Creative Aurvana Live! Headphones

General Information

Lightweight in design and ergonomically fitting, Aurvana Live! is perfect for music on the move or enjoying your entertainment at home. The cutting edge bio-cellulose driver technology and acoustic tuning deliver accurate, high-definition audio. Sharp transients and dynamic passages are handled with effortless fi nesse. The premium soft leatherette earpads and headband allow you to immerse comfortably into your music for prolonged periods. With Aurvana Live! you will experience music so realistic, you’ll think it has to be Live!

Latest reviews

Tofub00b

New Head-Fier
A durable, budget champ. But not much more.
Pros: - SE version is sub $50
- Great, competitive tonality for it's price
- Good for many modern genres (pop, electronic)
- Durable, but fragile feeling build
- Go-to recommendation over M50x/M40 for price and sound
Cons: - Very plasticky build. Not satisfying in hand.
- No 6.35 jack in box
- Not very resolving or detailed
- Zero scaling with better sources so no chances to give it a new lease of life when upgrading
- Non-detachable cable
- Zero isolation
- Not for big ears/big heads
- Non-replacable ear-pads
- Unexceptional aside from its decent tuning
Intro
To preface this review, I'll provide any reader looking for a budget headphone with this TL;DR.

20210707_123359.jpg


What this headphone is:
The Creative Aurvana Live! is my sub-100 dollar recommendation for anyone looking for a cheap, usable headphone with good-enough sound quality.
And nothing more. No amp, no DAC, no fancy balanced cable. Nada. Not even a mic. This thing is a great, bare-bones headphone. And you shouldn't go lower than this standard because frankly, you deserve better. Anything below this can often be a frustrating exercise in wasted money.

It is also the headphone to pick instead of the Aurvana Live 2. The version 2 comes with a terrible flat cable, slightly larger earpads and a higher cost. All this for a slightly bassier tuning that throws off the balance that the original CAL! brought to the table for 50 bucks.

What this headphone is not:
This is not some sort of budget-redefining headphone. It's not a budget HD600. It's not even that great if you compare it to the sea of affordable-ish headphones that are meant to scale nicely with a good amp and DAC. It's also not particularly different from a gaming headset like the Astro A40s.



Sound Quality
Before I lay into this thing, the CAL is by no means a bad sounding headphone. The sound is genuinely great for it's price. But there are some caveats to consider:


Soundstage:
  • The narrow soundstage does kill the enjoyment for some genres. Instrument separation is not there, and can sound squeezed together. Instruments are not quite allowed to "breathe".
  • Can feel somewhat "compressed". This was very obvious when coming from the Audio Technica R70x, where vocals from singers such as Alexander 23 / Juke Ross / James Smith. / Bruno Major. Perfectly listenable but the sense of space felt like going from a bar concert to everyone squeezing into a bedroom.
Poor isolation:
  • This is probably the biggest caveat here. As the poor isolation makes the CAL unsuitable for being a commute headphone. Even as a at-home headphone, the "whirr" of a fan can be loud enough to break the seal. The immersion you might want in a sealed, closed-back gets sacrificed and you end up having to turn up the headphone to drown out the background.
Attractive bassy tuning and the flipside of having it:
  • One thing the CAL does well, is in bass quality. On the right tracks, the headphone digs down deeply. Especially for modern pop music with digital elements, or rap music with a deep bassline.
  • The tuning is musical and avoids the artificial sound that some v-shaped headphones can have.
  • There are some instances where this bass-ier tuning can interfere with vocals. Some smear.
  • Example track: Tai Verdes - Drugs
Some general feelings towards genres (don't take this as gospel. It's just a scale of what I think this headphone would be better for):
  • For pop: 7/10 - the bassy tuning works well for this genre
  • For acoustic music: 5/10 - sense of separation is just not good enough to help guitars or violins shine
  • For movies: 4/10 - sense of space is back here again, where dialogue in larger rooms doesn't feel much different from dialogue in smaller spaces. Bassy enough for gunfire, poor for anything that requires a sense of scale or larger environments.
  • For games: 6/10 - suprisingly, sometimes a smaller soundstage is useful for some games. I play Overwatch and CS:GO. The CAL fails here with average imaging and poor soundstage. Can't really pinpoint footsteps as clearly as other headphones. Sound is only average, with no punch to gunshots or large explosions. Neither enjoyable for single-player stuff nor performance focused in competitive shooters.



Build & Fit
Fit is very important for a headphone, a little less so than an IEM, but chances are you are going to be wearing a headphone for hours on end. Be it for a work-from-home arrangement, for a 2 hour movie or for a gaming session.

The CAL is subjectively a comfortable headphone. Some of the things it does well are:
  • the low clamping force
  • comfortable earpads
  • light weight.
  • fits well even with glasses
  • non-microphonic cable

It's built well, and my unit has survived since 2017. The all plastic build has not shown any cracks, and the clicky adjustment headband has not loosened or been unable to hold it's adjustment. The only damage is the protein leather having cracked in some areas. Pictured below.

20210707_123419.jpg


The first thing you will notice from the picture however, is how small the earpads are. I come in a size smol at barely 170cm tall. I also have a fairly small head and ears. The pads are just enough to cover my ears and not much more.

Thankfully the pads themselves are plush enough to not feel like an on-ear. The leather also does not flake like some of the poorer built Audio Technicas (M50X, M40, MSR7) or V-Moda (XS, M100) or NAD VISO HP50. All of which I do not recommend at any price point because of the poor choice of materials. It is extremely unhygienic when headphone leather flakes either from humidity or sweat.

I will not hesistate to point out if a headphone uses poor materials and I will point out if a company has not made a commitment to improve or rethink their choice of materials. For that reason, I often approach Audio Technicas with some caution (and some anger) as they often gimp their lower end headphones with terrible materials or poor winged designs.

But on that note, I have big smiles for the Sennheiser stuff. As my HD600 and HD6XX have survived wonderfully. These are two headphones I recommend for build and good sound quality for their price points.

The CAL, thankfully, is also built very well for it's price. The plastic does not show scratches, the band does not break, even the cable does not degrade or signs of wear.



Quick Closing Thoughts [ a 5.0 out of 10 headphone]
"Wow you must really hate this headphone!"

Absolutely not. Don't get me wrong. This headphone is good for some use cases, but it's important to note that $50 isn't quite $50 anymore. The value of this amount has changed with how much new gear we've been lucky enough to see release since 2016.

$50 still won't get you a better headphone, true, but it can definitely go into supplementing your next upgrade instead of getting something mediocre.

The CAL, especially against competitively price headphones, is not that worth it. In fact, I would argue that most headphones in the $50-$150 range are placeholders for better gear. I highly recommend saving up for something else and putting down around $300-$400 for a good headphone.

If you are tight on cash however, and don't intend to become an audio hobbyist, the CAL is a great option for:
  • someone who wants to lounge in bed with a headphone
  • does not want to invest any further money in a portable amp/dac
  • wants something cheap while on holiday in a dorm, or in an office
  • does not want a headset with an unsightly mic arm sticking out the side during zoom calls
  • wants a beater headphone that can be tossed around without being babied too much
  • needs a cheap gift option for a teen
I have actually handed mine off to my dad who uses it daily for hours on end to watch soccer reruns on his PC, and to tune in to rerun sermons from church due to COVID restrictions.

If I had to rate this thing on a scale that doesn't really matter, I would give the CAL an overall rating of 5/10.

It can be hard to rate things like headphones because you need to consider if its good on its own, good against a sea of competitor, provides good value among a great many other factors. I cannot recommend the CAL as a good headphone, because so many other good things exist. It just gets the job done at a dirt cheap price, and I am not willing to give it a pass just because of said price.

Alternatives:
If you are a gamer, I would recommend the Astro A40, which can be found for around $120. It improves upon the CAL's sound quality, but also features a removable cable and a mic. The mic is good enough for Discord calls and interviews, while not picking up much background sound. An all-around more useful headset for gaming, better built and with removable pads to prolong it's longevity.

If you are into music, I am ok with recommending the CAL. I would however, recommend saving up for the much more expensive Audio Technica R70x ($300) or the Sennheiser HD600 ($450). A side recommendation that I am ok with recommending would also be the HifiMan 400SE ($220).

Understandably, you might be annoyed at receiving a recommendation that is so far outside of the CAL's price bracket. But the recommended models all have support for replacable earpads, cables and provide a much more noticable jump in sound quality compared to CAL's and headsets such as the Hyper X Cloud II's or Arctics 5's or Astro A40's. In the long run, I would much rather recommend something that you can do some basic maintenance for. I have also used all the all-forementioned gear for a few years. I can comfortably recommend them as long-lasting pieces that can make it for a decade if you care for your gear.

I find little point in jumping from headphone to headphone if the sound and comfort isn't something that immediately captures your attention. Jumping from CAL to Takstar or some other flavor of the month cheap deal, really isn't worth it, from personal experience.

If you just want something for the bus ride, I would recommend IEMs with a nice snug fit. I don't recommend headphones for commutes as the earpads can get rather icky and sweaty. Also, some commuting headphones do not have options for replacement earpads, which is just all around really unhygenic. Just skip the incovenience of charging a battery or fiddling with a large carrying case and go IEM.

Some recommended IEMs with a comfortable fit are the Final Audio E4000, E5000 and A4000. I would also put the Dunu DK-2001 or the iBasso iT01x. These are very small and will fit a wide variety of ears. They are also tuned well and come in below $200.

The great thing about IEMs is the portability. You also get the option to change the cables to add a mic if you want an all-rounder that also works for your workplace Zoom/Skype calls. If you are in broadcast or appearing in a video interview, I recommend a earphone to keep the focus on you instead of what gear you are wearing.

Small downside: Not very suitable for gaming, very narrow soundstage compared to any headphone, not very good for movies. Suitable for music and commute due to great isolation.
Last edited:
T
Tofub00b
Some companies only have a one-hit wonder headphone. Creative has a lot of really bad releases, but I encourage people to give the E-MU Teak a look. A great headphone by a company that often drops the ball. For what its worth, the CAL is perfect for setting up a cheap school studio or computer lab. You can buy these in bulk and not worry too much.

BenF

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Balanced sound
Lightweight
Cons: Average sound all across the FR
Bad comfort
No isolation
Non-removable cable
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.

Sound:
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.
  • Like
Reactions: Arthur Li
Arthur Li
Arthur Li
There need to be more de-hyped reviews like this on Head-fi. So many mediocre stuffs got hyped, especially in the "budget-fi" segment. I think many people hyping these uninspiring products are new to the hobby, coming from Bose, Skull-Candy etc. and haven't heard any decent sounding cans before - hence over-estimating their new toys.

94Peter

New Head-Fier
Pros: Sound quality; comfort; weight
Cons: Subbass; build quality; isolation; cord length
Sound quality
 
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.
 
Conclusion
 
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.

Comments

There are no comments to display.
Top