Written by Cheryl Tan
- Wide soundstage, tight bass, recessed mids and brighter treble with Super X-Fi turned off
- Expanded soundstage, suppressed bass, more prominent mids and slightly hazy vocals with Super X-Fi turned on
- Overall interesting experience, can be good if you’re a frequent concertgoer and want to relive concert experiences
Hi-fi or head-fi? Most people usually choose between hi-fi, which is basically referring to a speaker setup at home that isn’t portable, or head-fi, which is portable audio gear like headphones and earphones. Creative has come straight out and created the best of both worlds with their Creative Outlier Gold earphones.
Portable audio has always been relegated to either in-ear earphones, or low impedance headphones, both of which come with their own pros and cons. If you have a hi-fi home setup and are used to how your music sounds from a system, you might not be too fond of closed-back headphones or in-ear earphones, which sounds as if music is being played directly in your head instead of being spacious and airy like a proper speaker set up.
Alternatively, there are always open-back headphones, but even then, you run the issue of music leakage into your environment or environmental noise leaking into your music, which doesn’t make for an optimal listening experience in my opinion.
Creative made waves in the audio industry when they announced their Super X-Fi technology back in early 2018 to change the listening experience, and it was hailed as a revolutionary game-changing idea. Reviews of products that utilise the Super X-Fi hardware chip have been nothing short of glowing, but let’s take a look at the product that implements Super X-Fi via software.
The Creative Outlier Gold is relatively affordable at S$139, and I think that’s a great idea, since it’s an introductory product to get people noticing the Super X-Fi Technology before moving onto other products that actually use hardware to implement the tech.
You’ll have to download the Super X-Fi app to scan your ears and face before you’ll be able to activate it. The app seemed to do a good job of fitting the wireframes to my ears. The downside however, is that only songs and audio files that you’ve downloaded to your phone or device can be used with the Super X-Fi technology. That means no Spotify, no Tidal and you won’t be able to use the tech for your mobile games or shows either.
It sits comfortably in the ear and the earbuds are incredibly light, definitely no wearing fatigue with these. The case is light with a gentle curve design making it a compact fit for a jeans pocket without being too bulky.
But the sound is what we really need to talk about. Even without Super X-Fi turned on, the sound quality is actually very decent. The soundstage is relatively wide, with good instrument separation. The bass isn’t excessively rumbly, but tends to be on the tighter and faster side. Treble is bright but can be a bit sibilant if you listen to your music at a higher volume like me. The mids are a bit more recessed on these, but vocals were nicely detailed.
With Super X-Fi turned on however, there was a drop in the bass and highs. Yes, the soundstage expanded, and I listened to songs that I’ve had the opportunity to hear the artists perform live before, and it did feel somewhat like I was back in the concert venue, which can be a nice nostalgic trip. But it came at the cost of the bass having less impact and having less clarity and sparkle in the highs, while the vocals felt a little muffled and hazy.
That being said, because the bass gets a little suppressed, the mids actually have a chance to shine more by coming to the forefront and listeners will be able to pick up more detail there, which is good in my opinion.
So what else do I not like that much? The eartips. It’s a shallow flange tip which doesn’t provide great isolation, but they can always be swapped out for SpinFit tips if none of the included pairs fit your ears.
There are also connection stutters occasionally, even with my phone on the table right next to me as I’m typing away on my laptop. Granted, connection issues are always an issue with wireless earphones, and I have yet to encounter a true wireless earbud that has never had a single connection issue.
Aside from that, Creative claims a battery life of 14 hours in the earbuds and 39 hours in total with the case, and this claim measured up when I put it to the test. I got around 13 hours or so of listening time with the earbuds.
Overall, I think the Outlier Gold is a really interesting earphone. The Super X-Fi sound isn’t for everyone, and perhaps the products that use the hardware chip for Super X-Fi will sound better.
For S$139, I think this is a pair of affordable true wireless earbuds that has a very unique feature, while still delivering decent sound.