CREATIVE Outlier Air V2

General Information

Specifications:
Total Battery Life: Up to 34 Hours
Playtime Per Charge: Up to 12 Hours Per Charge
Microphone setup: Single, with Qualcomm® cVc™ 8.0 Technology for mic
Controls: Touch Control
Software Super X-Fi® / Super X-FI READY: ✓
Siri / Google Assistant: ✓
Water Resistance: IPX5 Certified
Audio Codec: aptX, AAC, SBC
Interface: USB Type-C (Charging), Bluetooth 5.0
Driver: 5.6 mm Graphene-coated Driver Diaphragm

Latest reviews

dooxtypoox

Head-Fier
Pros: Pros:
+ Wide soundstage!
+ Ergonomic fit (good isolation)
+ Battery life
+ Price
Cons: Cons:
- Constant "hissing" sound when music paused
- "Muddy"
- Sound lacking in detail and resolution
Video Review

Price and specifications
Price: USD69.99/AUD109.95
Amazon US
Creative Labs AU

Specifications
Total Battery Life: Up to 34 Hours
Playtime Per Charge: Up to 12 Hours Per Charge
Microphone setup: Single, with Qualcomm® cVc™ 8.0 Technology for mic
Controls: Touch Control
Software Super X-Fi® / Super X-FI READY: ✓
Siri / Google Assistant: ✓
Water Resistance: IPX5 Certified
Audio Codec: aptX, AAC, SBC
Interface: USB Type-C (Charging), Bluetooth 5.0
Driver: 5.6 mm Graphene-coated Driver Diaphragm
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Accessories
USB-C Charging Case
USB-C Charging Cable
(S), (M) and (L) Silicone Ear Tips

Comments on accessories
Rather than opening up like a box which I prefer, the charging case adopts the slide-out style. Plus points for being secured by a strong magnet, I have no worries of these buds falling out by accident. The buds are pretty big which is why the charging case is also fairly big to accommodate for their size - I'd rather keep them in my bag when on-the-go than in my pockets.

Build, comfort and isolation
The earbuds are made of plastic with a super ergonomic fitting. They feel very snug against my ears and I don't see how it's possible to shake them off during an intense workout. This would be a matter of personal preference but the fit is so firm that they don't "disappear"; they instead fill up my ears and there's always a constant sense of "fullness".

Some may not like how you can always feel these plugged up in your ears but the amazing fit does a great job at passively isolating noise more so than any standard true wireless or universal in ear monitor. I don't have any issues with the "fullness" myself but I initially had to take them off for a couple of minutes after an hour of wearing to relieve the pressure-areas on my concha to let my ears "breathe". I could gradually wear these for longer periods of time after the first week of daily use.

Connectivity
Without any physical obstructions in between, I could get about 12m away from my phone source before the earbuds started cutting out intermittently. One point to add which consistently happens with me, the connection begins to stutter quite a bit when I'm around a running microwave. But other than that, the connection is stable so long as the buds are within range.

During the setup, you'll have to pair your source to each bud individually. When you connect thereafter, these buds follow the Master and Slave system. You may choose either the left or right bud to be the Master when connecting to your buds at the start of each listening session. You may play from the Master bud while the Slave is stored in the case; it's great to see that the Slave bud resumes playback immediately when taken out of the case.

Both buds are disconnected when the Master bud is placed in the case. After which, the source needs several seconds to automatically pair with the remaining earbud to become to Master bud.

Audio Latency
Audio-visual lag is significant which makes these suitable for music and podcasts only.

Microphone Quality
See section on Video Review (Hyperlink brings you straight to the relevant timestamp)

Touch Controls
Demonstration
CREATIVE has opted for some unconventional touch controls to resolve the problem of unwanted touch commands when adjusting the earbuds
- Double tap either side to pause/play
- Triple tap left/right for previous/next track respectively
- Press and hold left/right for volume down/up respectively

For calls
- Double tap to answer/hang up
- Press and hold for 3s to reject call

These are the main controls I use regularly, the guide to all controls can be found on their website. This system of touch controls on the Outlier Air V2 is much better than the button used on the CREATIVE Outlier Air V1 which was hard to press. The earbud was always getting jammed further into my ear which was uncomfortable - I'd rather control my music directly from my phone with the V1s.
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Sound
I have to get this out of the way before discussing the sound. There is a constant hissing sound that can be heard when there is no music playing, similar to when a sensitive IEM is connected to a source with a high output impedance. It isn't noticeable when music is playing but it does get annoying when the music is paused.

The Outlier Air V2s have a V-shaped sound signature. They are neutral in the sub-bass and melodies are primarily driven by its big mid-bass response with significant bleed into the into the upper-bass; vocals sound chesty because of this. The excess energy in this region can be satisfying with the Pop genre but it doesn't sit well with Rock or Metal due to the bass bloat masking individual instruments. This is exacerbated by the veil stemming from the relative lack of energy in the upper-mids and lower-treble.

To balance out the fat low-end, the Outlier Air V2s concentrate more energy in the mid-treble instead. The boost is not excessive where it reaches fatiguing levels but tone wise, cymbals and hi-hats tend toward the splashy side of things. The mid-treble energy does slightly creep into the upper-treble region to prevent these buds from sounding too closed-in.

Technical Summary
CREATIVE Outlier Air V2 2.png

Instruments are not well separated or articulated, scoring 1.5 for resolution. This feeds into the bloated upper bass to make these sound even more muddy.
Detail retrieval is just acceptable with a score of 2, probably due to the moderate energy in the mid-treble.
I was pleasantly surprised by the stage width and depth for a true wireless set, scoring 3 and 2.5 respectively. (Note: These are my impressions streaming via Spotify, not using the dedicated Super X-fi app)
Despite the low resolution, instrument placement had a mild sense of precision, scoring 2.5 for imaging. Perceived imaging could have been better if the instruments were better separated.

Conclusion
As you may have realised, the tonality is nothing to write home about from an audiophile perspective although it should still be fairly enjoyable for the regular consumer - It is big sounding and non-fatiguing. Despite this, the staging qualities exceeded my expectations for a true wireless set. These actually sound like a set of gaming headphones with the impressive stage and big bass. True enough, these sounded amazing when gaming but are severely bottlenecked by its prominent audio latency.

The CREATIVE Outlier Air V2s are fairly affordable for what they offer - they've got an amazing fit and immersive stage in spite of its low resolution. Maintaining these staging properties and price range, and improving audio latency and sound quality would see the next iteration of CREATIVE's Outlier series become the next big all-rounder in the true wireless market.

Thanks for reading! You may find more reviews on my Head-fi thread.
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