Already establishing themselves as a powerful player in the headphone game after just a little over 10 years experience in the industry, Sivga is one of the most exciting companies around when it comes to headphones that look and sound great. Their most unique feature is also the one easiest to spot: the SIGVA in-house team of crafts people design and produce headphones made from predominantly wooden elements.
What’s in the Box?
The Sivga Phoenix first thing that draws the eye with the box is the gorgeous grey/silver colored 3d sketch of the headphones on the front. If you turn it slightly to either side in the light you’ll notice the subtle holographic pattern made up of different interlocking diamond shapes. The combination of this along with more of the wood details gives the box a really interesting aesthetic combination of rustic and futuristic, which is a kind of perfect stylistic summary of the relationship between the look and the sound of the headphones. The box also features some nice zebrawood patterned details that are exposed in the cutout and give a preview of the design of the cans on the inside.
When you open the box you’ll see that what you get is just the hard-shell carrying case that sits in a foam cut out on the bottom. The case is made from a really nice leather or faux leather type material, and the shape juts out around the ear cups and cuts back in around the headband giving it a little bit of compactness which nicely cuts down on the size a little bit.
Inside the case you have the headphones themselves, and a brown and white drawstring bag which almost seems to be channeling a burlap look and feel. This is another nice aesthetic touch emphasizing the earthy nature of the design.
When you open it up, you have your detachable cable which is 1.6 meters long and has 3.5mm connections. The cable is also covered with braided fabric to ensure durability and a long amount of use.
Design and Fit
As you can already tell, we are absolutely crazy about the design here, which is an area that Sivga prides itself on. The main structure of the headband is made of black matte stainless steel, and the connections are an ultra durable aviation grade aluminum, all produced by CNC machining processes to ensure highest possible build integrity.
The padding on the bottom of the headband is a very nice feeling imported suede that rests gently on the top of the head, and the ripple design of the padding here ensures there is no pressure build up even after long hours of listening.
The yokes have slick looking white Sivga logos on the bottom, and they feature a slight rotation mechanic that you can utilize if you so please. Finally, they also extend a bit longer to ensure you can get a proper and comfortable fit.
The earpad is constructed in a kind of oblique shape that is wider at the bottom and thins out at the top, which is a design conceived by Sivga’s in-house team to better fit over the ears and the face comfortably, as well as to create a tight seal for optimal sound quality. They are comprised of a high protein leather on the inside, and the material that sits on the skin is a velvet fabric that feels very soft, light and smooth. These are snug and secure without creating any discomfort and all, and I had no problems having these on my head for long extended periods of time.
Now on to my personal favorite feature of the Phoenix, which is the sharp looking Zebrawood housing featured on the outside of these earcups. The wood is put through a sophisticated process of carving, grinding, polishing and painting that results in a finish on here that is striking and absolutely unique looking without being garish or tacky. It’s really refreshing design that achieves a rare combination of being both rustic and sleek at the same time. The zebrawood is also said by Sivga to deliver some unique qualities in the sound resonance that ostensibly provide sonic nuances specific to their brand alone.
The center of the ear cup features an open back grill which is made of stainless steel and varnished in a deep black color. This sits in a silver ring that rounds out the entire look quite nicely.
Overall, the style of these might not be for everyone, but to my taste I definitely found them to be one of the most interesting looking sets of cans that have come across my review desk.
You may also want to watch our Sivga Phoenix video review that equally goes into more detail as this blog review.
Now, just because there’s been such care taken with the design, does not mean that there’s been any skimping on the tech side of the Phoenix. These come with a 50mm dynamic driver outfitted with 3mm thick high-performance magnet. The coil is made from a special copper clad aluminum wire to ensure high sensitivity and dynamic performance without sacrificing transparent and bright sound. And finally, these also feature Sivga’s unique ultra-thin polycarbonate diaphragm, which safeguards against easy deformation, as well as adds a new dimension to the listening experience.
The achievement here with the sound quality of these headphones is excellent bass retrieval, especially considering that these are an open back headphone. If a song has a heavy bass instrument or rumble, the Sivga Phoenix is going to be able to reproduce it with a high amount of accuracy and body. I took a listen to DNA by Kendrick Lamar in these, and the big bass hits on the downbeat that form the backbone of the track each have a distinct sense of attack, decay, and discernible pitch and timbre. The bass response is excellent, and all without being an explicitly bass emphasized headphone, so it’s not going to sacrifice clarity to make every track into a skull rattler.
The mids have a very nice forward presence here that will bring vocals to the front of the mix with a good amount of brightness and resonance. I listened to Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You, and her power and bell-like resonance sounds wonderfully rich and expansive in these headphones. If you’re a classic rock fan, then crunchy guitars and roaring organs will also have a really warm sheen to them in these that is especially satisfying for vintage sounding recordings in this genre.
The highs here are bright and distinct without becoming overly loud or piercing as you increase the volume. I would say that they remain very crisp and clear, with a lot of detail, but never truly cross into a territory that I would say is especially sparkly or shimmery. Regardless, the sound still very well balanced and the highs sit very pleasantly and naturally in the overall sonic picture. I queued up Bill Evans trio recording of Autumn Leaves, and his piano, which hovers in the higher octave keys, sounds very pleasant and clear without ever becoming whiny or burdensome on the ear, despite the fast notes and hard attacks.
As far as soundstage, I can confidently say that the Phoenix is in the absolute top tier in terms of headphones that you will find at this price point. The open back provides a fairly spacious and dynamic sonic palette, and there’s a great amount of separation and directionality from all instrument parts, especially in simpler mixes. As things get more complex and polyphonic, the amount of space will naturally tend to get a little smaller and more compact, but there’s still a great amount of detail to be perceived here. It won’t provide the ocean of expanse that something that valued at twice or three times the price will, but it's truly superior in terms of what it does provide for the value.
This all does come with a caveat, however. With an impedance of 32 ohms, these can be powered directly by your smartphone or portable player, but in this reviewer’s humble opinion, to do so would be to cut down on some of the qualities I mentioned before.
When I listened to these without an amp, the sound signature lost a little bit of emphasis in the high and low end, and the body of the bass frequencies was there, but much more distant than before. The mid frequencies still sounded rich, and you can absolutely still get some imaging and detail, but much less than so if you pair with a decent amp. For a casual listener, plug and play might be just fine, but if you really want to bring these up to audiophile quality, then you are probably going to want to make sure you have an external way to power these.
The Sivga Phoenix is a gorgeous looking headphone that utterly blows away most of its competition when it comes to price to performance ratio. This open back set of cans offers deep bass, rich detail, and a fairly robust ability for imaging and sound staging that’s rare outside of a much higher price point. They may not be for you if you don’t like the earthy design or want something a bit more flat and analytic to be used as a purely reference headphone.
You can buy the Sivga Phoenix at Audio 46