Aurvana is Creative's top-end headphone brand and we've come across it many times before. It's yielded some excellent in-ear and over-ear options in years gone by so I awaited the arrival of these headphones keenly.
Creative has decent form with audio gear of late. Just a few months ago I tested the Creative Sound Blaster Evo ZXR does-it-all gaming/mobile headset and found it to offer excellent all-round features and performance, so my expectations for the Aurvana Platinum headset was high.
And with some very cool new features like ShareMe – a tech that allows Creative headsets to wirelessly share music so you can listen to the same music as your friend, partner or family pet, the omens are good.
But, of course, at $299/£250 they're going to have to work well and sound spectacular in order to win a recommendation because we're talking about a product priced at the premium end of expensive, an area awash with willing alternatives.
So – are the Creative Aurvana Platinum headphones brown like chocolate or brown like... something else? We're about to find out.
Of course the first thing you notice about these cans is that they're brown. And it's not a deep, mysterious, classy brown. This is Cadbury milk chocolate brown and consequently they look really quite naff – that's the kindest way I can think of to put it.
General build quality is also lacking. These things are very plasticky - you can hear them creaking as you fondle, and in case you were wondering, those earpads are not lined with premium brown leather. Oh no, it's "soft protein leatherette". Whatever that is, it's not cow hide..
A fairly shaky first impression doesn't stop there, either. A closer look at these things revealed a nasty secret on the right hand side – the stereo headphone connector is not a standard 3.5mm affair. It's a 2.5mm port, which means most audio cables out there will not work if you were to lose it.
What Creative was thinking when it made that bizarre design choice is anyone's guess, but whatever the reason was, end user convenience was not it.
The features side of things is where the Aurvana Platinums start to shine. They're Bluetooth 3.0 and atpX compatible which means they stream at a decent bitrate and with NFC included also, it's easy to pair a compatible smartphone without having to fiddle.
You've also got a built-in microphone for taking calls and it'll pair with two devices at once.
The aforementioned ShareMe feature allows you to listen to the same music as a friend, but you'll both need compatible Creative headsets and as Creative only sent me one, I was unable to test it. I suspect ShareMe would work just fine though, as Creative seems to have a good handle on Bluetooth and it really is a great idea for anyone who travels around regularly with pals.
Noise cancelling is another included feature and it comes with a new twist – Creative has expanded its cancelling algorithms so that the headset can adapt to different conditions – indoors, outdoor and airplane.
Outdoor mode was good at trying to cut down on wind interference while airplane mode did a decent job of eliminating that familiar white noise hum. Really though, the differentiation between these settings is minimal and seems like overkill, but it's a nice try.
Sadly though, because the button to control these settings – sitting between volume up and volume down – sits flush against the surface of the earcup, it's really quite tricky to locate and toggle it without taking the headset off your head. Not ideal.
And actually the buttons generally were really quite baffling in the way they are placed. You've also got pause/play, skip forward, skip back and a noise cancelling on/off button, all splattered around all over the place, taking on different forms, shapes and mechanisms. They take a bit of getting used to, that's for sure.
So it's so-so so far, then. There's still a chance for the Creative Aurvana Platinums to win me over with really kick-ass audio performance.
But it's with regret that I report that these headphones are a let down in this area as well. In fact, while my experience of Creative gear is generally very good – I really loved the T4 Wireless speakers, for example – I found testing these things really quite joyless.
Colourful, vibrant, punchy, powerful, lively, electrifying– six words I'd love to use to describe these headphones but it would all be a lie - none of them apply in this case.
Sound is, like this package as a whole, so-so. It's not an unmitigated disaster, but it's certainly not worthy of a pair of headphones that cost $300.
There is not one area of the sound output that I can pinpoint as being the main culprit – high end, midrange and low end bass are all as disappointing as each other. I tested so many tracks to try and find one that really clicks with these headphones but I couldn't find any.
Music that sings from other similarly-priced headphones sounds flat and understated through these things. Given the hideous brown colour, you'd be forgiven for asking if Creative used silt dredged up from the Severn Estuary in the construction of the earcups.
These headphones are overpriced, ugly and fiddly to use.
The 2.5mm headphone connector is an indicator that whoever designed these things really wasn't thinking straight. Ditto with the placement and design of the buttons. While there are plenty of things to like about this product – Bluetooth, ShareMe, NFC and noise cancelling, these are (mostly) all features you can find elsewhere with better results.
Even if your ears aren't the best and sound quality isn't your main concern, there are so many little issues with these headphones it's hard to find a redeeming feature. Consequently I just can't recommend them at this price, and did I mention they're brown?