Wireless earbuds are steadily advancing in terms of features and battery life while coming in more affordable prices but the principle behind their audio drivers has remained the same since their wired predecessors.
Solid-state drivers are touted as the next big breakthrough with the ability to cover a wider sound stage for more detailed audio with a faster response rate. Companies like xMEMS manufacture these drivers on the same principle as chipsets and the Creative Aurvana Ace series are amongst the first affordably priced buds on the market to offer this new driver approach.
Solid-state drivers replace the coils and magnets found in traditional earbud drivers with silicon piezoelectric actuators and membranes. There are tiny silicon flaps inside the solid-state drivers that produce sound by absorbing electrical signals and transforming them into micro sound waves.
In the case of the Aurvana Ace 2, Creative is using traditional 10mm dynamic drivers which handle bass and mids while the xMEMS Cowell tweeters are sandwiched on top and tasked with reproducing the highs.
So, is the solid-state driver hype real and how do these buds stack up against the competition using legacy coil and magnet tweeters? We’ve done the testing and were left impressed. Here are our findings.
Aurvana Ace 2 feature a stem-shaped design and silicone in-ear tips. The buds and case feature a dark-tinted look with contrasting copper hues mixed with transparent elements. You can even see bits of the actual drivers and batteries inside the buds. As far as looks are concerned we have to give it to Creative for bringing their own style to the table.
Opening up the Ace 2’s case reveals a shiny copper finish. The closing mechanism feels solid and the lid can support the case when open. The case is fairly compact and fits inside your jeans coin pocket and both it and the buds feature a matte texture that fends off fingerprints and smudges.
Each earbud weighs just 4.7 grams and they fit just fine inside my ears with the default size M tips. This was surprising given that most wireless earbuds have a tough time staying secure in my ears. While not exactly ergonomic, the Aurvana Ace 2 did not cause any ear fatigue after multiple-hour listening sessions and even stood the test of going to the gym without falling out of my ears.
The retail package features the usual mix of paperwork, a USB-C charging cable and replacement silicon tips with small and large-sized tips. Aurvana Ace 2 are IPX5 water-resistant which is slightly above the industry standard IPX4 splashproof rating. The case does not come with any IP rating as expected but it does offer both wired charging via USB-C and wireless charging via any Qi-compatible charger.
Features and companion app
The key selling point for the Aurvana Ace series is their xMEMS Cowell tweeters. These tiny solid-state micro speakers are placed right above the 10mm dynamic drivers and promise exceptional clarity in the high notes while the accompanying drivers are tasked with carrying the lows and mids.
The lack of moving parts inside the xMEMS tweeters means the buds are physically much smaller than balanced armature drivers leaving more space for other components like a larger battery. The solid-state design is also water-resistant and doesn’t require any calibration as they are manufactured at a foundry
As per Creative, Aurvana Ace and Ace 2 also cover a wider frequency range of 5Hz to 40kHz compared to the usual 20Hz to 20kHz on most other earbuds we’ve reviewed.
The buds support Bluetooth 5.3 pairing with LE Audio and come with Snapdragon Sound and AptX HD, AptX Adaptive and AptX Lossless codecs. The latter one offers a theoretical 1 Mbps bit-rate for “CD-quality” audio at 44.1kHz sampling. If you’re streaming music, your audio source needs to be up to par with streaming options from the likes of Apple Music Lossless, Tidal’s HiFi tier, Amazon Music HD or Deezer Premium.
Your audio source device also needs to be equipped with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip or newer for the magic to happen and the whole “lossless audio” branding is not entirely compression-free as it sits slightly below the 1.41Mbps data rate of true CD quality. Aurvana Ace 2 also supports the LC3 low latency codec as well as the legacy AAC and SBC standards.
Creative is bringing adaptive hybrid noise canceling with Ace 2 which offers dynamic adjustments to the level of sound leak-through based on your surrounding environment and the fit inside your ears. The buds also feature a total of six microphones – three on each side and support for Qualcomm clear voice capture (cVc) noise suppression algorithms for clear audio during calls.
The top halves of the stems house programmable touch controls with options for managing playback, toggling between ANC and transparency modes, summoning your digital assistant, and toggling the volume. The latter is only accessible via tap-and-hold during media playback which is not the most ideal implementation.
The charging case features a status LED light on the bottom which blinks in green for a fully charged battery, yellow when you’re between 31-70%, and red when you’re running below 30%.
You’ll need to download the Creative companion app from the App Store or Google Play to tinker with the touch controls and it’s also where you can tweak the sound equalizer to your preference. You also get multipoint pairing which is very useful if you plan on using the buds with several devices connected simultaneously.
Creative did omit a wear-detection sensor so there’s no automatic play/pause when you take the earbuds out of your ears. Rounding out the features section is the dedicated low-latency mode for gaming which doesn’t add much in terms of responsiveness compared to the default state.
Performance and Sound quality
We tested the Aurvana Ace 2 between a few different devices including the Asus Zenfone 10, iPhone 15 Pro and a MacBook Pro 14. Multi-point pairing worked flawlessly when switching between devices which was a regular occurrence for this review. The sound coming from the Aurvana Ace 2 is detailed and offers fluid transitions across the different audio frequencies.
Music instruments feel quick and lively which is especially evident in rock and metal tracks as well as in electronic music. On a technical note, the piezoelectric actuators in the xMEMS tweeters are exponentially faster in delivering each note compared to legacy drivers which plays a major role in the instantaneous sound delivery.
Vocals are naturally reproduced and feel well-detailed without any hint of booming or distortion. Aurvana Ace 2 offers exceptional mids and highs which are testaments to Creative’s tuning and their novel hardware approach. There was no significant distortion at higher volume levels and instrument separation is excellent. The buds also get plenty loud if you need them to.
The best part is that you can notice all of the advantages of the xMEMS drivers even on the generic AAC and SBS codecs. The aptX Lossless codec did provide a noticeable step up in clarity and soundstage depth.
While the mids and highs are noteworthy, bass leaves a little to be desired in terms of oomph. You can play around with the EQ inside the Creative app but even then the Aurvana Ace 2 doesn’t come close to the crisp lows delivered by the admittedly far more expensive Sony WF-1000XM5.
Noise-canceling worked okay in an office environment with lower-frequency sounds but was not as effective on busy streets with lots of commotion around. You can find much better options from Sony, Samsung and Bose if you prioritize sound isolation. Transparency mode did an okay job of letting in surrounding voices but they felt distorted and unbalanced.
Bluetooth connection strength was on point in my two weeks of testing with no drops or interference even as I was wandering around the office with my phone left on my desk. Aurvana Ace 2 are up in pairing mode as soon as you open up their charging case lid and they hook up to devices instantly without you having to dig through Bluetooth menus or mess around with pairing buttons.
Call quality on the Ace 2 was impressive. The triple microphones on each bud delivered surprisingly detailed voice pickup even in noisier environments with people on the other end reporting loud and clear reception of my voice.
Touch controls worked well for the most part with the occasional lag between tapping and executing the desired action. We’d also appreciate some sort of swipe gesture functionality which would work better for the volume controls.
Creative is advertising up to 6 hours of battery life from the Aurvana Ace 2 while the charging case extends the playtime to 24 hours. Those values are with ANC off and were replicated in our usage though listening with ANC while hooked to the aptX Lossless codec resulted in about 5 hours of battery life from the buds.
One neat feature is that you can power off either of the two earbuds by long pressing on the touch control area if you want to preserve the battery and only use one of the buds at a time. A full recharge via the USB-C cable took roughly 90 minutes. If you’re strapped for time – a 10-minute quick charge is good enough for an hour of listening time.
Creative Aurvana Ace 2 are the first earbuds that we’ve tested with xMEMS solid-state drivers and they offer great fidelity, and impressive mid and highs. We enjoyed the fast-paced treble and faithfully reproduced musical instruments and their $150/€180/£165 price tag is justified for the amount of features on offer. Creative also has the regular Aurvana Ace for $120/€150/£135 which also feature solid state tweeters.
There’s a great companion app with plenty of additional controls over the sound stage and touch controls. The mics performed admirably during calls in noisier environments and battery life is good enough to last a while with moderate usage.
Combined with the high-bitrate audio codec support, flashy design and reasonable price we believe the Aurvana Ace 2 are worth considering if you’re in the market for a new pair of wireless earbuds.
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