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.
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.
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
||9.5 out of 10