Sendy Audio Aiva
MusicTeck Aiva – MusicTeck Direct link to purchase
Amazon Purchase – Amazon Aiva
A Little Technical Stuff:
- Driver Type: Planar Magnetic
- Driver Size: 97*76mm
- Frequency Response：20-40Khz
- Sensitivity: 96db
- Impedance: 32Ω
- Weight: 420g
Sendy Audio? I had zero knowledge that Sendy Audio existed. I get so focused on the IEM side of the hobby that I sometimes forget that wonderful over the ear options abound as well. When I do think of headphones, it is generally one of the well-known brand names throughout the audiophile crowd, not the boutique offerings.
Andrew, from MusicTeck, shot me an email and asked if I had any interest in reviewing an over-ear Planar headphone by a Chinese company name Sendy Audio. I respect Andrew and MusicTeck and haven’t written a full-sized headphone review in quite a while, so I obliged.
I sit here in the wee hours of the morning, as the sun kisses the wall in front of me, and listening to a FLAC version of Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon, with the Sendy Audio Aiva as my crown and felt inspired to write. Okay, sorry for the dramatic overture, but the song, Time, adds to my melancholy. I know you have heard the song, by Pink Floyd Time, maybe a million times, but just focus on the lyrics and their meaning. *SIGH*
Searching the web for Sendy Audio yields little, they are as elusive as Sasquatch. There are a couple of YouTube videos showing you the painstaking process that goes into producing each pair of Aiva’s, some reviews, and a whole lot of forum chatter about the sound quality and how they perform well above their $600 listing price.
The Aiva has a unique sound; it is different than many of the Planar Magnetic headphones I have had the pleasure to hear. The sound signature may not be for everyone, but to my ears, I only have a couple of improvement items on my wishlist for the Aiva, that could move the Aiva closer to sonic perfection.
Those of you that follow my reviews know I am not a fan of the garish or gaudy. IEM’s or headphones that attract attention are not my style. One example would be Meze Audio 99 Classics; I prefer the Meze Neo just because the Classics are so ornate, with their wooden cups and gold accents. While I would never wear the Aiva outside, except sitting on my porch, they are indeed a sight to behold. They are beautiful, and once you give them a critical eye, you begin to see more depth of detail in the “little things” and how well they are crafted.
The Aiva is part of the Sendy Audio Black Beauty series. I am not sure what other series they have because company information is lacking online.
Overall, Aiva is a fantastic package that deserves a more in-depth look.
A little marketing hype from their website:
Aiva is equipped with a 97*76mm ultra-nano composite planar magnetic diaphragm unit as its transducer. Combined with the superior sound characteristics of the zebra wood housing, the overall direction of its sound signature is one that is very comprehensive, exhibiting natural coherence across the frequencies with airiness, detailed with distinct layers of clarity and transparency.
SENDYAUDIO founded in 2015 and is made up of the elite teams who worked in the audio industry earliest in China. Black Beauty Series is 2019 new positioning products of SENDYAUDIO, and it took three years of hard research and development. We adhere to the use of traditional craftsmanship, coupled with the selection of high-quality natural solid wood as the material for the housing. The whole production process consumes a lot of manpower and time, which include material selection, CNC machining, engraving, grinding, polishing as well as repeated oiling and drying. The finish texture of each individual piece is unique.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX:
- Aiva Headphone
- Headphone Hard Leather Carry Case
- Headphone Balanced Cable with 4.4mm Plug
- 4mm Female to 3.5mm (SE) Male Pigtail Adaptor
Unboxing and Accessories:
Photos are included that highlight the unboxing. The unboxing is rather uneventful, as the Aiva arrives in a brown box with the Sendy Audio logo in the upper left-hand corner, a sketch of the Aiva, and beneath the sketch, the cursive word Aiva, some Chinese scripted text, and 97*76MM. Beneath all other writing is their home site, www.sendyaudio.com, which when you attempt to access the homepage, takes you to nowhere.
The back of the box has text which says Sendy Audio Aiva, Black beauty series, the name of the technology company and their address, and again the homepage address. In the center of the back of the box, there is a large sticker which explains the same thing I highlighted earlier in the marketing hype section above.
Upon removing the top of the box, you are greeted by a hard, leather case with the SendyAudio logo adorning it. The case itself is just the beginning of the company, demonstrating the level of detail involved in Sendy’s total Aiva package. The leather case has four small feet on one end so that it can be stood up vertically, allowing it to take up less space on a table or shelf. The case is felt lined and has a recess in the bottom center, to let space for the earcups to sit flush to be stowed. It is difficult not to notice that the shape of the case truly evokes thoughts of the back side of the human body, yep, butt cheeks. I must admit that my juvenile, immature humorous side, snickered upon beholding the rump case, but a luxury rump case it is.
All accessories arrive in a burlap style bag that shows the text, SendyAudio, and their company logo. Inside is where you find the headphone balanced cable terminated in a 4.4mm configuration. Also, you find the 4.4mm Female to 3.5mm (SE) Male Pigtail Adaptor. I find it an odd choice to terminate in a 4.4mm plug, but maybe I find it strange, only because I do not have a Sony DAP.
The cables are a wonderful braided 6N Oxygen-Free-Copper. The cable reminds me of braided IEM cables. It is the first time I have encountered a Headphone cable that was hand braided, it is truly awe-inspiring. On the MusicTeck site, there are other cable configurations with all of the various outputs. The cable prices are $240, and the Pigtail is $75. If needed, there is also a SendyAudio Headphone stand for $75.
I also want to touch on the detail put into the plugs and cinch. The plugs all have a matching fish scale pattern. It matches the look of the grillwork adorning the outside of the cups. The neck cinch is fabricated out of wood, as well as is the splitter and has Sendy Audio branded into the wood. In my opening, I mentioned it is the little detail that matters, and this is another example.
Build Quality and Fit:
The fit of the Aiva is very comfortable to my head and ears, especially given their size and weight. They adjust to fit over the largest of heads. The design is one of those suspension types of designs with a leather headband that sits on top of the head. The weight at 400 grams, is heavy, but the weight is evenly distributed, and I have used them for a couple of hours on end without any issues with comfort.
The cups do swivel from side to side if you need a little control over your adjustment to sit on your ears comfortably. The cups are large enough for my ears so that I do not have any issues with my ears touching the drivers.
The pads, in the cups, are a unique design. First, they have an angle that is full at the bottom of the cup and taper up as you approach the top of the ear hole. I think this allows for a more natural following of the shape of the ear. The pads are leather on the outside edge, which covers the majority of the cup. The part of the earpad that sits against your head is similar to a microfiber type of material and the inner ring, closest to the driver, returns to leather. Plush, thick, and comfortable are the best descriptors I can provide. I love the cup and pad design.
Beauty is defined as a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight. The definition truly sums up the Aiva. Each Aiva is handcrafted, and the labor of love is undeniable. From the Zebrawood cups to the metal and leather, all materials are top notch. I examined my Aiva for flaws, and I could find zero defects. From the metal grilling on each ear cup to the fact that the rivets that attach the earcups to the arms have the Sendy logo, the attention to detail is one of a kind and impeccable. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I allow the photos to speak for themselves. I recommend you take the time to watch the YouTube video that demonstrates how they hand make the ear cups; it is super impressive.
The review was written utilizing four different sources, QP2R, QLS QA361, iBasso DX120, and a Samsung S10+. I used only the stock cable. My sample music consisted of 320kb, FLAC, 24bit, as well as streaming Tidal Masters, and Qobuz HI-Fi.
Moving on to the sound section….
Earlier I mentioned that the Aiva has a unique sound, and indeed it does. If you follow my reviews, you know that I spend much time researching DAPs and pairings with IEMs, but I also attempt to find DAP’s that can drive full-sized headphones with authority. The DAPs I am using for this review are all capable of driving the Aiva with such authority.
I generally have a strong preference for a warm and smooth character to my gear. The AIva should not be characterized as warm or smooth overall. Where Aiva does excel is at its sparkly, crisp, treble extension and its warm, non-linear bass frequency. The Aiva is not neutral in its sound signature; it is an engaging listen and a top-notch purchase for $600. My brief description may have conjured a visual of a V shape signature, and you would be partially correct, but there is a slight goosing in the lower register of treble which would not graph, on paper, as a traditional V shape.
Aiva’s soundstage is narrow for an open-back design. The stage is not congested or veiled; only, it is not as wide as you might expect from an open-back headphone. The height of the stage is average, and the depth is barely audible for a headphone in this class. Thanks to an incredibly sparkly treble and its airiness, the stage seems to work well for the Aiva and avoids any congestion in the sound. It is possible I am being too picky on the soundstage. Overall the stage is adequate, it isn’t veiled or congested, but it isn’t the widest either.
There is lift in the bass presence and it is welcoming to my ears. The bass elevation has a calming effect of balancing out the brighter top-end. The bass doesn’t necessarily always rumble; it is after all, planar magnetic bass which has a level of texture and layering that strives for realism. It is a case of quality over quantity, but there is enough quantity that genres like EDM are displayed aggressively, which lends to its character and the authenticity of the music.
The bass frequencies provide the warmth and fullness in the signature of the Aiva. The nimbleness of the bass creates a sound that is natural sounding with all genres of music.
I need a slight interlude here to discuss why I feel there is a uniqueness in the tuning of specific frequencies, mids dip and treble travels north from the lower treble registers, the Aiva seems to pull together to create a euphoric, cohesive experience.
The Aiva has a celestial, dreamy beauty to their sound. I understand, to describe the Aiva as dreamy, sounds very contradictory for a headphone that is undoubtedly on the brighter side of things. That is the uniqueness referred to throughout the interview.
The Jazz genre or a Jazz Fusion artist such as Snarky Puppy, is an example of a music genre that showcases the abilities of the AIva.
Aiva’s mids are a touch pulled back but with enough lift to vocals so that they sound natural and effortless. While vocals are portrayed effortlessly, they could be a bit smoother in timbre. I prefer the sound of the mids with instrumental music, especially involving percussion and crunchy guitar. The shining star of the signature is the bass and treble with the mids being along for the ride. The mids are not bad, but they take a back seat.
The treble is light, airy, and full of energy and sparkle. The air surrounding notes provides the transparency and clarity that are a hallmark in the Aiva. The copious amounts of detail and clarity are, indeed, very impressive. There is never any harshness or sibilance and cymbals crash with sharpness and realism that is not abrasive. The energy and dynamics take you to the edge but never become offensive, just detailed and clean.
Aiva’s sound is so lively and quick that it does create an atmosphere of energy and fun. The Aiva is one headphone that has shown me that I can learn to love a brighter sound.
I have attempted to drive the Aiva with my Samsung S10+, but it requires full volume and is still lacking in its ability to push the Aiva to showcase its finer details. If the S10+ were the only source I had, I would be happy with it because I would not realize it wasn’t complete. However, once I tried my DAPs with more power, I realized I could do better. The S10+ drives them to listenable levels, but the Aiva responds to better amps and sources favorably.
The QA361 has the power to drive the Aiva to hearing damage levels at 50-60%. This pairing is my favorite as the reference quality that pushes the Aiva without coloring the music in any way. The stage is at its widest, and the signature is pure and unfettered. The power of the QA361 makes the Aiva soar to an entirely new level.
The QP2R would be my 2nd choice for a pairing, but I cannot try the pairing at its best as I don’t have a 2.5mm balanced cable for the Aiva. On SE output it required quite a large volume to accomplish what the QA361 could achieve at 50%. The QP2R is a reference quality DAP, but it shows its prowess in 2.5mm output. I am confident if I were able to use the 2.5mm output, the pairing would be sublime the organic tone of the QP2R.
Know that if you give the Aiva power, you will be rewarded, in a big way.
You might want to own this Headphone if:
+ You want a crystal clear, transparent, dynamic signature
+ You are looking for a Planar Headphone that performs above its price point
+ You want a Headphone that is as beautiful aesthetically as it sounds
+ You want best in class looks and sound in a headphone that soars beyond the $600 price tag
Sendy Audio was a brand that I was not familiar with before this review. I also wasn’t sure what to expect from this unknown Planar Magnetic headphone. Without a doubt, I can now say I am familiar with Sendy Audio and am looking forward to their next offering.
I prefer warmer, smoother signatures, but the Aiva made me a believer that a brighter signature can be a spectacular experience.
The Aiva is a beautiful design and has an unparalleled attention to detail. Superior build quality, and the Zebrawood is gorgeous.
When driven with a higher output source, the Aiva soars to levels beyond what most $600 offerings are capable.
I am stoked to see what the future holds for Sendy Audio, and definitely can recommend the Aiva for consumers looking for a beautiful, well-built headphone with a crystal-clear sound signature.