The last time we managed to get our hands on a set of earbuds from Creative was for the Outlier Golds, that were given to us at CES 2019. Wow, that’s a long time ago, and since then Creative has created several model earbuds in the same vein as the original Golds. This time though we’ve got the Air V3s, which at first glance, look no different from the Golds except the obvious colour scheme. This time the Air V3s are grey.
But the differences between the two don’t end there. The Creative Outlier Air V3s also offer a 12-hour battery life compared to the Gold’s nine-hour life. The case still promises 2.5 times charging time though, so no change there.
The Creative Outlier Air V3 earbuds are a small teardrop style earbud that funnily enough points upwards when you put them into your ears rather than aiming down. This confused me at first, but with a bit of twisting, you yourself should find a decent and comfortable fit. They come with a number of different earbud sizes too, but the ones already attached, the medium-sized of the set, were good enough for me this time and offered a decent seal. They’re not very heavy at all, and after a couple of songs, you kind of forget they’re in your ears as you stop feeling them.
Each earbud features a touch button, and offers features like play/pause, skipping track and holding to change the volume. It’s such a welcome issue, as older models like the Gold featured a physical button that you had to press. At least here there’s no uncomfortableness pressing the earbuds into my skull. Well done Creative, very welcome addition! Two taps pauses music, three taps skips a track, and holding your finger down raises and lowers the volume.
The case feels fairly robust and is coated in a brushed metal type texture, though chances are it’s probably just plastic, given the price of the earbuds themselves. Rather than a traditional lid, the case slides open from the left by pushing on the right. It’s a smooth operation and one that gives it an aura of luxury. On the left are three lights to indicate the battery level of the case, as well as if the left and right earbuds are being charged. There’s also a USB Type-C charging port. It’s definitely one of the better-styled earbud cases out there.
There’s a couple of partner apps that you can use. The first is the Creative app for mobiles, which will offer you the chance to adjust the equaliser to something better suited and to also access some audio features new to the Outlier Air V3s like an ambient mode or even active noise reduction. This isn’t active noise cancelling, this here will just reduce ambient noise around you, so don’t expect to fall into silence. It does a pretty decent job of removing things like traffic in a town centre though. The earbuds connect to phones using Bluetooth 5.2, and supports AAC and SBC audio codecs but no aptX this time. The second app, and it’s one that’s really down to personal taste, is the SXFI app, which enables a filter to be used with your music to make it sound more ‘live’. Yes, it is a bit of a gimmick. I like it on certain tracks, especially if they’re older, but for modern music, which is pretty well produced these days, it’s not needed as much.
The sound quality on offer here is actually pretty decent, and it was very pleasant listening to various genres of music. The Creative Outlier Air V3 earbuds do a great job at controlling music. There were a few times I wanted a bit more of a punch to my bass, but it was still present, and a bit of adjusting from the EQ in the app could combat this, with some presets or even full customisation. What is nice though is that there is no real harshness to audio, and those tinny sounds from cymbals, or from higher vocal ranges are kept to a comfortable level. This is really thanks to the new bio-cellular drivers found in the earbuds. I was surprised at the level of detail that Creative are able to extract from music, even for lower bitrate services like Spotify.
Microphone quality isn’t too bad either and does a great job of reducing background noise while you’re talking on your phone in public. It produces a nice clear tone, but of course, you can’t expect much from built-in microphones on an earbud. There’s a microphone on each earbud to increase noise quality, and no one complained when I spoke to them on the phone while using the Outlier Air V3s.
The Creative Outlier Air V3 earbuds are such a decent set of headphones at this price point. You can find them online from various retailers at around £60 here in the UK, which for the quality and even battery life you’re receiving from them is a steal. I’d be VERY hard pushed to find better. Creative have knocked it out of the park this time around. For more info on the Outlier Air V3s, head over to the Creative website.