Since product review samples are a little more difficult to come by as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, I have had to get creative. This week, while waiting for an official review sample to arrive from Creative Labs, I borrowed a new pair of Creative Outlier Gold true wireless earbuds my neighbour brought from Singapore.
The US$99 Creative Outlier Gold true wireless earbuds claim to offer an impressive 14 hours of playback on a single charge. Combined with the charging case, the time is expanded to a staggering 39 hours of playback per charge cycle. Compare that to most other true wireless earbuds that can only run for up to about five hours on a single charge or about 20 with the charging case.
The headphones feature two buttons, one on each bud, to control music playback, volume, and voice assistant. Each of the buttons is surrounded by an LED ring that lights up to show the headphone's status. They are cool to look at.
The charging case features a slider mechanism to reveal the buds, and several LEDs on the side to indicate charging status as well as battery life. The case itself uses a USB-C connection for charging.
Both the case and earbuds are made of the same matte plastic material that unfortunately feels cheap. The headphones are still well-built, but I wish Creative would have used an aluminum casing and increased the price accordingly.
The audio performance is very dynamic. The tonal curve is slightly "V" shaped, which means bass and highs are elevated with the mids being flat at 0dB. Bass quality is very good, with kicks hitting hard without being bloated or sounding distorted. Highs feature good resolution and not once sounded harsh, regardless of what types of music I threw at them.
Excitingly, the buds also support Super X-Fi audio, which in this case is the software version that gives music a simulated soundstage. This means music sounds like it's coming from around you instead of between your head. I welcome the effects very dearly. The music sounds dramatically wider and three dimensional although, depending on the recording, at times it can sound artificial. Bear in mind, however, that Super X-Fi software only allows itself to be imbedded to the music on my phone, so no streaming music can share the added dimensionality of the Super X-Fi.
Connection strength is good and the addition of Bluetooth 5.0 support means each earbud connects to the phone independently and can be used without the other, which is a nice change from true wireless earbuds that depend on a connection between the buds to work.
I found that Creative's claimed 14 hours of playback was just slightly ambitious with my tests tapping out around 13 hours with music playing at about 50-60% volume. The charging case indeed charges the headphones over two and a half times from dead flat, which means I easily lasted a full week without draining them. Thirty-five total actual hours of usage is nothing to scoff about!
The Outlier Golds are one of the rare true wireless headphones that could last for an entire flight between Toronto (Canada) to Jakarta (Indonesia), including the four-hour stop-over in Hong Kong - a 27-hour journey - without needing to find a power outlet. (Though you would have to take a break for a quick recharge in the case.) I wish my phone could last that long!
The Creative Outlier Gold earbuds are a great value at US$99. While I would love to see better materials in the buds and the case, they still show incredible endurance, fun, punchy sound, and reliable wireless connection.
The sound is not audiophile quality, but these buds weren't designed for that target demographic. They do offer great sound, IPX5 water resistance (sweatproof), and Bluetooth 5.0 on top of the class-leading battery life. That makes them an easy recommendation for those who want a solid pair of true wireless headphones that won't break the bank.