Creative Labs has made quite a name for itself in the digital audio market, first with its Sound Blaster sound cards for the PC and continuing with its excellent line of Zen MP3 players. That said, it makes sense that the company has delved into headphones as well. The latest set to hit the market, called the Aurvana Live, is designed with the idea that you may want to listen from analog as well as digital sources. These headphones may not be Bose in name or sound, but they deliver good comfort and solid audio quality for a relatively affordable $150 (closer to $120 online).
Pretty much any set of headphones can be portable, but the Creative Aurvana Live is clearly not designed with portability in mind. These full-size cans don't fold down into a compact form factor for transport and storage, though they do feature an adjustable, padded headband that terminates in two earcups that measure about 3.5 inches by 3 inches. The outside of the cups are made of a shiny black plastic trimmed in a thick, gunmetal-colored band. The insides are cushioned by ultrasoft leatherette padding that we found quite comfortable during extended use, though it did cause some ear sweatage. The headphones offer a completely closed-back design, which is nice in that there is no sound leakage, but those who prefer more open sound may not want this style.
A nice, thick Y-cable descends from each of the Aurvana Live's earcups, and the two sides meet about 14-inches down to create a doubly thick cord that seems like it can withstand the tests of time. In all, the wire measures 4 feet, which is long enough for certain applications; Creative throws in a 48-inch extension to ensure compatibility with most at-home uses. Both the cable and the extender terminate in gold-plated straight plugs. There's also a quarter-inch adapter in the package to help the headphones adapt to any model receiver you may have, and a soft microfiber pouch for storage.
One of the best things about Aurvana Live headphones is that they deliver solid sound quality across all genres of music. These are definitely everyman's cans. The headphones offer a nice balance across the highs, mids, and lows--you don't get a sense that there is any leaning toward a particular spectrum of sound, which is nice for the average listener. Bass response is nice and tight, though not as thumping as some competitors. Although the mids are warm and encompassing, they seem to be missing some of the buttery quality you get from ultrahigh-end models. That's OK, though, because the Aurvana Live headphones don't have a premium price tag attached.