Creative Labs Aurvana In Ear 3 Earphone Review

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Creative Aurvana Headphone Review - Headphones.com

David Solomon – Headphones.com

 

Audiophile Quality At A Non Audiophile Price

Creative Labs Aurvana In Ear 3 (part# 51EF0420AA002) is among the best IEMs I have heard at its price-point. Make no mistake about it; a dual balanced armature design is a noticeable improvement over a single balanced armature design when done the right way. Creative Labs has succeeded here with flying colors!

Design and Features

The Aurvana 3 comes with very sophisticated packaging. It appears to me that the company took considerable time and care designing just the packaging alone. The In Ear 3 comes with a few noticeable features: a variety of different size silicone ear tips and a 2 pairs of foam tips; an airplane adapter; a very thoughtful hard travel case with a removable cable management system; a cleaning tool. Creative Aurvana In Ear 3 Review - Headphones.com

What it does not come with?

It does not feature apple controls or a microphone for phone calling. Honestly, in this case, it is my preference to have these two features not include. Why? Because, I consider these earphones, high resolution, audiophile level earphones and the inclusion of the embedded cable remote and/or microphone would for me, detract from the very specific intent of this product: an audiophile-level listening device without added features that add to the price. One cable-related feature I would have preferred is a right-angle plug connector instead of the straight connector piece. I find that a right-angle plug connector is good at preventing damage to both the socket and connector tip when there is tension placed on the connection. The Aurvana In Ear 3 fit my ear very comfortably. The cable wraps behind the ear alleviating almost all of the microphonics associated with many in ears. I appreciate the angle at which the cable connects to the ear pieces since it allows for the cable to easily wrap behind the ear without creating a sense of pressure on the cartilage.

All About The Sound…

I’ve opted for the largest silicone tips for the maximum bass presence and sound isolation. When I put these on for the first time and pressed play I was truly amazed. For the price, I have not heard another IEM which competes. The sound of the Aurvana In Ear 3 is audiophile level, possessing a well tuned, tight and fairly flat bass response; a mid-range which is lush and non-peakish; and highs which are non fatiguing if just a bit rolled off. For those who have long loved the Sennheiser HD600/650 as I have, I want to specify that the sound of Aurvana In Ear 3 is very similar to my ears. The soundstage presentation is well centered here, without too much appearing hard left/ hard right. The soundstage is not enormous but the imaging is on point. Even recordings with hard left/right panning sound very well centered here. The detail retrieval here is very good, though due to the laidback nature of this earphone, there were a few instances where some overtones felt slightly lacking in the treble presentation when listening to intense orchestral passages. For music lovers looking for maximum bass impact suitable for Hip Hop and R&B, I would recommend staying away from these for the simple fact that the bass response here is on the neutral side and may feel a little lighter than a listener of this nature may like. I really loved the way in which the In Ear 3 presented both male and female vocals – a sense of warmth, forwardness and depth without sibilance. Listening to Marvin Gaye’s “Sparrow” Marvin’s voice was (and background embellishments) were extremely present and crisp, again without an ounce of sibilance. All the instruments (the left-panned conga, the right-panned Fender Rhodes and trumpet) felt well mixed in a room-like way rather than hard-panned way. That seems to be for me, the hallmark of the In Ear 3. Electric guitar sounds really great here. While the overall tone of the headphone is laidback, the sound is still immediate with excellent transient response. The guitar which opens Pearl Jam’s “Alive” felt very alive (for the lack of a better word). It didn’t feel weighted down by a loose bass response or overly bright or grainy by peaky unnatural treble. Again the vocals here are well defined, focused and very forward. The snare had tremendous snap, and the In Ear 3 really rendered the meatiness of the snare here without the bass flooding over into the mix. Very nice!! Listening to Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers “Free For All” (a recording which sometimes suffers on various headphones because of the hard-panned instrumentation), did not suffer nearly as much here. The bass show very good extension here without being overwhelming the mix of instruments. While the cymbal work is tremendous on this track, I have found that some headphones render it on the bright side and the attack of the cymbal can fatigue the ear after a while. The very natural transient response and laidback tonality of the In Ear 3 allowed me to listen at louder than average levels without being fatigued by the cymbals. There is a consistent analog feel all throughout my listening here, as the very natural decay of the sound envelope seems to add to a sense of mid-range bloom and lushness not typically present in earphones at this price. Listening to Emil Gilels classic recording of Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 with Eugen Jochum conducting the Berlin Philharmonic (an astonishingly vivid recording despite its age), I was really enthralled by the lack of etchiness in the string section. The piano attacks were rendered without distortion even at very loud levels. Overall, I found that the In Ear 3 were amazingly transparent and euphonic granted the price. It is now my choice for a classical music in-ear for under $200.

Last Word

The in-ear market is chock full of impressive options. Many brands have a lot of mobile features which the Creative Labs Aurvana In Ear 3 does not. However, when it comes to sheer audio quality, I have not yet come across an in ear at the same price point which can compete alongside the Aurvana In Ear 3. This should be considered a top contender for audiophiles and music lovers looking to not exceed the price of their iPod on a great set of in ears. Truly magnificent work from Creative Labs!

Rating Chart At Pricepoint

Sound Quality 10
Comfort 9
Portability 9
Isolation 8.5
Value 9.5 out of 10
Creative Aurvana Headphone Review - Headphones.com
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4 thoughts on “Creative Labs Aurvana In Ear 3 Earphone Review

  1. Thanks for the excellent review on the Creative Aurvana 3 review.

    I bought this jewel of a earphone but when I first open the package, my heart sank to see the very thin cables of the earphone. Now I have several high end earphones with thick replaceable cords. In comparison, the Aurvana’s cord is way too thin and immediately, I had buyer’s remorse as I felt the thin cable was the clear markings of a substandard earphones that comes foc with the portable cd player or mp3 players.

    Then the surprise after I pluck in to the cd player, the sound was very musical. The bass was well controlled without boom. The mid was rightly voiced. The high was there in all its clarity. To get a tight seal, I also used the largest black tips. After burnt in for a week, playing OXL disk in a cd player in repeat mode, the sound was sweeter and smoother.

    I compared this to several high end in ear monitors as well as over the ear ones. Is this a giant killer ? Not really but its performance beats in earphones and over the earphones hands down at its price range and also those twice or three times its price. That good ? Yes objectively.

    Next I called Creative about the thin cable used on the phones. I was told that this type of cable can stand the test of time for many years. Besides the copper used here is oxygen free. I then check many of the stock earphones which I had delegated to a rubbish box to keep for posterity. Surprisingly that thin cable of many of the earphones kept in cold storage are of this similar type used by the Aurvana. After years of storage the thin cables of these cheap stock earphones still remain flexible and there were no decays. Yes what was said appeared validated. Thick cables in storage broke up, lost flexibility and were the cables coverings rot away. A case of cross linkages, a scientific term for chemical decay.

    At its price, it is hard to find one which betters it. It is easy to drive and can sound very loud. So be careful with that volume control. Several review sites appear not to review this phone. It is a pity to gross over this excellent phone.

    Overall the sound can be as good as those in the US$500 range. What did you say ? Yes, I took time to compare over hundreds of hours on many good recordings. No speakers or earphones can be better than the recordings. The source is that important when comparing the quality of the earphones. Many reviewer while reviewing the earphones unknowingly ended up reviewing the music source ie the cd disk or sacd disk. With a good well recorded disk, the Aurvana shines above its peers and those higher ups.

    Please take note that I take at least 2 to 3 minutes to position the earphones into my ear canals. A good tight seal is very important with this kind of in earphones.

    In the end, the Aurvana 3 is a very good earphone. Don’t trust what I say. Try this out yourself and be amazed.

    • Hi Rich,

      Thank you for the extra insight! You’re very thorough and I agree with your opinion, specifically the last part where you mention the recordings. It’s quite important to use lossless style audio formats when auditioning.

      -David

    • In my opinion, the In Ear 3 is a drastic improvement in sound quality. It is a dual driver design rather than single driver. This leads to greater spatial definition and an improved soundstage. If you have used the In Ear 2 and find that the tone itself is what you prefer, then I feel it is safe to say that the In Ear 3 would be an improvement of what you already enjoy!

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