Creative Aurvana Ace 2 review: ace-sounding earbuds let down by noise cancelling snafus

The first xMEMS earbuds miss some key quality-of-life features

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2 are great for audio with fantastic quality for earbuds, a long list of supported codecs and a reasonable maximum volume. However they're not so great in many other departments with problems in the touch control, battery life and app equalizer departments, to name just a few. For ANC, they're not an ace too… 


  • +

    Great sound

  • +

    Attractive design

  • +

    Supports long list of audio codecs


  • -

    Temperamental ANC

  • -

    Touch controls are hard to use

  • -

    The screaming!

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Creative Aurvana Ace 2: Two-minute review

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2 got audiophiles excited in a way few things ever could when news of the xMEMS-driver-toting earbuds were first announced. So, do they deliver on their undoubted potential? Well... yes and no. 

The headline feature of the Creative Aurvana Ace 2 – at least according to these pumped up audiophiles – is the use of solid-state drivers created by tech manufacturers xMEMS. To boil down a PowerPoint presentation's worth of tech jargon, these audio drivers are created using the same processes as chips (computer ones, not the fried foodstuff) to improve phase consistency and maintain dynamic audio while keeping earbuds small. And if you want us to skip any form of buzzword, then the point is this: the drivers are meant to revolutionize audio in earbuds.

And, frankly, it works: the Creative Aurvana Ace 2 sound great. They provide a lovely neutral sound with fantastic detail across the board and a dramatic sound stage. They’re some of the best noise-cancelling earbuds I’ve used at this price... if all you care about is sound. Perhaps the color design, too, which is also worthy of praise as I'm loving the Creative Aurvana Ace 2's black-and-copper aesthetic.

Unfortunately, while sound is (obviously) quite important for earbuds, it’s not the only factor to consider, and Creative flubs the landing in a few other key areas.

The battery life isn’t great. The noise cancellation is fine at best and bonkers at worst. The Creative app doesn’t have enough features to justify itself. The equalizer doesn't seem to work. The touch controls are basically impossible to reliably use. And, worst of all, there’s the screaming, which you can read more about in the design section.

If every rose has its thorn, then, this one is attached to an entire, overgrown bush.

Some have been calling the Creative Aurvana Ace 2 the first earbuds to use this xMEMS tech but, as you may have discerned from the use of the number ‘2’ in the name, they’re not alone. They were released alongside the ‘standard’ Aurvana Ace which also features this technology. 

What upgrades does the Creative Aurvana Ace 2 have over its near-namesake, then? The higher-end buds cost a touch more, introduce adaptive ANC, add support for the AptX Lossless codec, and are decked out in that smoldering copper finish. And that's, er, it.

In short, you might find the ‘cheaper’ Creative Aurvana Ace versions provide better value for money. 

Creative Aurvana Ace 2 review: Price and release date

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2

(Image credit: Future)
  • Announced January 2024 
  • Cost $149.99 / £164.99 / AU$229.95

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2 were announced at the beginning of 2024, alongside the more affordable Creative Aurvana Ace – both sets of earbuds marked the first use of the xMEMS drivers, though at the time of writing they’re not the only ones.

The buds will set you back $149.99 / £164.99 / AU$229.95, so they’re pretty much mid-range earbuds, though that market segment is very large and the Ace 2 sit toward the low end of it. For some context the Aurvana Ace cost $129.99 / £134.99 / AU$169.95, and in both the US and Australia I’ve already seen small discounts on both products.

There’s not actually that much competition in the low-triple-digit price band, and you’ll be able to see a few select competitors below, but perhaps the closest contemporary rival is the new Nothing Ear which came out around the same time, for the same price, and which I reviewed immediately prior to the Ace 2.

Creative Aurvana Ace 2 review: Specs

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DriversxMEMS solid state driver + 10mm dynamic driver
Active noise cancellationYes
Battery life4 hours (buds) 16 hours (case)
Weight4.7g (buds) 46.6g (case)
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.3
Frequency response5 - 40,000Hz

Creative Aurvana Ace 2 review: Features

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2

(Image credit: Future)
  • 4-hour buds battery, 16-hour with case
  • App doesn't really add anything
  • Buds keep screaming at me

In the introduction to this review, I ominously mentioned the screaming, and your mind might now be picturing some atmospheric horror film. You’d be better off thinking of that mandrake scene from the movie Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. When noise cancellation is turned on, and the buds are totally enclosed (ie, clenched in your hand) they sometimes make a weird, high-pitched screaming sound.

Why would you grip the buds in your hand like that? Well, that’s not the only reason you’d have them enclosed – the noise sometimes happened when I was trying to use the buds' touch controls, when they were sandwiched between my hands and my face. Having a high-pitch squealing beamed straight into your shell-like isn’t nice.

I can’t say for sure what causes this noise, but my guess is that the noise cancellation creates a feedback issue into the buds when they’re in a small space. I also heard the buds pumping out an odd sound when I was in enclosed spaces such as an elevator or small connecting rooms in gyms or theaters. Whatever the reason, the screaming and the strange helicopter-blade-sounding ANC sound were both disconcerting and annoying.

Although it's possible I have a faulty review sample, I still feel compelled to write this review honestly, and (while we're happy to test another set in future) this was a genuine issue and one that surprised the TechRadar team. 

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2

(Image credit: Future)

These issues didn’t occur when ANC was deactivated, and they’re not the only reason that I’d advise you not to turn the Aurvana Ace 2’s noise cancellation on – the main one is that it simply isn’t very good. It takes the edge off background sound but struggles to eliminates louder noises, as well as low-level wind or louder talking.

That's not to mention the transparency mode, which ostensibly beams in background noise so you can still hear what's going on around you. Most buds have this feature, but the Aurvana Ace 2's was unique in that it seemed to amplify these sounds buzzed in. Passing busses, nearby weights dropped in gyms, me coughing, all were blared into my ear like a klaxon from hell. Too loud!

ANC can be toggled using Creative’s smartphone app, creatively called… Creative. This has a few features like ANC control, button customization and an equalizer (which I’ll get into in the Sound quality section, given this one increasingly resembles War and Peace) but as far as headphone tie-in apps go, it’s a little sparse. 

Creative’s official estimate for the Ace 2’s battery life is four hours, and in testing I’d roughly concur – if you follow my advice and turn ANC off, that goes up to six hours. The case battery bumps that up to 16 hours of listening, or 24 without ANC.

I don't think I've ever tested a pair of earbuds with a battery life this short: even the worst rivals sit around six hours. I’m writing this journey on a coach journey that’ll last longer than four hours – life (general) necessitates extended listening periods!

  • Features score: 2/5

Creative Aurvana Ace 2 review: Design

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2

(Image credit: Future)
  • Small, comfortable earbuds
  • Alluring black-and-tan look
  • IPX5 certification

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2 come in a pretty appealing hue. They're black with a bronze trim, and both the case and the buds take this theme. It’s pretty zingy, I like it.

The buds weigh 4.7 each, and I have no complaints about the fit – they felt snug in the ear and only once or twice did they become a little loose. I used them at the gym a few times, too, so that's not unheard of by any means!

They’re lightweight so I never felt earache from wearing them, and the IPX5 protection meant I felt safe using them in drizzle. I couldn't find an IP rating for the case, so leave that poolside when you're going for a dip.

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2

(Image credit: Future)

Apparently the buds have touch controls but I think you need magical powers to use them, because I could never work out how to toggle the haptic button. Not even the app tells you how. Only once did I use it successfully, and that was when I didn’t even mean to – I somehow turned the volume up to full when putting the buds in my ear. Helpful.

Then there’s the case, which looks pretty standard as wireless earbuds go: a small pebble, which weighs 46.6g. That’s nice and light, and the Aurvana Ace 2’s case (the cAse 2?) often disappeared into my pockets. 

The case has a USB-C port for charging and also supports wireless charging, and its only other feature of note is a small intent loop through which you could put a lanyard or wrist mount string. You don’t see these often enough in earbuds.

  • Design score: 3.5/5

Creative Aurvana Ace 2 review: Sound quality

  • xMEMS drivers really bring it
  • Equalizer doesn't bring anything
  • Lots of supported audio codecs

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2

(Image credit: Future)

I can finally say some good things about the Aurvana Ace 2! They sound pretty great compared with same-price rivals. I’ve just come off of testing some similarly priced earbuds and the Ace 2 sound better.

The sound is totally, white-flag-waving neutral, which is something you don’t see enough of in the warm world of mid-range earbuds. This means that the sound doesn’t lean by default too far towards the higher or lower pitches. 

Something I loved about the buds is the palpable sound stage, more so than on any buds I’ve tested in ages – you can really sense the different instruments around you, helping you to enjoy your songs on a different level.

These boons are all, presumably, thanks to the use of the xMEMS driver, as well as an extra 10mm dynamic driver on each bud. Perhaps the xMEMS revolution really is here, though I don't see the Aurvana Ace 2 being the product to deliver it.

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2

(Image credit: Future)

The buds also support a nice big range of audio codecs, for people who know what that means. Enjoy high-fidelity audio from AptX standard as well as Adaptive and Lossless as well as AAC, LC3 and SBC. Good luck finding LC3 files to listen if you're not an avid audio fan though.

By default the sound is a little too low, and there’s no way in the app to turn it up. That's apart from the aforementioned accident of turning up the volume on the bud’s stem, which unlocked never-before-heard levels. 

Since every positive comment I make about the Ace 2 comes with a qualifier, here's your sound quality caveat – the equalizer. I used it when listening to the buds. I used it quite thoroughly. I slid the various dials up and down. And the differences in sound were so minute that I'm not convinced I wasn't imagining them, like some audio placebo. If you want to add some extra treble to your music, or pull out the bass, these aren't the buds you're looking for.

  • Sound quality: 4/5

Creative Aurvana Ace 2 review: Value

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2

(Image credit: Future)
  • Audio quality is better than most same-price rivals...
  • ...but most other features are worse

If you'd let me test the Creative Aurvana Ace 2 without revealing the price, I’d probably be able to tell you exactly how much they cost to the penny – they’re basically bang average for earbuds in this bracket. But that’s a game of averages.

In terms of audio quality, the Ace 2 punch above their weight – you could pay a fair bit more and expect sound quality like this.

However that’s balanced out by a dearth of features, and some major issues that display the trappings of cheaper buds than the Ace 2. These are corners cut to keep the price considerate.

  • Value: 3.5/5

Should I buy the Creative Aurvana Ace 2?

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Creative Aurvana Ace 2 score card
FeaturesPoor ANC, an awful battery life and a near-useless app 2/5
DesignThey look great, they're lightweight and they fit well. Good luck with the touch controls though...3.5/5
Sound qualityThanks to the xMEMS SSD tech, the Ace 2 sound great, even if the equalizer is a dud.4/5
ValueYou basically get what you pay for.3.5/5

Buy it if…

Sound quality is paramount
If literally all you care about is how the buds sound, then you'll find the Creative Aurvana Ace 2 to be one of your best options for the price.

Don’t buy it if…

ANC is important to you
Honestly, the ANC in the Ace 2 just isn't up to snuff, and that's ignoring the ~screaming~ and other feedback issues. In short, don't buy them if you want to use ANC.

You like customizing your sound
With an equalizer that's about as much use as a coal shovel made of ice, you shouldn't use the Ace 2 if you like digging into the settings to bring out the perfect mix.

You'll need to listen for more than four hours
Four hours with ANC on? Are you joking?

Creative Aurvana Ace 2 review: Also consider

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Creative Aurvana Ace 2 2Nothing EarApple AirPods (Gen 3)
DriversxMEMS solid state driver + 10mm dynamic driver11mm8.2mm
Active noise cancellationYesYesYes
Battery life4 hours (buds) 16 hours (case)6 hours (buds) 30 hours total (with case)5 hours (buds) 15 hours total (with case)
Weight4.7g (buds) 46.6g (case)4.28g (buds); 37.9g (case)5g (buds); 48g (case)
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.3Bluetooth 5.3Bluetooth 5.2

Nothing Ear
The Nothing Ear don't hit the Ace 2 in terms of sound but the equalizer, sound tests and bass boost modes make up for it. Plus they last longer, have a detailed app and offer functioning ANC.
Read our full Nothing Ear review here


Apple AirPods (Gen 3)
If you own an iPhone, for similar money the AirPods (Gen 3) are a no-brainer. You won't get those talented xMEMS drivers and the Bluetooth version isn't the most up to date, but for noise cancellation and feature set, they're streets ahead of the Creative Aurvana Ace 2.
Check out our full Apple AirPods (Gen 3) review here

How I tested the Creative Aurvana Ace 2

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested for 10 days
  • Tested at home, in the office and on walks

I used the Creative Aurvana Ace 2 for just over two weeks prior to writing this review, and used them paired alongside both my Android phone, Windows computer and briefly my Apple iPad.

The testing time co-incided with a trip I took so the Ace 2 got tested to the max in terms of environments: I listened to music, conducted calls and watched Netflix in cafes, on buses, in a hotel room, in busy streets, in the rain and shine and even in packed pubs (it was only a trip to Sheffield, England, so I wasn't missing anything).

I have over five years' experience testing tech gadgets for TechRadar, which includes loads of earbuds, especially at this lower- and mid-range price levels. Seriously, the Ace 2 weren't the only pair of earbuds I was using during the testing, so I can accurately compare them to rivals.

  • First reviewed in June 2024
Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.