The Sivga SV023 are a rich, musical sounding pair of open-backed headphones with an attractive and comfortable design that ensures they can be worn without causing much discomfort. Make sure to partner them with a DAC/headphone amplifier to get the best from them.
- Rich, musical performance
- Great aesthetics
- Comfortable to wear
- Not the sharpest or most detailed
- Need a DAC/headphone amplifier to produce their best
- Open-back designOpen design for bigger soundstage
- ConnectorsCable terminates in 4.4mm with 3.5/6.3mm adaptor included
- Driver50mm dynamic with LCP composite diaphragm plated with Beryllium material
Sivga has been releasing headphones at a decent clip in 2022, and the SV023 is the most expensive one we’ve tested.
It’s another wood-designed affair, using walnut wood for the earcups to give the headphones a natural appearance. There are no planar magnetic drivers on this model like on the P-II, the SV023 opts for a large 50mm dynamic driver, but the design is open-backed for a wider, more spacious stereo image.
While it’s more expensive, is the Sivga SV023 one of the better pound-for-pound headphones within its price range?
- Lovely walnut finish
- Light and comfortable fit
- Open-backed design
Like every other Sivga and Sendy headphone that’s sat on my head, the SV023 are very comfortable to wear. They weigh less than the P-II at 318g (compared to 420g) and feel light on the head with a clamping force that’s sufficient to keep the headphones secure but not tight or overbearing.
The high-protein earpads are soft and cushy, similar to the P-II, with a textured interior that helps them stay affixed around the ear area in a manner I found didn’t cause much irritation. A new design trait is the perforated holes within the earpad, Sivga claiming that this offers good ‘breathability’ in terms of comfort and tuning the SV023’s audio.
The earcup profile is more circular rather than oval, the wood used for the construction is walnut for a high-quality and smooth feel. The use of walnut certainly boosts it in the aesthetic stakes.
The open-backed design opens the soundstage for a wider, more spacious performance, though it does mean that these headphones leak sound, so if you’re using these outdoors people can get a sense of what you’re listening to, and it can also filter through outside noises like a wireless headphones’ transparency mode. Put your hand over the membrane and you can hear the soundstage reduce in width.
The headband is adjustable and performs well to relieve pressure. The lightness of the headphones is generally impressive, the seal is well-formed and, I could, and have, worn these headphones for a few hours without having to adjust the fit too much.
- Large 50mm dynamic driver
- Stated 300-ohms of impedance
- 2m cable
Packaged with the Sivga SV023 is a 2m 6N OCC cable designed to be difficult to get tangled. That’s not to say it won’t get tangled (it does) but when it does it’s easy to untangle. The cable terminates in a 4.4mm connector, and within the hard case is a 3.5mm adaptor along with a 3.5mm to 6.3mm adaptor.
The Sivga SV023’s driver set-up is a large size 50mm dynamic driver. The bigger the driver, the bigger the soundstage and bass, but bigger drivers don’t necessarily translate to better sound – that depends on how the driver itself has been tuned.
The driver’s diaphragm uses an LCP composite with Beryllium material that Sivga says assists in creating strong sense of dynamism, high fidelity and wide extension of the soundstage. At 300-ohms this is a headphone that performs better with a DAC or headphone amplifier in tow – that’s a figure too large to be driven by a smartphone on its own, for example.
The frequency range is 20Hz to 40KHz, which covers the parameters of High-Resolution Audio, and with sensitivity at 105dB they’re towards the louder end of the spectrum, so again a DAC/headphone amplifier would be of use to give them a boost.
- Smooth, textured performance
- Good dynamism, rhythmic ability
- Bass is tasteful in application
One thing to consider is which DAC/headphone amplifier to partner the Sivga with. For this test I used a combination of the Chord Mojo 2 and Earmen Eagle, and to my ears the Sivga tended to take on aspects of its partnered DAC’s character.
With the Eagle it was cooler in tone, detailed if not quite as sharp as the closed-back SV021. With the Chord they were more expressive with richer a high frequency performance with some tracks. It pays to have a partner in mind to bring out the headphone’s best traits.
Much of the testing was done with the Mojo 2 (£495) but I did use these headphones with the 3.5mm jack of a Lenovo laptop to gauge the Sivga’s own character. Voices had a bigger, broader presence within the SV023’s soundstage without the DAC – pushed a little further forward – but Chord wrings out more definition, the way the soundstage is organised is also different.
The Sivga’s own presentation is that’s consistently smooth and textured. Travelling back in time to the late 90s with Natalia Imbruglia’s Torn with Chord assisting, and there are good levels of clarity to her vocal performance, the instruments fed out toward the extremities of the soundstage are supplied with good levels of definition and detail, the Mojo 2 amps up the energy conveyed and rhythmic flow of the track.
The sound of the SV023 is fairly well balanced throughout the frequency range, carrying a slightly warm approach to its sound. Miles Davis’ trumpet performance in Shh / Peaceful is expressive and somewhat bright in tone, if not played overtly so.
But there’s a nice texture to the performance that captures the definition of the trumpet’s leading edges, the variation between short and longer trumpet bursts have a nice richness to them. The cymbal lacks a crispness and sense of attack to its reproduction, but the overall smoothness makes for a laid-back sound that kept my attention throughout the song’s first half (it is 18 minutes long after all).
What’s most clear about the Sivga’s performance is how natural they sound, communicating the texture of instruments and voices with a defter and more lively hand than the Monolith M1070 does. Kendrick Lamar’s quick verses in United in Grief from Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers and Zara McFarlane’s soaring voice in Everything is Connected are rendered clearly, smoothly and with that touch of warmth and richness that is pleasant on the ears.
With Mama’s Got a Brand New Hammer from Michael Giacchino’s Thor: Love and Thunder, there’s a lovely sense of feeling and longing communicated by the headphone/DAC’s rendering of the harp in the track’s first half, segueing into a flowing, dynamic orchestral symphony that rises and falls gracefully followed by an energetic, rock ‘n’ roll second half that places the Sivga as a flowing, musical-sounding pair.
There’s good control over the bass elements in that track, although it lacks much punch and slam to the low frequencies – the low frequency performance is tasteful and measured rather than big and weighty.
There’s also a pleasing sense of space, scale and expansiveness to the soundstage the SV023 presents, with good space for instruments and vocals to co-exist. There are good levels of detail and definition in the midrange although the Sivga’s aren’t sharpest sounding pair by placing an emphasis on smoothness. I suspect for many this may make the headphones an easier, more engaging listen.
With Fade from Takuya Kuroda’s Fly Moon Die Soon and the SV023 present a neat and tidy organisation of the track, Kuroda’s trumpet is nicely bright and rich, Corey King’s vocals nicely and smoothly characterised in the centre along offering good depth to the SV023’s stereo image.
The following track, ABC, is a tougher track to deal and Sivga offers good separation between the instruments, with fine clarity and timbre to the trumpet and percussive elements married with good timing and energy to ensure the track doesn’t sound muddled.
Should you buy it?
For their warm, musical sound There’s a richness and smoothness to the SV023’s reproduction of music that’s very appealing, a lively, dynamic performance that’s consistently entertaining.
If you want more detail Compared to an open-backed headphone like the Monolith M1070, the Sivga are more expressive but if you’re after a pair that’s more neutral, sharper and detail you may want to look elsewhere
The SV023 are an engaging listen with a range of music, their rich, musical and weighty performance is one filled with smoothness and texture that makes them a satisfying pair of headphones to listen to.
Their appearance is great, like other Sivga headphones and their comfort/weight is excellent, good to wear for long sessions without causing much obvious discomfort. They’re a better listen than the similarly priced Monolith M1070, livelier and more expressive in tone – just make sure they’re partnered with a DAC that brings the best out of their performance.
How we test
We test every headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry-standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.
Tested across three weeks
Tested with multiple DAC/headphone amplifiers
Tested with Hi-Res Audio
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The SV023 are packaged with both a 6.3mm and 3.5mm adaptor.
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