Creative has launched their new Creative Outlier Air V2 earbuds, and while it’s vastly improved from the original Outlier series, there are some small things here and there that I would have liked to have seen changed.
Let’s talk about design first. We only reviewed the Creative Outlier Gold last year, but the design was very similar, and you’ll notice that the V2 of the Outlier Air still retains the same charging case and earbud design.
It’s definitely bulky and not something that you’ll be able to easily slide into a jeans pocket, if you enjoy wearing skinny jeans. The case itself is actually slightly bigger and heavier than the original Outlier Air, so there’s that. There’s a USB-C charging port on one end, with LED lights indicating the battery status of the left and right earbuds along with the case.
To open the case, simply push on the other end of the case and the inner shelf with the earbuds will slide out. Here’s where the first problem appears. With the charging port on the side that slides out, whenever you try to pull out the USB-C charging cable, the case slides open too if you don’t have a finger keeping the case shut.
It might seem like a very minuscule issue I’m picking at, but think of it this way. The USB-C charging port is tight, and you do have to use a bit of force to pull the cable out. If someone continually uses a lot of force to pull out the cable, the case itself and its moving parts might spoil after a while. It might have been a better idea to put the charging port on the other end of the case, but I’m not an engineer, so maybe Creative had a reason for it.
The earbuds and case now come in a gorgeous metallic blue, which I’m a big fan of. One big change is the fact that the earbuds now work on a touch control system, and I’m very happy about this. The physical buttons on the previous Outlier models needed the user to press the earbuds into their ears for the button press to register, which wasn’t quite as comfortable.
The earbuds retain their IPX5 water resistance rating, which is excellent for people looking to exercise with them. There’s also still aptX, AAC and SBC codec support, so high-res audio is still available.
The Outlier Air V2, of course, have Creative’s SXFI technology, but it comes with the same limitations that the original Outlier models had. The SXFI technology can only be applied to content that can be played through the SXFI app, which means you’ll have to actually have the MP3 or lossless files stored on your phone. Streaming services like Tidal, Spotify or YouTube won’t be able to be used with the SXFI technology.
Personally, I found it quite limiting last year, and even more this year. Plenty of people have moved to using streaming services for their music, and they won’t be able to take advantage of the SXFI technology in this.
Thankfully I had a few tracks on my phone to test it out. My opinion is still the same as last year’s. It works for people who might have a lot of live or concert music on their phones because it really makes it feel like you’re there in the venue.
For people who don’t enjoy the slightly more echo-y aspect that the music will take on with SXFI turned on though, these are still a pair of decent earbuds without the tech. Playing the same song through Tidal, you get pretty good performance.
The bass is punchy, and while the mids are still a tad bit recessed, I feel like Creative has tapered back the treble a bit while still retaining the brightness. The soundstage is wide, even without SXFI, and instrument imaging is relatively accurate.
Another aspect that’s been improved is the ear tips. I didn’t like the shallow flange style on the Outlier Gold previously as they didn’t provide much isolation, but the Outlier Air V2 come with deeper tips that do provide a good amount of passive isolation.
Battery life is also improved over the original Outlier Air, with up to 12 hours in the earbuds and a total of 34 hours with the case. It’s definitely one of the better-performing earbuds in terms of battery life.
The Outlier Air V2 is priced at the same S$119 as the original Outlier Air, making it a no-brainer to go for the updated version instead. As part of their launch promotion, Creative will be selling the Outlier Air V2 on their website for S$99.
Written by Cheryl Tan