A comprehensive update to this third-generation provides the Creative Outlier Air V3 with an app for customising sound and operation. The adjustable attenuation and amplification of outside noise are also new, and this makes the price of these wireless in-ears seem very attractive.
The compact housings of the Creative Outlier Air V3 have an IPX5 sweat- and water-resistant finish, which allows them to be used during sports and protects the system from weather-related moisture during outdoor activities. With a weight of 5.5 grams per side, these earphones are a little lighter than the previous model and fit quite firmly in the ear if they are not subjected to too much vibration. Although the housings do not sit flush with the ears and protrude a little, these earphones do fit under a not too tight-fitting cap or hat for winter use.
In our battery test, the Creative Outlier Air V3 impressed us with their high endurance values. While a runtime of a good nine hours was achieved at higher volume levels with maximum noise cancellation, the listening time increased to up to eleven hours in standard mode. In addition, the earpieces can be fully charged twice in the case and once more with a remaining capacity of two and a half to three hours, resulting in a total runtime of almost 36 hours in basic mode and more than 29 hours with maximum noise cancellation.
You’ll have to accept that the charging case seems quite large compared to many competitors and that the in-ears do not have a quick-charging function. However, the charging status of both the earphones and the case is indicated by three LEDs, which is worthy of praise. The case can be powered either via the USB-C port or wirelessly via Qi, and the battery reserve is restored within two hours and ten minutes via the supplied USB-C to USB-A charging cable. The in-ears are fully recharged after 80 minutes.
The Creative Outlier Air V3 support Bluetooth standard 5.2 and offer a range of up to ten metres within an urban environment; this proved to be stable even through several rooms. Pairing these earphones can be done by removing them from the case; this automatically turns the system on and puts it into pairing mode. They are switched off by placing them back in the charger. The system can be switched on and off independently of the case by holding the touch-sensitive surfaces, which is a plus. This is practical, and it also protects the batteries if they are not charged after each use. There is provision for single-sided use of the headphones in single-mode, too.
Once a wireless connection is established, playback can be controlled by double-tapping the touch surface on the right, on the left; this is used to switch between basic, ambient and ANC mode. Calls can be answered and ended on both sides by tapping twice. A triple tap on the right side allows you to skip to the next track, while on the left headphone, this activates voice assistants. The volume can be decreased by briefly holding down the left side and increased by holding down the right side, but this operation is abrupt rather than fine. However, this standard assignment does not cover jumping back when selecting a track. But this function can be retrofitted via the Creative App, as the touch control can be quite freely adaptable to your personal needs.
The Outlier Air V3’s app (Android, iOS, Windows and macOS) provides a graphical EQ with ten bands for sound adjustment, and here custom settings can be saved as presets. In addition, there are 43 ready-made EQ settings to choose from, which includes a variety of music styles from “hip-hop” to “classical” as well as specific settings for individual computer and video games such as “League of Legends”, “Fortnite” or the “Call of Duty” series. Various genres are also targeted via “RPG” or “Driving Simulation”. These settings can be used as a basis for customisation, which is a nice touch.
As well as the assignment of the touch control, the noise control of the Creative Outlier Air V3 can be adjusted via the app by adapting both the noise cancelling and the ambient mode to the environment in five stages. The noise-cancelling or the ambient mode can be configured to be active during phone calls. Furthermore, there is the option to update the headphones’ firmware.
Speech quality during phone calls
In a quiet environment, the Creative Outlier Air V3 offer exceptionally good intelligibility on the phone, given their price range, and this applies to both sides of the conversation. We noticed, however, that the reproduction of your own voice can be affected by background noise, which is choppy in transmission and the volume fluctuates quite considerably. The effect occurs both in the standard setting and with active noise cancellation and is intensified in ambient mode, which is why we do not recommend activating this in the app settings.
Noise cancellation (ANC) and ambient mode
According to the manufacturer, the noise-cancelling function of the Creative Outlier Air V3 is primarily intended to attenuate monotonous, low-frequency noise on planes or during train and bus journeys, and at the higher levels, it does this successfully. Voices or street noise are accordingly only slightly reduced, but at least they fade more into the background in the maximum setting. One advantage is that the noise suppression works without audible background noise, but this is unfortunately not the case in ambient mode. When amplifying outside noises, a noise is perceptible from the medium setting onwards, and this increases per level and can influence the playback in maximum mode. Apart from that, the environment is amplified cleanly, so that a conversation can be held without problems when playback is paused and loudspeaker announcements can be understood even at a distance of a few metres. During playback, however, the surroundings are not faded out, so that at moderate volume levels it is still possible to react to fellow human beings and be responsive.
AudioHolography for Headphones (SXFI Technology)
The Creative Outlier Air V3’s slightly treble-emphasised tuning has a tidy, appealingly detailed soundstage and offers crisp, accurate reproduction that reaches far down. The present low bass isn’t necessarily puny, but it doesn’t seem powerful either and sounds defined, which provides an enjoyable punch when listening to electronic music. The bass reproduction is powerful across all genres without appearing superficial, and it blends harmoniously into the overall picture. This also applies to the excellent midrange, which has a subtle warmth and reproduces voices quite naturally and clearly. Another positive aspect is that even complex arrangements never seem cramped, as there is sufficient space between the individual instruments, which promotes localisation.
With increasing volume, however, a weak point of these headphones reveals itself, as the present, fast and lively treble reproduction not only sets desired accents but also tends to peaks and an overemphasis of sibilants. The fact that the upper registers do not drop opens up the sound image, but the midrange can be perceived as intrusive and overshoot the target at higher room volumes. The EQ should be used to lower the frequency range somewhat, and this will remedy the situation.
Thanks to flexible sound adjustment via the app, the Creative Outlier Air V3 are highly recommended as all-rounders; they are as at home with podcasts and films as they are for gaming or listening to music with precise, detailed reproduction. These weatherproof True Wireless in-ears also score points with their long-lasting batteries, especially as they offer good speech intelligibility when making phone calls, except for in louder background noise. Apart from the background noise in ambient mode, the adjustable amplification and attenuation of external noise also offers added value, making the overall package excellent value for money.
- Sweat and water resistant according to IPX5
- Handset with long battery life
- Bluetooth 5.2
- Speech intelligibility during phone calls (in quiet surroundings)
- App connection with (sound) customisation options
- Case can be charged either via USB-C port or wirelessly via Qi
- supports AAC codec
- No fast charging function
- Ambient mode with perceptible background noise
- Relatively large charging case
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Weight without cable5.5 g each, Case: 65 g
What's in the box
- Eartips in three sizes (S/M/L)
- USB-C to USB-A charging cable
- Charging case
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC
- BT version: 5.2
- BT profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP