SIVGA may appear to be a new face in the world of headphone audio but have actually amassed plenty of years of experience behind the scenes. Jian Zhou, one of its co-founders, has played an influential role in a leading OEM headphone factory designing parts as well as leading R&D efforts for many international well-known headphone brands. Rongchun Pan, the other co-founder of SIVGA Audio, has many years of tuning headphones having been a keen audiophile in search of the next best thing.
With a commitment to boutique engineering processes, SIVGA have selected high-quality natural solid wood materials for their product-line up with accompanying industrial processes such as CNC machining and polishing. The latest in their line-up – the SIVGA P-II has been the culmination of three years of hard R&D alongside rigorous material selection and industrial design. Equipped with an ultra-nano composite planar diaphragm, the SIVGA P-II retails for $399 with an impedance of 32 Ohms and sensitivity of 98 dB.
The packaging of the SIVGA P-II is rather industrial with a cardboard hatch box with a headphone illustration at its forefront. Inside, users are greeted to a leather-made carrying case housing the P-II headphones themselves. The case is very well-built with its outer part ergonomically molded to fit the housings of the P-II perfectly. The cable included is a 4-core 6N Single Crystal Copper OCC balanced cable with 2.5 mm headphone connections and terminated in a straight 4.4 mm jack. SIVGA have included a 4.4 mm female to 3.5 mm jack to enable connections across a range of devices.
Overall, the box and packaging are simple and yet contain necessary accessories and a rather premium case capable of safely transporting the headphones for commutes.
The Build & Design
SIVGA have infused both boutique as well modern manufacturing techniques to build the P-II. The black walnut wooden cups, for example, are CNC milled but sanded, finished and lacquered by hand. Black walnut was chosen for the housing material owing to its Since the process is quite labor intensive and requires skilled craftsmen, the SIVGA P-II is generally produced in smaller quantities.
Akin to the wooden ear cups, the matte black headache is also CNC milled (this time from stainless steel). This connects to an aluminum yoke allowing a full 180 degrees of rotation and a swivel axis of 30 degrees. On the outer ear cups, the SIVGA P-II employs a silver color metal mesh with perforated holes of different size. This is further overlayed with a cloud-shaped black metal grill to produce some nice aesthetics which tie in with the rest of the headphone.
The SIVGA P-II incorporates a 97 mm x 76 mm planar magnetic driver sandwiched between two neodymium magnets with 108 well arranged acoustic holes. The diaphragm itself is made from an ultra-nanometer composite with aluminum belt plating to reduce overall weight and dimensions. The whole process has taken SIVGA three years of fruitful research and development to perfect with individual components carefully thought out to improve overall sound quality.
Comfort & Isolation
SIVGA have constructed ergonomic ear pads from a pool of data based from different face profiles. The ear pad makes use of a unique oblique design and is made from a high protein leather and skin friendly velvet fabric ensuring a comforting fit. Interestingly, rather than a slider mechanism – the headband utilizes an elastic band to adjust for different head sizes. The underside of the headband is laced with evenly spaced padding for extra comfort during prolonged listening sessions.
At 420g, the SIVGA P-II is not the lightest headphone within its category. This is likely owing to the use of black walnut wood despite the use of aluminum. While on initial listening, this does not present as much of an issue – there is no denying that the P-II could benefit from an even lighter weight. Since the headband uses elastic band to stretch for different head size – there is also extra pressure in the form of elastic potential energy. Perhaps SIVGA could have used a headband sliding mechanism to offset this kind of pressure.
The SIVGA P-II offers a slightly warm liquid sound with its emphasis on clean dynamics and softened leading edge transients. Across the board, the P-II hosts good responsiveness with impeccable treble control and detail retrieval.
The bass of the SIVGA P-II follows classic planar characteristics with great agility, linearity and a speedy decay. There are no imposed biases when sub-bass is assessed next to mid-bass. Rather, frequencies linearly extend onto the lower midrange. While the bass response is very disciplined with good transparency, the SIVGA P-II does not showcase the same extension and rumble compared to a sealed-back dynamic driver.
However, texturing is fantastic and those in search of a reference bass with a warm tilt will no doubt be pleased. On this subject, the P-II capably handles complex bass lines with ease owing to its great resolution and rapid decay. Despite the lack of absolute levels of slam and impact, it is nice to see the bass notes here possess a good amount of body and punchiness.
Following on from the lower frequencies, the midrange of the SIVGA P-II is transparent, clean and revels in a slightly warm predisposition. Frequencies here are not strictly linear and there is a tiny bit of unevenness with a mild 800 Hz bump followed by recession in the 1KHz to 2KHz territories. Consequently, lower midrange vocals and instruments are given some prominence here.
Tonally, the P-II retains a musical edge with its sweet tonality and rapid transients. While some warm headphones characteristically manifest with a ‘lush and romantic’ sound, the SIVGA P-II has a more liquid presence with its pace and slightly softened leading edge transients. To this end, the SIVGA P-II engages with its musicality and smoothness while preserving a good modicum of detailing and decay.
The treble of the SIVGA P-II is fairly extensive, smooth and pleasant in tonality. It does not resort to undue splashiness, nor does it ever get to ‘hot’ despites its fairly steep ascent beyond the 8K region. Again, there is great amount of micro-detailing and while there is superb linear extension – the sound never becomes fatiguing or strident. SIVGA P-II have done a great job here in evoking some energy in this region without compromising balance and control.
Soundstage & Imaging
Owing to its fast transients and decay, the SIVGA P-II benefits from very good levels of instrument separation and sense of space. However, I do wish there could be greater sonic cue projections in the elements of width since the SIVGA P-II does fall short in this domain compared to other open-back planars. There is good height owing to the fairly extensive treble but depth levels are fairly average.
HiFiMAN Deva (wired) ($299)
Both the SIVGA P-II and the HiFiMAN Deva are open-back planar headphones. While the SIVGA P-II is only available in wired format, the Deva has the option to be converted to a wireless headphone with a Bluetooth adapter. Both the Deva and SIVGA P-II share great levels of micro-dynamics with great resolution and detailing. However, the Deva delivers a more typical ‘reference’ tuning with its higher levels of definition and resolve.
The Deva offers the greater soundstage with more depth and overall holographic presence. In the lower frequencies, the Deva produces lighter bass whereas the SIVGA P-II offers better punchiness and body. Tonally, the SIVGA P-II is the more forgiving planar model with its sweeter and richer tonality.
iBasso SR2 ($569)
The iBasso SR2 opts for a dynamic driver with Tesla magnets whereas the SIVGA P-II is a planar model with neodymium magnets. Of the two, the iBasso SR2 offers the ‘darker’ sound with a more rich and lush tonality compared to the more nimble SIVGA P-II sound.
The iBasso SR2 offers a higher degree of macro-dynamic prowess whereas the SIVGA P-II is more transparent and resolving. The SR2 crafts a more natural bass with natural decay whereas the P-II revels in a taut planar low-end. Both are proficient headphones in their own rights and no doubt people will be swayed either way by the unique traits they offer.
The SIVGA P-II is product that aims to capitalize the lower segment of the planar marketplace with its well thought design and acoustic implementation. It is impressive that SIVGA have managed to pack in a lot of premium features for its price. The boutique craftsmanship offers a refreshing take on a line-up of mass-produced headphones and the unique aesthetics will undeniably earn the P-II some fans.
To add to this, the sound is high-quality with a liquid-esque tonality that is both forgiving and yet flowing with transparency and resolve. There are of course some areas of improvements I would have liked to see including some more impact in the low-end. However, the SIVGA P-II offers an insight to a well-done planar sound with both musicality and charm.
SIVGA P-II Specifications:
- Driver: Planar Magnetic
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 40 KHz.
- Sensitivity: 98 dB +/-3dB.
- Impedance: 32 Ohm +/-15%