In any informal good soundcard survey, one brand that would almost always spring to mind is Creative Technology. Soundcards are unquestionably the Singapore-based company's core product, but in light of a waning demand on add-on soundcards, Creative has had to expand its product portfolio and one of them was its earphone/headphone line. Just recently, Creative announced its Fatal1ty and Aurvana series of headphones that are catered to gamers and audiophiles respectively. Along with its award winning portable media players, Creative is finally able to offer a complete audio solution and experience that's entirely Creative.
Jonathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel, a multi-champion of gaming competitions, revealed that his success lies heavily in the use of sound to pinpoint the whereabouts of his opponents and the only soundcard so far to have met his expectations is from none other than Creative. His confidence in Creative products has even culminated in him endorsing Creative's X-Fi series of soundcards and the Fatal1ty series of gaming mice. Joining the latest Fatal1ty endorsed "family" of products is the Fatal1ty Professional series headset.
Ask any competitive gamer and they'll tell you that only headphones are allowed in credible competitions to minimize distractions to other players. Given the success Fatal1ty has in gaming and Creative in audio products, it was really only a matter of time before the two converged to develop a professional gaming headphone to give gamers a competitive edge. Upon first gaze, the new Fatal1ty Professional series headset does bear an uncanny resemblance to a certain Sennheiser headphone. On the left of the headphone is a flexible microphone boom that can be adjusted such that the microphone is parked right next to the mouth for the optimum voice pickup. It also comes with active noise cancellation to further reduce ambient noise just so your teammates will always understand you in the heat of battles.
We really loved the heavily cushioned earpads, which was what made wearing the headphones for hours on the trot without discomfort possible. Also playing a part in the comfort factor was the lightweight plastic material used in the production of the headset. By wiring in a volume control and a microphone on/off switch for instant control, gamers will have two more compelling reasons to consider getting the Creative Fatal1ty heaphones.
Over at the music end of the spectrum, the Aurvana follows closely to the in-ear design of most high-end earphones. The immediate advantage is that it provides good isolation from ambient noise and delivers music smoothly into the ear. Although a splitting image of the Shure's E3c, wearing the Aurvana is different from that of the former in that it is worn directly and not looped over the ear. Thanks to the soft rubbery silicon ear buds, the Aurvana can be comfortably worn for an extended period of time, therefore it's only good news when we found not two but three pairs of differently sized ear buds, cleaning tool, airplane adaptor and a convenient travel case.
The introduction of both the Fatal1ty Professional and Aurvana series of headsets have certainly set Creative in the right direction. Nicely complemented by its award winning X-Fi soundcards and portable media players, Creative can now take huge pride in being a provider of total audio entertainment and solution. Where the headsets were concerned, the Fatal1ty performed well in most of the games we tried with our only gripe being its premium price of US$129. The Aurvana earphones on the other hand was great for music but would have made purchasing one all the more worthwhile if it had packed more punch in the bass department - something like the Creative EP630 earphone.