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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
The Peacock just looks like a good headphone. Hopefully we find out if it sounds as good as it looks.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
As always, this review is also available in Spanish on my blog and on YouTube, links at the end of this post.
These headphones have been very kindly sent for review by Keydis, the official distributor for Sendy Audio, along with Sivga, in Spain. Keydis does not sell directly to the public but I have left a link on my blog (and YouTube) that shows the various stores that carry these brands in Spain.
I am very grateful to Keydis for sending these in and, as always, I will leave my opinions in the most honest and unbiased way possible but, as I always say, it is good to consider the fact that it has not cost me anything to try these headphones.
Not long ago I reviewed the Phoenix, which is a headphone by Sivga, who are a brand that belongs to the same company, Sendy Audio. While Sivga focuses on more budget orientated models, Sendy Audio is responsible for the higher end models, with the new Peacock being the TOTL planar magnetic headphone which was released quite recently.
It is my first experience with Sendy, however, this headphone is priced similarly to a headphone that is commonly recommended in this price range, the Hifiman Arya, a headphone that I do have quite a bit of experience with. So, although my review will be focused on the Peacock and how it performs in general, I will make a few comparisons to the Arya later in the review.
The headphones arrive in a simple brown box very similar to that of the Phoenix, with contents that are somewhat similar also but with more focus on quality.
Inside the box we find a headphone case that is also very similar to the one supplied with the Phoenix, however, in this case it is of a brown colour, with a gold coloured zipper and hardware, and has the Sendy Audio logo embossed on the top. This case, while mulded to the shape of the headphones, has four feet on the bottom to allow it to stand upright, making it much easier to store.
Inside the case we find the headphones and a drawstring cloth bag. The bag contains the cable that is supplied with the Peacock, a nicely braided two tone cable which ends in a 4.4mm balanced connector. The nice thing is that Sendy also includes two adapter cables, to convert the 4.4mm balanced to either a 4 pin XLR or a 6.35mm TRS, for those who want to use these headphones unbalanced. There is no 3.5mm option but this is to be expected, as these are not really headphones aimed at being used portably.
Build and aesthetics…
Let’s start with the cable. This is an 8 core braided cable, in two tones of brown, with a wooden chin slider and splitter that has Sendy Audio carved on it. The connectors seem to be of good quality, although I am not sure of the brand. The 4.4mm connectors (both male and female) have spring type cable strain relief and in general feel very nice. In fact, I would say that the cable is one of the nicest cables I have received with headphones for quite some time. I also want to say that I am not a fan of proprietary connectors on headphones, or at least ones that are not common, as I like to make my own cables, but the ones used on the Peacock are very nice, they are smooth and easy to connect and remove. I have found that I am quite a fan of them.
Moving on to the headphones… well… they are certainly aimed at looking high quality. I must say that while I love wooden headphones, I am not really one for gold (not just on headphones but in general, I don’t have any bass guitars with gold hardware either) and the cups sport very large gold and black grilles that certainly stand out. However, independently of my personal tastes, I can not say that these headphones do not look and feel like headphones of their price range.
Everything is well matched, well put together, I really can’t see any flaws in either build or aesthetics (again, ignoring my opinion of gold). Everything that should be metal is metal, everything that should be wood is wood, and even the pads feel and look premium (they actually smell of leather, so I am guessing they are real leather, although I may be wrong). The same goes for the headband, which is metal covered in leather and yellow stitching, with a very nicely padded leather comfort strap.
The headphones do have a little weight to them but they are not heavy enough to be uncomfortable, at least I haven’t found them to be tiring on long sessions (and I have certainly had some long sessions with these over the past week). In fact, I find them to be very comfortable in general, with nice openings inside the cups that are plenty large enough for my ears.
When I receive a set of headphones for review, the first thing I do is open them and give them a very brief listen before I put them on another rig for burn in. This is usually only for about a minute, just to make sure that they work correctly and then I put them on the burn in rig for around 150 hours (I am not entering the burn in debate, it just doesn’t cost me anything to do it, so I do and avoid discussions while also avoiding brain burn in). When I did the brief listen of the Peacock, which was just with a Modi3 and Atom, I literally had to force myself to take them off about 30 minutes later.
Admittedly, at the time I was listening to the Marshall MID ANC (preparing for the review), so I guess it wasn’t surprising that the switch to these was very positive, but I just vibed with the music and really enjoyed them. I was actually very sorry to put them on the burn in rig and go back to the MID ANC.
During last week, I did listen to them a few times while I was testing the Zen Signature Stack and found them to be very nice on that set up but I refrained from using them too much until I could dedicate myself to them this week. Now, if you saw my review last week, you know that I finished the week listening to various Hifiman headphones, one of which being my favourite headphones, so normally anything would have been a bit of a let down after those, which is why I usually reset by listening to something else for a couple of days in between. In this case, I just went straight to the Peacock and can’t say that I felt let down but it wasn’t quite as perfect as my first listen may have led me to believe.
Starting with the subbass, as always, these are certainly not a sub bass heavy set of headphones. There is some roll off and I found that the iFi Zen CAN Signature HFM was a very good match for this, giving a little boost in the lowest regions (although the 2kHz boost that came with it wasn’t as much of an improvement as on other sets). This small boost in the lowest regions could be obtained with some very simple equalization but, as you probably know my tastes by now, I really don’t think it needs it because the music that these headphones make me want to listen to really doesn’t have much in the way of subbass anyway.
Moving on to the remaining mid and higher bass frequencies, here the bass is much more balanced and has a very nice warm and rounded sound to it. I have enjoyed listening to lots of blues, rock, simple electric guitar and bass tracks and, of course, my usual acoustic selections. I find the timbre of the bass to be very pleasant and smooth. There is plenty of detail in these lower regions but I don’t find it to have the dryness that I find on other planar offerings, such as the Ananda for example.
To give some examples from my usual test playlist, I basically enjoyed anything with a natural low end, from “No Ordinary Love” by Sade, “Crazy” by Daniela Andrade or “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” by Paul Simon, all sounded great to my ears. Other tracks that were more focused on electronic bass, such as “Sun is Shining” or “No Sanctuary Here” didn’t sound bad but didn’t seem to bring out the natural flavour that these headphones exhibit in these lower ranges. The Peacock doesn’t really inspire me to listen to EDM or even Hip-Hop, although it certainly doesn’t do a bad job of it.
In the transition to the mids, I did find that on some songs there was something that sometimes stood out as strange. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was, just on a couple of tracks I found that the bass sort of disconnected from the midrange. Now, this was something that was so slight and so ocasional that I wasn’t sure if I was imagining it or if it was really happening. I noticed it on parts of “Killing in the Name” (although not throughout the whole track) and also in “Hotel California” by the Eagles (the acoustic version), along with a few others.
In the end I cheated and looked for measurements online (usually I don’t look at measurements until after I have listened and come to conclusions) to see if I really was hearing something or if I was just making it up. I found that (according to a couple of graphs) there is a little bit of a dip followed by a slight rise between the 500 to 1000Hz range. It is only slight and I really don’t think it is enough to be noticeable on 99% of the tracks I have listened to (I have listened to a lot of music on the Peacock) but obviously just sometimes coincides with certain frequencies in recordings and makes it seem more apparent. I really don’t think I would have ever been able to find it if it wasn’t for the graphs, in fact, it really isn’t even in the transition between ranges, it is just after the transition, but I thought I would mention it (especially after looking at graphs to make sure I wasn’t going crazy).
In general, the midrange is very nice. It is the sort of midrange that manages to provide plenty of detail while seeming relaxed, not throwing the detail at you. Voices sound rich and smooth, giving them a very intimate feel without feeling close like they do on something like the HD6XX. Voices such as Zella Day in her version of “Seven Nation Army” manage to be present without being overpowering or harsh.
However, moving up towards the top end of the mids and into the treble, here is where I find these headphones differ from what I am used to in planar magnetics. There is the usual dip found around 2kHz that is inherent to the Hifiman line up, however, the following frequencies don’t return quite like they do on said headphones. Rather than 3kHz being higher than the lower and middle of the midrange, the Peacock do not bounce back in the same way. In fact, the frequency response of the higher ranges is at a lower level than the mids all the way up to the highest of ranges.
In fact, the treble range is a little strange, it sort of seems like it is rolling off but in a bit of an intermittent way. This can cause the treble range to sound a little blunt but with certain frequencies cutting through on occasions that are not expected. The positive side to this is that the Peacock does avoid sibilance and harshness in its majority, except for those frequencies that seem to appear on occasions and are sort of unexpected.
I can’t say that I hate the treble, it is not quite as clear as I would like it to be but at the same time does help these to be a bit more of a relaxed listen than other options. I do feel that some EQ could go a long way with these headphones however.
As far as soundstage, it’s also sort of midway. It is not huge and open like on something like the Arya but it does not ever seem to be too closed in either. The image placement is very good, “Bubbles” is very 3D like, but it does it in a way that still feels close though not claustrophobic. For example “Letter”, also by Yosi Horikawa, has great movement but does not really go wide off to the left or right.
Comparison to the Hifiman Arya…
First let me say that these are the Arya 2020 version, not the new Arya with the Stealth Magnets (I will be reviewing those soon but have not yet heard them). If you want to know what I think about the Arya, then you can see my full review of them here. I also want to point out that this is comparing them side by side on the Asgard 3, not on the Zen CAN HFM, which I feel improves the Arya with the HFM+XSpace engaged.
I moved over to the Arya after about 3 hours of constant listening to the Peacock, so obviously things jumped out at me straight away, probably in a more exaggerated fashion at first.
I must point out that, to be at similar listening levels, I kept the same level on the dial of the Asgard and just flipped it to high gain when moving from the Peacock to the Arya (and vice versa), meaning that the Peacock does need less power.
The first thing that struck me straight away was the open soundstage of the Arya. Now, I have mentioned on many occasions that the Arya can sometimes be too open for my preferences, making things sound too far away. However, that is also a very impressive sensation when you first listen to the Arya and coming to them from the Peacock was no exception, the soundstage is huge and does make the Peacock seem very intimate in comparison. I am not saying this as a bad thing, I really like a closer sound on many occasions, but it is certainly something to consider if you are contemplating between these two headphones.
The next thing which is obvious is the treble of the Arya, being more elevated, making for a brighter sound signature but without losing that power of the bass that the Arya can portray when needed. But at the same time, the lower end of the Phoenix is far warmer, even if it is not more elevated in those frequencies than the Arya. It is the reduction in the higher ranges that makes the low end more noticeable on the Peacock.
For example, listening to “Give Me One Reason” by Tracy Chapman on both headphones, it is as though the guitar is being played through two completely different amplifiers/cabs. On the Arya it comes across as a rather clean guitar tone, while on the Peacock it comes across as a much warmer tone, as though it is being played through a warm tube amp (if that makes any sense to you non-guitarists, or even to the guitarists out there). Her vocals are pleasant on both headphones, however, the Arya does seem to bring them further forwards.
In fact, the comparison of amps I just made is quite relevant to these two headphones in general. As a bassist, and a lover of both clean tones and warm tubey tones, I would say that the Arya is the clean rig while the Peacock is the warm tube rig. Which one anyone will prefer will depend on their personal tastes.
I really like the Peacock but I like it for reasons that are not usually my main focus when listening to, or chosing, headphones. The Peacock brings a warm and relaxed presentation, which I have found very enjoyable for long listening sessions, especially for a lot of my acoustic and also blues genres.
There is plenty of detail, however, that treble range does make the detail take a bit of a back seat behind the lushness of the lower end. It is certainly something that I have found more enjoyable for a relaxed session rather than a “focus on detail” session.
These are a set of very well built headphones, they look good (if you are into wood and gold) and they perform very well in comparison to so many other headphones. They include accessories that I wish other companies would take note of, especially in the cable department, and are quite easily powered for such a large set of planars (although the answer is no, I don’t suggest connecting them to a smartphone).
The question of whether these are for you or not will depend far more on your taste in sound signature than anything else. If you want a relaxed, warm set of planar magnetics, then the Peacock should certainly be on your list to try. If you are more of a clean and extremely detailed person, then maybe you might prefer some other options.
The Sivga Robin SV021 have been loaned to me by Keydis, the official distributor for Sivga and Sendy Audio (their sister brand) in Spain. They have not made any requests and my review will be as honest and unbiased as possible, but it is worth noting that these headphones have not cost me anything to try out.
Let me start by being totally honest, I did not think I was going to like the Sivga Robin. These are not a set of headphones that I know nothing about, in fact, I have read many reviews and seen plenty of graphs of them, which all led me to believe that I would not be a fan of them. However, even though this is a bit of a spoiler, I have actually found that I do enjoy them, even if they are exactly as I expected them to be.
Now, it is not that I had heard bad things about them, just that the descriptions and graphs pointed me to a set of headphones that doesn’t really align with my personal preferences. I will get into more details as we go through the usual review steps.
In case anyone has not come across Sivga before, they are the more budget oriented brand of Sendy Audio, a company that has released some very interesting headphones. I have reviewed another model by Sivga in the past, the Phoenix (full review here) and also a set from their more premium line, the Sendy Audio Peacock (full review here). Both of those headphones are sets that provide a very premium look to them, sith the use of leather and wood, something that the Robin also has.
But I am getting ahead of myself, so let’s get on with the review.
The presentation of the Robin is nothing special. A black box with a sketch of the product on the cover opens to reveal the headphones, a 3.5mm TRS to dual 2.5mm TS cable, a 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter and a cloth bag.
This is not a huge amount of content, nor is it really a premium presentation, but it is enough to make the headphones usable straight from the box and, let’s face it, for a set of headphones that retails for less than 170€, I really can’t bring myself to complain. As always, I prefer the money to be spent on the headphones rather than the packaging.
Build and aesthetics…
As with other models, Sivga opts for a build using wooden cups and (faux) leather covered headband and pads.
The Robin is also available in a lighter wood and leather finish, however, the version I have received is a dark stained wood (which is not actually as dark as online photos would suggest) and black leather. The yokes and headband are metal, finished in a dark gunmetal grey, which work well to give the headphones an overall look that I feel suggests a higher price than they actually sit at.
There is a little creaking when moving the headband around, nothing terrible but it is noticeable, and unfortunately there is no swivel in the cups, something that may be a deal breaker for some, but is actually fairly well counteracted by the pads.
The headphone pads are the softest and most comfortable pads I have ever come across on a set of headphones. They really are soft and squidgy, to the point where I keep getting people to feel them. This means that the seal is good, even without any cup swivel, but it also means that comfort is excellent. Even straight out of the box, putting these on my head felt like I had been wearing them forever, in a good way! It’s like an old pair of slippers that are just perfect.
In general, any complaints I may have had about (minor) build issues, is outweighed by the aesthetics and comfort. These really are a pleasure to wear.
As I said at the start, I was certain that I wasn’t going to like these, based on the graphs and the descriptions by other reviewers. The strange thing is that, while they sound like I expected them to, I don’t dislike them, in fact, I find that they make me feel very relaxed as soon as I put them on.
The subbass extension of the Robin is good but it is not exaggerated. There is no sign of roll off on any of my usual test tracks but there isn’t any boost either, well, at least in comparison to the lower end of the midbass. These headphones do have quite a boosted low end overall, which starts to drop off around the 200Hz mark as they make their way to the lower mids.
Tracks like “Way Down Deep”, have a deep and full bass, with some strikes that may be a little overpowering, at least for my personal tastes, but I can see this bass being impressive for a lot of people I know who like bass centric tunings. Something a little more pop orientated, like “Get Lucky”, still has that extra bass going on but somehow manages to keep it from taking over the whole sound.
This elevated low end does give the headphones quite a bit of warmth but as they drop down moving into the lower mids, it doesn’t seem to become overly bloated and undefined. The bass is not quite as clear as I would like, especially as I mainly listen to planar-magnetic headphones lately, but it doesn’t irritate me. Sometimes, when I listen to headphones with this kind of low end, I find that everything seems slow and sluggish (even if it is not the case), but the Robin don’t really leave me with that sensation.
The lower mids are fairly recessed, but do start to climb back up by the 600Hz mark, levelling out between 1kHz to 4kHz, although at a lower level than the bass areas. This means that vocals are present but they are not forward. In fact, there is a general smoothness to vocals except for a peak that follows (somewhere around 5kHz) that can make certain vocals sound a little “honky”.
My usual acoustic instrument orientated music selection actually comes across quite nicely, while not something I would consider to be tonally correct, it has a nice rounded and relaxed presentation to it. For example, “Hotel California (Live on MTV)”, is presented with fairly clean and articulate guitars, even if a little warm. The percussive hits during the intro are a little overly boomy when they start on their own, but balanced with the rest of the instruments, they no longer hog the spotlight.
Moving into the higher ranges, the extension is good but it again comes across as smooth, without seeming to be very airy or spacious. The vocals on “Hallelujah” by The Pentatonix, are sometimes surrounded a little too much by the backing vocals but I have found that I don’t hate the result. This something that does happen depending on the vocals, another example would be “These Bones”, where the deeper vocals take over the space.
There are a few occasions when there is a little too much “bite” depending on the frequencies, which can find me reaching to turn down the volume on ocasiones but to be totally honest, these headphones have tended to make me raise the volume a little more than usual. At my normal listening levels, the odd peak does not seem to appear except on very specific songs.
The soundstage is also rather small. It’s not terrible, remember that these are closed back headphones, but it is not extremely wide either. The overall presentation of images and layers is decent but not amazing. At the risk of repeating myself again, it’s all rather smooth.
The Sivga Robin are a set of headphones that I would consider a guilty pleasure for myself. They sound just like I would have expected them to sound, based on graphs and reviews. To use words that make no sense, I would say that they are “creamy with a little bit of spice”.
The bass is far more elevated than I would like, the recession in the lower mids is something that I would not choose, and the peak around the 5k mark is something that I would avoid.
Yet I like them.
There is something about that creamy smooth sound, with those extra soft pads, that just causes me to relax when I put them on my head. They are certainly not a set of headphones that I would choose to evaluate music, nor to focus on details and layering and all those things that I usually enjoy from headphones, they are just a set to put on, put my feet up and zone out.
I have said many times that I am not someone who enjoys overly present bass,nor extra warm sound signatures, and these are basically everything that I would say I don’t enjoy, but I do.
The whole set up, from build to comfort to sound can be collected in one word, smooth (maybe except for those peaks that can appear in the upper ranges at times). Even the “honky” sound in the upper mids/lower treble is not something that detracts from the overall package.
I really can’t find a way to explain to myself, nevermind to all of you, why I like these headphones. Sometimes we just like what we like and we should stop spending time to justify it.
At the price that these headphones come in at, they offer a very reasonable deal for a set of headphones that gives an extra flavour to the collection.
As always, this review can also be found in Spanish both on my blog (here) and on YouTube (here)
A little late to the game on these but my wife surprised me with a pair for my birthday in April. I actually quite love them… for Hip Hop. Not really much else (I’ve mostly been listening to Jazz and Hip Hop these days).
Initially, they sounded “boxy” but after a few days, I’m not sure what changed, but the boxy sound was gone and everything seemed to mellow out. I’m not necessarily a subscriber to “burning in” headphones, but in this case, the sound definitely seemed to get better after a few days of listening. I still prefer my Sundara’s and Clear’s for most music, but for Hip Hop/Hip Hop adjacent music, these seem to hit a sweet spot for me.
Heard a bunch of Sendy/Sivga headphones at a recent audio show. Only thing that impressed me at first listening was Sendy Apollo, a comfortable, warm sounding planar. Will try to hear it again, if I get the opportunity.