Pros: Comfortable, sound is easy on the ears, plenty of accessories
Cons: May sound abit to dull to Rock lovers
First of all, big thanks once again to headphones.com for making this review possible =)
Getting right to the nitty gritty (Sound):
-The general signature of the Aurvana 3 is warm, mid-centric, relaxing. Bass id say is above neutral. Tight, more mid-bass than sub-bass, decent amount of impact when the track calls for it, extends down to 30hz before it starts to drop off. Mids are nice, definitely more emphasized than the rest of the spectrum, vocals are up front with good texture, though they can sound congested on some tracks (probably just bad recordings). Treble sounds about neutral but starts to roll off fairly early, around 12khz, and eventually fade to being almost inaudible around 15khz, so some air is lost. No harshness, virtually no sibilance. Good detail and clarity all across the spectrum. Speed is good as expected from BAs. The Aurvana 3s sound great if youre into listening to guitar players with smooth, creamy overdriven tone like Greg Howe, Carlos Santana, Robben Ford, Eric Johnson, etc. They might sound dull to those that like to listen to modern rock, pop rock, etc as they dont quite have enough up in the treble to make distorted guitars, cymbals sound lively.
-Soundstage is abit smaller than average. Music sounds like it’s in my head rather than right at or slightly outside my ears (what I consider to be average soundstage for IEMs, ex: Brainwavz M1). Imaging is ok, not exactly pinpoint but good enough to distinguish different instruments, etc from eachother.
-These are very easy to drive straight out of my Fuze and Clip+. I havent noticed any audible differences with them amped out of a cmoy.
-How do they compare to the Aurvana 2? They’re both mid-centric; mids on the A3 sound abit more boosted to me compared to the A2, theyre more detailed as well. The A3's have better quality, punchier, more detailed bass while the A2's have abit more treble, which gives the impression that its soundstage is larger, but when compared directly they sound about the same size to me. Id say the A3’s are a decent upgrade from the A2’s given the total package, from sound to comfort and isolation.
-How would they compare to the big boys around the price range (~$150)? Unfortunately I havent heard very many options around the range, ive had Jays Q-Jays and UE TF10s but its been several months since ive heard them, and my FX500s are just so different that theyre hard to compare; theyre almost polar opposites when it comes to sound, isolation, fit, ideal listening volumes. It might be interesting to see if these would be able to hold up to the Hifiman RE262.
(Build quality, comfort, isolation, accessories):
-The housings on the Aurvana 3 feel like plastic; solid, very light, and have a nice brown-ish chrome finish on them. The strain relief on the housing is very flexible and soft, and the little hump where the housing meets the strain relief is rubberized. The y-split, chin slider and plug are all metal and have strain reliefs where needed. The cable looks to be the same cable that is used on the Aurvana 2, but this time it feels MUCH softer to the touch than what I remember of the Aurvana 2's cable before it started to harden. Hopefully it holds up to body oils well, but I wont take the chance this time, and will order some phonak ear guides for them in the future.
-Given the build quality, the Aurvana 3's are very comfortable to my ears, and coupled with the very low-fatigue sound signature I could pretty much use these for hours on end. Isolation is pretty good with the single flanges and my own double flanges, about as good as Shure SE215's, FWIR.
-The Aurvana 3 comes packaged with 2 pairs of each size single-flange eartips (S/M/L), 2 pairs of foam tips, an airplane adapter, and a neat storage case.
-I can't seem to get a proper seal with any of the supplied single flanges, or any of my own single flanges, even when it feels like it. Same goes for the Aurvana 2's and Shure SE215's. With each iem, using single flanges made the highs sound muffled to me. The problem was solved by using bi-flanges. My ears are weird...
(Equipment used, some music listened to):
-I run the Aurvanas and most of my IEMs straight out of a rockboxed Fuze or Clip+, or from my PC->Zero Dac->generic OPA2227 cmoy. I tried to avoid using them out of my Fiio E9 as I read the output impedance can affect the sound of BA IEMS.
Most of my music is 320kbps MP3 with some albums in flac.
My library is mostly rock, j-rock, jazz, some j-pop, some hip-hop, some techno
- Lows: The Roots - Push Up Ya Lighter, Outkast - Ova Da Wudz, Syrufit - Broken Puzzle (speed)
- Mids, vocals: School Food Punishment - Watsurou, Sangatsu (female vocals), Supercell - Yoru ga Akeru yo (female vocals, mid detail), Nico Touches the Walls - Aurora (male vocals), Incubus - Warning (male vocals), Robben Ford - Magic Sam (guitar), Santana - Revelations, Full Moon (guitar), Steely Dan - Kid Charlemagne (guitar)
- Highs: School Food Punishment - Slide Show, Goodblue, Tokyo Jihen - Noudouteki Sanpunkan (sibilance test)
- Soundstage: Guthrie Govan & the Fellowship - Live at the Basement Club album, Santana - Song of the Wind, Wes Montgomery - In and Out, Jing Chi - Train Song
- other: Rush - Cygnus X-1 - Book I - The Voyage (the intro creeps me out)
-I like the Aurvana 3’s. As I stated earlier they are a good contrast to my FX500s; the A3’s are warm and mid centric, like to be cranked to higher than normal volumes to eke that extra bit of detail out, are not fatiguing in any way, like to be inserted deep, and have good isolation. The FX500s are fun and lively with a v-shaped sound, sometimes harsh up in the highs, sound best at mild volumes, like a shallow seal, and don’t isolate very well. With the two I feel like I have all bases covered, at least until im tempted by other headphones/iems.head-fi y u no give my wallet a break?
-Would I pay $150 for them? I don’t know, there are plenty of nice options around the range like the RE262, GR07, EX600, PFE112, B2/DBA02, etc, but if I were looking for something with this particular sound signature I would probably look to these, or maybe the RE262s. Creative’s offerings fluctuate in price throughout the year though (see Creative Aurvana Live), so if these were to maybe go on sale I probably would pick them up.
-I hope you enjoyed reading my review =). Comments, questions, suggestions, criticisms are definitely welcome