PC enthusiasts know, there’s nothing like a dedicated piece of hardware. Most gaming headsets struggle compared to dedicated headphone and microphones; it’s the tradeoff for having a multipurpose device. So what do you do when you want the best of both worlds? Streamers have known the answer for years: you get the best of both worlds. Today, we’re we’re searching for the streaming mic’s perfect partner. Will Creative Lab’s Aurvana Live!2 headphones stack up?
- Product Type: Wired Headset
- Weight: 255g (9oz)
- Color: Black Dark Chrome (featured), Black Dark Red Chrome
- Frequency Response: 10Hz ~ 30KHz
- Cable: Flat, detachable, 1.2m / 3.9ft
- Driver Size: 40mm (1.57 inches) Neodymium magnet with composite Bio-Cellulose Diaphragm
Creative Labs has been a major player in the audio world since 1981. Since you’re on the internet today, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of them. My first encounter with Creative came years ago when my “gaming” rig boasted a blistering Pentium II at 450MHz. In those days, decent audio demanded a dedicated sound card and Creative was there to fill the void. Fast forward to today and Creative Labs remains a steadfast name with an expansive scope of internal components, speakers, headsets like our own Aurvana Live! 2, and even peripherals like gaming mice and keyboards.
The Aurvana Live!2 is the sequel to the original Aurvana Live! Headset. It features a reinvigorated design with stylish new driver housings. The drivers maintain the same frequency response of 10Hz-30kHz but have been tuned to tighten up the lower frequencies while still maintaining the 40mm size. The Live!2 is slightly heavier, coming in at 255g, but even with the slight extra weight, the Live!2s feel and look great.
The Live2s come in two color choices, a tri-tone black, red, and silver and a standard black and silver finish. I was sent the black version to test. Both look great, but I like the contrast of the black far more. In the pictures included here, you can see the excellent contrast between the black and the silver, but also between the matte and gloss finishes around the driver housings. I’m also a big fan of the angular design on display here. It seems small, but when you’re considering wearing over-ears out of the house, you want something that’s going to look good and these fit the bill.
Other small touches really make these cans feel like a well considered product. The metal headband has a satisfying snap as it locks into place. The ear cushions are a plush memory foam whose faux leather is clearly more well made than your average gaming headset and the housings can turn in to sit flat on your shoulders. The cable is detachable, which is something I never truly came to appreciate until I explored the world of premium headphones; if your cable has a problem, the entire headset doesn’t need to be thrown out. The included cable is also flat and tangle-free with an in-line remote and a decent microphone for making calls.
The only thing I don’t like is that there is so much plastic in its design. Under the metal headband is a plastic support strip. The hinges are plastic. What concerns me is that the housing support is actually a two-piece plastic that is screwed together (see above). There’s a good amount of flex in this outer ring making breakage a real concern should the headset ever be dropped. If you take care of your headphones, this won’t be a concern. If you travel with them, though, you’ll want to be careful.
When listening to music, I always begin with a flat EQ to hear a headphone’s natural balance. The Aurvana Live2s sound great. For $99, the acoustics are quite good. Creative has punched up the bass a touch, enough to sound full without overwhelming the other frequencies. Mids and highs are clear, though aren’t as pointed as other headsets we’ve covered. This combines to give the Live2s a natural warmness out of the box.
In games, they are simply fantastic. The expanded response range of 10Hz-30kHz, well beyond the range of human hearing, helps to ensure that everything you hear will be clear, from the highest ricochets and engine whines, to the lowest explosions rolling through the distance. Before plugging them into my Yeti Blackout for a round of Battlefield 1, I had been listening to a standard MP3 and the quality difference when jumping to uncompressed game audio was outstanding. I wasn’t surprised, exactly, as I had been listening to lossless music earlier in the testing cycle, but the side by side jump was beyond pleasant. And we’re not talking just the game’s soundtrack here. Gun blasts and explosions, callouts, and environmental sound effects all sounded amazing through the Aurvana Live!2s.
These headphones are purely stereo, but as any audio enthusiast will tell you, excellent stereo is better than average virtual surround sound any day of the week, and that is absolutely the case here. Positional audio was clear and easy to identify on the Aurvana’s allowing me to clearly hear which way my enemy was approaching from. Outside of MMOs and RPGs, first-person shooters are my favorite genre. These headphones did a better job of giving me an edge than my last virtual surround “gaming” headset and the experience suffered nothing from only using two channels.
Creative Labs’ Aurvana Live!2 headphones are an acoustic treat for the cost. It should come as no surprise that they’re great for music and movies, but in games they really blew me away. Paired with a dedicated microphone, they will more than deliver for the average streamer or gamer looking to up their game. I wish there was a little less plastic in their design, but with care they should last a good long time and make your content that much more fun to enjoy.
- Stylish design looks great
- Comfortable without too much grip
- Memory foam ear cushions
- Excellent sound in games and media
- Plastic frame feels likely to break with too much pressure
The product discussed in this review was provided by public relations for evaluation purposes.