Creative Aurvana X-FI

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Creative Aurvana X-FI

Just as good at noise cancelling as Bose’s QuietComfort 2, and they make your digital music sound better too.

 

The newfangled feature that’ll have you scratching your noggin when you’re shoppin’ for headphones is noise cancellation. More and more headphones offer noise cancellation, but what the heck is it? It’s a feature built into the headphones that cancels out ambient noise, making your music sound clearer. (Noise-canceling headphones can also be used to drown out the roar of airplane engines when you’re flying from Seattle to Johannesburg, South Africa, for example.)

 

Bose’s QuietComfort 2 ($299, www.bose.com) set the bar for noise-canceling headphones, and we’re fans (especially our art director, Robin). But we found Creative’s Aurvana X-Fi headphones just as good. Yes, that’s right—Creative, the same guys who sued Apple last year for patent infringement and ended up settling for $100 million.

 

Don’t let that lawsuit sway you, or you’ll miss out on these great headphones. We found that they did just as good a job at canceling sound as the QuietComfort 2 set. The Aurvana’s cans are much larger than the QuietComfort’s, housing a pair of AAA batteries in one can and controls on the other (more on the controls coming up). Both cans also have microphones that are hidden behind grills and used by the active noise cancellation, which leads us to the one major problem we had with the Aurvana: Sound playing through the headphones actually leaks out through the mic grills. Not enough to overcome airplane engine noise, but enough for someone sitting next to you in a dead silent room to hear.

 

As for those controls, they let you activate two features that set the Aurvana apart from other noise-canceling headphones. The first is the X-Fi Crystalizer, which is supposed to fill in the gaps created in music that uses lossy compression, such as MP3 or AAC file formats. The sound quality from the Aurvana without the X-Fi Crystalizer is clear and complete, with effective but not-too-heavy bass, warm midtones, and sweet-sounding high notes. The X-Fi Crystalizer made music sound better—it really does work with lossy files, and all of the songs we listened to had a fullness that nearly matched the original versions on the higher-quality CD. When we listened to CDs and other lossless music, the X-Fi Crystalizer boosted the highs and lows of the music, which sounded fine on some songs, and a little off in others.

 

The second feature is X-Fi CMSS-3D, a virtual surround-sound effect that you’ll want to use with movies and games. For music, the echolike feeling will annoy you, but with movies and games, it gives the audio a sense of physical depth.

 

The Aurvana comes in a carrying case that includes an airplane adapter and an extension cord. One minor detail that we truly appreciated: You can turn off the switch that enables noise-canceling and other features, and still hear sound through the cans. You can’t do that with the QuietComfort 2. It’s a nice option to have when you don’t want noise cancellation or the X-Fi features, or you just want to conserve battery life.

 

The bottom line. For $300, you can get a great pair of noise-canceling headphones from Bose or some other manufacturer. Or for $300, you can get a great pair of noise-canceling headphones that also make your music sound better. You decide.

 

 

COMPANY:Creative

CONTACT: www.creative.com

PRICE: $299.99

REQUIREMENTS: 2 AAA batteries

 

Great noise cancellation. Excellent sound quality.

Big and bulky. Can’t fold. Some audio leakage.

 

 

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Anonymous

can't wait to go out and get a pair of those bad boys

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