If you recognize the brand in this title straight away, you probably already know your subwoofers.
I expect you’ll also know that SVS have designed some of the most successful ranges of subs over the last few years. It’s fair to say that it’s their specialism.
Subs are listed first on their website (source at svsound.com). They are not shown as accessories, home theatre, or as extras in the way you’ll find on some speaker manufacturers pages.
You might say that SVS ‘R’ Subs, as I hope nobody ever actually wrote!
Countless awards, Best Buy badges, ‘sub of the year’ accolades, and dozens of glowing reviews attest to the phenomenon that is SVS’s entry level subwoofer duo.
It’s enough to make the competition green with envy! Handily, the labelling helps, because the PB series are ported, and the SB series are sealed, so you don’t need to delve into the spec list to understand which is which. https://www.svsound.com/collections/1000-series
Let’s take a look at four key points you need to think about when choosing between these two, or any subs for that matter…
How big is my room?
Let me tell you something right off the bat.
The sound quality performance you'll end up getting from a speaker will always depend on your room acoustics - particularly room dimensions and speaker positions.
The impact of the combination of these two is actually so strong that in most cases, it doesn't even make sense to utter a single word on sound quality without speaking of them.
This is also why it's not unusual to see completely different reviews of the same speaker.
In one case the speaker might be placed in a sweet spot inside the room and hence the user might be satisfied. In other cases the same speaker might be ill placed and hence user might even have returned it.
The point most people miss here is that it mostly isn't even about the engineering behind the speaker itself. It's about where you place the speaker inside which room.
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So, in order to solve this problem, I've partnered with an Acoustics and Audio Engineering PhD and created Soundton - a simple, 2D, browser accessible online speaker placement calculator.
With Soundton, now there's a way to figure the sound quality of most speakers before you buy them.
Read more about its working principles at soundton.com.
The end colormap provides you the locations with the best (green) and worst (red) acoustics.
ASAP Science also made a video on the loudest and quietest rooms in the world. A mind blowing example of the importance of acoustics (play time adjusted video below).
Other parameters such as the age/materials of the building, the furniture & carpets in place, etc can and will, of course, have an effect on room acoustics, too. But it's much less compared to other parameters mentioned above.
Also, while you're at it, blast my Hidden Electronic Gems list to test the speakers:
The smaller your room - and here we mean its length or longest dimension - the higher the frequency at which the room will reinforce the lowest bass.
Larger subs than the 1000 series will need a larger room to work at their best.
There is a link to a full look-up chart at the end, so just to give an easy example here - in a 12 foot room (366 cm) the ‘room gain’ begins at 47Hz.
You’ll quickly see from that example why typical ‘bookshelf’ speakers work well in small rooms, because they’ve pretty much given up by 50Hz, so this room gain effect saves them from sounding underpowered down low.
Placement of your sub nearer a boundary will increase the bass you hear.
Do I prioritise cinema effects, or how my Hifi sounds?
Cinema effects or music? The often repeated and rather simplistic answer is to choose a sealed box for music, because it rolls off more smoothly, and is less likely to boom or emphasize one note.
But that’s not necessarily the case for every room, listener or kit combination, so keep an open mind and open ears! For explosions and peak output volume, a ported sub will typically go louder and deeper.
And bear in mind that a port takes up room, so you’ll likely end up with a bigger enclosure. Bigger tends to mean better. And that leads us to…
Do I want my sub on show or to keep it discreet?
Out there or hidden? Brash or discrete? Ok, no need to divulge your personality, we are just considering how your new sub is going to look. Ported designs are invariably bigger, and front ported ones often look the part, or shout ‘look at me’, depending on your perspective.
The SVS PB-1000 has one large port on the same face as the 25cm/10” driver. The sealed SVS SB-1000 obviously has no port, but sports a larger 30cm/12”driver. The PB goes deeper and louder, if you need it to.
- SVS also offers a good document library, check that out too if you'd like to read more.
Is it a recommended pairing for my main speakers?
If you haven’t already done so, take a look at SVS’s website. It has a great ‘wizard’ to guide you to their recommended match for your main speakers.
Unlike similar guides I’ve seen this looks really comprehensive as it has matches for some of the rarer combinations I could think of.
Even if another model is actually recommended, one of the hallmarks of this admittedly low-cost range is how versatile it is.
So you shouldn’t rule it out if you’re adding a sub on a tight budget. By this point, you’ll have found that these almost ‘classic’ original SVS designs in the 1000 range have been superseded by Pro models.
These benefit from technology developed originally for the senior models in the range, especially the leading Ultra designs. Both PB Pro and SB Pro now use 30cm (12”) woofers, with the ported PB Pro sporting two front-mounted ports.
Necessarily, the PB is bigger in every dimension, heavier too, so you might want to make time to go back with a tape measure and think about how well these could fit within your room. https://www.svsound.com/pages/merlin
Also check out deals on most popular SVS subs in here.
What’s the catch?
Just hang on, I hear you saying!
You’ve already highlighted that the Pro models are now the core 1000 series offering, so why all the discussion about the original models?
Well, it’s one of the most frequently asked on audio forums across the globe, and SVS really set a new standard at this price level. That still holds good - the originals are still a great buy.
They cannot be ignored. Many places will have unsold stock, returns or traded-in models. And all those points we looked at above about how to decide between ported and sealed models hold good for the Pro series too, so you’ve not wasted your time.
If you can, get down to a SVS dealer and hear them for yourself. If you can’t, see if you can have one on home trial, or with an option to return. (In the USA, SVS offers a 45 day home trial with free returns).
If those options don’t work for you, consider a used one from your favorite auction site, especially as they hold their used value well. But if you want to just take a punt and buy unheard, you really can’t go far wrong. And if you've been thinking about it for a while and can run to the even better and latest Pro series, then don’t hesitate.
Don’t forget, there are countless guides and videos to walk you through the set-up if you need some help. Here’s a great one to get you started…
Further reading and helpful links:
#Wavelength calculator - look down the ‘half wavelength’ column to find the measurement of your largest room dimension… https://www.fmsystems-inc.com/sound-frequency-wave-length/
The frequency shown is where the effect of ‘room gain’ will start adding to the bass output you hear.
For a more complex system, try this...