SVS SOUND SB-1000 active subwoofer
First impressions: Although I have so far had limited experience with SVS Sound products, I like the US company’s approach of providing great bang for buck. Its main pitch – subwoofers, which are crucial for any meaningful home theatre experience.
SVS subs deliver a heck of a lot without seeming to do so… and best of all, they don’t require you to mortgage something to put one in your system. Additionally, the company caters to a variety of needs – ported and sealed designs lead the way, followed by cylindrical units for those tight on space.
The SB-1000 replicated some of my earlier emotions when listening to and earlier and costlier unit (the SB12-NSD)… it didn’t intrude and yet, insinuated its presence by underpinning events with a seamless delivery and solid low-frequency impact.
Specs: The “SB” denotes a sealed-box design. The SB-1000, which SVS calls a micro subwoofer, is a compact 13-inch cube, although there are more diminutive models available from the competition. It reaches down to to 24Hz, and covers the range up to 260Hz.
A long-stroke front-firing 12-inch driver with a rubber surround and a potent 300W Sledge DSP Class D amp drive the SB-1000. The woofer is a lightweight design, explaining the SB-1000’s 15kg weight – it is a breeze to move around. The amp is capable of 720-watt peaks and sports “green” standby mode at 0.5 watts of power consumption.
SVS claims the Sledge STA-300D amplifier sports technology not found anywhere else at the price. It features a high-quality DSP for control at all drive levels, delivering more refined performance. The control knobs at the back are digital attenuators providing precise adjustments.
Provided are a stereo line RCA input and 80Hz filtered output connections, continuously variable low-pass filter frequency with disable/LFE setting and continuously variable volume and phase controls. The speaker terminals are a five-way design.
The SB-1000 is available in black ash and piano white finishes, with a black cloth grille. A detachable two-pin power cord is provided.
Performance: Qualities I want of a subwoofer are to stay out of the way sonically and blend subtly with the decor. Both, the SB-1000 achieve. It is one of the easiest subs to set up in a multichannel or stereo system, sans fuss. And once you take the trouble to set it up right – in volume and crossover point – it is conspicuous only when you switch it out of the system.
Let’s backtrack a bit and get into stereo mode. How effective would it be in a hi-fi system, I wondered? Sealed-box subs generally cope better in this environment and the SB-1000 did well with a pair of compact Polk Audio RTi-A1 speakers – the latter already have impressive bass heft, but when the SB-1000 was roped in to supply the extreme lows, the whole system was taken to a shockingly good level. Dialing in the volume and frequency filter level was a quick job and once I got those right, and with a Rogue Audio Sphinx integrated amp’s preamp output feeding the sub, it felt as though I was listening to much bigger speakers.
Of course, a caveat on room acoustics applies – I sited the SB-1000 right at the centre between the Polk pair and the system rocked in a way I didn’t think an entry-to-mid level speaker system could. The SVS showed great finesse and speed, and if anything, it was the Polks’ forgiving highs that made the system less revealing than it could have been.
Still, I enjoyed the set-up very much, although it wasn’t the same story with my Maggies, which are hard to synergise with subs – after a day of trying to get the right level and frequency cut-off, I decide that the bass reproduced from both transducers were just too different in texture. Sure, I got lower bass, but the speed was just not what I would have liked to hear on a long-term basis.
Next, the SB-1000 went into my AV system, and here again, it settled in very quickly. It doesn’t punch too much above its class but it comes close – the resident Paradigm Ultra Cube (which costs significantly more) possesses a nous that cheaper subs cannot match, but the SB-1000 showed a level of control and deftness that set it apart from the competition.
Again, it showed a knack for being there without making it seem obvious – when I turned it off, I immediately felt a void in the lower spectrum… even when over-compensating levels, the sub doesn’t sound overcooked. My AV system is set up in a small room (about 3 x 3m), so there was better control.
The heartening aspect was the quality of the bass the SB-1000 delivered – full, detailed and sans frills or fireworks… to the point that at times, it seemed almost understated. If you’re looking for visceral bass pyrotechnics, the SB-1000 won’t oblige but if you want control and a “high-end” presentation, this is the right place to look.
The good: Simplicity and cracking performance with dynamic speakers in a stereo set-up, effective and without being in-your-face in a home theatre rig. If you want involving bass performance from a sub without paying too much money, here’s the answer.
I especially recommend it for matching with compact speakers in a stereo system, if you’re looking for better and more bass in such a set-up.
The ungood: May not be the answer for those who prefer fireworks over finesse. Looks are rather bland. A gloss or textured finish would have added more cosmetic appeal… although this would affect pricing.
Final verdict: If you don’t believe in shelling out a lot for low-end pleasures, the SVS SB-1000 is the answer. Should my resident sub break down beyond repair, the SVS would be first on my shortlist for a replacement.
I give it a strong recommendation, in whatever conventional set-up you looking to put a subwoofer in to extract more bass. This has to be one of the best bang-for-buck subwoofers in the market right now.
Source: Ayon Audio CD-1s, Linn Majik DS, Dune HD Maz / Amplification: Odyssey Audio Tempest SLB preamp, Odyssey Audio Khartago Extreme SE monoblocs, Rogue Audio Sphinx, Pioneer VSX-1020 / Speakers: Magneplanar MG1.7, Polk Audio RTi-A1, Epos AVS / Interconnects: MIT CVT 1 & 2 and MIT phono cable / Cables: MIT CVT 2 / Power cords: Furutech / Power supplied via AVIA balanced Powertrans / Supported on Finite Elemente Spider racks
Malaysian price: RM2,499
Malaysian distributor: Maxx Audio-Visual (+606-762 0811 / +6017-677 8820) / Find your distributor.
Sujesh Pavithran is an ardent fan of Magnepan and Apogee speakers, loves vinyl AND supports digital formats as he believes they will keep improving, has a yen for tubes and is a gadget-head (shamelessly encouraging consumerism in this sector). He has been reviewing hi-fi equipment and music since the mid-1980s, but occasionally wonders if he should have made a detour into motoring or photography instead.