Creative Outlier Air Review: High-Class Bass on a Budget
A contender for the best mid-segment TWS
The Rs. 5,000 – 7,000 mark is a tricky one for anyone wanting to invest in a set of truly wireless earphones (TWS). It is the point where factors like audio quality and design assume greater importance, with the sheer convenience of the absence of wires taking the second spot. Suddenly, just not having wires is not enough. You need great sound too, and well, a little bit of flauntability would not hurt. And that is where the Creative Outlier Air comes into play. In a big way.
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Delivering Bass…with a pulse rather than a thump
At their price of Rs 6,999 (often available at Rs 5,999), the Outlier Air are in our opinion, the best TWS anyone who loves quality bass can get. The biggest reason for anyone wanting to get these TWS will be the quality of audio they deliver. It is reasonably loud in terms of volume and accents the bass very gently without overwhelming the other frequencies. You do not get the rumbling, thumping bass that you get from some other brands, but a more gentle throb that delivers the general stress of the earphones without trying to drown out other details. The stress on bass means that the sound does not have the sort of balance or flatness that audiophiles would like, but if you are the kind that likes a pleasant, slightly beat-heavy sound, the Outlier Air are perfect. In terms of bass, they are not as heavy as the Jabra 75T but are significantly heavier than the near-neutral Tevi.
In simple terms, if you love trance, rap, hip hop, and good old peppy pop, you will love these earphones. Even those who watch shows with a lot of dark “atmospheric” sound or with big explosions will love the signature. There is no latency on videos but some lag does creep in when it comes to gaming (we tried Call of Duty). In simple terms, these deliver some of the best sound we have seen on a TWS in this price segment, albeit with a definite leaning towards bass. This is mainstream sound delivered with superb clarity, with the 5.6 mm graphene drivers or aptX support playing their part, we are sure. You want great sound from a TWS at around Rs 6,000 and are not an audiophile? Get these!
A case and design that’s…not quite as mainstream as others
If the sound of the Creative Outlier Air is very brilliantly mainstream, its design certainly is not. The buds are in-ear ones and come with tips. They are a little on the larger size, but they fit into your ears comfortably (there are different sized tips in the box). They are plastic and very solidly built and the same goes for the case in which they fit, and which also charges them. The Outlier Air comes with a cylindrical charging case in which the buds are attached magnetically to the charging points. It is a metallic case that some might find a little big but is very solidly built and you access the buys by sliding them out rather than lifting a lid, which is kind of different.
The case charges off a USB type C port and has four indicator lights to let you know battery levels. The buds themselves have IPX5 dust and water resistance which make them good for gym use. Mind you, they tend to glow in your ear which you might like. Or not. Which takes us to the little matter of the UI.
A UI what you and I can get used to…or what the heck, just use the phone
Creative deserves credit for trying to put most of the controls from volumes to switching tracks on the buds. However, getting used to them takes time. The pairing process itself is a little eccentric. You slide open the case, at which the buds start glowing blue. You long-press the left bud and it starts glowing red and blue, indicating it is in pairing mode. You then select it on your device and then also select the right bud on the device (both will show up). And you are good to go. We connected it to a number of devices, and the process while elaborate, did work smoothly enough. No, it cannot connect to multiple devices, but the connection itself is stable.
Controlling volume is as simple as pressing and holding the right bud for increasing and the left one for decreasing. Each bud has a large button on its outer part which is easy to find but pressing it takes some effort, so every time you need to press the button, you actually end up pushing the bud deeper into the ear, which is not very comfortable. Pressing either bud one plays or pauses whatever is playing, double-tapping the right moves to the next track, double-tapping the left takes you to the previous one, and double pressing either when the music is paused invokes the digital assistant. And rather oddly, the buds glow in your ears when no music is playing, but do not when it is. It is a UI that works but we ended up using our smartphone more often than not, simply because it was…simpler, and did not involve pressing the buds into our ears.
A battery that’s impressive, calling that’s less so
About eight hours on the buds. And about twenty-four hours with the case. You know, that’s pretty good to last most people close to a week on a single charge. Call quality, however, is a little hit and miss. There were times when we got crystal clear calls and on others when things were not quite as clear.
The Lypertek Tevi of the bass lover? Yup!
In some ways, the Creative Outlier does for lovers of high-class bass (not just boom boom bass as seen in most players in the sub-Rs 5,000 segment) what the Lypertek Tevi do for audiophiles – provide excellent audio at a price that is not very high (by high-end TWS standards). Yes, their blinking lights and slightly complex interface might put off some, but at the end of the day, they fit well, are dust and water-resistant, have very good battery life, and…
THEY SOUND GOOD.
There, we said it. The Outlier Air are like the Lypertek Tevi in that their sound is the biggest reason to invest in them. While the Tevi have a more flat sound that audiophiles will love, the Outlier have a more bass accented sound that will appeal to mainstream users, who love bass but do not want their brains rattled by it (as most budget TWS tend to do). In short, these are great TWS for anyone who loves good sound, spiced up with just the right amount of bass.
- Very good sound
- Decent battery life
- Dust and water resistance
- Metallic case
- Elaborate pairing process and UI
- Slight latency in gaming
- Some might find the design loud
- Call quality a little iffy
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Love bass? The sort that makes music delightful and does not reduce your head to a shuddering, shaking wreck? And does so without compromising on sound quality or saying "your bank account for your audio"? Well, if you can put up with a few design and UI oddities, the Creative Outlier Air might just be the TWS you are looking for.