Because of Aiva’s neutral-bright tuning, you should be weary of DAPs and DACs with too much of those same qualities. Unless you are perfectly immune to that kind of thing. For best results, pair her with a warm, robust source.
The Audio-GD NFB-28 (around $800) has been my desktop DAC and Amp for a few years now. I’ve never felt the urge to upgrade, it’s so bloody good. As a SABRE DAC, you get the profound detail and resolution the brand is known for, but as an Audio-GD product, all that is presented in a warm, organic, and utterly natural way. Plus, there is more than enough power to fill Aiva out to her fullest. I cannot imagine a better setup to drive these cans.
The iBasso DX200 with AMP8 ($899, Review HERE) is ideal for Aiva in many ways. First, AMP8 has balanced 4.4mm output, and Aiva is terminated for exactly that. Second, AMP8 produces high current, which these headphones crave. Finally, the sound signature of the DX200>AMP8 is bold and clear, spacious and impactful, detailed and musical. In other words, it encourages Aiva’s strengths, and helps with her weaknesses. This is the DAP I’d take to the back porch for a beer and a cigar.
Of course, if you’re looking for the lightest-weight system for true mobility, and willing to sacrifice some audio quality without feeling as if you’re listening to utter shit, then the Hidizs AP80 ($139, Review HERE) is my recommendation. For those who hold price, size, and performance with equal importance, this player is something special. It’s not the best in any one of those categories, but taken together, I’ve yet to find a better option. Unfortunately, its tuning isn’t quite as warm as I’d want for Aiva, but the pairing isn’t at all bad.
For a company I’d never heard of, SendyAudio crafted an exquisite headphone. Aiva Black Beauty Series is a triumph of performance, design, and comfort. When detail and resolution are at the core of your need, and nothing makes you quite so happy as oodles of treble sparkle, Aiva should be on your short list. This sort of tuning can go terribly wrong. It’s a testament to SendyAudio’s skill that they created something so pleasurable. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.