Sendy Audio Peacock Headphone Review
Jay Garrett auditions some luxurious-looking cans from a new name in headphones…
Peacock Planar Magnetic Headphones
It can't be easy being a new audio brand trying to break into the global market. One reason is that most people prefer spending their money buying a product from an established name. Another is that recommendations are of great importance to many, and if you're new on the scene, how can anything you make get recommended? Also, according to many discussion boards, where you manufacture can have a huge impact – especially if you happen to be based in China like Sendy Audio.
This, the high-end manufacturing arm of Sivga Electronic Technology Co., Ltd., operates out of Dongguan, just north of Shenzhen. This new headphone brand says it is focused on “traditional handicraft production”, using high-quality wood as the housing material. Furthermore, the company highlights that the methods used – including material selection, cutting, carving, polishing, and repeated drying – are laborious and time-consuming, which should prepare us for increased ticket prices. Indeed, the just-announced Peacock open-back planar magnetic headphones we have here come with a recommended retail price of $1,499US, which puts them at around £1,300 after VAT.
My interest in this design was initially piqued by the fact that it uses what the company calls Quad-Former technology. Here we have a planar magnetic driver that doubles up on magnets and coils, we are informed. We are told that the resulting four coils and double-banked magnets ensure “excellent magnetic energy conversion, minimal distortion”, and more importantly, consistently high-quality music reproduction. We'll see!
Between those coils sits a composite diaphragm that has apparently been two years in the making, thanks to extensive research for the optimum thickness and rigidity combination along with high internal damping. Finally, the driver is housed in CNC'd aviation-grade aluminium with the holes cut for uniform sound distribution at every frequency. In total, the 88mm transducers promise a 20Hz to 40kHz frequency response with a claimed 103dB +/-3dB sensitivity.
Sendy Audio says that the Peacock has an impedance of 50 ohms, +/-15%. Most desktop systems should find this comfortably within their capabilities. Even high-end portable digital audio players such as Astell&Kern's potent KANN Alpha should be able to push them along to significant effect.
More precision cutting can be found on the highly ornate peacock feather patterned grille comprising black and 24k gold plated stainless steel layers. The headband and earcups are covered in goatskin, with the deep, shaped earpads benefitting from memory foam. The gold stitching matches the other 24k gold plated parts on the headphone. More aviation-grade aluminium is used on the brackets with an emphasis on strength, durability, and weight saving. All of that is affixed, one way or another, to the attractive Zebrawood main housing, said to be subjected to multiple processes, including polishing, painting, and natural drying.
The headphones sport 4-pin mini XLR connectors, angled so that the supplied two-metre cable falls forward of the listener's shoulders. That eight-core 6N OCC braided cable is terminated with a substantial 4.4mm balanced connector. However, you will also find 0.2m cabled adaptors with 6.35mm and XLR 4-pin connectors in a hemp bag stored in the supplied retro-styled leather carrying case.
Even though these headphones tip the scales at 578g, thanks to the suspended headband design – along with what I would describe as perfect clamping force and deep, soft earpads – they turned out to be a comfortable wear over my extended audition period. Although a tad on the bling side of things, I have warmed considerably to their aesthetic; this is, of course, a personal matter.
Straight out of the snazzy leather case and plugged into a SimAudio MOON 430HA headphone amplifier, low frequencies were prone to distorting if really pushed, and the acoustic seemed muddled and disorganised. However, after allowing the Peacock to settle and run in properly, things took a distinct turn for the better.
While this pair of headphones has a much darker and warmer personality than my Oppo PM-1 reference – which can sound a little bright and tinselly – there is a relaxed cohesiveness to the presentation, making it enticing for late-night listening sessions. This is much in the same way one might get a Pavlovian urge to light a cigar when relaxing with a good whisky. Indeed, I found myself turning to this pair of headphones when listening purely for pleasure, but that is not to say that it lacks detail.
It's undoubtedly less upfront in how it puts detail across than some rivals. I would liken it to the difference between tube and solid-state amplification. While there are some excellent valve-powered designs, they all ultimately possess that warm, slightly veiled character that fans love. Meanwhile, those same fans will most likely find solid-state designs cold, analytical and dry. You get the idea…
I had no doubt that I was getting every micro detail when I tested T+A's Solitaire P because everything was clearly laid out in front of me. With the Peacock, its warm midband and rounded bass disguised an agile upper-midband and a fast and extended treble. However, there was also plenty of impact when required, along with real dynamism when needed.
For instance, beyond the typically mid-nineteen eighties production of Peter Gabriel's Big Time, Tony Levin's bassline drove the piece along accompanied by Stewart Copeland on drums. There was a real snap to the presentation, and the Peacock transmitted this well, and the high-end funky strumming panned over to the right was bright and tight. The Hammond organ was also realistically represented in the overlapping acoustic. Moreover, the Peacock was able to keep this multilayered production organised, allowing the primary and backing vocals room to express themselves above the instrumentation.
Vocals were wonderfully tangible, and high-ranged female voices in particular retained body and expressiveness without turning brittle and frayed. A case in point was Joni Mitchell performing A Case of You. Here, the Canadian songstress playing Appalachian dulcimer is backed by James Taylor on acoustic guitar and someone playing what could be congas. This sparse yet heartfelt tune had me reaching to turn the volume up on the MOON 430HA connected to the Peacock via the bundled 4-pin XLR connector. Both stringed instruments sounded alive with expression, with even the slightest hint of vibrato or bending a string accidentally sharp being heard clearly.
Where bass may not have been as taut and impactful as the Meze Empyrean, the Peacock possessed more low-end grunt than my Oppo PM-1. As Future Proof from Massive Attack's 100th Window starts, the fast pitter-patter drum pattern that follows the synth and guitar intro can almost be felt as well as heard. However, it's the prominent bassline that fills the listening space. This is a little more organised through the MOON head amp than through the Auris Euterpe's valve stage, but both are enjoyable and demonstrate that the Peacock didn't lack anything in the low-end stakes.
The Sendy Audio Peacock proved a perfect match with my desktop PC system, featuring a Chord Qutest DAC crunching numbers for an Auris Euterpe valve headphone amplifier. As this is the set-up I use when working, it was an excellent test for the Peacock's comfort and sound quality. Neither of which I can really grumble about. This was an impressive showing for a new high-end headphone. However, it would be interesting to see how the Peacock performs over an extended period and, although it appears well made, the only genuine proof of reliability requires time.
These Sendy Audio Peacock planar magnetic headphones do make a great case for themselves. While it might not be the most analytical of headsets I have tested, there is still plenty to like here. Here's a design that's both comfortable to wear and to listen to. I also really liked its luscious, warm character that delivers plenty of detail, should you decide to focus in on this rather than snuggling down into its comforting presentation. Factor in the generous package of adapters, cable, and case – as well as the overall look and experience – this is well worth checking out if you can.
StereoNET UK’s Editor, bass player, and resident rock star! Jay’s passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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