It has been five years since Apple presented its first AirPods. Headphones that were not the first in their category were the triggers for creating a new type of product that has since grown exponentially.
Creative’s Outlier Air is one of the models that have caught our attention the most in recent years. The historic sound card company entered the category of TWS headphones with a model that stood out for its spectacular battery, unique design, and excellent sound quality at a competitive price.
Despite all their virtues, these models have always had certain shortcomings, which have improved in their subsequent iterations. We have spent several weeks testing the third generation, which manages to be more competitive than ever.
Changes in internal technology
In a market in which the trend tends to be for new generations of products to take advantage of improvements in technical features to justify price increases, it is unusual to see how a new generation that adds new features also bets on a price reduction and that is that If the official price of its predecessors was 79.99, this new model drops to 69.99 and is already discounted over 50 euros.
If we evaluate the technical sheet, several details do not quite fit us, and there are three critical points in which it seems that Creative had backed down. Is it so? We have taken note of the aspects that most concerned us and consulted the company, obtaining a response from the same product manager who designed them.
Our first doubt was in the choice of drivers. The previous generations had a model with a 5.6 mm graphene membrane, while the new generation uses a 6 mm cellulose membrane. According to Creative, their objective was to improve the acoustics, and the driver change was necessary for this objective. The Outlier Air V3 offers a more precise sound, while its predecessors stand out for providing greater clarity.
The battery has dropped from 12 hours of use to 10 on a single charge, matching the first generation Outlier Air. The reason is a more compact battery to achieve a more ergonomic design. It is a minor compromise that we accept because they continue to be one of the headphones with the highest battery on the market and correct what a weak point of the previous models was.
Finally, we highlight the absence of Qualcomm aptX codecs and technologies such as cVc for clear calls. Creative has opted for a non-Qualcomm chip with which they can achieve more outstanding performance, both in calls (the Outlier Air V3 uses four microphones instead of the 2 of its predecessor) and in music quality through the use of the codec AAC.
The inclusion of noise reduction technology stands out, both for calls in the microphones and the one capable of analyzing external sounds to isolate us a little more while listening to music. The amount of noise it can separate is subtle compared to higher-end headphones. The ambient mode does work somewhat better, allowing us to hear what is happening around us. Two applications to get more out of it.
When choosing wireless headphones, having an application is a fundamental aspect. Although it is not a requirement to have to install an application to be able to connect via Bluetooth and work perfectly, we can improve our experience by customizing the headphones to our specific tastes.
Creative already had Super X-FI, an application with which some of its headphones could take advantage of the company’s holographic audio technology. The Outlier Air v3 is compatible with this audio technology.
After installing the application, it will invite us to take a series of photos of our faces and ears. Through an artificial intelligence process, Creative can create a personalized audio profile for the shape of our ears.
Super X-FI is a technology that works well. Still, it has its limitations: wireless headphones are limited to listening to audio files from the application itself.
This advantage in technology means that if you are a user of streaming services like Spotify, you cannot enjoy it with your usual playlist, being limited to those who only listen to music locally. But even in this group, you can’t use your favorite music app, and Creative’s solution may fall short for you.
Polishing the iconic design of Creative
Since its first generation, Creative managed to create a unique design in a universe full of copies of Apple Airpods. We have a circular and ergonomics design to fit well anchored in the ears. If we compare the Outlier Air v3 (right) with the first generation (left), we can see the improvements in ergonomics.
If we compare the Outlier Air v3 with the first generation (left), we can see the improvements in ergonomics.
One of the weak points of this design was the difficulty of adapting to smaller ears. Creative has slightly reduced the size of the Outlier Air v3. The difference is noticeable when we put it in front of the previous generation, appreciating a more stylized design and compatible with a greater variety of ears.
The only way to notice the change visually once they are in our ear is through the colors, and that is that while in the first generation we had a metallic gray and in the second a blue, in this new model we have an olive green metallic. Conservative changes but maintain the essence of headphones with an already iconic design in the brand.
The rest of the details remain intact, with a touch sensor for rare actions and a light halo to indicate that the headphones are on or in pairing mode. We also have three pairs of ear tips for various ear sizes.
We have a metal case similar to previous generations, but in this new model, we appreciate a fraction of plastic in the interior area. This isn’t a cutback in build quality at all, as Creative has added support for wireless charging in the charging case, though you’ll still be able to charge it via the USB C charging port.