Sivga SV023 Review
Sivga has carved a special niche for itself over the years by specializing in HiFi wooden headphones. The first time I saw Sivga brand headphones, my curiosity was immediately piqued by their crafty and somewhat rustic look. It’s pleasantly unusual to see a natural material like wood get used to house modern electronics. While other brands have their own special wooden headphone releases, Sviga has made an entire brand out of it; I imagine this speaks to the special qualities such a material unlocks. Let’s take a closer look at the alluring aesthetics of the open back, over ear SV023 before we get into what exactly they sound like.
What’s In The Box?
-6N OCC audio cable
-Leather carrying case
-Hemp wire bag
-Adaptor: 4.4mm to 3.5mm
-Adaptor: 3.5mm to 6.35mm
Look and Feel
Upon opening the somewhat large, wood-colored packing box, I was legitimately surprised at what I saw: no headphones, no cables, no wires or booklets; rather simply, a large, sturdy and exceedingly elegant leather carrying case. The leather is a polished russet brown, with a gold colored zipper and gold colored studs on the base of the case that allow it to stand upright. It’s as if Sivga wants you to put this above your fireplace next to a bottle of 18 year-aged scotch – if I had either a fireplace or scotch, I certainly would.
The SV023 itself also has a generous share of luxurious qualities that go well beyond its fairly affordable $200 price point: warm walnut wood on the cans is complimented by the silver-colored grill on their open back. The skin friendly velvet and memory foam pads have a special ear-shape for an optimal fit, and are porous along their outside edges to provide ventilation for a more comfortable listening experience.
The malleable stainless steel headband ensures the perfect amount of light-yet-secure pressure around the ears. A suspended and adjustable leather band attaches at either end of the steel headband, which enables the SV023 to fit to the size and shape of your head as soon as you put them on; no fussing with bracket length required.
The over ear cans on the SV023 are uniquely housed in walnut wood and utilize a 50mm dynamic driver made of aviation grade aluminum alloy. Their isolation didn’t leave much of an impression on me and seemed generally typical of open back headphones. With an impedance of 300 ohms, I would advise using a headphone amp/DAC to get the most out of their sound. The included detachable 6N OCC cable is noticeably insulated and feels like it can withstand quite a bit of trauma. Its braided design is a thoughtful detail that heavily cuts back on tangling.
-Impedance: 300 (+/-15) Ohms
-Sensitivity: 105 dB (+/- 3)
-Frequency Response: 20Hz-40 kHz
The imaging on the SV023 isn’t the fastest I’ve heard on a pair of over ear headphones, but considering its price point, it’s tight and does the trick. The speakers sit a considerable distance from the ears and definitely do justice to dramatic pans. The soundstage is one of a kind and surprisingly dark for open backs. Subs carry a modest character, while low mids do the heavy lifting. Though possessing an overall dark timbre, the highs and high mids on these have their own unique expression and add a welcome balance to the overall tone.
A defining character of the low end was tastefully subdued subs. This characteristic kept frequency masking in check as the rest of the lows came through hard and packed a punch. Sub heavy kick drums with fast decays sounded precise and impactful, while electric basses and deep saw-tooths took on a pleasant growl. The added low end on guitars was a nice touch as well and felt like a logical compliment to the drive they expressed in the low mids.
The low mids are the meat and potatoes for the SV023. Pianos were expressed with a very rich and warm harmonic clarity, and distorted guitars were thick and satisfying. I was a bit surprised to find that of all genres, metal tracks really complimented the timbre of these serene looking wooden headphones. Noisy tracks with fat mid ranges had an added energy that sounded natural. I did find that the lows in the mids were quite heavily favored over the highs, but not in a way that was distracting or detracting; these phones aren’t for monitoring, and have their own creatively EQ’ed character.
I find the dark timbre of the SV023 unusual for an open back unit, but not unwelcome. Strummed acoustic guitars took their power from the lower end of the frequency spectrum, but were kissed by the highs that still expressed the bright transients of a pick hitting metal strings. Ride cymbals still had their natural sizzle, and handclaps and snare drums still snapped. The lower frequency emphasis on this model from Sivga may be its defining feature, but the highs jump in at just the right time to protect the mix from getting muddy.
The strength and focus of the SV023 does not lie in perfect frequency reproduction, but rather in a uniquely warm sound character that I encourage you to hear for yourself. Also something to consider that may sound funny but should be considered: don’t underestimate just how cool you feel pulling out a pair of walnut headphones from an extravagant leather carrying case. These phones would make a spicy addition to an audiophile’s headphone collection, or an impressionable gift for even a casual listener.