Monday, 12 September 2022 11:23

The Creative Otlier Pro true wireless sweatproof ANC earbuds

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Creative Labs brings new power-packed features to its latest update to its Outlier earbud series, in the new Creative Outlier Pro.

The Creative Outlier Pro offers true wireless sweatproof in-ear buds with active noise cancellation, 60 hours of playtime, and Super X-Fi to dramatically provide a customised multi-speaker experience in your ears.

The Creative Outlier Pro builds on Creative’s extensive history in audio, being the company that created the PC sound card market, and in fact, its chipsets are still powering sound cards worldwide.

These earbuds are, of course, not for your computer but for you - to wear while walking, cycling, commuting, relaxing, and wherever else you might find yourself.

Now, if you think about where you would wear earbuds and how you want them to operate, you might make a list like this:

  • Must be comfortable, for long-lasting use and play
  • Must fit snugly and securely, so you don’t have to worry about them falling out
  • Must be resistant to splashes and sweat so you can wear them outside and exercise without worrying they’ll get damaged by small amounts of water
  • Must allow you to immerse yourself in a quality audio experience - AND must also allow you to hear your surroundings when needed, to be sure you keep safe in traffic
  • Must be easy to operate, whether by hand or voice
  • Must be able to charge rapidly and secure away safely when not in use
  • Must support voice for phone calls, as well as enjoying music and podcasts

Creative has done it again with a great set of earbuds that tick all the boxes.

Firstly, they're handsome little units. They have a stylish aesthetic and the carry case slides out to let you take them out or put them in. They’re lightweight and barely noticeable. The box includes three different sizes of ear tips to help you find the best fitting, and most comfortable, option for yourself.

The earbuds support Bluetooth 5.2 and AAC audio and have graphene-coated drivers. It’s easy to say this, but it needs to be explained to understand why this is significant.

What this means in practice is lower distortion, increased bandwidth, improved transient response, well-known acoustic properties, and a host of other improvements over other materials. Graphene is the basic structural element of carbon variants and delivers an incredible strength-to-weight ratio. It cuts down on the amount of power required to move the electrically charged coils that create sound waves which increase efficiency, reduce weight, and provides better sound.

And, not only do they physically look and feel good, but with the Super X-Fi capabilities, you can even personalise the earbuds to the way your ears specifically hear sounds - the audio is computationally adjusted for the optimal listening experience meaning you hear music the way the artists intended.

iTWire found this easy to set up; as well as a Creative smartphone app to update firmware and change settings, there’s an SXFI smartphone app to tune the Super X-Fi capabilities of your earbuds. Super X-Fi can also provide spatial audio; the box includes a trial spatial music subscription voucher.

The earbuds are IPX5 rated; the IP means “ingress protection” and is a universal standard. IPX5 lets you know the earbuds are protected against low-pressure water streams from any angle. So, you won’t want to dive in them, but you can definitely relax that rain drops, splashing or spraying water, or sweat from your exertions won’t cause any harm whatsoever.

Now, all this is great; but what do they sound like? Creative’s audio engineering history shines through - the earbuds cocoon you in your own world of audio. They faithfully reproduce lows, mids, and highs, and implement active noise cancellation (ANC) to shut out the distractions around you. It does this through feedforward and feedback microphones on each earbud. The first detects surrounding noise and cancels it out with a corresponding anti-signal; the second monitors what you’re actually hearing so it can adjust signals as needed.

However, safety first; if you're walking in traffic, or perhaps waiting to hear your flight announcement, you can simply double-tap the left earbud to switch between ANC mode and ambient mode. In ambient mode, you can allow some outside sound to come through - which you can also customise via the Creative app. It’s pretty amazing; iTWire’s testing showed we could silence the room we were in, cut out family members talking and playing console games, pets and doorbells, the air conditioner, and all kinds of noises. When walking, iTWire found we could silence cars and birds and dogs and simply enjoy life with a soundtrack of our own choosing.

As indicated above, you can control the Outlier Pro with touch controls. You can also use Siri or Google Assistant to issue voice controls too. For example, turn up the volume, play the next song, phone your mother, play a particular playlist, and whatever else comes to mind. And with six microphones you can be assured your assistant will hear you and act. There are touch controls to move through your playlist, take calls, summon the assistant, and more, and these are all in your (virtual) hands because they are also customisable in the Creative app to suit your preferences.

When it comes to battery life, the Outlier Pro provides a stunning 15 hours per charge, and up to 60 hours in total when used with the recharging carry case. For an average user, Creative says you may only need to charge them twice a month. These figures are for ANC off; with ANC on the battery life drops to a still impressive 10 hours per charge, 40 hours of total playtime. However, it’s almost moot. The carry case supports Qi wireless charging (as well as USB-C charging). So, all you need to do is set the charging case on a wireless charger and put the earbuds inside the case when not in use, and you’ll likely never experience a flat battery - ever. Certainly, iTWire never encountered an issue. We wore the earbuds to take calls, endure endless Teams and Zoom meetings, play the news, play podcasts and music, walk, talk, and at no point felt concerned they were on the verge of going flat.

And, of course, we've noted the earbuds have microphones - they’re not only for noise cancelling; the six microphones in total also combine to provide a crisp, clear voice experience for all your calls.

You can buy them online and right now Creative is offering a promotional price, taking them from the normal $119.95 price to a special price of $99.95 and with free shipping.

CreativeOutlierProEarbuds

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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