Sivga was founded in 2016 and wasted no time in making a splash. Its headphones are beautifully designed, using natural wood and premium components so products look as good as they sound. The SV023 is its latest set and features walnut housings with an open-back design for spacious, realistic sound. Inside, it features Sivga’s latest dynamic driver technology, coated with beryllium for superior audio performance. They don’t come cheap, but these headphones offer excellent sound quality and comfort, allowing you to slip away into your favorite music and games.
Thank you to HiFiGo for providing the sample for this review.
- Current Price: $449 (HiFiGo, Amazon)
- Key Features
- Modern and Simplistic design with Wooden ear cups
- Hand-made Walnut Wooden housings
- Semi-Open Architecture with CNC processed aviation aluminum alloy grill and stainless steel mesh
- Comfortable Wearing Experience with Ergonomic headband
- Lightweight leather headband
- Uniquely designed ear pads for a comfortable fit and good seal
- Powerful sound performance with 50mm large dynamic driver and LCP composite beryllium-plated diaphragm
- High-purity 6N OCC copper cable with 4.4mm balanced termination
- Impedance: 300Ω±15%
- Sensitivity: 105dB
- Frequency Response Range: 20Hz-40kHz
- Driver Type: Dynamic Driver
- Driver Size: 50mm
- Weight: 318 grams
SIVGA SV023 Open-Back Headphones - What Is It?
The Sivga SV023 is, in essence, an artisanal headphone. It’s designed with top-shelf materials inside and out to deliver a headphone that sounds as good as it looks. And, it does look the part.
The headphones use beautiful walnut cups that are finely finished. I’m a sucker for the dark, rich hue of finished walnut, so am predisposed to like these, but Sivga really did a nice job milling the cups and blending into the connected hardware. The back of each earcup features an open-back, covered with a grille woven from thick wire, ringed with a matte black loop. Combined with the black yokes and headband, the SV023 has a classic, refined look about it.
The headband is metal but uses an adjustable leather strap to distribute its weight. The strap is made of goat skin, which is especially soft. The design here is very well done. Visually, it reminds me of the BLON BL-60, but where BLON completely missed the mark and delivered a rattly mess that would ring like a tuning fork at the smallest touch, Sivga nails it. There is no worrying rattle and the metal headband is dampened, so taps don’t ring out. You get what you pay for and Sivga is giving lessons in high-quality design.
The rest of the frame is also metal, including where it meets the earcups. It uses U-style yokes that allow the earcups to angle and turn to match the shape of your face. They don’t lie completely flat, however, so you can’t rest these around your neck without bumping them with your chin. That can be a little annoying when you need to take a break but don’t want to completely remove them, but thankfully they’re so comfortable, you won’t need to do that often.
Around the bottom of each cup is a pair of gold-ringed jacks for the detachable cable. Each side takes a 2.5mm mono jack. These then run together and terminate in a 4.4mm balanced pentaconn connection. Sivga also includes a 4.4mm to 3.5mm adapter cable, as well as a 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter, so you should be able to connect them to most DACs and amps on the market.
The cable itself is very nice. It’s composed of four strands and is a 6N OCC braided cable. It’s exceptionally soft and color matched with brown and copper to match the earphones themselves. The ends are all metal-sheathed and gold terminated for durability. Since it’s detachable, you can easily swap it out, but I don’t know why you would want to. It’s great and an excellent match for the headphones themselves.
Before getting to the drivers, the pads here are definitely worth a mention. Sivga uses a hybrid pad design unlike any I’ve seen before. The cushions are angled so they’re thicker in the back (similar to HIFIMAN) but are contoured to match the curvature surrounding the ear. Getting a seal around the ear is absolutely thoughtless, so you can get right to listening. The pads use perforated leather on the outer and inner rings for breathability and sound tuning, but where it meets your face is a soft, velvety fabric. The padding is memory foam but the design allows it to shed heat and not become overly hot, even in my very warm home office, parked next to a hot gaming PC.
Under the hood, the headphones use big, 50mm, custom-designed dynamic drivers. The drivers are composed of liquid crystal polymer (LCP) coated in beryllium to increase its rigidity. Beryllium coating is a popular driver treatment as it improves bass performance, speed, and detail across the frequency spectrum. It’s an expensive and rather dangerous process, however, so it’s still mainly found on more premium headphones like the SV023.
The componentry is premium and can deliver an outstanding listening experience, but this is definitely a set I would recommend using with an amplifier. It features an impedance of 300 ohms and a sensitivity of 105dB. While it’s possible to get these to a suitable volume level from a gaming motherboard or medium-sized dongle DAC, a higher powered source is definitely the recommended course for the best sound quality. Going from a dongle even to my Rodecaster Pro 2 was a major jump in bass performance and soundstage.
SIVGA SV023 Open-Back Headphones - Fit and Comfort
Sivga has nailed the fit and comfort of these headphones. The clamping force is just tight enough to keep them from sliding out of place during normal use. At only 318 grams, they’re also quite light. The weight is well distributed by the goat-skin strap, so I didn’t experience any hot-spotting or fatigue even over long listening sessions.
I also really enjoyed the pads. The contouring seemed odd at first, but really worked to their benefit over time. The SV023 don’t need frequent re-adjustment to maintain a proper seal. At the same time, they don’t trap heat and are quite enjoyable.
SIVGA SV023 Open-Back Headphones - Listening Impressions
For this review, I conducted most of my listening use a mix of the Rodecaster Pro and the Questyle M15 dongle DAC (in balanced mode, high gain).
Bass: The low-end on this set is tame, and there’s a noticeable sub-bass roll-off. The emphasis, then, is on the mid-bass and it is delivered with neutrality. It doesn’t seem unnecessarily accentuated, but what’s there is of excellent quality. What the SV023 lacks in sub-bass rumble it makes up for with speed and texture. These headphones have enough punch to be fun, but it’s really about how much you’re able to perceive in the space. Subtle details, like the oscillation of bass notes, come through clearly. I would have preferred a bit more low-end “oomph” but can’t argue with the what Sivga has baked in here. Bass makes this a good fit for acoustic and jazz.
For gaming, it’s wonderful for atmospherics and creating a sense of space with life and body, but you may miss some of the ear-shaking explosions of a bass-heavier set.
Mids: Energetic and fun! As a fan of guitar-driven music, I love the mid-range performance on these headphones. There is a ton of detail to be had in the mid-range, too. If you have an ear for it, the timbre and texture of mid-range instruments is plentiful, airy, and lovely. Vocals can be a bit too forward at times but are generally airy and fun. Layering of instruments, vocals, and audio sources is also very good in this register.
This section is especially important for gaming performance as it’s where your most important audio cues and directional advantages come from. You have nothing to fear with this set. You’ll be able to pick up every audio cue, no matter how noisy or bombastic your current environment is. Footsteps, shoutouts, and distant gunshots are apparent.
Treble: Treble performance is crisp, particularly with percussion and cymbals. The initial strikes on these instruments pop out of the mix and the trailing ends ring out naturally. I appreciated the sense of air imparted by the treble range, too, as it lended music and games a better sense of space and atmosphere. Treble isn’t fatiguing on this set. It’s well-tuned for long listening sessions.
Technical Performance, Soundstage, and Imaging: The SV023 are performers when it comes to technicalities. The detail retrieval is excellent throughout the frequency range, which makes music and games sound both lively and true to life. The soundstage is especially wide, which is great for gaming, and extends deep. Likewise, the layering and imaging is very good with this set. You can hear everything wrapped into the mix, all on its individual plane and position on the headstage. At times, that position can get a touch blurry, but is overall quite good.
As you might imagine, the tuning and technical performance of the SV023 makes it a strong contender for a HiFi gaming headphone. The acoustic performance will put any modern gaming headset to shame, save perhaps a touch more bass which can easily be added in. You won’t need Dolby Atmos to enhance the soundstage or directional presentation of these headphones. They’re good to go straight out of the box for just about anything you’d care to throw at them.
Overall Impressions and Final Thoughts
The SV023 is the first model I’ve tried from Sivga and, after hearing it for myself, I certainly hope it won’t be the last. The engineers have done an outstanding job of creating a balanced sound that embraces details, soundstage, and an airy, natural sound quality. The design wins extend into the physical domain too, as this is one of the most comfortable headphones I’ve worn in a long time. At $449, the Sivga SV023 doesn’t come cheap, but it’s an excellent choice for mid-range HiFi headphones.
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