SIVGA & Sendy Audio - Official Thread

SIVGA is a Chinese company located in Dongguan, China. Their main focus is on creating wooden earphones and headphones. Wood is what I’d consider their “trademark”.
Many are familiar with their planar-magnetic headphone - the SIVGA P-II. They offer products in all price ranges, ranging from the budget-friendly products, all the way to mid-fi and Hi-Fi headphones.

Avoiding the usual absence of quality in the (bad) Chinese audio products, Sivga creates very budget-friendly, yet flaw-free products. You will not find flaws or QC (Quality Control) issues even in their entry and budget products (at least I didn’t).

I want to create an official thread for everybody to be open to share their thoughts about any products from the company. I think it’s worth paying attention to their products, as though they offer some really nice headphones.

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I have some SIVGA 004’s rebadged as KLH Ultimate Ones. They sound good, and look good. Got them for around the same price of the SIVGA ordering them 2nd hand. I wouldn’t pay the MSRP for those when you can get 2-3 SIVGA phones for the price of one KLH.

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I’ll be posting my review of the SV004 here. I’m just waiting for Mr. Andrew to create a thread for the SV004. I could post it here, but not sure if it’s the right place to post it at.

Actually SV004 sounds pretty damn well for 90 bucks. I’d say that the SV007 looks much more like the KLH, but I would’ve never though of the similarity. As said, the quality control is amazing, as though everything is very precise. Not. A. Single. Flaw. At 90 bucks there are no flaws, I am so happy to see that!

The accessories and everything… I mean it’s a pretty good package for 90 bucks.

300 bucks is a very good price point, it’s a crowded price point. I don’t know how well KLH keeps up with other great options at that price range. Though, I have to say that KLH did a very nice marketing job and presentation for the Ultimate One

I look forward to your review. You do get a lot of bang for the buck with the SIVGA, and the KLH, however they were derived are absolutely gorgeous and sound great!

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While I’m waiting for the official model page, I’ll just post it here - The SIVGA SV004 review:


Wood, nice big carrying case, semi-open, budget? That’s Sivga - a rising brand which originates from China. Many are familiar with Sivga because of their flagship P-II planar magnetic headphone. Some may associate their company with Blon or SendyAudio, they share similar design. SV004 is an entry-level headphone which they offer, but it is much more than your average budget headphone set.

Unboxing expereince -

One thing which I didn’t expect from a budget set was an unboxing experience which SIVGA offered. Well designed packaging which meets the standard of the mainstream product packaging, like the one you would find on Sony, Bose, or other well-known companies. Well not quite on the exact level, since those companies actually provide some kind of story or marketing text which will catch your attention. Either way, when you take the “sleeve” off, you will find a hard cardboard box which has the “SIVGA” logo in a silver finish on the front. This box has a magnet-flap system, it doesn’t feature any text, and once you open it you will finally find the carrying case which holds the actual headphones and its accessories. So overall, for a sub-200 USD product, the SV004 has very good packaging and has a pretty well rounded off presentation.

Accessories -

You don’t usually expect any accessories in the sub-200 USD price range, however I was actually pleasantly surprised to find “plenty” of accessories with the SV004. Two cables? C’mon, you don’t see two cables even with some 300 USD products. I was truly pleasantly surprised when I saw that you have one cable with a mic (1,2m long), and another non-mic 2m long cable, which also has a screw-on system for a 6.3mm adapter (which is included). I can say that both cables are flexible, although the 2m one is more flexible.
You also get an airplane adapter. You can use this adapter, well….in airplanes, for those who don’t know, you can use this adapter in in-flight entertainment systems so you can watch movies, or listen to music. I don’t know about you, but if you ask me, SIVGA did an impressively good job with both the packaging and accessories. Two braided cables, one shorter + mic, the other longer + ready for 6.3mm adapter… and you get a 6.3mm adapter + airplane adapter. You also get a large hard carrying case, almost forgot to mention it. It’s not rock solid, but it is a handy case to store your headphones and accessories in, a very simple and functional case.

What’s in the box -

Let’s put it in a formal format:

1x 1,2m braided cable with a microphone (and volume buttons)
1x 2m braided cable which has a screw-on system for the 6.3mm adapter
1x canvas pouch (carrying pouch for the cables and adapters)
1x 6.3mm adapter
1x airplane adapter
1x cable tie

Build quality -

Again, another field where I was actually pleasantly surprised. At this price point, you will very often see some flaws or Quality Control (QC), with the SV004 I couldn’t find a single part where I could say there has been a mistake or a flaw. You will find major or minor flaws even in the mainstream market, which goes beyond this price point, that is the reason why I appreciate this aspect so much. The SV004 has wooden cups, which is always appreciated, and it has several metal/aluminum parts. The overall construction of this headphone is phenomenal for its price, I am not even exaggerating it. This budget model has a metal grill and an aluminum ring which surrounds it, and the whole headphone construction is made out of metal (I believe it’s aluminum). What do I mean by “the whole headphone”? Everything besides: the headphone cups, the headband, the ear-cups and the cable itself is made of metal. And it’s high quality construction, I really am happy to see that the housing for the headphone jack is made out of metal, it’s very nice to see at this price point. Yes, there might be a plastic part here and there, like on the inner side of the piece which holds the ear-cups.

Overall it’s a fairly solid headphone, and the headband is nicely padded and soft. Both the ear-cups and the headband are made of faux leather. The cables are braided as mentioned previously, I surely prefer braided cables over bad quality rubber ones, but microphonics are a real problem with braided cables. This whole solid construction gives the SV004 a very nice weight, definitely not heavy, but you can feel that the headphone wasn’t made from cheap materials (such as cheap plastic).

Design and design features -

They aren’t a beauty queen, but they aren’t ugly for sure. The wood finish looks very nice, especially when combined with the matte silver metal and semi-shiny black grill. As mentioned in the build quality segment, there aren’t any flaws, I found everything to be precise and precisely fitted, which is something to appreciate. The ear-cups can rotate 180˚ horizontally and vertically, just like a DJ headphone… except they cannot be folded. The movement of the rotation is very smooth and feels very nice! You can also adjust the height with 11 firm steps, this allows you to comfortable adjust the headphone to your head. There isn’t much besides that, except the screw-on system on the 2m braided cable, and the in-line volume control on the 1.2m cable. Although some people spread the misconception that one cable is balanced, I will confirm that both cables are single-ended (3.5mm). Another part which I want to clarify; both the ear-cups and the headband are made of protein leather, also known as “pleather”, this is faux-leather.

Comfort -

The soft headband and ear-pads contribute to good comfort. I personally don’t have large ears, and I found the ear-pads to be almost small for my ears, they would just about catch the end of my ears and be pressed against them. I took the matter into my own hands, and I kinda stretched the ear-pads from the inner (do at your own risk), but I did so carefully, and the problem went away. Besides that, the comfort is very good, you forget they are on your head. Sometimes they get hot if you are using them for awhile, this might be a concern to those in very humid countries. With the height and 180˚ swivel rotation, you can make sure that they are tailored to your head pretty well.

Sound - Clean performance outside of its price range

Lows

The low end of the SV004 is fairly interesting. The 50mm dynamic driver performs in a unique way. The mid bass is pretty balanced, so you will not get much punch and definition from it. However, the sub-bass can rumble.

I did find the sub-bass to be somewhat missing out because of the balanced mid-bass - it took away some weight, but surely if you turn up the SV004 loud enough, they will literally start to rumble and you will feel it all the way around.
As always, this can be noticed in Hans Zimmer’s “Why so Serious?” from mark 3:36.

The balanced mid-bass can be noticed in songs such as Radio Ga Ga, at no specific mark, because the drums are present from the beginning throughout the whole song. However, in songs such as M|O|O|N’s “Hydrogen”, you can hear that the bass has some satisfying punch and weight. But then again… in a song such as Kendrick Lamar’s “Wesley’s Theory” you can feel the lack of weight for the bass present in the song. I personally didn’t find this a big problem, as though I felt the sub frequencies had a satisfying performance, while the mid-bass was balanced and let me focus more on the mid range.

“Paper Trails” by DARKSIDE is a great example to notice the dominance of the sub-frequencies of the SV004, you can feel more than you can hear.

Mids

I didn’t quite expect a fairly neutral sound signature from the SV004, especially considering their price. However, that is exactly how they sounded, fairly neutral, and not overly recessed.

The whole listening experience of Pink Floyd’s album “Wish You Were Here” was very pleasant. I loved the way it revealed details - for example in “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pts. 6-9) at mark 10:16, there is a very subtle distortion (sounds like a blown out speaker rattle) which is panned to the left. It’s a very subtle and fine detail, but I greatly appreciated that the SV004 was able to capture it and reveal it clearly. If you are having a hard time hearing it, you may hear it more clearly from mark 11:25 - 11:30. I did find some vocals or instruments to sound thin at times, this is mainly due to the lack of bottom end.

Highs

The high-range is leaning towards the bright side. While cymbals do sound quite crisp and sharp on the SV004, when it comes to guitar solo’s and some more busy tracks, there is a noticeably amount of fatigue to the sound. I think that the top end is the most noticeable part which was “boosted”. Let’s take Kendrick Lamar’s “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” as an example. Throughout the majority of the song there is a snare which repeats itself. Here, you can notice that it is forward, and it is leaning to the brighter side. It definitely sticks out of the mix. This can be noticed in several songs, but let’s mention the one song which I always go over: Travis Scott’s “Stopy Trying to Be God”, and Stevie Wonder’s harmonica in it at mark 5:19. While I usually look for sparkle in the top end, perhaps the SV004 has a little bit too much. I say this because it does sound fatiguing, and if you were to listen to music which has a lot of top-range present, I don’t think you would be able to do so for longer periods of time… but again, this depends on the volume you listen to.

Soundstage -
The soundstage is of good size. It’s not as spacious as I like it, but I cannot say that it isn’t wide. Listening to various tracks where this is very noticeable such as: Burial’s “Archangel”, “Letter” or “Bubbles” by Yosi Korikawa, “Hunter” by Björk, Daft Punk’s “Giorgo by Moroder”. There aren’t any specific moments in these songs which I would like to reference, as a whole they are very spacious and good to hear imaging.

Conclusion -

I have to say I’m impressed. I’m not going to sit here and focus on the small imperfections… We are talking about a $90 headphone. At $90, these are amazing. I have to say that when you consider the packaging/unboxing experience, the accessories, the build quality… I mean wood, and mostly metal/aluminum construction? Yes. The sound quality which is mostly neutral and balanced, even though it has some imperfections, I really did enjoy listening to music. I think the SV004 offers much more than what you would usually see in the mainstream market at this price point. The SV004 as a package is a great deal, especially if you are just looking for an entry-point pair of headphones to carry with you, it’s a great package. This being said, I can say that I can recommend the SV004, I personally enjoyed it. While they won’t satisfy the bass heads, they are perfect for those who enjoy a variety of music. I liked several genres with the SV004: pop, rock, alternative rock, hip hop, and even some techno tracks.

I also want to put extra emphasis that they had absolutely no flaws. Everything was perfect in terms of build quality. Sivga also stayed very close to its marketing, the sound was mostly balanced, although not soft. The SV004 give a very serious performance for its price range, they are of very good value. I am impressed, and am curious what else SIVGA has to offer.

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Here is my review of the flagship dynamic - the Phoenix

Sivga is no stranger to make good headphones at a great value, and they did not break that tradition with the brand new Phoenix. With the more-mainstream success of their planar-magnetic P-II, Sivga is surely building a name for themselves. I am really hoping to see this company enter the mainstream market. Being a company that is dedicated to details and high quality products (no matter the budget), it was nice to see that they followed the same fashion with their brand-new product. Metal and wood has been the standard that Sivga has followed even with their lowest priced models, we have only gotten an even better construction this time - with the same construction of the headband as the SendyAudio Aiva.

So far we have only seen entry-level and budget dynamic headphones from Sivga, so I was very curious to see their flagship dynamic headphone. The wooden headphone features a 50mm dynamic driver with a polycarbonate diaphragm and neodymium (Nd-Fe-B) magnet. They have a gorgeous (and brand-new) wood finish, Sivga calls it - the Zebra wood.

I have been looking forward to a new release from Sivga ever since I had a very positive experience with the budget-friendly SV004 headphone - a headphone priced under 100 USD that offered flawless build quality, accessories, and a very mature sound performance for the price. Finally seeing a flagship dynamic model is something which we were all very much looking forward to. I am not disappointed, the anticipation was very much worth it.

Unboxing experience

We are met with a sleek and modernly designed box. The box consists of two parts: the top and bottom. The bottom one features the black portion, and the Zebra wood patterned second portion that is angled. The top part (the lid) is black and also at an angle, when the two parts are put together you get a very nice and sleek looking box. The unboxing itself was rather minimalist - only a headphone case is in the box. In the headphone case you get the Phoenix headphones, a carrying pouch, and a cable with a cable tie. Sivga opted for a more simple and minimalist approach for the Phoenix - no fancy accessories or anything. I actually didn’t mind it, I was rather pleasantly blown-away by the headphones themselves. This field is left open for Sivga to explore - something like an extra rubber cable, or extra pair of ear pads could be included as accessories in the future.

What you get in the box in a formal format:

1x Phoenix headphone
1x 3.5mm cable
1x leather carrying case
1x cable tie

Wood. Metal. Precision

Wood & metal are Sivga’s trademark - premium materials present in their lowest priced headphones, all the way up to their flagship models… and even In-Ear Monitors & earphones are constructed from wood. In terms of the headband construction & system, the Phoenix is a step-up from the previous dynamic driver models - a stainless steel construction was implemented for frame (of the headband) combined with a suspension headband system. This frame & headband system may be familiar if you have seen the SendyAudio Aiva, which features the exact same construction. Unlike the SendyAudio Aiva, the Phoenix features a padded headband, much like the one on the Blon B20.

The Zebra wood is a very premium looking finish. The color of the wood doesn’t look anything like in pictures from Sivga, I was much happier with the real color of the wood. Whereas the wood looks yellow-ish and pale on the pictures, the actual finish is a deeper & richer brown - much like a walnut wood finish. You can get a basic idea of how it looks like from my photography. I invest a great amount of time color-grading and perfecting colors in my photography. Due to the complex nature of the wood in the Phoenix, it was a great challenge capturing its qualities, making it the longest review to complete. The angle and lighting can vastly affect the wood appearance, as it can look anything from a pale oak finish, all the way to a walnut finish - which is at the opposite end of the spectrum.

The wooden housing is perfect as usual. The housing and the frame were made with the process of CNC machining. This explains the flawless nature of Sivga’s products.

Besides the padded headband, new frame construction, and new ear pads, a more premium design was present. This time around, we see a large grill with slight curvature. Surrounding it is a mirror-like silver ring - the ring is what makes the character of the Phoenix. A very modern and sleek design touch.

Overall, Sivga is moving in the right direction. They are trying new design features, and are still using high quality materials. It will be interesting to see what else they can come up with next. Sivga has not failed or disappointed yet, and that single factor contributes to the professional nature of the company.

Design and design features

We have seen the same concept behind the majority of products from Sivga - wooden housing, and pretty much everything else black. Phoenix followed the same concept when it comes to the color palette, and I love it! It’s consistent and something that Sivga is recognized for. However, unlike the previous dynamic driver models, the Phoenix features two 2.5 mm mono connectors (instead of a single 2.5 mm stereo connector). The cable is braided and consists of a single crystalline copper wire.
I didn’t mind the cable itself, but I would definitely like to see Sivga using high quality rubber cables - like the one Sennheiser HD 598 has (similar cable quality to the one Apple uses for their MacBook chargers).

All the housings on the cable are made out of of metal. This includes: the housing for the 3.5 mm jack, the housing for the Y-splitter, and the housing for the 2.5 mm mono connectors. The 3.5 mm jack is reinforced with a spring, this prevents it from bending damage and similar abuse.

You can get a comfortable fit due to the new headband construction which allows the ear-cups to rotate and pivot slightly . The ear-cups are attached to the stainless steel frame which doesn’t move, so you adjust the height by sliding the headband up & down - the headband is attached to a plastic part on each side. This plastic piece can be moved within the frame thanks to the design of it. I personally prefer when the cups have full 180˚ rotation, but even with the reduced movement I was able to adjust them to my ear and head shape.

Comfort

What seems to be varying in terms of experience with the Phoenix is comfort. People are having mixed experience. I myself prefer earpads that don’t have any tailoring and curvature - just flat earpads that are the same thickness all-around. I prefer even pressure all-around my ear.
Sivga is known for their ergonomic earpads. We have already seen the same earpad concept on the Sivga P-II and SendyAudio Aiva - tailored at the top earpads that feature a velvet material on the part that faces your ears, while . This material is very smooth, in fact it actually feels like leather.

The fit of the Phoenix isn’t perfect. Let’s face the truth, it simply isn’t. Sometimes I get a good fit, sometimes I don’t - it’s not consistent. That is the problem to me. I myself don’t have particularly large ears, but I found the top of my ear touching the driver portion, and this is what caused fatigue. If I get a good fit this isn’t the case. Mind you, most people are experiencing the pads clipping their ears - something that I experienced on the SV004. I didn’t find this to be a problem on the Phoenix, but if you have larger ears, they will probably be clipped at the bottom and top. The tailoring at the top of the pads and uneven thickness is what causes my ears to touch the driver.

The clamp force of the headphone is pretty strong at first. You can go a few ways about loosening it up - placing the headphone over something wide (and keeping in that position for some hours), or you can physically stretch it. It is made out of stainless steel, so you shouldn’t worry about breaking it… you can get a better idea by watching what Zeos did to his

Earpad systems vary, but most widely used one is where you can simply pull the earpad off. This makes it suitable to use aftermarket earpads, because it just needs to match the dimensions and shape of the earcup. Sivga decided to use a twist-lock mechanism for the earpads, meaning that you will not be able to use after-market earpads (such as Dekoni). The pads are glued to the plastic piece that twists in place. This is why you cannot just buy the widely available after-market replaceable pads… unless somebody finds a way to mod the mechanism. Good news for everybody is that Sivga is going to do some testing and see if they can release some extra pads. Look out for that, make sure to stay up to date!

Driver flex

I would’ve never expected to experience driver flex on an open-back headphone, but here we are.
Attention: I only experienced driver flex when I proceeded to very quickly take the headphones off - with normal usage you will not experience it!
I believe this was caused by the suction created by my ear, especially because it touches the driver. The earpad design seems to be a problem beyond just comfort, that is why I am keeping my eyes open for any mods or pads that will work with the Phoenix.

Sound

I must say, based on what I read on the internet beforehand, I wasn’t expecting a lot from the Phoenix. I am pleased to see that the Phoenix proved the internet wrong. The combination of controlled bass, tight punch, clean mids, and clear yet tame highs are what made the overall performance mature.

Lows

You don’t really expect a very deep and present bottom end in a dynamic open-back headphone, but the Phoenix broke that conception. The bass performance may be the strongest characteristic of these headphones. The bass has a good quantity while not sacrificing the punch & definition.

It’s not always easy to get a full-body bass response with a small dynamic driver… not to mention that having an open-back design only makes things more difficult. Phoenix managed to overcome this, but there are some trade-offs that I will touch on later.

Playing MOON’s “Hydrogen”, I really questioned myself whether I am listening to an open-back headphone or a closed-back headphone. Those who played Hotline Miami are probably familiar with the games genius overpowering techno soundtrack - I would go as far to call it one of the most intense and powerful soundtracks from a video game. Stephen Gilarde, or better known as MIOIOIN (often stylized as M.O.O.N) is the mastermind behind the track. The Phoenix was able to keep up with the track and was able produce full-body sound, where the bass has a very tight punch and carried the weight & quantity of it. I strongly recommend to anyone to explore M.O.O.N’s music, or even give Hotline Miami a play - it’s full of violence and it’s the definition of badass

Moving on, even in slower and less busy tracks like the “Paper Moon” from Booka Shade, the Phoenix performs very well. The bass-line of the track is well reproduced, the impact of the bass i presented with full-body, while also succeeding to reproduce the definition & presence of it.

The kick in the old-school classic “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio - the kick has very good weight, just like the bass-line. It’ tight, while the bottom end of it can be felt. That’s the balance that is often hard to produce, a tight punch and a full-body (weight) of the bass. I have seen many times when there was a tight punch, but the body was lacking, or vice-versa.

Perhaps the more-aggressive “Had Some Drinks” by Two Feet is a better example of what the sub-bass capabilities of the the Phoenix are. The rumble and the body are so well represented that you can feel it - you can feel the vibration of the rumble, much like you would from a sub-woofer. The presentation is very detailed, as though you can hear the release quite clearly.

Going a notch deeper - my standard & favorite track to test the true deep sub-frequencies: “Why so Serious?” by Hans Zimmer. Specifically focusing on mark 3:26 - the sub-bass has full-body sound and it pulsates. It doesn’t rumble like in “Had Some Drinks”, but it definitely has a solid foundation and base to the sound. I am very satisfied as to how it performed with this track!

Overall, the Phoenix doesn’t disappoint in the lower frequency spectrum. It delivers a serious performance with full-body bass, tight punch, and good presence & definition. Considering the size and open-back nature of the Phoenix, I can say I am impressed by what it is truly capable of. Techno, rock, classical, I don’t think you will find it lacking in the bass region in any genre.

Mids

Usually you expect a headphone to sacrifice on the mid-range when it has plenty of bass. Not this time. While the mids appear to be slightly recessed in the mix in some cases, they remain very natural and clean - perhaps leaning towards the warmer side of the spectrum.

The slightly intense “Poison” by Freya Ridings is a good track to see if a headphone is able to keep up with Freya’s vocals. The Phoenix was able to capture her immense vocal range, especially when she hit the peaks. When it comes to vocals, it’s really difficult to transfer ones interpretation of them to another - I myself am heavily drawn towards intense vocals, but it’s cannot be quite explained the same way that the lower & higher frequencies can. When a vocal expands, I get a very particular feeling in my ears, much like the one from goosebumps. I would call this an emotional reaction, and the headphone (or speaker) has to be capable of delivering the frequencies that cause this reaction

A great example of this would be in “I Will Survive (single version)" by Gloria Gaynor. Wow. Heavenly track with an angelic vocal. Her voice hits peaks several times, there is a certain edge when it happens. Give this one a listen, see if you have the same experience.

Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall, pt. 2” is a dynamic track where you can notice if the mid range is muddy and lacks in detail. The Phoenix was able to cope with it well - giving each instrument and element in the mix breathe. Everything is in its place and doesn’t sound like one instrument/element interferes with another. Perhaps it would sound better if it was more airy or spacious, but that’s one of the characteristics of the Phoenix - it’s has a more closed presentation

Whitney Houston’s classic - I Will Always Love You. There isn’t a lot to say, one of the best vocal performances by a female artist. The Phoenix respectfully managed sing along with Whitney. I honestly didn’t notice any drawbacks or unnatural tonality to the track. Once again, everything sounded in place.

And of course, the “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. At mark 2:17 (where Freddie sings “…face the truth” there is a certain amount of grittiness and edge to his vocals. Headphones with a very warm signature will not capture this detail, they will rather make it sound flat and boring.

Overall, the Phoenix keeps the mid-range very clean and present. It’s not forward, but in some cases it can sound recessed. It manages to capture the details in music, and has great resolution. The mid-range was definitely not sacrificed for the bass response. Listening to Freddie Mercury, Pink Floyd, Lana Del Rey, and Sia is an enjoyable experience. The vocals have both the bottom & high end - though the high end seems to be tamed down and this lets you listen to the Phoenix for hours without any fatigue.

Highs

While I am sensitive to piercing treble, those who follow me know that I love sparkle in the upper range. I am glad that Sivga didn’t cross the line between too rolled-off treble and too piercing. I would say it is somewhere in the middle. It doesn’t provide the full crispiness and sparkle of the upper range, but it definitely maintains above-average clarity and treble response. Music without sparkle is boring and flat… almost lifeless. When it’s there, you just get this feeling in your ears. Almost like an adrenaline rush.

So, how does the Phoenix perform with my standard sibilance and sparkle testing track? Very good! Travis Scott’s “Stop Trying to Be God” is the track I am talking about. Specifically at mark 5:59, where Stevie Wonder’s harmonica hits the peak. At first I found it lacking sparkle, but later on I was satisfied with it’s performance. I definitely got the tingly feeling in my ear, and that is what I define “sparkle” to be. Feeling music is one of the main characteristics that I look for from a device. This is mainly referring to sparkle feeling in music, and it can be present in both vocals and instruments.

Metallica’s cover of the “When a Blind Man Cries” from Deep Purple’s 1972 album “Machine Head” is a more extreme example. It has edge and grittiness, and it would definitely be too much if the treble was any brighter. The Phoenix performed well throughout the whole song - the bass has thump to it, while the vocals and guitar had the edge. It’s definitely a more aggressive song, and it’s intended to sound bright in certain parts of the track. At no point did I feel like it was piercing or sibilant.

For Hip-Hop listeners - the snares are crisp and clear! There are too many songs that I have listened to, so I cannot reference them all. But I remember that the snares were always very clear and present - but not to the point where they are completely cutting through the mix and affecting other elements. Dr. Dre’s “Forgot About Dre”, “Still Dre”, “The Next Episode”, Tupac’s “Ambitionz Az A Ridah”, “Only God Can Judge Me”, “No More Pain” all have the crisp & clear percussion.

Level of clarity varies in importance & significance to different people, but to me it’s one of the most important elements. I love to hear the detail in music, the depth and detail to sound - this is what you would usually identify as resolution, definition, or dynamic range. Music without the edge and sparkle sounds lifeless & boring, the same way that bass without definition or punch does. I like to have an increased dynamic range, not reduced. This being said, I am very happy with the level of clarity that the Phoenix produces. It maintains the clarity without sounding fatiguing and sibilant.

Soundstage

Usually open-back headphones are known for their airy and open sound, but this isn’t the case with the Phoenix. I myself love open and airy sound characteristic, but there is something special about the Phoenix that didn’t bother me. While the soundstage isn’t as wide as you would expect, it’s not narrow. There is a difference between narrow and narrower. Phoenix didn’t sound boxy or crowded in any way, this is the primary reason why I loved it. It definitely differ from the rest of the open-back headphones, and I mean that in a good way. Sometimes you want a more intense and present musical experience, perhaps you are looking for that deep bass, or you want the vocals to be closer to you - whatever it is, I think that the Phoenix sounds good as a whole.

Conclusion

The Phoenix is something fresh and different. I am happy to see a product that stands out from the rest (in a good way!). It doesn’t sound funny in any way. I would also avoid calling it “fun” - that term seems to have more of a negative meaning. Following the success of the P-II, Sivga hasn’t released a bad product yet. Whether it’s the gorgeous sound of guitar in “Little Wing” or “Tin Pan Alley” from Srevie Ray Vaughan, Deep Purple’s “Soldier Of Fortune”; or the subwoofer-like experience in Massive Attack’s “Angel” and Dopplereffekt’s “Superior Race”… The Phoenix never gets boring and never makes music sound lifeless. A bad headphone would never be able to put out a performance the way the Phoenix did in (e.g.) “Forget Her” by Jeff Buckley at mark 3:16. Capturing Jeff’s top-end and bringing the sparkle out - this isn’t something easy to pull off.

Dogs” by Pink Floyd is another heavenly track. Just focus at mark 6:16. That pure and clean guitar frequency. If you aren’t squinting your eyes at that point, your headphones are doing something wrong. Or perhaps, at mark 6:07 in “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pts. 1-5) - where David Galmour’s magical guitar performance hits a particularly higher note (peak). The sparkle present and the way it hits you is something that only a good pair of headphones can manage to do. Well… unless you have a personal preference and maybe dislike such experience. I myself cannot imagine listening to music without having some type of emotional reaction that is beyond explainable.

This being said, the Phoenix absolutely crushed my expectation and blew me away. It’s a very mature headphone for the $299 price tag. They are an easy recommendation to those who are looking for a fatigue-free headphone with an immense bass response without the cost of clarity and detail. The bass is balanced in terms of sub-bass to mid-bass - neither overpowers the other. The mid-bass has a tight punch and good delivery, while the sub-bass has a pleasing rumble and body. The mid-range and high-range perform equally as well - though imaging and soundstage don’t compete with other true open-back headphones. I say “true”, because while the Phoenix is open-back, it does have a narrower soundstage (but doesn’t suffer from boxy and unnatural sound). I know that his bad boy is staying with me. It has a fuller sound and is capable of delivering full-body sound reproduction (with great definition and resolution). I am keeping my eyes wide-open for the next release from Sivga, and so should you!

If you are looking for a more intense and present sound signature with the bass performance close to a closed-back headphone without the sacrifice of the mid-range and high-range, you might want to give the Phoenix a listen.

The review is based on the performance of the Phoenix using Earmen TR-Amp.
The Phoenix was sent free of charge to me by SIVGA. I have no affiliation to SIVGA, nor was I payed to write this review. The review is based only on my opinion and what I heard when using it. There was no outside force or person influencing my opinion and experience. I write what I hear. If I don’t hear it, I don’t write it.

5 Likes

Truly excellent review @voja.

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Just got my Phoenix today! =D This is my review. Tested on my RNHP amp and Bifrost 2 DAC. no burn in:

It sounds good. Very Very good. Very nice sound and tone. Its not veiled or too bassy, but the bass is elevated. Great bass and sub-bass. Rumble. This headphone is known for giving great sub-bass. Treble is not harsh, its clear but not a lot of it. Mids are great. Vocals are very good. Nicely balanced headphone. And natural timbre. Very detailed. Something is going on with the soundstage that i think was engineered into the Helios and TYGR headphones. They manage giving the headphone a large sound while keeping the soundstage close. Its the best of both worlds. Large and close soundstage at the same time.

I was surprised at the pads. They dont have a lot of filling. As a result they collapse on your ears. Bringing your ears right up to the drivers. Creating a closer soundstage. I didnt find it uncomfortable. The pads raise at the bottom to give a seal that should help the bass. Unfortunately my right pad is puckered and are lower than the left pad.

So i’ll probably send this back and have it replaced with another. They look like the Aiva pads but are a lot less dense and feel cheaper. And from what i head they are glued on and hard to get off. So if your thinking of replacing them, its a little harder than your average headphone.

I dont know why but this headphone is a small headphone. So small that when i put it on my head it feels like the bottom of the pads are rising a bit. a feeling i dont like with headphones. I tried bending the headband but it didnt help much and now has less clamp. And i like clamp on my headphones the more the better. Cable seems too thin. I might have to get an upgrade cable. They fit my ears but its snug.

So is this headphone worth the 260$ price tag? With the HarmonicDyne Helios being 180$ the Beyer TYGR 200$ The DT880 and 990 160$ and the problem with the small size and imperfect fit. Id say it should be about 200$ But it does bass better than all the others above. So take that with it. The TYGR has a lot of bass too but not as well done.

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I somehow missed this thread, and just read your reviews of the two SIVGA headphones. Both have a very nice appearance. Which do you think was more impressive? That $90 price point for the entry level phone done in nice wood, or the $299 flagship?

I do share your preference for earpads that have minimal angle.

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The 90 bucks one was impressive value-wise, however, the flagship was definitely more impressive sound-wise. They actually released the bigger pads:

But… they do differ from the stock pads - the replacement pads are bigger, but the material on the face is perforated leather instead of the cloth-like material on the original set of pads.

I have yet to give the planar-magentic flagship (P-II) some more listening time, but I wasn’t as impressed with the P-II as I was with the Phoenix.

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I liked the new Phoenix leather pads much better than the stock. I felt the Phoenix has a touch of darkness but the new pads drove that away. also seems to add more bass.

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I’m thinking of buying the Sivga 007 headphone. but was there a revision like they did with the 006? I see it on some sites for 98$ and others for 150$

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I am not sure about the 007, but I don’t think it will compare to the Phoenix

no lol, it doesnt compare to the phoenix. just looking for a cheap headphone.

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This review, as is usual, is also available in Spanish on my blog and on YouTube, links at the end of this post.

The Sivga Phoenix has been kindly loaned to me by Keydis, who is the official distributor for Sivga and Sendy Audio (amongst other brands) in Spain. As they are the distributor and do not sell directly to the public, I will leave a link to the page that shows the stores that these can be purchased from in Spain on my blog.

Keydis have not requested anything specific, therefore, as always, my review will be as sincere and unbiased as possible, although it is always good to consider that it hasn’t cost me anything to try out these headphones.

Intro…

Sivga is a brand that appeared recently in the headphone world and has soon made a reputation for themselves. The same manufacturer is actually responsible for two brands of headphones, Sivga Audio and Sendy Audio. The latter of the two focuses on higher end models whereas the Sivga brand is focused on more budget orientated offerings, while still maintaining a lot of the same technology used in their higher end items.

Until now, I hadn’t had the chance to try out any models from Sivga and the Phoenix is a model that I had read a lot about and was generally praised by the majority of its users. As you have probably noticed if you have read previous reviews of mine, just because something is praised does not mean that it will be something that I will enjoy personally, therefore I was very interested in trying it out and when I was offered that chance, I jumped at it.

With a sales price of 265€ (at the time of writing this review), this open back dynamic driver headphone sits in a range where there have been some good models appearing lately and, to be totally honest, the majority of my listening time lately has been with planar headphones so I was excited to spend some time with an open back dynamic model.

Presentation…

The Sivga Phoenix arrives in a black box with wood coloured highlights around the center. The box is nothing special to look at but once inside, I feel that Sivga have included decent quality accessories, especially for something in this price range.

The first thing we find is the carrying case. The case is a rigid style that follows the shape of the headphones. It has an imitation leather look to the outside and on the inside, the molded shape does a good job of holding the headphones in place. There is no specific place for the cable but there is plenty of space for it to be stored inside the small drawstring bag that is included and fits nicely inside the case with the headphones.

Also included is a single ended, fabric covered cable, which I find to be very nice. The cable is terminated as a 3.5mm TRS on one end (adapter to 6.35mm included) and two 3.5mm TS connectors on the other ends, one for each cup.

In my case, Keydis also included a second set of pads that have been released by Sivga for the Phoenix, which I will discuss more about a little later. The stock pads are imitation leather on the outside with a cloth interior, whereas the replacement pads are imitation leather in their whole.

That is it as far as presentation and included goodies, however, I feel that the items included are enough to be happy with without having invested too much on items that are not a necessity.

Build and aesthetics…

In my opinion, the Phoenix is a well built set of headphones. It does have a few quirks that I will mention in a moment but in general, it is well put together and I cannot see any obvious flaws in it’s assembly or mechanisms.

The cups are made of Zebra wood, with metal yokes and plenty of adjustment in swivel and angle. The headband is metal with a comfort strap underneath, however, this is one of the first quirks, the length of the headband and comfort strap. In my case I need to wear the strap adjusted to its maximum height. Now, this is enough for me personally and I have a rather large head but if you are someone with a larger head than mine, you may find it is not quite long enough. Again, this is not the case for me personally but it is worth taking note of.

The second quirk is the depth of the (stock) pads. As far as internal diameter they are fine and large enough to surround my ears without issue. The issue is depth. I don’t have small ears, but they are not large either, and they do touch the cloth covering the drivers. I haven’t found them to be uncomfortable but if this is something that irritates you, the fact that your ears touch the part covering the driver, then the stock pads will probably not be for you. The sensation is very similar to wearing something from the HD6X0 series with well worn pads.

The second set of included pads, which can be purchased separately from the same places that stock the headphones, are deeper and I do not feel the inside of the driver covering them. However, the second pads are made entirely of imitation leather which, in my opinion, is not as nice as the fabric covered stock pads. There are also some differences in sound between the two sets but I will talk about that in just a moment.

All in all, I find the Sivga Phoenix comfortable but if I could make the headband extend just a little more (in order to fit a but thicker comfort strap) and the pads a little deeper (which is done with the replacement pads), they would go from being comfortable to very comfortable.

Sound…

As I mentioned a moment ago, there is a difference between the stock pads and the replacement pads as far as sound, as is the case with almost all headphones when the pads are swapped for something different.

I spent the first few days using them with the stock pads, getting a good feel for their sound, before swapping over to the replacement pads for a few days, to finally do some back to back comparisons with my usual list of test tracks (which you can find here). My impressions that I will leave below are using the stock pads, I will leave impressions on the replacement pads at the end.

Before I do continue though, I just wanted to mention power. These headphones do not need hardly any power at all. While using the JDS Labs Atom for the comparisons between pads, I was sitting at a level that is lower than many IEMs I have tried. The Sivga Phoenix will run easily from a phone, a dongle, a laptop, or just about anything else that has a headphone socket. This does not mean that every source will sound great but to be honest, I didn’t find huge differences between sources with these headphones, unless the source is a bad source like my cell phone, they always seem to sound pretty much the same.

Starting at the bottom with the subbass regions, there is a slight roll off when reaching really low, as in below the 40Hz region. However, this is not something that is really noticeable unless we are isolating sounds in those frequency ranges as the harmonics of these low notes easily make up for the slight drop. Let’s just say that there is no lack of rumble when listening to “Chameleon” as a test track. In fact, as these headphones have a high sensitivity, 40% on the dial of the Atom is enough to feel the vibration in my ears from this track.

In the mid bass and higher bass regions, these headphones will not disappoint those who like their bass. By this I don’t mean that they are overly boosted, although they are a bit north of neutral, it is the way the dynamic driver reacts with the bass notes, added to the lower mids, that give the sensation of having bass that is more than I have come to expect from open back headphones, especially in this price range. A set of headphones that I keep in my collection mainly due to their bass performance are the DT1990 Pro, and while the Phoenix may not be quite as clean and fast in their bass as the Beyer offering (that costs double the price of the Sivga), I do feel that the bass is impressive and can come across beautifully with the correct music.

As we get into the lower mids, there is a slight elevation that rolls over from the mid/high bass regions. Depending on the music we are listening to, this may come across a little bloated, for example, with the track “No Sanctuary Here”, I do feel that it is missing a little clarity in the transition. However, moving to songs that are cleaner in these ranges, such as “Shot Me Down”, or even better, moving away from electronic music towards electric bass and guitars, they no longer give the sensation of being bloated and the tonality of bass and electric guitars is very pleasurable.

Moving through the mids, there is no noticeable dip until we start hitting the higher end of the mids. This gives many deep voices a beautiful tonality but some voices that reside in the higher mid ranges may seem a little recessed. As an example, the tonality of the voice of the male vocals in “Hallelujah” by Pentatonix seems to have better presence than the female vocals of the same track. However, listening to the vocals on “Seven Nation Army” by Zella Day, I did not experience the same feeling, even though the vocals are of a very similar range in both tracks, so it is certainly track dependent. I find the overall tonality and timbre of the mids in general to be very pleasant, except on those few occasions where I noticed a slight recess in female vocals.

Climbing into the higher regions, there is certainly a sensation of roll off in the treble. The roll off doesn’t start early enough to make these headphones sound dark but it is noticeable. This can add to the sensation of the bass and lower mid presence, as there isn’t a lot of brilliance up top to balance them out but, to be honest, I think that works in favour of these headphones and the fact that they don’t try to be something they are not. Sibilance is avoided and they do not come across as harsh, even with tracks that are usually on the verge of being so. At no moment do they become uncomfortable in the higher ranges.

The soundstage and image presentation is good, better than I expected from a set of headphones with this type of sound signature. They are not huge in this aspect but they certainly have enough room in order to give instruments breathing space between them. “La Luna” is very nicely laid out. The only time I found them to come across as a little claustrophobic was when I played tracks with too many instruments fighting for the space in the higher bass and lower mids.

As far as detail, there are two things going on with the Phoenix. On one side we have the actual detail capabilities of the driver, which are not amazing but they are not bad for a headphone of this price range. The second thing is that the lack of treble does take away some of that “false sense of detail” that many headphones rely upon to seem more detailed than they actually are. Other than a few exceptions, I think that the majority of headphones around this price that seem detailed would quickly be on a par if the higher regions were EQ’s to a similar response as the Phoenix.

Pad swap…

So, after swapping the pads (and also swapping between them), there is a clear difference in sound from the stock pads.

The first noticeable difference is that the sound is cleaner in the lower regions. Now, with this I don’t wish to say that the sound was dirty before, but some of that low end rumble is reduced, also reducing the mid and high bass slightly, giving a sensation of cleaner and more precise hits. This is something that would usually be my preference, as I am not someone who likes overly prominent bass, however, in the case of the Phoenix, I do feel that it is taking away a little of what the Phoenix is, moving away from its “signature”.

I feel that with the replacement pads that the lower regions are moving the headphone more towards many other options. Don’t get me wrong, they are still very capable headphones in the lower regions and are way above many other options I have tried in this price range, but it is like going from being in the spotlight to being mixed with the crowd.

In the mids, the recess that I found in the female vocals of “Hallelujah” is no longer present, with the vocals being much more balanced between male and female voices. The tonality of the voices is still very present but the male vocals do lose a bit of the richness that they present with the stock pads. I do like the result of the mids with these pads, again seming cleaner (please refer to comment before about cleanliness) but again I find myself missing a little of the timbre and tonality that the Phoenix has with the stock pads.

The treble also seems to be clearer and a little more extended with the replacement pads, which also adds to that sensation of detail I mentioned previously. Sibilance is a little more present with these pads but not enough to be problematic or irritating. They also keep harshness in check which is a big plus.

Conclusion…

I am a little torn in this review, not regarding the headphones, it is more about the pads. The replacement pads move the sound signature closer to something that aligns with my preferences, however, I find that I enjoy the stock pads which present a sound that is different and is very enjoyable for times that I am in the mood for that bass and rumble. To be honest, having both sets of pads does offer enough of a difference to make it like having two sets of headphones that are very similar but noticeably different.

The replacement pads do improve comfort, at least for me personally, but I don’t find the Phoenix to be too uncomfortable when using the stock pads either.

If I had to pick only one set of pads, then I would probably go with the stock pads as the sound is something that is different from the rest of my headphones. I feel that when I swap to the replacement pads, it takes it more towards a signature that is similar to other headphones that I already have and perform better in this regard, whereas the stock sound is very complimentary and does not compete directly with anything else in my collection.

For the price of these headphones, I have no doubt that they are worth their cost. I would suggest picking up a set of the replacement pads if these are to be your only (or primary) headphones, as I feel that the improvement in comfort is worth it and that you get two sound signatures in one headphone, the first being something different and very good, the second being more on a level playing field with other models but still very competent.

I am glad that I had the chance to try out these Sivga headphones and I have already been investigating things from the Sendy line up.

8 Likes

I’ll throw in a review here too:

Sivga is a Chinese headphone maker that has been around for a number of years making a variety of wood-based headphone products using dynamic drivers. More recently, they’ve explored the use of Planar Magnetic drivers and that is what we’ll take a look at today in their new planar, the Sivga P-II.

First off, this review sample was provided to me directly from Sivga headphones, and outside of presenting me general information and specs on the unit, I have not been persuaded to write any opinions other than my own. This Sivga P-II retails for $399 is available on Amazon and Ali-Express, as well as a number of other online retailers.

My first question I have for the Sivga P-II is if this really is a new headphone or not? Sivga may be an OEM for many other brands, and I do realize that Sivga and Sendy Audio are related, as the popular Sendy Aiva and the P-II are remarkably similar in looks and design, including marketing brochures. The only difference is the wood type.

In addition to this, I once quickly owned and returned the Monoprice M570, which again, is strikingly similar to this unit, except for a different headband, wood type and finish, and branding. While I am at it, there’s also the BLON B20 Planar and the Takstar Planar Magnetic headphones which all share similarities of driver, design, and just the differences in cup material. In the case of the cheaper Takstar unit, it does not use wood, and chooses a cheaper plastic housing.

So, before I get any further, I’ll reiterate that there are possibly up to 5 variants of this headphone out there with different woods and aesthetics, and not surprisingly, most of them measure quite similarly though with some subtle changes based on perhaps the housing materials and pads, as well as accessories.

Now back to the regularly scheduled programming…

The P-II is a very attractive headphone and built very well to go along with it. The walnut cups are oval and finished giving it a stylish light brown look. The grill design is intricate and very visually appealing to me, with an inner grill that features an increasingly larger hole design as you move out from the center, and an outer grill that features a rounded-diamond pattern and an exterior black metal bezel. The cups are pretty stunning to look at and looks quite premium and luxurious.

The headband is a suspension type that reminds me of a much more premium and sturdy version of Hifiman’s older headband style on models such as the Arya, HE560 and HE400i. The headband design allows for 180 degree swivel of the cups, in either direction, and a full solid metal design. The suspension strap isn’t as nice as the Sendy Aiva’s leather strap, but it P-II still has a nice cushioning system on the soft pleather material that is comfortable on the head.

The overall weight of the headphone is on the heavier side for me. It weights just under 500 grams, and while it doesn’t cause immediate neck strain, I do feel the weight of it compared to other headphones I own. Clamping force is pretty light, and that is a plus, and so the overall feel and comfort is actually pretty good despite the weight.

The pads included are a plastic-faux-leather material with a unique fabric liner that touches the face that I’ve only seen used on the other similar planars mentioned earlier. It is a very comfortable pad and also features a unique angled design. While most angled pads are cut straight from one the rear to the front end, this pad has some contour changes in it and isn’t symmetrical across any axis. The top is thinner than the bottom, and the back is thicker than the front.

The included cable reminds me of a thicker IEM cable, but it’s very nicely braided, soft and supple. The two-tone brown look is also very pleasing to the eyes and its termination to a 4.4mm balanced jack will make it compatible with many dedicated audio players and some of the newer balanced amplifiers out there. It also comes with a 4.4mm to 3.5mm adapter that matches the cable styling. The cable stands at 1.8M or about 5 feet.

The P-II is packed with a 97 x 67 mm planar driver which is double-sided magnet. This does contribute to the weight though, but its a common design among many planar headphones out there. The driver size is smaller than most of the competing products from Audeze and Hifiman, but is similar to that of the Audeze LCD-1 and Sine. Because of the rectangular design, the driver housing is oval, which makes it more compact than the large round competition.

Sound Impressions

Immediately before I had originally unboxed the Sivga P-II several weeks ago, I was in the midst of listening exclusively to a trifecta of Hifiman planars: the Susvara, the HE6SE V2, and the HE400SE. They all projected a similar tonality and response, with varying levels of resolution and intricacies. I had very much been acclimated to the Hifiman sound I had already enjoyed for nearly a decade.

So swapping over to the Sivga P-II, I experienced a lot of nuanced critical thoughts on this headphone immediately. Going from the, what I call, neutral sound of the Hifimans, I found the Sivga a tad warm, perhaps dark, with a strange haziness and some resonant artifacts in its sound signature. Looking back at my notes, the quick impressions were:

Bass: OK.

Mids: WONKY RESONANCE.

Treble: VEILED AND SLIGHTLY SHARP.

It reminded me a bit of how my memory of the Monoprice M570 and Sendy Aiva was except perhaps not quite as bright in the treble range. I then plotted the graph to see how my sound impressions fared. Measurements shown below are using a clone of the GRAS 43AG system with a compensation to match the system. The first graph is the raw data, while the second one is smoothed out a bit on my Headphones Measurement tool with some contextual comments in red.

Of course, this was my first impressions after just putting them on for an hour or two. I continued to listen to this headphone off and on over the past month and accumulated more notes and thoughts on this planar headphone.

As I listened to it more, the warmer and more veiled (darker?) sound of the headphone came out a bit more but didn’t present as many ear challenges as it did immediately after listening to a brighter headphone. Acclimation to the sound.

One thing that did not seem to go away, however, was the level of fuzz that was apparent in each song I listened to; no matter if it was Lo Moon’s Loveless, Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams, or Crooked Still’s Half of What We Know. Each of these tracks of different genres and vocal styles still had a layer of haze to it that didn’t seem to go away. The P-II definitely does not present the crisp, clear and feather-like sound of a typical Hifiman. Instead, it’s more weighty, and more cloudy. It sounded more analog.

The P-II does a good job of presenting bass with a nice rich sound that can extend very low into the subbass. The linear response is solid, though I do find it does lack a bit of texture and depth capability of better drivers or headphones.

The mid-range is such as mixed bag, that I don’t really know where to begin. It has meaty lower mids, but is flawed by the strange resonance and clipping that occurs right in the middle of the vocal range, and that can make things sound cloudy, bright, dark, or sometimes missing. It’s a strange phenomenon, and its definitely there, though depending on the singer, it may or may not present as big of a problem as others.

The veil of the upper end is also shown very definitively to me on the measurement I took. There’s an early drop-off in treble frequencies which causes a lot of the music I listened with to have a sort-of “behind the curtains” aura to it. Some folks prefer a bit more laid back upper-midrange and treble, so this may provide that more easy tuning in this area for those that are sensitive here.

I felt the general soundstage to be wider than average, and on par or just slightly less than many planars I’ve tried, and more open than something like my Sennheiser HD600 reference. The depth and layer capabilities do seem a little lacking, with some of my virtuoso jazz and bluegrass tracks not sounding as filled-in and intricate as I would hear in some other products I own, whether that be mid-range IEMs or headphones, or my top of the line flagship gear.

Conclusions

The P-II from Sivga is a very attractive and well-built headphone with a nice set of accessories. The wood cups are really attractive, and the grills add to the luxury. Pack this set with a very nice included headphone case and cable and this has the looks and feel to be a winner.

Unfortunately for me, I am not as big of a fan of its overall sound. Whether it be tonal balance issues or some slight technical performance gaps, I don’t find this is the best suited for my own personal take. I do think there are people who may enjoy this one, especially if you can bypass the odd voice performance.

In my listening time with acoustic non-vocal genres, I didn’t find these offensive at all and the warm body and relaxing veil provided a decent analog listen. This one may perform well on electronic dance genres, where the mid-range is lesser importance.

All that said, the P-II is almost there. With a few tuning changes, perhaps, it can really rock the under $500 world with its build and beauty. I hope there’s an improved iteration in the future.

8 Likes

Yes, sir. I’m really curious about how they sound, because it looks like they put in all their effort into this product. I think that some of the sound performance problems on the P-II came from the non-consistent diameter of holes on the grill plate. I know it looks nice, but I can’t imagine how it can positively affect the sound :confused:

The Peacock just looks like a good headphone. Hopefully we find out if it sounds as good as it looks.

So you like this better than your Grado GS3000e? For acoustic jazz, small combos, and perhaps chamber music?

2 Likes

Thank you. I shall watch the buy and sell section for deep discounted used Grados, Focal, and Sennheiser from @Lothar_Wolf

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Sendy Audio Peacock Review

Written by Chrono

Introduction

The Sendy Audio Peacock is a headphone that’s really piqued my interest as of late. Sendy Audio is, of course, no stranger to the planar magnetic headphone market, as their Aiva model has been a popular option at around the midrange price of $599. However, the Peacock–which commands a whopping $1499 price tag–is now trying to play in a different ballpark; one that features personal favorites like the LCD-X, HD800S, and the Arya. So, in this article I’ll be sharing my experience with the Peacock, as well as my thoughts on just close (or far!) Sendy Audio was to successfully entering what is already an extremely competitive price bracket.

Sources and Music Used in Listening Tests

The Amplifier/DACs used in this review were the SPL Phonitor XE (with built-in DAC), Grace Design SDAC + A90, and the JDS Labs Element II connected via USB to my desktop computer. For the listening tests I used music from a wide variety of genres including Rock, Jazz, Classical, Acoustic, Hip-Hop, and latin. I played tracks from my own FLAC library as well as from Qobuz streaming service played via Roon (exclusive mode).

Accessories

Packaged alongside the Peacock is a rather sweet array of accessories. For starters there’s a hard-shell, custom-molded, saddle-brown colored carrying case that fits the Peacock and other accessories nicely. Then, whilst there might be only one dual-hirose connector to 4.4mm balanced cable included, Sendy Audio did throw in a ¼” as well as a 4-pin balanced XLR adapter for added versatility.

Build & Comfort

The Peacock’s build is somewhat of a mixed bag for me. Structurally, it feels like a very sturdy headphone that’s well built, utilizes good materials, and just generally inspires confidence as a user–no complaints from me in this regard.

However, where the Peacock slightly falls flat for me–and yes, I know that this is 100% personal opinion–is actually in its aesthetics. I don’t usually mention a headphone’s appearance in my reviews because, for the most part, I only care about a headphone’s musicality and its performance. Still, there is something to me that looks somewhat odd about the different design elements featured on the Peacock. I’m not sure if it’s the mismatching fonts all over the headphone, or perhaps the headband looking a lot more industrial than the gaudy, wooden and polished gold ear cups, but I feel like there is an unfortunate lack of cohesion in this headphone’s visage.

Appearances aside, let’s now discuss something a lot more practical: comfort. Despite definitely being on the heavier side, coming in at around 580g, the Peacock was a headphone that I personally found to be pretty comfortable. In my experience, the suspension headband perfectly balanced the headphone on my head, and distributed the weight in a way that made it feel barely heavier than something like the Focal Clear, for example. Additionally, the angle pads provided ample room, and adequately relieved the headphones mild clamp. Naturally, for some listeners the weight of the headphone will be a challenge, but I think that if you’re not particularly sensitive to a headphone’s weight, you’ll find these to be an easy wear.

Sound

As mentioned earlier, the Peacock is a planar-magnetic headphone, and it has comfortable, high-end listening as its design priority. To that end, it’s powered by what Sendy Audio describes as their “QUAD-FORMER Technology,” which essentially refers to a double-sided magnet array, alongside coils on both sides of the diaphragm.

First Impressions

When I first listened to the Peacock, it wasn’t offensive, or egregious, but immediately it sounded a bit strange to me. Through the low end it seemed fine, with a pretty good bass response as well as adequately portrayed fundamental range. However, what was a bit off for me is that all the harmonic and overtone embellishments that I would expect to hear above 1.5-2Khz, were somewhat muted with the exception of a few frequency ranges which–as we’ll discuss briefly–marked some unevenness in the Peacock’s presentation.

Bass

I found the bass response on the peacock to be mostly good. It wasn’t quite as nimble or as well-textured when I compared it with the LCD-X I recently reviewed, but as is expected from a planar-magnetic headphone, it still had a well-defined bass response that was fairly articulate. The only comment I’ll make is that oddly enough, the really low frequencies under 50hz rolled off just a little bit, so I wasn’t getting as much of that deep, sub-bass presence and rumble. Nonetheless, the overall bass level for me was appropriate, as it did provide the warmth I wanted from this region without being invasive of other frequency ranges.

Mids & Highs

This isn’t something I usually do, but I feel as though in the context of describing my experience with the Peacock specifically, it’ll be easiest for me and hopefully for you, the reader, if I discuss both the midrange and treble region at the same time. The reason for this, is that my main problem with the Peacock’s tonality starts in the midrange but extends into the treble, as well.

Now, through the lower mids between 300-1000hz, there weren’t any major issues that I found affected the Peacock’s tonality. For the most part, it had adequately represented fundamental tones that provided instruments and vocals with a rich body. If there was any quirk I noticed, it was that there was a slight 700hz resonance, which could occasionally make for a slightly nasally timbre, but this was not easily noticeable.

The problem arises, then, at around 2000hz since all subsequent frequencies sound as though they’ve been down-shelved by about 3dB. What this results in, are instrument and vocal lines that are lacking in their harmonic content and contouring. Vocals in particular were what stood out to me the most, as they lacked a lot of their natural bite, and growl. The same can be said about instruments like electric guitars and saxophones, which rely on these overtones to have their key characteristics well-represented. In brief, I’d say that many musical elements in the Peacock sounded quite a bit stuffy.

There were, however, a few exceptions to this, as certain frequency bands were noticeably more pronounced. The first was at around 3Khz, where there was a slight bump in the upper midrange. Again, this was fairly subtle, but it did add a bit of midrange shout. Then, the two other, and much more noticeable peaks were at 6Khz and 8Khz.

Despite the treble range being overarchingly dark, the 6Khz peak did add noticeable glare and made those low-treble frequencies a tiny bit harsh, even. Then, as for the 8Khz peak, it wasn’t as big magnitude as the one at 6Khz, but still introduced an unusual shimmer in that region, alongside mild, mid-treble sibilance.

Resolution

Detail retrieval and image clarity was another facet of the Peacock that I found to be disappointing. For a headphone in this price range, competing with the likes of the Arya, LCD-X, HD800S, and Focal Clear, I really expected it to be a much more resolving and nuanced headphone that it turned out to be. Even after EQ, which in my experience greatly cleaned up the Peacock’s treble range in particular, it simply couldn’t deliver the same level of transparency and texturing that its competitors did. For internal resolution, it ended up reminding me most of something like the LCD-2 Classic, or the HiFiMan Ananda–both headphones that come in at nearly half the price.

Soundstage, Imaging, and Layering

Whilst the Peacock certainly didn’t impress me with its detail retrieval, I was actually quite happy with its spatial qualities. Its soundstage is spacious, and is reminiscent of the presentation I’ve experienced on LCD-series headphones (which is a good thing!). For imaging, it was surprisingly precise in its left-right localization; discerning the directionality and positioning of sound was no issue, and I had no issues when using them in online competitive games. Then, as for Instrument separation and layering, it delivered great performance with all vocal and instrument lines in the music being distinct and having their own defined space within the mix.

Dynamics

For Dynamics, the Peacock is not the strongest when it comes to punch and slam, but it still carries some weight and impact behind its low tones. It won’t deliver the kind of kick that you get on something like a Focal Clear or LCD-X, but it still hits noticeably harder than the Arya. Additionally, it does retain some tactility in the upper registers, recreating the pressure and intensity with which things like acoustic guitar strings are plucked, or piano keys are stroked.

EQ

I personally don’t feel as though Peacock has a necessarily bad tonality, but it’s not one I particularly favor either. My preference has always been closer to tonalities like that of the 2021 LCD-X, HD800S, and my current tonal reference, the HD560S (with custom EQ). So, in EQ’ing the it, I ended up with a profile that extensively alters the stock frequency response, and really forces the Peacock into a sound signature that I personally consider to be more natural-sounding. If you’d like to try out my settings for the Peacock, these are the filters I used:

Low Shelf at 50hz, +1dB Q of 0.7

Peak at 750hz, -2.5dB Q of 1.41

High Shelf at 2000hz, +2.5dB Q of 0.7

Peak at 3000hz, -2dB Q of 5

Peak at 6000hz, -4dB Q of 4

Peak at 8000hz, -3dB Q of 5

High Shelf at 12000hz, -2.5dB Q of 0.7

Conclusion

Whilst the Peacock undoubtedly takes strides ahead of the Aiva, I feel as though Sendy Audio ultimately misses the mark in delivering a flagship headphone that is able to adequately compete in that $1500 price bracket. Its tonal shortcomings aside, the Peacock for me simply failed to meet the performance standards set by its peers, which makes it even harder to justify its hefty $1499.

If the Peacock sees a price cut that brings it closer to the $900-$1000 bracket, then it may be a significantly more competitive option. However, as it stands, If you’re looking for top-tier planar-magnetic headphone, my nod would personally still go to the $1599 Arya, or $1299 LCD-X.

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