With in-ear headphones all the rage now, it didn't surprise us when audio-centric Creative Labs joined the fun with the launch of its own Zen Aurvana in-ear earphones. Already available in Asia a few weeks before their worldwide launch, the £75 'anti-iPod black' pair are extremely lightweight (14g) and low profile, and they sound good -- if they fit in your ears properly (one CNET reviewer's earholes were too small for the Aurvana).
You get two pairs of three different-sized silicon earbuds, the rubbery kind. Though we prefer foam tips, the medium size fitted us quite well, passively blocking ambient noise (by 90 per cent, according to Creative) and delivering clean, balanced sound. Indeed, the high-end sounds come through crystal clear. The Aurvanas have a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz and a sensitivity of 115dB and 20dB at noise blocking. Bass is surprisingly solid, and overall performance is good, or as good as a pair of £110 Shure E3Cs, which are bulkier than the Aurvanas. While we prefer the sound of the Shure E3Cs, the Aurvanas are a lot cheaper.
It all comes down to comfort and sound, and the Aurvanas rock if you don't mind spending a bit on your headphones. The 1m cable doesn't easily get tangled and the earbuds are so light that you can let one hang out of your ear if you need to monitor the outside world. They match up quite nicely with the Zen Vision:M or Zen V Plus. In this price range, we also like the Ultimate Ears Super fi 3 Studio, which stay securely attached to your ears.
The Aurvanas include a Y-junction slider for optimal cable management, and they ship with the mentioned earbuds, an aeroplane adaptor, an ear-gunk cleaning tool and a travel case.