It has been a while since there’s been a headphone that I just can’t stop listening to, but the Sivga SV023 is that addicting. I recently did a comparison between it and the Sennheiser 660s, but there’s another dynamic heavyweight to consider in the conversation. That headphone would be the Beyerdynamic DT1990, one of my personal favorites. As far as mid-fi dynamic open-back headphones go, there aren’t a ton of options out there that can reach the fidelity of the DT1990, but having raved about the SV023, I thought it would make a good analysis.
What You Get
Look and Feel
The SV023 is in its own league in terms of style, but the DT1990 still has one of the best builds around. It’s exceptionally sturdy and well designed throughout every aspect of its structure. Aesthetically, both headphones have a great look in their own way. I love Sivga’s wooden earcups and metal frames, while the DT1990 has an eye-catching silver grille. Comfort-wise, the SV023 has a more lightweight feel to it, but the DT1990 has the more comfortable earpads. Both headphones can be worn for long periods of time without causing any considerable fatigue.
Both headphones use a dynamic driver with a high impedance. The DT1990 has Beyerdynamics 45mm Tesla neodymium driver, while the SV023 implements a 50mm unit with a beryllium diaphragm. Being high-impedance headphones, both headphones should be run with an amp to get the most out of their sound.
When standing up to an open-back juggernaut like the DT1990, the SV023 appears even more impressive than I originally imagined. Sivga’s model stacks up to the 1990s incredibly well in terms of its open-air soundstage. The 1990 houses my favorite soundstage for a dynamic headphone, so for anything to come close is quite the feat. They both share a wide stereo image with a broad spatial field. Instrumental separation and positioning are pinpoint accurate, with the SV023 pulling together a more heightened sense of breathing room. In comparison, the DT1990 brings its holographic sound field a bit tighter than the SV023, offering a more focused and critical look into the mix. This is why I would still choose the 1990s over the SV023 for production use, but the SV023 is still a solid option for obtaining a sense of realism in your tracks.
You won’t find the largest or most exciting bass on either headphone, but they both offer their own clean and balanced timbre in their respective sound signatures. There’s more texture and color to the SV023, with an exaggerated rumble and sub-bass tone. The DT1990 uses more sharp and fast transients to showcase the tightness of the bass, bringing out detail equally, while keeping the response wholly satisfying.
Listening to both headphones back to back, you notice that the DT1990 isn’t as voluminous in the midrange as the SV023. Yet the instrumentation appears crisper and more transparent on the DT1990, with more defined details that are represented well throughout the mix of a track. The SV023 has a spacious midrange with plenty of clarity, and it shares a similar amount of balance to the DT1990, but Beyerdynamic’s model is a bit more true to form, showcasing its details with more focus. With the SV023 you get great resolution in the mids, but they are very spread out, but that can be the type of response you’re looking for if you’re more into heightened immersion rather than a realistic interpretation.
Many are aware of the DT1990s slight emphasis in its treble region, and the SV023 closely mimics that type of response. Sivga’s headphone also possesses an accentuated bite but doesn’t have the same presence as the DT1990’s highs, which have a lot more of a shine to them. If you like a more flavorful treble but want to avoid overt brightness, then the SV023 will be what you’re looking for, but the DT1990 offers more of an uncompromised representation of its treble.
There are a couple of awesome mid-budget open-backs in this range, but nothing ever came close to the DT1990 for me. When I heard the Sivga SV023 for the first time I was immediately blown away, and when pitting it against one of my current favorite headphones I was surprised by how well it holds up. The SV023 and the DT1990 both have their uses that make them stand out over the other, and are some of the best open-back experiences you can find on a dynamic headphone.