Aurvana may be a made-up word, but 'Live' certainly isn't, and that's the key. Creative promises its new headphones give "all the experience of a 'live' performance". It's the job of most high-performing headphones to reproduce natural sound and a soundstage you can easily visualise in front of yourself.
Priced at around £90, with an army of tantalising specifications, our hopes were suitably high for these black and silver 'phones.
The Aurvana Lives offer decent construction for a price just shy of £100, with a good overall build. Creative's trademark gloss, alongside a bright silver, ran the risk of giving off an image traditionally associated with cheaper models. But together with the good build it's nothing but complementary.
Notable also is cabling. Now, it may not generally fill you with the excitement of a thousand birthdays, but there's some birthday-quality wiring going on here. Not only is the headphone cable coated in the same seemingly tangle-proof material we saw in the £130 Denon C700 earphones, it's also oxygen-free (good for sound quality) and its 3.5mm connection is gold-plated (also good). A 50-inch extension cable and a gold-plated 6.3mm stereo adaptor are also in the box.
Now the important stuff: performance. Armed with impressively specced drivers and neodymium magnets backing them up, we weren't completely surprised to be impressed in the first minute of testing. The Aurvanas produce an immediately likeable sound. Lows and mids are prominently high-performing, with highs only slightly less impressive, but good nonetheless. Our first few minutes with these 'phones left us feeling, if anything, they could be justifiably sold for a slightly higher price -- that's no bad thing.
The Dillinger Escape Plan's intensely time signature-defying new album Ire Works is full of layers of guitars, bass, furious screams and drums thrashed at breakneck speeds. The Aurvanas handled it like it was second nature. The curious bell-like sounds subtly heard in the background of the track Nong Eye Gong were clearly audible through the complex arrangement of the song's instrumental sections.
As if that wasn't enough, bass performance on Pendulum's new track Granite was very good. But there was one issue...
To fully take advantage of the decent bass performance, you need to crank up the volume, but doing so made previously acceptable highs -- mostly on electronic tracks -- overpowering to the point of discomfort. Obviously to many people volume at this level is unenjoyable anyway, but it's worth bearing in mind that although these are great headphones for their price, they do have some small downsides.
Tangle-proof it may be, but detachable the Aurvana's cabling is not. Detachable cables make packing headphones less of a hassle and would've been a nice inclusion in a £90 pair of cans. We would've also liked to have seen each earcup swivel 90 degrees for easier packing, but as there's no hard case either, this isn't too much of an issue. The provided soft carry pouch can at least be used as "an earcup polisher", the packaging tells us.
No-one with any headphone experience should argue that these aren't terrific sub-£100 'phones. There's good performance on offer across the audible spectrum. Audiophiles will point out flaws here and there, but even regular users of headphones around the £100 mark should be impressed with their overall performance.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide