Over the past few years, we’ve seen affordable wireless earbuds really come into their own. In many cases, ‘budget’ wireless earbuds don't fit that label, often offering high-quality features that used to be found exclusively on more expensive buds.
This is the case with the Creative Outlier Pro wireless earbuds, which pack a healthy amount of solid features at a price that straddles the line between budget and mid-range.
The Creative Outlier Pro wireless earbuds cost $119 / £84.99 (around AU$159), and for that relatively low price, you’re getting many of the features you’d associate with the best wireless earbuds you can buy. The earbuds feature excellent active noise cancellation, for example, making immersive listening easy, no matter your environment.
Additionally, the buds’ IPX5 resistance rating grants solid protection against water splashes, sweat and general wear and tear. This means they’re impressively versatile and could make a great pair of workout buds.
With that in mind, it helps that the Creative Outlier Pro wireless earbuds are remarkably comfy. They don’t irritate the ears during longer listening sessions, and thanks to their firm, secure grip, we rarely found ourselves adjusting 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 after a chunkier sound, they do stray a bit too far in that extreme. The buds’ mids and trebles 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 offender here, even if you have the app’s equalizer set to emphasize voices.
If you've signed up for that delicious bass, though, you can enjoy it for a long time as the earbuds’ battery life is tough to beat at their price range. With ANC turned off, you’ll get around 15 hours on a single charge. The included charging case will also provide an additional 45 hours, and fast-charging means you won’t ever be without music for long.
Having ANC turned on isn’t that much of a downgrade, either. If you prefer to use active noise cancelling to block out the sound around you, you’ll still get roughly 10 hours from a single charge and a total of 40 hours provided by the charging case.
The charging case itself is a bit of a mixed bag. The rounded design and metallic finish are pleasing, and the buds themselves have little issue resting in the charging slots thanks to a magnetic connection. Unfortunately, the plastic compartment where the buds are stored is a little flimsy and feels a little loose when pushed outwards. There’s little risk of it breaking, but it does slightly betray the premium feel the charging case is going for.
Rounding out our Creative Outlier Pro experience was the Creative mobile app, which really is excellent. The app is remarkably easy to use, yet robust in its options for paired devices. With the app, we could toggle ANC and adjust the equalizer on the fly. Customizable touch controls are also well fleshed out, offering functionalities like volume adjustment, switching between ANC and Ambient noise control modes, and enabling voice assistant functionality, among other options.
Price and release date
The Creative Outlier Pro wireless earbuds are available now worldwide and can be bought from Creative’s online store for $119 / £84.99 (around AU$159). That’s slightly more than comparable budget earbuds like the Honor Earbuds 2 Lite, but that’s made up for by the greater battery life, more responsive touch controls and fantastic bass output, among other features.
The Creative Outlier Pro wireless earbuds certainly aren’t wanting for style. Perhaps the most eye-catching thing about them, at first glance, is the metallic umber finish that while flashy, does help them stand apart from similarly priced buds.
The stemless design of the earbuds themselves may not be quite as unique (bearing a resemblance to the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro), but they do give off a rather pleasing sheen, and their build quality is exceptional for the price.
As mentioned earlier, the charging case isn’t quite so perfect. While the metallic finish is pleasing, it suffers from a fairly flimsy build quality. The case is a little on the larger side, too, lacking the portability factor of the AirPods Pro, for example.
It’s fair to say that Creative is targeting a particular type of audiophile with the Outlier Pro wireless earbuds. No matter your equalizer settings, the buds put bass above all else. And while they succeed in this regard, they certainly won’t be for everyone.
The buds excel with bass, then, but if you prefer a more well-rounded, cleaner sound, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere. Whether intentional or not, the bass-heavy soundstage means that these earbuds work better for some genres of music than others.
If you love tunes that pack adrenaline, like tracks in the metalcore, EDM or pop genres, then the Outlier Pro earbuds are supremely enjoyable. More laid-back or melodic tracks, though, do suffer due to the overall unclean sound, and you may find that vocals are a bit lost in the mix.
To give some examples, hardcore tracks like Hereafter by Architects hit especially hard as the buds really focus on the thumping bass and metal-lined riffs of the song. They’re a perfect match for electronic music, too: 90s electro classics like We Have Explosive by The Future Sound of London are a joy to listen to with the Creative Outlier Pro buds, thanks again to them making the most out of chunkier instrumentation.
You may grow to love the Creative Outlier Pro wireless earbuds if these music genres are among your go-tos, then. And it more than helps that their active noise cancellation settings are among the best we’ve tried from a more affordable pair. With these earbuds, you’re getting ANC that’s more than just a fancy 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 out most surrounding noises very effectively. The alternative Ambient mode is also great, doing its job by letting in enough sound to make you more aware of your surroundings. Ambient is fantastic if you’re city-bound, for example, and need 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 switched off, you’ll get around 15 hours from a single charge, with the charging case providing up to an additional 45 hours for 60 hours worth of total playtime before the case itself needs topping up. Enabling ANC drops this to 10 hours for a single charge, and 40 provided by the charging case, but that’s still quite impressive for a relatively affordable pair of earbuds.
In our testing, we found that the earbuds charge fairly quickly when placed in the charging case, too. After around 10-15 minutes of charging, we were able to get just under 2 hours of listening time with ANC switched off. Creative’s website makes the bold statement that the average user will only need to charge the case twice a month. We’re inclined to agree, but expect this statistic to waver if you’re going to make daily use of the buds with features like ANC switched on.
The last thing to touch on is connectivity, then. We tested pairing the buds to various devices such as a smartphone and a games console. Pairing via Bluetooth 5.2 was quick and effortless in every scenario. After this initial pairing, the buds will automatically connect to your paired device when moved from the charging case to your ears.
However, we were slightly disappointed in the relatively long time it takes for the buds to connect. It’s only a few seconds longer than other buds on average, but it’ll be quite noticeable if you’ve used faster-pairing Bluetooth earbuds in the past.
Once they were connected, though, there were no issues with regard to continued connectivity. Not once did the earbuds drop their connection or randomly pause as a result of background noise coming in. As such, you can rest assured that the Creative Outlier Pro wireless earbuds will allow you to listen to your favorite music and podcasts uninterrupted.
Should I buy the Creative Outlier Pro wireless earbuds?
Buy them if...
You’re a bass lover
If you listen to a lot of bass-heavy music, then the Creative Outlier Pro wireless earbuds are a great pick, even if that strong bass comes at the expense of losing a well-rounded sound.
You’re on a budget
The Creative Outlier Pro earbuds are superbly affordable, especially for the overall feature set.
You want strong ANC
The Creative Outlier Pro’s active noise cancelling features are excellent. If you really want to blot out the world around you, then these buds will do the trick.
Don't buy them if...
You want a cleaner sound
If heavier music genres aren’t your thing, you’d be best avoiding these buds. Vocals and more mellow tracks don’t fare as well due to the heightened focus on bass.
You want something even cheaper
While affordable when compared to the best wireless earbuds you can buy, the Creative Outlier Pro earbuds are still at the higher end of what we’d consider to be a budget price.
You like a compact charging case
Arguably the buds’ biggest design flaw is its sizable charging case, which doesn’t fit into a pocket quite as well as some other models.