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Creative Aurvana Live! Review and Mods

post #1 of 134
Thread Starter 

I'm a pround owner of Creative Aurvana Live!, which shares the same Foster drivers as the Denon D1001 or D1000 but with a slightly bigger, more oval cup. According to what others have reported and what the frequency response graph suggests, much if not all of the difference lies in the bass department, where the CAL is a little bassier than the Denons.

 

Other satisfied CAL owners are welcome to contribute or share their experience here. And of course, anyone else who have some inspiration for modding or just want to comment should do so as well. Posting pretty photos here of your CAL either alone or with things such as amp, DAC would be nice too.

 

Review

First of all, I haven't owned the CAL for as long as many of you. It's been about 6 months give or take, but the headphone is fully burned in. To be honest, I liked the CALs straight out of package as is, so any mods I have performed are only intentions to perfect it.

 

This headphone is deemed comparable to M50s by many, while a few even went as far as prefering it to D2000 and D5000, HD650 and Ultrasone Pro900. Crazy claims you say? Maybe... I guess I will never know since I can't afford those high end products.

 

CAL is famous for its musicality, slightly V-shaped sound signature, so it can't be be considered "technically" great. My old poll revealed that a V-shaped sound is only second to neutrality in terms of popularity, therefore I can't imagine anyone would hate the CALs. However, some people have disliked, what they describe as fuzzy/boomy bass, yet there is a fix for them (see the dynamat mod).

 

My first impression was that it blew me away. It has plenty of bass, good mids and sparkling treble. The low end and the highs both extend quite far; to well over 16kHz. It's recommended for games and movies, as I'm a more of a movie person than a music lover I decided to check it out. For a close-back, it has a wide and deep soundstage with excellent 3D imaging.

 

It came with a pouch, a 3.5mm to 6.5mm adaptor and a 1.5m extension cord (a bit fragile and thin nonetheless). The impedance is only 32 ohm; thus very easy to driver. They are circumaural to me (semi-circumaural to non-average ears). Unfortunately, the price used to be cheaper before I bought them, and after as well. Nevertheless, it still is one of the must buys for the best bang for the buck; perfect for beginners and cost conscious budget audiophiles alike.

 

Mods

The well-known markl mod, orginally to D5000 from here, and specifically to D1001 from here, consists of applying sound deadener to the inside of the cups and on the drivers; putting fiberloft in the earcups, stuffing fiberloft to the pads (only D5000), and additionally recabling.

 

Sound deadener

I applied Dynamat Xtreme that I bought from a fellow head-fier to my CAL. To me surprise, the Dynamat is not that light in weight due to a thick layer of tacky stuff (like blu tack). Warnings to those don't want their headphone to weigh any more than they already weigh(note: CAL is of the of lightest full-size cans, weighing only 210g).

 

IMG_6163.jpg

 

The back of the cups is the tricky part, because I didn't manage to take the cups completely off the headband. All in all, it took me more than 2 hours to get this modification finished, shame on me.

IMG_6164.jpg

 

The mod is surprisingly good. It makes my CAL almost sound like a completely different headphone, while retaining most of the signature. Punchier (tighter) bass, more foward mids, not much change to the highs, I feel there is better imaging and a wider soundstage. I didn't notice any reduction in bass quantity though.  It took a little while to get used to the more in your face sound (the next mod on the pads cancels out this effect more or less IMHO), as I would imagine it's due to less false bass due echos/vibrations, so I can hear everything clearer. I reckon this is the next best thing to buying a much more expensive headphone, and I can't think of anything else that would improve the SQ so drastically (be it amps, DAC, cable change, or even EQ)

 

However, it is not easily reversible as I had first expected. It was hard enough to apply the Dynamat already, that it took a long time to measure, cut, remeasure, recut, and implement it. I'm sorry to say that I forgot to make some numerical measurements to provide you with the lengths and widths for this mod.

 

Pad lift

Inspired by this thread I found yesterday, I executed a second mod to lift up the pads so that the headphones/speakers are more away from the ears. No matter how comfortable the CAL is, I always found the inner parts(in front of the drivers) touching my ears ever so slightly. There is no easy way to stuff the actual pads as they are completely sealed off or to stuff the back of the pads as there is no room. A foam can be added to the inside of the pads.

 

Instead of soft foam used in the other thread, I choose to cut up some cheap mousepads laying around the house. You can get them for free from many places. I peeled off the thin blue layer with the logo, so that only a dense/firm black foam is left.

IMG_6170_resize.jpg

 

This time I measured the dimensions for you convenience.

IMG_6171_resize.jpg

 

Left: no foam; right: lifted with foam.

IMG_6174_resize.jpg

 

Left: before; right: after. As you can see, it won't make it look like as thick as your couch. It's really a tactile rather than asthestic change.

IMG_6165_resize.jpgIMG_6179_resize.jpg

 

This eliminated the problem with my ears touching the speakers, as well as increasing the soundstage/headstage. It's using the same principle as holding the headphones some distance away from the ears, but without the loss of bass.  Not only is the JMoney Audio lambskin earpads are as expensive as the CALs themselves, the pads also don't fit the CALs since they are designed for higher-end Denons. I say this does the job just as well at minimal cost or no cost at all. Both mods have increased the weight a bit, especially the first one; and made it a bit hotter (perhaps pschological). But I still think they are reasonably light and comfortable. I am even more hestitant to upgrade now; good for my wallet really (no "sorry for your wallet" sort of thing on head-fi, a big plus!).

 

Taper mod

Like what markl originally did to increase one side of the pads more than the another to align the earpads to the angle of the human ears, this is a variant of his taper mod. However, the effect won't be as dramatic or apparent as R10 or HD800 where the placement of the drivers is designed that way. This will only make the plane of the headphone less "backward-facing".

 

Carve out a third foam padding, slice it in half as follows.

IMG_6184.jpg

 

Because I ran out of superglue, I just put each half to the sides that are behind the ears when worn.

IMG_6185.jpg

 

Add the foams from before on top of the "arches" to creat a slope for the plane

IMG_6191.jpg

 

Edit: I reverted the taper mod though, as the extra layer was stretching the pads to much. However, I am still keeping my original pad mod. I didn't find it to have much effect to begin with anyhow, It was only to be faithful to the Markl mod.


Edited by kingpage - 4/25/11 at 7:55pm
post #2 of 134
Thread Starter 

This thread will be updated as more mods are added.


Edited by kingpage - 3/25/11 at 9:41am
post #3 of 134
Thread Starter 

Updated with the taper mod


Edited by kingpage - 3/25/11 at 9:37am
post #4 of 134

I haven't seen CAL mods before, but this one looks very interesting. You made a good job! 

post #5 of 134

Whenever I want to lift pads I'll just roll up some gauze pads and slide them in.

post #6 of 134
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by earerror View Post

I haven't seen CAL mods before, but this one looks very interesting. You made a good job! 



Thanks. I wish I had some higher end headphones to compare them with. I missed the Brisbane meet early this month, as result of my forgetfulness. In fact, I spent almost a week trying to remember the very important thing I had to do in March but it was already too late when I did. Hopefully, there will be another one in a few months.

post #7 of 134

Nice review....interesting Mods.....makes me wish I had a pair to take a listen.....where have they all gone?

post #8 of 134

Cool. I have been thinking on a pair of CAL for my gaming stuff. 

post #9 of 134
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MiguelATF View Post

Nice review....interesting Mods.....makes me wish I had a pair to take a listen.....where have they all gone?



You should be able to buy them straight from the official Creative Lab website for a low price. It was only $70 a month ago, but now it seems the price has gone back up. If you are patient, it should go down again relatively soon.


Edited by kingpage - 4/14/11 at 6:59pm
post #10 of 134

done the mod, and reverted 30 minutes later; boomy bass was the problem; sadly, as you reduce the internal volume even slightly, in this case by quite a lot adding all that dampening material, it will result in a lot of back pressure and obvious boominess; maybe it could aid the drive to have more internal volume, or have a venting port, but these are experiments that take away so much time, I don't think I will ever bother.

 

but I insist, this mod will cause boominess in the bass, bass which is a bliss the way the headphone originally comes with; so glad to have recovered that deep, articulate slam back.

 

granted, sound stage and vocals were pronounced and clear with the mod, but that bass, my, that was bad, I'd rather have the original concoction; the cable swapping with a mogami mini quad 2893 is bound to provide a considerable upgrade to the sound


Edited by luigicirelli - 4/24/11 at 10:08pm
post #11 of 134
Thread Starter 

How long has your CAL been used?

 

What you are reporting about the boomy bass is exactly the opposite of what everyone else has found. I wonder what dampening material you used. The dampening material works by absorbing the false bass, shaking of headphones. If anything, it should only be tighter. I have not read someone's dynamat mod causing the bass to go boomy. Also, how did you apply the mat? You need to press tightly so that the mat is firmly against the plastic cups for it to work, not just "glued" on the surface of the cups.

 

You know, the mod with the deafening mat was designed solely/mostly for attentuating the unwanted aspects of the low end, while maintaining the true bass coming from the drivers, that's why I find your findings a bit strange.

 

On a side note, I reverted the taper mod though, as the extra layer was stretching the pads to much. However, I am still keeping my original pad mod.


Edited by kingpage - 4/25/11 at 7:56pm
post #12 of 134

I have the same experience as well. I certainly didn't remember the sound being that way with the D1001, but at that time, I did not put Dynamat on the driver's rear and did not stuff the cups. I waited half a year to mod the D1001, maybe the CAL! just needed some burn in. Maybe later on I'll remove the stuffing in the CAL! after 196 hours and see what happens. For the time being they sound good to me.

 

Edit: Removed the stuffing on just the left cup, and cannot tell the difference between the unstuffed left and stuffed right cup now. Definitely burn-in/settle-in related.


Edited by ShinyFalcon - 4/26/11 at 7:15am
post #13 of 134

Hi!

 

I tried various damping of the cups, including wad, fiberloft and foam inserts.

Decided to leave thin sheet of fiberloft in the cups, barely noticing sound difference between this mod and stock.

Others materials reduced soundstage width and reduced "liveliness" of the sound.

 

Also tried open the cups removing the glossed black plastic piece. This resulted in unnaturaly long decay and undamped sound in general.

 

Just my 2 cents.

 

Moonwalker


Edited by Moonwalker - 11/8/11 at 4:21am
post #14 of 134

Hi!

 

Just want to add some experience with the CAL! headphones.

 

On my ears, they are mildly uncomfortable, the pads always reminding me I'm listening to and wearing  phones.

The clamping effect is rather gentle.

 

Soundwise, I found them to have lot of mid-quality bass, excellent extension down to low bass, and the bass has almost no overhang to the mid range.

Mids are precise, if a bit withdrawn.

Treble range is sharp, fast and lifelike IMO.

 

Overall, I can use them for an hour or so, at low listening volume level. Otherwise, the dominat bass and treble are too much for my ears.

 

PS: I tried Blue Tack in place of Dynamat, on the driver ring only, and found no difference other than very small treduction of soundstage size.

 

Moonwalker

 

 

 

post #15 of 134

Hey guys, I was wondering if anyone knows the result you get by removing the paper ring on the back of the driver, or by just punching the wholes it's covering? If anyone has removed the paper or punched the wholes on the back of the driver of the CAL or any other similar closed headphone, let me know of the results you got. I'm recabling them and if it's worth the hassle I'll mod it while I'm at it.

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