Bone-conduction headphones have become increasingly popular among consumers. They feature an open design and utilise sound conduction technology that differs completely from traditional headphones. Not only are they comfortable to wear and less likely to cause hearing damage, but they also provide added safety during outdoor activities. Despite these advantages, only a few traditional audio manufacturers have entered the bone-conduction headphone market, resulting in a long-standing monopoly in the high-end segment by just a couple of brands.
This situation changed earlier this year with the introduction of the Outlier Free Pro+ by the renowned audio brand Creative. Not only does it boast a top-notch configuration and performance, but its market pricing also offers a significant advantage compared to its competitors, unquestionably reshaping the market landscape.
We can tell by the name that it is an upgraded version of the product, and the difference with the regular version is that the position of the sound generator unit of the Plus version can be adjusted back and forth. This greatly improves the efficiency of sound transmission and makes the user experience much better. The Outlier Free Pro+ is IPX8 waterproof, which is the highest level of waterproof certification. Instead of worrying about rain or sweat from exercise, you can even swim with it!
The Outlier Free Pro+ has 8GB of built-in storage, which means you don’t need to take your phone with you while you’re exercising to enjoy your music. I don’t usually swim, so I asked a friend who is a daily swimmer to test it out in that sport. He told me that for some reason, the sound quality seemed to be better in the water. My guess is that the water fills the gap between the skin and the sound unit, thus improving the efficiency of sound transmission. Or maybe that’s why Creative chose to pick swimming scenarios for their outer product packaging specifically?
Exceptional sound performance
In terms of music playback, the Outlier Free Pro+ did not disappoint. The sound lifted up very fully while possessing a certain sense of spaciousness. Due to its open design, the Outlier Free Pro+ must not be compared to in-ear headphones in terms of music resolution, low frequencies and immersion. This is why we should choose the headphones that best suit our needs, rather than a so-called all-rounder. Having said that, the sound quality of the Outlier Free Pro+ is arguably superior among the bone-conduction headphones currently on the market.
One stubborn issue with all the bone conductions
Due to the way bone conduction headphones work, all similar products have more or less sound leakage issues, and the Outlier Free Pro+ is no exception. I would highly discourage making more private calls through this headset in public. On top of that, due to the sound leakage, it would be a very bad idea if you choose to wear them in quieter settings such as offices or libraries to enjoy your music.
Better Bluetooth codecs
Most bone-conduction headphones that consumers can buy generally only support the SBC encoding format. Surprisingly, the Outlier Free Pro+ supports Bluetooth 5.3 technology and AAC audio encoding, and the connection is very stable in daily use – I never experienced any accidental disconnections during use. The headset also has a long transmission range, so you won’t experience any signal degradation at all.
Very comfortable to wear
Whether or not a headset is comfortable to wear can be a very subjective question. At first, I was confused about the comfort level of these headphones because no matter how much I adjusted them, I could never reach a level that satisfied me. So my first impression of its wearability was not good. But I could never get over that initial conclusion. I also did some research before I got my hands on the Outlier Free Pro+, and I didn’t see any criticisms about this aspect of comfort. So I took it to my office and asked my colleagues to try it out and find out if there was anything they didn’t feel comfortable with.
The answer was a pleasant surprise, but also frustrating. Surprised because I was certain that it was my ears that were not suited to this type of headset, as all of my colleagues who had tried the headset were unanimous in their opinion that they liked it very much, and that there was no discomfort whatsoever. I felt sorry for myself when I heard this feedback from them because, from a health point of view, bone conduction headphones would be much less harmful to the health of the ear than in-ear, which I wear for at least 3 hours a day.
Multi-point connectivity works so well
Another useful feature of the Outlier Free Pro+ is the ability to connect to two devices at the same time and automatically pause or autoplay depending on the priority of the task. For example, if I’m watching a YouTube video on my iPad with Outlier Free Pro+, and I take a call on my mobile phone, the video on the tablet will automatically pause. The moment I press end call on my phone, the YouTube video on the iPad automatically resumes playing. This seamless switching experience was very stable and did not have any on-again, off-again moments.
Should I buy one?
Undoubtedly, Outlier Free Pro stands out as a product of exceptional quality on various fronts. Its superior sound quality surpasses that of comparable products, offering a heightened audio experience. The headset also boasts exceptional comfort during wear, coupled with the convenience of an independent storage unit for music playback. An additional compelling factor for considering this headset is the ongoing promotion on the official Creative website. Originally priced at AU$ 254.95, the Pro+ variant is currently available at the attractive price of AU$ 169.95, presenting a noteworthy opportunity. Moreover, ordering through Creative’s official website ensures free shipping for orders exceeding $59.
In conclusion, I highly recommend exploring this bone-conduction headset. While personal reservations initially led to my hesitation in adopting such headsets, feedback from peers who have experienced its benefits has swayed my opinion. It is evident that this headset is geared towards sports enthusiasts and offers a healthier alternative. Rest assured, these headphones are unlikely to disappoint.
Creative has allowed Ausdroid to retain this review device to monitor updates and review accessories.