Today’s feature is an in-depth review of the new SIVGA SV023 which is a wood-themed beryllium-plated dynamic driver headphone. It is priced at $449.
Disclaimer: This is a sample that was sent in exchange for our honest opinion. Headfonics is an independent website that does not have any affiliate links or status. We thank SIVGA for this opportunity.
To learn more about SIVGA products previously featured on Headfonics you can click here.
Note, that this article follows our latest scoring guidelines which you can read up on here.
SIVGA SV023 Review
The SIVGA SV023 offers a luxurious listen around the midsection with rather high levels of detail production. Their only lack is in the low bass tuning which can be easily remedied by boosting with equalization or a DSP implemented bass boost.
In the short industry time span of six years, SIVGA has slipped into the international headphone market level. Their most notable model so far has been the Peacock, a $1500 full-sized Planar and up till now there are no significant negative comments anywhere I could find on any of their gear. So far so good as they say.
The Robin SV021 is another SIVGA popular model known for its solid price-to-performance ratio. It supplies the buyer with a metal-constructed headband that is adequately padded and comfortable, artisan-made wooden cups, and a sound that alone is well worth the asking price according to many.
So, the next model to come into the spotlight from SIVGA is an open-back model which contrasts the SV021’s closed-back design and is labeled the SIVGA SV023.
But I don’t think it’s in line with the SV021 because the asking retail leads me to believe the SV023 is not a sidestep but a step up from the SV021. It naturally has to be.
The SIVGA SV023 is a single dynamic driver full-size headphone and its main component is a single driver which in this case seems to implement a composite cone construction. This is done at times to somewhat obtain the best of multiple materials and allows exploiting each of their best characteristics.
In this case, the driver is an in-house custom driver with a liquid crystal polymer cone and a Beryllium plated center dome piece that seems to be mounted in a ring-shaped frame with a vented pole piece designed Neodymium iron bore, or NdFeb magnetic structure.
The driver size is 50mm with a rated frequency response of 20Hz to 40kHz. The driver’s sensitivity is given as 105db with three decibels plus or minus variance and an impedance of 300Ω and with a spread of 15% give or take.
The SIVGA custom drivers are nestled within hand-crafted Walnut cups that uncannily, no pun intended resemble the KHL Ultimate One cup design. The drivers are protected upfront by a perforated front cover and there seems to be some kind of venting around 70% of the edge of the driver mounting position.
The pads are removable and are fairly easy to remove and replace, surprisingly so. They slip within a groove around the outer rim of the driver housing which is held to the wooden cup assembly by four set screws.
I personally contacted SIVGA and they hinted at the fact that these pads will be available for retail purchase. They do sell pads actually, who knew?
The stock pads are made with perforated leather on both the inner and outer parts. The part that touches your face is made of soft grey cloth. The shape of the two ear pads is tapered to contour to your head and is angled but mostly on top.
The headband assembly consists of a dual steel spring leaf mounted on a metal swivel piece with metal yokes. The other pieces I could tell are metal are the back circle on the wooden ear cups which are composed of a metal outer ring and what seems to be a stainless-steel mesh grill. All the metal has a black anodized finish except for the mesh grill.
Comfort & Isolation
The SIVGA SV023 stock pads seem to be made with fast-responding memory foam and the materials used are very soft to the touch but still seem durable. That combined with a headband that applies just the right amount of clamping force makes these very comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
The head strap also seems comfortable for long-wearing sessions. It seems to be made of leather and sure smells like it. The headband employs 9 thin nugget-style bumps that also seem to incorporate memory foam but a slower recovering type.
The ear cups do have some swivel room but only around 15%. I would have preferred a full swivel to allow me to lay the cups flat on a table. I could take it or leave it far as the headband assembly not folding because that just adds complexity and could affect structural integrity so I’m okay with that. The entire headphone weight is 318 grams.
Now, let’s talk about isolation. For a supposed open back the SV023 has a rare ability to keep sound leakage to a minimum while at the same time remaining very open to outside noise.
So, they seem to be made for those buyers who are looking for an open-back headphone design but dislike bothering others around them or at least want to keep leakage to a minimum for whatever reason.
The stock SIVGA SV023 cable’s input side connectivity uses a 4.4mm Pentaconn balanced connector and SIVGA throws in the box a matching 4.4mm to a 3.5mm TRS single-ended adapter that measures approximately 8 inches. The cup input connectivity uses dual 2.5mm TS plugs.
All the cable’s hardware is metal with a black anodized finish to match the headband assembly. The only metal part that does not have an anodized finish is the spring strain relief used on both the 4.4mm and the 3.5mm plug on the adapter.
The main cable assembly is made with 6N OCC wire twisted in a 4-wire braid. At the Y-junction the cable transitions into a set of twisted pairs. The wire is done in a dual-color shield scheme to give some contrast to the braid. It’s a rather nice-looking cable assembly I must say.
The entire stock SV023 cable assembly I measured at just 2 inches short of 6 feet, which translates to just under 2 meters long. It’s a perfect length for desktop use but a touch too long for portable use.
Packaging & Accessories
Since the SIVGA SV023 headband assembly doesn’t fold the included case had to be rather large understandably but I was tempted to sprinkle some baby powder on it. I almost blushed when I first saw it actually. I say that for laughs but it’s actually a nice case.
The ‘Booty’ case as I affectionately call it is leather-covered and SIVGA embossed. The hard-shell case has dual heavy-duty zippers and is internally shaped to cradle the headphones within it perfectly. A cloth liner protects the headphone while it’s inside the case.
You also get a Hemp Burlap sack for the cable assembly. The only other accessories inside the box are the cable assembly, of course, the 3.5mm adapter, and a 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter. Surprisingly my set did not come with any kind of literature.
I would consider the SIVGA SV023 to be closer to a studio monitor in character and relaxed more than anything although it tilts to the musical side a notch. It tries to portray a flat frequency response although I personally detected a few peaks, particularly in the upper midrange and lower treble areas.
The SV023 has what I consider a Beryllium driver type sonic presentation more than an LCP tone. The main characteristics come through with a neutral tonality that gives off a very close to a true tonality presentation.
Especially in the mid and upper regions and there seems to be no emphasis nor is it recessed in any area in particular, but contrary so in the bass region and the mentioned peaks.
The tonal spectrum comes through somewhat bass light since the bass tilts down below 30Hz, is barely audible at 23Hz, continues its downward slope, and drops off completely right above 20Hz so there is a low amount of ultra-sub bass. Mid-bass has no emphasis whatsoever and I would consider the bass to be ruler flat excepting the early downslope.
In continuation, the midrange transition is indeed smooth and all remains flat but when you get into the upper mid regions you will run into 3 peaks. Actually, they’re closer to the high frequencies.
There’s one peak at 7 kHz and at 5 kHz. But the highest peak is at around 2 kHz which gives the midrange a very strong presence in that area.
The treble response is represented with adequate volume and equality in output with all the other frequencies. The highs seem well balanced and neither emphasized nor recessed. I would say almost right where they should be in volume and presence.
If we start from bottom to top starting with the bass response I would describe it as a little dry and if you’re like me that enjoy fat riffs then you would most likely employ some equalization.
The good news is that when you do boost those lower bass, particularly below 60Hz the SIVGA SV023 can handle a bunch and becomes more in line with someone who likes heavy bass tones.
Not that this headphone will be ideal for bass head use, I’m not saying that at all because the SV023 aims for overall balance. But the bass once boosted will give off a nice bloom but not so much boom.
The bass is fast, clear-noted, and responsive but it doesn’t have a heavy kick and only manifests a medium amount of punch when you boost below 60 Hz. The midrange has a very nice, smooth tonality yes, but most important to mention I feel is the amount of micro detail and nuances that come through especially in the midrange section.
The two midrange peaks might even be responsible for those details mostly but the 2kHz peak sometimes gets intense when the volume is turned up. However, the listener who keeps the volume at around that 90db sweet spot or below will be treated with plenty of background detail and will not experience any vociferating.
The high frequencies are airy with a lot of shimmer but could plash during extended notes especially right around that 7k peak which is raised by I’d say 5 decibels minimum over flat.
The top end of the spectrum is in general properly and tastefully tuned and they never became pesky or fatiguing. They always remained generally pleasant.
Staging & Dynamics
Since the time I started writing for Headfonics, I noticed a number of headphone makers that are veering away from the unrealistically airy and ultra-wide staging because the intensity and personal space headphones created are most enjoyable with a realistic and well-placed stage as in the SV023.
The SIVGA SV023 does not have a large soundstage and to be sincere it remained within my head most times in listening sessions and rarely projected a forward image or even one far left or right.
Side imaging was more spacious compared to its depth most of the time. I did use lots of different setups so the source was not the origin of the staging characteristics mentioned.
However, within that space, the SV023 creates within your head detailed micro placement with good accuracy and displayed very technical ability. There is some good height projection and within the given space a good amount of dimensional information is produced but not much upfront.