Creative Aurvana In-Ear 3 Page 2

Audio is delivered by a dual balanced armature driver with a discrete woofer and tweeter on each side. Creative claims that the dual-bore design, which dedicates a separate sound tube for each driver, helps enhance definition. They also claim that this solution is patent-pending, which is interesting because Ultimate Ears currently holds patents for dual- and triple-bore designs in both custom-fit and universal earphones.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding, and the In-Ear 3 does sound quite good at its new $100 price point. It has a very smooth and inoffensive signature somewhat reminiscent of the $500 Shure SE535. The bass offers decent punch for an armature-powered earphone, as well as the usual accuracy and control. It rolls off gently at the bottom, however, which means that the In-Ear 3 lacks real bass depth not only next to the SE535, but also some of the higher-end single-armature earphones (such as the Fischer Audio SBA-03).

The midrange acts as the focal point of the sound signature, presented more prominently compared to the bass and treble. Clarity is good and the overall sound is clean and refined. The mids always sound smooth and forgiving and the top end is slightly laid-back, tuned for a more non-fatiguing sound. It seems Creative's engineers chose to forego the trick of boosting certain treble bands to increase the perception of clarity. Treble quality is good, with no audible grain, and the In-Ear 3 generally enjoys a quick and clean note.

The presentation is rather well-rounded and follows the somewhat mid-centric balance of the earphones. Some listeners may find its approach boring---the In-Ear 3 is not particularly dynamic and rarely sounds aggressive or even energetic. The soundstage is about average in size, less in-the-head than many other in-ears but not competitive with high-end monitors by any means. To my ears the lack of treble presence also results in a slight lack of air and openness next to higher-end models.

To sum up, overall sound is on the warm side due to the mid- and upper-bass presence and the earphones generally seem slightly mid-centric. The presentation is respectable for the price but lacks a bit in both depth and dynamics. The overall sound is smooth and forgiving, notable for a lack of heavily enhanced, bloated bass and bright, exaggerated treble. As an added bonus, fans of the In-Ear 3 have a clear upgrade path to the Shure SE535 for the bass depth and imaging that, among other things, are missing from the In-Ear 3.

The Creative Aurvana In-Ear 3 is a solid mid-range monitor that could easily pass for a consumer-oriented product from Shure or Westone and, at $100, is a relatively cheap way to try a proper balanced armature earphone.

Sonically, this earphone has few weaknesses. Its sound signature is not for fans of deep, thumping bass but it does deliver an all-around pleasant and smooth audio experience. The In-Ear 3 has other advantages as well: it is efficient and forgiving, clearly designed for use straight out of a portable player with compressed music files, and the cable noise is low enough for active use. Overall, while perhaps only a decent value at $150, the In-Ear 3 is a solid buy at $99.

Creative home page and Aurvana 3 product page.
Head-Fi threads here and here.

Creative Labs Inc.
1901 McCarthy Boulevard
Milpitas, CA 95035
408 428 6600

johthor's picture

Could you do a brief comparison of this reviewed item with the Shure SE215.  I bought the SE215 after your excellent review of them and have been happy with them for the last year.  Thank you so much for all your excellent reviews they are much appreciated.

johthor's picture

I just checked and it was Tyll that did the review of the SE215.  A comparison would still be appreciated if you are familiar with the SE215.  A comparison would be interesting as they are in the same price range.  Thank you.

ljokerl's picture

I've heard the SE215 and reviewed it over at Head-Fi. It's a nice earphone and I think that as a total package it's very hard to beat for the price (removable cables, nice accessories, low cable noise, consumer-friendly sound that's still pretty accurate, etc.)


The Creative is the more balanced earphone - it's got less bass (though I wish it had slightly more linear sub-bass extension) and sounds more even through the midrange and lower treble. Both earphones are a little light up top for me. At this price point that's fine. Overall, the balance of the Creatives gives more focus to the midrange while the SE215 definitly pushes that bass and places the midrange back a bit compared to the In-Ear 3.


Overall, they are two good earphones with two different signatures both of which are smooth and non-fatiguing.

yuriv's picture

"This, therefore, should be a headphone driven with the low output impedance of a portable amp if possible. When driven directly from portable players, low- and mid-treble response may fall off a bit."

That might be a bit overstated. For a portable player with an output impedance of 5 ohms (the worst case for a recent Apple product, the iPod Classic), the electrical response will be within a 2.1-dB window, if I'm doing my arithmetic right with your impedance measurements (high and low of 110 and 15 ohms, respectively).

An iPhone 5 (3.3 ohms output impedance) will play flat within 1.5 dB. For the rest of the recent Apple portables (2 ohms Zout or less) it'll be within 1 dB. The Sandisk Sansa Clip/Clip+/Clip Zip/Fuze should deliver flat responses as well.

According to your measurements, this IEM is sensitive enough that you might hear the player's noise during quiet passages (with the Sansas doing a little worse than the iDevices). This is where something like an O2 might help. But who wants to lug that around?

So if you have the typical garden-variety iDevice or Sansa, just plug it in and enjoy!

ljokerl's picture

No doubt the modern iDevices and Sansas should be fine. I also had no complaints with my usual Cowon J3 (~2 ohm output impedance). There are more and more people using other smartphones, however, and those often are not nearly as well-performing. My HTC Android phone measures at something like 25 ohms. There are many reasons I wouldn't want to use my phone as a source but this is definitely one. 


This is all good info to have out there for those looking to make an informed purchasing decision.

sue4's picture

Would you please try to combine it w/ the hi-fi profile from Accudio on iPod Touch and give commentary? I am very curious whether EQ software (such as Accudio and Dirac HD Player, the later is for EarPods) do enhance sound quality, objectively (using graphs)! I listen to them, but only got a subjective impression since I do not have such a sophisticate measurement tools. Thank you, |joker|

ljokerl's picture

...we should have Tyll address. He does all the measurement wizardry, I just have my two ears. I'm not much of an Apple user but the Android sound-enhancing apps I've tried basically provide different EQ presets. Nothing that can't be done better with a good parametric EQ and some listening time. 

Tyll Hertsens's picture do a piece on some of these new ideas (Dirac, etc), but will have to do some programming of my test gear to accept playback from the independant source. I've got to finish the amp testing stuff before I do that (which, come hell or high water, I'll do before InnerFidelity's second anv. in April). So maybe by late in the year I'll be able to rig up a test.

melvin's picture

I'm currently on the market for an IEM that's around 100 bucks and currently have the Shure SE-215, Mee A151 (or A161)  and Westone UM1 as options. The SE-215 is currently the front-runner I should say. I like the A151 because its the cheapest (and has braided cord, lol). And I'm just intrigued with Westone UM1 as some people say it has a fairly neutral sound. In your opinion, does the Aurvana In-EAR 3 best all of those  options handily?

ljokerl's picture

Three different signatures. Technically I would say the Creative In-Ear 3 wins out over the SE215 and A151 but probably not over the A161P as that has really clean, tight, linear bass that the In-Ear 3 can't match. The SE215 has the most bass while the other three are more mid-focused, with the A161P less so than the In-Ear 3 and A151.


If you're looking for neutral it'll have to be the In-Ear 3 or A161P (I can't opine on the UM1 as I haven't heard that), depending on whether you prefer something a little warmer, smoother, and more laid-back (In-Ear 3) or more extended, forward, and energetic (A161P). 


The A151 does have the best cord but it is slightly outclassed here in terms of sound, as it should be at the $50-60 it sells for. 

sfoclt's picture

I'm a long-time lover of the Shure 530/535 and drag them around everywhere.  This sounds like a good choice for somewhat inexpensive stand-ins for more "challenging" trips (like the walks that sometime in the last 20 years took the place of runs).

Seth195208's picture


Apple's "new" IEM's seem to be the least expensive dual balanced armature available. Have you considered testing them?

ljokerl's picture

I'm no Tyll but I've heard the apple duals before. They've been around since 2008 or so. To my ears they don't offer a whole lot of advantages over a solid single-armature set but if you don't need much bass they are reasonably-priced considering the level of clarity offered. Been hoping for an updated version but it hasn't happened yet.

Seth195208's picture

The body of work you have created so far for the IEM community is amazingly proliphic. I hope you are getting paid somehow for all the work you have done. You and Tyll also make the perfect team, with your well balanced, subjective IEM reviews and his measurement expertise. I hope the colaboration continues..

ljokerl's picture

I appreciate that. I definitely hope to continue the collaboration. It's great to see some of the earphones I've previously covered on Head-Fi measured here - having objective data to compare and contrast with my own subjective impressions is educational, to say the least. 

ranilus's picture

TBH I was rather disappointed with the Aurvana In-Ear 3. I feel they have taken a step backwards from the In-Ear 2. I enjoyed the AIE2's form, fit, and SQ. In comparison, the AIE3 is much bulkier and more uncomfortable to wear, with no improvement to the cable (still really, really thin). SQ is not an improvement over the AIE2 - the AIE3 sounds about 90% same but less organic and more awkward sounding. The AIE2 is very natural and sweet, and uses dynamic driver. Creative's biggest mistake was to tune the AIE3, which uses BAs, to the sound of the AIE2. The end result is what are mechanical sounding armature drivers trying to deliver a natural, smooth, and sweet sounding SQ. 


All I can say for the Aurvana In-Ear 3 is, YUCK. 

ljokerl's picture

I can't comment on the sound of the AIE2 as I haven't heard it, but I do know that Creative advertises it having a single balanced armature driver and not a dynamic transducer.

latebeat's picture

Nice review, however I would like to see some more reviews of newer models like the sony xba 3ibp, 4ibp etc