Cable noise isn’t such an issue with this sort of earphone as it is with a canalphone or IEM, but the AA’s cable has, I’m told, been manufactured with a thermoplastic elastomer coasting to minimise that effect, and tangling. There’s a little handling noise, but nothing that will seriously affect your everyday use. At 1.2m the cable is a sensible working length, and there’s a handy slider you can use to tailor the amount of loose wire hanging between your ears and the Y-junction below.
At first I was concerned that the posy presentation box the AAs come in was actually supposed to be a travel case, but luckily there is a second, more practical leather wallet containing a plastic holder for the earphones with space to wind the cable around the outside. Otherwise, with no tips or cleaners to worry about, the only other bundled accessories are a couple of pairs of foam earpads, for those who don’t like the feel of the naked earpiece in their ears.
I’ll be honest. I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the AAs sound wise. Creative likes to talk about a ‘visceral audio performance’, and point to the 15.5mm neodymium drivers and acoustically-tuned bass slots, not to mention a high-purity OFC cable, as signs that these are more capable than your average sports earphones.
The 20Hz to 20KHz frequency response would suggest that the AAs have a bit more low-end depth than some rival models, but not to any great degree, and with a 32Ω impedance and a sensitivity of 102dB/mW at 1KHz these aren’t incredibly sensitive earphones, but at this price point you should really expect something special. Can the AAs deliver on the ‘exceptional audio’ part of their promise?
Not really. Decent? Yes. Exceptional. No. I could be wrong, but I think Creative was trying to give the Aurvana Airs some of the characteristics of a pair of open-back, supra-aural headphones in a highly portable form. If so, it hasn’t quite worked. The Creatives have their strengths, but at heart they suffer from the deficiencies of most conventional earbud designs.
There’s a lot of clarity and definition at the top end and performance in the mid-range isn’t bad. What’s more, there is some bass, and it’s actually quite crisp, precise and tight. The problem is that it isn’t deep or warm or powerful, and this leaves the sound with a lot of material a bit top-end heavy.