The E-Mu Walnut: A Creative Aurvana Live! Woodied-Up Page 2

External view comparing the E-Mu Walnut (left) with CAL! (right).

Sound Quality
The E-Mu Walnut is a warm, relaxed, and somewhat veiled sounding headphone. Bass level is slightly but appropriately accentuated and only slightly bleeds into the mids. Bass quality and tightness is fairly good, but is prone to distortion at high levels.

Midrange response is nicely even and coherent, but lacks a bit of level in the upper mids decreasing a sense of presence in vocals. Treble is a bit uneven. Loss of response 5-8kHz with subsequent treble coming back to good levels makes cymbals and vocal sibilance sound a bit breathy and without body. Dynamics and imaging are fairly good for a headphone of this type and price.

Comparing to the CAL! I found the CAL! a more lively listen coming a bit closer to target in the upper-mids and treble. But it did have a slightly more ragged and plasticy sound relative to the wooden E-Mu Walnut. In comparisons where I switched quickly between the two, I felt I preferred the more lively, neutral sound of the CAL!. But in long listening sessions, I found the CAL! to be more fatiguing and less involving than the more refined sound of the E-Mu Walnut.

The wood, it seems to me, does indeed have the effect of making the sound smoother and more organic sounding, even if it also makes the headphones a bit too polite. It's interesting to note when comparing measurements of the CAL! and E-Mu Walnut, the CAL! showed significantly more variation in the high frequencies than the Wanut as the headphones were repositioned on the head. A little stab in the dark here, but I wonder if this was as a result of the plastic capsule back having more resonances than the wooden one.

In the end, It's a tough choice between the two, with the Walnut more relaxed but too polite, and the CAL! more tonally neutral but less refined sounding. I suppose one must take the cost into account and conclude the CAL! is a better value.

Comparing the E-Mu Walnut to the similarly priced Audio Technica ATH-M50X, I found the M50x the more neutral well-rounded listen overall, with the Walnut again sounding a bit overly-warm and having the uneven treble response.

DIYers might find the E-Mu Walnut a particularly attractive starting point for some headphone play. Were I to give it a shot, I'd try a less dense filter behind the driver to allow them to get a bit more lively, and then possibly a little felt on the inside of the wood to damp the back-wave.

The E-Mu Walnut is a lovely little headphone, and folks with a penchant for a warm relaxed sound are likely to be quite pleased. But with the previous, very similar but more neutral sounding, CAL! still available at about half the price, budget conscious folks are probably best steered in this direction. At around $150, I still find the uglier, but more neutral and durable, Audio Technica ATH-M50x the superior buy.

Even though I find it more of a side-grade than an up-grade to the previous CAL!, the E-Mu Walnut is solid headphone at its price for folks that like a relaxed sound, and I've got no problems recommending it as such.

Click here to watch on YouTube.

E-Mu home page and Walnut product .pdf.
Expired Massdrop for E-Mu Walnut.
Threads on here. Thread on

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.