The E-Mu Walnut: A Creative Aurvana Live! Woodied-Up Measurements

Click on graphs image to download .pdf for closer inspection.

As I'll be mentioning them as a family to some degree, you may want to bring up the measurements for the Creative Aurvana Live! and Denon AH-D1001.

It's evident from the measurements of these three headphones, that the original D1001 had some problems in the bass. The bass level was a bit low, but the bass distortion was pretty bad. Leading edge of the 300Hz square wave also looks a bit ragged with two significant peaks at the leading edge.

The CAL! seems to have significantly addressed both issues, but bass distortion, especially at loud levels, remains poor.

Raw frequency response plots of the CAL! and Walnut show a strong family resemblance. It appears I had a harder time achieving the seal with the CAL! as the bass raw plots show some changes with movement. This could account for the changes to response above 2kHz, but note that the D1001 plots shows little change in the bass but significant and similar changes above 2kHz, similar to the CAL!

I note this because the Wanut is very stable in its response above 2kHz on the raw plots. It is possible that noisy response of the plastic headphones has something to do with resonances in the capsule plastic, and is damped in the wood in the Walnut's response.

I'll also note the feature at 10kHz in the isolation response of the Walnut. This feature does not exist on the CAL! measurements. I suspect this may be a resonance in the wood—though it seems quite high; maybe it's a higher order modal resonance—and may contribute to the more-apparent and strongly shaped feature in the raw plots of the Walnut at 10kHz.

The impulse response of the CAL! is at a higher level making a bit more difficult to see, but it is a apparent to me that while the overall responses are quite similar, the CAL! is a bit dirtier and rings for a bit longer than the Walnut.

My conclusion here is that while the wood may have a sound of its own (peak at 10kHz), it also damps extraneous noise (plasticy noise?) better. Feel fre to speculate in the comments about the differences between wood and plastic and what we're seeing here.

E-Mu Walnut
Raw plots show strikingly little effect on frequency response with headphone movement on the head.

Though slightly elevated, bass response is within reasonable limits. Bass boost does bleed a couple hundred Hertz too far into the mids. However, it's a very mild curve, and in listening I found it pretty tasty for a warm headphone.

Rise from 500Hz to the peak at 3.5kHz may be a tad awkward, but is reasonably close to target. I heard this area of the headphone as fairly good. However, the peak at 3.5kHz is about 2-3dB short and is somewhat narrow, giving the overall impression of a laid-back headphone. The subsequent notch between 5-8kHz is quite a bit too deep to be considered neutral; the subsequent peak at 10kHz is only a tad too elevated. This loss of treble around 5kHz followed by a subsequent peak, to me, gives cymbals a breathy sort of sound. It's never harsh, but it doesn't sound right to me.

30Hz square wave has excellent shape. Lack of significant sway-back means bass remains in good phase. my guess is we're seeing the excursion limitation of the surround around the biocellulose cone driver. I thought the bass sounded pretty good...until you got to high levels.

300Hz square wave shows an ascending slope, which usually indicates a rolled-off top-end, but it's not excessive. Both the 300Hz square wave and impulse response show some slightly excessive ringing at a few frequencies, but it's not out of line for a headphone of this price.

Other than the bass distortion mentioned previously, THD+noise for the Walnut is remarkably low. I like biocellulose cone drivers!

Impedance plots show a nominally 35 Ohm headphone with a primary driver resonance at around 60Hz. The plot also shows a little spike around 3.5kHz, probably evidencing tuning to control respons in this area.

Isolation response shows this headphone has somewhat less than average isolation for a circumaural sealed headphone. Broadband isolation is -12dB.

With 31mVrms needed to achieve 90dBspl at the ear, the Walnut will play to solid listening levels from portable devices.

E-Mu Systems
31 International Business Park
#07-01 Creative Resource
Singapore 609921

Impulse's picture

I think it slims you some...

Gonna review the Teak too?

cybaf's picture

The cup material doesn't change much about the CAL. I've modded my pair with dynamat in the cups and did nothing. Hell, even removing the cups and listening to them "open-back" doesn't make a huge difference.

yrodin's picture

never shave the beard, never shave the beard!

johnjen's picture

I agree keep the beard, he says sporting one himself…
I think it's the 'entrance fee' into being acknowledged as a Wizzerd (Wize'nd nerd), er sumpt'n…


thefitz's picture

Putting the exclamation mark in CAL! made for a very irritating read.

Impulse's picture

Punctuation actually irritates? That seems a tough strong, maybe you should ask for your money back tho. kkthx!

brause's picture

No travel bag? I use this nicely padded one for all my cans:

lsc04361's picture

Reading all these woodies review, makes me wonder how the Telefenkun Audion sound comparing these cans.