The CAL combines great sound quality, very good comfort, and a good build into a rather easy recommendation under $100. This is another headphone that represents an audiophile type of sound at a fraction of the price. If you’re wondering what all the hoop la is about, read on!
This is about what you’d expect out of a roughly $60 headphone. It’s fairly flimsy, but doesn’t feel quite as cheap as an AKG K240. There’s some metal for the headband adjustments which is nice, but overall it’s fairly light and contains a lot of plastic.
Alex Rowe from Medium has the scoop on it’s origins:
Creative’s Aurvana Live! headphones are actually a re-branded OEM headphone that’s been around for a long time.
They started life as the Fostex/Foster 443701, which is either the coolest or most generic headphone name in the world. Several other companies have made variants of these over the years, but they all use the same basic drivers and design…just with different style touches and tweaks layered on top.Alex Rowe, Medium
The ear cups barely make the cut for it’s Over-Ear (Circumaural) moniker, but I don’t find my ears touching the cloth covering the driver which is a plus. Smaller ears will fit great inside these. Medium sized are okay too. Dumbo sized auricles need not apply. 😛
The outside of the cups bear that amazing glossy finish that everyone loves … said no one ever. Lol. Unsure why companies think it a good idea to utilize a finish that collects fingerprints like it’s going out of style, but I digress.
The pads themselves are of the memory foam variety encased in a faux/protein type of leather. The material actually seems slightly better than the M40/M50x assortment, but it’s hard to say for sure. Those pads tend to crack and harden over time, but I’m not sure if the Aurvana’s follow a similar pattern. They just seem a bit softer like a powdered donut. Om nom.
The chord is laughably cheap, looking and feeling like something you’d find on a set of $12 cans at your local drug store back in 1998, but I suppose it gets the job done. It terminates in a 3.5mm jack, comes with a 1/4″ adapter, isn’t detachable, and is very short at 3.9 ft. I would have liked a jack that was a bit more sure of itself, but I suppose I’m nitpicking. You’ll need a snap on adapter with the Aurvana, and though I like snap on’s more, it just feels flimsy and unsure of itself here.
What about comfort?
Comfort is above average! My boy Metal571 in his Creative Aurvana Live Review described it as something “you get used to” and that isn’t too far off. I find the clamp force to be very good, as I’m not wanting to really take them off of my ears. In that regard, they are very comfortable but perhaps not as isolating as something like a Sennheiser HD 280 Pro or a headphone in a similar vein.
The problem lies in the headband; after awhile you’ll start to feel it digging into the top of your skull piece. It’s a slight discomfort, but definitely noticeable and needs a bit of an adjustment from time to time.
Still, I can wear these for a long, long time without really feeling them on my head too much, if that makes sense. Their lightweight profile is conducive to extended listening sessions, and for the most part you’re not going to really notice them all that much.
How do they sound though?
Sound & Imaging
Imagine a smooth, detailed, and lively sound with a substantial amount of bass warmth that doesn’t over power. That’s the Aurvana Live in a nutshell.
This is a fun headphone for sure. You’re going to find yourself listening for a long time without really wanting to reach for anything else. Me love you long time! What you’ll notice first and foremost is that the bass digs down fairly deep! A lot of audiophile headphones are hit and miss when it comes to stuff like EDM, Hip-Hop, etc.
The Aurvana is a perfect match for genres like these because the bass doesn’t sound cheap or bloated, but still slams pretty well in the sub-bass area. It sounds crisp and genuine. It’s warm-ish in the mid-bass region, but I don’t find it quite as “bump happy” as something like an Audio Technica ATH M40x. Bump happy simply means that the M40x had a bit of an over-exaggerated mid-bass around 100-200Hz, and on a graph it looks like a bump. As far as the Aurvana, I’m not really getting that feeling. In fact, i think this headphone might replace the M40x in my Budget Kings series, but I haven’t decided yet Update: It has. Check it out!
For me there’s a near perfect amount of mid-bass presence without the headphone sounding overly warm or syrupy. I don’t find it intruding on the mid-range, which is a very important aspect of the sound signature that a lot of companies overlook in favor of a more elevated bass.
The mid-range is fantastic here, with the Timbre and resolution being very accurate to my ears. What is Timbre? I’m finding the balance to be nearly spot on, with a bit of emphasis around 1k. The vocals are nice and forward without being too in your face.
The interesting and incredible thing about the Aurvana is that it never feels like any one part of the sound signature really stands out all that much, which is certainly a good thing. This contributes to it’s propensity to work well over long listening sessions, as no part of the frequency response is going to become too fatiguing, with a small exception being the treble. Let’s talk about it.
The treble for the most part is excellent, don’t get me wrong. You will however notice some slight bite and this makes itself known around 9-10k which is fairly standard. There’s an ever so slight amount of hiss, but it’s pretty subtle. With certain tracks it makes itself more known than others, and will rear it’s ugly head the more you push this headphone out of an amp specifically. It sometimes sounds a bit too essy and “hot.”
Tyll Herstens echoed a similar sentiment way back when:
Dayum! The Creative Aurvana Live! sounds great! Overall these cans have a warm tilt with a bit of excitement up top. The bass extension is very good, though could be a little bit tighter sounding. The bass is tastefully accentuated, but not bloated or wooly in the least. The mids connect very naturally to the low notes and would call them excellent but for being slightly overshadowed by the happy highs. The treble, though a tad prominent is very well controlled and articulate, and only slightly edgy on occasion.Inner Fidelity
There is some definite harmonic distortion at louder levels as well, so I’d advise chilling the f out on that volume knob homie. Lol. There’s this sense that sometimes the headphone can’t quite keep up, but this is also a minor nitpick. This is a very cheap headphone after all. Check out Tyll’s graph!
As far as Imaging and Soundstage go, this is going to be a fairly narrow image which is to be expected. What is Soundstage? Don’t buy these thinking you’re going to have many out of your head moments. Instrument separation is very good, but there’s not much depth or width to the soundscape.
With that said, will you need an amp?
Amplification & Genre
No. Lol. Right now I’m running the Aurvana out of the iFi Zen Amp/DAC, but this one is extremely easy to drive so I wouldn’t worry about getting the “right” pairing. Whatever that means.
I also ran it out of a Topping NX4, which sounds a bit more neutral and sterile than a Zen. The NX4 would also make a great option. Really anything goes here.
If you really want an amp to pair, I’d start with an E10K or K3.
Aside from that just sit down, shut up, and listen to some music. 😛
What kind of music you ask?
The Creative Aurvana Live does well with most genres including Rap/Hip-Hop, Rock, EDM, and anything in between. It’s sound signature is going to work with most everything because it’s fairly balanced at the end of the day.
Click to see the Aurvana in action!
So what’s the final grade?
Can’t recommend these enough as an entry level foray into the audiophile world. Though the treble can get a bit hot and strident at times, the overall sound profile of this headphone is nearly perfect for a product in this price range. Bass reach/extension and thump is spot on, with a fantastic mid-range presence and plenty of excitement to boot.
Stu is determined to help you make sound decisions, and strives to deliver the best and most in depth content on the internet! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, pray, rap, make beats, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His sense of humour, coupled with a knack for excellence and strict attention to detail are what allow him to stand out in an crowded industry.