Six years after the release of the original CAL!, Creative has given the headphone a redesign and released the Aurvana Live! 2.
Creative Aurvana Live! 2
The original Creative Aurvana Live! is also one of the most compact fully circumaural headphones I've tried, and one of my personal favorites for wearing comfort thanks to the spacious ear cups and the extremely light weight.
I was slightly apprehensive of the manufacturer-supplied product shots of the new CAL!2, which make it look bulkier and heavier compared to the original CAL!. In reality, however, the new headphone stays very true to its predecessor. The design is in my opinion quite elegant – the metal-looking parts are plastic but have a pleasant “sandblasted” finish to them. More importantly, the plastic structure keeps the weight low. The cups, too, are nice and deep, and the pads have a large internal diameter. All this yet again makes the new CAL!2 an absolute standout in wearing comfort — it is easily the most comfortable portable circumaural headphone in my possession.
Not everything remains unchanged, however – the construction of the CAL!2 feels a little more solid in the hand than that of the old model, but also has more moving parts — the new CAL! has gained the ability to fold flat for storage. It also has a detachable cable with a 2.5mm connector at the earcup end. While I would have preferred the more common 3.5mm, at least it’s not proprietary and quality replacements aren’t difficult to come by. The stock cable has an inline mic and remote, along with an analog volume control. The analog volume control slider means that the remote works not only with Apple devices, but most Android and Windows Mobile phones as well.
Listening to the CAL!2 makes it clear that Creative has chosen not to mess with a good thing too much when it comes to sound. The CAL!2 is a warm-sounding headphone with impactful bass. It has great clarity and good treble energy, and doesn’t sound closed-in or congested. Detail resolution is excellent as well. I compared it to a few of the other bass-heavy sets I have on-hand, including the Monster DNA ($200), V-Moda Crossfade LP2 ($200), Munitio PRO40 ($350), and Velodyne vTrue ($400). The $130 CAL! came out as my favorite among all of these with the cleanest, most natural sound and minimal bass bloat. All in all, the CAL!2 seems to be just as easy to recommend as the original CAL!. It’s not the best headphone for accuracy but has the perfect consumer sound – warm, impactful, and generally smooth even at high volumes. It’s also super comfortable and the price is right at $130 MSRP. The original CAL! is still a great choice, especially as it’s often discounted well into the sub-$100 range, but once the supply runs out it seems we’ll have a worthy replacement.
Full review coming next year...