Sivga is getting exponentially more popular in the audiophile world. However, their flourishing reputation is thanks to the brand’s over-ear headphones, which tend to over-perform for the price. But IEMs have never been Sivga’s thing. That is until now. The Nightingale is probably my favorite IEM for around 200 bucks. What makes this Sivga model so alluring to some ears? And what can you expect in terms of tuning and performance?
What’s in the Box?
- SIVGA Nightingale IEM
- Hard carrying case
- Various sizes silicone ear tips
- Hard ear tip case
Look and Feel
This is one classy design that you don’t often see from an IEM. An egg-shaped or “droplet” shaped faceplate sports a glossy wooden design, and overall, it’s an adult aesthetic that’s quite different from the glitzy, vibrantly colored bulbous shells we see from most leading brands. And personally, I appreciate the understated, yet expensive look. Although perfectly comfortable, the stem doesn’t reach that far into the ear canal. So, you might get less effective sound isolation than you would from a more conventional IEM.
The Nightingale showcases a 14.5mm planar magnetic driver. Though planar magnetic IEMs have become increasingly popular, they’re still a minority. So, the planar design is still somewhat fresh in the IEM world. The driver frame is made with a magnesium alloy material that is intended to minimize resonance. The diaphragm has been developed by Sivga’s own people, using an ultra-thin composite material designed to make treble frequencies more transparent, and the soundstage more expansive. We’ll see if this all holds up in practice.
The Nightingale comes with a single cable that has a 4.4mm termination. So, unless you have a recent player or a DAC that takes balanced plugs, you’re &^*% out of luck. For this review, I paired the Nightingale with the Astell & Kern SR35, which provided a little extra power to these slightly harder to drive planar driver IEMs. Still, if all you’ve got is your phone, you should still have enough headroom to spare.
The stage on the Nightingale is so multidimensional and circular, it’s like riding a hula-hoop of sound that you can reach out and grab. A lot of instruments are able to sit a far distance behind the ear; on other IEMs, these instruments are often flattened. It’s one of the few IEMs I’ve heard in this price range that can achieve true back-of-the head imaging. In fact, it almost feels like you’re listening to an over-ear headphone, it’s just that open. The stereo field is roomy as well, but without bordering on stadium-like vastness. The Nightingale’s top notch resolution and minimal resonance also come into play here, as there is such control and vibrant color to each element of the mix that every instrument becomes an integral aspect of the overall picture. For certain, there’s nothing mundane or relaxed about this soundstage, and nothing is ever lost. Ultimately, this is how a mixer wants to hear their track.
While there is some visceral (yet uncolored) sub-bass presence in the low-end, as we creep up the frequency range, the bass becomes more moderate and less a star of the show. The gradual taming of the bass as it approaches the low mids lends a clean break between the bass and midrange frequencies. Furthermore, this low-end structure allows for acoustic instruments to retain a natural color and weight. Resolution in this range is top notch, revealing an impressive transparency while maintaining a gentleness in resolve that’s warm and highly musical.
The low-mids are in full-force here, bringing tons of body and lushness to the mix. If the upper-mids get any more attention, it’s only minimally, at the very top of the midrange. This is not a particularly vocal forward profile. That said, you will hear some good snare impact in the upper mids, and there’s a nice balance between weightiness and snap. Still, this sound signature may not be dynamic enough for those who like certain aspects of the mix to really pop. However, the Nightingale is in no way lacking energy. It just delivers more of a steady power and slap rather than a smack in the face. It should also be noted how immaculately clean the layering is, giving firm definition to every element in the mix. And overall, the mids present a tasteful equilibrium, offering a combination of softness and liveliness that becomes harder to resist the longer you listen.
There’s nothing offensive or surprising about the highs either. They merely accompany the rest of the mix avoiding excessive volume or ostentatious sparkle. Still, there are elements worthy of being shown off, like the smooth and airy feel of vocals. And the Nightingale is able to achieve an elegant balance between lightness and richness. So, the treble is at once buoyant and voluptuous, again highlighting the delectability of this sound signature. Adding to the ease of the listening experience are the smooth treble peaks, that while never rolled off, are gentle at the song’s least forgiving moments. Finally, the fantastic transparency that we see in the lower frequencies remain here, revealing every breath and modulation of vocals and brass instruments, while exposing the subtle timbral elements of strings and pianos.
The Nightingale’s sound profile is nothing short of scrumptious. While it’s true that I’m a sucker for low-mids, I’d challenge anyone to sincerely dislike this sound signature. Sufficiently lively, yet lush and tenderly restrained, this tuning and delivery is just right. And as far as planar driver IEMs go, the Nightingale has to be my favorite, not only because it’s so enjoyable, but also because it’s pretty memorable. And that’s a hard feat to achieve in a saturated sea of great IEMs. If you like it warm, easy and all-encompassing with just a touch of snap, it probably doesn’t get better than this for the price.
You can buy the Sivga Nightingale at Audio 46.