If you are looking for a high-end subwoofer for your home theater system that gives you serious, quality bass, the SVS SB-16 Ultra and PB-16 Ultra are a couple of options you should definitely have a look at. CAUTION: These subwoofers are not cheap! Both are around $2000. So if you need a less pricey alternative, check out the Bose Sub1 or Behringer Eurolive instead.
In summary, both subwoofers have fantastic volume and power and deliver clear, rich bass. They're really heavy, though, not your regular generic computer boxes! But that’s the price you pay for some really legit bass response that proves themselves worthy. The SVS PB16-Ultra is the bigger and more expensive of the two and extremely powerful. The SVS SB16-Ultra is more compact both in sound and size.
Let me tell you something right off the bat.
Room acoustics, particularly room dimensions and speaker positioning, will have an immense effect on sound quality.
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 why I'd hiiiiiiighly recommend you to check out this simple, 2D, online speaker placement calculator.
It's GOOOOLLLDDDDD. I've had an Acoustics & Audio PhD build this tool specifically for this purpose:
- Ceiling height: 106 inches or 8 feet 10 inches or 2.70 meters
- Most standard ceiling height
- Listener's height: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
- Average height of a sitting person
Central heights of speakers (measured from the ground) and examples to them:
- Soundbars: 30 inches or 2 feet 6 inches or 0.75 meters
- 8", 10" or 12" Subwoofers: 8 inches or 0.20 meters
- 360 degree speakers: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
- Horizontal speakers: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
- Floor standing speakers: 20 inches or 1 feet 8 inches or 0.50 meters
- Bookshelf speakers: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
- Center speakers: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
Side note: This tool can and will return inaccurate results for small, portable Bluetooth speakers such as JBL's Go Series. It will, however, deliver just fine for more powerful, packed bluetooth speakers such as this one.
ASAP Science made a video on the loudest and quietest rooms in the world. A mind blowing example of the importance of acoustics (time adjusted video).
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 much less.
Did you know you could also virtually hear any speaker online?
Crutchfield had recently created a tool that virtually simulates the sounds of many different speakers; such as those of SVS, Klipsch, KEF and B&W. Nothing will, of course, beat hearing the speakers in reality. But I'd still recommend you to give it a shot.
While you're at it, blast my Hidden Electronic Gems list to test them:
Design and Aesthetics
The PB16-Ultra and SB16-Ultra are the largest subwoofers SVS manufactures. A composite fiberglass resin material is used for the 16-inch front-firing woofer.
The primary difference between the two is cabinet design. The SVS SB16-Ultra is sealed and smaller. This might be advantageous if space is an issue. The SVS PB16-Ultra comes with a triple ported box and is considerably larger.
The overall design of both is solid enough. The blue LED display, however, does give it a somewhat 'digital' vibe. So for those looking for a more stately, conservative look, this might be a minus.
Dimensions: 551(w) x 635(h) x 784(d)mm
Dimensions: 495(w) x 508(h) x 510(d)mm
The boxes are available in oak and gloss finish. The general consensus is that keeping the latter visibly dust-free is a daily chore.
Find the perfect subwoofer for your speakers using the SVS Subwoofer Matching Tool.
As you’ve probably realized by now, these boxes offer extremely high-quality sound. And while the specs speak for themselves, the actual implementation and result of the same are a crystal clear, powerful, and dynamic aural experience that make your home-theater come to life. The sound effects, the soundtracks, and the dialogues take on a sense of realism that surpasses your generic audio gear.
Thanks to the design of the speakers, the efficient air-movement results in clean and powerful audio fidelity. Sans any distortion. The 8-inch coils and ferrite magnets make the effect all the more apparent.
That being said, the two products do sound a little different from each other. The sealed cabinet of the SVS SB16-Ultra, while extremely powerful, seems to exercise a certain restraint and control. In contrast to the SVS PB16-Ultra, which just exudes pure power.
- 15Hz-280Hz (+/-3dB, standard mode)
- 13Hz-280Hz (+/-3dB, extended mode)
- 14Hz-360Hz (+/-3dB sealed mode)
On board power: 1,500W continuous, 5,000W peak
Frequency range: 16Hz-460Hz (+/-3 dB)
On board power: 1,500W continuous, 5,000W peak
SVS also has a Speaker System Builder where you may choose from pre-selected systems or custom build your own by selecting any combination of SVS speakers and subwoofers.
Connectivity & Features
Both speakers come with the same connectivity options:
- LFE input
- Stereo line-level input
- Stereo line-level output
- Stereo balanced input
- Stereo balanced output
- 12V trigger input
They also come with an app that is great for controlling the speakers. The interface on it is easy to navigate, and the settings offer ample options. While the default setting might just work fine for you, fine-tuning might be great for optimizing the sound for your room.
The app also gives you wireless volume control.
In conclusion, this is how the SVS SB16-Ultra and SVS PB16-Ultra stack up against each other:
- Design and Aesthetics - Tie
- Sound: The SVS PB16-Ultra is more powerful.
- Connectivity: A clear tie.
- Price: The SVS SB16-Ultra is cheaper by a large margin.
Conclusion: If you want pure power and have the budget, go for the SVS PB16-Ultra. If you’re looking for a slightly more compact sub, the SVS SB16-Ultra is the right choice.