Review: Sivga Robin (SV021) – Craftsman Spirit!

The Robin exhibit similar characteristics to other models - classic wooden ear cups with high profile gloss piano finish and metal headband.
The Robin exhibit similar characteristics to other models – classic wooden ear cups with high profile gloss piano finish and metal headband.

The Robin embodies the ‘craftsman spirit’ with its wooden ear cups finished with a piano gloss.

Thank you to Collin Yang from Sivga for providing the Robin (SV021) for review purposes.

The Robin are the latest closed-back headphones from Sivga. Similar to some of Sivga’s other models, the Robin feature wooden ear cups with a high gloss piano finish and metal headband. This is indeed a combination of classic and modern design, giving the Robin a unique appearance.

The Robin are powered by a pair of high-efficiency, in-house designed, 50mm dynamic drivers. Sivga designed the closed-back Robin to be easily driven to enhance their portability.

Sivga uses both the name Robin and the model number SV021 interchangeably. To avoid confusion, I will use the model name, Robin, for this review.
The Robin exhibit similar characteristics to other models - classic wooden ear cups with high profile gloss piano finish and metal headband.
Bottom Line

The Robin combined eye-catching design, a comfortable wearing experience, and outstanding sound quality. It is definitely a state-of-the-art headphones within a reasonable price tag under USD$200. Within this price range, I really can not find anything that is close to the Robin in terms of physical appearance and sonic performance.

What We Like
  • Excellent build quality with modern physical appearance
  • Precise bass response
  • Decent wearing comfort
  • Transparent and natural mids
  • Well-extended highs
  • High-quality stock cable
  • Can be easily driven for portable usage
What We Don't Like
  • The stock cable is too long for portable use
  • Hemp storage pouch does not protect headphones

Company Overview

Sivga was established in Dongguan city, China in 2016. Being a comprehensive enterprise, Sivga integrated research and design (R&D) with production and customer service. Their main focus is on innovating and producing high-quality headphones to meet the needs of the high-end audiophile community.

The team in Sivga has rich experience and in-depth technology background in this industry. From raw materials to the end-products, Sivga is dedicated to presenting an extraordinary experience to their customers by upholding the highest level of quality during the entire production procedure.

Technical Specifications

  • Form: Closed-back headphones
  • Drivers: 1 x 50mm dynamic driver with ultra-thin diaphragm made of polycarbonate (PC) and fiber
  • Impedance (Ohms): 32 Ohms
  • Sensitivity (dB): 105 dB ± 3 dB
  • Frequency Response (Hz): 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Removable Cable: Y
  • Source Jack: 3.5mm
  • Cup/Shell Jack: 2.5mm dual-mono jack
  • Mic: N
  • Weight (g): 275 g

Packaging

The unboxing experience of Robin is definitely enjoyable. The headphones are well-packaged in a black box, with the brand and model number printed on the front. On the back of the box, the technical specifications are printed in Chinese and English. The tagline of Sivga is printed on the back of the box too – “Created with Craftsman Spirit.”

The “spirit” can be immediately felt when you open the box.

There’s a hemp storage pouch included in the packaging. However, I find the protection provided by the fabric storage pouch to be insufficient. Perhaps, a simple hard case would serve the purpose better.

The headphones are well-packaged in a black box, with brand, model number, and technical specifications clearly printed.
The headphones are well-packaged in a black box, with brand, model number, and technical specifications clearly printed.
The “craftsman spirit” can be immediately felt when you open the box.
The “craftsman spirit” can be immediately felt when you open the box.

In the box

  • Sivga Robin headphones
  • Detachable cable (1.6m)
  • Hemp headphone storage pouch
  • 3.5mm to 6.35mm conversion adapter
The hemp pouch for storage purpose.
The hemp pouch for storage purpose.
The accessories included in the box.
The accessories included in the box.

Cable

The Robin come with a detachable cable, terminated with a 3.5mm unbalanced jack. On the headphone side, Sivga uses 2.5mm dual-mono tip-sleeve (TS) jacks. This type of jack is used by HiFiMan on their older HE4XX and Audioquest Nighthawk. The cable is well insulated with a layer of fabric at the outer layer. To reduce the strain stress exerted on the 3.5mm jack, Sivga includes a spring as strain-relief to improve overall durability.

The stock cable’s length is 1.6m. Personally, I find this length to be too long for portable usage. I would appreciate it if Sivga would include another shorter cable (around 1.3m) for portable usage.
On the headphone’s side, Sivga uses 2.5mm dual-mono tip-sleeve (TS) jacks. This type of jack is used by Hifiman on their older HE4XX and Audioquest Nighthawk.
On the headphone’s side, Sivga uses 2.5mm dual-mono tip-sleeve (TS) jacks. This type of jack is used by Hifiman on their older HE4XX and Audioquest Nighthawk.
To reduce the strain stress exerted to the 3.5mm jack, Sivga installed a spring as strain-relief to improve the overall durability of the cable.
To reduce the strain stress exerted to the 3.5mm jack, Sivga installed a spring as strain-relief to improve the overall durability of the cable.

Design

The eye-catching design of Robin is definitely one of their selling points. Sivga’s extensive experience in designing and producing wood ear cups is evident in the well-polished, shiny gloss finish. I could not stop myself from touching the ear cups immediately when I removed them from the box.

The surface is as smooth as a piano.

The cup surface is well-polished and finished to a high-profile shiny gloss.
The cup surface is well-polished and finished to a high-profile shiny gloss.

The headband of Robin is made of lightweight metal and matches well with the classic-looking ear cups, yielding a unique and modern design. The headband cushion and ear pads are light brown and thick, providing good comfort for users. The ear pads can be removed and replaced easily by twisting.

The silver headband matches well with the classic-looking ear cups, yielding a unique and modern design.
The silver headband matches well with the classic-looking ear cups, yielding a unique and modern design.
The ear pads can be removed and replaced easily by twisting.
The ear pads can be removed and replaced easily by twisting.
The clips on the bottom of the ear pads.
The clips on the bottom of the ear pads.

Comfort

I am not a frequent full-sized headphone user because the majority of headphone ear cups are too small for me. However, the Robin’s thick pads do not “press” on my face when I am wearing them, and the depth and width of ear cups are sufficient to house my big ears too.

The Robin provide me with a high level of comfort, and allow me to have them on for hours.

The headband is well-padded and appears to be the same material as the ear cups. The cushion distributes the weight of the headphones evenly on my head and I do not feel any hotspot pressure even after long hours of wearing.

The ear pads of Robin are thick and they do not really “press” on my face when I am wearing them.
The ear pads of Robin are thick and they do not really “press” on my face when I am wearing them.
The depth and width of ear cups are sufficient to house my big ears.
The depth and width of ear cups are sufficient to house my big ears.

Internals

The Robin are powered by a pair of 50mm dynamic drivers. Sivga designed the dynamic driver in-house with an ultra-thin diaphragm made of polycarbonate (PC) and fiber.

Sivga did not mention this specifically but I am assuming this is the same diaphragm used in their highly-acclaimed model, Phoenix.

Robin Sound

To analyze the sound quality of the Robin, I mainly used my desktop setup – a Topping E30 DAC with a iFi Audio Zen Can amplifier. After several hours of auditioning, I observed that despite the Robin being easily driven by portable DAP such as my Lotoo PAW6000, the performance from a more powerful source yields better results.

You’ll need a powerful source to obtain the maximum capability of the Robin.

The sound signature of the Robin can be classified as neutral and balanced. The three main parts of the frequency spectrum (bass, midrange, treble) receive equal amounts of focus. The overall sound signature does not alter much by changing the source, but the differences to the specific parts of the frequency spectrum are significant. I will elaborate more shortly.

The soundstage of Robin is above average. With an adequate amount of expansion in each axis, they provide users an experience of three-dimensional headroom. They are arguably better when compared to some open-back headphones that are tuned to sound more “in your face.” I do not feel any fatigue after long hours of listening.

Occasionally, I found myself turning my head because I could feel some sounds around me – instruments are well-positioned to create an impression of surround sound.

Out of the box, I immediately observed that the detail retrieval capability of the Robin is extraordinary. In some of the tracks that I always listen to, I found “surprises” with the Robin. To confirm their capability, I compared the sound with some of my better IEMs. Those newly noticed details are indeed more prominent and are better highlighted on the Robin.

I look forward to re-listening to those tracks again with the Robin to find more “surprises” in the music.

The sound signature does not alter much with different sources, but the differences in parts of the frequency spectrum are significant.
The sound signature does not alter much with different sources, but the differences in parts of the frequency spectrum are significant.

Bass

The bass performance of the Robin can be described as speedy, responsive, and accurate. Whenever a bass note is hit, the Robin can respond energetically and accurately without affecting notes in other frequencies. This accuracy in the bass preserves good clarity and transparency in the overall performance. The mid-bass is not boosted to enhance warmth, which improves the overall cleanliness of the sound signature.

The quantity of the bass is only average and I personally do not think the Robin will be sufficient for bass-head audiophiles. The Robin have good extension in the sub-bass, creating a good depth that contributes to the three-dimensional soundstage. I can feel the rumble from the sub-bass as a small punch on my eardrums. They are not the kicking type.

Sivga focused on accuracy and precision when tuning, rather than boosting the bass to hit the maximum “enjoyable” state where all other factors are compromised. I consider this mature tuning.
The Robin can be easily driven by portable DAP such as my Lotoo PAW6000.
The Robin can be easily driven by portable DAP such as my Lotoo PAW6000.

Midrange

Thanks to the precision and accuracy of the bass, the midrange of the Robin has a high level of transparency with an absolutely low level of coloration. I get exactly what the track has without any blending, mixing, or coloring from the headphones. It is as good as getting a photo in RAW format from your DSLR.

To continue the photography analogy, the midrange of Robin can be Photoshopped by swapping the source, either a DAC or amplifier. Using the Topping E30/iFi Zen Can combo the midrange of the Robin is neutrally balanced, neither warm nor dry. When I swapped the amplifier to my ALO Audio RX Nickel edition, the midrange shifted toward the more analytical side.

The Robin is responsive to the nature of the amplifiers and DACs. I spent lots of time experimenting and I finally settled on the Topping E30 plus iFi Zen Can combo.

The Robin are capable of handling both male and female vocals well. Male vocals are natural, with a good body, and are well-segregated within the mid-bass with no bleeding. Female vocals are airy, spacious, and engaging. They maintain politeness towards my eardrums with no irritating piercing or harsh sibilance in the vocals.

When I swapped the amplifier to my ALO Audio RX Nickel edition, the midrange shifts towards a more analytical sound.
When I swapped the amplifier to my ALO Audio RX Nickel edition, the midrange shifts towards a more analytical sound.

Treble

The treble of the Robin is well-extended with a good amount of space. The presentation is smooth and airy. Robin handle the decay of the super-high frequencies decently with negligible distortion. This contributes to the high level of cleanliness and makes the treble an enjoyable component and equal partner in the overall sound.

With the Robin, I can really pick out guitar plucking and cymbal crashing in the music, without a need to focus on these aspects. They are brought to the same level as the vocals and bass. With help from the wide soundstage, all these components play harmonically with each other without collisions.

Listening to the Robin is as enjoyable as listening to my Edifier desktop speaker – open and non-fatiguing.
With the Robin, I can really enjoy guitar plucking and cymbal crashing.
With the Robin, I can really enjoy guitar plucking and cymbal crashing.

Comparison

Audio Technica ATH-M50X

The Audio Technica ATH-M50X could arguably be the most competitive challenger for the Sivga Robin in the same price bracket. Launched in 2007, the ATH-M50X are still in production, and Audio Technica releases new limited editions of them from time to time. I have owned my pair of ATH-M50X since 2015 and they still serve me as a good pair of monitoring headphones.

The sound signature of the ATH-M50X is similar to the Robin. However, the overall performance of the ATH-M50X is duller and colder, while the Robin are more energetic and engaging. The Robin bring the music to me in a more lively form.

In terms of detail capability, both are at the same level.

The ATH-M50X focuses more on mid-bass, creating some bloat in their low-end performance. The Robin have a more balanced bass, focusing equally on both sub and mid-bass. This creates a drastic difference in terms of soundstage. The soundstage of the Robin is more three-dimensional as compared to the ATH-M50X’s linear soundstage.

In terms of build quality, the ATH-M50X are made of plastic and the ear cups are shallower. The modern and fashionable-looking Robin are definitely more eye-catching for consumers. The deeper ear cups and better cushioning on the headband are more comfortable as well.

The Robin are an attractive choice for headphones below USD$200.

The modern and fashionable looking Robin are definitely more eye-catching for consumers than the ATH-M50X.
The modern and fashionable looking Robin are definitely more eye-catching for consumers than the ATH-M50X.

Where to Buy

Conclusion

Sivga has achieved numerous successes with the release of the Robin – combining eye-catching design, comfortable wearing experience, and outstanding sound quality. The Robin are definitely state-of-the-art headphones within a reasonable price tag under USD$200. Within this price range, I really can not find anything that is close to the Robin in terms of physical appearance and sonic performance.

For those who are looking for a pair of entry-level audiophile headphones, the Sivga Robin should be on your list. The maturity of design and tuning from Sivga is totally worth the price. You will not be disappointed by the Robin!

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