Aurvana Live! headphones from Creative solved a major problem for me—how to listen to hi-fi audio while walking the dog at night in my South Philly neighborhood. I live near a restaurant and bar district in Center City, Philadelphia, and I'm not interested in attracting attention because of my headphones. Enter the Aurvanas. Nothing about them says, "Hey, there's $300 sitting on this guy's head." And yet, that's how they sound. Sure, the Aurvanas are not as good as a top-rated pair of $300 headphones—but they are better-sounding than many other headphones I've auditioned in that price range.
Comfort is key to enjoying any headphones; after all, what good is hi-fi sound if your ears hurt? Aurvanas are well-made and relatively comfortable for a pair of over-the-ear, $75 headphones. They are not the most comfortable headphones I've ever owned, but they are not fatiguing, either. The Aurvanas pass the two-hour bus-ride test—I can wear them for the whole trip from Philly to NYC without feeling the need to take them off. Noise isolation is almost non-existent, and they can leak a bit of sound, but overall the Aurvanas behave well in public—they are a low-key presence. On the other hand, there's nothing cheap about the Aurvanas' performance—they use Denon drivers and are quite detailed and musical. I once bought a $400 pair of Denon AH-D600 headphones, and they sounded remarkably similar to the Aurvanas.
Clamping pressure is relatively light for the seal these headphones achieve. Since they are closed cans, the soundfield is not as expansive as it is with some open-back headphone designs, but that's par for the course. If the recording sounds expansive, the Aurvanas deliver. I also have a pair of AKG K-701s that I use as a reference; simply put, the Aurvanas cannot match the AKG's openness. On the other hand, the Aurvanas easily beat the K701s when it comes to bass reproduction. To my ears, the Aurvanas' bass response is "just right" on the Goldilocks scale. They cannot dig quite as deep as a pair of $150 Sennheiser HD380s (my studio reference), but they can keep up with other, considerably pricier headphones in terms of precision and dynamics.
The Aurvanas are not new to me. I've listened to many genres of music through them, and there seems to be nothing they can't handle. I often find myself with a smile on my face and I realize it's because a favorite song happens to sound so good playing through the Aurvanas.
The key to the appeal of the Aurvanas is the $75 price. Any small design flaws become irrelevant when you consider how inexpensive they are—new ear pads for the AKG K701s cost as much as the entire Aurvana headset. And they perform way about their price point in more ways than one. It is the headphone that ruined—as in replaced—Grado's SR60 and SR80 as my go-to headphones for running errands. The Aurvanas sound great when driven by nothing more than my Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone, and that's why I'm always smiling when I'm walking my dog.