Many thanks to Creative for the review sample of Creative Aurvana Trio! Aurvana Trio is the first hybrid IEM from Creative, combining Bio-cellulose dynamic driver as the woofer, and balanced armature drivers for the midrange and treble region. A triple drivers hybrid. I had a discussion with a friend from Creative about hybrid IEM, probably in 2016, at that time they didn't have any hybrid IEM in their portfolio. I'm glad that now they finally launched their first hybrid IEM. And what makes me excited most is for the fact that it is truly a game changer for Creative IEM line-up! I will explain later as of why I think it is a game changer.
Designing a hybrid IEM needs careful driver selection and tuning. I remember I bought some hybrid IEMs a few years back when the hype was just started, only to find them disappointing. Sometimes the dynamic driver doesn't have matching sound with the BA driver and together they just sound incoherent. I'm a bit allergic to the incoherent sound of multi-driver IEM, not only in the case of hybrid design but multi-driver IEM in general. This is why the number of drivers is not an indicator of sound quality. Sometime single driver IEM may sound better than poorly designed multi-driver IEM. It is quite a challenge to design a multi-driver IEM that sound coherent across the audible frequency spectrum.
Before getting into the detail, here is the summary, pros, and cons:
- Balanced tuning, coherent sound, excellent bass quality, very good overall detail and clarity.
- Detachable cable (MMCX connector).
- No driver flex.
- Only straight down wearing style, not designed for over the ear wearing style.
- No left and right marking on the cable. Need to memorize that the microphone is on the right driver when we detach the cable.
Suggestions for Improvement:
- Default cable feels rather too thin, relative to the size of the IEM. Slightly thicker, and better quality cable might improve overall handling experience. I suggest keeping the ground wire separated till the 3.5mm jack, instead of combining the ground wire on the Y split part of the cable.
- Straight down wearing style is not very suitable for activities with lots of movements. Therefore a universal housing design that can be used for both straight down and over the ear wearing style is preferably a better approach.
Recommended for those looking for good all-rounder IEM for both music and movie with clear, smooth, balanced sound and a rather strong bass dynamic.
Recommended for those looking for clear sounding vocal but allergic to sibilant.
May not be suitable for both bass-head and treble-head, and those looking for flattering warm sound signature.
It is always a challenge for me to describe the sound quality of an audio equipment accurately. Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between objective and subjective opinions. I believe a good review is a balance of both objective and subjective personal opinions of the reviewer. With a little bit of background in Pro Audio environment, my personal preference has been developed from frequent exposures of live setups and recordings. So sound reproduction that close to live performance sound has always been my preference. Meaning, generally balanced tonality from bass to treble, good detail and clarity, and dynamic (more on the bass dynamic) that sounds realistic. I’m not a fan of overly warm or analytical sound character, as well as other overly colored sound signature. I also dislike weak sounding bass. Our personal preference certainly varies between person to person, but I try my best to be consistent with my own, so hopefully, after reading some of my reviews, readers would be able to gauge their personal preference against mine.
Frequency response measurement in this review was done using MiniDSP UMIK-1 measurement microphone with a DIY acoustic coupler. Chord Mojo was used as the playback device. The DIY acoustic coupler is not an industry standard acoustic coupler, therefore the measurement result is not absolute, and shouldn’t be used for comparison with other measurement result using different measurement equipment. The measurement result in this review is only useful to be used in this review, for comparison between different IEMs measured using the same system.
Aurvana Trio has well-balanced tuning across the audio spectrum, with mild emphasized on the bass. Since it comes with both silicone and foam ear tips, I encourage users to try the foam ear tips as well. I generally not a fan of foam ear tips, but Aurvana Trio sounds pretty good with the foam ear tips. The difference is just mild but worth the try. Using the stock foam ear tips, the overall sound signature is still similar, but I feel the treble presence increased a little bit. To my ears, the tonality using the foam ear tips is a touch brighter with slightly better clarity. There are various types of foam ear tips. Each type might affect the tonality slightly in different ways. I tried Comply T400, the bass level was reduced further as compared to the stock foam ear tips, but doesn’t sound as tight. SpinFit also sounds good with Aurvana Trio. A further experiment with various ear tips might worth the effort to get the sonic tuning that is closer to our personal preference. The sonic impressions here is based mostly on the stock silicone ear tips.
Frequency Response Using Different Ear Tips:
There is no annoying peaks or dips in Trio’s frequency response. It doesn’t sound warm or analytical, and there is no overemphasized on any frequency region besides the mild emphasize on the bass region. But the mild bass emphasize is done in a very nice way, and for me, the bass sounds really good. For treble-heads, probably the treble region is a tad softer than the bass, but IMHO, still in a pretty good balance with the mids and bass, and the treble extends pretty well. Try different ear tips like foam or SpinFit to improve the treble part (a little bit) if the treble felt a tad soft. Tonality is probably one of the most important aspects of the sound quality, and Creative has tuned Aurvana Trio really well. IMHO Trio is tuned to be an excellent all-rounder, it simply sounds good with all kind of recordings and genres that I played with it.
Left & Right Drivers Consistency:
It is worth mentioning that from my test, Aurvana Trio tonality is pretty immune to a high degree of change of amplifier output impedance. Some multi-drivers IEMs may change it’s tonality significantly when the output impedance of the amplifier change. From my measurement, changing from < 0.5 ohms output impedance (Chord Mojo) to around 20 ohms (using DIY 20 ohms adapter) didn’t cause any significant changes to the frequency response. What it means in a practical way is, Aurvana Trio is a player-friendly IEM that doesn’t require any special matching to sound best. It will simply sound good from practically any source. I’ve tested it with Samsung Galaxy S7, Lenovo Tab 4 Plus tablet, ASUS laptop, Xduoo X10, Onkyo DP-X1, Light Harmonic Geek Out 2A, and Chord Mojo. Aurvana Trio sounds great with all of those devices. Better DAC like Chord Mojo obviously sounds better than my ASUS laptop, and Trio will just scale accordingly with the player.
Bass is probably one of the most addictive characters of Aurvana Trio, especially if you love realistic sounding bass. Bass is fast, punchy, textured, and extends deep into sub-bass territory. Trio is capable to produce very good quality bass, and not the low quality, slow & textureless boomy kind of bass. The bass comes out only when it is called for, not the ever-present annoying bass type. Although bass is a tad prominent, in my opinion, Trio is not a bassy IEM, and the bass level probably won't satisfy bass-heads, but Trio has a life-like bass dynamic that mimics the dynamic of bass in live performance. It is the bass dynamic that I often crave from Trio and I often miss from other IEMs. Bass slam might be felt a little too strong for those who prefer lighter bass, but for me, Trio bass is simply awesome and addictive. The Trio ‘explosive’ bass makes watching action movies more exciting and realistic, while the sub-bass rumble and weight help to present drums and percussions with great realism. Creative seems to have carefully chosen a very high-quality Bio-cellulose dynamic driver for Aurvana Trio.
Midrange is close to the perfectly balanced midrange. It is not warm and also not thin sounding. To my ears, the midrange sounds accurate without any obvious coloration, probably just a slight touch of warmness. The mids is also the part of the tonality that most agreeable to everyone who has tried Trio and shared their opinions about Trio with me. I haven’t heard anyone complain about the midrange so far, mostly said the midrange sounds natural on vocal and other instruments. Midrange sounds clear and detailed, yet never sounded analytical. It has the right amount of fullness on vocal without making vocal sounds too fat. The first 3 tracks of my regular test tracks are violin recordings from different artist and record label. Besides vocal, violin recordings are my reference for observing midrange purity, and Aurvana Trio passed all my midrange test with flying colors. The other important note on the midrange is the immunity to sibilant. Trio is highly immune to sibilant without sacrificing vocal clarity and detail. Just play all your vocal tracks on Aurvana Trio, and you will be amazed how well Trio handles sibilant while keeping vocal sounds clear and detailed.
Treble sounds silky smooth with good upper treble extension, but level wise it is not for the treble-head. It is slightly less prominent than the bass, but the treble never sounded lacking or dull. Treble quality is actually very good, musically tuned, smooth, transparent, and blends beautifully with the midrange. As some of you might have noticed from my other reviews, I’m not a treble-head and not a fan of overly hyped treble. I consider my Sennheiser HD800 and Beyerdynamic T1 are bright sounding headphones. Trio treble tuning is just right for me. It is the type of smooth treble that won’t cause ears fatigue even for a long period of listening. But for treble-head who prefer HD800 or T1 level of treble might feel Trio treble is a bit too soft for them.
Besides the tonality, I’m pretty impressed with the laser focus 3D imaging of Aurvana Trio. Instrument separation and positioning are impressively clear and focused. Although the stereo imaging is very vivid and impressive, the perceived size of spaciousness is more towards the intimate side. The perceived illusion of spaciousness is not very big and spacious, but also far from sounding congested. Stereo imaging is impressive, and the illusion of spaciousness is pretty good, just don’t expect it to give the Sennheiser HD800 level of perceived spaciousness. Binaural recording sounds spacious and realistic, but common closed miked pop recordings are as expected, like most IEMs, still sound in the head.
Detail and clarity of Aurvana Trio are excellent. Creative has made the right decision in the design to place the 2 BA drivers right at the nozzle end, to make it as close as possible to the eardrum and avoiding unnecessary reflection from housing or nozzle that might occur when placing the BA drivers inside the IEM housing before the nozzle. The result of the correct placement of the BA drivers is amazing detail and clarity with very minimum sound coloration.
On top of that, as mentioned earlier, as a multi-driver IEM, Trio sounds very coherent across the audio spectrum. The 3 drivers in Trio blends really well to create a coherent sound that is close to the coherency level of a single driver IEM. So far I never heard there is any frequency region that stands out by itself or sounds awkwardly different from another region in the spectrum. This is one very important aspect of multi-driver IEM tuning.
Summary of Aurvana Trio sound signature:
Well balanced tuning with mild emphasize on bass, awesome life-like dynamic rarely heard from an IEM in this price level, detailed and natural sounding vocal with high immunity to sibilant, with vivid and laser focus instrument separation and 3D imaging. A great all-rounder for both music and movies.
Aurvana Trio might not be suitable for those who are looking for warm sound signature, and for treble-heads who prefer to have bright and sparkling trebles. But other than that, it is an easy recommendation for most people.
For comparisons I compared Aurvana Trio with 4 well known triple hybrid (Dual BA + 1 Dynamic) IEMs:
1MORE's Triple Driver
1MORE's Triple Driver
When I see Aurvana Trio for the first time, it immediately reminds me of 1MORE's Triple Driver. Those 2 are excellent IEMs in my book and definitely are among the best value IEMs in the market. They are not cheap, but IMHO their sound quality is way above their price tags. Comparing the 2, after hours of listening of many albums from different genres, considering different personal preferences people might have, I would say it is more or less a tie. I personally, if I have to choose between the two, I will choose Aurvana Trio, as it is closer to my personal preference of tuning. To be more specific, Trio has better, deeper and more dynamic bass than 1MORE's Triple Driver.
There are some similarities in tuning between the two, both sound very balanced tonally, especially around the midrange area. Aurvana Trio has slightly stronger and deeper bass, while the 1MORE's Triple Driver has slightly brighter treble and perceived clarity. So to choose between the two is really boils down to personal preference.
For example, for bass rich track such as ‘I Will Remember’ from Toto, where it begins with a such grand big sounding drum, 1MORE's Triple Driver is not able to deliver the sub bass part to create the big and grand illusion of the drum sound, that in my opinion is critical for that kind of track. Sci-Fi movies such as Jurassic Park requires realistic sub-bass rumble to raise goosebumps. For those cases, Aurvana Trio with its realistic sounding bass simply outshines 1MORE's Triple Driver. But for other cases where higher perceived of clarity is desirable, 1MORE's Triple Driver might be preferable.
Thanks to Zeppelin & Co. for providing the demo set of iBasso IT03 for reviewing purpose!
I perceived IT03 as having a more V shape tuning compared to Trio. IT03 has more bass and a more sparkling treble. The midrange sounds thinner and slightly more recessed in comparison to Trio. IT03 treble would probably satisfy treble-head better as the treble sounds richer and more sparkling with greater perceived clarity. But in my opinion vocal lovers would prefer Trio’s smoother and fuller sounding midrange. Both are great IEMs, with great detail and clarity, good dynamic and very lively sounding. I personally quite like IT03, but more for instrumental and orchestra recordings, as the V shape tuning brings extra liveliness to the music. But I won’t call IT03 an all-rounder IEM. and definitely not my IEM of choice for vocal. I think tuning wise, Trio tonality is more natural and sounds much better on vocal. Especially for long session listening, the smoother and less hyped treble of Trio is more friendly to the ears to avoid listening fatigue. As you might have predicted, personally I prefer Aurvana Trio over iBasso IT03 due to the more linear tuning.
DUNU DN-1000 and DN-2000
Comparing with DUNU DN-1000 and DN-2000, sound signature wise Aurvana Trio is much closer to the DN-2000. Trio is actually sounds like a close variant of DN-2000. But sensitivity wise Trio is closer to DN-1000. DN-2000 is about 4-5 dB more sensitive (required less volume) than Trio. In summary, Trio is better than DN-1000 for a more coherent sound and closer to natural tonality. Not by a great margin, but to my ears Trio is better. And between Trio and DN-2000, it is a close call, and in my opinion, they are in the same league. DN-2000 is better for those who prefer lighter bass. For me who prefer the more ‘life-like’ bass, I prefer Aurvana Trio.
On my measurement graph below, DN-1000 seems to have much more bass than Trio, but to what my ears perceived, DN-1000 bass level is only slightly higher and fatter than Trio. DN-1000 midrange sounds rather thinner and more analytical than Trio. Vocal sounds smoother and a touch warmer on Trio. Treble is more prominent and sparkling on DN-1000. While Trio treble is smoother and less analytical. For DN-1000, I use JVC EP-FX8 ear tips, not the stock DUNU ear tips. Reasons explained in my DN-1000 review, as the JVC ear tips make DN-1000 sounds better, less bright than the stock ear tips. Perceived clarity is higher on DN-1000, but the treble and bass regions are slightly less coherent than Trio. The 3 drivers in Trio sound very coherent, producing a sound like coming from a very good single driver IEM.
From the FR graph below, although the DN-2000 sub-bass seems to be slightly more than the Trio, from what I perceived, Trio bass is actually slightly fatter, better sub-bass rumble, and better overall bass dynamic. The midrange or both Trio and DN-2000 is pretty close. Flat smooth detailed type of midrange which is very neutral sounding to my ears. Trio’s midrange is slightly fatter and also has greater depth and dynamic. From the measurement, it seems that Trio sounds brighter than DN-2000, but in fact, it is not. Perceived brightness is pretty close, and sometime DN-2000 may sound a tad brighter. But most important is that they share a similar type of treble sound signature, the smooth neutral type that never hypes itself unnecessarily, and pretty immune from sibilant. Sensitivity wise, although on paper both have pretty close sensitivity, in reality Trio is less sensitive than DN-2000. On Chord Mojo I have to adjust around 4 levels to match the volume. That means switching from DN-2000 to Trio, I have to increase the Chord Mojo volume by 4 clicks (around 4 dB) to achieve similar midrange loudness. The bass does sound a few dB louder on Trio for the same midrange loudness. Treble loudness surprisingly perceived as similar regardless of what is shown on my measurement. Most probably due to the slightly louder bass of Trio my ears perceived the bass - treble balance as balanced. But the most prominent difference is the bass, Trio bass has stronger slam and dynamic than DN-2000, giving a better sense of depth and liveliness. As you might know, I truly like DN-2000 and have used it as my reference IEM for flat tonality for a few years. After switching between the two back and forth frequently, I have to say that I do prefer the Aurvana Trio slightly better than my old favorite DN-2000. This is truly a great achievement of Aurvana Trio. DN-2000 is a great neutral sounding IEM that has very low coloration to the sound, and Trio now improves that sounds signature with better, more ‘life-like’ dynamic.
Design and Comfort
Generally, I prefer ‘over the ears’ wearing style for IEM. Hopefully, next Aurvana hybrid can be worn over the ear. So far I don't have any major complaint from the overall design. Fit and comfort are good for me. The IEM housing also feels solid and durable.
In my opinion, these days many audiophiles take consideration of the look and finish of an IEM, and not only the sound quality of it. I hope Creative would consider to ‘modernize’ the utilitarian design of their IEM, and use less plastic. 1More Triple Driver and DUNU for example (and many other brands), use more metal than plastic for their IEMs to make it feel more solid and luxurious. I personally don’t mind good quality plastic, as it is generally lighter than metal, but the look and feel of metal IEMs do have its own attractiveness to it.
As mentioned earlier, I do feel the cable is too thin, and I prefer the left and right ground wire to be independent to reduce crosstalk, not joined at Y split part of the cable. I hope Creative would come up with better quality MMCX cable for Trio of the next model. Measured DC resistance of the cable is around 1 ohm which is normal for thin IEM cable.
The microphone sounds decent and usable, but better sounding microphone with better clarity would be nice.
As for ear tips size, any common ear tips with the bore diameter around 4.5mm can be used for Aurvana Trio
The best test for IEM (and any audio product) is a long period of use and listening. After around 3 weeks with Aurvana Trio, and using it almost daily, I found myself keep coming for it. I find Trio competes really well with other well known good performance triple hybrid in the market such as the 1More Triple Driver, iBasso IT03, DUNU DN-1000, and DUNU DN-2000 that I used in this review for comparison. And I found myself liking Aurvana Trio the most in comparison with those IEMs. And that’s not a small achievement. In the beginning, I mentioned that Aurvana Trio is, in my opinion, a game changer. Now I will tell you why. In the past, I think I’ve tried all models in the Aurvana line, and frankly, I’m not a fan to any of them. Aurvana Trio is the first model in Aurvana product line that in my opinion sounds really good, and now I’m a huge fan of Aurvana Trio. That’s why I think it is truly a game changer for Creative Aurvana product line. If you’re looking for an excellent triple hybrid IEM under $300, Aurvana Trio will be among the top few on my recommendation list. At this price (US$ 150), Aurvana Trio is really a no-brainer and an easy recommendation to everyone.
Kudos to Creative!
2x balanced armature drivers
1 x 10mm dynamic driver (Neodymium magnet with Bio-cellulose diaphragm)
- Frequency response 5 Hz – 40 kHz
- Impedance 16 Ohm
- Sensitivity (1 kHz) 103 dB/mW
• Inline Microphone MEMS microphone
- Frequency response 100 Hz – 10 kHz
- Impedance <200 Ohm
- Sensitivity (1 kHz) -42 dBV/Pa
- Supports iOS/Android devices with 3.5mm headphones out, and PC/Mac with hybrid (4-pole) audio port
• Product Weight 19 g / 0.7 oz
Aurvana Trio in-ear headphones
3 pairs silicone dome tips (S, M, L)
1 pair memory foam tip
1 compact carry case
1 airplane adapter
Equipment used in this review:
1MORE's Triple Driver
DAPs & DACs:
Geek Out 2A
Some recordings used in this review: