Well priced VFM boutique headphone!
PROS: Very good boutique build quality and design, choice of materials for construction, lightweight, easy comfortable fit, well-balanced musical sound signature, good soundstage and separation for a closed-back, good micro-detail retrieval and instrument definition.
CONS: Nitpicking – Two dips one at 200Hz and the other at 5.5kHz restrict it from an absolutely accurate reference tuning and tonality, would’ve loved if it came with a hard carry case.
Sivga is based out of Dongguan (China) and was founded by two childhood friends, Jian Zhou and Rongchun Pan who shared a common love for music and quality headphones. Jian had been working in the field of headphones for nearly 20 years before establishing SIVGA Audio, where he was a senior technical engineer of a leading OEM headphone factory in China and led the R&D, headphone design, craftsmanship as well as manufacturing departments. During his career in the last company, Jian worked with many international headphone brands and played an important role in helping those brands grow. Rongchun on the other hand was an avid audiophile who was obsessed with the pursuit of sound quality and developed a knack of tuning headphones. SIVGA are an OEM as well as have their own line of headphones under the brand names -SIVGA and Sendy Audio. They follow boutique as well as modern manufacturing techniques, where their wooden ear cups are built and finished by hand and all the metal parts used in the headphones are CNC machined. We’ve reviewed Sivga’s open-back dynamic driver headphone Phoenix, open back planar magnetic flagship headphone PII as well as their closed-back dynamic driver headphone Robin on our website. Check out those reviews if you’re interested in knowing how they perform.
Links – Official Website | AliExpress Store ($199)
- Style: Over ear
- Transducer type: Dynamic driver
- Transducer size: 50mm
- Frequency response: 20Hz – 20KHz
- Sensitivity: 108dB +/- 3dB
- Impedance: 32 Ohm +/-15%
- Cable length: 1.8M +/-0.2M
- Connector: 3.5mm
- Weight: 280g
Oriole is available in two colours –
Included in the box.
- Oriole headphone
- Braided fabric sleeve cable
- Headphone carry sack
- 3.5mm to 1/4″ adapter
Technology and Design.
Ear cups – Oriole’s ear cups are made of high-density rosewood and are CNC machined, sanded, lacquered and polished to a premium looking matte finish. The ear cups tilt and swivel too.
Ear pads – The ear pads are detachable and made of leather with soft memory foam cushioning.
Headband and Yoke – The headband is made of good quality high protein leather with well done visible stitching. The adjuster and yoke are made of metal and have a matte finish.
Build quality, Fit and Comfort.
Oriole is the most premium and well built headphone I’ve tried at the $200, period! Even though Robin was quite a well-built headphone too, Oriole is a substantial step up over the Robin. Be it Oriole’s rosewood wooden ear cups, the matte finished metal yolk and headband adjuster or the high-protein leather headband and ear cups, Oriole oozes of good high quality premium boutique build quality and all the components are excellently appointed for its asking price.
Fit and comfort – Oriole’s size is perfect for my head. It is quite light and extremely easy to manage and wear. It has a very comfortable fit for my medium sized head with just the perfect amount of clamp force for a nice snug fit. The headband adjuster works smoothly and the ear cups tilt as well as swivel for a very comfortable coupling with the head. All in all, this is one of the most comfortable closed-back headphones I’ve had the pleasure of trying.
Cable – The stock cable looks and feels quite nice but is slightly microphonic. Sivga do offer aftermarket
Note – Headphone graphs have smoothing applied to make them easier to understand for most people when comparing them to smoothed out target curves like the Harman OE 2018 target.
Drivability – Oriole is very easy to drive with just about anything!
Sound Summary – Looks like Sivga took the general feedback they got for Robin seriously and tuned a headphone that is much better tuned; more neutral and accurate than their previous fun tuned closed-back – Robin. Oriole kind of follows the Harman OE 2018 target for the most part except for two major dips that move it away from the target – one at 200Hz and the other at 5.5kHz. The dips do look significant on a graph but aren’t as significantly heard in real usage. Overall, it has slightly more bass below 150Hz than the Harman OE target, a dip at 200Hz, fairly linear and neutral lower-midrange, forward upper-midrange with around 8.5-9dB ear gain at its highest 3.75kHz peak, a major dip at 5.5kHz and well done neutral treble tuning past 8kHz, with good extension till 20kHz. IMO, Oriole is a very well-tuned headphone, one that sounds quite right as soon as you put it on your head and does not need much of an adaptation period.
There are quite a lot of similarities between this and AKG’s Harman tuned brothers K371 and K361 since they all target the Harman OE target and I hear and prefer Oriole doing quite a few things better than them, particularly soundstage. Of course there is no comparison between them when it comes to build, as Oriole smokes the other two big time with its much higher quality premium build and appointments!
Let’s break it down further…
Bass – Oriole has a 6dB bass shelf that mostly follows the Harman OE target but boosts a tiny bit more mid-bass in the 62-125Hz region but also dips the mid-bass in the 200-300Hz region. The dip around 200Hz is heard but not as prominently as it shows up on the graph. It mostly makes snare drums sound slightly leaner than they are and also tilts the headphone’s focus more on midrange and treble. Kicks aren’t as affected by it as one would imagine and they do have very good punch. Sub-bass rumbles quite well too with a clean presentation, mostly because it dips the mid-bass from ever overpowering the signature. I do EQ in a bit of 200Hz when using the Oriole and in an ideal world I would’ve preferred there be no dip but it’s not bad in stock form at all. The bass otherwise has nice tonality, with a very natural transient response that is fairly fast and keeps up with the song’s dynamics without getting sluggish.
Midrange – Lower-midrange is fairly linear and neutral except for the dip at 200Hz that affects the initial 250-300Hz region and results in slight thinning of the signature. It affects a bit of vocal body but mostly snare drum body that I hear being affected by the dip most as that lies in the 200-300Hz range which is dipped. Otherwise the rest of its lower-midrange is well tuned to the Harman OE target. Oriole has good amount of ear gain, with it peaking around 8.5-9dB at it highest point. This results in a very good forward and defined presentation of instruments in the stage and also very good tonality and timbre of instruments. The slight dip around 3kHz does take it away from an absolute accurate reference presentation but I can see this being preferable to a lot of people who find 9-10dB of ear gain shouty.
Treble – The dip around 5.5kHz makes the lower-treble region ever so slightly warm but isn’t as significant as it graphs and I don’t hear it blunting the stick attack, which lies at 5kHz, as much. Again it does take it away from an absolute reference presentation but also keeps the sibilance region in check. The rest of the treble region post 8kHz however is very well balanced, with very good extension till 20kHz. Even with that 5.5kHz dip, Oriole has good amount of treble and comes across as well balanced along with the midrange. It makes for good detail retrieval and clarity all across the spectrum.
Technical Performance – Technical performance is the most impressive quality of Oriole especially its staging and left to right distance and separation. Where other leading closed-back headphones in this price segment like the AKG K371 and K361 don’t really stage that well, Oriole does better. It has a very nice open and wide soundstage with very good imaging and layering ‘for a closed back headphone of its asking price’. Its left to right separation in particular is better than all the closed-back headphones I’ve tried under $200 mark. It also has impressive detail retrieval and resolution which really add on to its musical signature.
Build – There is absolutely no competition because Oriole is a way more premium built headphone using high quality materials like Rosewood for cups, metal for headband, leather for head pad and high protein squishy leather for ear pads. K371 on the other hand is mostly built out of plastic except for the yoke and the leather appointments on the head pad and ear pad are not even close to the quality on the Oriole. In fact after a year of usage, leather of K371’s head and ear pads have frayed off substantially and what is even more irritating is that AKG does not offer replacement ear pads for the K371 yet. So, you’re left stranded looking for aftermarket options which will change the stock sound signature. Sivga on the other hand offer replacement ear pads for the Oriole for a very reasonable price of $15. Kudos to Sivga for that!
Fit – Oriole fits way better too its ear pads being cushy and having good amount of depth for my ears to not touch the driver assembly. K371’s fit on the other hand is not as comfortable and my ears touch the driver assembly too, which isn’t the most comfortable for long sessions.
Sound – You can see that both target the Harman OE 2018 target, where the K371 does better with the mid-bass to lower-midrange transition and Oriole with its lower-midrange to upper-midrange as well as mid-treble to upper-treble tuning. Digging in deeper, Oriole has more sub-bass rumble but K371 has more neutral mid-bass presentation because Oriole has a dip around 200Hz. They’re both very similar with their lower-midrange tuning but K371 is more neutral in the 250-300Hz and as a result has more neutral presentation of instrument body, where the Oriole comes off slightly leaner. That does however help Oriole with a cleaner presentation in case of warmer mixed songs but I still would’ve preferred if it didn’t have that dip at all. Oriole has better ear gain and a more defined forward presentation of instruments. K371 has slightly better lower-treble but is darker post 8kHz compared to Oriole as well as the Harman OE 2018 target. Oriole outright beats the K371 is technical performance, be it soundstage size, left to right separation, micro-detail retrieval or resolution. K371 almost feels like it has no stage width when you listen to it after the Oriole.
Build – They have a similar design but Oriole uses much more premium appointments – be it the stronger feeling metal for the yoke and headband adjuster, the head pad leather or the more premium looking ear pads. Even though Robin was no slouch, Oriole’s finish quality overall looks more premium and expensive than Robin’s.
Fit – Both fit really well but I think Oriole’s clamp force is better than Robin and will be more versatile for a variety of head shapes and sizes, especially smaller heads. Robin’s fit was looser and I saw people with smaller heads having a tougher time with proper clamping in order to achieve the bass response it had.
Sound – Robin had a wonky fun tuning which had people split – there were some who absolutely hated it and some who liked it quite a lot. For me it was a headphone that had a good soundstage, separation and took EQ really well. I could easily EQ out all the tonal problems I had an issue with. I personally found that it sounded REALLY good AutoEQ’d to the Harman OE Target. Oriole on the other hand improves on the Robin significantly and has a stock signature that sounds really good without any EQ, with significantly better technical performance than the Robin. Oriole has a better, more normal bass shelf compared to Robin’s massive 10dB bass shelf that boosted a bit too much mid-bass. Oriole does dip around 200Hz which lends slight leanness to the signature but Robin boosted the 250-300Hz way above neutral and then dipped the 800Hz significantly making for quite a wonky lower-midrange tuning. Oriole has a more accurate and neutral midrange presentation overall in comparison, which results in much more natural and accurate tonality and timbre of instruments. Robin is also significantly brighter in treble while Oriole is much better balanced. When it comes to technical performance, Oriole has a more open, cleaner, natural and accurate soundstage with better imaging as well as left to right separation. It also has better micro-detail retrieval and resolution than Robin. IMO, Oriole is a much better package and beats the Robin in almost every aspect hands down!
Having tested most of Sivga and Sendy’s headphones, I think they’ve done quite well with Oriole, especially when compared to their previous closed-back headphone – Robin. Oriole is not only a very well built headphone with premium appointments but also has the technical performance to beat for its asking price. Oriole tries to target the Harman OE 2018 target fairly closely, except for two major dips – one at 200Hz and another at 5.5kHz, and is a much better balanced headphone than Robin. If they somehow could’ve avoided those two dips in the tuning, Oriole would’ve been perfect but I think Oriole overall still offers one of the nicest value for money packages for its asking price of $200 and that makes it quite an easy headphone for me to recommend. So, if you’re in the market looking for a closed-back headphone around $200, definitely give Oriole a shot!
Gear used for testing and review.
- DAPs – iBasso DX240 | Shanling M6 Ultra
- 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