Creative’s Aurvana line of headphones has a new member, the Aurvana Live, which complement the existing in-ear Zen Aurvana and noise-canceling Aurvana X-Fi headphones. The new model is a set of regular full-size cans that fit all the way around your ears, and they block some noise without any extra electronics. The Aurvana Live sound surprisingly good for the money, and they’re comfy enough for daily use or cross-country flights. Their $149.99 USD list price pits them squarely against Bose’s TriPort, though the Creative cans are more deeply discounted online.
Features and Design
The Aurvana Live’s earcups are done up in high-gloss black with chrome (plastic) for the Creative logo and trim. The earpads and adjustable headband are covered in very soft black leatherette. The earcups swivel, but not much — 30 degrees each way side-to-side and 135 degrees vertically — which means they won’t fold or lay flat.
The nearly 4-foot cables connect to both earcups and are stiff enough to prevent tangling. The 1/8th-inch gold-plated plug is straight, which is less than ideal if your headphone jack is on the side of your MP3 player (i.e., the SanDisk Clip) or phone (i.e., the Nokia N95). The package includes a quarter-inch adapter, a 5-foot extension cable, and a soft microfiber drawstring bag that doubles as a cleaning cloth for the smudge-prone earcups.
Our overall impression is that although some might think they look like cheap gaming headphones, the craftsmanship is solid. The cables don’t seem like they’ll wear out quickly, and they’re not excessively long. They’re not particularly portable since they don’t fold up, but they fit easily around our neck, and with the headband extended all the way the earcups didn’t mash into our face.
At about 7.4 ounces, the Aurvana Live are noticeably heavier than Bose’s lightweight TriPorts, but this doesn’t cause any discomfort. The pads fit all the way around our somewhat large ears, with the fabric covering the inside of the cup smushing our outer ears slightly. They’re very comfortably padded and the headband tension is just right, but they did make us feel a little closed in compared with the spacious-feeling TriPorts, which give our ears plenty of wiggle room.
After about 20 minutes, the headphones really seemed to disappear while we sat at our desk. After about an hour and a half of listening, our ears were pretty warm, but that happens with any closed-back headphones because they don’t let your ears breathe. The upside is that the Aurvana Live blocks out plenty of noise from New York City subway trains just by covering your ears, and very little sound leaks out.
Image Courtesy of Creative
On our listening tests, we used an iPod Touch and songs encoded in Apple Lossless format. The Aurvana Live has an impedance of 32 ohms, making it fairly easy for most portable players to drive without having to turn the volume up all the way, draining the player’s battery. We generally kept our iPod at three-quarters volume for testing, and when we swapped the Aurvana Live out for the Bose TriPort, we didn’t have to adjust.
John Coltrane’s instrumental jazz classic Blue Train sparkled like a gem, with sizzling highs, clear mids, and punchy bass. Ella Fitzgerald’s gorgeous duet with guitarist Joe Pass I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But the Blues benefits from the crystal-clear highs — you can hear every fret buzz and creaking seat in the room. The Aurvana’s overall balance put horns and vocals in a more prominent spot in the mix than the TriPorts, which we prefer, though Bose’s roomier earcups give a more spacious sound.
Eric B. and Rakim’s Paid In Full and Bob Marley’s Exodus have plenty of low-end thump without sounding bloated or muddy, and it doesn’t overpower the rest of the music. We had similar experiences with genres from world music and classical to rock and R&B, and the overall clarity kept our ears from getting fatigued during long listening sessions.
In addition to pitting them against the TriPorts, we compared the Aurvana Live to less-expensive models like the Sennheiser HD280 Pro (originally $199.95 USD but usually found online for around $100) and the Sony MDR-V6 ($75 USD); the Aurvana came out favorably against the V6, but Sennheisers’ deep, prominent bass and lush comfort are hard to beat. Both the Sony and Sennheiser models fold up for better portability, as well, making them better for stuffing into a backpack. Still, the Aurvana Live are worthy cans, with very good comfort and well-balanced tone at a reasonable price.
• Well-balanced sound with robust bass
• Comfortable padding
• Blocks some noise and keeps most sound from leaking out
• Bulky, non-folding design
• Ears get hot during long listens