years, we’ve seen affordable wireless earbuds really come into their own. In many cases, “budget” wireless earbuds don’t fit that label and often offer high-end features previously only found on more expensive earbuds.
This is the case with the Creative Outlier Pro wireless earbuds, which pack a healthy amount of solid features at a price that stretches between budget and mid-range.
The Creative Outlier Pro wireless earbuds cost $119 / £84.99 (about AU$159), and for that relatively low price you get many of the features you’d associate with the best wireless earbuds money can buy. For example, the earbuds have excellent active noise cancellation, making immersive listening easy no matter your environment.
Plus, the earbuds’ IPX5 resistance rating provides solid protection against splashes, sweat, and general wear and tear. This means they are impressively versatile and can make a great pair of training tops.
With that in mind, it helps that the Creative Outlier Pro wireless earbuds are remarkably comfortable. They don’t irritate the ears during extended listening sessions, and thanks to their firm, secure grip, we rarely had to adjust them, nor did they ever slip out of our ears.
Bass is king when it comes to the Creative Outlier Pro wireless earbuds. While this is great if you’re looking for a firmer sound, they stray a little too far in that extreme case. The mids and highs of the tops are lacking in comparison. As a result, it’s all too easy to notice that the overall sound quality is rather muddy, with muffled vocals being the biggest culprit, even if you’ve set the app’s equalizer to emphasize voices.
However, if you’ve signed up for that luscious bass, you’ll be able to enjoy it for a long time, as the earbuds’ battery life is hard to beat in their price range. With ANC turned off, you’ll get about 15 hours on a single charge. The included charging case also provides an extra 45 hours, and fast charging means you’ll never be without music for long.
With ANC enabled, that’s not really a downgrade either. If you’d rather use active noise canceling to block out the noise around you, you’ll still get about 10 hours on a single charge and a total of 40 hours with the charging case.
The charging case itself is a bit of a mixed bag. The rounded design and metal finish are pleasing, and the earbuds themselves have little trouble resting in the charging slots thanks to a magnetic connection. Unfortunately, the plastic compartment where the buds are kept is a bit flimsy and feels a little loose when pushed out. There’s little risk of it breaking, but it somewhat betrays the premium feel the charging case is going for.
Rounding out our Creative Outlier Pro experience was the Creative mobile app, which is really excellent. The app is remarkably easy to use, yet robust in its paired device options. The app allowed us to toggle ANC and adjust the equalizer on the fly. Customizable touch controls are also well fleshed out, offering features such as volume adjustment, switching between ANC and ambient sound control modes, and enabling voice assistant functionality, among other options.
Price and release date
The Creative Outlier Pro wireless earbuds are now available worldwide and can be purchased from Creative’s online store for $119 / £84.99 (about AU$159). That’s slightly more than comparable budget earbuds like the Honor Earbuds 2 Lite, but it’s made up for by longer battery life, more responsive touch controls and fantastic bass response.
The Creative Outlier Pro wireless earbuds are certainly not lacking in style. Perhaps the most eye-catching thing about them, at first glance, is the metallic umber finish which, while flashy, sets them apart from comparably priced buds.
The voiceless design of the earbuds themselves may not be all that unique (resembling the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro), but they give off a rather pleasing sheen and their build quality is exceptional for the price.
As mentioned before, the charging case is not that perfect. While the metal finish is pleasant, it suffers from a rather meager build quality. The housing is also a bit on the larger side and lacks the portability factor of, for example, the AirPods Pro.
It’s fair to say that Creative is targeting a certain type of audiophile with the Outlier Pro wireless earbuds. Regardless of your equalizer settings, the tops put bass above all else. And while they succeed in this, they certainly won’t suit everyone.
The knobs then excel with bass, but if you prefer a more rounded, purer sound, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere. Whether intentional or not, the bass-heavy soundstage means these earbuds work better for some genres of music than others.
If you like tunes that get adrenaline pumping, such as songs in the metalcore, EDM or pop genres, the Outlier Pro earbuds are extremely enjoyable. More laid-back or melodic tracks suffer from the overall unclean sound, though, and you’ll find the vocals get a bit lost in the mix.
To give some examples, hardcore tracks like Architects’ Hereafter hit hard, mainly because the tops really focus on the thumping bass and metal-lined riffs of the song. They’re also a perfect match for electronic music: 90s electro classics like We Have Explosive from The Future Sound of London are a joy to listen to with the Creative Outlier Pro knobs, again thanks to those that make the most of grosser instrumentation .
You might love the Creative Outlier Pro wireless earbuds if these music genres are among your favorites. And it more than helps that their active noise canceling settings are among the best we’ve tried out of a cheaper pair. With these earplugs you get ANC that is more than just a nice selling point.
We tested the earbuds’ ANC effectiveness in a wide variety of locations, from indoor office environments to busy streets. In all cases, the ANC was able to block most of the ambient noise very effectively. The alternate Ambient mode is also great and does the job of letting in enough sound to make you more aware of your surroundings. Ambient is nice if, for example, you are in the city and have to be alert to crowds and oncoming traffic.
Battery life and connectivity
The Creative Outlier Pro’s battery life is excellent for the price. With ANC turned off, you get about 15 hours on a single charge, and the charging case provides up to an additional 45 hours for a total of 60 hours of playtime before the case itself needs to be refilled. Enabling ANC drops to 10 hours on a single charge and 40 hours on the charging case, but that’s still pretty impressive for a relatively affordable earbud.
During our testing, we found that the earbuds also charge quite quickly when placed in the charging case. After about a 10-15 minute charge, we were able to get just under 2 hours of listening time with ANC turned off. Creative’s website makes the bold statement that the average user only needs to charge the case twice a month. We tend to agree, but expect this stat to waver if you start using the buttons on a daily basis with features like ANC enabled.
The last thing to consider is connectivity. We tested to pair the earbuds with different devices, such as a smartphone and a game console. Pairing via Bluetooth 5.2 was quick and effortless in every scenario. After this initial pairing, the earbuds will automatically connect to your paired device when moved from the charging case to your ears.
We were, however, a bit disappointed about the relatively long time it takes to connect the buttons. It’s only a few seconds longer on average than other earbuds, but it’ll be quite noticeable if you’ve used faster Bluetooth earbuds in the past.
However, once they were connected there were no issues with the continued connectivity. Not once did the earbuds disconnect or randomly pause due to incoming background noise. As such, you can rest assured that the Creative Outlier Pro wireless earbuds will give you uninterrupted listening to your favorite music and podcasts.
Should I buy the Creative Outlier Pro wireless earbuds?
Buy them if…
You are a bass lover
If you listen to a lot of bass-heavy music, the Creative Outlier Pro wireless earbuds are a good choice, even if that strong bass comes at the cost of losing a well-rounded sound.
You have a limited budget
The Creative Outlier Pro earbuds are extremely affordable, especially for the overall feature set.
You want a strong ANC
The Creative Outlier Pro’s active noise canceling features are excellent. If you really want to clear the world around you, these buttons will do the trick.
Don’t buy them if…
You want a purer sound
If heavier music genres aren’t your thing, it’s best to avoid these buds. Vocals and softer songs do less well due to the increased focus on bass.
Do you want something cheaper
While affordable compared to the best wireless earbuds money can buy, the Creative Outlier Pro earbuds are still at the higher end of what we’d consider a budget price.
You like a compact charging case
Perhaps the biggest design flaw of the earbuds is the bulky charging case, which doesn’t fit in a pocket as well as some other models.