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Creative Outlier Air V2 - Review 2020


When we reviewed Creative’s original Outlier Air earbuds, we gave them decent marks, with our main complaints being a seriously sculpted, bass-boosted sound signature and poorly implemented on-ear controls. The new Outlier Air V2 true wireless earphones specifically address the controls, and include new drivers for a new sound signature, all for $10 less than the original model, at $69.99. Sonically, the earphones deliver a bass-forward, crisp sound signature, for a definite improvement in the audio department. They also offer pretty good battery life. But the on-ear controls still feel a little less than graceful, and there are ultimately more compelling options available at similar prices.

Outlier Air V2 Design and Controls

Available in a midnight blue design, the Outlier Air V2 earpieces are somewhat chunky compared with many models we test, but this does seem to aid in a more secure fit. The earphones ship with five pairs of silicone eartips in various sizes, but there are no fins for added support.

An IPX5 water-resistance rating is slightly better than you get with many models, but it should still be viewed as relatively modest. The earphones can withstand light-to-moderate spray, and the charging case shouldn’t get wet, ever. You don’t want to submerge the earphones in water or place them under a running faucet, but they should be fine for the gym or to wear in light rain.

The charging case has a slide-out tray and is on the bulky side, which likely aids in the Outlier Air V2’s solid battery life. A USB-C-to-USB-A charging cable ships with the earphones and connects to a side panel on the tray, where there are also battery status LEDs.

creative outlier air v2 closeup

The outer panels of the earpieces are sensitive to touch, and every control requires multiple taps. The panels don’t always register every tap, however, so it’s easy to misfire. Two taps on the left or right ear plays, pauses, or answers or ends a phone call. Three taps on the left ear skips backward a track, while on the right it skips forward. Touching and holding the left ear lowers volume, while the right ear raises it. Generally speaking, the controls are laid out in a fairly sensible way, but it can be annoying when the controls don’t respond. Eventually, you learn just the right pressure, finger placement, and spacing between taps, but it’s not always a sure thing. 

The Creative Super X-Fi app for Android and iOS asks for your email and for you to set up an account, before going one step further and asking you to take photos of your ears and face to create your profile, which is strange. So is Creative promise that the app’s technology will capture the experience of a “high-end multi-speaker system in a professional studio.” There is an EQ section hidden in the app, but it doesn’t do much to change the experience, so this is an instance where skipping the app entirely is OK—it’s not essential to the operation of these earphones, and it feels a little like bloatware, or an app more suited for a different product.

Internally, the earpieces house 5.6mm graphene drivers delivering a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz. The earphones are compatible with Bluetooth 5.0 and support AAC, AptX, and SBC Bluetooth codecs.

Creative estimates the Outlier Air V2’s battery life to be roughly 12 hours, which is excellent for true wireless in-ears. The charging case holds about 22 hours on its own, but your results will vary with your volume levels.

Outlier Air V2 Performance

On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like the Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the earphones deliver some palpable thump that will appeal to bass lovers. At top, unwise listening levels, the bass doesn’t distort, and at more moderate volume levels, the lows still sound full and heavy.

Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix, gives us a better sense of the Outlier Air V2’s general sound signature. The drums on this track sound heavy, but not overly thunderous, and the tape hiss takes a step forward in the mix—so we know there’s plenty of boosting and sculpting happening in the lows and highs. Callahan’s baritone vocals get plenty of low-mid richness, but can use a smidge more high-mid crispness—there’s a bright top-end here, but the high-mids and highs are uniformly boosted. Regardless, things never sound muddy. Overall, it’s a decently balanced, bass-forward sound signature that’s sculpted but doesn’t veer too far into overly boosted territory.

Creative Outlier Air V2

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On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives enough high-mid presence for its attack to retain its punchiness, while the vinyl hiss and crackle that’s usually relegated to background status moves forward notably in the mix. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with solid low-frequency depth—they don’t overwhelm the mix, but they do sound boosted. The vocals on this track are delivered with solid clarity and the slightest hint of added sibilance.

Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, offer a solid balance between lows and highs—the lower-register instrumentation steps forward in the mix a bit, but not to an unnatural degree. It’s the brighter high-register instrumentation that takes center stage in the mix. 

The mic offers strong intelligibility. Using the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 8, we could understand every word we recorded clearly, with only minimal Bluetooth distortion in the mix. Caller should have no issues understanding you on a clear connection.

Good for the Price

There’s no wow factor here, nor do we really expect one for $70. Creative’s Outlier Air V2 are perfectly serviceable true wireless earphones. The app asks for too much personal info, and on-ear controls are still slightly annoying at times, but the audio performance is solid, and the in-ear fit is quite secure. That said, there are some more compelling options in the budget-friendly realm. Take the $35 Tribit FlyBuds 3, for instance, which have even better battery life, a higher water-resistance rating, and similarly good audio performance. Or for $80, the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air earphones deliver a more refined audio and user experience all around.

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