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Audioengine HD3 Wireless Speakers Review

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I don’t consider myself an expert audiophile, I’m more of an all round hobbyist, but I care enough about the quality of my media that I always opt for the best audio devices that I can afford. As such, I don’t normally turn to wireless options unless I’m casually gaming on consoles or using exercise earbuds. For the last few years, I used Edifier’s R2000DB (a gargantuan pair of very capable bookshelf speakers) on our office desktop because I wasn’t willing to sacrifice any quality while listening to music and gaming. But while the sound quality never failed to impress, the speaker size and cable overflow eventually became a hindrance.

Thankfully, Audioengine’s HD3 speakers prove that wireless audio in a compact size isn’t just reserved for casual listening, but has its own place among audiophiles. The HD3 are a stunning pair of wireless speakers that impress with their rich sound performance. I didn't expect these tiny speakers to match the sound of Edifier’s monstrous drivers, but the HD3 are arguably superior in everything but the bass. Thanks to the built-in 24-bit DAC and wireless receiver, the HD3 deliver a powerful kick straight out of the box.


"The HD3 are a stunning pair of wireless speakers that impress with their rich sound performance."

The speakers are elegantly designed and boast a luxurious, or as Audioengine calls it Retro-Forward, aesthetic that complements the premium price tag. At $399, the HD3 aren’t a cheap investment, but when you experience the crisp and clear audio for the first time, it’ll feel like money well spent. The speakers come in three different finish options: Satin Black Paint, Cherry Wood Veneer and Walnut Wood Veneer. We received the cherry unit and the color is simply sublime. These speakers will look fantastic regardless of your setup, and thanks to their practical size, they can easily fit in snug corners.

The HD3 speakers are unique in that they offer both wireless and wired connections. The USB input makes it easy to connect the speakers to any compatible device if Bluetooth is not an option. Since the USB input bypasses your PC’s built-in low-quality headphone jack, you’ll also benefit from improved headphone performance if you decide to use the HD3’s front-facing 3.5mm output. Bluetooth pairing is fast, and my Spotify was up and running via my iPhone in seconds. If neither options suit you, the provided mini-jack stereo cable can be used for a more traditional connection.


"The speakers are elegantly designed and boast a luxurious, or as Audioengine calls it Retro-Forward, aesthetic that complements the premium price tag."

Most speakers I’ve tested in the past carry all of their primary connections on the right speaker, but the HD3 mixes things up. The right speaker is passive with only the left speaker input on the rear panel. The left unit is a powered speaker that houses the input/output hub, Bluetooth antenna, as well as the upsampling PCM 5102 DAC that helps push for a higher signal-to-noise ratio and lower noise floor. The headphone AUX port on the front is powered by a separate amp and it works surprisingly well whether you’re using standard headphones, or a high-end model like the Audio Technica ATH-M70x.

A small problem with having the main connections on the left speaker is accessibility for PC user. Most PC users have their case on the right side of the desk, oftentimes on the floor, so having the main speaker far left on a large desk can make it difficult to opt for the wired USB connection due to the short cable. Thankfully, I had “just enough” space to stretch the cable across the table to my case, but anyone with a larger work/gaming setup should be aware of the organizational limitations. This is not a problem if you’re strictly going for wireless.


"I don’t know what kind of wizardry has gone into designing and constructing the HD3, but the Bluetooth audio is simply out of this world."

Despite their compact size, the HD3 pack a hefty bass. There’s a bass reduction switch that allows users to toggle the strength of the bass between normal and reduced, but I found the normal setting to be perfectly balanced as it delivers just enough punch without creating auditory distortions or vibrations. It’s exciting to experience such impactful audio from speakers that are almost  as small as a Kleenex tissue box.

I’ve tested plenty of wireless speakers in the past, but it’s always been easy to differentiate between a wired and Bluetooth connection. I don’t know what kind of wizardry has gone into designing and constructing the HD3, but the Bluetooth audio is simply out of this world. Yes, the USB connection delivers a crisper and wider sound stage, but the Bluetooth signal comes frighteningly close in quality.


"Moving onto other music genres, the HD3 continue to blow every wireless speaker I’ve ever tested out of the water."

Doomtree is my go-to group for analyzing overall speaker music performance. Dessa, Mike Mictlan, Paper Tiger, Cecil Otter, Lazerbreak, P.O.S. and Sims all bring a unique voice to their performances, and their music serves as the perfect testing ground for a new speaker set. The HD3 recapture Doomtree’s poetic energy beautifully and their balanced frequency levels keep the beats dynamic and rich without ever overpowering the vocals. Whenever Dessa hits her solo, her voice strikes through with great clarity while the accompanying rhythms spread evenly across the room. Most of my listening takes place directly in front of a computer, but even when I distance myself from the speakers, the audio never loses its breadth and impact.

Moving onto other music genres, the HD3 continue to blow every wireless speaker I’ve ever tested out of the water. Lindsey Stirling’s violin performances sound phenomenal on the HD3. From classical music to pop, rock and electronic dance music genres, Lindsey’s music covers an impressively wide spectrum of styles. Her main theme for The Dark Knight Rises has filled my entire office with rich sound with the volume dial barely reaching the middle. The HD3’s power is a true testament to Audioengine’s expertise with audio engineering.


"The Audioengine HD3 are truly exceptional, and they’re some of the most impressive wireless speakers I’ve tested in the last five years."

I even used the HD3 during my gaming sessions, and the experience has been flawless. Thanks to the HD3’s strong bass and clean mids, FPS titles and racers that boast intense volumetric shifts sound fantastic without a hint of distortion. Survival horror titles like Alien Isolation or Outlast sound particularly great because the HD3 handles lows with delicacy and precision. 

Conclusion: The Audioengine HD3 are truly exceptional, and they’re some of the most impressive wireless speakers I’ve tested in the last five years. Their versatility, design, and audio performance is unmatched. The HD3 are one third in size next to my Edifier R2000DB, but their sound quality crushes them thanks to a wider soundstage and cleaner sound. The asking price isn’t an easy pill to swallow, but their flexibility and impressive high-end features makes them an absolute necessity for anyone who wants audiophile quality in a compact size.

Final Score: A+

5 Reasons Why We're Excited for Assassin's Creed Origins

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Assassin's Creed Origins Cover

The Assassin’s Creed franchise has always excelled at portraying an engrossing fictional history of real world events.Even the worst entries in the series delivered impressive world design that meticulously captured significant historical junctures. This attention to detail remained one of the main reasons I kept coming back for each new release. But, even as a diehard fan I started to feel sequelitis fatigue. Thankfully, things are about to change. After the lukewarm sales and reception of Unity and Syndicate, Ubisoft made the wise choice of giving the series time to breathe.

Assassin's Creed Origins is turning out to be the kind of game fans have wanted since the original AC laid out the foundation for the franchise. Shifting towards a more RPG-oriented gameplay system, Assassin's Creed Origins has the potential of becoming the series’ most defining entry. Here are 5 reasons why we’re personally excited for Ubisoft’s greatest comeback.

Assassin's Creed Origins Romance

5.  A New Beginning
Assassin's Creed Origins is marketed as a soft-reboot. Since the story details remain unclear at this point, we can only speculate what this new direction really means. Based on the trailers and gameplay footage, we can see that the dreaded Animus plot is nixed. I think it’s fair to say that most fans wanted more emphasis on the actual historical narrative, and it looks like our cries have been heard. With more freedom to flesh out a singular storyline, the writers should have greater opportunities to enrich the Assassin’s Creed lore further.

Assassin's Creed Origins Horse Combat


4.  RPG-Style Mechanics
Assassin’s Creed has always been classified as a third person action game, but the developers have decided that in order for the series to feel fresh again, some fundamental elements needed to change in AC Origins .The shift toward an RPG-oriented system is precisely what this series needed, and I applaud the devs for taking bold steps to diversify the formula. I am personally excited to have the ability to grow my character because I was getting very tired of the stagnant-feeling progress of previous entries.

Assassin's Creed Origins Queen

3.  Educational Mode
I know very few players do this, but I always read the historical fact-sheets that AC is infamously known for. For anyone willing to read through the walls of text, you’re rewarded with interesting historical facts and some snarky humor tossed in for good measure. The newly announced Educational Mode seems like an evolutionary step of that basic idea. The ability to simply explore the world without having to worry about enemies or plot seems like an exciting new way to experience the AC universe. I really can’t wait to see what this mode has to offer.

Assassin's Creed Origins Combat

2.  Improved Combat
Judging by the gameplay footage alone, Assassin's Creed Origins appears to boast a much heavier combat system that’s even been compared to Dark Souls. While I always enjoyed AC’s theatrical combo finishers and rhythmical button mashing, the lack of any real challenge severely hampered the experience. This new approach looks more tactical and less systematic. Facing more than two foes is now genuinely challenging, which is very refreshing and welcoming at this point.

Assassin's Creed Origins Horse Racing

1.  Egypt
Feudal Japan and Egypt have been one of the most fan requested settings. Ubisoft is now giving us Egypt, so who knows what the future holds. Egypt is shaping up to be one of the most visually stunning sandboxes to date. The environmental detail that’s brimming with wildlife is absolutely mind boggling. Ubisoft’s greatest strength has always been world building, and Egypt may very well set a new standard for the genre.

Assassin's Creed Origins releases on October 27th across Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC platforms. Are you as excited about the new Assassin's Creed direction as we are? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

Gamdias HERMES M3 RGB Review

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Gamdias has built their brand identity around Greek Mythology and a heavy dose of Heavy Metal, but the company is going through a significant transformation with their latest Hermes lineup. While Gamdias’ core values remain the same, the visual style now favors a more contemporary aesthetic. The minimalist and sleek approach is a notable deviation from their past products that emphasized an industrial approach wrapped in an eccentric theme. Personally, I’m a big fan of this decision and I feel that the company's new releases catapult Gamdias right up there with some of the finest brands in the industry.

There are five new Hermes models that focus on different user preferences and that come in varying sizes. Last week, I had the pleasure of testing the low-profile HERMES M3 RGB. This model is designed with compactibility in mind, and it’s probably the most unique offering from the lineup. The HERMES M3 is an elegantly designed mechanical keyboard that stuns with its thin frame and high-quality build materials. The M3 boasts a 32bit ARM CortexTM-M3 microprocessor, N key rollover, 100% anti-ghosting and 2 dedicated macro keys with 6 profiles.


"The HERMES M3 is an elegantly designed mechanical keyboard that stuns with its thin frame and high-quality build materials."

The M3 is a real looker and makes an attractive first impression. Measuring at only  354 x 128 x 25 mm, the M3 serves as an excellent solution for gamers who prefer a clutter free desk. The keyboard frame is coated with dark, brushed aluminum, which gives the M3 a premium look and feel. The entire body has a pleasing, matte coat that helps hide fingerprints and dust. Wrapped around the keyboard frame is a thin, silver line that provides a nifty visual accent when the RGBs reflect off the surface.

The entire design is a pleasant surprise. The M3 doesn’t scream “gaming gear” like so many products in this industry, which makes it suitable for varying uses. Techies who prefer a minimalist work/gaming environment will appreciate Gamdias’ simplified direction.


"Techies who prefer a minimalist work/gaming environment will appreciate Gamdias’ simplified direction."

The HERMES M3 has quickly become my favorite keyboard for daily use thanks to its superb, all round performance. Typing on the M3 feels smooth and fast. The keys are super responsive and there’s just enough resistance to prevent unintentional keystrokes while providing improved tactility. The overall performance is comparable to Razer’s low-profile keyboard offerings. This is great news for gamers who enjoy Razer’s engineering but want something a little cheaper. The Hermes M3 retails for $139.99, and while it’s not exactly a budget item, M3’s quality rivals keyboards that are typically in much higher price brackets.

I tested a handful of titles across different genres, including: Overwatch, Black Desert Online, Dota 2, Battlefield 1 and StarCraft: Remastered. The M3 excels regardless of content. The ergonomic design makes the keyboard very adaptable regardles of preferences, and I found myself completely in sync with the M3 after a couple of minutes.


"The M3 feels sublime whether you’re typing or gaming, and I genuinely hope Gamdias continues on this new path for all of their future gaming peripherals!"

Due to the slim design, dedicated media buttons have been nixed in favor of a leaner profile. Thankfully, all media controls can be accessed with the Fn key in combination with the secondary F-key controls. For further customization, you can access the Gamdias Hera software where you can manage macros, assign keys, adjust keyboard luminance, set timers and edit the sound file. There’s also a practical GAME key that let’s you toggle Caps, the Windows key and the Scroll Lock. The features are standard and nothing out of the ordinary, but the Hermes M3 has everything you need to personalize your gaming experience.

Conclusion: The HERMES M3 RGB is a new and evolutionary direction for Gamdias. I have yet to test the P3 and M2 models, but as it stands, the M3 is one of my favorite keyboards that Gamdias has released so far. As a big fan of lean tech engineering, the M3 is precisely the kind of keyboard I’ve been seeking for our studio. The M3 feels sublime whether you’re typing or gaming, and I genuinely hope Gamdias continues on this new path for all of their future gaming peripherals!

Final Score: A+

The Overwatch: Anthology Volume 1 Is out, and It's Phenomenal!

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Writer: Matt Burns, Robert Brooks, Micky Neilson, Andrew Robinson, Michael Chu, James Waugh
Penciller: Joe Ng
Artist: Nesskain, Bengal, Gray Shuko, Jeffrey ''Chamba'' Cruz, Miki Montllo, Joe Ng
Inker: Joe Ng
Colorist: Espen Grundetjern
Cover Artist: Miki Montllo
Price: $15.94

The Overwatch: Anthology Volume 1 released today, and I am in absolute awe! This hardcover release by Dark Horse Comics combines the first set of Blizzard's digital comic books based on the popular Hero Shooter. The print quality is fantastic, and the stunning illustrations look even better in person. Don't get me wrong, I love reading my comics digitally, but there's something very special about holding a high-quality print in your hands.

I've taken a few teaser pics to show you just how wonderful the interior pages are. Even if you've never played Overwatch before, this release is an absolute must for comic book fans, and anyone who appreciated good art!





There's even a dedicated Sketchbook section in the back of the book. There are several pages detailing the process behind a selected number of pages. It's always exciting to see gorgeous and complex comic book layouts go from concept to fruition!



Forza 7 Review

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Reviewed on: Xbox One | Developer: Turn 10 Studios | Publisher: Microsoft | Retail Price: $59.99 | Final Score: 7.5

Review Note: Forza 7 was reviewed using a retail XBOX ONE code provided by Microsoft, and it was played on the original Xbox One console. We will update the review with a secondary score once we analyze the Xbox One X version. 

The Forza franchise holds a special place in my heart. Since the original Forza Motorsport launch in 2005, Turn 10 Studios’ incredible commitment to their fan base and the sport of racing has been one of my primary reasons for purchasing a Microsoft console each generation. The perfect blend of arcade and simulation gameplay became a new benchmark for the racing genre, and I think everyone can agree that the developer’s meticulous craftsmanship played a huge role in the series’ success.

When Forza 7 was first announced, I drooled over every trailer and news coverage that surfaced across the web. Microsoft's games lineup has been abysmal this year, and Forza 7 seemed like it could turn things around for the struggling platform. However, now that I’ve spent several dozen hours with the final retail code, I’m starting to worry that one of my favorite franchises is beginning to fade into the shadow of its own success.


"However, now that I’ve spent several dozen hours with the final retail code, I’m starting to worry that one of my favorite franchises is beginning to fade into the shadow of its own success."

One of the first things that took me off-guard were the graphics. I played Forza 7 on the original Xbox One, and while I completely understand that the Xbox One X version will deliver increased details, lighting and textures, the base version is notably rougher looking than Forza 6. One of the main reasons for this is the new shift to a more dynamic weather system. Forza 7 can look absolutely mind-boggling when all effects are in full force, and when the sun is perfectly situated to paint the scenery with breathtaking, warm tones.

But in many other situations, there’s a visible lack of environmental details whenever you slow down enough to pay attention to the surroundings. Please understand that I’m not calling Forza ugly by any means. This is a gorgeous game that remains one of the best-looking racers on the market. However, original Xbox One owners should be aware that all marketing materials for this game have been shown using Xbox One X footage. It’s really important to keep your expectations in check, because this is one of those cases where base hardware owners are getting a rather downgraded version.

The problems don't’ stop there. I’ve experienced abysmal FPS drops when using the cockpit view on certain tracks. The FPS would drop to single digits ONLY when driving with the first person view. This is unheard of for Forza, and this issue has plagued my entire playthrough. The drops are intermittent, and while they don’t occur every single race, it does happen at least 2-3 times each session, which I find absolutely unacceptable for this type of game.


"I’ve experienced abysmal FPS drops when using the cockpit view on certain tracks. The FPS would drop to single digits ONLY when driving with the first person view. This is unheard of for Forza, and this issue has plagued my entire playthrough."

Technical disappointments aside, Forza 7 is nearly identical to its predecessor save for the new weather system. Having Forza 7 and Forza 6 running side by side exposes painful similarities between the titles, and the fact that most tracks are repeats from previous games makes this situation even more difficult to analyze. Gameplay remains unchanged, which can be viewed as a good or bad thing. I’ve always enjoyed Forza’s precise controls, and I continue to enjoy the smooth racing in Forza 7. I guess I expected more refined tweaks to the car's’ weight as some of them still feel like they’ve been pumped with helium. Nevertheless, Forza 7 continues to handle like a dream even if you’re getting the exact same driving experience as before.

The career mode has been streamlined for greater user experience. Navigating the menus feels a little easier thanks to a smarter layout, and there are fewer steps between the main menu and the race lineup. Races have also been categorized into a more visually pleasing event hub that provides a clearer progression overview.


"Forza 7 is a solid racer, and for those new to the franchise, it may very well be one of the greatest racers of all time. But for long time Forza fans like myself, the series has officially lost its spark."

Mods are back, only this time they’ve been interwoven with a loot box system that makes Forza 7 feel more like a casino than a premium game. The whole gambling approach has leaked into all aspects of Forza 7, from the way cars and credits are awarded to the way you’re encouraged to spend real-world money for in-game credits. This whole process has become so unnecessarily convoluted, and it adds absolutely no benefit to the player.

Adding insult to injury, Forza 7’s audio is shockingly disappointing. Gone are the professional announcers and voice actors that brief gamers on the car specs in Forzavista. When visiting Forzavista now, there are no voice overs, no car specs, no nothing. And remember how Forza used to have some of the best menu music in a racing game? Not anymore. The music in Forza 7 makes it seem like the developers ran out of time and purchased a bunch of soundtracks from a stock website. At least the cars deliver a more authentic punch.

Conclusion: This is the first time that I feel disappointed by Turn 10 Studios. While the upcoming Xbox One X may deliver a more technically polished version than what I had to deal with on base hardware, the lack of any real improvements or changes makes Forza 7 feel more like a expansion pack than a proper sequel. This is especially true when you compare the monumental improvements in Forza Horizon 3 over its predecessor. Forza 7 is a solid racer, and for those new to the franchise, it may very well be one of the greatest racers of all time. But for long time Forza fans like myself, the series has officially lost its spark.

Final Score: 7.5

Audio Technica ATH-M70x Review

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Audio Technica is a notable brand among audiophiles, but my personal experience with their products has been limited to their gaming models, the ATH-ADG1x and the ATH-AG1X. I personally enjoy dedicated listening devices, whether it’s gaming headsets or audiophile headphones, but lately, I’ve been shifting towards studio monitor headphones for all of my media consumption.

Audio engineering has become impressively complex across video games, movies and television over the years that the need for specialized frequency enhancements is becoming less prevalent. It may seem strange to bring monitor headphones into a video game discussion, but considering that 4K and HDR are quickly becoming TV standards thanks to the popularity of next-gen consoles, it makes sense to want to seek out more precise audio equipment in order to fully enjoy your entertainment.

Audio Technica’s ATH-M70x are professional monitor headphones, and this is my first time testing one of the company’s studio models. The headphones retain the company’s sleek aesthetic, which makes them a great fit for tech enthusiasts who prefer minimalist design. Audio Technica has even included a sturdy, practical carrying case.

The build quality is solid, although the thorough use of plastic doesn’t make the best first impression considering the $299 price tag. After using SteelSeries headsets for so long, it’s a bit odd going back to something that feels so fragile in comparison. Having said that, the headphones still feel strong enough for regular, daily use, and thankfully, the sublime comfort makes up for the lack of premium build materials.

Spec Highlights:
Type: Closed-back dynamic
Driver Diameter: 45 mm
Magnet: Neodymium
Voice Coil: CCAW (Copper-clad aluminum wire)
Frequency Response: 5-40,000 Hz
Maximum Input Power: 2,000 mW at 1 kHz
Sensitivity: 97 dB
Impedance: 35 ohms
Weight: 280 g (9.9 oz), without cable and connector
Cable: Interchangeable cables: detachable 1.2 m - 3.0 m (3.9' - 9.8') coiled cable, detachable 3.0 m (9.8') straight cable and detachable 1.2 m (3.9') straight cable
Accessories Included: Carrying case, 6.3 mm (1/4") screw-on adapter


"The headphones retain the company’s sleek aesthetic, which makes them a great fit for tech enthusiasts who prefer minimalist design."

Since the ATH-M70x model has 35 ohms of impedance, I used Creative Labs’ Sound Blaster E5 Amp to get the most out of the audio. The sound is clean and natural. The lows and mids are vibrant and crisp, and it’s easy to make out minute details when focusing on individual instruments while listening to music. The neutral and balanced performance is perfect for getting accurate results across varying media. Since there are no audio enhancements, users accustomed to gaming or audiophile style headphones may find the bass on the weaker side, but with time, your ears will adjust and you’ll start appreciating the more accurate outcome.

The ATH-M70x are excellent headphones for measuring sound accuracy when recording songs or mixing tracks as a DJ, but since I’m not a musician, my tests mostly encompassed music listening, movie watching and gaming. For a while now, I used the HiFiMAN HE400S for all of my media consumption. They’re one of the best audiophile-grade, open type headphones under $500, and they’ve been my go to device for over a year.


"The neutral and balanced performance is perfect for getting accurate results across varying media."

After trying the ATH-M70x, however, I’m actually starting to lean towards Audio Technica’s method of audio engineering. I tend to listen to music at relatively high audio levels, and a lot of headphones have a hard time keeping all frequencies clean of noise when pushed to the limit. Thankfully, the ATH-M70x work like a champ. Extreme frequency shifts are handled with precision and clarity, and I haven’t encountered a single sound error in the 55+ hours of testing.

Primary tests are conducted using my FLAC music collection that contains samples from varying music genres. The headphones perform phenomenally. Quinine by Dessa sounds particularly sublime as the audio shifts from rhythmical beats and vocals to echoing orchestral bits that open the sound stage with their powerful interludes. Even with the subdued bass, fans of hip hop music or dance/techno will love the sound richness.


"The Audio Technica ATH-M70x are an incredible pair of monitor headphones for both professionals and hobbyists."

As mentioned earlier, the soundstage isn’t comparable to a high-quality audiophile model, and with a handful of songs, these shortcomings become slightly apparent. Many Florence and the Machine songs, for example, are recorded with a sense of scale thanks to the accompanying orchestra. Some of that spatial brightness is lost with the ATH-M70x, but to be fair, this is only noticeable when there’s a direct comparison. Overall, the ATH-M70x is unquestionably reliable when it comes to consistency when jumping between different sources, and the soundstage shortcomings are hard to view as a serious criticism.

The ATH-M70x also impress when gaming or watching movies. I normally don’t use audio software for enhancements, but applying the SBX Pro Studio Surround feature via the Sound Blaster E-Series Control Panel yields to some remarkable results. Playing through competitive multiplayers games like Dirty Bomb, Overwatch or The Division with this combination is extremely beneficial for gauging the precise location of incoming enemy fire. I’ve never been able to use this feature properly with other headphones, but when combined with the ATH-M70x, I’m completely sold on successful, simulated surround sound.

Conclusion: The Audio Technica ATH-M70x are an incredible pair of monitor headphones for both professionals and hobbyists. They look fantastic, they’re easy to transport, they’re comfortable during prolonged use, and most importantly, they deliver phenomenal sound that impresses no matter the source material. If you’ve got a solid amp and you’re looking for a high-quality listening device that’s both professionally accurate and practical for everyday usage, the ATH-M70x are an incredible choice!       

A-

Creative Outlier Sports Review

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I have struggled to find a suitable pair of exercise earbuds for a while now. Regardless of quality or price, there’s usually at least one major factor that compromises the experience. Whenever I find a pair that feels comfortable and sounds great, it typically lacks battery life or has poor usability. Other times earbuds offer excellent battery longevity and sturdy build materials, but have a tendency to lack comfort and/or sound richness, and in many cases, wireless capabilities.

Just when I was getting ready to give up on my search for the perfect exercise audio gear, Creative Labs releases the Outlier Sports—a pair of ultra-light wireless sweat-proof in-ear headphones that boast all the imperative features without any sacrifices.

The Creative Outlier Sports have it all: Bluetooth capabilities with excellent range (up to 33ft), 11hr battery life, they’re constructed using sweatproof materials and they have a practical phone switch for call taking. The headphones aren’t cheap as they cost $69.99, but because they’re jam-packed with features that genuinely stand out from the competition, I find this a worthy investment for anyone who wants to improve their daily exercise routine.


" Unlike other earbuds I tested in the past, the soundstage here is remarkably wide with crystal clear mids and lows."

Before taking the Outlier Sports for a test jog, I analyzed the audio quality inside our studio to avoid external factors. This model features 6mm Neodymium drivers with a 20Hz ~ 20kHz frequency response, and the sound quality impresses right away. There is a surprising amount of bass. Not too overbearing but punchy enough to enrich whatever media you’re consuming. Unlike other earbuds I tested in the past, the soundstage here is remarkably wide with crystal clear mids and lows. Thanks to their tight fit and rubbery material, the Outlier Sports do a fantastic job of muffling exterior sounds.

While gearing up for a run, I appreciated the ergonomic design and comfort behind Outlier’s engineering. The headphones charge via a micro USB that connects between the audio toggle and your PC. The control toggle is a slim piece of plastic that’s only millimeters thicker than the headphone wire, and it is conveniently located below the right earbud for easy access. Pairing with my iPhone takes mere seconds, and I love the separate battery indicator that pops up beside the phone battery icon.


"I consider my ears relatively large, but I still had to opt for the small earbud attachments as the large sizes are simply gigantic."

The Creative Outlier Sports model ships with a small carrying case that’s filled with replaceable ear pieces for varying ear sizes. I consider my ears relatively large, but I still had to opt for the small earbud attachments as the large sizes are simply gigantic. This may be my biggest (but also only) gripe with this model. My wife is unable to use these headphones because even the tiniest ear pieces are too large for smaller ears. Thankfully, the earbuds are a perfect fit for me, but this is definitely one area where you ought to pay attention before making the purchase.

The real test came once I stepped into the gym. My workout session was completely hassle-free and the headphones never interfered with me switching machines back and forth. The sound remained phenomenal without skipping a beat. It was a real treat not having to worry about cable management, signal loss or the device getting damaged. After a few hours of soaking in sweat and even getting covered by a rainstorm in the parking lot, the Outlier survived like a champ. The water-resistant materials are impressive as they’re able to withstand very harsh conditions. I’ve been testing the Outlier every day for two weeks now, and they still perform and look like they just rolled out of the factory.


"They’re able to withstand very harsh conditions. I’ve been testing the Outlier every day for two weeks now, and they still perform and look like they just rolled out of the factory."

Conclusion: The Creative Outlier Sports are the most impressive exercise headphones I’ve ever tested. They feel fantastic if you’re playing sports for long periods of time, and their audio performance is way beyond anything I’ve ever experienced from a pair of tiny earbuds. Sadly, people with smaller ears won’t be able to benefit from Outlier’s great features. Even with the smallest earbud attachment, the Outlier may still be too big for some people. But for everyone else, this is an absolute must-have!

Final Score: A-

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