A few months ago I bought the Creative Aurvana Live! headphones for office use. My criteria were:
- none to low leaking of inside sound
- moderate to good blocking of outside sound
- not too uncomfortable to wear for six hours a day
- comfortable to take off quickly
- priced below 150 EUR
I researched and, thanks to friends, tested, for at least one day, the following headphones:
- Sennheiser CX 200
- Sennheiser HD 202
- Sennheiser HD 380 Pro
- Creative Aurvana Live!
I’ll quickly go through this list.
Sennheiser CX 200
Great canalphones with strong bass. Small and very mobile. When I want to put the headphones on and the bigger ones are too annoying to carry around, I use the CX 200s. Initially, I was wearing them at the office too, but pushing them into the ears and pulling them out 20+ times a day became painful.
One thing I don’t like about this model is the low impedance (16 Ω). When they’re connected to my MacBook, the sound is just too loud. I use a special trick to set the volume below what is normally considered “the minimum”. I hold down the Volume Down key (F11) and then press the Mute key (F10) once. It sets the volume to a lower level than the “F10, ⌥⇧F12” combo. After this operation I don’t touch the system volume. Instead, I adjust it on a per-app basis, usually with ⌘↓ and ⌘↑.
Sennheiser HD 202
I was using the strong bass HD 202s, “the cheapest big Sennheisers”, for, I think, at least two years when I was at the university. Unfortunately, they’re the on ear, not around the ear headphones and as such are too uncomfortable to keep on the head for half of a day.
Sennheiser HD 380 Pro
I have seen the HD 380s’ recommendations in my Facebook feed a couple of times. Other geeks seemed to be fond of them too. Given this, the “Pro” label, and the fact that they were the most expensive headphones of the four pairs I tested, I had high expectations.
Sadly, the 380s disappointed me. Yes, they sound alright and feel solid and expensive, but the first thing that came to my mind after plugging them in, having the CX 200s on a minute earlier, was “where’s all the bass?!”. To my ear the sound quality was the same, but in the much more expensive 380s I didn’t want to bang my head to Slipknot’s Duality anymore.
Another surprise came after about three hours. I didn’t notice it at first, but the headphones were tightening my glasses’ frames. It started to be unpleasant.
The biggest inconvenience, though, the real deal breaker, was the heavy, coiled cable that I couldn’t find a good place for. Every few minutes I would touch it with my forearm and get distracted. Really annoying.
Creative Aurvana Live!
Finally, the winner. I don’t have much to say about these headphones. Which really means I have nothing to complain about (besides the name and maybe the looks). Bigger than the HD 202s, smaller, lighter, more comfortable and cheaper than the 380s, with normal, unobtrusive cable Aurvanas simply get the job done.