Creative Outlier Free Pro Review Bone Conduction Swimming Headphones

Thursday, June 08, 2023

Step outside the ordinary and venture into the extraordinary with the Creative Outlier Free Pro! In a world where innovation reigns, these wireless bone conduction headphones prove to be the true "outlier" in the realm of audio technology. Prepare to redefine your auditory experience and embrace the freedom of open-ear listening. Join us as we dive deeper into the remarkable features and performance of the Creative Outlier Free Pro, a true maverick in the world of sound.

The Creative Outlier Free Pro and the Outlier Air V2 may share the same name, but they have distinct differences in terms of design and audio technology. While the Outlier Air V2 are earbuds, the Outlier Free Pro take a different approach as wireless bone conduction headphones. These headphones offer a unique audio experience by utilizing bone conduction technology, which replaces traditional dynamic drivers with bone conduction transducers. By relaying sound through vibrations on your cheekbones, these headphones allow you to enjoy audio while keeping your ears open and aware of your surroundings.

One of the standout features of the Creative Outlier Free Pro is its IPX8 waterproof rating, providing protection against submersion in freshwater up to 1.5m for up to 40 minutes. This makes them ideal for activities like swimming, where water exposure is a concern. However, before heading out to the ocean it's important to note that the IPX8 rating does not cover submersion in saltwater; hence the Creative Outlier Free Pro aren't suitable for the beach. 
Something else worth keeping mind also, it's the microphone plug (black rubber), which it is designed to plug the microphone and prevent water from getting in. That said, the microphone plug isn't very secure. You can accidentally unplug it, making them not fully waterproof. The microphone plug can be removed so, it isn't built-in. In fact, you get a spare one as part of the accessories to replace it when needed.

The inclusion of an 8 GB built-in memory is a convenient feature if you like standalone music playback without relying on a phone. However, there is no external microSD card to expand the internal memory. Battery life is a critical aspect of any wireless headphone, and the Creative Outlier Free Pro can achieve 5.5 hours of playtime at 100% volume. While this is decent for a pair of earbuds, it falls within the average range compared to regular sports ear hook earphones. The charging time is 2 hours and there is no quick charge. Speaking of charging, the Outlier Free Pro uses a magnetic charging connection via a proprietary 4-pin contact connection.

Upon powering on the Outlier Free Pro, you will experience a short vibration feedback. You will also hear a voice prompt that tells you the volume level. The Bluetooth 5.3 chip inside the Creative Outlier Free Pro works smoothly and supports multipoint, allowing simultaneous connection to two Bluetooth devices. That said, it's worth noting that the playback or call function can only be accessed by either one of the wirelessly-connected devices at any given time, which may limit usability in certain scenarios.

Comfort is an important factor when choosing headphones, and the Creative Outlier Free Pro is overall more comfortable to wear than traditional headphones and earbuds because of the outer-ear wearing style. No sweaty earpads and no in-ear canal discomfort to worry about. The Outlier Free Pro have a titanium alloy frame with a soft silicone finish. The titanium construction is malleable, which allows the Outlier Free Pro to be  flexible, although it is not memory wire. You cannot reshape the neckband and earhooks.

Thanks to the ear-hook/neckband design, the Outlier Free Pro stay in place very securely, which is a plus when engaging in vigorous activities. You can wear them comfortably for a workout session. Beyond that, you may start noticing the weight and bulk - which is a similar experience to sports earbuds with hooks. The Outlier Free Pro weigh 28 grams, which is lightweight for earhook earbuds. As far as controls, you get three physical rubber buttons on-board to control volume, voice assistant, calls (answer/end/reject) and track skipping. The buttons are raised and responsive with a hard-press actuation.

When comparing the Creative Outlier Free Pro to its predecessor, the Creative Outlier Free, there are notable improvements such as the upgraded IPX8 waterproof rating and the inclusion of 8 GB of built-in memory. However, the differences between the two models may not justify an upgrade if you already own the Outlier Free, as the basic features and performance remain largely unchanged.

In conclusion, the Creative Outlier Free Pro offers a unique audio experience with its bone conduction technology and provides several notable features such as IPX8 waterproofing and built-in memory. However, there are certain drawbacks to consider which apply to all bone conduction headphones. For example, sound leakage. Since the sound is transmitted through vibrations, people around you may be able to hear what you're listening to, especially at higher volumes. Bone conduction doesn't provide the same level of audio fidelity and depth as traditional headphones. This also includes the bass response, which isn't as deep.

With bone conduction headphones, you can also expect ambient noise interference. Since bone conduction headphones don't seal off the ear canal, they allow ambient noise to mix with the audio you're listening to. This can be a drawback in noisy environments or when you seek complete isolation from your surroundings. Lastly, you may experience issues with fit. Achieving a comfortable and secure fit with bone conduction headphones can be challenging for some individuals. The positioning of the transducers on the cheekbones requires careful adjustment to ensure optimal sound transmission and comfort. People with certain facial structures or wearing glasses may encounter difficulties in finding the ideal fit.

Potential deal breakers
  • Not everyone may find it comfortable
  • Limited underwater usage
  • Average battery life
  • No quick charge
  • Proprietary charging (no USB connectivity)
  • Limited multipoint connectivity
  • Bulky and heavy compared to regular earbuds such as the Creative Zen Air
  • Not a massive upgrade over its predecessor, the Outlier Free
  • Does not support WMA formats
  • Blinking Bluetooth light when listening to audio
  • Microphone plug isn't very secure
  • Not suitable for beach swimming - only swimming pool
  • No protective case included
  • Marks easily with oily smudges
  • No passthrough audio whilst charging
  • Limited Bass Response
  • Less immersive than headphones
  • Lacklustre microphone call quality

Selling points
  • Bone conduction technology
  • IPX8 waterproof rating
  • Built-in 8 GB memory
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • Can play audio without a phone
  • SBC and AAC audio
  • Perfect for situational awareness
  • Magnetic charging
  • Absolute bluetooth volume
  • Silicone earplugs included
  • Clicky physical buttons
  • Volume voice prompt
  • Multipoint connectivity
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Low Latency Mode (double beep)
  • Secure behind-the-neck ear-hook design
  • 2 year limited warranty
Accessories include a spare microphone plug, silicone earplugs and magnetic charging cable (60cm long). You can buy the Outlier Free Pro from amazon.Check out the review of the Creative Pebble V3 speakers, Creative Aurvana Trio wireless earbuds.

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