Sivga Oriole Headphone Review
You can literally spot a pair of Sivga headphones from down the street. The Chinese headphone company has found its niche specializing in wooden headphones with all sorts of designs and purposes. Their newest release, the over-ear, closed-back Oriole, seems to be something of an upgrade to the similarly designed SV021. So let’s see for ourselves: is the $200 price tag on the Sivga Oriole a bargain or a hard sell?
What’s in the Box?
-Sivga Oriole Closed-Back Over-Ear Headphones
-3.5mm Headphone Cable
-3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter
-Cloth carrying pouch
Look and Feel
The cans are made of a pretty and rustic rosewood that are glossed over with piano paint, and are aesthetically reminiscent of sound diffusers that you might see in music studios. Between the rosewood housing, grey metal sliders, and white stiching on the top of the synthetic-leather headband, the headphones present an intriguing variety of materials and textures. In terms of looks, the Oriole has some inherently warm and and inviting qualities.
The headband seems fairly flexible and not particularly susceptible to breakage, and the sliders are similarly flexible as they can provide 180 degrees of swivel. Though I found the synthetic leather on the ear pads and headband to feel a bit cheap, I can’t say it wasn’t comfortable. The headband pressure was just right, and the Oriole sat very comfortably on my head at a surprisingly lightweight 280 grams. The drivers sat fairly far from the ears, which more than just being comfortable, seemed to be a contributing factor to its excellent sound stage. Though the included wire may be on the thin side, I had no concerns about tearing as it was well protected by high quality fabric insulation. At the end of the day, the fit and feel was perfect for a casual use headphone.
–Driver: 50mm Dynamic
–Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
–Impedance: 32 ohms
–Sensitivity: 108 dB
Sound Stage and Imaging
I’d argue that the imaging department alone is enough to make the Sivga Oriole a standout headphone. The sound stage is absolutely banging and even gives some significantly more expensive closed backs a run for their money. Pans took on dramatic and convincingly spacial qualities. Tracks were vibrantly positioned and true-to-the-mix, adding a sense of both intrigue and clarity to listening sessions. Mono lead vocals felt particularly centered and in-your-face relative to the instrumental parts spinning around and flanking them. The Oriole’s response time also stood out as a premium quality, easily keeping up with stereo tremolo pans that raced left and right. I’m happy to say that while the imaging may have been the Oriole’s most impressive quality, the balance certainly did not disappoint and, for the most part, was synergistic with the space given to it by the superb sound stage.
The Oriole may not have much emphasis in its mid bass – but seems love its subs. While I frequently had the experience of hearing bass more than feeling it, tracks with dense sub-bass seemed to activate heavy, vibratory qualities. Indie rock tracks that generally handle bass in moderation left me with a somewhat flat, analytical impression of the Oriole’s low end; electronic tracks, however, had the Oriole digging deep into its lows and throbbing along with heavy kick drums and bass synths. This is a low end that I, for one, can get behind: emphasizing the subs while staying modest on the mid and high bass allowed the Oriole to produce a powerful sound without sacrificing accuracy.
The recession in the mid-bass rolls into the lower mids perhaps a bit too heavily, leading to a somewhat unusual balance at times. Bass heads may be a little disappointed here, while those with more trebly preferences like myself may find some serendipity. Though guitar, piano, and snare drum fundamentals weren’t quite prominent enough for my preferences, the Oriole makes bold moves in its high mids that may be loved or hated – I, for one, mostly fall into the former category. Vocals were brought pretty high up in mixes, and guitars were kissed with a little extra twang. While snares didn’t have as much thump in their lower fundamental, their sandy decay was brought out – if you’re familiar with Sivga already, all I can say is that the Oriole’s truly unique handling of snare drums won’t sound unfamiliar. Though I generally enjoyed the oriole trebly mids profile, the only mild warning I offer is that this boost walked a very fine line when it came to female vocals. While I found it gave them extra presence, I could see some listeners finding discomfort instead.
There’s a roll-off from the high mids that leaves some boost in the sensitive 3-5kHz range, which plays into some of the bold treble present in the Oriole’s balance. Eventually, however, the Oriole seems to return to a rather natural balance in the highs that left the airiness in vocals and the sharp points in hi-hats intact. Cymbals generally retained crisp and realistic details. This is a high-end that aims for a middle ground for all listeners, and I imagine won’t be the source of much criticism regardless of your personal preferences on headphone timbre.
Despite a few shortcuts in the padding material, the lightweight and flexible design made the Oriole a pleasure to wear, and the rosewood housing added some classy flare that will certainly draw some eyes. The spacious and fluid sound stage was a genuine surprise, and was well matched with a fairly natural (even if at times twangy) balance. Sivga turns out headphones that aren’t quite like any others that I’ve seen or heard, and the Oriole keeps with this practice in the best way possible. When weighing the fairly modest $200 price tag with all of its positive attributes, I’m left with the impression that the Oriole has a rather exceptional quality-to-price ratio.
The Sivga Oriole can be purchased at Audio46.