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I listened to wireless earbuds with xMEMs drivers and they've set a new standard for me

I was fully prepared to call xMEMS a gimmick, but the Aurvana Ace 2 earbuds impressed me in ways I never thought possible for a pair priced at $150.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
The Creative Aurvana Ace 2 earbuds.

Although they feel like plastic, these earbuds will send premium sound into your ears to delight your every sense.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The Creative Aurvana Ace 2 headphones are available now for $129 on Amazon.
  • These earbuds are game-changing and sound better than any pair I've ever tried.
  • The only con is that it took me a while to get them to connect with my Pixel 8 Pro. (Turns out the earbuds have to be out of the case before you pair them.)

For a while now, my go-to earbuds have been the Denon PerL Pros. The sound those babies deliver is rich and exciting, filled with just the right amount of bass and treble and a perfect blend of midrange.

Also: Fairphone's 'fully repairable' earbuds also pack replaceable batteries

But that time at the top of the mountain could be coming to an end, thanks to the Creative Aurvana Ace 2 earbuds. These new devices make use of xMEMS speaker technology to deliver a clarity of sound I've never heard in a pair of earbuds. 

View at Amazon

Behind this sound are the new xMEMS drivers, which are solid-state semiconductor MEMS speakers. MEMS stands for Micro-Electromechanical System and incorporates both moving and non-moving electronics, as well as moving mechanical bits to produce sound. For the Aurvana Ace 2 earbuds, the moving piece of the equation is a tiny silicon membrane that creates sound when an electric signal is passed through it.

The advantage of MEMS technology is that these drivers can produce a higher frequency response range, can shift from one sound to another with exponentially faster speed, and are far more durable than traditional drivers. That means they can produce higher highs and lower lows, do so faster, and last longer while doing it. On top of that, MEMS speakers are IP58 rated, which means they are fully dustproof and waterproof.

In other words, these earbuds can take a beating and keep on treating (your ears to glorious sound).

But do they deliver on that promise?

Heck yeah.

Also: The best noise-canceling earbuds for deep work and quiet studying

Seriously, I was fully prepared to call xMEMS a gimmick and say, "Nice try." In the end, I came out a believer, and the Aurvana Ace 2 earbuds impressed me in ways I never thought possible for a pair priced at $150.

The specs

If you're curious, here's the specs for the earbuds:

  • Frequency Response - 5–40,000 Hz
  • Operating frequency  - 2402–2480 MHz
  • Noise control - Adaptive Hybrid Active Noise Cancellation, Ambient Mode
  • Total battery life - up to 24 hours with a playtime of up to 6 hours
  • Weight - 1.64 oz
  • Driver - xMEMS solid-state driver, 10 mm dynamic driver
  • Audio Codec - LC3, AptX Lossless, AptX Adaptive, AptX, AAC, SBC
  • Mics - 3 omnidirectional with a sensitivity rating of 1 kHz - 38 dBV/Pa
  • Control - customizable touch control (via the Creative app)
  • Siri/Google Assistant support - yes
  • Water resistance - IPX5
  • Connectivity - Bluetooth 5.3

One of the more important specs is the frequency response. You won't find many earbuds capable of reaching down to 5 Hz or up to 40,000 Hz. That's impressive.

My experience

As I said, I wasn't expecting to be blown away by a pair of $150 earbuds, but wow, was I ever. The first piece of music I played was the Godzilla -1 original score, and I had never heard such big sounds out of a pair of earbuds. These sound more like over-the-ear headphones than tiny earbuds. And it didn't matter what genre of music I played through the Aurvana Ace 2 earbuds, they were capable of producing beautiful, glorious symphonic sounds all the way to hard-hitting, crunchy distortion, without missing a beat

Also: These $56 earbuds converted me to open-ear headphones (and they're very super comfy)

One piece of music that was particularly impressive was the live version of Zeppelin's Kashmir from the 2007 O2 Arena show. Listening to that made me feel as if I was right there at the show. Even the Denon PerL Pros weren't capable of producing such accurate, agile sounds with a wide enough space to make it feel as front and center as possible.

These earbuds will get into your head in ways you cannot believe. And the depths of bass they can plumb is about as impressive a thing as I've ever heard from such a small device.

These earbuds offer the smoothness of audiophile-quality bookshelf speakers and feed it directly into your ears for an experience unlike anything you've ever heard.

ZDNET's buying advice

I might sound as if I'm overselling it…but I'm not. With regards to sound, I'm about as picky as they come. The Creative Aurvana Ace 2 earbuds have reset the bar for me, and I cannot imagine another device knocking the crown off their head. 

If you're looking for some seriously special sound in a very small package, you cannot go wrong with the Creative Aurvana Ace 2.

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