Saturday, March 29, 2014

Creative Aurvana Live 2 review: Excellent audio quality backed by good noise cancellation

 A very good premium headphone

Creative’s Aurvana line of headphones and earphones have never failed to impress. The company has recently added a new addition to the line-up in the form of the Aurvana Live 2, the successor to its very popular predecessor. The Aurvana Live 2 features an improved design, better acoustics, in-line controls for smartphone use and of course, a higher price tag. Is it worth the extra money? Let’s find out.

Design and Features
The Aurvana Live 2 features the same supra-aural (over-the-ear) design as its predecessor. At 255g, the headphones are very light and are a dream if you travel a lot. The ear cups also have the ability to fold inwards so it can be stowed away easily. Creative throws in a soft carry case with the Live 2 although we’d prefer a hard case as well considering the premium it comes with.
Excellent design and build
Excellent design and build

The metal alloy headband feels extremely sturdy and the ear cups extend on either side with a reassuring click, for precise adjustment. The padding on the ear cups consists of faux leather and memory-foam and is an absolute dream on your ears. The cups provide very good noise isolation without pressing down too hard.

The Aurvana Live 2 now features a detachable, single-sided OFC cable. This is a tangle-free, flattened cable with an in-line microphone and a control pod for volume and calls. This is the same unit that we first saw on Creative’s MA350 in-earphones. Both ends of the cable feature gold-plated connectors as well. The length is 1.2m, which is sufficient even for a tall person using it on the go.
The detachable cable feature is great for portability
The detachable cable feature is great for portability

The highlight of the Aurvana Live 2 of course is the new drivers. It uses a 40mm Neodymium driver but with a bio-cellulose diaphragm. This natural fibre is said to deliver sound that’s comparable to an aluminium diaphragm but still maintaining the warm signature of paper ones. You also get a pretty wide frequency range of 10Hz to 30KHz.

Creative has paid very close attention to detail with the Aurvana Live 2 and the result is nothing short of amazing. The headphones feel very premium and are a joy to use for long hours thanks to its light weight. They are very comfortable, well put together and come with some nifty additions like the detachable cable and in-line controls.

In order to test the Aurvana, we used the Cowon D2+ as our primary source of audio but we also tested the headphones on a variety of smartphones ranging from budget to high-end ones. Right out of the box, the Aurvana Live 2 sound well balanced across the frequency range. Low frequency notes are handled very well and the unmistakeable kick in the intro of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean was faithfully delivered.

Equalizers aren’t needed as the drivers are easily able to reproduce even subtle nuances with great ease. Even after cranking up the bass for Flo Rida’s Shone and Sugar, the drivers can produce really good deep bass without bottoming out. This does cause a lot a listening fatigue after a while though so we wouldn’t recommend this. The bass delivered is tight and punchy by default and only gets better once you tweak the EQ a bit.
The in-line remote lets you answer calls and control the volume of your smartphone
The in-line remote lets you answer calls and control the volume of your smartphone

The Aurvana 2 is not just about tight bass however. The cans are very capable when it comes to the mid-range and high frequencies as well. The mid-range is well defined and isn’t drowned out in bass-heavy tracks. The high frequency notes are crisp without being shrill at high volume levels. Overall, the Aurvana Live 2 do a fantastic job of producing great detail in audio tracks across genres. The audio signature is well balanced across frequencies which makes it a very good all-rounder. They don’t sound too good when paired with cheap smartphones, which often tend to have inferior audio capabilities. However, any good mid-range and above smartphone should be able to drive these cans with ease.

We’d also like to highlight the capabilities of the ear cups, which apart from being extremely comfortable, provide very good noise cancellation. Due to this, you can enjoy your music at comfortable volume levels without any of outside noise leaking in. The Aurvana’s don’t leak sound either, even when you crank up the volume. The cushions offer a very good seal which doesn’t allow sound to leak out.
The Aurvana Live 2 is a worthy successor to its predecessor
The Aurvana Live 2 is worth the premium

Verdict and Price in India
At an MRP of Rs 12,999, the Creative Aurvana Live 2 feels a little expensive, especially since they don’t have active-noise cancellation. Having said that, the cans do offer some of the best passive noise cancellation we’ve come across. The Aurvana Live 2 is a worthy successor to the Aurvana Live and betters it in every way.

The new design is great for portability, the build and attention to detail is excellent and the audio quality is very good. If you’re on a tight budget, then the Aurvana Live is still a good buy at Rs 7,000. However, if you want the convenience of a detachable cable, smartphone readiness and better noise isolation, then the Aurvana Live 2 is worth the premium. We still think it needs to come down a notch in price though and when it does, we highly recommend them.

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