Sendy Audio Aiva


Review - SendyAudio Aiva




Specifications
  • Driver Type: Planar Magnetic
  • Driver Size: 97*76mm
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz ~ 40kHz
  • Sensitivity: 96db
  • Impedance: 32Ω
  • Weight: 420g
  • Cable: ~1.5m; 6N OCC copper wire. 4.4mm plug & 3.5mm adaptor.


Price: U$599.

Available at MusicTeck and their Amazon store.

The Aiva unit here was arranged by MusicTeck together with SendyAudio company, so credits to both for providing the product for the review time. It should be noted that MusicTeck is currently the only international distributor of the SendyAudio products.



The box is large but doesn't have much of unnecessary free space inside as covers well the included hard case. The case is tough and of good quality with the SendyAudio crane logo on it and a thick strap attached. There are no extra accessories apart from the elemental 4.4mm to 3.5mm adapter cable as the included main cable is terminated in the new 4.4mm balanced plugs, but just a small pouch where the cables are stored.



                                                                                                       
Design

The SendyAudio Aiva are an open-back type headphones of over-ear fit, having large planar drivers of 97x76mm size. Not sure why they are being called part of the 'Black beauty' series, as there is plenty amount of wood, silver and copper added to the mix to being too black, but one thing is for sure, the 'beauty' part suits them well as these are just a beautiful pair of headphones. Right from the unboxing they look so stunning with the high quality implemented materials and so elegant finish. Build quality is top notch and may be used as a good reference from now on. For instance, the Meze 99 Classics showed a so tough build quality for their price, and then the Aiva are on a higher level with even more solid materials.


The main structure is all metal, stainless steel in an all matte black color theme. The steel here is really solid and thick, adding some extra weight but also much higher durability. The steel part goes from the upper headband arc down to the round yokes. While the mechanism does not allow going flat, the cups can rotate a bit to the sides and up and down as well. The headband adjustment runs smoothly too, though personally I already found the Aiva to be large enough without need to adjust them any further. Indeed, those with smaller heads would probably find the Aiva being too large. The lower headband strap is made of real leather, very soft and comfortable to wear.

The wooden ear cups are made of authentic zebrawood that undergo a machined CNC carving process as a first step and then carefully handmade finished and well polished giving a kind of shiny tilt to them. They are completely smooth and well assembled to the metal body. The silver metal grills also are perfectly placed over the wood cups, and there is an extra metal layer with a nice scales pattern. The ear pads mix leather like material on the outer and inner contours and a very breathable mesh towards the part that makes contact with the head. As can be seen, the pads hold a very unique asymmetrical angled shape that goes thinner at the top and then widens towards the lower part. Not sure if everyone will find this design better or more ergonomic over the traditional round/oval ear pads, but nevertheless they are very comfortable and fit naturally around the ears. The pads may not have too much depth on them and the planar drivers can be too close to the ears for some, but they are thick and very plushy.


The weight is not to be taken lightly on the Aiva. The ~400 grams are well noticed when wearing these headphones, but even though, the weight feels well distributed and could use them for more than an hour without any discomfort issues. They are on the large size and had to use them without adjusting the headband at all, and despite being a tad loose they have some clamping force that helps holding them on place. I rarely have comfort issues with over-ear headphones as usually the pads surround well my ears to imply any pressure over them unlike on-ear sets. Also, the pads are well cushioned and provide a good seal and can be slightly adjusted to the sides if needed.

The included cable is of good quality too. The OCC cooper wires inside in a four strands setup that are braided on the lower half and twisted on the upper right and left section. There is a good amount of copper wire and the whole cable is comfortable enough; relatively soft, tangle resistant and carries no noise. The plug termination is of the new 4.4mm balanced type which is getting more popular with new audio devices. The detachable cable utilizes the 2.5mm plugs to the each of the ear cups; a click sound can be heard when connecting them and the connection is very tough. All the plugs are well covered by metal too and have an extra spring, and also feature the nice scales pattern, even on the short 4.4mm to 3.5mm cable adapter. The y-split and slider are made of light wood with the SendyAudio writing and logo.


All in all, the design and build quality are quite awesome on the Aiva, and there is a lot of attention put to the smallest details.

Sound Quality

Main sources used:
HiBy R6 Pro (4.4mm balanced output option), iBasso DX120, Shanling M5s, AQ Dragonfly Red, Fiio K3.

Following the superb build and impeccable design, the sound of the Aiva strikes with impressive quality, high definition, clarity and precision. Even right out of the box the sound is very effortless with a lot of micro details that can be easily picked up. I would not say that burn-in process is essential here, but some short break in time is suggested before judging the real sound of these planar headphones. Overall, the presentation is rather neutral with fair linearity from the lows and mids, and then reaching some extra strength towards the upper frequencies. It has somehow a 'reference' kind of tuning but not perceived as a very flat, lean or too analytical as the sound goes fairly full and well weighted for what neutral sound could be considered. Nevertheless, the sound has pretty much no coloration or flavor of its own, leading to very high transparency, and which can be reflected when pairing with different sources.


The bass is linear from the lowest sub-bass notes and goes very even up to the upper bass without any lift on its mid-bass region. As such, the Aiva lack in sheer power and impact but still capable of showing a decent amount of punch when the track allows it. Quantity is right above of neutral at best, and even with paired with a warmer source the bass will never go overboard. The bass here is a clear example of pure quality over quantity, and that's where the Aiva shines. It is technically very correct, tight and accurate. The speed is really high with a fast attack and yet a normal decay. There is still good depth and sense of dynamics with a very effortless extension and reach to the lowest notes, but just not having the real rumble. Surprisingly, it responds very naturally to some EQ, but even more with a bass gain from a good amplifier, adding the needed extra weight and fullness of notes.

The midrange is presented slightly forward while keeping the neutral signature. While the tonality is more towards the cool side of things with a bit more aggressive character, the mids do not sound thin or even boring. There is good body and weight on lower instruments with enough fullness of notes despite the lack of warmness on the lower end. Upper midrange is even more forward with more attack and energy, but not getting out of balance. Transparency is very high on the Aiva and one of the main selling points of them, and most noticed on the midrange region. While the detail on vocals is very high, the Aiva may be still missing some sweetness and smooth texture for vocal oriented genres. Nevertheless, pairing with a warmer/darker source should do the trick and give the right fullness and sweeter texture to the sound without losing the so high resolution or detail.

The highs are more prominent next to the lows and even midrange (though the extra forwardness already starts from the upper mids region). Treble here literally 'shines' with the brighter signature and the touch of aggressiveness. It is not overwhelming or splashy, and does not have a 'hot' lower treble emphasis either. However, depending on the pairing there can be a certain treble peak that can make the Aiva sound a bit too sharp. The quantity is abundant and, more importantly, the quality is excellent holding impressive control with a far extension and so much effortlessness. It goes without saying the Aiva are very revealing to recording quality and not the most forgiving either, but pays off when using higher resolution files.


The presentation while not closed or too intimate does not go too wide in its soundstage. From a large full size and open back over-ear set some would expect a more expansive field, and something the Aiva may not stand out. However, the sound is very open and spacious, capable of showing good depth and a very correct image. The micro detail and separation are just as impressive too with very high sense of air and sharp and well marked separation between instruments. It packs much detail that could be considered as a new reference among mid-tier portable headphones.


As technical specs may suggest, the Aiva should be pretty efficient for even low output devices, and in fact, for an over-ear planar set they turn very easy to drive. Still a full size headphones option, so extra volume is required to reach a comfortable listening level but small portable players can do well with the Aiva. Even so, what the Aiva require is a good sounding source to for best performance, and including a 4.4mm Pentaconn terminated cable  the company doesn't hide the fact that going fully balanced is their best suggestion for the Aiva. On single ended mode, both iBasso DX120 and (recently arrived) Shanling M5s were positive enough, each with own characteristics on the overall signature; on high gain the needed volume was about 50/100. Sound is fuller on the low end with more energy on the DX120, whereas the M5s gives a better balance and more controlled and quality in the treble, with a bit wider stage, extension and speed. As for small DACs, well, the Dragonfly Red is a perfect match for the Aiva, at least in terms of signature for a warmer, richer and smoother overall sound, but missing some of the greater details these headphones are able to offer.

Yet, a more appropriated option for the Aiva was the new HiBy R6 Pro, and obviously due the well implemented 4.4mm balanced port; it's also the first audio gear I get to try with real 4.4mm and not with 2.5mm adapter. As a relatively reference sound DAP, there is not much of a boost on the bass with the Aiva, but it does hit with a more solid authority. Midrange is more centered, and vocals are particularly more forward and euphonic. Sound stage is not there for what usually the R6 Pro shows, but sound is very spacious with excellent extension, sometimes sharp in the treble area but packs great micro detail.

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