The Sivga Robin SV021 headphone sets out with a goal of making music fun to listen to. It’s not a reference level sound, but it doesn’t try to be either. For $150, you get an incredibly comfortable headphone with rich, luscious bass and a subtle sparkle up top.
- Delightful warm sound
- Incredibly comfortable
- Excellent value
- Can be sibilant on some tracks
- No swivel on ear cups
Sivga is known to provide some incredible value with their headphones. What excites me the most with audio is when affordable gear can approach the performance of more expensive equipment. The Sivga Robin SV021 is the embodiment of that notion. With a $150 USD list price, it’s affordable for a lot of people.
The Sivga Robin SV021 includes a really nice fabric cable, which uses detachable 2.5mm ends. My balanced 2.5mm cable for old Hifiman headphones worked great on the Robin. The only cable included is an unbalanced 3.5mm cable with a detachable 6.35mm (1/4″) adapter. This is fine considering the cost, as I feel most people aren’t buying $150 headphones with a goal of running fully balanced. You also get a nice cloth carrying pouch to keep the dust out and protect the gorgeous, glossy finish. Overall the packaging is pretty straightforward and simple. You get cans, a cable, and a pouch.
So what makes it special? Well for one, the ear cups are made of real rosewood. You can get it in black or brown, but the color names don’t do this headphone justice. Just take a look at how stunning this is…
It doesn’t stop at looks either. Picking them up immediately reveals how light they are. This isn’t always associated to quality, but an experienced headphone user will know how nice a light headphone is for long listening sessions. It allows the manufacturer to use a lighter clamp force which also means less pressure on your head. A light clamp force doesn’t guarantee comfort, but thankfully Sivga delivered on the pads too. The Robin SV021 pads are extremely soft and easy to compress. It’s almost as though you’re wearing beautiful tan pillows. I found the Robins to wear extremely well during extending listening periods, however my ears did get slightly warm after a while. This is normal with this type of pad material (Protein Leather), but overall it wasn’t bad. Protein leather is an artificial material, but it’s an upgrade over your standard leatherette pads typically found in this price range. They just feel so incredibly soft to the touch, and protein leather tends to be cooler (temp-wise) and more durable over the long haul. This really sets a positive tone almost immediately because it makes the headphone exciting to handle.
Upon first listen, I was shocked. Normally I dive into my familiar playlist I use for all of my testing, as I know the intimate details and intricacies of each track. In this particular case, I already had a playlist open on Tidal so I just plugged in the Robin directly to an iFi Zen DAC Air, and off I went. Clicking play brought Muse to my ears in a surprisingly fun way. The music immediately had more heft to it. The bass was more present but not overpowering. The highs twinkled just a little bit more, yet the Robin never forgot about the mids. It was a fun delivery of music and the bass, frankly, was intoxicating.
The bass was just more present, it was lush. It was like having a strong massage. The presence is known, yet it’s comforting and relaxing. The bass delivery is more of a thump, and not a slam. It trailed off as you approached mid bass to a more neutral sound profile, but was present all the way through. This energy made many songs have more impact to them, but in a good way. Surprisingly, I found the bass increase to improve songs with pianos as a leading instrument. In many cases, headphones can accurately convey the tonality of a grand piano, down to every incredibly small detail. Having heard grand pianos live in some beautiful venues, there’s something special about the live “feeling” you get that headphones often struggle with. I found the Sivga Robin’s bass note to really help capture the “presence” of a piano without adding mud or ruining the tonality at all which was quite captivating.
I feel the mids are the least offensive part of this headphone to the masses. They are recessed slightly compared to the bass and treble, but not so much where guitars and voices get lost in the audio mix. While some may prefer a flatter frequency response or more presence in the mid range, I don’t think many people will mind how these headphones behave. It worked well in nearly every genre I tried them on, with voices from baritone to soprano sounding great. The Robins also held up well for rock music. Rock is tricky because some highly accurate headphones don’t always sound the best with rock music (this is just my opinion). Some tracks can get too shouty or chaotic while also lacking depth. This often comes to the production and recording side and is not necessarily a fault of the headphone itself. The Robin helps to mask some of this (most of the time), and allows me to listen to more rock songs than I would on similarly priced headphones. There are some songs where an flatter sounding open-back will sound better of course, but overall I still enjoy how the Sivga SV021 delivers the mid range.
The treble performance is a mixed bag. I’ll start by saying that this is intentional! After speaking with Sivga directly via email (they are very passionate people), I got a better understanding of the philosophy of the Robin. They aren’t claiming this to be a reference grade, flat headphone for $150. They didn’t target that either. Instead, they engineered the Robin SV021 (even building their own custom drivers for it) to make things sound more fun. With that comes elevated treble and bass response. It works well in a lot of applications, and in a few, the Robin can become sibilant. This was more of a rarity than a common behavior however. In most tracks I never hit that sharp note, and for the levels I typically listen to my music at, I actually enjoyed the slight treble lift. Overall I found the Robin to make music sparkle just a little bit more, and in most cases without adding fatigue or making it too bright.
If you aren’t familiar with the Fletcher-Musnon curve, I highly suggest reading about it. The idea is that at lower volumes, your ears tend to pick up mid range frequencies more, and the bass and treble areas fall off into the background. At high volumes, this shifts and your ears pick up bass and treble more prominently. What I like about the Robin is I typically listen to music throughout the day at low to medium volume levels. So having a slightly v-shaped headset that’s extremely comfortable is great for me. It’s not that you cannot listen to the Robin at high volumes, because you can, but for the “daily driving” aspect, they are just sublime.
In terms of presentation outside of frequency response, I find the soundstage and layering to be enjoyable. The Robins are closed-back headphones, which typically have a smaller sound stage than a quality open-back. That’s fine with me, as the Robin presented music in a very intimate way. There is still a sense of space however, and I found presentation to be wide enough that I got good separation of instruments and voices in each track. While the overall presentation is energized a bit, the Robin still felt smooth and comfortable with its delivery. Aside from some brighter highs in some tracks, the bass and mids seem to just massage their way into your ear canal.
As someone who also reviews gaming headsets, some costing more than double the Sivga Robin SV021, I had to try these on my PS5 and Xbox. If you don’t need a microphone, I think you’d be hard pressed on finding a better value for gaming. Whether playing Call of Duty Warzone or doing some casual exploring in Stray, the Robins are just amazing. They are incredibly easy to drive, so a controller output is more than enough to hit high volume levels. The extended bass helps with immersion on open world games or explosions, and the clean and crisp highs give you the expanse and details that most gamers want. Of course, these do not have a microphone so you won’t be chatting with friends. Technically you can add an Antlion mod mic to it and get the best of both worlds, but that discussion is for a different time.
So is the Sivga Robin SV021 for everyone? Probably not. I think a lot of people will absolutely love this headphone, and reviews from sites like Amazon seem to agree. If you already have a flat or reference sounding headphone, this will be a perfect addition to your lineup. If you only want one headphone for your collection, I think there’s still merit to owning this as your first foray into high end sound. The Robins still provide great detail, and amazing comfort. I think some people will prefer this sound quality and presentation over headphones more than double the price. The Robins are so easy to drive that you technically do not need to invest in premium amps or DACs either, which makes the total cost of entry quite low. I found the iFi Zen DAC Air to be a perfect paring with the Robin. It’s only $100, and has a nice clean output with a noticeable sound quality improvement over a desktop or laptop’s headphone output. If you have a mobile phone, or something like the Apple DAC which is only $10, you shouldn’t need anything else to fully enjoy these. Even the new Macbook Pros have such a high quality headphone output, so there’s nothing more you need to do.
The Robin SV021 is a fun headphone. It’s not reference level flat because it isn’t trying to be. This is your Miata for the weekend drive through some windy roads. It’s not your typical Camry, which is fine by me. I use these headphones much more than I expected to, and often listen to some old tracks just to hear a fresh take on it. The Robin SV021s are truly a joy and I think many would love to have these in their collection!
If you are interested in purchasing a set for yourself, they are available on Amazon and other resellers. The link below is a generic affiliate link, but please purchase it through whatever source you feel comfortable with!