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SVS - Room 441

Joe: I have had a chance to hear the SVS Ultras before at a GTG in Iowa this past April - you can check out my thoughts here - as well as at Capital AudioFest (check out the show report for impressions there). Plus, I currently own two PB-13 Ultras. :)

First, some pictures:



The system setup in this room included the following equipment and had the ability to swap from two channel to home theater:

No code has to be inserted here.



Background / Specifications:

Joe: SVS builds all of their products in Ohio, but they have people based in many parts of the US. Many thanks to the SVS folks for allowing Sonnie and I to visit early Friday morning as they were finishing getting the room set up - it was great to be able to sit and listen with just the two of us in there.

The SVS Ultras use a 1" aluminum-dome tweeter, two 6.5" midrange drivers with composite glass-fiber cones, and two 8" side-firing horizontally opposed SVS woofers. They have a stated FR of 28 Hz - 32 kHz with a nominal impedance of 8 ohms, sensitivity of 88 dB , and weigh about 75 lbs a piece. Foam was placed at the first reflection points and behind the speakers on the wall.

Sonnie: It was a pleasure for all of us to meet Smith Freeman, the new designer for SVS. Smith tells us that he has a lot of new ideas and we can expect to see some more exciting speakers and subs coming from SVS. It was also good to see the SVS crew again... and we thoroughly enjoyed the SVS experience, as usual.


Joe's Thoughts / Impressions:

I started out by listening to the 2 channel setup. They imaged dead center for vocals with instruments showing good separation giving a wide soundstage. Guitar and piano detail were very good - you really could hear the pluck of the strings and strike of the piano keys. As a matter of fact, there was one point where you could hear the pianist shift on the bench - excellent detail! Male and female vocal dynamics were handled really well - again, excellent detail with breaths very easily heard. The Roger Waters Three Wishes track showed off the Ultras ability to handle detail once again - cymbals had a great ping and resulting splash and the beginning female vocal part imaged from off to the left as expected. It also showed the Ultras ability to deliver the low end - very impactful. On the Funhouse track, the stick strikes were very crisp - midrange punch was very good and horns were very detailed with no feeling of wanting to shoulder cringe.

We then listened to the home theater setup. There is nothing more for me to say on SVS subs that has not already been said before - great impact and clean to boot. We listened to an orchestral track - The Berlin Concert - and I really got an 'I am there' feeling. The Police Live concert was up next - what stood out here was the system's ability to deliver a good, clean midrange / low end. Last, we got to listen to the Tron light cycle sequence - the whole system really blends well together and gives a great all-around effect.

I have said it before and I will say it again - all in all, this is a very impressive group of speakers made even more appealing due to their very affordable cost. Extremely well done SVS!!


Wayne's Thoughts / Impressions:

We got some nice focus time with the SVS Ultra setup. As we listened through their demo tracks, including Bob Dylan, Miranda Lambert, and Chris Isaak, I was drawn to the upper-mid and high-frequency profile, which they put a lot of work into tailoring on the Ultras. The area around 2 KHz, so critical to detail, is slightly forward and crisp, but not enough to be fatiguing or tiresome, like the difference between an offering of emphasis and having emphasis forced on you. It made the inner details of Bob Dylan's voice pop in a way I like, giving his and other vocals more intimacy. On the Police track later on, Sting's voice seemed constructed of harmonics I had not heard before on other systems.

The highs above that were smooth but a little hard, too. Grasping for descriptors, I envisioned a sound quality precision-milled from machine-grade steel, extremely accurate but somehow hard where you wanted it to be softer and easier. I ended up on my knees on the floor experimenting with ear height relative to drivers. The typical folding chairs provided by the venue raise the listener several inches higher than a normal couch or recliner height would be. I thought the high end sweetened up quite a bit right between the two larger drivers, on the 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter axis, so a regular home seating height would do a lot to soften that tweeter sound and to open up the soundstage at the same time. Otherwise, the soundstage width was fair with little depth, and imaging seemed fair-to-good - proper placement in a treated room would most likely improve both dramatically.

They call the design a 3.5-way, with integrated subwoofer - deep and powerful on their demo tracks, including a cut from Tron Legacy. The home cinema market is squarely in their sights, with center channel, subwoofer, and surround offerings in their lineup. They offer a 45-day in-home evaluation with shipping AND return shipping paid for if you are not happy with their products, plus a 5-year warranty, so they are serious about satisfying their customers.

The 3.5-way nomenclature comes from some interesting tuning of the crossovers between midrange drivers and tweeter. That crossover point is essentially 2 KHz, but actually is slightly different between the upper and lower mid/bass drivers for the purpose of smoothing out the crossover transition and to reduce lobing. Non-parallel walls help eliminate interior resonances. All in all I felt the mid- and low-frequency ranges seemed smooth and well-controlled, as evidenced by on the Mozart Piano Concerto, and the system had an even tonality that would work for home cinema and for two-channel applications.


Dennis' Thoughts / Impressions:

I wasn't able to grab the main listening position (MLP) chair for the TRON Legacy "Light Race" 7.2 demonstration. But even off axis, the sound was anchored firmly at the screen, which was located about 3 ft. behind the L/C/R plane. Full range sound, with really smooth highs, weighty lows, easy to understand dialogue. Most interesting to me was the Ultra Surround, which allows you to have 7.0 sound with only 5 speakers! Why hasn't anyone thought of this before?

I was able to grab a sweet spot seat for the 2.0 demo. Songs used to audition were:

- Bob Dylan "Man in the Long Black Coat" (this song was used to voice the Ultras)
- Miranda Lambert "Oklahoma Sky"
- Chris Isaak "Wicked Game"
- Mozart 21st Piano Concerto (Alfred Brendel)

Midrange tonality was spot on, the tweeter a little zippy without being harsh. Dynamics were great! Slightly recessed images, as with the 7.2 audition. Midbass was just a little wooly, the low bass was full and meaty, especially considering this was just the towers with no subwoofer augmentation.
 

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I would have loved to have been in this demonstration room. I am an unapologetic SVS fanboy.

But 2 PB-13s seem that they would be overkill in a room like that.

Is there a cubic foot recommendation per their subs? I'm wondering if I'm at the right amount with my dual PB10s.
 

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I would have loved to have been in this demonstration room. I am an unapologetic SVS fanboy.

But 2 PB-13s seem that they would be overkill in a room like that.
It is only overkill if you crank the subs up over the median level of the 7.0 speakers. The dual PB-13's were not there for bombast, but to smooth room modes, producing bass evenly throughout the room for all listeners. It makes every seat in the house fun!

Is there a cubic foot recommendation per their subs? I'm wondering if I'm at the right amount with my dual PB10s.
How big is your room? Is it open to other rooms in your residence?
 

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I love my two new PC12 Subs - and have been thrilled with their level of customer service thus far. It / they live up to their hype. One note, Joe says " SVS builds all of their products in Ohio " .. However unless I'm mistaken when talking to my rep about the eta for my second sub, he said " they just got to the warehouse from China " at one point. Though I don't have issues with the fact they were built there ( it seems everyone has to have equipment built there to remain competitive ), I just thought I'd mention it.
 

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This depends a lot on your listening levels. One might struggle, but two PB10s should be fine in a room that size. You are probably not going to get reference levels below 25 Hz, but as long as you are not hearing untoward noises, and are happy with the results you are getting now, then all that is left to do is enjoy. :T

But, you could always add one or two more subs if needed!
 

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I usually listen to movies at -20 to -15dB off reference.

I was thinking of moving up to two SB13s or going the DIY route with 2 UM15s that I've seen on the DIY part of the forum. But I was concerned that with sealed subs I was going to lose part of the low end that I'm used to with ported subs.
 

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You can never have too much subwooferage! (Is that a word? :D)

As long as you have them all EQ'd properly it will only help the bass response throughout your room.

Back to the SVS speakers, I really like their design and I bet they will do very well in the shootout.
 

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I'm personally rooting for the Paradigm. Those, Axiom, and Ohm sound absolutely wonderful in my room.

If I wasn't so much an Axiom fanboy, I'd be a Paradigm fanboy!
 

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Subwooferage was probably not a word. We can thank Infrasonic for just correcting that oversight.
 

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Wow - Levinson Amp/Pre set up should have no problems powering the Ultras to their limit.

Very interested to see how the Ultra Towers do in the HTS shootout. I can't not think that the lack speaker heritage may place the SVS and Emerald Physics speakers below the likes of Paradigm, Dynaudio, Magnepan and Martin Logan. We'll soon see how the line-up for $2.5k floor standers - Stands.
 

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SVS was on the list for my next purchase of speakers. When they came out with the ultra line of speakers I was in the market for a new system and did contemplate it. However I got such a good deal on my def techs that I went that route. I can't say I'm disappointed one bit cause I believe the two systems are in a way designed similar with the surrounds and powered towers with 1" aluminum dome tweeters but the similarities stop there. Not sure which would sound better? Was hoping the def techs made it in to the $2500 eval this time around but maybe next round. Still these SVS speakers are beautiful and it sounds like you guys all enjoyed them. That's good to know for future reference for sure. They do seem power hungry though and that would be my only concern.
 

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I've wanted to hear these speakers ever since I got the email announcing them. Can't wait to hear the results of the newest Compare-oh that these were in! Very interesting design aesthetic, I think it'll appeal to a lot of people.

Scott
 

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I wish I could have made it, I am leaning towards SVS speakers when I upgrade, just gotta save up some money! Probably gonna start with a 2.0 to add to my current setup then add a sub, and then center and surrounds... but I won't know til I can convince my wife that we need some to match our 140" projector screen! lol anyone in norcal have these that I can listen to?
 

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I have yet to hear an SVS full range speaker. I've heard many of their sub-woofers though, and if they are putting in the same amount of quality in their full range line - it should be an excellent speaker indeed! I'm also glad that they are made in the USA!!!!
 

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I live in Ohio and so does SVS :T Back in 2008 I got to hear their entry level SBS-01 5.1 speaker system and they sounded really good. Those speakers are not available anymore but hopefully I'll get a chance to hear these new Ultra speakers soon. The 2.5k speaker evaluation provided some insight in what to expect but everyone hears differently and if the new Ultras sound anything like their old SBS -o1 speakers, I will be getting them for my HT. Started saving my pennies since reading Andrew Robinson's over at HomeTheaterReview back in March.
 

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I am no expert or even knowledgeable with speakers but if I ever get a new sub I am going with SVS. I wish I could comment more high end equipment but I would be lost.
Sonnie and everyone here I take my hat off to you!
 
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