Creative Aurvana X-Fi Headphones review

Noise cancelling cans upmix MP3s on the fly

Despite having to handle three different kinds onboard processing, the battery life is surprisingly good

TechRadar Verdict

If the price tag doesn't scare you off, these headphones will surprise you with how clear and crisp they sound, even in noisy environments


  • +

    X-Fi makes music and movies sound awesome

    CMSS-3D adds a touch of class

    Noise cancelling works well


  • -

    The steep price

    Sound leakage

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We first had a play with these cans at IFA in Germany back in September 2007. While we were very impressed at the time, with little chance to try our own inputs and have a proper play, it was hard to make any decisive judgements.

Luckily, we now have our own set so we've been putting the Aurvana X-Fi Noise Cancelling Headphones through their paces for the last week.

X-Fi is Creative's audio upmixing technology. It restores the highs and lows (such as cymbals and bass drums) which are squashed in amongst the midrange sounds when audio music is compressed.

The result is that typically, through an X-Fi soundcard, flat, lifeless MP3 files tend to sound much better than they actually are.

As good as it sounds

So, with X-Fi and noise cancelling built into these cans, are they really as good as they promise to be? The answer, in a word, is yes.

Like most noise cancellers, they're powered by two AAA batteries. And on the side, they've got three buttons; one for noise cancelling; one for X-Fi Crystallizing; and one for CMSS-3D.

CMSS-3D, which simulates a 3D soundscape to make all music sound as though it's being performed by a live band in the space in front of you, can be a bit hit or miss. With some music it can sound great, with other music it can sound awful. But with these headphones, it just seems to sound great all the time. And the X-Fi crystallizer, as ever, makes compressed music sound absolutely fantastic.

The noise cancelling feature is also excellent, providing an enclosed environment that any audiophile will enjoy.

But there are also some drawbacks. The first is the price. At launch these babies will set you back a minimum of £199, and that will be too much for some people. If you're after a cheap desktop solution, it would be cheaper to buy an Xmod (X-Fi external plug-and-ply soundcard) and some non-battery powered cans.

The second downer is sound leakage. If you use these on the train, you're going to annoy people. Even while using them in a bustling office, sound was leaking horribly out the side. And only at quiet volumes were we not disturbing our colleagues.

But if you're after some really great headphones, regardless of price, and if the idea of annoying fellow commuters appeals to you, these cans are right up your street. They're comfy, the battery life is good, and they sound fantastic.

What more could you want?

James Rivington

James was part of the TechRadar editorial team for eight years up until 2015 and now works in a senior position for TR's parent company Future. An experienced Content Director with a demonstrated history of working in the media production industry. Skilled in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), E-commerce Optimization, Journalism, Digital Marketing, and Social Media. James can do it all.