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SVS 16-46PC SW is in the RAF House - A Review


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#1 of 44 RAF

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Posted October 08 2000 - 02:59 PM

As many of you know, I’ve been constructing my home theater for the past year and a half. This is well documented on my HT web site and it has gone through a series of stages as I try for that perfect (within my means) Home Theater Experience.

About a year ago, the basic home theater was completed and I moved my equipment in, including some new “stuff” such as a DENON 5700 Receiver and M&K 150 speakers all around to supplement my existing components and started enjoying movies. About six months later the (for now) “crown jewel” of my theater, my SONY VPL VW10HT front projector, arrived and I could finally claim that my home theater experience rivaled just about any commercial theatrical experience and, in most aspects, surpassed most local theaters.

Today, I have achieved another such milestone in my Home Theater. Late Friday afternoon a large 63 lb. box arrived via FedEx on my doorstep. It was my long anticipated SVS 16-46PC Subwoofer. This product line, the powered cylinders (thus the “PC)” has just been added to SVS’s line of excellently received subwoofers with outboard amplifiers. The new models have high quality amplifiers integrated into the cylinder, which greatly simplifies set-up and installation and allows great flexibility in moving everything around, just like any other powered subwoofer. Unfortunately, for the past few days I’ve been fighting whatever flu/head cold/etc. that has been taking the East Coast (and I understand the West Coast) by storm. Add to this some family obligations that had my house “invaded” by about 15 relatives on Saturday and this was not exactly the best of times to be setting up and evaluating any piece of equipment, much less a large 46” high, 16” in diameter cylinder. So, unaccustomed as I am to showing patience, in this case I decided to wait until this morning to tackle the project.

A little background information. As part of my original HT design I had decided to retain my trusty old but reliable Velodyne F-1500 subwoofer. It served me well for over a decade and was an old friend. Unfortunately, a few months into the new theater the Velodyne began to show its age and the cone support material began to crack. A call to Velodyne verified that this was common for this butyl compound as it aged. I actually was able to glue the cone and use it, but I felt that I would always be questioning if DAS BOOT or CONTACT or THE MATRIX or similar (you get the picture) would eventually take its toll on my Velodyne. The long and the short of it was that my son inherited a very nice subwoofer (where he had none before) and I decided to purchase an M&K MX-350thx Subwoofer after doing some homework. This is a highly respected SW and, in addition, would serve as a “match” for my other M&K speakers (if that means anything).

A few months later SVS opened its doors. I was intrigued. There were a lot of claims for the new SVS offerings and the measurements appeared to verify the claims. The bottom end of the SVS units, especially the bigger ones, exceeded the specs of my very capable M&K MX350. And the introductory price of $799 (free shipping for the introduction) with a full 45-day money-back guarantee was too good to pass up. So a few days after the PC’s were announced I placed an order. My thinking was to see if an SVS subwoofer could act in concert with another fine subwoofer to produce an even better LFI theatrical experience. I really had nothing to lose except, perhaps, some postage. Time would tell.

And this morning was that time. And what are my initial impressions?

I carefully unpacked the very well protected unit from its inner and outer boxes. The packaging was protected on all sides by a very generous amount of foam, tape, etc. In fact, I would have to state that the hardest part of the installation of this finely constructed piece of equipment was unpacking it! When it finally was released from its protective cocoon the 16-46PC revealed itself to be a handsome 46” high cylinder with black top and bottom caps. It is 16” in diameter. As a bonus, the fabric that covers the cylinder is almost a perfect match for my charcoal gray carpeting and as it sits in my HT it appears that I have customized the case to match the décor. Also included in the box is a small, concise, no nonsense but very informative instruction manual, a detachable power cord and some foot spikes to use as an option to the flat feet installed on the base.

Hook-up is a snap. Assuming you have some rudimentary knowledge of your receiver or components’ handling of LFI there is very little else to do but to connect a 75 Ohm A/V RCA type cable from your receiver or pre-amp SW output to one of the line inputs of the SVS (it doesn’t matter which one since the inputs are summed before amplification), plug in the power cord (making sure 110 or 220V is correctly switch selected) and turn it on!

The amplifier included with the 16-46PC (and I assume the other models in this line) has some very nice features. There is a POWER switch (with LED) that offers three settings, ON, OFF, and AUTO. The AUTO feature is especially useful for my application. When set in this position the amplifier automatically turns on in a fraction of a second whenever a signal is applied to the inputs. Additionally, the amp does not turn off for several minutes so that there is practically no chance of the SW turning on and off during the course of a listening session. I had wondered how I was going to handle powering the SW on and off. I wasn’t looking forward to another switch to turn or to program and the AUTO feature made this a non-issue.

Other features include Line In and Line Out jacks (stereo) in case you wish to route your signal to your signal amp with the bass information extracted. There are even high-level input/output binding posts for systems without low level output (rarely used today). There is a volume control, a crossover frequency dial with a range of 50-150 Hertz in case you wish to set the crossover frequency of the SW yourself, a crossover bypass switch (which negates the crossover frequency dial), a phase dial (0-180 degrees) in case the SVS output is canceling some low frequencies from other speaker sources, a Bass Boost Switch with settings of 0, +3 and +6dB and a fuse holder which uses an easily obtainable Radio Shack Part #270-1066 4 amp 125v 5x20mm “slow-blow” fuse (and not something only available by Yak Pack from Timbuktu!) All in all a most flexible set of controls for the tweakers of the world.

But now to the important stuff – how does it perform? As most people who find themselves at the SVS website contemplating a subwoofer purchase most likely realize, the most important parts of setting up such a device are placement, calibration and integration. A subwoofer’s performance can dramatically improve (or be degraded) by these factors and it is not the intent of this review to give the reader a course in such matters. But rest assured that the concise manual points even the novice in the right direction with instructions for using simple equipment like a Radio Shack SPL meter. In addition there is advice about securing one of the calibration disks such as Video Essentials and Avia. Finally there are the resources of the company itself including FAQ’s, e-mail and other support.

As I mentioned earlier, my intention was to see if I could use the SVS 16-46PC to complement my M&K MX350 subwoofer. The one area that the SVS clearly excels (on paper) is in the ultra-low frequency area. My thinking was that I could continue to use the M&K to handle all frequencies from 80 Hertz on down, with the SVS kicking in below 50 Hertz or so to pick up the slack to its lower limits. The set-up options available with the SVS built-in amplifier made this a breeze to implement. I choose not to by-pass the SVS crossover and set the dial to a 50Hertz crossover. I also set the phase shift to 0 degrees as a starting point, assuming that there would be little phase cancellation if the two subwoofers were not working on the same general range of frequencies. I connected both subwoofers to my DENON 5700’s single SW output with a Y connector and set the initial volume for the SVS at ~ ¾ of full (as recommended in the instruction manual.) I figured that this would be a good starting point and that I could make other adjustments later on to see how they compared. I then queued up the ANTZ demo from the DTS Demo #4 disc and let it roll.

You’ve got to be kidding!! I’ve always used the sneaker thumping scene from ANTZ DTS as a great intro demo to newbies in my HT and thought that it sounded great. Now it sounded PHENOMENAL! Where things shaked before, they now quaked. I quickly moved on to the HAUNTING DTS demo track and I couldn’t believe my ears. The headrest on my Lazy Boy literally shaked. (So much for considering “bass shakers.)” Then on to SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (also on the DTS DEMO #4 disc) with the same result. All the detail, all the remarkable contrasts (the side remarks, the ricochets, the eerie hollow silence when Tom Hanks temporarily loses his hearing) were still crystal clear and the RUMBLING of the tanks was more realistic than ever before (and before it had been demo quality!)

Nothing boomy about this non-box. In fact, the tight bass produced by the very low frequencies was very reminiscent of my now departed Velodyne F-1500 servo subwoofer. Tight bass stopping right in its tracks. (This had been about the only thing about the Velodyne that I missed a bit with the M&K). Now it was back! I know the SVS is not a servo-controlled sub, but it sure delivers on the low end without a trace of boom. In fact the only residual effect after the fact was some rattling by a Howard Stern’s Private Parts framed poster that I have since added some felt pads to in order to control the rattling in the HT. I consider the M&K/SVS marriage a complete, unqualified success.

Just to be sure that I had the right combination for my needs I tried several other arrangements over the next couple of hours. My original (and final, for now) placement of the SVS was to the right of the screen, near a corner behind my M&K S150THX pedestal mounted right front speaker. The M&K SW is located on the left side of the screen near the other corner. Here are some of the other things I tried.

·I moved the SVS to the left side, next to the M&K sub.
·I tried going “full range” with the SVS, bypassing the internal crossover.
·I tried some phase shift adjustments to see if there would be any further enhancement.
·I tried various volume adjustments of the SVS and M&K subs.

In the final (for now) analysis my first instinct sounded at least as good as any other option so I returned to the original placement and settings as previously described. (SVS on right side of screen, set at ¾ volume, internal crossover set at 50Hertz, phase shift set at 0 degrees.) There was one additional benefit of this arrangement. In order to fit the SVS behind the right front M&K pedestal (so I can access my media collection on the shelves at the right) I had to place both Left and Right speakers about 5” further forward than they were before. This places the L&R speakers ~a full 2 feet forward of the front wall – something that has been advocated by sound aficionados such as Mike Knapp for some time.

My conclusions? The SVS/M&K “experiment” exceeded my expectations. I expected some improvement, even if just due to the presence of a second subwoofer, but nothing like this! I feel that the price of this unit ($799 + shipping) is an absolute steal. The price/performance ratio is amazing. If you already own a subwoofer you might want to consider “lowering the Hertz bar” another notch. If you haven’t yet made up your mind about a subwoofer you owe it to yourself to try at least one of these models (SVS offers a full range of models) in your home since there is a 45 day money back guarantee (less shipping). There is no substitute for listening in your environment.

Someone asked me if I had it all to do again would I have purchased an M&K subwoofer or even another Velodyne? After seeing and hearing the SVS I can honestly say, “No.” At least not at these price points. I would probably get a pair of SVS units in one of their configurations. Of course SVS wasn’t in existence when I made my purchase and I still feel my M&K is a fine unit. And after seeing the convenience of the self-contained powered units I feel that’s the way I would go. Some people mentioned that you lose a dB or two when incorporating an amp within the cylinder. Believe me, even if this is true you’d never miss them.

Even it your budget is limited for a subwoofer you should be looking toward SVS as a viable option. We are talking about subwoofers costing hundreds of dollars that perform like subwoofers costing THOUSANDS, and I mean MANY THOUSANDS of dollars.


The downside? You must have the space for these cylinders and, of course, you must live in a house or have VERY understanding neighbors. And, with all the possible adjustments available the SVS PC’s can either be viewed as a tweaker’s paradise or as a tweaker’s nightmare. Anyone who has ever adjusted the convergence on a CRT knows what I’m talking about. I’ll leave the technical measurements to the likes of “Subhuman” Tom Vodhanel (the “V” in SVS and a term that is used in the instruction manual). However, I have a feeling that the out of the box recommendations will be just fine for many users as they were for me within the parameters of what I was trying to accomplish. At least they represent a starting point and you don’t need a degree in electrical engineering to make appropriate adjustments.

Remember, I’m nursing a head cold and even with that I was able to adjust this subwoofer to my liking. Today the leaves were changing here in New York and my wife decided to take advantage of this with a ride in the country. I decided to seize the opportunity of an empty house to crank it up and see what it could do. Hey, if you’ve seen one tree you’ve seen them all. And, once you’ve heard an SVS cylinder there’s no turning back.

I’m impressed (and would have finished this article several hours earlier if I didn’t keep putting in disc after disc to hear many soundtracks like I’ve never heard them before.).


Here are a few pictures I took to accompany this review.

Posted Image
This picture shows the location of the front speakers(Note: picture lighter and, therefore, grainer than usual to show detail)


Posted Image
Location of Left Speaker and M&K Subwoofer

Posted Image
Location of Right Speaker and SVS Subwoofer



Posted Image
How speakers line up with screen lowered

------------------
RAF
[Demented Video Dude since 1997]
[Computer Maven since 1956]
["PITA" since 1942]

My HT
RAF
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#2 of 44 Dre J

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Posted October 08 2000 - 03:34 PM

Robert,

Thanks for the review. It seems like a single SVS sub is plenty.

Dre
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#3 of 44 Seungsoo Hwang

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Posted October 08 2000 - 04:14 PM

Great review! If my DIY sub wasnt sitting right here I probably would have went with one of these.

>>>Unfortunately, for the past few days I’ve been fighting whatever flu/head cold/etc. that has been taking the East Coast (and I understand the West Coast) by storm<<<

Yes, I am still getting over that myself.

#4 of 44 Robert George

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Posted October 08 2000 - 04:30 PM

Great stuff, RAF. This is a truly remarkable piece of gear. Tom and Ron deserve all the success they are getting, and then some. We can talk woofage in LA next month Posted Image.

Obi

#5 of 44 Ryan Witt

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Posted October 08 2000 - 04:46 PM

RAF Said,
"The packaging was protected on all sides by a very generous amount of foam, tape, etc. In fact, I would have to state that the hardest part of the installation of this finely constructed piece of equipment was unpacking it!"

When I was unpacking my SV Subs, I found myself wondering, "How in the hell did they get these things into the boxes?!?"

#6 of 44 Trevor Schell

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Posted October 08 2000 - 05:00 PM

Thanks for the excellent reveiw RAF..I had been thinking of adding a SVS sub to compliment my Servo's. I might have to make this a priority now. Posted Image

BTW..what size amp was included with your SVS 16-46PC?

Thanks.

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#7 of 44 RAF

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Posted October 08 2000 - 06:56 PM

Quote:
It seems like a single SVS sub is plenty
Dre,
I would think so, although it would be tempting to get a pair if space permits. I did a little listening with only the SVS and I liked it better with both the SVS and the M&K. I'm not sure yet whether it was because there were two subs which complemented each other or just because there were two subs. And I preferred both subs active, even when they were located on the same side of the room. When I get the chance I would like to set up a test where I pit the M&K in full (<80Hz range) against the SVS in full range. The problem with this is that it's very difficult to set up a fair comparison because the positioning of each sub is critical. I will say that in a very quick comparison of this type I found each sub had its strengths. The SVS is definitely better producing the lowest of the low (the sounds you feel rather than hear) and the M&K seems a bit better in the 40-80Hz range (a subjective assessment, not a scientific measurement.) And together, like I outline in my review, is the best of both worlds. But of course, that's my opinion, in my environment. Like someone said, this is art, not science.

Quote:
Yes, I am still getting over that myself.
Seungsoo, How bad is it out west (the flu bug?) How do you beat it? In my case exposure to large doses of low frequency energy appears to have done the trick!
Posted Image

Quote:
This is a truly remarkable piece of gear. Tom and Ron deserve all the success they are getting, and then some. We can talk woofage in LA next month.
Obi-wan,
Yes, the SVS is one of those price/performance no-brainers. And the PC version is very, very sweet. Full featured, well made, etc. If a person is serious about SW's then the SVS products are hard to beat (other than building one yourself if you are so inclined.) And yes, we will be getting down and dirty in L.A. (Hertz-wise, of course). Posted Image

Quote:
When I was unpacking my SV Subs, I found myself wondering, "How in the hell did they get these things into the boxes?!?"
Ryan,
Amazingly, now that I've unpacked the 16-46PC I seem to have more packing material than could possibly have fit into that original space!

Quote:
BTW..what size amp was included with your SVS 16-46PC?
Trevor,
The amp is very conservatively (according to the manual) rated at 190 watts. However, I believe that the specs might be misleading and it might actually be more powerful than some of the "higher" wattage amps used in other units. I'll let Ron and/or Tom (the "Subhuman)" chime in here with more details if they are listening. They should be able to provide more details. All I can say is that the 16-46PC sure packs a wallop that you have to hear to believe.

Keep those cards and letters coming gang. I'll answer whatever I can and whatever I can't I'll defer to the experts.

This is the second time this year that being on the "bleeding edge" has not been a painful experience but a revelation (the other being my SONY VW10HT front projector.) Both were "sight (or sound) unseen" and exceeded expectations. Of course both came with money-back guarantees so the risk was minimal.




------------------
RAF
[Demented Video Dude since 1997]
[Computer Maven since 1956]
["PITA" since 1942]

My HT (last update 10/08/00)
RAF
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#8 of 44 Scotty Parish

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Posted October 09 2000 - 01:15 AM

Robert, thanks for the excellent review. I'm looking forward to the date, far, far into the future (PC order #105), when my 20-39PC is delivered. You have now got me thinking about keeping my DefTech PF15TL to handle the "high lows" Posted Image instead of selling it.

Did you set your M&K to roll-off below 50Hz or do you have both subs working at 50 and below?

I think the issue really is SPLs. If a single PC does not produce enough SPLs for your preferred listing level, then you need additional sub/subs.

Therefore, one can't really predict if one PC will be adequate until he gets one in his HT room and in it's final position and configuration. Just a thought.

#9 of 44 Gregory Pauswinski

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Posted October 09 2000 - 02:22 AM

Sweet! Thanks for the review RAF. I can hardly wait for mine to ship!

I look forward to talking woofage with you and Obi in November! Posted Image

Gregory

#10 of 44 RAF

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Posted October 09 2000 - 03:00 AM

Quote:
Did you set your M&K to roll-off below 50Hz or do you have both subs working at 50 and below?

Scotty,

I tried the M&K two ways, first with roll-off below 50Hz and then with its THX setting (my normal setting until now.) When I didn't hear any significant difference I retained my usual THX etting on the M&K MX350.

Remember, I did this comparison with my ears (which is what really counts) and not with instruments, so it is quite possible that one method is technically better than the other. However, there was nothing that jumped out at me as markedly better or worse so I stayed with what worked before.

------------------
RAF
[Demented Video Dude since 1997]
[Computer Maven since 1956]
["PITA" since 1942]

My HT (last update 10/08/00)
RAF
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#11 of 44 chris c

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Posted October 09 2000 - 03:22 AM

Sounds like a real winner. I am surprised, though, that you didn't prefer the SVS alone, bypassing the X-over. I was home-auditioning a sub a while back that lacked this option and I could never get it to sound right. I am pretty sure this was a result of cascading x-overs (one in the preamp interacting with the one in the sub), as using the low level inputs seemed to help, but was a pain in the neck to implement. I guess in the end you are right - it's as much an art as a science.

#12 of 44 Ron Boster

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Posted October 09 2000 - 04:52 AM

Robert:

Thank's for taking the time to write down your throughts and observations....I love it (and hate it)...since my pair of SV powered subs are about 2 weeks or so away. It's hard to wait.....I'll test them on the new U-571 disc for my friends that weekend!


Thanks Again
Ron

#13 of 44 Bing Fung

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Posted October 09 2000 - 05:47 AM

Excellent review RAF!

Bing

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#14 of 44 Rick Sorken

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Posted October 09 2000 - 06:55 AM

Robert! Posted Image Posted Image


Excellent post!

I have been using 2-(20-39's) for about two months now and at the price of these subs there is really no competition, IMO.

------------------
Thanks Rick

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#15 of 44 RAF

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Posted October 09 2000 - 10:33 AM

Greg,
Looking forward to bass rumblings in LA!

chris c,
I did try the SVS in crossover by-pass mode by itself. All I can say is that, while it sounded great by itself (and would be a worthy addition to just about any sound system) I still preferred the SVS in combination with the M&K as described in my review. It's hard to verbalize the experience. The SVS was clearly better in producing the bass you feel instead of hearing, and the M&K by itself lacked this lower end "oomph." However, the M&K seemed to fill in some information in what I sense to be the higher end of the LFI (~50-80Hz). Remember, this was without any instruments except my ears (which are, of course, the instruments that count). And the effect might have been caused by the fact that both SWs were being used and perhaps some reinforcement was taking place. A subtle effect, but there nonetheless.

Ron,
Funny you should mention the timing of the release of U-571 with the impending arrival of your SVS equipment. Guess what will be in the mail tomorrow? The Jurassic Park DTS discs! I can't wait. Incidentally, you should enjoy U-571 with your subs. I was at the HTF U-571 preview at Scooter's last month and it should be a great sounding title with the SVS's.

Rick,
I now know what you guys who purchased the first wave of outboard powered SVS's were talking about. As soon as the PC's were announced I placed my order. In fact, Ron told me yesterday that my 16-46PC was the first one they shipped! (I guess it would be appropriate to put a plaque on the cylinder signifying this. Might be very valuable when SVS makes it big in the industry! Posted Image )

And, yes, I also agree that these SVS subwoofers are really in a class by themselves. I've been recommending them based on what I've been reading here and now I can speak from a first person perspective. And I don't have any vested interest in the company (although the thought just passed through my head that if I had placed my review on at least one other web forum I would have been accused of being a "shill" for the company! Posted Image )

------------------
RAF
[Demented Video Dude since 1997]
[Computer Maven since 1956]
["PITA" since 1942]

My HT (last update 10/08/00)
RAF
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CLICK HERE to visit My HT HTF Rules and Regulations

#16 of 44 Bhagi Katbamna

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Posted October 09 2000 - 11:01 AM

Welcome to the world of real low bass. I have a non-powered version and a large room yet, it shakes the concrete floor enough to shake the couch. It really does open up the ears doesn't it.
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#17 of 44 Parker Clack

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Posted October 09 2000 - 12:17 PM

Rafster:

Have you tried putting the SVS in the right or left corner of the room with the M&K right next to it like you would see with two SVS subs together?

I really like the layout. Man one of these days I sure hope that I can get together at your place and just set back and enjoy some movies. In particular I would love to see the 10HT in action set up right.

Now what's next? A fully automated DVD player one where you can select the title of the movie and it just plays?

Parker

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#18 of 44 RAF

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Posted October 09 2000 - 12:18 PM

Quote:
I have a non-powered version and a large room yet, it shakes the concrete floor enough to shake the couch. It really does open up the ears doesn't it.

Bhagi,

Absolutely! I, too, have a concrete floor (actually 5 inches thick!) and the headrests on the LazyBoys vibrate. I just played the Surround Madness track from the Telarc 5.1 DTS Surround Sampler (Telarc CD-84402-CD) for a group of neighbors and their jaws dropped. At first they said, "What's that big tube for?"

Now they understand.

Posted Image




------------------
RAF
[Demented Video Dude since 1997]
[Computer Maven since 1956]
["PITA" since 1942]

My HT (last update 10/08/00)
RAF
[Demented Video Dude since 1997]
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CLICK HERE to visit My HT HTF Rules and Regulations

#19 of 44 Paul E. Fox, II

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Posted October 09 2000 - 01:26 PM

RAF,

Dude, I'm kinda new to the whole SVS thing (I've evidently had some sort of blackout or something Posted Image) but after reading your review, I'm drooling over these babies!

I'm now on a mission to obtain a pair of these subs for the Theater in the new Palace!

Thanks for GREAT review!!

------------------
Regards,
Paul


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Paul


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#20 of 44 Tom Vodhanel

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Posted October 09 2000 - 03:37 PM



We use the same amp for all the current PCs...the big detonation(DT110 II) from RCM Akustik.

It's rated at 150w by RCM. They've measured it at 180ish continuous into 4ohm though(the SVs represent a 4ohm load to the amp)

Without going off on a rant about subwoofer amplifier *specs* that are often presented by subwoofer manufacturers...just remember, there's very little regulation regarding subwoofer specific amp claims.
From what I've seen in my hands on experience with typical powered sub amps, and their claimed *specs*...

If *acme-woofs* was using this amp , it wouldn't surprise me to see them claiming anywhere from 300 to 500w.

Also, it should be spoken...the amp is one part of the whole. There's a definite method to our madness at SVS. We've taken a GREAT deal of time to optimize the driver to the enclosure to the amp. In other words...when woof shopping...don't worry too much about specifics like the amp,or the driver...concentrate on the overall performance of the subwoofer first. If it seems limited in one aspect or another...that's when I'd start examining the content of the unit to determine what was holding it back so to speak.


--------------

>>>>>>Unfortunately, for the past few days I’ve been fighting whatever flu/head cold/etc. that has been taking the East Coast (and I understand the West Coast) by storm<<<

****Yes, I am still getting over that myself.****


Is this how cap'n trips would start?

--------------


>>>Thanks for the review. It seems like a single SVS sub is plenty.

Dre<<<

Dre, it all depends on your performance expectations. With a general room size/layout I could make a reasonable guess on the extension/clean SPLs you could expect from a single SV...but if you're looking to approach *reference* levels...you'll more than likely need 2.


Trevor,

With dual servo15s already there, I don't think adding a single SV is going to make a big difference on most of your DVDs. Now, if you wanted to talk about a SV *system* that would take up about the same floor space, and cost about the same as the twin 15s...I think I could make your jaw drop.


R.A.F.

I'm glad you like the 16-46pc,thanks for taking the time to post your initial review, and to field so many inquires about our product...very much appreciated.


TV




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