Sivga Nightingale Planar IEM Review – As Natural As Wood
SIVGA has just recently launched their first-ever single planar magnetic driver IEM called the Nightingale. Sivga is mostly known for its affordable open-back and closed-back headphones but has released some in-ears from time to time. The new Nightingale is Sivga’s latest attempt at a more audiophile-centric product, this time in the form of a planar IEM.
With the Nightingale, Sivga tries for a design that you haven’t seen before. The water droplet-shaped shell gives these IEMs a unique look and distinguishes them from other IEMs on the market. Its wooden front plate finish brings some Sivga identity to the Nightingale, and its metal outline brings the construction of these earpieces together with elegance. They’re very light too, offering a fine seal mixed with general comfort.
The Nightingale features a 14.5mm planar magnetic driver. It utilizes dual magnets for higher transmission sensitivity. These are rare iron boron magnets that are meant to improve efficiency compared to standard single magnets. Its diaphragm is made of a thin material that’s also combined with an aluminum coil, hoping it will result in better transparency and soundstage performance.
Flat sound signatures tend to make some audio enthusiasts excited and if you fall into that group of people the Sivga Nightingale is bound to get your heart racing. The Sivga Nightingale is probably the flattest frequency response curve I’ve seen on any IEM to date.
But what does that sound like? Well, the Sivga Nightingale has a slightly warm overall tonality. The Sivga Nightingale has light bass, neutral mids, and a lifted upper treble. It’s a presentation that is also required for content creation, such as editing or mixing.
One thing to note is that the Sivga Nightingale responds extremely well to EQ (equalization). With some subtle tweaks in certain areas, the sound can be transformed without any loss of audio quality. But out of the box, Sivga Nightingale has decent clarity, good resolution, and average detail retrieval.
The bass is fairly subdued and although it has a natural weight and thickness, the level or quantity of the bass is quite light relative to the mids and treble. Bassheads need to look elsewhere for their ideal IEM. Having said that, the Sivga Nightingale sub-bass extension is subtle and dynamic.
It never comes together to display a consistent tone, but still responds smoothly when called upon. There’s a naturalness to it that always picks its spots evenly. You get some mid-bass punch, but it doesn’t make a huge impact, coming off as a bit thin.
Firing up “Screening” by Mr Bill, Funi, the bass has accurate thickness but the mid-bass kicks lack overall impact. However, there is ample texture and definition in the bass. So while some might find it lacking in level, it’s hard to ignore the quality of the Sivga Nightingale bass.
The midrange is forward and full-bodied. While the clarity is decent, it’s got a slightly veiled feeling. This can be easily remedied by a subtle lift using EQ in the 3kHz-6kHz region. Just adding 2dB-3dB here makes a stark difference in overall clarity and vocal presence.
The instruments and vocals are presented realistically. Each note feels like it has a distinct snappiness and bite, bringing a lot of identity to this sound signature.
I think it’s with some EQ where the Sivga Nightingale shines. I feel strange saying that since, as a rule, I generally never use equalization when testing an IEM. Without EQ, the Sivga Nightingale sounds a bit like it looks in the graph: a bit flat. With some minor alterations, the sound comes alive.
The treble tuning is somewhat unusual on the Sivga Nightingale. The lower treble is smooth and rather laid back. The Sivga Nightingale relies on its transient speed and light bass to uncover details. This works to a certain extent for macro details but not so much for micro-detail retrieval.
There is a lot of similarity with how the bass responds in the highs. Most of that has to do with the subtlety of the tone, as the highs possess a present but reserved response. There are most instances of consistency with its texture, and it comes off very elegantly.
The treble extension is above average and adds airiness and openness to the treble. But it sometimes feels like it’s lacking bite and sparkle. It’s not exactly a precise or detailed treble but it is a smooth one and is devoid of sibilance.
The Sivga Nightingale has a moderately narrow stage but one with good depth. Vocals are upfront and fairly intimate with plenty of space behind the centre image. Like most planar IEMs, the speed and control of the driver help create more black air between instruments. Add to this the controlled bass and you get a stage that although small, still feels airy.
While I do like the idea of the Nightingale as an IEM, the clashing nature of its tuning makes it hard to wholeheartedly recommend. That said, I do think the Sivga Nightingale does something unique in the IEM market. It’s a neutral-style tuning with low pinna gain and accentuated treble extension.
If you’re someone who wants exactly that, the Sivga Nightingale may be for you. I can’t think of many other IEMs that do the same thing and I can certainly say that at least the Nightingale does it adequately. If nothing else, I applaud Sivga Nightingale for innovating with their tuning in a market that has seemingly converged into minor variations of a target curve.