"Timeless sophistication. Exceptional audio" is the tagline. Well, on one level, Creative's latest Aurvana earphones are an unqualified success. Awarded a prestigious Red Dot award for Product Design this year, the Aurvana Airs are easily one of the most beautifully crafted and engineered sets of earphones you've ever set eyes on - and Creative knows it. The packaging literally places them on a pedestal inside a transparent acrylic case inside the box, and the whole thing screams "look at me! I'm a work of art!"
Even once you've managed to wrestle the headphones out of this complicated assembly, it's hard not to feel impressed. Those delicate features! Those lovingly constructed hinges! Those gorgeous reflective surfaces! That shiny gunmetal and gold-played plug! These are headphones so damnably attractive, that you almost can't bear to stick them in your horrid, unclean, wax-stuffed ear holes. Perhaps it would be better just to put them on the shelf and quietly admire them.
However, that's not what I'm paid for. After all, for all their supermodel looks, the Aurvana Airs are here to be worn and listened to, so that's just what I've had to do. The AAs (to save my typing fingers) use the earhook design popular with sports headphones (though heaven forbid anyone should wear them jogging, mountain biking or lifting weights and walking the treadmill at the gym - have you no soul?).The earpieces connect via a hinged armature to a cylindrical chunk of polished metal, and this in turn connects to a hook of a flexible nickel-titanium alloy, which is what you call a 'shape memory metal', with a rubbery plastic sleeve coating the end.
This means that you can bend the earhook six ways to Sunday and it won't go out of shape, making it springy, robust and comfortable. The alloy construction is resistant to dirt and corrosion, and the inert coating should - apparently - make sure that those with a sensitivity to nickel don't get any nasty side effects from use. It's a common cause of contact dermatitis (or a nasty rash), don't you know.
For all their shimmering delicate loveliness, Creative has produced a well-considered, practical pair of earphones here. At first, I thought I would struggle to get a comfortable fit on my embarrassingly miniscule ears, but by fitting the large-ish earpieces in position then sliding the earhooks round, it was possible to get a good firm fit that would easily stand up to a bit of light exercise. The usual trouble spots, like the connections between cable and plug and cable and earpiece, are solidly reinforced and the cable is nice and meaty.