REVIEW: SVS SB-3000 13” SUBWOOFER
In recent years SVS has grown rapidly and is fast becoming one of the preeminent companies amongst home theatre enthusiasts. Its range of value-for-money subwoofers and loudspeakers is vast. We take a closer look at the SB-3000 subwoofer which sits in the middle of the range from a price perspective.
13” Sealed Subwoofer
AUD $2,690 RRP
I helped more than a few friends put together budget-friendly home theatre systems back in the day. At the time, Soundbars were not quite a thing yet; however, there was no shortage of home-theatre in a box (HTIB) systems available.
Delivering all you needed, including an AV receiver and speakers, they could often be had for a bargain. The packaging resplendent with anything from spaceships, or friends sitting together faces agape, the lure of turning your lounge-room into a megaplex was all too often hard to resist.
Unsurprisingly, they rarely lived up to the hype, with a sound best described as 'anemic'. The most significant flaws with these systems were that they were underpowered, and the subwoofers coming with them looked and sounded like an after-thought.
Too good to be true was often the aptest truism when it came to HTIB solutions. In reality, to get edge of your seat cinema-like experiences at home requires a capable AV receiver and an equally capable subwoofer.
And, in terms of capability, the low-end extension should be at or near the top of the list, with tight and defined bass, that's not only heard but felt.
Starting as an 'internet only' order company, American company SVS is confident enough of the prowess of their subwoofers; they provided a 'free in-home trial' for US residents. With scores of glowing reviews, the company grew in leaps and bounds, fast becoming one of the preeminent companies amongst home theatre enthusiasts.
Today, in addition to subwoofers, they produce a range of loudspeakers, which, like their subs are credited with providing not only great sound but excellent value for money. Its range of subwoofers has also expanded significantly, of which I counted no less than a dozen.
Starting with the 'baby' of the range the SB-1000 which retails at $1090, the range tops out with the mighty SVS 16 Ultra which comes with a price-tag of $4,890.
Like all of SVS's range, the '3000', which sits smack bang in the middle of the SVS subwoofer range is available in either ported (PB-3000) or a sealed (SB-3000) versions.
The most apparent difference between the SB-3000 ($2690) that I was sent for review and the PB-3000 is the size. At 15.6” (H) 15.2” (W) 17.8” (D) the SB-3000 is the easier of the two to accommodate, both in terms of size and aesthetics.
In terms of performance, a sealed box tends to favour detail, speed, tightness and articulation, whereas a ported subwoofer provides deeper output at lower ranges.
The SB-3000 is still capable of digging deep though, with a rated frequency response of 18-270Hz ±3 dB. Likewise, the SB-3000 features the same Sledge amplifier as the PB-3000, rated at 800 watts RMS with 2500+ watts peak output to accommodate the fast transients found in movie soundtracks.
At its heart is a redesigned 13” driver, which SVS states as capable of stopping and starting on a dime with pin-point precision, housed in an acoustically inert cabinet. The SB-3000 has a 50 MHz Analogue Devices DSP with precision 56-bit filtering, allowing the SB-3000 to blend more comfortably with your existing speakers.
All of this is rounded out by SVS's smartphone subwoofer app, which allows you to control the SB-3000's various functions directly from an Android or Apple smart device.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX
Available in either piano gloss black, or black ash - the sample I received was finished in black ash. While there's no denying the beauty of speakers finished in piano gloss black, often overlooked is their ability to reflect images off the screen which can be distracting in a light-controlled home theatre.
Weighing just under 27 kilograms, the SB-3000 is no light-weight, and its build quality reflects this. Cylindrical subs withstanding, it's hard to get away from that 'big-box' look. However, to their credit, SVS has tried with rounded corners and a curved metal grille, which eases that big-box look.
Initially, I wasn't sold on the whole curved metal grille, and if you find yourself feeling the same way, there is, of course, the option to remove the grille.
Typical of all subwoofers, controls such as level and phase are located at the back of the SB-3000. The control panel features line-level inputs (including LFE), 12-volt trigger, and input for SVS' wireless audio input (purchased separately).
Likewise, controls for the low pass filter, variable phase control, volume and auto-on are on the SB-3000's rear panel. Push-button controls are a pleasant deviation from the assortment of knobs and dials often found on the back of a subwoofer and although mostly unseen, are a testament to the SB-3000's build quality.
Subwoofer setup and placement can be as easy or complicated as you like, with results comparable to the level of effort put in.
By far the easiest way to access the SB-3000's various controls is via the smartphone app, which found and connected to my review sub quickly and painlessly. From here, you're able to control all of the SB-3000's functions, including volume, room gain compensation, presets (movie, music, custom and default).
If you're of the tinkering persuasion and are familiar with programs such as REW, with parametric EQ, you'll enjoy the flexibility here. Otherwise, the quick-start guide offers recommendations on the best settings to use so that your AV receiver can use its own inbuilt EQ.
Indeed, with a subwoofer cable connected to my Denon AVC-X8500, this is the route I took, allowing Audyssey SUB EQ to do its thing with the SB-3000.
While my two-channel purist friends here at StereoNET will deride me, I started by watching music clips on YouTube. Hardly audiophile quality I know, but an enjoyable experience when accompanied with a large-screen.
The first thing I noticed about the SB-3000's performance, is its ability to dig low. With Aurora covering Massive Attack's Teardrop, the SB-3000's performance was not only tuneful but tactile, with instruments not only heard but felt.
Blunt force trauma, however, was not the order of the day here, rather the softer touch of the percussion instruments making their presence felt without neither overwhelming the senses nor outstaying their welcome.
Turning back to my home theatre roots, the SB-3000 put in an outstanding performance with titles such as Blade Runner 2049 and Dunkirk. Here the SB-3000 not only dug low, allowing me to feel the weight of explosions and gunshots but showed it was equally capable of tight agile bass.
While the SB-3000 doesn't quite match my own 10” VAF Veritas subs in terms of agility, it delivered excellent precision for a driver of its size. It also blended well with the front-stage speakers - three VAF i91's.
A long-time fan of horror movies, good, bad and just downright schlocky, I discovered early on that it's a genre where a great subwoofer shines. Granted, you're not going to get the earth-shattering, couch rumbling bass that you find in action titles; however, the scores found in these movies often serve to unsettle the viewer.
The SB-3000 used its ability to extract the lower octaves found in 2013's Oculus. While Oculus may not go on to become a horror classic, the SB-3000 gave the sound more presence, in turn adding to the overall creepiness of the score.
With Rami Malek playing Freddy Mercury at Live Aid in Bohemian Rhapsody, the SB-3000 not only put in a musical performance with more presence but rounded out the sound with Malek/Freddie's performance of Radio Ga Ga a standout.
After spending some time with the SB-3000, the only criticism I can offer is that I wish I had been sent two!
While one sub is not going to offer the same evenness in response afforded by dual subs, the SB-3000 never sounded overworked, its amplifier producing clean and effortless sound.
If you're looking for couch-rumbling bass, that is still fast and tuneful in your home theatre I strongly encourage you to look at an SB-3000 (or two).
I wouldn't be at all surprised if your auditioning of subwoofers starts and ends with the SB-3000. That's of course unless you have space and budget to audition the 4000 series!
For more information visit SVS.
As the owner of Adelaide based ‘Clarity Audio & Video Calibration’, Tony is a certified ISF Calibrator. Tony is an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products.
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