50mm dynamic driver made of LCP composite diaphragm plated with Beryllium for strong dynamic, high fidelity and wide extension sound quality
Walnut wood housing with exquisite and elegant surface
Ergonomically designed headband for comfortable wearing without pressure
Special-shaped earcup for comfort and good seal
Detachable high purity 6N OCC cable to ensure high resolution sound
Wide soundstage, good dynamic, high separation
The driver housing is made of aviation aluminum alloy. The periphery of the diaphragm is LCP (Liquid Crystal Polyme) Composite film, and the central part of diaphragm is plated with Beryllium. The magnet is high-performance NdFeb material.
The bass for SV023 is well controlled with enough quantity. The middle frequency is mild with warm vocal. Treble is natural and exquisite. Wide soundstage with good separation for instruments. This headphone can make music dynamic with sense of depth.
Light-weight and comfortable wearing
The leather band is made of high-end goat skin, which is soft and comfortable.
The headband is made of stretchable stainless steel, which ensures suitable clamping force with no pressure and wears lightly.
The bracket is made by CNC process with aviation aluminum alloy, which is with strong metal finish and durability.
Hand-made wood housing, carefully and precisely crafted artwork
The headphone housing is made of selected high-quality walnut wood. It is precisely carved by CNC and then made by traditional processes such as grinding, polishing, painting, natural air drying and so on. The surface of the wood housing is exquisite and smooth with high quality feel.
There is a CNC processed metal aluminum ring and gunmetal color stainless steel mesh in the middle of the housing, which matches with the wood housing very well to increase the sense of layering.
Unique earcup design for comfort and good seal
The earcups are made of high protein material and memory form. The material touching the face is skin friendly velvet. All the materials make the earcups soft and comfortable to wear.
The special-shaped earcups designed according to the head shape have good sealing performance to avoid sound leakage.
The side of the earcup is perforated with air holes, which can effectively adjust the sound quality and ensure good breathability. It is suitable for long time wearing.
High purity detachable cable
6N OCC cable ensures no loss of signal transmission. The detachable cable is not easy to tangle, and it is suitable for upgrading and changing to use other cables.
I don't think that Sivga Audio requires any introduction here. The company is well-known for a bunch of really successful releases in different price tiers. The most recent one, named SV023 is a company's mid-segment offering for those who'd like to see an open-back design. Walnut cups of these cans hold 50 mm LCP composite diaphragm plated with Beryllium coating drivers, tuned to deliver natural sound.
As usual, I'd like to thank Sivga Audio for providing me with these headphones for review in exchange for my honest (but unavoidably subjective) opinion.
I won't go deep into unboxing and design, as photos and other reviews give a full impression about that aspects, I will focus on my subjective impressions.
The package and overall presentation are traditionally great. Besides headphones and cables, you'll get a nice leather storage case. It brings some unwanted associations to some people, but it leaves an impression of a luxurious accessory, not typical for the middle segment.
The same, actually, applies to headphones themselves. The main materials here are wood, metal, and leather, but despite that, they are pretty lightweight and comfortable in wearing. Weight distribution is great, and the softness of ear pads makes me think of some stupid metaphors involving angel wings and fairies' whispers. Ok, it's a bit of exaggeration, but wearing comfort is great for me (all heads are different, you know).
Headphones are open-back, and despite not leaking sound both ways as some fully opened models, they are still targeted for home usage in the comfort of your favorite armchair (or sofa, or yoga mat, or whatever you're going to use).
Stock cable deserves a separate mention. It's a 6N OCC, but I wanted to say a few words about ergonomics. If any other manufacturer representative will read this review (I doubt that, but who knows), please, look at how it should be done. No rubber insulation, no fabric coating, just nice and soft wires, braided into a comfortable cable with zero microphonics. Great plus here is a 4.4 jack, it makes the most sense for the full-size cans nowadays. And of course an adapter wire for those who don't have a source with Pentaconn.
But let's focus on the sound. And I can say that here I've got what I expected. I'm a big fan of single-dynamic driver systems. Of course, they can be lacking focus on micro-contrast, typical for planars, or, let's say, the airy and energetic treble of balanced armatures. But both in IEMs and full-size cans, it's a dynamic driver that sounds the most balanced and natural for me (subjective tastes warning, just in case).
In terms of bass, it's a step aside from the tuning that previous Sivga models typically showed. It's more neutral, with less accent. While it can disappoint some bass lovers, for me, the amount of lows here is close to my subjective perfection. Bass is deep, but at the same time, it doesn't try to overwhelm you with monumental lows, sounding more balanced. Subjectively, I'd say that it's a tuning more suiting "natural" instruments: reach with overtones, balancing weight and impact, not trying to sound super-fast (and dry) or super-weighty (and bloated). Textures are rendered nicely, with a subtle hint of extra saturation, but that extra works just as a faint spice in the overall balanced and well-controlled lows.
Mids continue this tuning, offering a good balance between neutrality and musicality. In general, the amount of detail these cans offers is pretty high, but at the same time, they deliver them without an excessive accent, avoiding too clinical or dry signature. Of course, the uncolored representation of SV023 sets pretty high requirements for the quality of record and source, but with a decent setup, you'll get a really good weight, dynamic, and emotions. The imaginary stage isn't the biggest one but still is above average both in width and depth, with proper layer separation and 3D positioning.
Treble has a bit of additional energy, but at the same time, it doesn't sound too sharp. Of course, these headphones aren't a perfect choice for those who want a super soft and "comfortable" sound, but to my ears, even with pretty sibilant tracks, SV023 doesn't sound overly bright. Treble has a good detalisation and above-average extension. Of course, it's lacking a bit of layering, typical for more expensive models, but it does a good job of saturating music with overtones. Treble attacks and decays sound natural, bringing joy to treble-fan like me.
Due to a pretty neutral character, headphones are responsive to source rolling. They preserve nuances of DAC/amp/player's representation pretty well and encourage a user to experiment with different elements of setup. They don't require tons of power, but the source should offer good control to allow these headphones to show their strong sides.
To summarise, I can say that SV023 is a really good offer. Of course, it's not a "one size fits all" option, they won't be the best choice for those who want some "fun" sound signature, but if you're looking for a neutral, but not dry headphones with a detailed, but enjoyable representation, it's a good option to consider.
Intro: Having reviewed several previous models, Collin asked if I was interested in the SV023. I appreciated the craftmanship involved with the previous models, and of course said yes; for I liked the sound of most so far. The SV023 was in my hands a short time later. Below are my words, and mine only. A word to the wise: do not discount this model based upon the others in the line. Take that for what you will, and as always, YMMV.
Style: Over ear, open-back
Transducer type: Dynamic driver
Transducer size: φ 50mm
Frequency response: 20Hz - 40KHz
Sensitivity: 105 dB +/- 3dB
Impedance: 300 Ohm +/-15%
Cable length: 2.0 M +/-0.2 M
Connector: φ 4.4 mm balanced
Weight: 318 g
In The Box:
SV023 headphone: 1pc
Audio cable: 1pc
Leather carrying bag: 1pc
Hemp bag: 1pc
Adapter 1: 4.4mm to 3.5mm -1pc
Adapter 2: 3.5mm to 6.35mm – 1pc
Topping A30P/D30P/Shanling M6 Pro
Shanling M6 Pro
HiFiMan Edition XS ($499)
In typical Sivga/Sendy fashion, the box lifts off like a top cover, replete with outline of the product inside. I like this approach, and the inside, which has a semi-hard foam cut out is shaped perfectly for the equally shapely leather case, which holds the headphones. Sivga does a nice job presenting and protecting the headphones.
Unzipping the hard-shell case, you are met with the headphones tucked neatly inside, along with the typical hemp bag, which contains the headphone cable and adapters. Simple, straightforward, elegant.
Again, in typical Sivga form, the walnut wood cups are polished to the point that they look like plastic. They aren’t, and the dark color is gorgeous. With a double headband set up, the strap fits over your head, and can be adjusted using the sliders above the yoke. Once adjusted, the headband stays, and is supported by the thin, dual metal band running over the top. Good clamp pressure is had as well. This is another aspect of Sivga that I have liked over the years, the clamp pressure. Not too loose, not too tight. And some have gone as far as bending the metal parts to give a tighter fit. For me it is just fine as is.
Dual 2.5 jack cables fit into the cups, while the other end of the gorgeous 6N OCC cable came with a 4.4bal jack. Included adaptors allow for either 3.5se or 6.35se jacks as well. Overall build of the cable is excellent with no microphonics at all. It is a bit sticky and has gotten caught a couple of times as I move, but I have become aware of that with all headphones and try to be careful regardless of the headphone in question.
As an over-ear headphone, the cup size may be a bit small for some. There is a good oblong shape, but the smaller size and depth of the cup itself may be troublesome to some users. That said, the cup is soft and pliable with the typical cloth cover, which contacts your ears. Contoured to be thinner and shaped differently on the top allows for excellent feel of the cup on the bottom. With some headphones and their same-thickness cups, I have had trouble in the past, below my ears; with too much pressure occurring. Not here, though; the SV023 provides the right pressure for my face and ears, regardless of whether I am wearing a hat or not.
Coming with a 50mm dynamic driver, the SV023 is made from aviation-grade aluminum alloy. The beryllium diaphragm is coated on the periphery, in a Liquid Crystal Polymer said to help control unwanted movement of the cup thus, reducing distortion tendencies. The magnet is made of a high-performance NdFeb material. The housing is made of hand-selected walnut and goes under close handmade scrutiny when being carved and polished by hand. The SV023 have a high impedance and will most likely require an amp if you want to get the most out of the listening experience.
The SV023 follows suit with a mature, somewhat laidback sound, which does not tend to offend. Bass is taut, but not as deep reaching as others in this price range, but no matter, for the quality is good. Mids come forward a bit, especially the vocals, which isn’t bad. Treble reach rolls a bit, but not so much that it is subdued or veiled. No, the top end presents an extended reach that almost artificially goes beyond what is heard, tying together a thoroughly pleasant sound, which spreads well in the width and height of the soundstage cavity.
Bass does reach fairly low as witnessed om Pomme’s Sans toi, which fills the sound cavity with a good expansive sound to coexist with that bass sound. Tighter and faster in attack to me, there is a very slight delay in decay, which provides me with a melodic response; slowing the sound for that somewhat laidback character. I experienced little to no bleed into the mids as a result, even with the slower decay.
Mids as expressed in the vocals comes across as slightly forward and lifted (which seems to be the way of many lately); which adds the necessary height to the signature for good clarity across the board. The width also allows for good air between notes, but to me the slightly richer and darker sound of the SV023 delays, or rather impacts true spacing of notes. Thus, making the sound laidback yes, but slightly subdued. Some might call this boring, but I rather think it is the combination of what I mention that provides for that.
The top end of treble notes are slightly rolled to me, but extend enough to artificially (again, to me) broadcast the high notes beyond where they should otherwise occur. Noting no harshness, even on songs with strong female presence in that range or cymbal work such as on Brian Setzer’s high strung Smash Up On Highway One, the sound comes with enough crispness to alleviate that roll, which could very well be how I hear the top end.
Timbre is as a result, slightly subdued, but layering & separation are pretty easily distinguishable. A melding of all presents itself as the maturity of sound in which I speak as well as a smooth character, coming through especially well on the Eagle’s live MTV version of Hotel California. A mellower song with which to start, the song covers all the bases ever so well through the SV023. I rather enjoy this presented mellowness, and replay the song just to re-hear that aspect, with Don Henley’s voice coming through as if I am sitting right on top of the mic as he plays his drum set.
Sivga SV023 ($449) v HiFiMan Edition XS ($499):
Harder to drive than the SV023, the Edition XS was a nice surprise for me. Coming on the heels of the excellent Deva Pro R2R, the XS comes across with a subdued character, and a feeling of being behind the sound, or rather further from the presentation. Bass is tighter, but with a bit less presence in the sub region. Mids have that particular sound of planar’s as well. Some will like it, others will not. But this brings to point how the Edition XS is more source dependent than the SV023. While it sounds nice through the Topping duo, it needs more power to express itself to me. Some like the HiFiMan sound, others do not. So, there you have it.
A shorter review than normal, for there really is not much many do not already know about the Sivga marque. As a result, most already have their impressions made beforehand. Many call the brand boring, with good construction. Others swear by it as their be-all, end-all. Both can be right, for you like what you like, and you dislike what you dislike. That will not change due to a review, nor should it. You may be swayed into pursuing what you already see as a worthy alternative, but opinions most likely will not be swayed.
Here is where Sivga has a seeming dilemma. The SV023 sound quite good to me, and better than previous offerings (including the much more expensive Apollo, which I found very underwhelming). They seem to be melding excellent build, gorgeous looks, and sound; which many will like in the SV023. And for that, I do like the SV023, ranking it as one of my favorites in the line and sub-$500 price. Some will still not like it, and that is their prerogative. But to discount a marque based upon previous models, and you may very well miss a model you like. That would be like judging Chevy on the Aveo alone and discounting the Camaro or Corvette. I shall leave that distinction up to you. I do think you will not be disappointed.
Pros: Excellent details. Very good stage. Crispy and agile notes. Looks beautiful. Very good cable and case.
Cons: The head band mechanism can be better, upper treble can be a bit more attacking.
Hailing from China Sivga is known for their high quality headphones with a touch of wood in them. They raised their head a few years ago and have a handful of headphones under their belt. Sivga has been delivering eye-catching designs as well as intriguingly equipped headphones since their arrival. The Phoenix reviewed by Ryan has been one of their most popular headphones and their budget headphone SV021 Robin, which I reviewed last time, can be considered as one of the best headphone under $200.
What I am reviewing here is the SV023, is it the successor to the SV021? It feels like an individual release as it is thrice as expensive as the Robin and is the most expensive headphone on offer from Sivga. Just like any other Sivga headphones, SV023 too has wooden cups but unlike the Robin it doesn't have any color options. It houses a 50mm dynamic driver and is currently priced at $449. SV023 competes with the highly popular Sennheiser 6 series of headphone.
I will compare it with one of the most accomplished headphones under, $500 Sennheiser HD650.
Last time when I reviewed the SV021 there wasn't much to talk about when it comes to accessories but this time around we have a few interesting things inside the box. First of all, unboxing is fairly straightforward. Open the upper half of the box and a beautiful looking semi-hard carry case with leather like texture greets us and all the accessories along with the headphone are placed inside it. Its 4.4mm pentaconn cable and a 3.5mm single ended adaptor are safely tucked in a drawstring cloth pouch between the headband and protective foam.
I have a small issue with the case though. It barely can fit the headphone and can't be closed if the cable is attached. This is not a serious issue but unplugging from the sockets every time I put the headphone in the case is not very convenient.
BUILD QUALITY AND COMFORT:
Sivga does not make clunky or shoddy headphones and SV023 is no exception. Built around a light weight frame and wooden cups this headphone feels lighter than most of the full size headphones. At 318g this isn't exactly feather weight but its minimal looks do give an impression of that. There is no excessive use of metal or padding but it still is very sturdy and flexible. What I didn't like is the sliding faux leather padding. It has no stops and slides freely on both sides according to the pressure applied which can lead to asymmetrical movements on the metal band. If this is looked over, SV023 has no weak points. Its wooden body adds class and even when this is open back there is good amount of insulation on its back to stop heavy leakage and protects the drivers from dust and moisture.
Comfort wise there is little to no complain. SV023 has an ergonomically design hybrid pad with cloth like texture on the face side and faux leather on the sides. I am not sure if the curves on the pad will fit all heads but it's reasonably designed. These pads are fairly comfy but can get a bit ticklish after a while, I had it on when I was doing some twists and it started to feel a bit funny after sometime. I should not complain but this is a possibility, especially in humid conditions.
SV023 ships with an excellent looking high quality 4.4mm 6N OCC copper cable with 2.5mm mono connectors for the headphone. Length of this cable is somewhere around 6 feet. For a change, this cable has no microphonics at all and is very supple and doesn't bouncy either. Most of the headphone cables are stiff and have horrible memory problems but this barely has any. Components used here are of higher quality (metal) with reasonable protection at the headphone jack. Both the cable splitter and cable slider are fairly smaller to get in the way or weigh the cable down.
Use of metal jackets on all the connectors do make this cable feel a bit heavy but it's still is fairly lightweight. All in all its one of the best looking stock cable.
PAIRING WITH SOURCES:
Even with an Impedance of 300ohm SV023 is not a hard to drive headphone but pairing still is vital to extract good performance from it. What I observed is not the power but it's the signature and timber of the source. When I used the Beam 3 Pro which has a very precise and very neutral tonality SV023 sounded off, especially tonality and timber were suffering. Notes felt a bit compressed and held back. When paired with similarly powered Shanling UA5 and UA3 SV023 opens up like a friendly neighborhood headphone and when I switched to the Questyle M15 it was a party, excellent pairing with this beauty. The stage gets even bigger and the layering and separation takes it to the top of its class. This is an highly capable headphone after all.
When I used it with my Playmate 2 and S.M.S.L D-6 paired with Bravo Audio V2, SV023 exhibits reasonable improvements with separation, resolution and definition over the Shanling UA3. So in short, SV023 is not a very whiny headphone, pair it with something jolly and crisp and watch it dance.
I don't know why but initially I wasn't expecting a lot out of this fairly expensive headphone but I was in for a pleasant surprise. I have a few headphones in this price range, while all of these are very good, none have the balance and end to end accuracy of the Sivga. SV023 delivers a well rounded performance which barely leaves much to be desired. It's not bass heavy and has a well balanced spectrum with a mild W shaped signature. SV023 does all this without suppressing or trimming out resolution or definition. Just like most of the head-gears of recent times the SV023 too doesn't have much coloration while having a neutral timber. If you have to know, yes, this headphone is considerably better sounding than the SVo21.
I have used Micro Signature, S.M.S.L. D-6 paired with Bravo Audio V2, Shanling UA3 and Questyle M15 for this review.
This 50mm dynamic driver has a more balanced approach and doesn't exaggerate the lower end but delivers very good details with very good accuracy. It has very good sub-bass extension and rumble for an open back headphone but doesn't have a huge volume or heft to it. This lower end is tighter and more precise. Mid bass is slightly fuller and voluminous than the sub-bass but is still not in the bassy category. There is good amount of punch but it's not heavy or slow. It doesn't try to bring the bass unless the track asks for it, exhibiting its control and dynamic abilities. Upper bass is equally energized and capable as the SV023 doesn't have any issues in place notes dynamically. SV023 doesnt skimp on technicalities, delivering the notes in layers without slowing down or dropping frames. Decay speed is on the faster side and is neck in neck with more expensive headphones like Focal Clear.
If you are looking for hard hitting bass with vim and vigor, this might not be it. SV023 doesn't have a lot of interest in pleasing the bass heads. It is more about accuracy and precision while keeping the air clean of any wooliness or bloating.
I have heard a lot of headphones, extensively in this price range of $150-600, but since the Ollo s4x and Fischer M12s there wasn't anything comparable to these. There was something off with most of them. But that streek is broken by the SV023. This HP has one of the best presentation and imaging in this price range and can easily outplay cheaper headphones with both its technical and musical abilities.
Sivga has tuned this mid range with high precision and accuracy, I was slightly skeptical of its abilities but once I A-Bed with Sennheiser HD650 it left no doubts in my mind. First thing that caught my attention is its pleasing natural and cohesive timber. There is little to no aggression and the aggression it has is either well controlled or is necessary. Sviga is simply superior to its HD650 in every way possible. It has better balance, slightly less attacking note, a calmer approach with better air between instruments and cleaner, clearer presentation. I was surprised by the stage expansion and instrument distribution, it's more even and has better definition of individual notes too.
Unlike most of the headphones SV023 has a more balanced vocal region giving it a more accomplished and mature feeling. Both male and female vocals barely have any aggression and maintain a very good balance of energy and body. Tonality and timber too are very accurate with high quality texture. While I was listening to "Fallout boy: my song knows what you did in the dark" SV023 impressed me a lot with its back and foreground separation of both male and female vocal and instruments. The way it creates a stage with accurate instrument placement, aided with subtle cue placement is what makes this an excellent headphone. It doesn't have any deformation or unnecessary attack to worry about. There is no uncomfortable aggression in the upper mid either. It's accuracy with instruments like guitar, triangle and similar percussion instruments are absolutely spot-on, vivid yet not sharp. If anything, there is no dull feeling with the SV023. This mid range is tuned for precision and accuracy.
The only place where I find it compromising is with the lower mids. It just dials the energy down to maintain a bit of clarity and separation but this leads to a bit of less transparency to this region.
Treble region retains all the goodness of the mid range and make it slightly milder. It's lively, crispy and agile yet clear of any offence or aggression. SV023 brings out the melodious yet accurate side of tracks with its exemplary sonic and dynamic abilities. Its ability to distinguish central and surrounding acts is superlative. Treble extension too has little to desire but yes, the upper treble region is slightly relaxed yet retains excellent definition and resolution.
SOUND STAGE AND IMAGING:
As mentioned in the mid range SV023 is a highly capable headphone when it comes to imaging. It has high quality contrast between back and fore ground instruments and the layering and separation is top quality. SV023 delicately places subtle notes further from the head adding up to its sonicality.
Stage size too is above average for a headphone in this price. Initially the stage was a bit intimate, I though, okay.. This is not bad but it opened up with burn-ins and after 120+ hrs it has a well developed stage with evenly dense instrument distribution. No part of the spectrum feel heavy or over crowded. This stage has very good expansion in every direction. It's more holographic than the HD650 thanks to its wider and deeper stage. Height is very good too but is not as tall as the HD650.
VS Sennheiser HD650:
This has been one of the crowd favorite under $500 and I can understand why but this headphone has started to show its age. Both the headphones have excellent details, and resolution but HD650 is a hit or miss when it comes to definition. Those who like tighter notes and do not worry about sharper notes might like the Hd650, for other Sivga has the SV023. Due to its leaner notes HD650 lacks with tonality, timber and body, notes feel a bit compressed yet tall giving it a unnaturally developed stage height while the SV023 has these things more natural and cohesive. Notes have precise yet fuller body and do not have the excessive finishing energy either. SV023 does not try to make thing lean to bring better transparency like HD650 but still maintains very good clarity. It might hurt a few but SV023 has a much bigger stage than the HD650, its much bigger in every dimension delivering better layering, air between instruments. Thanks to its delicate nature SV023 has better sonics and feels more dynamic while the HD650 can feel a bit monotonous.
Yes, definitely, HD650 needs tube amps priced at over its asking price to tame its excessive energy while retaining good amount of its resolution and detail but the SV023 does not need anything like this. SV023 is happy with most of the sources. If the source is not thin sounding, SV023 is game.
Hmm, as I usually feel with all the head gears I love, I feel like writing all the things in the conclusion too. It just comes naturally. SV023 is a very capable headphone to say the least. It has nearly everything one can ask for. It has the vividness, transparency and details without compromising with dynamics or sonicality. All this is held together in a well developed stage.
In short SV023 is a jolly yet highly technically capable headphone. It is one of the best all-rounder in the market under $500.
I had the pleasure to listen to the new Sivga SV023 headphone at the Munich show and now we have the full review for you. For us this is the best Sivga headphone up to now and we're giving it our recommended buy award. Find out how the SV023 sounds and performs, now on Headfonia! An article by @Virtu Fortuna