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Creative Aurvana Air Earphones - Creative Aurvana Air Earphones

By Stuart Andrews


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Review Price £59.99

This is apparent with music played through Creative's own Zen MX player or an iPod touch, but you can also hear it with a stronger source, like an iBasso D2 operating as a USB DAC/headphone amp. On the plus side, the lightweight signature gives pop tracks like Justin Timberlake's LoveStoned or Take That's Greatest Day some real punch and energy, and there's plenty of scope to appreciate the detail in glossy, high-end productions.

Listen to Rilo Kiley's Under the Blacklight, and there's lots of nuance and tone in the vocals, and the guitars chime and shimmer, but when the bassline dives low, it gets slightly lost in the mix. The synth and vocal textures in the Prefuse 73 remix of Via Tania's Drift Away are pristine and beautiful, but without a thick bass the sound loses its warmth.

Forget about anything that needs a powerful bass to work. Help Somebody, from Maxwell's new R&B opus, BLACKSummer's night, sounds just too thin to be funky, While DJ Shadow's Fixed Income is - bluntly - a bit of a battering for the eardrums, the snare drums a bit too dominant in the mix. Nor are the AAs ideal for rock. Mastodon's Divinations fell pretty much flat, and the rolling bar-room rock of The Hold Steady's Stay Positive is all detail, no raucous presence.

The AAs fare better with more acoustic or folky music, lighter classical music and small group jazz, where that lovely crystalline high-end gets a chance to shine and basslines don't have such a crowded mix to get lost in, but as all-rounders the AAs aren't the best headphones I've heard. Nor is the soundstage as expansive as you'd expect from, say, a half-decent pair of over-the-ear headphones.

And this is all serious stuff, because at £169.95 (exclusive to Creative's online store), you've got a right to expect exceptional audio as well as exceptional design. As it is, at this price point Creative is going up against such big hitters as the Klipsch Custom 3s and Image X10s, not to mention Sennheiser's IE7s and IE8s and the Shure SE420s. Of course, not everyone finds an IEM comfortable, while full-sized 'phones aren't so ideal for active use. Given that, the AAs might find some takers, but I'd personally be tempted to buy a cheaper pair of sports earphones for exercise and, say, a pair of Grado SR80s or Audio Technica ATH-AD500s for home.

It's a shame. I want to love the Aurvana Airs, and I'm even willing to ignore the fact that they don't provide any noise isolation to speak of (making use on public transport a bit of a no-no). They're gorgeous looking, comfortable and well constructed, and I can't say enough how good they are for crisp, clear detail. Were the Aurvana Airs £100 or less, I'd probably be more willing to big them up. However, at the price they are, they really needed to deliver a more convincing all-round performance, sonically. If only they were as beautiful to listen to as they are to look at... oh well. I guess that's asking a bit too much.


Stunning looks and superb engineering, but the sound isn't quite in the same league. Given the high price you could do better.

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Colin Shedden

July 26, 2009, 7:13 am

I'll be honest - you may say these have incredible styling but they look very similar to the Bang & Olufsen headphones I've had for about 5 years, and probably don't sound as good!

James Reckitt

July 26, 2009, 2:53 pm

I agree with Colin, but I'd go as far to say that the design has more or less been nicked from Bang and Olufsen's A8 earphones.

Given that the Bang and Olufsens are around £60 cheaper, have the B&O name, and are nicer to look at (and probably to listen to as well) only a fool would splash out on these!

Mark 16

July 26, 2009, 6:06 pm

Stuart, I think you should should convince Logitech to send you their new 'competing' (i.e. similarly priced) Ultimate Ears 700 earphones for a comparison... I own them and Grado SR80s, and I actually prefer the UE700s. I've always thought that Creative was all about marketing and gimmicks, and Logitech seems to spend their time actually making good products instead. Be interesting to see what you think.


July 26, 2009, 8:29 pm

It's "Aurvana", not "Auvana" ;)


July 27, 2009, 12:11 am

Just to put in my 2 cents. Are there any stores that have a demo pair of in ear headphones? I wanted to try a pair before I bought them. Neither Sony Centre or Currys digital would let me, citing 'hygene' reasons. I also would not be able to refund if purchased and did not like them. What is the best way to purchase and select in ear phones?


July 27, 2009, 12:51 am

@ Peter

This troubled me when purchasing "good" earphones for the first time. Since no outlet will let you try them on, you have to go on the good reviews from trusted outlets online. That is what I did when I purchased my cx-95 in-ear phones. Firstly reading the review from this site, then aggregating it with reviews from other places.

I guess if you truly want to be an audio buff, you need to have deep pockets and accept that some earbuds won't be for you (despite what reviews say), and be able to replace them without feeling the deep loss associated with spending sometimes upwards of £100 for earbuds, when you could be purchasing, say the latest ipod for the same amount of money.


July 27, 2009, 2:45 am

@Colin, James

There are certainly similarities in the styling, but I think the design isn't a total rip-off. Creative has gone for a more metallic look, and the earhooks and armatures connecting the earpiece to the body of the earphone is a lot slimmer. I take your point, though. Without having heard the B&O headphones I can't make any comments on comparative sound quality, but I found the Aurvana Air just a little disappointing.


I'll see if myself or someone else on the team can take a look


One minute with the spellcheck could have saved me so much heartbreak. It's actually spelt differently throughout the review. I'll get it fixed for consistency asap.


I think you'll get the same response from just about anywhere. If anyone knows of a store with a different policy, I for one would like to hear about it.


July 27, 2009, 3:57 am

I've asked UE for some 'phones to review and have been told I'll be informed when they're sampling them... on which advice I'm not getting my hopes up :(


July 27, 2009, 4:01 am

I don't know about the UK, but in Germany Amazon apparently takes back everything within two weeks, including in-ears, no questions asked.


July 27, 2009, 4:31 am


I'm pretty sure that under EU distance buying regulations, if you bought the headphones from an online supplier you'd have 7 days to return the product and cancel your order (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/hel... ). I'd recommend your current course of following good review sites but following my own experience I'd also bargain on getting a set of Comply memory foam earpieces. I've got a tiny ear canal (I couldn't go running with any earphones because the shock and vibration would cause them to work loose within 100 yards) but the Comply replacements are excellent, the Comply 100's are even better than the ones I got with my Philips 9850 headphones.

The Nitinol wire arms on the earbuds will be hypoallergenic (the metal is used in stents for heart patients) so I really don't know what the inert coating is supposed to add other than a bit of 'bling'. I'm currently using SMA's as transducers for a product I'm designing, they're amazing materials but not quite the sci-fi marvels some futurologists would have you believe.


July 27, 2009, 8:08 pm

@Stuart Dark and Vivid

Thanks for the responses and comments, there are some interesting threads about distance selling ( http://www.avforums.com/forums... ) . I guess the high street stores are missing a trick by not doing in store demo's for the top of the range. (maybe if asking consumer to sign disclaimer before use of demo pair + store to provide cleaning wipes).

Angus McGillivray

January 2, 2010, 8:22 am

Having spent a year with much-loved Grado SR60s, the Aurvana Airs took some time to burn in and become accustomed to. Well, it was worth it! The Grados now seem heavy-handed - so have been honourably retired. The Airs produce such wonderful transparency with so much beautiful, spacious detail. I'm totally inseparable from them now. Worth every penny.

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