Creative Outlier Gold review: Affordable true wireless earbuds bring the pain

    The Creative Outlier Gold true wi-fi earbuds remind me that consolation will be much more vital than good sound high quality. Yes, the buds—which look virtually an identical to final 12 months’s Creative Outlier Air, however provide improved battery life—have good sound for his or her worth and tick loads of bins should you’re looking for gym-friendly true-wireless earbuds for simply $100. But gosh, you’d higher hope you could have deep ear canals, as a result of in any other case the contact controls for the Outlier Gold rank among the many most uncomfortable on the market.

    Note: This evaluation is a part of our roundup of wireless and true wireless earbuds. Go there for particulars on competing merchandise and our testing strategies.

    So let’s begin off with the good things. Again, the sound is sweet, significantly should you’re looking for a extra balanced auditory expertise as a substitute of skull-thumping bass. The bass is satisfying sufficient on tracks like Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy,” nevertheless it by no means hits as onerous because it does with buds like Anker’s equally priced Soundcore Spirit Dot 2. Instead, the Outlier Gold works finest on tracks that emphasize each lows and highs like Queen’s “Radio Ga Ga.”

    This is to not say they’re nearly as good as headphones that value round $50 extra, although, as most tracks have a faint however noticeable “cloudiness” hovering over the audio, and the center ranges lack punch. (For that matter, the microphone is satisfactory at finest.) Still, should you’re not looking for good readability in your music or should you’ll primarily be sporting these within the health club, there’s a great likelihood you’re not going to thoughts. The Creative Outlier Gold help aptX and AAC high-quality Bluetooth codecs on each iOS and Android for high-quality streaming.

    Leif Johnson / IDG

    That metallic look is nice, nevertheless it makes each the buds and case little slippery to deal with.

    In principle, they need to sound even higher due to Creative’s Super X-Fi integration expertise, which makes use of an app to map your head with the intention to create an inexpensive approximation of 3D audio. In apply, it’s just a little underwhelming. While it does add dimension to the music, the supply is not as spectacular on a technical degree, and so every monitor type of finally ends up sounding like a reside recording of a preferred track. Plus, you’ll be able to solely use Super X-Fi with songs you have already got downloaded in your cellphone. The expertise isn’t actually definitely worth the trouble. 

    Beyond sound high quality, many different options within the Outlier Gold make them nice health club companions, such because the IPX 5 water resistance ranking, which ensures that these buds ought to have the ability to face up to being drenched in sweat. (Just don’t wash them beneath a faucet.) They boast nice battery lifetime of round 12 hours on the quantity I usually play music at—Creative lists 14 hours—and the battery case can reportedly pump that as much as round 30 to 39 whole hours of play.

    They’re just a little cumbersome, however their gold sheen makes them look as if they’re constituted of extra valuable stuff than plastic (though should you don’t look after that, in addition they are available black). And as for the actual purpose why they make such good health club buddies? It’s virtually unattainable to get them out of your ears. I jogged round my hilly neighborhood. I did leaping jacks and pushups. And all of the whereas, the Outlier Gold stayed in place. As a bonus, that tight seal creates spectacular passive noise cancellation.

    creative outlier gold buds Leif Johnson / IDG

    There’s just one set of additional eartips to select from.


    So right here’s the catch: That comfortable match is expounded to the Outlier Gold’s worst function. You don’t faucet the controls for the Outlier Gold: Instead, you press down onerous on stiff, giant buttons on every bud to carry out any actions. Seriously, you actually need to place some effort into it. A single press on both bud performs or pauses the music, whereas urgent twice on the left bud goes to the earlier monitor. On the best bud, a double press skips ahead to the subsequent tack. Holding down the best button raises the quantity, whereas holding down the left lowers it. You can summon your voice assistant with a double press, however no music will be taking part in.

    I used to be sick of this by the top of the primary day. At least with my ears, the Outlier Gold’s angled suggestions attain up to now into my head that urgent them brought about substantial discomfort. Those quantity controls? Yikes. “Pain” is just too robust of a phrase, nevertheless it’s not removed from the reality. By the center of the week, I’d begun dreading urgent the buttons (and even sporting the Outlier Gold in any respect), as each press felt a bit like forcing a big Q-Tip in my ear. I ultimately began dealing with most playback and quantity controls on my cellphone as a substitute and located them extra satisfying after that.

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