An Airy Affair
By Kenny Yeo
Previously revered for their sound cards, Creative has diversified beyond the PC audio business, what with their Zen MP3 players, Gigaworks speakers and Aurvana audio products. Today we take a look at their latest aural offering, the Aurvana Air, which is the latest addition to Creative's premium line of audio solutions.
Light as Air
Ironically, given the history between Creative and Apple, the inspiration for the Aurvana Air seems to have come from the similarly named MacBook Air. The Aurvana Air, like the MacBook Air, is ridiculously light. The Air's gunmetal finish gives it an avant-garde look, which distinguishes it from other earphones.
The Air also happens to be the winner of this year's red dot design award for outstanding product design. This is somewhat peculiar, as we found the special Flexnium ear hooks, which retain their shapes when bent, difficult to put on. We guess that's the price to pay for earphones that look this good.
Another thing to note about the ear hooks is that they look extremely delicate. Despite the fact that they are actually made with Nickel-Titanium alloy, we are not sure how much abuse it can take and are hesitant to stretch it too much. Fortunately, for those worried about damaging their precious earphones, Creative has provided a rather stylish leather carrying case.
The Aurvana Air utilizes an earbud design, which is uncommon for its class, because most high-end earphones are of the in-ear variety that offers better sound isolation. The open nature that comes with an earbud design makes the Aurvana Air a poor choice for individuals who spend a lot of their time commuting, as ambient sound easily leaks in. However, it does give the Aurvana Air a wider soundstage, which lets it excel in instrumental or vocal tracks.
The Air has a really nice textured sound, and again, this can be best appreciated on instrumental tracks. Playing a variety of instrumental tracks from guitar virtuosos Steve Vai and Buckethead, we can distinctly make out the strumming, plucking and shredding of guitars.
Because of its open earbud design, the Air is regrettably lacking in bass. But what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality, as the bass is precise and clean. Overall, the Air sounds great, but is rather lightweight, and should appeal to those whose musical preferences lean towards light listening in the form of instrumental tracks and vocals.
The Aurvana Air is a bit of an oddball where high-end earphones are concerned. The decision to pursue an earbud design is an unconventional one, but we guess audiophiles who cannot stand in-ear designs will find the Air a godsent.
The Air sounds good, but an asking price of S$299 means it is facing some serious competition in the form of Ultimate Ears' Super.fi 5 and Future Sonic's Atrios, both of which are in the same price range. Having said that, none of these has the award-winning good looks of the Aurvana Air, and perhaps that might be enough to tilt things in its favor.