3 min read

Creative Outlier Free Pro+

Creative Outlier Free Pro+

I recently moved into a flat with a pool and I want to develop a habit of going for fitness reasons, but also because I do just enjoy swimming. I thought one way of doing this and being able to stick to a target (i.e. x number of lengths) is being able to listen to podcasts whilst swimming.

It works in other forms of exercise, I'm able to zone out and go for longer when cycling or walking if I have a podcast to listen to. So I thought I'd try some waterproof headphones.

There are earbuds that go into your ear and work like regular in-ear headphones, but this was a chance to try 'bone conduction' headphones that I'd heard about, particularly Shokz as a frequent podcast sponsor. I was also worried about in-ear headphones when underwater, but those worries may be unfounded.

But, I'm not that serious - I didn't want to spend that much money and given I didn't care so much about audio quality for my podcasts, I thought I'd find a cheaper pair.

A few reviews mentioned the Creative Outlier Free Pro or Creative Outlier Free Pro Plus (brilliant names) as a good value pick, so went with the Pro Plus. They have bluetooth capabilities and onboard storage which was my primary requirement (beyond swim-proof). Bluetooth doesn't work underwater - hence the onboard storage requirement.


I've been using them for over a week now with a good few pool sessions and I'm perfectly satisfied with them. They do what they say in the tin.

They're fine from a comfort perspective, I don't find them annoying when wearing or swimming in them. They get loud enough and despite no actual adjustability when it comes to the headband, they're secure even with some vigorous underwater head movement.

The bluetooth range is long and reliable, with my head above the water I could never managed to exceed the range with my phone by the side of the pool. But I have primarily used it by loading podcasts onto the onboard storage. My experience with this summarised:

  • The onboard storage is very slow, you need a bit of patience when copying even relatively small podcasts.
  • The controls are a bit fiddly, but not the worst, they're fine.
  • I was surprised that even when turning the headset off, switching between bluetooth and 'music' (onboard storage) mode, it still remembered where you left off for music/podcasts you last ended on. That's very good for podcast usage, as seeking to particular time isn't possible.

Overall, I paid around £60 for them, they're doing what I hoped. The bone conduction doesn't feel particularly novel or special, it feels like a closed speaker that's pressed against your head. Turn them up loud enough and others can hear them around you quite clearly.

I'm not going to use this out and about, and whilst other brands and more expensive sets may be significantly better, I'm not really anymore convinced by bone conduction headphones for general usage than I was before.

I think the only other thing of note is that the microphone hole needs to be plugged with a bit of flimsy rubber when swimming. I'm not sure what risk of damage there is when it isn't plugged, or if this is just a practical case of making sure the microphone is usable after being submerged - a low tech equivalent of Apple's water ejection technique on the Apple Watch.

If there is risk that the device will be damaged if this plug falls out, then that will be very disappointing. I don't mind if the microphone never works, I'll never be using them - but anything more will be unacceptable.