A thread for testing $2000-$2500ish subwoofers

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by Craig Chase, Jan 21, 2017.

  1. Brendostunes

    Brendostunes Extra

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    Sounds great anticipating your review on the SVS unit.

    Those James subs look nice a local distributor for me that I'm subscribed to has had them for a couple years now, really should go have a listen one day.

    Though I'm more than happy with my EP500 I picked during your $1000 units thread.:thumbs-up-smiley::rock:
     
  2. theJman

    theJman Extra

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    An SB? I figured with the size of your room a PB would be the choice. What made you go sealed?
     
  3. Dave Upton

    Dave Upton Audiophile
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    That's the review unit I sent him
     
  4. Craig Chase

    Craig Chase Gear Guru
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    Now I just need to move a 200 pound subwoofer into the bullpen room so I can put the 125 pound subwoofer in its place. Who needs a gym membership?

    Dave was gracious enough to send me the SB-16 Ultra to review.
     
  5. Craig Chase

    Craig Chase Gear Guru
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    The SB-16 Ultra is unboxed and in the system. Last night was mostly casual watching, so there isn't a lot to report. The hard part is, of course, done. We will be doing some serious testing over the next week.
     
  6. Dave Upton

    Dave Upton Audiophile
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    I see how it is, building suspense so we are all itching for the next update. Don't wait too long! :D
     
  7. Craig Chase

    Craig Chase Gear Guru
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    Last night was the first "serious" night for torturing the SB-16 Ultra. The Netflix series "Daredevil" is rich in bass from the opening song and throughout each episode. I am watching season 2 now, and have finished a couple of episodes.

    The SB-16 is somewhat a stealth subwoofer ... it's totally silent, then it ERUPTS when a bass scene demands it. For a while, I was underwhelmed with the bass it was presenting until a floor collapsed in a scene with the Punisher. I thought OUR floor was the one collapsing. The bass rippled through the room and into one's chest.

    It was so good that after the episode, I fired up Steely Dan's "2 against nature" .. Gaslighting Abby has this incredible bass line throughout the song, and the SB-16 was tight and deep ... it's much in the same way the Axiom EP-800 delivers this bass ... no overhang, deep, and with seemingly unlimited authority.

    THE APP ... was also a snap to install and use. There will be more on this later, but the ability to fine tune a sub "on the fly" with one's smart phone is a REALLY useful feature.
     
  8. 88 Apr 19, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017
    Craig Chase

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    Last night, we watched the movie "Daredevil" ... yes the one with Affleck and Garner. It has some of the best bass scenes in it, and it also does a good job illustrating how Matt Murdoch got his powers. My poor wife has been trying to follow along with the series, and has never understood how Murdoch "sees". She gets it now ...

    The SB-16 continues to do its stealth thing ... when the fork lift crashes into the multiple pallets of the tanks of "bio-hazardous material", there is a descending bass scene that starts with the first splash from one of the 55 gallon drums through the scene where the chemicals entering Matt's system through his eyes and into the rest of his nervous system ... The SB-16 just gets DEEP, with ample authority. The depth of bass comes in waves, and at no time does the SB-16 do anything but deliver.

    The next scene is Matt (still as a 13 year old) waking to this deep pounding sound ... it's from the IV dripping, but to him sounds like a cannon going off. The SB16 hits HARD, and DEEP, and again with plenty of Authority. I love a subwoofer that not only makes the floor move, but also hits you in the chest - it's the sign of a linear design.

    There are also some nice music scenes, featuring Nickelback, when we are introduced to "Bullseye" ... the kickdrum sounds like a real kick drum, and bass lines are natural.

    I know a lot of people are giving SVS grief for the driver size and lack of power compared to subs from, say, JTR ... but my experience to date is nothing but impressive. AND ... to the credit of both PSA and SVS, THEY are participating in a subwoofer test by someone who used to be a competitor, and who has no interest in being a cheerleader for any single company.

    For around $2000 delivered, both the SVS and PSA subwoofers are tremendous values.

    I will try to get pics of the SB-16 Ultra next to the VS-3601 this weekend. The size difference is remarkable, yet both deliver a truly satisfying bass experience in a 4800 cubic foot room.

    I also cannot imagine ANYONE being let down by the WAF factor of the SB-16. It's a beautiful piece of furniture, easily rivaling a JL Fathom 113 for about 1/2 the price.
     
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  9. theJman

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    Every one of us who has actually evaluated one of the new 16 series subs has come away as impressed as you. About the only people who haven't are those who speculate, make assessments without first-hand experience. There have been some amp issues springing up, but to SVS's credit they're taking care of them quickly and without hassle. Once they get that under control they will have an unmitigated winner on their hands.
     
  10. Craig Chase

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    Jim - I found your review of the SB-16 Ultra. It is an excellent read! You are correct in your assessment of the SVS ... The one review with CEA-2010 measurements (The PB-16 Ultra) show it delivering the type of output we have come to expect the best 18 inch units on the market. It's also competitively priced, especially with returning customers being eligible for a discount.

    When one adds into it the APP, which gives one control of the subwoofer in a manner that is far beyond its competition, the fit and finish, the 45 day free shipping both ways guarantee of satisfaction and the unconditional 5 year warranty, it's had not to like.

    In terms of the three $2000-$2500 ish subwoofers we have here, I REALLY like all three.

    They are each well worth the price of admission. They each take a different path to excellent performance.

    The PSA V-3601 has the type of performance, fit and finish that was my "dream" back in the Chase Home Theater days. While it's not as attractive as the SVS or Axiom products in terms of "WAF" ... it's still incredibly well done in a Matte finish that has no flaws. It's only "drawback" is that it is a Matte finish and REALLY big.

    The Axiom EP800 in Oak has a "real furniture" look to it ... One could easily pair one with a pair of Klipschorns/La Scalas and have an amazing retro system (I have run La Scalas with an EP800 for over a year, and the sonic bliss is stellar - it's a favorite music system).

    The SVS SB-16 Ultra has an ultra high end feel to it - as mentioned, it would be a great alternative to a Fathom 113. I am anxious to try it with my Legacy Signature SE's later this year ... this combo may well end up anchoring my high end "basement theater".

    Look for some response curves this weekend on the SVS, and also a request for Dave to see if we can get our hands on a PB-16 Ultra.

    Looking past this ... I am thinking of doing a $300-$400 review thread this fall.
     
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  11. theJman

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    Thank you, I'm glad you liked it. Some of those are easier to do than others, and in the case of the SB16 the words just flowed. It was fun.

    You're right about its performance relative to some of the better known 18" units. My personal sub is a JTR S1, so naturally one Saturday I did a head-to-head comparison of the two. Measurements showed that from the mid-upper 20's and above the SB16 was directly comparable, and due to it's DSP tune actually had more output from 40-100Hz. Below 20Hz the S1 came into its own though, as it pulled way ahead. By 10Hz the difference was 15dB, so quite substantial.

    I'm the budget subwoofer king, so when you do this let me know - I might have a few to suggest. ;) The $300-$400 range is pretty barren however, but extend that up to $500 and you get a bunch more to choose from.
     
  12. Craig Chase

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    Here is the Audyssey XT-32 response curve at my listening position for the SB-16 Ultra ... the -3dB point is at about 15.5 Hz. This is not quite as low as the V-3601 nor the EP-800, but this is still well into the "feel" area for bass:

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Craig Chase

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    Good morning ... This thread is going to take longer than originally planned, which is hopefully a good thing. Rythmik Audio is interested in either their new FV18HP ($1700 delivered) or FV25HP ($2500 delivered) being added to the test.

    This may also facilitate the idea of bringing a PB16 Ultra in as well.

    I have about 30 pages of notes to sort through, as there has been a lot of music listening and results from that. For example, Roger Water's In The Flesh opening sequence is a stellar bass test for both depth and power, and each of these subs knocked it out of the park during the helicopter flyover scene.

    I think the plan will be to post the name of the disc, then how each subwoofer performed. on the disc.

    Each of the three subs here has been absolutely stellar, and are all a tribute to just how far we have come in the last ten years.
     
  14. Craig Chase

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    Hi all ... A quick update ... I have been doing some blind A/B switching between the 3 subs, and am almost done putting together a write up on all three. As stated before, all 3 are incredibly good, with some differences noted on music during blind testing.

    I also have two major business projects for my day job, but will get the write up done asap.

    For a tease ... between the three, a lot of the decision would be how each would fit/look in your room. The PSA is the "big ugly" ... the Axiom "old school furniture" and the SVS "new school look". All are SO well built that each company can be proud.
     
  15. 95 May 8, 2017
    Last edited: May 9, 2017
    myrison

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    Hey Craig, I've been following this thread (lurking) with interest as I have both the PB16-Ultra as well as the Axiom EP-800 (and an older Axiom EP-600). I finally had to come out of lurk mode when I read your teaser above that a lot of the decision comes down to how each would look/fit in the room as it was eerily similar to how my A/B test of the EP-600 versus PB13-Ultra ended almost ten years ago. (and in fairness re: the ugly comment below, I didn't have the piano gloss version, which I have now, and find to be far more attractive than their stock finish)


    I have since graduated from the EP-600 to the EP-800, and from the PB-13 (which I sent back at the time), to the PB-16. I currently have both the PB16 and EP-800 in my room, one in each of the front corners, and they are both brilliant subs, but there are subtle differences.

    Because I've had experience with them both and I'm a bass-a-holic, I can identify which is playing, but only on certain scenes where there is really high output at very low frequencies. In my room, the PB16 is definitely capable of higher output in the infrasonic range (to my ears at least, I haven't run sweeps as I don't have as much free time as I used to), but for general listening and most source material, they're hard to distinguish.

    Ultimately, I have to give the nod to the SVS as it delivers slightly more oomph in the lowest of the nether-regions, but both subs are very very solid performers. Rather than actually choose between the two however, I've kept them both and find that they work quite well together in my room despite the many cautions you read about mixing a ported and sealed sub.

    I can't wait to hear your own review as I know it'll be far more technical and fact-laden than my subjective experience. More than anything though, I'm just happy to hear that I might not be the only one to make a determination on a $2k sub based partially on looks. :eek:
     
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  16. Craig Chase

    Craig Chase Gear Guru
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    Jason - That is one excellent post. You experience with the PB-16 is actually the power in the 18-25 Hz range. This is far deeper than most people know, and the EP800 actually goes deeper.

    The 18-25 Hz range, after one gets the bass above that handled in a linear fashion, is what really makes a sub shine under most circumstances. Below 18 Hz is rare, and also much harder to detect.

    I asked SVS to swap out the SB16 for a PB16 to test it, but they declined. My "gut" says it's a killer sub with looks as good as its performance.

    More on this later, but this is a lot of fun.
     
  17. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Jason: Great first post.

    And, welcome (officially) to the forum! :welcome:

    We love it when lurkers check in and contribute! :thumbsup:
     
  18. myrison

    myrison Auditioning

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    Thanks guys. Craig - bummer you can't trial the PB16 as well. If I had to guess, it may have to do with some pretty serious stock shortages at SVS. The first one I ordered unfortunately died on me in the first week, and they had a really hard time locating a new one to send out because they'd sold out of all stock with about a month lead time (back in April). They ultimately bent over backwards to make it right and found me a new one to send out (even though my original was a warehouse deal at a lower price, they sent me a brand new one).

    If anyone is looking for a good music track that I suspect will help highlight the difference between the SB16 & the Axiom, give this one a try (Way Up Here - By Danny Brown). Whether you like the music or not, the bass track is lower than most music you hear, and it's good 'real music' to stress test high-end subs.

    Looking forward to the review!
     
  19. 99 May 9, 2017
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    Craig Chase

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    Summary of the Axiom EP800 Subwoofer system (in room - 3dB floor @ 11.5 Hz):

    If the Axiom was a car, I would liken it to a Porsche Cayman. It's not the fastest, nor does it corner with the highest "G" force in its price class. What it does is present wonderful balance and make one feel like a better driver than one is. The EP800 is impossible to make sound bad. No matter what one throws at it, it delivers clean, deep, articulate bass up to its SPL limits, and has a DSP that ensures it never bottoms nor audibly distorts.

    For music, I threw all my reference discs at it, and it returned with deep, tight, tuneful bass every time. A long time favorite is Steely Dan's Two Against Nature. It opens with "Gaslighting" Abbie, which has a wonderfully deep bass line and kick drum. For long time Steely Dan fans, it's a sound we remember from their classic albums from the late 70's and 1980.

    Then we get the second track, "What A Shame About Me". The bass line and kick drum have a synthesized floor to them which centers in the 16-18 Hz range. It is a difficult test for both extension and dexterity, and the Axiom gets an A+ in its presentation.

    Another long time reference is Roger Water's "In The Flesh", with its powerful live rendition of the helicopter flyover from "The Wall", and once again, the EP-800 was unflappable. You can actually feel each rotor turn - it's definitely into infrasonic territory, and the type of bass that is slightly missing in the $1000 subwoofers we tested here.

    George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic's "We Want The Funk" has a kick drum / bass line to die for. A sub needs to be both agile (which actually means linear) and deep, and once again, the EP800 enhanced the music experience in a manner we expect from a subwoofer north of $2000.

    Overall, it is, by a slight margin, my favorite subwoofer on music.

    On movies, the EP800, while not as powerful as the Power Sound unit, is still an excellent product. In our 4800 cubic foot room, it delivers floor shaking bass with program material from many of the usual standards: War of The Worlds, Tron: Legacy, Jurassic World ... we have watched over 100 movies with the EP800 anchoring the system, and never "felt the need for more". The only problem is ... when we got the V3601, we "got more" ...

    Overall, I would give the EP-800 an A+ on music and a B+ with movies.

     
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  20. 100 May 9, 2017
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    Craig Chase

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    Summary of the Power Sound Audio V-3601 (in room - 3dB floor of 14 Hz).

    The V3601 also excelled with the music clips from Steely Dan, Roger Waters and George Clinton. As an aside, there are several dozen other tracks with which each subwoofer was tested, I just don't want to torture people too much with data overload.

    In the car analogy, If the Axiom is a Porsche Cayman, the V3601 is a Corvette Z06, It's far more refined than one expects, and has the power to keep up with the best available.

    The experience one get on the first two tracks on Two against Nature were just as thrilling with the V3601 as it was with the EP800. On lighter bass - for example, David Sanborn's Hideaway (Straight To The Heart) has a detailed, powerful bass solo in it, and in the blind listening between the three subs, the EP800 was a bit more articulate with this track than was the V3601.

    The Roger Water's track was comparable between the two subs, and overall, the V3601 is an impressive music performer.

    It was with movies that the V3601 REALLY came to life ... You HAVE to experience War of the Worlds on the V3601. When the Pods emerge, It was so good that I found myself actually WANTING to continue watching the rest of that rather inane adaptation of HG Well's classic. My seat actually felt as if it was moving up and down with the street. And the laser blasts HIT you.

    Tron Legacy's Motorcycle scenes were a Fan Favorite with the V3601 ... this subwoofer has this ability to punch out those fast collision scenes better than any subwoofer I have ever auditioned. When Sam first enters the Grid, there is this INTENSE bass pulse that, at reference, made every subwoofer we have had here but the Axiom and Power Sound to bottom/chuff. The difference with the PSA sub is it hits much harder than the Axiom without ever making an ugly sound.

    I even fired up the old standard "Phantom Menace" for the testing of the three subs, and once again, the V3601 made the pod scene into something special.

    Overall .. The V3601 gets an A on music and an A+ on movies. It is a GEM.
     

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