22nd April 2024

These planar magnetic headphones certainly look the part with their wooden ear cups but, asks Paul Rigby, do they sound it?

So. Sendy. Who or what is Sendy, then? It’s a Chinese company. It’s also part of SIVGA. If you know your headphones you may have heard of SIVGA. So Sendy is a “sub-brand” as SIVGA has it. SIVGA looks at Sendy as a higher-end, luxury brand with artisan leanings. Value is important for Sendy but quality is more of a focus than the parent SIVGA brand. 

There are four Sendy products out and about: a pair of earphones plus three over the ears headphones, including the AVIA, that all look rather meaty and robust. 


The AIVA headphones are part of Sendy’s Black Beauty planar magnetic range and apparently use rather thin and strong materials. The planar magnetic drivers themselves have received extra attention, says the company, meaning that these drivers are apparently better controlled. What does that mean? Hopefully better detail retrieval and focus but we’ll see. 

For the AIVA itself? The ear cups are formed from Zebra wood – selected for its sonic personality – and we will get to that soon. Holding those in place is a mixture of steel and aluminium. The headband is covered in suede.

The oval ear pads are made form high-protein leather covering memory foam.


The 1.6m cable, contained in a twee drawstring bag, terminates in a Pentaconn 4.4mm balanced plug with a 3.5mm plug convertor. 


The fact that there is no 6.35mm-terminated cable included in the box is, to my mind, an issue. Yes, you can buy a replacement cable as an added accessory from the Sendy store (and I was sent that convertor for this review incidentally) and yes Sendy see their cables as expensive additions so yes, the price may have risen on the basic package with that cable included in the box but I don’t think they had any choice. That 6.35mm convertor cable should have been included in the box to broaden customer choice and prevent customer frustration.


The relatively short 1.6m cabling and the low-ish impedance rating of 32 Ohms suggests to me that these headphones are aimed primarily towards high-end mobile play. 

Of course, you can use these headphones on a home HiFi system with a relevant headphone amplifier – I reviewed a HPA V222 Violectric headphone amplifier recently which would be ideal, for example. But because the whole notion of 6.35mm connectivity is relegated to a later upgrade by Sendy and because of the specs I’ve listed, I see these headphones aimed at high-end mobile users. 


Sitting within the outer box is a hard, sturdy moulded case, opened via a zip and containing the headphones and that’s your lot. No manual or paperwork of any kind from what I can see here except for marketing waffle on the rear of the box.


Weighing in at 420g – much heavier than say, a pair of 660S headphones at 263g – the sensitivity of these headphones is not the highest I’ve ever seen at 96db. Similarly priced HiFiman Ananda Stealth headphones for example offer a high sensitivity of 103db. 

But that is neither here nor there if the sound is good, right? 

So, let’s find out shall we?


I personally feel that – despite the physical weight of the chassis – the AIVAs are targeted towards mobile but because of the relatively low sensitivity, I wanted to try the AIVAs with a shelf-based headphone amplifier to see what would happen if they were pushed hard. The idea being that we could  back off and go mobile afterwards. Hence, I initially wheeled in my Icon Audio valve-based HP8 Mk.II head amp to begin and played the CD version of The Who Sells Out in single-ended mode.

Running The Who’s I Can See For Miles, we’re talking Who-hewn rock here so it’s big, it’s powerful but there’s more fragility, texture and nuance in this track than many classical guitar solo I’ve heard. Drums are powerful but wrapped in reverb, bass lays a strong foundation sure but acoustic guitar strums feature a metallic grain, almost a weave, vocals are smooth and vulnerable, lead guitar is insistent yet pointed. Then the whole thing is thrown at you in Force 10 gale of rock. 


Quality headphones will not be overawed or swamped, they will pick out the detail and that’s what the AVIAs do here. When really pushed by a solid shelf-standing headphone amplifier, the AVIAs offer a big presentation, even if deep bass may be lacking. This track sounds impressive wrapped in a suite of deep frequencies but that doesn’t happen with the AVIA headphones. The AVIAs are not bad in bass terms, I’ve heard worse but I’ve also heard better.


Instead and to off-set that lack of deep bass, what you do receive is a vast amount of space and a heap of detail that keeps the brain occupied. The guitars are finely constructed, full of fine string detail. When strummed, the guitars really do sound like a bunch of strings flying in close formation. The vocals are full of emotion and variation in tone, percussion is tonally realistic in that each separate drum, when hit, is easy recognised. Sure, they do lack deep bass power and impact but there’s a host of additional information from the drums that keep the ears occupied. 

In balanced mode? Better in bass terms, yes. Stronger bass foundation, firm bass, clean bass but still maybe lacking that deep grunt. Again though, to off set that effect, there’s even more finely detailed upper frequencies to shower the ear in wonderful detail. 

I tried vinyl and a bit of post-crooning action from UK singer, Matt Monro and the EMI LP release, These Years and the track You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me. Backed by a full orchestra, the AVIAs were in their element. The complexity of an orchestral arrangement was easy peasy for the these headphones. Instrumental separation was superb as was midrange insight so bass guitar, sat along the string section and drums without encroaching on each others sonic territory. 


I then moved to my mobile player, the Astell&Kern Kann Alpha and connected the AVIAs to it. 

Listening to The Doves Universal Want at 24bit/96kHz via single-ended mode, I further understood why the AVIAs should be used by a mobile user because, aided by the smaller scale amplifier, which reduced the scope and scale of the soundstage, offering a smaller sonic canvas, back came the bass and, hence a better tonal balance across all frequencies. This was a much more powerful performance with a greater degree of bass power to add to the overall neutral effect from the AVIAs.

Turning to the balanced Pentaconn mode, because the AVIA’s excel across the upper frequencies, the AVIAs sounded neutral and balanced in this mobile configuration because bass received a boost here. The track Carousels was epic, impressive and rather majestic because it blended bass power with midrange focus, a wide soundstage with treble fragility. 

Changing tack and playing Nick Drake’s Pink Moon from the album of the same name, the AVIAs sounded cosy, intimate, picking up the subtle changes of Drake’s delivery and contrasting effectively with the piano and Drake’s acoustic guitar. 


When pushed by a large-scale HiFi system in single-ended mode, with that high end headphone amplifier expanding the soundstage and the frequency possibilities, the Sendy AVIA headphones perform remarkably well. Sure, deep bass is absent but there is enough bass to satisfy many ears out there, especially those ears who value midrange and treble detail more. 

At this point though, I’m not surprised. Headphones under £1k tend to be specialists in one area or another. So my highly recommended Sennheiser 660 S headphones are the opposite. You could say they are great in bass terms but possibly struggle a touch with high-frequency detail, especially in single-end mode. So, your bias should guide your buying decision here. 

That is, which design you pick depends on your priorities and your needs. 

In addition, push the AVIAs towards a typically more restricted mobile platform though and the AVIAs excelled across all frequencies, better delivering a neutral and balanced output, especially via the Pentaconn output, although single ended mode did sound excellent too, I have to say.

Bottom line? For the price, the AVIAs are truly excellent headphone designs and if you value detail, clarity and transparency in your music then you will struggle to find a better pair of headphones under £1k.  


Price: £650

Website:;  [email protected];  T 01249 323551

GOOD: mobile play, build, midrange insight, spacious soundstage

BAD: deep bass


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Origin Live Sovereign turntable

Origin Live Enterprise 12″ arm

Icon PS3 phono amplifier

Audiolab 6000CDT CD Transport

Benchmark DAC2 HGC

Aesthetix Calypso pre-amp

Icon Audio HP8 Mk.II headphone amplifier

Sennheiser 660 S headphones

Sennheiser HD800 headphones

Icon Audio MB845 Mk.II Monoblock Amplifiers

Tellurium Q Statement cables

Blue Horizon Professional Rack System

Harmonic Resolution Systems Noise Reduction Components

CAD GC1 Ground Controls

Air Audio AC-2K Balanced Transformer

All vinyl was cleaned via a Degritter Mk.II