SVS PC12-NSD Subwoofer Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

 
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Sub Icon SVS PC12-NSD Subwoofer Review



SVS PC12-NSD Review
MSRP: $749 USD

Last year when I reviewed the SVS Legato system, I was rather suddenly convinced that cylinder subs were worth more attention, so I was fairly eager to review Legato's baby cousin - the PC12-NSD when offered the chance. The PC12-NSD is a cylinder design similar to the PC12-Plus, it's just a little shorter, and features an internal 400 watt RMS Sledge DSP amplifier rather than the external amplifier used with Legato. The 12" driver is a proprietary SVS design while the cabinet is a standard SVS cylinder clad in black velour fabric.

The PC12-NSD is 35.75" tall versus the 40.25" of the taller PC-12Plus, though it maintains a very slim footprint on the floor, measuring in at a diameter of only 16.63". The weight of the sub is a modest 59 lbs, meaning it can be easily moved into place without an army of helpers. The default tune of the single ported enclosure is 20Hz, more than low enough for the average home theater enthusiast.

Packaging, Fit & Finish


The PC12-NSD comes in a single cardboard box, protected on all sides by high density foam and encased in plastic. I can attest to the ease of transporting the box as I picked it up at Dale's house in a sedan and managed to fit it into the back seat.

Measuring in at just a hair under 36" tall, the PC-12NSD is a very modestly sized subwoofer, but the affordable price and modest size do nothing to detract from obviously solid build quality. Thanks to the volumetric benefits of cylindrical enclosures, the PC12-NSD enjoys a relatively large cabinet volume - which contributes to the 20Hz tune. Thankfully, at less than 17" wide, the PC12-NSD never feels anything close to large.


The 400W RMS Sledge amp is flush mounted on the rear of the cylinder and features the standard Phase, Low Pass and Gain controls with high quality adjustment knobs. Unlike many competitors - the continuously variable knobs SVS uses on their amps are notched - allowing the user to feel subtle clicks as each notch is passed. This makes it much easier to fine tune. Once I began remembering that 3 notches up on gain corresponds to about 2dB in my room, it was a snap to adjust my calibration. The amplifier features low level Line In and Line Out connections, as well as a High Pass Out all in standard stereo RCA format. There is also a toggle switch for Auto On or Always On mode for the subwoofer.

Getting back to the enclosure itself, the black velour fabric covering is perfectly applied to the cylinder, and appears flawless. The grille covering the 4" port is painted metal and has a nice hefty feel to it, with a snug fit and no obvious shortcomings. The subwoofer stands on a wood base, raised up via dowel "feet". This allows the down-firing woofer to function, but also gives the subwoofer the added benefit of being extremely easy to move.

Setup: Optimizing the Sound


Having toyed with several rather odd single subwoofer setups in my room of late, I found the PC12-NSD to be a fairly easy beast to configure. The sweet spot in my room for a single sub is generally next to the door along the back wall, and placing the PC12-NSD in this location yielded a very respectable result without any calibration. Satisfied that I didn't need to crawl around or move my couch - I proceeded to run REW and added a few filters to my BFD - taming a peak at 48Hz before running Audyssey, calibrating per my usual process.

I realize that section seems short, but the truth is - it really was that easy. All told it took me about 90 minutes from getting the box in the door before I was up and running with the sub dialed in.

Listening Impressions:

Music:

Similar the the Legato which I reviewed last year, the PC12-NSD is a very articulate sub, accurately reproducing string bass, bass drums, kick drums, congas, bass guitar and low synths. My typical run through of Smooth Jazz, Big Band Jazz, Classical (Trondheim Solistene) and Orchestral Soundtracks yielded consistent results. The integration with my mains was excellent and yielded clean powerful bass that didn't overhear the more delicate elements.

Bombastic film score music such as Transformers and the TV series Falling Skies which feature a lot of intense low brass were perfectly reproduced. As the bass drum and low brass crescendo, many subwoofers will start to muddy the sound and remove any sense of separation between instruments. Despite being a single very modestly priced sub, I wasn't seeing any flaws with the PC12-NSD - the entire low frequency spectrum was intact and well controlled.

Movies:

Music tells part of the story with respect to a subwoofer's performance, and it is certainly an important part - however nothing demonstrates whether a subwoofer is a real contender like a good home theater workout.

Sticking with my normal playlist for bass testing, I used Tron: Legacy, Battle LA and Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Tron: Legacy

Whether it's Daft Punk's insanely low frequency score, or the myriad effects and explosions in this film, there can be no question; Tron: Legacy will keep a woofer busy! Some of my favorite tracks like Rinzler and Derezzed sounded great, with plenty of powerful chest tingling mid-bass to make me happy, while battle scenes and the light-cycle race were equally pleasing. I honestly forgot that I was reviewing a sub many times during the film as I simply enjoyed the quality of this well integrated sound.

Battle LA

I'm not sure there is anything I can say about this mix that I haven't said before - so I'll keep it brief. The frequent artillery fire and explosions in the distance retained their tight, controlled impacts with the PC12-NSD rarely showing any signs of boominess or reproducing muddy bass. Gunfire, vehicular impacts and explosions in the near field were all extremely tight, powerful and had nice low frequency impact. While there were a few instances were VLF content was conspicuously absent compared to some subs i have reviewed, this is in line with the 20Hz roll-off on the sub.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Measuring the capability of this subwoofer with its price point and tuning in mind, it really was spectacular to realize just how well this sub kept up with the insane amount of LFE content in this film's mix. Granted, the lowest frequency pant flapping ULF content wasn't always able to be reproduced by the PC12-NSD, but for the most part - a viewer would have no clue they were missing out on anything. The car chase scene, the final battle and the extensive transformation effects all blended perfectly with the mains, and even at high SPL the integrity of the sound field rarely decayed, with the PC12-NSD remaining tight, controlled and very smooth.


Final Thoughts

At a compelling price with excellent overall build quality, the PC12-NSD represents a great value and an excellent choice for the enthusiast looking for a capable and comfortably priced subwoofer. Some spouses may object to a 3 foot tall cylinder sitting in the room, but the slender profile makes this an ideal choice in a small or cramped spaces.

The PC12-NSD firmly occupies the low end of the high-end subwoofer market - competing clearly with other 12" offerings, but offering several unique differentiators. Given proper setup and integration, this sub gives a remarkable level of performance without sacrificing floor space to get it. As a musical playback subwoofer - the PC12-NSD delivers everything one could ask for - integrating seamlessly with the mains to offer almost flawless reproduction of difficult intermediate frequency instruments like string bass and organ. As a home theater subwoofer - the PC12-NSD offers performance that belies its size and price - rarely displaying any faults but delivering a consistently surprising level of output, clarity and punch.

The overall sonic character of this sub is smooth, tight and articulate bass that rarely steals your attention but never fails to reproduce anything you throw at it. From the most aggressive surround mix to the most delicate classical composition - the PC12-NSD never fails to deliver. Recommended.


Please use the SVS PC12-NSD Review: Discussion Thread for Questions and Comments!

Res non sententia.

Last edited by Dave Upton; 07-30-12 at 05:03 PM.
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