Robin has a W-shaped sound signature and is tuned to be a lively and exciting listen than a neutral, balanced or reference one. In my opinion, judging it as a reference headphone or its ability to hit a reference target curve would be doing it injustice because it isn’t tuned to be one at all. So, I thought I’ll explain its sound relative to what I consider reference-neutral but try to see if it can work as an everyday fun and musical headphone to sit back and enjoy music with or not. Nevertheless, if you’re a strong reference head looking for a reference headphone, this isn’t it.
Robin has a 10dB bass boost, recessed lower-midrange, an upper-midrange forwardness of around 8dB ear gain and a brighter, sparklier and zingier lower-treble and upper-treble character. Robin’s signature’s main focus is on bass punch and treble sparkle than lower-midrange body fullness. It has a leaner, open and airy presentation with instrument tonality that sounds like you’re listening to a live concert in an arena than an accurate and natural sounding studio. Compared to a reference target curve, the Harman 2018 AE OE target, it has more sub-bass, significantly more mid-bass and upper-bass in the 60-250Hz range, a dip in lower-midrange around 500Hz, less ear gain (upper-midrange forwardness) in the 2-5kHz and brighter lower-treble and upper-treble by around 5-8dB.
Even though it is quite a bit away from reference-neutral, it performs quite well as a fun and musical headphone. It has a nice musical quality to it where it not only has good bass punch but even the livelier treble, which isn’t the most linear, sounds vividly musical and exciting in most songs.
Note – As I stated before, Robin’s sound signature’s perception depends on tightness of clamp force based on head size since its lowest headband setting isn’t as tight as required for a snug fit in case of smaller head sizes. As a result, if you don’t have a snug fit, you’ll perceive a bit more treble and less of sub-bass rumble.
Let’s break it down further…
Bass – Robin has a strong 10dB bass shelf boost from 250Hz and down. As a result, it not only boosts sub-bass but also mid-bass and upper-bass significantly. Needless to say, Robin has a strong bass presence which highlights bass in all songs but does it in a fairly tasteful manner than complete domination like in a bass-head headphone. It has deep sub-bass rumble as well as mid-bass punch and boom. Kicks have an in your face punch if they are prominent in the song. Overall, bass presentation is not the tightest or the quickest in this price segment but is fairly decent. It has good clarity owing to its bright character, so notes and small nuances in bass playing are easier to discern than bass dominating headphones.
Midrange – Robin has a recessed lower-midrange because of a wide band 4-5dB dip around 500Hz. As a result, it has a leaner presentation but doesn’t tend too lean as the bass boost adds lots of weight to the signature. What I also hear this dip doing is pushing snares deeper into the soundstage and increasing perception of depth as a result. Robin does have a forward upper-midrange presentation but lesser ear gain than the Harman Target. As a result, guitars and orchestral instruments have a little less forwardness and presence as they do in Sennheiser HD650/HD6XX (which have as much ear gain as the Harman Target), but do not sound recessed as such. In fact, the overall signature actually presents guitars, drum shells (particularly snares) and even vocals in a very vibrant manner without any shout or peakiness.
Treble – Robin has a treble boost which infuses energy and excitement into the signature, enables good clarity and micro-detail retrieval and has fairly good extension till 20kHz. This is neither a headphone for warmth lovers nor reference heads but for those who like a more lively and energetic presentation. Its treble isn’t the most linear but assists in bringing out the details in music while sounding musical and exciting most of the times. At times, you do notice its main treble peaks stand out (at 5.5kHz, 8kHz, 11.5kHz and 16kHz), especially when a song has instruments with treble information in those areas because they are particularly boosted above neutral. They add a bit of extra sparkle and sizzle to hi-hats, cymbals and vocals but that’s to be expected of W-shaped headphones and IEMs. Robin doesn’t add sibilance from its own end but doesn’t mask it either if the song has it. Overall, it has a sparkly, open and extra airy upper-treble presentation which helps in micro-detail retrieval as well as a more expansive soundstage for a closed-back headphone.
Soundstage, Separation and Imaging – Robin has an impressive wide and deep soundstage for a closed-back, especially considering its asking price. A lot of it has to do with its tuning and it definitely is quite an interesting and intriguing listen. It has good separation and imaging for a closed back headphone at its price.
Drivability – Robin is quite easy to drive with its 32Ω/105dB sensitivity and can be driven to fairly loud levels with smartphones and laptops.
Sivga Phoenix (reviewed here)- Phoenix is Sivga’s open-back dynamic driver headphone. I’m guessing they both use the same dynamic driver looking at the driver specs but are tuned very differently. Phoenix is a warm sounding headphone whereas Robin is a bright W-shaped headphone. Phoenix has a slight bass boost too but Robin has bigger bass boost by around 5dB in comparison. Phoenix has slightly fuller instrument body owing to slightly fuller lower-midrange whereas Robin has a wide band dip around 500Hz and a leaner presentation as a result. Both have a similar forward upper-midrange presentation but Phoenix has slightly more presence around 4-5kHz. Post 5kHz, Robin is brighter than Phoenix in lower treble and much airier and sparklier in its upper-treble presentation. Phoenix has a more even and linear treble presentation but tends towards warm and smooth whereas Robin sounds livelier, sparklier and zingier, hence more exciting. Even though Phoenix is an open-back headphone, Robin actually has the wider and deeper soundstage presentation and is also much open and airy sounding in comparison. Both have good detail retrieval and separation but Robin has more aggressive micro-detail retrieval because of its brighter signature.
AKG K371 (reviewed here)- In my opinion, K371 is the epitome of value for money in closed-back reference headphones. Robin is a more fun tuned, bright W-shaped sound signature in comparison whereas K371 closely traces the Harman Target curve and is the more accurate and natural sounding headphone. K371 has sub-bass boost of around 6dB but Robin has not only a much more significant sub-bass boost but also boosts mid-bass and upper-bass significantly in comparison. K371 has better bass tonality, transients and accuracy whereas Robin has more punch and boom. K371 has a very accurate and linear midrange presentation with a nice forward upper-midrange whereas Robin has a dip in lower-midrange but similar ear gain/forwardness in upper-midrange. Robin is significantly brighter and airier in its treble presentation whereas K371 is quite neutral, tending a bit towards warm. K371 has better instrument tonality and timbre, and sounds more natural as a result whereas Robin is livelier and energetic sounding in comparison. Robin has a more expansive, open and airier soundstage, mainly because of its brighter and leaner signature. K371 has a very good soundstage for its price and design but sounds more like what it is, a closed-back headphone. Robin has more aggressive micro-detail retrieval because of its brighter signature but K371 is no slouch and does it quite well, while maintaining a more accurate and natural sounding signature because of its reference tuning.
Audio Technica M50x – Robin has a livelier sound signature compared to M50x. Robin has a stronger bass boost of 10dB whereas M50x has a 5dB boost below 200Hz. Robin’s bass has more dynamic punch but M50x has slightly better speed. M50x too has a slightly leaner bodied presentation because of a dip in lower-midrange around 350Hz but it is smaller than Robin’s 5dB dip around 500Hz. Both have a similar forward upper-midrange presentation but M50x has slightly more presence in the 4-5kHz range. Robin is brighter in its lower-treble as well as upper-treble presentation whereas M50x sound warmer in comparison. Robin has a bigger and much more open sounding soundstage as well as better separation and micro-detail retrieval.
Robin has good boutique build quality and an interesting W-shaped signature. My main nitpick with it is its loose-ish fit, even in the lowest setting for smaller heads, because of less clamp force and a slightly big headband, which makes overall snugness of fit dependent on head size, and its complete sound signature’s perception dependent on fit as a result. If Sivga can make Robin’s clamp force a bit more firm and the headband slightly smaller to allow the headband adjuster’s lowest setting to be lower, it’ll make Robin’s fit more consistent universally. Besides that, Sivga has nailed most things in the headphone build wise, using premium materials like Rosewood cups, high protein leather headband and earpads as well as matte finished metal headband adjuster and yoke. If you’re a person who likes and prefers reference and neutral sounding headphones more, Robin might not be your thing but if you’re looking for a headphone that presents music in a livelier, more energetic and fun way, give Robin a shot.
Gear used for testing and review.
- DAPs – Hiby R6 2020 | iBasso DX160
- Desktop – Universal Audio Apollo Twin -> Drop THX AAA 789 Amp
- Laptop – Apple Macbook Pro 15″
- Phone – OnePlus 7 Pro
Reference Songs list.
- Foo Fighters – The Pretender, Best of you, Everlong & Sonic Highway album
- Coldplay – Paradise, Up in flames & Everglow + Everyday Life Album
- Biffy Clyro – A Celebration of Endings & Ellipsis albums
- Ed Sheeran – Thinking out loud, Bloodstream & Galway Girl
- Dave Matthews Band – Come Tomorrow album
- Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia album
- Chainsmokers – Somebody, Sickboy, This Feeling & Closer
- John Mayer – Slow dancing in a burning room, Stop this Train, Say & A Face to Call Home
- Gavin James – Always & Hearts on fire
- Switchfoot – Meant to live & Dare you to move
- Porcupine Tree – Sound of Muzak, Blackest Eyes & .3
- Our Lady Peace – Do You Like It & Innocent
- Linkin Park – Papercut, Somewhere I belong & Talking to myself
- Maroon 5 – She will be loved, Payphone & Lost stars
- Lifehouse – All in all & Come back down
- Breaking Benjamin – Diary of Jane
- Karnivool – Simple boy & Goliath
- Dead Letter Circus – Real you
- I Am Giant – Purple heart, City limits & Transmission
- Muse – Panic station
- James Bay – Hold back the river
One thought on “Sivga Robin (SV021)”
Many thanks for reviewing. How would you compare the sound of this model with Meze 99 Classics?