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Koss Pro DJ100 vs Creative Aurvana Live: Budget-fi Throwdown

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 

Disclaimer: This review was written by an owner (or previous owner) of an LCD 2, XB700, D7000, and other various Basshead headphones.

 

~~

I was in the process of writing a review for the Koss ProDJ100 when I got word that I'd won the Creative Aurvana Live in a recent contest from Headphones.com. They were being hailed as one of the best headphones in the sub 200 USD price bracket, so I decided to compare them to the budget king...the Koss ProDJ100. These have been burned in for at least 24 hours a piece before writing this. 

~~

My test track list is quite long, but some of the more noteable ones I will discuss are the ones I'll post. 

 

Techmaster P.E.B. - Bassgasm (Bass Depth Test)

Pendulum - Crush (The 'Is it too Bright' test)

Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman - Con Te Partiro (Male & Female Vocal Test)

Noisia - Sunhammer (Teeny Tiny Details test)

The Who - Pinball Wizard (Classic recording test)

~~

Price & Packaging

Koss ProDJ100 - $80

These headphones have been an 'under the radar' budget choice for quite some time now. They're an absolute steal in my mind for $80. That's really all I can say about the price. Looking at the packaging they're very short sweet and to the point. Cardboard box, name and picture of the headphone. Open it up and you get your cans and 1/8" to 1/4" adapter. 

 

Creative Aurvana Live - $100

The challenger in this match up. When I first heard someone was calling these headphones 'one of the best under 200' I was very sceptical. After owning the DJ100 for awhile I never thought anything around 100 bucks could compete. They are packaged very similarly to the DJ100, but with a few (welcome) extras. Carboard box, picture of headphone, etc. When you open it up though you get your cans, a carrying bag, a 1/8" extension cable, and a 1/4" adapter. 

~~

Aesthetics & Build Quality

Pro DJ100

I love the way these look. No glossy plastic. They're (almost) full aluminum. They were a little smaller than I remembered them being but that just made them more portable. Black and silver made them look just plain sexy to my eyes.  They're fairly light (the heaviest part is the cable), but I feel are built quite well. The cups swivel completely flat. The cable is coiled and feels pretty sturdy because of it but the termination leaves a little to be desired. The cable just...ends. It doesn't feel like there's much of a termination at all.

 

Creative Aurvana Live

These headphones are made completely out of plastic. The cups are a glossy black and silver. The rest is a flat black. My first impression was that they felt a little cheap when it came to build quality. Having handled headphones around the same price that felt worse I wasn't too worried though. As I said, these are black and silver as well but the only silver is the ring around each cup. They're a tad lighter than the DJ100 because of the cable. The cups swivel a bit, but just to enough to get a good fit. One of the nicest things about them though is the cable (where as it's the worst part of the DJ100). It's light, dual entry, and is shorter than the DJ100. Termination is straight but sturdy. 

 

Overall (Build Quality) Winner: Pro DJ100 [No contest really. Aluminum vs Plastic]

~~

Comfort & Isolation

[I'm grouping them together here as the differences between them are mostly small]

Starting with headbands I found the DJ100 to be slightly more comfortable than the CAL. Main reason being that it was a bit wider and didn't create as much immediate pressure. It's also padded more than the CAL which is a nice touch. Moving onto the ability to size them. Again I feel that the DJ100 has an advantage due to the fact it has thick aluminum sliders. They feel more sturdy when extended as opposed to the CAL's thinner ones. Cups is where it starts to get interesting. I give the advantage here to the CAL because they're much easier to fit on my ears. The DJ100's swiveling cups make it a bit difficult to get a good fit which also bleeds over into the isolation category. These cans are evely matched here and both work well for buses and crowded places but the DJ100 is a little tougher to get a proper fit with. Bringing us lastly to the pads...they're both pleather, but the CAL has a major advantage over the DJ100 here. The CAL has nice squishy pads that settle nicely to my ear. The DJ100 on the other hand comes stock with rough pads that I think would bother me more if I had short hair. I would recommend swapping them for M50 pads as soon as you can. They're more evenly matched that way. Oh, and overall weight gives the CAL gets another win. The DJ100's cable is just too heavy.

 

Recap: Headband - DJ100, Sizing - DJ100, Cups (Fit) - CAL, Isolation - CAL (Due to fit), Pads - CAL, Cable (Weight) - CAL

 

Overall (Comfort) Winner: Creative Aurvana Live [Due mostly to the cable causing uneven weight distribution]

DO NOT BLOW THESE OUT OF PROPORTION. They are very similar comfort wise to me. 

~~

Portability

[Again I'll be lumping them together as they both make good portables]

I would call both of these supra aural headphones even though they are more caught in between the 2 extremes (circum vs supra). The CAL has a somewhat smaller form factor due to the thinner headband and smaller cups, but the DJ100 does fold flat making them fairly close here. Either can easily be worn around the neck without getting in the way or causing discomfort but if you walk around in them quite a bit you'll notice the DJ100's cable bouncing and weighing you down. One thing to remember about portables though is they need to be durable. Considering this the DJ100 comes out with the win. If you can stand the cable (or find some way to keep it in check) they make a better portable due to the fact they're more durable and fold flat. The aluminum and rotating cups outweigh the weight of the cable. 

 

Overall (Portability) Winner: DJ100 [Due mostly to durability. If you baby your gear I'd pick the CAL]

~~

Sound

- Bass

DJ100

You'd think being a DJ headphone would mean these things are bass monsters. This is simply not the case. There is definitely more bass than the CAL, but it's not head shattering like most 'DJ' cans tend to be. Again it extends deep and sounds great, but the DJ100 has the leg up on bass texture. It definitely feels more meaty and fleshed out than the CAL. Thick would be a word I'd describe it as. Thick like syrup. It's punchy when it wants to be but it's mostly just a good rumble between your ears. I didn't find that it bled over into the rest of the spectrum though.

 

CAL

The first thing I'll say about bass on the CAL is that it may leave some to be desired for someone wanting a good amount of bass in their music. It's just not there on the CAL. The bass extends deep and sounds great, but if you're looking for quantity this isn't a headphone for you (unless you've got one of those glorious ZOs). It's very polite and in line. Being a heavy EDM listener I'd call it bass light, but for most it will be just fine. Needless to say it doesn't bleed over or overpower anything else.

Winner: DJ100

~

- Mids

(I'm changing it up here. This is a shootout after all. Mids will be compared head to head using (mostly) 'Con Te Partiro - Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman'. This song is my absolute bottom line for testing mids. Male & Female singers with excellent range and all the little details you could want (breathing, strings, etc.)

Jumping right into it I'll say that both of these headphones have excellent mids. It's the strong point of both. Up until now the wonderful mids on the DJ100 have made it an easy choice for any genre in the <$200 category…but the CAL takes it for me. Neither is a slacker, but the reason I've chosen the CAL over my beloved DJ100 from a pure midrange standpoint is the fact that the CAL extracts more detail than the DJ100. I think this may be the one downfall of the DJ100's sweet, thick sound. While the vocals are very textured the detail I want just wasn't there when comparing the 2 directly. The CAL gave me every little breath and pluck where as the DJ100 just lost those little details in its warm sound. I guess it comes down to preference more than anything. If you want every little detail in your instruments and vocals the CAL is for you. If you want a nice warm, smooth sound and can handle some loss of detail the DJ100 is for you.

Winner: CAL

~

- Highs

DJ100

Without a doubt the highs are the DJ100s weak point. That's not to say they're bad, but they seem rolled off and just take a back seat to the rest of the (excellent sounding) spectrum. They'll never tire you out, but they'll never wow you either. They're just…there. 

 

CAL

Almost the opposite of how I felt about their bass. The highs are excellent here. What they lacked in the bass department they make up for in the highs. I think I'll be recommending these a lot for someone looking for a less ridiculous Grado. Probably what gives them the detail I really enjoy. I always worry that with headphones like this I'll never be able to use them as I'd find them painfully bright (being pretty sensitive). This just wasn't the case with the CAL. As stated at the beginning of my review my 'painful highs' test song is 'Crush' by Pendulum. Reason being that this song has constant and loud cymbals through. I love this song, but I can't take it on a lot of headphones because it just hurts my friggin' ears. I'd describe the CALs highs in short like this…Detailed and emphasized without being too bright. 

Winner: CAL

~

- Soundstage

Short but sweet here. They're both closed but the CAL wins out. You won't be too impressed with either, but the CAL just does it better. The instruments seem a bit more 'out of your head' and imaging is better. Again, they just won't compare to an open can though.

Winner: CAL

~

Overall Signature

DJ100 - Warm (Due to the thick sound) and Balanced. Everything falls into place nicely with the highs taking a back seat. 

Creative Aurvana Live - Neutral (On the border of cold, but I think that's due to just being a neutral can) and (again) Balanced. Everything falls into place nicely with the bass taking a back seat. Detail, detail, detail. 

~~

Conclusion

We have a new budget king...sort of. The Creative Aurvana Live and Koss ProDJ100 both show what budget-fi really has to offer. You can get something great for under $100. That being said I think that they're really just different flavors on equal footing. If you want more bass and a nice thick, textured sound the DJ100 is your man. If you want a detailed sound with wonderful mids and highs the CAL is your guy. This conclusion is being reached with both headphone 'come as your are' stock. 

 

Things to consider:

- The DJ100 fits M50 pads. One of my biggest gripes is the pads on these headphones. The stock ones are just terrible, but the M50 pads really fix that.

- The Digizoid ZO exists. This little device would absolutely make the CAL my pick for a portable (or any headphone) under $200. The smooth boost without reducing the excellent highs and detail it just what they need. 

- Cheap Mogami recables. The other major gripe I have with the otherwise excellent DJ100 is the heavy, coiled cable. Get it recabled with something nice and light and you've got a durable can that's great right out of your headphone out.

 

Pictures will be labeled for each section and in post 2!

 

EDIT: Be honest when commenting on this review. You won't hurt my feelings. I really think my reviews read horribly and I hate my formatting. 

EDIT 2: Pictures added and 'Scaling' section removed. I will edit it in later, but people are going to want to know more about portable amps which I have none of at the moment.


Edited by MorbidToaster - 12/9/11 at 5:54pm
post #2 of 48
Thread Starter 

Boxes & Glamour Shots

 

photo7.JPG

DJ100

 

photo8.JPG

Aurvana Live

 

Side by Side

 

photo4.JPG

 

Cables

 

photo6.JPG

DJ100

 

photo5.JPG

Aurvana Live

 

'Head' Shots

 

photo.JPG

DJ100

 

photo2.JPG

Aurvana Live

 

The orientations are really wonky and Head-fi is doing it for no reason. I'll try reposting some later.


Edited by MorbidToaster - 11/8/11 at 11:27am
post #3 of 48

Nice review. I agree with a lot of it. I don't actually remember the CAL being too bass light. I could have sworn the DJ100 had less bass than the CAL, but maybe not after all. I don't think I compared them side by side.

 

One thing worth pointing out to some is that IMO the DJ100 does have more forward upper mids. This is either a plus or a negative for some. I love it and for me the DJ100 excels with female vocals. I always felt the CAL had more relaxed mids kind of like the Denon D2000. The CAL uses the D1001 driver and IMO the D1100 is a huge step down and is too much of a bass monster for me to like. For me, the mids on the DJ100 are just too addicting.

 

Another problem with the CAL is that it will be either ON ear or fully surround your ears. The pads are kind of small. I don't know how this would effect the sound.

 

I tried the CAL about 6 months ago for a second time and I think the biggest complaint I had was it's tonality was kind of off at times (like the ZX700!) and often it's sound felt a bit congested. I think many closed headphones have this problem too. Here's where most people would cringe...I compared both the Bose AE2 and CAL side by side. The CAL is one headphone I do suggest quite a lot and it's often found for $65! It would have been my primary headphone but it lost out to the Shure SRH-840. CAL just sounded weird and "off" compared to the SRH-840 when doing A/B comparisons.

 

To pick between the two it's best to just figure out your preferred sound signature and find out which one closely matches that.

 

I do think the CAL would be better for portable use since it seems to rely less on a portable amp. CAL felt really cheap and plasticky. I bet the D1001 is built a little better.

 

I don't know if I could agree with the CAL having the better soundstage, but of course I'd need to compare them side by side. The DJ100's soundstage with M50 pads is a lot larger than with stock pads. The soundstage also seems to improve with portable amps. I think the DJ100's soundstage is quite good for a closed headphone, but still a step down from the KRK KNS-6400. That thing often has me fooled that it's semi-open.

 

I'm glad you mentioned recabling. I recabled mine with Mogami and it sounds pretty good. It doesn't add in much, but just improves the stock signature. It was very easy to do, but I did need to drill two small holes. The sound quality of the stock cable isn't that bad and sounds even better than the stock HD-598 cable, which is horrible. I could never call the DJ100 a detail monster, but it holds up very well with my KRK which is definitely a detail monster. BTW some wire ruins the sound of the DJ100. Canare was the worst I've tried and Belden 1192A made it very fatiguing.

 

 

 

 

post #4 of 48

I wonder how the D7000 compares to the DJ100? biggrin.gif

I remember once hearing someone saying the DJ100 sounds a little like the D7000 confused_face_2.gif Never heard the D7000, so I don't know.

 

I'm hoping someday to find a clone of the DJ100's sound signature, but even better. A little less bass wouldn't bother me. The bass on the DJ100 I'm 100% satisfied with though.

 

SA3000 has a lot of similarities but has the bass chopped off and replaced with treble. Both have really forward upper mids.

 

SA3000 to me is like a Q701 that's a little more fun to listen to and far more engaging. A lot more fatiguing though. Q701 is also a little more clear. I bet the SA5000 is better competition to the Q701.

post #5 of 48
Thread Starter 

The D7000's Soundstage would no doubt be bigger. They're more comfortable, etc. But sound wise I found the mids a bit recessed on the D7000 (per my review) where as they are in fact the star of the show on the DJ100. Clarity is improved a great deal, as is detail. 

 

As for the bass you mentioned I think the DJ100 has the CAL beat by a wide margin quantity wise. Not sure what we're hearing differently there. 

 

I mentioned recabling and new pads is because they seem like a popular option for the DJ100 for obvious reasons. The stock pads are just pad, and the cable is much too heavy and bouncy (coiled cables, bleh). I don't really want it to change the sound (as most would claim recables do), I just want to reachable it so the weight distribution and termination are better. 

 

EDIT: The amping section was left out (see: edit 2) and will be added later (hopefully with M50 vs stock pad comparisons as well). I could see the DJ100s bass tightening a bit while amping may have the opposite effect on the CAL (more bass with more power). We won't know for sure until I get a bigger variety of amps in my hands.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tdockweiler View Post

I wonder how the D7000 compares to the DJ100? biggrin.gif

I remember once hearing someone saying the DJ100 sounds a little like the D7000 confused_face_2.gif Never heard the D7000, so I don't know.

 

I'm hoping someday to find a clone of the DJ100's sound signature, but even better. A little less bass wouldn't bother me. The bass on the DJ100 I'm 100% satisfied with though.

 

SA3000 has a lot of similarities but has the bass chopped off and replaced with treble. Both have really forward upper mids.

 

SA3000 to me is like a Q701 that's a little more fun to listen to and far more engaging. A lot more fatiguing though. Q701 is also a little more clear. I bet the SA5000 is better competition to the Q701.



 

 


Edited by MorbidToaster - 11/8/11 at 12:34pm
post #6 of 48

Wow, surprised this hasn't gotten any more replies. confused_face_2.gif I think it could be that the Aurvana Live and the DJ100 are two severely under-appreciated headphones.

CAL is one of the better headphones in the $65-$100 category. People seem to think it was out of production, but I don't think it is. Still easy to find.

 

Uses the D1001 driver, but it has a slightly different frequency graph (they're both on Inner Fidelity)

 

Hahah, maybe you need to change the title to: Koss Pro DJ100 - More fun than the LCD3?

 

Only kidding

 

I think I did an HD-598 and K601 comparison a year ago and got only a couple replies. No big deal.

 

 

post #7 of 48

Awesome review MorbidToaster! I love my D1000s (which are the same as the 1001s without the extra pouch it came with) and your review was pretty spot-on although I don't find them too light on bass - I guess I'd say it's just right (I also agree with Tdock about the D1100 - I don't know what they were thinking when they replaced the D1001 with the D1100. It could've been a more bassy addition to their line but not a replacement. It made me really wary of the company in general since that was my first Denon can). Definitely a wonderful, balanced headphone and I find the tonality to be pretty good (which I am a bit pickier with these days especially after hearing how natural my HJE900 IEM sounds). I had some DJ100s in the past​ but returned them due to what I felt was a fatiguing signature (the forward mids were not for me). I will admit though I never got to try them with a better amp (only had the fiio e5 at the time) and with M50 pads. I'm sure the sound and overall coherence improves a lot.

post #8 of 48
Thread Starter 


Maybe I should add a disclaimer. 'Bass light for a guy that owns an LCD 2 and an XB700.' 

 

Haha

Quote:
Originally Posted by roma101 View Post

Awesome review MorbidToaster! I love my D1000s (which are the same as the 1001s without the extra pouch it came with) and your review was pretty spot-on although I don't find them too light on bass - I guess I'd say it's just right (I also agree with Tdock about the D1100 - I don't know what they were thinking when they replaced the D1001 with the D1100. It could've been a more bassy addition to their line but not a replacement. It made me really wary of the company in general since that was my first Denon can). Definitely a wonderful, balanced headphone and I find the tonality to be pretty good (which I am a bit pickier with these days especially after hearing how natural my HJE900 IEM sounds). I had some DJ100s in the past​ but returned them due to what I felt was a fatiguing signature (the forward mids were not for me). I will admit though I never got to try them with a better amp (only had the fiio e5 at the time) and with M50 pads. I'm sure the sound and overall coherence improves a lot.



 

 

post #9 of 48

Thanks for the review!

 

Is very detailed, and as you mentioned, both are great sub $100 headphones.

 

I bought a CAL for my wife, and sounds pretty good (for the price). The DJ100 are for my sister's husband.

 

Someday in a future I want to do a review myself.

 

Again, thanks for your time on writing this review. Makes it easier for us ppl that wants to get only one :)

post #10 of 48

Ha nice, didn't expect the CAL to win out in the mids. Does having the M50 pads on shake things up at all?

post #11 of 48

Hey,

 

Could you post pics from the Pro DJ100 on the 'head' stand but from a front view perspective? 

 

I would like to see how 'bulky' they are and/or how 'goofy' they look wink.gif

 

 

Greetings,

post #12 of 48
Thread Starter 

My experience with the M50 pads is limited as I only heard them for an hour or so (I asked a friend to borrow his pads, lol). It did seem to make them nicer to my ears, and as I said for someone that likes a more meaty sound you'll like them...but the CAL just had better detail retrieval to my ears and that's what made the difference.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 200poundsofamp View Post

Ha nice, didn't expect the CAL to win out in the mids. Does having the M50 pads on shake things up at all?



 

 

post #13 of 48
Thread Starter 

I'll do that as soon as I can.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flumphy View Post

Hey,

 

Could you post pics from the Pro DJ100 on the 'head' stand but from a front view perspective? 

 

I would like to see how 'bulky' they are and/or how 'goofy' they look wink.gif

 

 

Greetings,



 

 

post #14 of 48

@MorbidToaster

 

Thanks in advance for the effort. 

post #15 of 48
Thread Starter 

photo.JPG

 

Between Head-fi and my iPhone my pictures always come out in the wrong orientation, but there ya go. :D

 

Not bad at all, IMO.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flumphy View Post

@MorbidToaster

 

Thanks in advance for the effort. 



 

 

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