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Over-Ear item created by , May 5, 2010
Pros - Balanced sound
Cons - Average sound all across the FR
Currently overpriced compared to competition
I don't get it.
I really don't get it.
Why is CAL! so popular?
It's even on Tyll's "Wall of Fame" - for "Over-Ear Sealed" (!?). How can it possibly be "Over-Ear"? The pads are very small, how can Tyll file them under "Over-Ear"?
He has a large head with man-sized ears - these pads are definitely not built to surround an adult man's ears.
Comfort is definitely an issue, but isolation is an even bigger one - according to Tyll's measurements, there is no isolation whatsoever under 1kHz.
CAL! can't even handle A/C noise in the office.
Small pads will do that to you...
As you can see, the entire CAL! pad is only slightly larger than Takstar Pro 82 pad's opening
Difference in material quality is obvious too.
HM5 pads are even larger, and much thicker than Pro 82
Headband padding is very thin and narrow, doesn't cover much of it
Pro 82 on the left, CAL! on the right.
CAL! has an L-shaped FR, but it sounds U/V-shaped, not dark at all.
It doesn't really excel at any range of FR, but the sound is very well balanced all over the FR, and this creates an illusion of a very good headphone.
This illusion disappears very quickly when you start A/B-ing them with better headphones.
Here is a comparison with Takstar Pro 82:
Bass - Pro 82 is extended down to 15Hz, CAL! stops at 20Hz, and has a lot less energy there than Pro 82 at 15Hz.
Quality of CAL!'s bass is mediocre at best - its pads don't seal.
Pro 82's much larger pads play a big role in its amazing bass quality - it has a much greater impact and better decay.
Mids - CAL! has a slightly warm veil. It's not as thick as HD600's, but it's there.
Pro 82 removes this veil, and adds A LOT of detail.
Treble - CAL! has a very polite treble. It doesn't go very far, but it's still not "dark" - it's just missing some detail and energy.
Pro 82 adds the missing parts, while not getting "hot".
Overall CAL! sounds quite small and congested.
I can't help but think that using larger pads from a better material could improve CAL!'s SQ, but this comparison is stock.
CAL! doesn't scale up well - it doesn't sound any better through Oppo HA-2 than through a Rockboxed Sansa Clip+
Current price of CAL! on Amazon is 62$, and it has spent most of the past 6 months between 60$ and 70$, even though last December it was under 45$.
Takstar Pro 82 is currently 67$ on Aliexpress - only a 5$ difference.
And this difference disappears when you add the sales tax.
I bought CAL! last year for 50$, and still I'm disappointed from its value proposition.
At 62$, it's moving in the wrong direction - It belongs in the 30$-40$ area.
Pros - Sound quality; comfort; weight
Cons - Subbass; build quality; isolation; cord length
These are the headphones that showed me the difference of the sound of headphones driven by an integrated audio card and the ones driven by a dedicated one (in my case, Asus Xonar D1). Needless to say, it was absolutely massive. CAL! have fantastic mids, which make every uplifting trance track SHINE (try e.g. Phillip Alpha - Sudden Changes or Andy Blueman - Neverland). But in order to experience that, a dedicated audio card is a must. I'm pretty sure that they'll satisfy anyone that listens to ambient or orchestral music, at least as long as you're looking for fun-sounding headphones (they're V-shaped, but only slightly - at least to a basshead like myself).
They have rather decent midbass but little subbass which, I guess, is a price that needs to be paid if you want great mids. If you listen to dubstep, well... stay away from those, lol.
Comfort and isolation
They're decently comfortable. The cups are too small to cover my ears completely, which worsens the isolation, and probably the comfort as well.
Build quality, cord and looks
The build quality is bad. CAL! are made of plastic that has questionable quality, and after a couple of months I had to tape one of the headphones to the headband (where they join). The cord is also of questionable quality and is way too short for my taste (forget about using these with a PC that has the audio card inside the case). I think it'd also be better if CAL! had one cord that comes out of one of the headphones, rather than two cords that join below (in my case, a bit too close to my chin).
To me, CAL! look decent.
As I said, if you're looking for reasonably cheap and fun-sounding headphones for uplifting trance (possibly also ambient/orchestral music), these are the ones.
Pros - Sound quality, value, comfort
Cons - poor isolation
Overall: Best sounding headphones that you can currently get on amazon for $39.99 if you don't care for isolation.
Build: I wouldn't say it's very durable looking and it is mostly made up of plastic. C rating
Comfort: The cups are large enough to cover my ears and the pleather earpads feel very soft and comfortable. A
Isolation: Isolation is very poor for a closed headphone. D
Sound: These sound pretty amazing for what they are worth. These sound very clear. A+
Value: I have no idea how durable these are and don't plan on breaking these to find out. If you don't care for isolation, A++, if you do, I would suggest looking somewhere else.
Pros - amazingly comfy, really good sound quality and strong bass
Cons - gets easily dirty, pretty cheap plastic and build
for 50$ (i payed so much for it) this pair of haidphones is uitstanding , amazing sound quality that sounds like it is really played life . strong bass with amazing lows, the only problem i had with the bass is that it took over the mid tones a little bit, but with a equalizer you're fine . Also these are super comfy, i can sit with them for like hours without any headache.
Pros - Confort, Bass, Soundstage.
Cons - Earpads could be larger.
If I were to describe this cans, the V shape would be fitting, but it is just a moderate V shape, nothing overly pronounced but not flat by any means.
This is where the cans excel at. The bass is pronounced and continues with a mid bass emphasis. I'm more of a sub-bass craver rather than the mid bass hump because I feel it steals clarity to the mids, so this left something to be desired, though nothing that made me regret my purchase. I find myself enjoying pop, edm, rock with this pair to the point of losing sight of the background, I see the average joe digging this set for this, but truth be told, the sub bass is a notch below the mid bass. If I they could reverse this, they'd be perfect for me.
Withdrawn, but not by much, the mids are clear but again the mid bass steals the show. Male voices sound powerful with depth. Guitar cords sound beautiful. Overall very enjoyable mids.
This cans do have a boost around the 10k. I tend to like my headphones with a little less highs, nevertheless, they never sound fatiguing or excrutiating, on the contrary, they give the cymbals a spot in music that you can easily distinguish without being overbearing. This is what gives the headphones the somewhat clear feel.
Mediocre, just as good as the average closed cans.
Clamp pressure is almost non existent, but they won't fall off your head, so this are really confortable, you can use them literally for hours without pain. The ear space could be bigger. They fit mine, but just barely, and I'm 6 ft tall with average sized ears. Bigger heads should stay away they won't fit.
I paid 70 dlls, but they do give a lot more than what they offer. They are not meant for bassheads nor audiophiles, but will appeal to everyone looking for a "jack of all trades". Enjoying music is what they are meant for, and these, well, they just deliver that in the sub $100 range.
Pros - Great detail, V-shaped sound works for much of popular music
Cons - Very very V-shaped, feels like a part of the spectrum is missing, literally the cheapest most breakable plastic.
These are hard to review especially at the 50 dollar price point. At that price it's probably going to be one of the best headphones you can get in terms of pure sound detail.
But I would be remiss to not mention that it is very very V-shaped. I miss the mids. I would even trade some of that clarity for semi-decent mids. Only thing worse than a headphone with bloated bass is a headphone with buried mids.
The pads are very comfortable at first but like any around ear they tend to get hot over time.
In general ATH-M50 is better(although also suffering from recessed mids) with better detail through the spectrum where the CAL! has greatly detailed highs but the bass isn't on par.
Pros - overall good sound quality, lightweight, sit good on the head
Cons - deepest bass, not super comfortable but ok, sound isolation
i can only compare these to my sony mdr cd 770 and my dad's beyerdynamic dt 990 premium as well as some koss porta pros.
i haven't had them for that long yet but i like the construction and that they're light. they clamp pretty tight on the head and are comfortable enough to wear for longer periods. i will try running/working out with these and i think they'll do the job.
about the sound: the bass is slightly boomy but goes pretty deep, the treble is slightly more detailed and emphasized i feel than the dt 990 since the sound signature of these cans is flatter and less v-shaped, the highs are decent. overall the sound is very good and there's not much to complain about except the details in the deepest bass, but i think that's a physical limit due to the size of the driver. the soundstage is good enough for my liking and the separation between the channels is very good. they sound somewhere between the cd 770 that are very flat and extremely detailed and the dt 990 (that i totally adore) that have a more v-shaped sound signature and less detail in the treble. i feel that these cans are best for electronic music (not drum and bass) and aren't very picky about the quality of the source. i expect them to get a little better after burning in so i might update this review but so far i'm content with them.
i think that the dt 990 premium are better in every way especially for rock, metal and dnb but they cost 4-5 times more and aren't nearly as portable.
Pros - Genuinely impressive sound quality for under $100, Cozy comfy, Lightweight & secure fit, Nice looks, Includes accessories
Cons - Earpads would benefit from being more spacious, Build quality could be improved, Isolation is similar to Denon D2000
A legendary value performer
The Creative Aurvana Live! (CAL! for short) has a strong reputation for being an excellent choice for beginning headphone hobbyists and an amazingly good sounding headphone for under $100. I found myself with some spare cash, and was after some new headphones after selling my Denon D2000, and thought it would be fun to try the CALs, since they are a reincarnation of the Denon D1000. People have described them as a little brother of the D2000, and I think they are to some extent. Certainly for the better in the sound department, for the worse in other areas. So, I bought a pair directly from Creative, and 4 days later they arrived (Quick shipping seeing as it came from Singapore). Here was my experience:
Well you guys are certainly right about one thing
And that is that these headphones sound excellent, especially for under $100. I really want to talk about this first, because it's where the CAL! is just amazing. Honestly, these headphones are an audiophile's wet-dream to use in arguments against Beats users when you want examples of headphones at less than half the price that blow the doctor away. This is the area where they really do sound like a smaller, cheaper Denon D2000. It's definitely less refined all around, but it does a very similar thing, and at a stupendous level of quality for under a big green note.
The bass on the CAL! is less pronounced than the Denon, placing it very slightly north of neutral, but close enough that I think you could call it well balanced, but slightly warm. The roll off begins much earlier than on the D2000, but the extension is very respectable, but again, not as much. It's certainly controlled well, staying in it's place with very minimal encroachment on the midrange. Definitely a mud-free presentation. Definition is good, and authority isn't lacking when called upon. The bass is a great reason it's great sounding for beginners, it will teach them that you don't need grossly overblown, bloated, unnatural bass for music (including 'bass culture' music) to be enjoyable and properly represented. Neutral-to-warm is where the real cool kids are at! I've read about the bass being a tad loose, but it sounds fairly tight to me. Overall, a commendable bass response from the CAL!, definitely a sign of it's Denon lineage.
Much as with the D2000, the CAL! doesn't put you in a chokehold and demand you swear allegiance to either bass or midrange, you get both! I must say, that vocals struck me very quickly as being very, very good on the CAL!. I think this is a result of not only placement and separation (They seem very distinctly separated from everything else) but just how realistically three dimensional they sound. If you've ever experienced a headphone that seems to swallow vocals up in the sound, and you want something better, then these will do it. I find the midrange to be well detailed and resolving, bringing out the texture of the sound more than you might expect
The treble on the CAL! really fits the part for these cans. To my tastes I couldn't quite call it dark or bright, it's fairly neutral sounding to me, which I think is beneficial for a slightly warm headphone. If you have warmth (or an outright bassy response) coupled with bright treble then you get a V shaped signature, which I don't have high levels of tolerance for (depending on extreme the V is). A left out midrange is no fun. These headphones definitely avoid harshness and sibilance, but I would say they're actually quite energetic and "active" sounding in the treble, but without any sense of being artificially boosted or forward. I really think they sound very surprisingly clean up high for a cheap, sealed can like this.
Imaging is also really good (for a headphone of it's type and class)! Much like the big sister D2000, the CAL! seems to benefit most noticeably from it's poor isolation with the trait the open headphones are best known for: soundstaging. To compare these to the HFI-580 (a sealed circumaural that can go for twice the price of the CAL!), I'd say these knocked their socks off in the imaging department (Well, I find the CAL! much more enjoyable as a whole, too). The Ultrasone is supposed to have S-Logic to help it out, but it sounds downright unnatural and cramped compared to the CAL!. Layering is great on this headphone, with pretty respectable instrument separation. It is, of course, bested by the D2000 but I'd say the imagine was about 80% as good. Really impressive!
In short, the worst thing I can say about the sound of the CAL! is that it will be outdone by headphones in the $200+ range, but I think not only do they kick ass and take names under $100, but they continue to be super competitive up around $150 and approaching the $200 mark. These are some of the best value for performance out there!
Looks & Build
I think that for the money, the CAL! are decent in their presentation and their build, though I wouldn't say that they were outstanding in any way.
Compared to the Denon D1000, the CAL! wins my preference in aesthetics due to it's colour scheme. I quite like the dark, black finish on the headband arms, as well as the contrast between the chrome and reflective black finish of the the cups. The creative logo is in raised plastic with chrome finish, which I really like. I also appreciate the size of the logo, it's not too uncommon for logos to be placed and designed to be as attention seeking as possible. It's good to see visual design that appreciates subtlety.
In the build department, I find that the CAL! could be a bit better, though I want to make it clear that these headphones are not poorly built. I would say they are overall superior to the Sennheiser HD448 which lacked metal in it's internal structure. The CAL! uses prominently plastic in it's build, from the cups through to the headband shell. I think the cups feel pretty solid, but I think the arms of the headband are a bit less convincing of that solid feeling you want from a headphone. The gimbals are slightly cheap looking in their plastic design, and if you apply pressure to the inner plastic of the arms, there's a little bit of give and a small creaking sound. Compare that to the Sennheiser PX100ii, and no such feeling or noise is present, they feel solid as a rock. That headphone also has more visible metal in it's construction, and just feels better finished and re-enforced than the CAL!. This is one of the big reasons I think the CAL! could be more impressive in the build department. Both headphones are the same price, and despite the PX100ii being much smaller and seemingly flimsier in physical size, it's just more solid feeling and I wouldn't hesitate to put more faith in it standing up to abuse than the CAL!, or at the very least it feels a little more premium.
One thing I must say the CAL! does possess that impresses me is good quality pleather. Most headphones under $100 have quite poor imitation leather indeed, though the CAL! went all out and opted for the good stuff. The earpads are extremely soft, more-so than any other headphone I've personally experienced. I was genuinely surprised when I first felt them, and I think this property really contributes to the comfort factor of these headphones.
With everything taken into account, I would say that the CAL! is a decently build headphone which you shouldn't worry about it falling apart on you, though don't expect it last through the ages or give you any sense of getting more than what you paid for.
This is an area that the headphones seem to be almost equally famous for along side their sound, and I have to be honest, I don't think that's really justified. I do not think these are uncomfortable headphones, but a number of people seem to find their comfort more impressive than their sound quality, which is a mildly baffling idea to me. I've also seen one reviewer here on Head-Fi describe the comfort as being 'unbeatable'. Whilst I would normally say that comfort (much like sound) is a very subjective element of the headphone hobby, I can only think that if you consider the CAL! to possess the best comfort out there, you probably haven't experienced a great deal of headphones. They're comfy enough, but they simply are not a headphone that you can wear all day without irritation, and they're no where near the best.
When I first got the CAL! I found them quite uncomfortable. Luckily this changed, but I still do have some remaining bones to pick with the comfort. My first issue was that the headband padding felt quite stiff, to the point of being an under-padded feeling headband. This isn't a big problem now, the CAL! is very light so the headband doesn't need to provide a high level of support in the first place, but I found that the padding of the headband softened up noticeably after a day or two of use. I have noticed that I have to wear it quite forward on my head for it to feel right, and I'm not sure why. Normally it's the opposite for me. I like the headband of this headphone, though I would say that optimally, a wider and even softer headband would be preferable.
The real issue of the CAL!'s comfort is the ear-pads. As mentioned, the ear-pads are very soft. However, considering it's a supposedly circumaural headphone, the amount of space given for your ear is rather conservative. There is just over 2 inches of height, and about 1.75 inches of width (at the widest point). My ears are fairly average, so I imagine those with large ears will note rather quickly that there is an insufficient amount of space. I don't find that the depth is a problem for me, but these are also not the deepest earpads around. This lack of space will irritate some people's ears due to the touch alone, but the other issue is that such a confined space that is encased in non-breathing pleather leads to a bit of extra heat. This is pretty unbearable for me if it's a hot day, it just feels disgusting.
As a rule of thumb, I would say that if you don't have large ears and don't live in a hot area, you should be OK. Don't expect game changing comfort, but it should be cosy. The fit is quite secure and lightweight, though, which goes a long way in my books.
Not bad, but I think it gets way more credit than it deserves.
I must say, despite having issues with it at first, I've really grown to love this headphone! For under $100, this is a must-have for beginners, it's such a good introduction as to what good sound is. Some people are going to take issue with it's comfort, but I'd say for a lot of people this will indeed be comfy. Just don't expect DT880 levels or anything.
Great for home use for anyone looking to get into quality headphones!
Pros - good clean sound, balanced presentation with warmth. Great comfort.
Cons - Poor isolation.
The Creative Aurvana Live! is a closed headphone that I recently had the opportunity to try and I believe that it is definitely one of the best ” value for money” purchase as well as an excellent headphone at the sub 100 cost.The Creative Aurvana Live! is an offering from the Aurvana range of products that Creative offers (as we’ll have it for my typing comfort sake!) is a deceptively simple looking pair of headphones. The glossy earcups are the first thing that will strike you out of the box, that also means that it is going to be a fingerprint magnet. The headphone does not boast a great build but my “guess” is that it actually is tough enough to survive as a carry-around portable or travel headphone for everyday use. The whole frame is made of plastic with a metal band bringing up the clamping area of the headphone. The box comes with a carrying bag, 6.3mm stereo adapter and a 1.5m extension cable. A special mention to Creative’s frustration free packaging, I still remember how I had to fight with the Sennheiser HD448 blister packaging! The Creative Aurvana Live! feels really light in the hands and has this ” aura of coziness” about it. The 40mm “bio-cellulose” diaphragm is held in plastic earcups covered with soft leatherette material (great for winter days). As a headphone designed for use with portable music players the CAL! has an impedance of 32 Ohms and is driven well by all almost all portable music players.
The CAL! reaches a level of comfort that I have not experienced even from headphone models costing 5 to 6 times its cost. The clamping force is almost non-existent and is very similar to the HD448. I even wonder how Creative manages to keep the little isolation that it provides with such paltry clamping force (guess the leatherette earpads do that job!). The headphones disappear once the music starts playing and that’s how I like it. The upper part that sits on the head has little foam cover, but that does not deviate from the overall comfort the CAL! provides. The 1.2 meter cable is fine for my 5’10 stature but if you’re taller than the provided extension cable is a nice touch. The CAL! is really light (210 grams) and just disappears once I hang it around my neck like any portable headphone should. The earcups envelop my ears (circumaural) but I can easily see that they might not for users with larger ears (becoming supraural) resulting in even less noise isolation.
Lovely, warm and very musical. Driven straight out of my iPod Classic the CAL! does a beautiful job of most types of music that I throw at it. The vocals are slightly recessed (or it’s just the highs creating the feeling!), clear sharp treble with decent extension, lovely midbass – bass is present, not so much sub bass and rumble, but clear tight lows. The soundstage feels as good as the HD448s and the musicality of this headphone definitely bests both the Superlux HD661 and the Sennheiser HD448. I’m a proponent of uncompressed music and prefer using lossless files whenever possible and would recommend that music lovers need to experiment with the same. My personal experience is that the headphone or IEM that one uses can greatly affect the clarity or resolution of these lossless files and believe is one of the reasons that people often don’t notice the difference compared to an mp3 file. The Creative Aurvana Live is a headphone that will definitely help appreciate lossless and higher resolution music be it on a computer or a portable music player.
The Creative Aurvana Live! is a crowd-pleaser with its warm and mid-bass bumped detailed presentation. The sub 100 buck headphone market is one of the hottest and the Aurvana Live is a capable entry, though not a popular one. Newer arrivals like the Sennheiser HD449 face some stiff competition from the CAL! considering the price and quality delivered, lets not forget the Superlux HD661 as well with its unbelievable price point.
Read the full review on my blog.
Pros - Clean sound with decent bass and a good soundstage. Lightweight and comfortable. Inexpensive and rather low-key in a good way.
Cons - The cord does not inspire confidence.
The Creative Aurvana Live! solved a major problem for me—how to listen to good audio while walking the dog at night. I live near a commercial and bar district in Center City, Philadelphia and I'm not interested in attracting attention with my headphones. Enter the CALs. Nothing about them says "hey, here's $300 on this guy's head." And yet, that's what they feel like, and that's what they sound like. OK, they are not as good as a great pair of $300 headphones—but I can think of a few models that cost that much that are bested by the CALs.
The comfort factor is huge, and Creative hits a home-run for an over-the-ear, sub $75 headphone. The faux leather earpads are genuinely soft and as a result these cans are uncommonly comfortable. They are an absolute necessity for standing in line at the bank. Noise isolation is not world-class, and they can leak a bit of sound but overall they behave well. There's nothing cheap about the CALs performance.
Clamping pressure is relatively light for the seal the headphones achieve. Since they are closed cans, there is a sense of confinement to the sound, but by no means is the sound field restricted to an "inside the head" experience. If the recording sounds expansive, the Aurvana's deliver—it's just that I also have a pair of AKG K-701s that I keep comparing them to, and of course they are no match in that department. The only category where the CALs beat the K701s was bass (of course). But that's the thing, the bass on the CALs is "just right," it really is. They can't dig as deep as a Sennheiser HD380, but they can hang with considerably pricier headphones in terms of precision and dynamics.
The key the the Aurvana is its price. Any flaws disappear with the mental knowledge that they are practically disposable, and that new ear pads for the AKG K701 cost as much as the entire Creative headset. They perform way about their price point, in more ways than one. The CAL is the headphone that ruined—as in replaced—the Grado SR60 and SR80, in terms of an everyday walk-around headphone. The relative comfort factor seals the deal. Since the CALs are sealed cans, I'm sure the folks at the bank are quite thankful as well.