If you live in the United States or Western Europe you probably don’t think about Creative Labs when you think about companies from whom you want to buy a pair of headphones or earbuds. My recent purchase of the Outlier Sports bluetooth earbuds made me realize how underappreciated this company is in the minds of today’s general consumers.
While on the lookout for a new pair of Bluetooth exercise earbuds I came across offerings from the more trendier brands such as Jaybirds and Bose first, then I stumbled upon an offering my Creative Labs called the Outlier Sports. The more I researched and compared these earbuds the more appealing they became. I decided to take the plunge and order a pair. After using the Creative Outlier Sports bluetooth earbuds for over 6 months, I can happily report that these are by far one of the best Bluetooth exercise earbuds available in the market right now. Here is my review of the Creative Outlier Sports bluetooth earbuds.
Inside the box for the Outlier Sports bluetooth earbuds
It’s good to see that Creative did not skimp on the accessories required to get you hit the ground running (literally). In the box Creative provides:
- The Outlier Sports bluetooth earbuds,
- A short micro USB flat charging cable
- A cable clip (probably the weakest item in the package, more on this later)
- Two extra sizes of ear tip
- Two extra pairs of wing tips
- One hard-shell carrying case
- Warranty information and instruction booklet.
Build and Design
The Outlier Sports bluetooth earbuds are not going to win any design awards. The product design is very commonplace with current age Bluetooth earphones much like the Jaybird BlueBuds with a ‘joined-up in-ears’ design. With that being said, during my usage I found the Creative Outlier Sports to be far more comfortable than the BlueBud X and X2s primarily due to the earbuds portion of these being noticeably smaller, but depending on the size and shape of your ear this might not be an advantage. The earbuds have a curved silicone wing that serves to stabilize the earbud in the ear and to keep it in snug. I personally ended up completely removing the rubber wing portion to allow the earbuds to go in deeper. Removing the wings completely did not have any impact on the stability of the earbuds for me.
The two earbuds are connected by textured rubberized dual-layered cable where the outer portion is transparent with a colored internal layer. The cable length is approximately 50cm. The inline remote which also contains the battery and Bluetooth radio is located closer to the right earbud.
The inline remote has three buttons in total which are raised and easy to tell apart by touch. The center has a circular button for turning the headphones off and on (holding for 3 seconds each time) and a long press of more than 6 seconds puts the earbuds in pairing mode. There are also + and – buttons, for skipping tracks and adjusting the volume. Finally, there’s a small door which conceals the Micro USB port, I like that there is no proprietary charger unlike the Jaybird X3s). Finally, regarding the cables, I think the bright over the top colors may not be for everyone. Luckily Creative offers a more conservative Dark Blue version with subtle orange highlights.
I am a huge fan of the voice prompts in the Outlier Sports bluetooth earbuds. The voice prompts are a combination of beeps and speech which makes the earbuds a breeze to use without having to look at the tiny led light to figure out what is going on. For example, when the earbuds are turned on and off it puts out distinct beeps and for instances when the Bluetooth connection is established or lost there is a voice prompt that says “Connected” or “Disconnected”. There is also one which says “Now in pairing mode” when the earbuds are looking for new Bluetooth connections. In case you are wondering, the voice prompts are in a female voice.
One significant upside of the Outlier Sports bluetooth earbuds is their IPX4 for water and dust resistance. This essentially means that they can survive all manner of dust, but only splashes of water such as rain or sweat. I have personally used them without any issues under light rain but it will probably not survive a dunk in the pool or prolonged usage in the shower.
Overall, I think the design and build quality of the Outlier Sports bluetooth earbuds is good enough to rival other competitors in more than twice the price range. The earbuds are light at just 15g (0.5oz) and smaller than some other brands which help to prevent ear fatigue even during several hours of prolonged usage.
Comparison with Jaybird X3 and X2
I found the pairing process to be comparable to most Bluetooth earbuds. Holding the center power button for 6 seconds puts the earbuds into the pairing mode and establishing a new connection takes less than 10 seconds in total. In my testing at the gym where I usually keep my phone in the bag and walk around to different workout machines, I have found the Bluetooth connection to be stable over 80-100 feet.
Creative claims an 11 hours battery life on a single charge and in my testing I found that it is darn close. I used the Outlier Sports during my daily commute to work which takes about 1 hours 45 minutes per day. At about 60-70% volume the battery lasted for 6 days before requiring another charge. That adds up to a battery life of 10 hours and 30 minutes! If you like to crank up the music louder you will probably get somewhere between 8 to 10 hours of battery life out of these earbuds.
On the flip side, these earbuds take around 3.5 hours to charge up fully. There is no quick charge feature here which is a big bummer.
Sound and microphone quality
Personally, I think where the Creative Outlier Sports bluetooth earbuds really outshines competition like the Jaybird X3s and X2s is in the sound quality department especially if you are a LOVE thumping bass. The 6mm Neodymium drivers ensure that the lows on the Outlier Sports are really strong, which makes them great for listening to music that gets your blood pumping. However, that also means that if you like a more balanced sound profile and to listen to some Jazz over R&B and Hip-Hop, these should not be your first choice. Due to the super strong lows, the mids and highs suffer a bit but thankfully the aptX technology in these earbuds ensure a stable clear sound which makes the overall listening experience very enjoyable.
Talking about the in-line Microphone, I think this is probably the weakest link in these earbuds. While testing it to make some calls I got the feedback that my voice sounded muted and distant to the listener on the other side of the call. If I held the microphone steady right below my right ear the quality improved a bit but this is unrealistic if you want to ride a bicycle or do other exercises which keeps your hands engaged. For an occasional short call, the microphone may be sufficient, but the quality is nowhere near desirable.
Custom fitted Outlier Sports – Jerry Rigged for Extra comfort
The quality on most of the accessories included in the package is great, however, the cable clip provided which helps to clamp it onto the back of the T-shirt. I found that clipping it onto the back of the T-shirt restricts my range of motion of my neck and turning my head left or right during working out tugs onto the cable causing the earbuds to move out slightly from my ears. Here I found that Jaybird’s two-piece cable clip solution is a much more elegant and functional solution. After noticing that the cable width of Jaybird’s BlueBuds and the Outlier Sports to be the same I decided to combine the best of both worlds. I ordered some extra clips from JayBrids and put them on the Creative Outliers to create my very own custom fitted pair of earbuds! Thanks to the angular design of the Outlier Sports I can wear them around the top of the ear much like the BlueBuds without any issues. This is by far the best way to wear these earbuds.
For $70 the Creative Outlier Sports bluetooth earbuds is hard to beat. The stylish and durable build quality, long battery life, IPX4 rating along with great sound quality make it a pretty compelling package. Although it’s not perfect and there are areas where Creative can improve upon such as the microphone and the cable clip, but those are hardly a deal breaker given that the earbuds get many critical features on-point. I highly encourage you to check it out at a shop if possible before you take the plunge and buy a pair from a competitor.