SIVGA Phoenix review featured

SIVGA Phoenix Open-back Headphone Review

TESTED AT $255-$299

SIVGA is a Chinese headphone and earphone manufacturing brand known mostly for their handsome wooden headphone designs. In this review, I’m looking at their latest headphone, the SIVGA Phoenix. The SIVGA Phoenix is an open-back headphone and features a 50mm polycarbonate dynamic driver and CNC machined zebra wood earcups. These headphones sure look pretty but do they sound any good? Let’s dive in.

SIVGA website: http://www.sivgaaudio.com/

Disclaimer: This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.

SIVGA Phoenix

Pros
  • Fantastic build quality
  • Quality included hard case
  • Stock detachable cable is very good
  • Warm, rich and detailed sound
  • Smooth and resolving

Cons
  • Might be a bit small for big heads

Package and Accessories

The SIVGA Phoenix comes in a large black box with an illustration of the headphones on the front and some specifications listed on the back. Inside the box, you’re greeted with a very nice moulded leather zipper case. The case has a soft fabric interior to help prevent scratches and damage to the headphones. It even has 4 little feet so it can stand upright in presentation style.

Here’s the full list of box contents:

  • SIVGA Phoenix headphones
  • Detachable fabric braided 3.5mm cable
  • Canvas cable bag
  • 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter
  • Moulded leather zipper headphone case

Build Quality, Design and Comfort

It would be hard to argue that this isn’t a handsome headphone with its zebra wood earcups and black accents. The grilles are stainless steel with a glossy black finish while the spring steel headband and yokes are matte black.

Everything about the build quality of the SIVGA Phoenix feels premium. The high quality materials are assembled perfectly without any visible flaws or shortcuts. There is generous and soft padding on the underside of the pleather headband which feels supple and flexible.

The SIVGA Phoenix open-back headphones.

Adjusting the position of the headband is easy and in addition to the earcups which both rotate and swivel, the Phoenix automatically finds a natural fit and position on your head. The clamping force is quite light so there isn’t any excessive pressure on your ears.

One thing I love about the SIVGA Phoenix is the hybrid earpad materials. The outer part is lush pleather but the front is a soft, velvety material that feels delightfully soft and non-abrasive on the ears.

SIVGA Phoenix earpads

However, the pads are quite thin and after an hour or so I start to experience some discomfort from my ears pressing against the driver covers. But I have been told first-hand by a SIVGA representative that they are developing thicker pads which will be shipped with every new headphone. They also said that I would receive a pair of the new earpads once they’re ready, so I’m looking forward to that.

Overall, the SIVGA Phoenix is a beautifully crafted headphone built with premium materials and a good, ergonomic design. Hopefully, the new earpads will make the headphones even more comfortable.

The colour-coded 2.5mm cable connectors

Each earcup has a 2.5mm socket which means there are abundant third-party cable options available, should you wish to change the stock cable out for something else. However, I don’t see any particular reason you would want to because the included stock cable is really quite good.

The included fabric braided cable
Cable

The included cable is a fabric braided single crystalline copper type that is extremely lightweight and flexible. There is minimal microphonics and the handling is top-notch. It is a little too long for portable use at 1.6 meters but I find it the perfect length for the desktop which, I assume it is primarily designed for (being open-back and all that).

The cable has a small aluminium Y-split and a matching knurled aluminium straight 3.5mm plug. The 2.5mm connector housings are also aluminium with knurling plus L and R markers. In addition, the 2.5mm connectors are colour coded, green for the left and red for the right. Overall, this is a very solid cable and I think it’s a great match for the headphones.

SIVGA Phoenix with Phatlab Chimera amplifier.

Sound

Gear used for testing:

The SIVGA Phoenix has a warm, full-bodied and inviting sound with punchy bass and a forward but non-aggressive presentation. It’s not the cleanest or most detailed headphone but it has a musical tuning that works well across multiple genres. This is an analogue sounding headphone that’s warm and organic. It has that kind of tube or vinyl feel to it which is earthy but still distinct and technically qualified.

Bass

Driver diameter doesn’t always tell you what you’re going to get but when a headphone has 50mm drivers, you should expect them to have a decent bass response. Well, the SIVGA Phoenix has got that bass and then some. It’s not a basshead phone per se, like the Campfire Audio Cascade but it can punch, it can kick, it can slam and it can rumble.

That doesn’t mean the Phoenix is all about bass though: the overall tonal balance is quite good. Bass is there in spades yet it’s controlled, textured and somehow smooth at the same time. In Helge Lien Trios “Gamut Warning”, the double bass resonates deeply with each note but the vibration and plucking of the strings are clearly audible and the sound is rich in texture. At the same time, despite the forwardness of the bass, the piano and midrange have plenty of room to come forward as well, without turning the song into a congested mess.

This is because the bass is still reasonably fast and although it’s boosted well above neutral, it doesn’t cause unwanted resonance thanks to the Phoenix’s open-back design. When a track calls for it, however, the Phoenix has bass for days. In “Why So Serious” by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, you can almost feel the earth shaking under your feet 3:26-5:20 but it’s rendered cleanly and without distortion.

Mids

The midrange is a make or break area for a lot of enthusiasts and the SIVGA Phoenix is no slouch here. It sounds rich and expressive but retains sufficient clarity and good overall resolution. Listening to Pink Floyd’s “Money”, the Phoenix impressed me with its left and right stereo separation, articulate vocals and texture in the electric guitars.

Indeed, the mids are coloured to some degree but it seems more intentional than incidental. There is warmth carried over from the bass but it’s not really a case of bass bleeding. Midrange notes are neither too thin or too thick but are organic, liquid and emotive. The Phoenix doesn’t try to wow you with technicalities but if you dig under the surface, you’ll see that it’s actually got mad skills.

Treble

One of the benefits you usually get with a warm tonality is a smoother treble. However, this can lead to a dark or dull sound and lack of detail. Thankfully, the SIVGA Phoenix got the balance just right. Yes, the treble is smooth, just like the bass and mids. But once again, there’s enough treble presence to provide clarity and detail to the music without any harshness.

This isn’t the most highly detailed or precise treble but it does possess a touch of sparkle and liveliness. Percussion instruments have good definition and the overall clarity of the sound is pleasing to the ears. The Phoenix does provide a respectable amount of detail but micro-details sometimes go unnoticed. This is a by-product of a warm signature but the upside is a treble that’s not overly bright and has ample density.

Soundstage

For an open-back phone, the SIVGA Phoenix has fairly modest soundstage dimensions. It sounds almost like something halfway between a closed and open-back system. The stage is not as wide as you’d normally expect for an open phone but it has excellent depth. Even though it’s not all that wide, it’s still far from being narrow and furthermore, the excellent resolution ensures the stage never feels crowded.

The real advantage of a stage like this is the quality of its imaging, which is something the Phoenix does really well. Positional cues are very good, instrument separation is superb for a warm dynamic driver headphone and perhaps, most importantly, the stage and presentation just feels natural.

SIVGA Phoenix headphones with case and cable

Conclusion

The SIVGA Phoenix is something of a paradox, being warm and musical yet clear and articulate at the same time. You’d be hard-pressed to find other headphones with this kind of build quality at the same price. Furthermore, the Phoenix is attractive, very comfortable and comes with premium earpads.

This open-back headphone has a great bass response, lush, detailed midrange and a clear, non-fatiguing treble. Keep in mind it also comes with a nice cable and a really good hard case too. Overall, the SIVGA Phoenix offers great value for money and comes highly recommended.

Specifications
  • Driver: 50mm diameter dynamic driver with polycarbonate film diaphragm
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20 KHz
  • Sensitivity : 103 dB +/-3dB
  • Impedance: 32 Ohm
  • Cable Length: approx. 160cm
  • Headphone Plug: 3.5mm TRS
  • Weight: 296g
Founder of Prime Audio
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