There are many unexpected things in life. In my life, one of those things has become the ability to test Chinese brand Sendy Audio headphones. I have never been to much into open-back over ears, so if the announcement has been made about release, I have totally missed it. However, this has made my acquaintance with this product even better. I have to acknowledge being sceptic about them and had no hope to hear something extraordinary. Still, non-budget price, planar technology (and I like planars) have aroused some anxiety. And I have been rewarded for it. But let’s move closer to the topic. Today we will speak about Sendy Audio Aiva.
Package and accessories
Nothing special here. Rather large cardboard box without any peculiarities. It has creamy (or, to be more precise, yellow-brown color of recycled cardboard box) color, schematic picture of headphones themselves, as well as a sticker with lots of info in Chinese. Some regular information — impedance is 32 Ohms and sensitivity is 96 dB. And even some irregular info — there is even the size of driver. It comprises 97x76mm.
The box is open without any unexpected things, just by pulling the cover up.
Inside, however, there’s a deja-vu for me. I have seen something like this somewhere. There is a zipped pouch — hard, textured, made of leatherette, having a band. The same as in Sivga Phoenix, except for a logo.
I can’t say that it looks worse because of that, it’s really pleasant, but we will come back to that dynamic model later in the review.
If we speak about presentation, the only downside is that it looks rather scarce for the price. Inside of pouch you get headphones and cable. The latter is terminated by a massive 4.4 jack. There is a short adapter to ensure you can connect them to more traditional sources. That’s it.
Design and comfort
I can’t say that the ‘scarcity’ has always been with me. First of all because what we get here is of the highest quality. Yes, the pouch is leatherette, no real leather here, as well as in headband or outer part of ear cups. But we get something really important here — the attention to details and build of everything that we’ve got in box. Without any misses and not precise things.
Let’s take cable. It’s made of copper, a quality one, judging by the looks. The braiding is rather sturdy. Crossed 4-core before the braid and usual spiral of 2 cores after it. Slightly stiff, but with home use nothing to complain. Even more, it is not of a standard portable length of 1.2m, but slightly longer — around 1.5m. It’s slightly long for portable use, but these headphones are not suited for this use case anyway. They are not extremely hard to drive, my player has been enough to drive them. It’s the open construction that does not go well with portable use. But if you have a desire to go out to the terrace by the sea in calm atmosphere, you can use player to listen to them. In more noisy environment it might be harder to enjoy, since the sound isolation is closer to none.
I’d also like to bring attention to connectors. First of all, their bodies are non-standard, you won’t be able to buy them just anywhere. They are made according to overall style of headphones, have their own ornament and are in full harmony with headphones. Even the split is made of wood and has the name and logo of the company. From the source side there is 4.4 jack. The cable is connected to earcups with pair of 2.5mm jacks in mono configuration. The connection is reliable with distinctive fixation and audible click.
Same can be said about the adapter to non-balanced connection. The same style, the same attention to details. Bravo. The headphones are on par as well.
Speaking about headband, it’s good to remember Sivga Phoenix. Here everything is the same. It’s ergonomically good because of use of the very light double headband that is very convenient and can be adjusted to head size. Of course it is good in terms of overall weight. It is 420g. Not too low, but due to good comfort and weight distribution, I can’t say the headphones are heavy.
The ear cups connection is well thought over as well, with astounding build and overall high quality. This again reminds of Sivga headphones, but even on a higher level. Probably, having good experience on cheaper model, the best things have been applied to senior one. No objections to that, since the result has great quality.
What differs the most are the ear cups. They are of the same shape and made of wood (arguably zebrano as well). First of all, they are slightly larger and the shape is not round, but oval. The outer part of ear cups is covered by double grill. The outer one is larger. It is made in the likes of some goffering or fish scales. The same ornament that on connectors. Below it there is a more regular grill with rounded projections. What’s interesting, the projections have larger size on the sides and smaller size in the center. I assume it is some kind of damping.
Connectors inside ear cups are 2.5 mm. They are positioned directly on the sharp edge of oval ear cups. Because of the fact that the latter look directly forward, the angle is convenient and comfortablein use.
The cushions are over-ear, rather soft and convenient, with the used of combined material. From the side of the ear we have fabric, while the outer part is made of perforated leatherette material. The shape is not simply angled, but is rather more ergonomic with several slight projections. Nothing to argue with here as well. The headphones look really well. The combination of metal and wood and great build quality is astonishing in terms of look and feel.
Of course, the sound is of most importance, and here we have quite another story. There is no relaxed and emotional sound of the junior model. Aiva is notably more neutral. They are technical, rather light, but overall flat and well balanced. Of course if not amplified well we get very light and weightless sound. If source is capable, there is a great balance of details, technical ability and weight. The headphones are able to transmit the smallest details, keeping their nature and character, as well as position in composition. Nevertheless, the sound leans to micro details.
Lows are rather deep and have good control. They don’t have any prevailing of mid-bass above the sub-bass and vice versa. Totally not to the extent that the composition itself demands. There is good transmission of technical side of composition and this is what brings attention first of all, but not overly so. In case of monolythic part of the composition, the headphones present music wholly and correctly. The slams have good shape, texture and enough of body and shape. Thus, the weighty and involving bass in electronic compositions can sound a little dry but not anemic. Of course it may be slightly lacking in terms of quantity, but it is really a matter of preference. In terms of quality, it’s really good.
Mids transmit composition nuances well. There is slight emphasizing of technicalities in composition, as well as shape, timbres and textures. This makes the sound rather involving and distinctive. The headphones do not take the composition apart, it keeps it whole. There is also enough weight. This means that vocals and instruments sound full and with needed weight. Of course we also can’t say that the sound is disengaged. Due to good distinctiveness of separate moments and parts of recordings, they show most of emotions correctly. And again, I can’t say Aiva is too analytical. They are not like that. They keep the composition whole, and if it has enough emotions, they will show them.
Highs have good length and control. Of course they are not as refined as in the top models, but their level is quite enough. The attack speed is good. Due to high level of details this part of frequency range is distinctive. You can easily tell different instruments and can follow them, hear its attack. The transmission is correct, natural and without unexpected things. The only downside is the criticalness to the source. In case when the amplification is not enough it sounds rather thin.
Decays are transmitted well and are keeping needed intensity, they are lengthy and natural.
In overall canvas the quantity of highs is quite notable, so the overall sound is sparkling. This adds emotions to flat sound. Secondly, given that the highs are not harsh, we cannot say that they are overly light or too bright. They just get enough air and freedom.
The soundstage is around average on both sides. Good transmission of width does not mean that the soundstage is very wide. The headphones keep needed attention to composition. As a result chamber compositions sound as intended. On the other hand, we get good positioning of instruments and layering. Headphones tend to slightly emphasize separation making them more distinctive. And again, the wholeness of composition does not go anywhere. The size of instruments are correct. They have enough air to communicate with each other correctly.
Criticalness to the recording quality is above average. The headphones make accent on micro details, so they do not forgive flaws. However, they are not overly critical. Nevertheless, quality recordings are recommended.
As for source, the headphones are not extremely hard to drive. Of course, we should mind they are planars that demand good amplification, but many players have chance to sound good with it. Detailed and precise technical sound is combined well with more monolithic sounding devices. Control is very important, so you’d better look at higher tiered devices. For example, I liked combination with Centrance M8-2. Its light monolithic sound, warmness and great control is what needed for this composition. Of course, there are many combinations for success.
The model is really great. Quite distinctive and having its own character, but without being too colored or something like that. It has great build quality, materials and appearance. And, what’s important — they are not overly critical to source or recordings and it is really astonishing for planars.
Translated by: Vadim Kolchev