Sivga Oriole vs Robin SV021 Comparison Review
If you didn’t already know by now, the Chinese headphone manufacturer Sivga has carved quite a niche for itself in the wooden over-ear headphone market. Their recent release of the Sivga Oriole, retailing at $200, seems like it aims to be an upgraded version of the Robin SV021, which goes for $150. Though evidently related to one another, there are a few key differences in the sound stage and balance that I’ll be highlighting below.
What’s In The Box?
The Sivga Oriole and Robin SV021 come with identical accessories:
-Sivga Closed-Back Over-Ear Headphones
-3.5mm (8th inch) Headphone Cable
-6.35mm (quarter inch) Adapter
-Cloth Carrying Bag
Look and Feel
Perhaps not in all ways, but the Sivga Oriole and Robin SV021 look and feel rather similar. This is largely due to their distinctly rustic rosewood housing and black headbands featuring white stitching. The main (perhaps only) aesthetic difference lies in the shape of the cans: the Robin SV021’s cans are egg shaped with a circular protrusion, while the Oriole cans are rectangular with a diamond/square shaped protrusion.
When it comes to how these two headphones feel, however, bigger differences start to emerge. The acoustic chamber in the Oriole is noticeably smaller than the spacious chamber present in the Robin SV021. Though in both cases there is a sizable distance between the listener’s ear and driver, the Robin SV021 sets the driver way further from the ear than the Oriole (or most headphones, really). The pads are also larger and softer on the Robin, while the Oriole’s pads seem slightly denser and obviously smaller. Also significantly different is the gimble/slider situation: the SV021 has fairly generic and limited flexibility, whereas the Oriole’s cans are able to rotate on their vertical axis a full 180 degrees, making around-the-neck wear easy and comfortable. Unfortunately, both headphones have a common trait of using cheap pleather on the earpads and headbands; fortunately, both models are similarly lightweight, with the Robin SV021 coming in at 275 grams and the Oriole at 280 grams.
Specs in Common:
–Driver Type: 50mm Dynamic
–Impedance: 32 ohms
–Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
–Weight: 275 grams (Robin SV021), 280 grams (Oriole)
–Sensitivity: 105 dB (Robin SV021), 108 dB (Oriole)
Despite the spacious chamber in the Robin, size and imaging see major upgrades in the Oriole. Though I wasn’t disappointed with what the Robin had to offer in this department, I was straight up impressed by just how far the Oriole could take its left and right pans. Though neither had particularly impressive depth, it was the width of the image that had me grabbing for the Oriole (oddly enough, it reminded me of a little sibling to the sound stage that I heard in the Focal Bathys). If you’re someone who derives a bulk of enjoyment from a spatial listen, it’s easy to hear that the Oriole would be the way to go.
Though the greatest sonic contrast arguably lies in the mids for these two Sivgas, there’s quite a preceding difference in the lows. The Oriole is pretty cautious in its low end, which is fairly flat until sub 60Hz frequencies start activating more forcefully vibratory qualities. Though bass heads may be disappointed, this seems to be how the Oriole carves some extra space and clarity in it’s EQ balance, and I have to say, I liked it quite a bit. The SV021 is quite different in this regard, as it seems to have a wide, shelved boost coating everything from the subs to the mid and high bass. This is in part responsible for its thicker overall tone. More speculatively, I think the Oriole’s reserved low end is partially responsible for its superior imaging, as low end frequencies are less directional and thus have a harder time producing the illusion of an external sound source.
I’d be curious to see an overlay of the frequency response charts for these two headphones, as I suspect we would see the Robin dipping right where the Oriole boosts in the mids, and vice verse. I found the track “Victoria Park” by Beggar & Co highlighted this mid range divergence rather well. On the SV021, the piano part had a full sounding harmonic low end, while the horn parts sounded awkward and unnatural. On the Oriole, it was the piano that took a hit in realism, and the horns that sounded full and natural. In short, the SV021 has a boosted low mid profile, and sounds scooped somewhere between it center mids and high mids. The Oriole explicitly boosts its high mids and finds the room to do so by flattening out the low mids. It’s a pretty simple change, but it makes a huge difference. The Oriole continues along its path with its more precise – at times bright – sound, while the Robin features more fuzzy warmth in its timbre, with a classic “U” shaped mids carve present in the overall EQ. There are benefits and risks involved in both: the Oriole walked a fine line of strength and harshness when it came to vocals, while the SV021 faces the usual imprecise masking issues present in headphones with weighted low end and low mids.
Finally, the differences are behind us. I can’t say I heard a difference in high frequency representation, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Sivga left this part of the frequency spectrum untouched when they made the Oriole. The only difference in highs that might be present seem to originate from the differences in the mids roll-off. That being said, I didn’t think either headphone had issues with high end attenuation or painful resonances, and seemed fairly average so far as closed-back dynamics are concerned.
The long list of similarities between the Sivga Oriole and Robin SV021 makes the short list of differences particularly poignant. If a softer, warmer listen is more your style, the Robin SV021 may be more up your alley. If your interests lean further into brightness and imaging, well, I’ll tell you now: go with the Oriole. As for me? I liked the Oriole a bit more – though I enjoyed both EQs equally for different reasons, the Oriole’s wide stage added extra intrigue that I simply found more exciting. Whatever you’re into, I found the pricing on both headphones to be perfectly appropriate. I hope we see even more from Sivga at this price point and quality in the future.