The Creative Aurvana Live! versus the Sennheiser HD428
Impression by Deep Funk
I regard this work as an impression rather than a review for my knowledge of sound and the theory of sound aren’t very familiar to me. I rely on my experience and ears.
Out of the box?
Aurvana Live!: it’s packaged like it’s an expensive product. It isn’t really but the way it looks and is packaged suggest your buying a rich man’s audio treat. I still have the box…
HD428: I bought in a plastic mould which you have to cut open while trying not to cut yourself to the plastic. It has a cheapish look but it also makes the HD428 more shiny and black, not much of an effort.
What do you get?
Aurvana Live!: headphones with 1.2 meters cable with extension and stereo plug and travel pouch. The cable is connected to both ear cups.
HD428: headphones with 3 meters cable connected to the left ear cup and a stereo plug without a travel pouch. I really would have appreciated a travel pouch.
Aurvana Live!: a headphone which looks expensive but isn’t. It’s made out of pleather and plastic and some metal. It feels plasticky but I like the construction. Sure it’s not as sturdy as my Sony MDR V6, still it impresses me a bit. The flexibility of the ear cups is impressive and adds to the comfort. Impedance is 32 ohms and its frequency range is impressive, 10 to 30.000 with a SPL of 103db. Normally this headphone costs 80 Euros or more.
HD428: a headphone which looks cheapish but isn’t that cheap. It’s made out of plastic and more synthetic stuff which doesn’t impress me. It feels cheap and the construction just works but really, it looks cheap. I’m afraid to break it sometimes. The earcups move a bit, but the joint construction is too stiff in my opinion. It works, that’s it. Impedance is 32 ohms and its frequency range is pretty standard, 18 to 22.000 with a SPL of 110db. Normally this headphone costs 50 Euros or more.
In my experience the Aurvana Live! is more comfortable. It also is lighter on the head and gives my ears more space, although they only just fit. The HD428 is comfortable too, feels heavier because it tends to squash your ears somewhat. The ear cups provide ample of space though. If you were to headbang the HD428 would stay longer on your head, which is good when listening to SoaD.
Mediamonkey, standard equalizer with volume on 20% while the laptop delivers 100%.
The sound of Music from my ever present laptop
Kaggra – Satsuki in 320 kbps WMA
Kaggra – Omou in 320 kbps WMA
K-os – Crabbuckit in 320 kbps WMA
Instant Composers Pool – Change Of Season in FLAC
Lefties Soul Connection – 12 Inch Rims in 320 kbps WMA
Ella Fitzgerald – Mack The Knife in 320 kbps WMA
John Fred & His Playboy Band – Judy In Disguise in 320 kbps WMA
Dick Dale & The Del-Tones – Misirlou in 320 kbps WMA
System of a Down – Toxicity in 320 kbps WMA
Kyuss – Apothecaries’ Weight in FLAC
Kyuss – 50 Million Year Trip in FLAC
Kyuss – Capsized in FLAC
Marisa Robles and others – Handel: Harp Concerto, op.4 no.6: Andante - Allegro in 320 kbps WMA
Souls Of Mischief – 93 Till’Infinity in 320 kbps WMA
Michael Jackson – Thriller in 320 kbps WMA
Souls Of Mischief – 93 Till’Infinity (Instrumental) in 320 kbps WMA
James Brown & The JBs – Funky Drummer (Bonus Beat Reprise) in 320 kbps WMA
Armand van Helden – NYC Beat in 320 kbps WMA
Laurent Garnier – Man With The Red Face (Ashley Beedle Remix) in 320 kbps WMA
Souls Of Mischief – Almyghty, Almythy Pythons in 320 kbps WMA
Every track has been ripped from CD. I could include more tracks but this collection about covers it. Otherwise it would take days to make a good comparison and picking good tracks is already hard enough. One of my favourites Tubular Bells 1973, part one is great for testing just like Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis or Joyful Rebellion by K-os, but time isn’t on my hands.
The Creative Aurvana Live!
Satsuki: sound is overwhelmingly loud, instrument separation great, warmish sound, vocals clear, bass lacks definition and complex music transitions with a lot of instruments lose a bit of instrument separation.
Omou: guitar intro sounds great, bass lacks definition but delivers great impact, everything else idem ditto.
Crabbuckit: oh my, that jazzy bass is working, instrument separation is great and K-os’ voice sounds very good, trumpet sounds live, I’m loving the sound effects and production.
Change Of Season: this track is a live recording and it sounds live, every instrument sounds good and handles the composition by the ICP perfectly, every nuance and transition sounds perfect, overwhelmingly loud sound, I’m feeling like the recording microphone in the middle.
12 Inch Rims: bass is very in your face, bass is too monotonous everything else in the track is good, I’ve heard this track with a tighter and more defined bass.
Mack The Knife: an old live recording, it sounds almost as if I’m there, Ella Fitzgerald sounds great and the bass works, idem ditto.
Judy In Disguise: I love the intro, bass works O.K., it almost sounds as if I’m there, idem ditto.
Misirlou: oh my, this sounds like fun!, it’s almost as if I’m there, bass works O.K., idem ditto.
Toxicity: I love the intro, headbanging, vocals are so close, it’s almost as if I’m there, bass is fuzzy yet it doesn’t distract from this great track, idem ditto.
Apothecaries’ Weight: one of my favourite intros, sounds like I’m in the studio, bass needs more definition, the fuzzy sound works with this track, idem ditto.
50 Million Year Trip: intro sounds addicting, it is!, headbanging, the bass impact is great yet the balance of the instrument separation is still close to perfect, with better bass definition you could discern a bit more detail, the fuzzy sound does work on this track but needs a bit of definition, idem ditto.
Capsized: great instrumental intermezzo, the acoustic sound sounds live as if you are the microphone, one of my favourite musical transition in an album.
Handel: Harp Concerto…: the Aurvana Live! loves classical music, the sound is too in your face though, the violins and harp sound beautiful, the sound is too loud.
93 Till’Infinity: I’m surrounded by speakers, this track sounds great, bass could be tighter, vocals are great, I’m the microphone in the studio, instrument separation is great, idem ditto.
Thriller: I’m in the video, I’m in heaven with this intro, the bass works, you can really hear the sound effects and production of the track, MJ sounds less in your face which works and what I like, the bass vamp is awesome, instrument separation is a bit less, Vincent Price sounds so close, I’m grinning, the track doesn’t sound too loud.
93 Till’Infinity (Instrumental): I’m surrounded by speakers, this track sounds great, bass could be tighter, I love this instrumental version, idem ditto.
Funky Drummer (Bonus Beat Reprise): I’m surrounded by speakers, James Brown sounds so close, drums sounds perfect, the Aurvana Live! does justice to this track, a bit too loud.
NYC Beat: too loud, details, I can’t sit still, I’m surrounded by speakers, this track sounds addicting, fuzzy bass is perfect, bass impact, the Aurvana Live! loves house, I’m grinning.
The Man With The Red Face: too loud, the Aurvana Live! loves house, great detail, great atmospherical vibe, I’m surrounded by speakers, the Aurvana Live! does justice to this track.
Almyghty, Almyghty Pythons: everything sounds great, bass is definitely too fuzzy, the fuzzy bass spoils it, I’m surrounded by speakers, Creative fix that bass!
The Sennheiser HD428
Satsuki: sound level is just about perfect, very clear sound, neutral?, great instrument separation, clear vocals, I’m surrounded by sound, bass is good, bass is close to perfect for me, a bit more bass impact would be nice, the track sounds almost perfect.
Omou: idem ditto.
Crabbuckit: sound level is perfect, bass is lovely jazzy, it’s as if I’m surrounded by the music without the sound being in my face, vocals are close yet not in my face, the track sounds almost perfect.
Change Of Season: this is a live recording yet I feel less present than with the Aurvana Live!, it’s as if I’m in the audience I guess, I prefer this sound approach, this track sounds the best on the HD428.
12 Inch Rims: bass is close to perfect, I’m grinning, the groove is so good now.
Mack The Knife: knowing this is an old live recording the sound makes me feel like I’m in the audience, very balanced, Ella Fitzgerald sounds softer in comparison with the Aurvana Live! yet better for my ears, sound level is perfect, the HD428 loves Jazz.
Judy In Disguise: sounds a bit too loud, great balance, very clear sound, neutral, bass is close to perfect, the track sounds very live, vocals are clear.
Misirlou: sounds less addicting than on the Aurvana Live!, bass is working, I prefer this sound to the sound from the Aurvana Live!.
Toxicity: clear sound, perfect sound level, bass is great!, vocals are clear, musical transitions are handled with precision, the ‘neutral’ sound doesn’t distract, sounds less fun yet I prefer this sound to that of the Aurvana Live!.
Apothecaries’ Weight: sound level is perfect, I hear more nuances, bass is defined, drums sound great, instrument separation is very good, I’m surrounded by sound, I definitely prefer the sound of the HD428, bass could do with a bit more impact.
50 Million Year Trip: the intro sounds great, better bass definition benefits this track, those cymbals, I hear more nuances, I don’t think the bass needs more impact on this track, the musical transitions sound really good, I prefer the HD428.
Capsized: sounds just as good as with the Aurvana Live!, I’m undecided on this track although on the Sennheiser this track sounds a bit softer and more distant yet close at the same time.
Handel: Harp Concerto…: the track sounds as if I’m in the audience yet surrounded by sound without the sound being too in your face, sound level is perfect, I prefer the HD428 for it makes listening to classical music involving and relaxing at the same time, the HD428 loves classical music.
93 Till’Infinity: sounds a bit too loud, bass is defined, detail, clear vocals, ‘neutral’ sound?, the instrument separation sounds less compared to the Aurvana Live!, I prefer the HD428 because the track sounds to my ears more natural (am I correct?).
Thriller: I’m in the video, this sounds sweet, the track sounds loud yet I don’t care, the bass vamp is perfect, the track sounds so balanced, while the Aurvana Live! sounds more fun the HD428 comes across more natural, MJ and Vincent Price sound better with the HD428, I’m enjoying the track without having a face melt, I prefer the HD428.
93 Till’Infitity (Instrumental): sound level is perfect, I’m surrounded by sound, the HD428 does justice to the jazzy vibe of this great instrumental, bass is defined, I prefer the HD 428 on this track, neutral/natural sound?
Funky Drummer (Bonus Beat Reprise): sounds a bit too loud, between the Aurvana Live! and the HD428 this is a tie, really I can’t choose.
NYC Beat: sound level is perfect, I can’t sit still, vocals sound better, I’m surrounded by sound, bass is more defined, bass impact is less yet enjoyable, the HD428 works with house yet the Aurvana Live! has the more enjoyable sound, I prefer the Aurvana Live! on this track.
The Man With The Read Face: sound level is perfect, the HD428 does justice to the vibe of this track, I’m surrounded by sound, the sound is more distant yet close with a less ‘fun’ and more balanced (dare I say organic) sound, I prefer the HD428 on this track against my expectations.
Almythy, Almythy Pythons: sound level is perfect, bass is in tune and defined, bass is perfect, the HD428 truly does justice to the atmospherical sound of this track, I prefer the HD428.
In use the Aurvana Live! works slightly better. One disadvantage of the Aurvana Live! is its fit for you could have the right ear cup on your left ear and barely notice it. The HD428 has a better grip on your head. Both headphones have a weakness I truly detest: the cables are too thin and aren’t well made for colder circumstances. The cable on the HD428 is better by a small margin. I’ve been using the HD428 for a week or so and they really work. On the move their firmer grip assures me my headphones stay on my head, unlike the Aurvana Live! plus the HD428 offers better isolation. Both headphones leak sound but up to modest volumes you could still work in a library. Modest in my experience is half or slightly more on the volume scale of my DAPs.
The cable on the HD428 with one ear cup connection works handy but isn’t detachable which is too bad. I strengthened the cable of the HD428 on the headphone jack connection and connecting to the ear cup with black isolation tape for electric devices for I would hate it if the cable broke. I used to fence so I know how fast that can happen, Sennheiser should address those flimsy cables. My Sony MDR V6 has better cabling and for slightly more I could get a Sony MDR V6 with a good cable. The Shure 440 even adds the detachable cable option. Beware of the others Sennheiser, good sound needs good cable.
Overall both the Aurvana Live! and the HD428 are good headphones depending on your preferences. I prefer the HD428 for its more ‘neutral’ and more precise sound which also extends to better bass definition. Sometimes the HD428 sounds more ‘natural’ compared to the Aurvana Live!, at least to my ears. The Sennheiser really sounds more analytical at times while it can sound fun at the same time. With a bit more bass impact the HD428 would certainly be close to perfect for now. Too bad about the cheapish look and feel because regarding sound they almost replace my trusty Sony MDR V6-es. Their sound level is often perfect for my ears too.
The Aurvana Live! is the more fun headphone of the two. I love how it involves you in the music. The Aurvana Live! is problematic though in that it tries to make me deaf and that d***ed bass ruined ‘Almyghty, Almyghty Pythons’ which happens to be one of my favourite instrumentals to end the day with, or just as a lovely transition to Jazz or Classic. The Aurvana Live! also lacks the atmospherical sound the HD428 gives you. The sound is often too in your face for me and that is tiresome in itself.
I’ll keep the Aurvana Live! for its fun sound but my HD428 has definitely taken its place. I have to be careful not wear the HD428 permanently because I really like it. Sure, there are better headphones on the market but for now my ears are happy which makes me happy which makes my day. The Sennheiser HD428.
Update: the comfort of the HD428 has improved due to being so often on my head and plastic has an advantage, it doesn't rust. The CAL!s have gone to my sister so I no longer own the CAL!s. She too noticed the bass problem, although I expect her to love the sweet sound. The CAL!s sound mighty sweet...
Update 2: I gave the HD428 about 50 hours of burn in but the bass improved a bit later on. The bass is still light and tight though.