Creative Outlier Air V3 earphones – fantastic low price for high performance (review)

The Creative Outlier Air V3 is the new version of the already very good V2 – not only for performance but the price – a low, low $99.95 gets you BT 5.2, ANC, Qi charge and a massive ten hours (ANC off) battery life with 30 more in the case.

Creative Outlier Air V3

WebsiteProduct page
PricePrice: Normally $99.95 but on promo at $72.95
FromFrom: Creative online
Warranty12 months ACL
Country of OriginChina
CompanySingapore based Creative Labs (Est 1981) is famed for its PC soundcards and, more recently, speakers and headsets. Its Super X-Fi launched in 2018, is just beginning to take hold to produce spatial sound from stereo technology.

First impression

They look and feel like premium buds, have a superb Qi and USB-C charge slide-out carry case and Creative (you remember the Sound Blaster people) are giving them away at A$99.95 on special at $72.95. Buy now – a no brainer.

Comfort

Fit is essential for comfort and noise isolation. It comes with small, medium and large silicone tips. They sit well in the ear and just at the front of the ear canal. While they are IPX5 rated, they don’t have any wings to stabilise them, and during an hour’s strenuous walk, I had to reseat them a few times.

BT pairing – a little slow

While it pairs with the Samsung S21 Ultra and Surface Pro 8, it does not support multi-point. You have to disconnect to go to the other. The App won’t load until it is connected.

You can use both for stereo or either for mono.

Battery

Claim: 10 hours ANC off. We tested over four days, and at 75% volume, ANC on it was 7.5 hours. Recharge time is 2-3 hours on USB-C and about 20% more on Qi. Qi charging is unheard of at this price.

ANC – not quite what you think

It is software-based – not hardware as with most ANC. And let’s be fair, Creative calls it active Noise Reduction – not cancellation. The level is very similar to the Jabra 75t when it got a software upgrade to ANC.

It does a fair job – way above what you can expect from a $99 device.

Sound – more pre-sets than seagulls fighting over chips

It has 46 pre-sets, about half for music styles and the others for well-known games. But you can also customise it with the famous finger slide too. The EQ downloads the last profile to the buds.

Our initial problem was the lack of volume on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. We discovered that the touch volume controls on the buds work independently of the Samsung BT volume settings. A quick swap to Windows 11, and the volume was excellent.

The sound stage is slightly wider than your ears, and there is excellent left/right separation, and that is due to the vented design.

 Music-wise, it is very good with lots of bass, solid mids, and a hint of treble harshness that you can reduce in the EQ.

It was excellent with Dolby Atmos test tracks. Creative has the SX-Fi app, and this incorporates something called ‘headphone holography’ where all the Digital Signal Processing (DSP) is on the phone on music stored there.

Hands-free – not bad

It has two mics per bud – outside for voice and ANR. It does a passable job at hands-free conversation but won’t handle windy conditions.

CyberShack’s view – Creative Outlier Air V3 is amazing value for premium features

Qi Charge, ANR, customisable touch, huge range of EQ pre-sets and custom profiles, terrific native sound signature and all for $99. You could spend twice as much and not get this.

For the price, it’s a 10/10, but our objective rating is 9.1/10.

GENERAL
   WebsiteProduct page
   Warranty12-months
   PriceUsually $99.95 on special $72.95 plus freight
   FromCreative Online
Accessories includedS/M/L ear gels, short USB-A to USB-C charge cable
MISSINGIn-ear detection
aptX
PRO 1Excellent sound signature
2Qi and USB-C charge
3Decent App and amazing EQ
4IPX5
5Fantastic low price
CON 1Only SBC and AAC codecs
2Large charging case
3In-ear detection missing
RATING
Features9
Everything you need
Value10
Don’t know of any  better buds at even twice this price
Performance9
Great music signature, wide sound stage and good volume
Ease of use8.5
Little slow to pair and lacks fast pair and multi-point
Design9
Love the slide-out metallic green case
Score /109.1

Creative Outlier Air V3 specs

Earphone comparison chartCreative Outlier Air V3
STYLE
   BudsIn-ear
   Sports (with wing)no
    IP ratingX5
   Ear tip typeSilicone
   ColourMetallic matte green – very attractive
   ClassValue ANC
CONNECTION
   CabledNo
   Bluetooth5.2
      CodecsSBC, AAC
      A2DP, AVRCP, HFPYes
   True Wireless (Qualcomm)TWS – not likely Qualcomm as no aptX
Can use left or right as mono
   Google Fast PairNo
   Windows Swift pairNo
   MultipointNo
SIZE
   Weight each grams5.2
CONTROLS
   TypeTouch – customisable
   Auto pauseNo
NOISE
   ANCSoftware-based active noise reduction – basic effectiveness
  Ambient passthroughYes
   Conversation modeNo
   Game modeNo
AUDIO
   Speaker size mm6
   Frequency response20Hz-20kHz
BATTERY
   mAh in each bud55
   mAh in case450
   Case charge type (USB or Qi)USB-C and Qi
        Case size/weight69.8
   Charge voltage rating5V/1A/5W
   Battery time excluding case ANC off10
   Battery time excluding case ANC onTested 75% volume 7.5hours
   Additional battery time in case hours30
   Charge time case3 hours USB-C
4 Hours Qi
Mic
   Number on each budDual
   OtherHands-free is effective with a degree of background noise reduction.
VOICE ASSISTANT
   TypeOK Google and Siri
APP
   FeaturesEQ
ANC
   EQAmazing range of pre-sets for audio and games.
   Find my budsNo
   SpatialSXFI app and works with Dolby Atmos
 OS supportAndroid and iOS. BT connects to any BT host.

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