Unboxing the Sivga Robin SV021 is fairly straightforward. The box is black and rectangular and covered with a carbon fibre pattern. There’s a line illustration of the headphones on the front and a list of specifications on the back.
Inside the box are the headphones, detachable cable, a 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter and a fabric carrying pouch. It would have been nice to see some kind of actual carrying case but the omission of one is how Sivga has kept the price of the headphones down.
As far as design goes, the SV021 hits a sweet spot. The headphones look professional and classy but they have a homely simple feel to them. The frame of the headphones is based around a spring steel headband that’s covered by soft protein leather padding. The pleather feels lush and soft but only time will tell how it holds up over time (pleather has a tendency to disintegrate over time).
Lightweight aluminium yokes attach to the headband. They don’t swivel but this doesn’t affect the comfort factor (at least for me). The size adjustment sliders are metal and have a satisfying tactile click action. One of the standout features of the SV021 is its gorgeous wood earcups. The Robin is available in two colours: rosewood and black. In my opinion, both colourways look fantastic and one can’t argue that the SV021 is a striking headphone when it comes to aesthetics.
The included cable has a braided fabric sheath. It’s very lightweight and supple plus it handles well. It has 2.5mm connectors on the headphone end and terminates in a 3.5mm single-ended plug at the other end. Measuring at 1.6m, it’s a bit long for portable use but I find it the perfect length for using at my desktop.
The faux leather earpads are lush and thick. They’re filled with memory foam that naturally conforms to the shape of your head and provides a good seal even when wearing glasses. With its combination of the lightweight frame (275 g), low clamping force and soft memory foam, the SV021 is a truly comfortable headphone. My ears become a bit warm over time but apart from that, the comfort is pure bliss.
Despite being closed-back, the Robin doesn’t isolate outside noise particularly well. Whether it’s because of the vents on the top side of the earcups or something else I don’t know. However, noise leak from the headphones themselves is fairly low so it shouldn’t bother anyone around you.
The Sivga Robin SV021 has a balanced sound signature i.e. one that doesn’t prioritize any specific frequency over the others. I’d say overall, it’s a fairly neutral and transparent headphone with a hint of added warmth for musicality.
SV021’s sound is spacious and very airy for closed-back headphones. There are many factors that contribute to the openness of Robin’s sound, including the thick earpads, the neutrality of its frequency response and treble extension.
The overall clarity is good and detail retrieval is moderate. This is a headphone that I could listen to for long sessions without feeling fatigued; the sound is crisp without being bright and the bass is not overpowering either.
*Note:One thing worth noting is that the sound character of the Robin changes quite drastically when you press in on the earcups a bit. When you do this, the sound becomes more upfront and the midrange comes to the fore. As such, I feel that the SV021 is a headphone that will only get better over time as the memory foam earpads break in and start to compress. As an aside, the Robin is also a headphone that responds very well to earpad swapping, so there’s some great potential for simple mods here too.
I think the SV021 hits the sweet spot between impact and constraint when it comes to mid-bass. It’s not an overpowering or dominating bass but it’s got enough presence to provide rhythm and warmth. It’s a reasonably fast bass that doesn’t get bogged down or congested during busy music.
The sub-bass has pretty good extension but it doesn’t hit very hard. You get a fairly light rumble that is satisfying enough but is nowhere near basshead level. Listening to “A Dive Into Ether” by Nibana, the SV021 still manages to sound like a balanced headphone while some other headphones or IEMs (shout out to Shozy Ceres) crumble under the weight of the bass.
The Robin has a spacious, open-sounding midrange. It might sound like it lacks density at first but warms up as the memory foam earpads start to compress. It’s a fairly neutral midrange that is uncoloured but has enough body to prevent it from sounding thin.
Vocals have a neutral position, where they’re out in front of the listener rather than up close and intimate, as though you were sitting several rows back from the front of the stage. Firing up Anathema’s “ARIEL”, both the female and male vocals are pushed back a bit but they still sound physically tangible, as though the singers were there in the room.
The Robin’s treble is light and airy. Just like the bass and midrange, the treble position is a little recessed and not upfront. The treble extension is good, showing ample decay and trailing harmonics on notes.
Detail retrieval is moderate and some micro-details get lost due to dips in the lower and core treble regions. This was likely a conscious choice by the engineers to give the treble a light, crisp sound but at the same time, one that is non-fatiguing and free of sibilance.
For a closed-back headphone, the Sivga SV021 has a larger than average soundstage. It’s especially wide; In fact, it’s even wider than the Sivga Phoenix which is an open-back headphone. The position of the stage is neutral rather than forward so it has good depth as well. Imaging and placement are reasonably good, although there’s not much space behind the centre image.
Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro
Released way back in 2004, the DT990 Pro is a true classic. It’s an open-back dynamic driver headphone with excellent build quality and comfort. It’s overall tonality is not that different from the Robin; both have a reasonably balanced presentation with slightly boosted bass and treble.
The DT990 Pro has a slightly thicker leading edge on bass notes but it’s open-back nature gives it an exceptionally natural and fast decay. In comparison, the SV021 has a little more bass quantity and a longer decay. When it comes to sub-bass, the Robin has extra rumble while the Beyer’s have a slight roll-off.
Vocals are more upfront and have more body on the DT990 Pro. This gives male and female vocals more note density in addition to slightly stronger placement compared to the Sivga’s spacious, airy style.
DT990 Pro treble is more upfront and detailed but has occasional sibilance while the Robin’s treble is smoother. Soundstage dimensions are actually fairly similar. The Robin’s stage may even be a hair wider but the openness of the Beyer’s give it a more natural boundary.
The Sivga Robin SV021 marks an interesting addition to the brand’s lineup. It’s a very comfortable headphone and the attractive design alone is enough to garner interest from anyone who sees it. Furthermore, it comes in at a price point that will be accessible for a lot of enthusiasts.
But the Sivga Robin is more than just a pretty face; it has an open, uncoloured sound that will appeal to those looking for a transparent, easygoing sound. I look forward to hearing more headphones from Sivga in the future.