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HSU VTF3R or SVS PB2 ISD (1 Viewer)

TanT

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Dec 17, 2002
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135
Hello everyone.

I am thinking of upgrading my M&K MX100 sub to either the HSU VTF3R or SVS PB2 ISD (more like down grade since I paid around $1300 for the M&K a few years back)

My room is about 2500sf. I am running 2 Klipsch KLF30 fronts, KLF-C7 center and Polks FX500 surrounds.

I watch movie about 80% of the time on the system.

My questions are: will I gain any thing by doing the upgrade?

The VTF3R is cheaper and looks better than the PB2 ISD. I think the PB2 ISD will give me more output but not as musical as the VTF3R. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Should I stay with what I have or should I do the upgrade and which sub should I go with.

Thanks all.
 

Paul_Ptaaty

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Oct 16, 2003
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Neither will be more "musical" than the other if kept within their limits for volume, and are properly calibrated and eq'ed for your room, as both are high quality subs, without too many compromises.

The question you need to ask yourself is one of size/looks vs performance.

All indications are that the PB2-ISD will HANDILY outperform the VTF-3, however, it is in a giant heavy black box vs a more reasonably sized rosewood box.

The HSU is smaller, rosewood finish, and looks a lot like an end table (WAF)

One SVS PCi competes with one VTF-3 (both have their areas they will win) a PB2-ISD has output of roughly twice that of a PCi.

A black box in the corner is just fine by me, but many people care more about the looks/WAF than all out performance.

For music (other than organ...) either will work equally at pretty much all reasonable volumes, for HT, the PB2 is the clear winner.
 

CurtisSC

Screenwriter
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Jan 28, 2003
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Both are very good subs from reputable companies.

I have a VTF-3, and have used it with organ music down to 16hz, and it sounds/feels very good.

I have no doubt that the PB2 can play at higher SPL, but how loud do you need it?

For music (other than organ...) either will work equally at pretty much all reasonable volumes
This statement I do not agree with. I have heard an SVS 20-39PC+ along side my VTF-3, and at "normal" volumes, there are differences.

What are you hoping to gain in changing subs?
 

Edward J M

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Sep 22, 2002
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I have heard an SVS 20-39PC+ along side my VTF-3, and at "normal" volumes, there are differences.
Hi Curtis - I almost forgot about that comparo write up you were planning between these two subs. Did you ever get a chance to run any tests on them, or were your impressions purely subjective? What differences did you note?

TanT - I'm with Paul Ptaaty regarding your question; the PB2-ISD will outperform the VTF-3. With more internal volume, twice the driver, and more port area in both the stock tune and the 20 Hz tune, it's just a matter of physics, really.

The only thing I'd add to Paul's post is that the SVS is sourced in North America and built in the United States. The HSU is built in China. Not everything I own is built in the USA, but it does figure predominantly into my purchase decisions and I support keeping jobs and businesses in the USA.

Also, the VTF-3R is not cheaper than the PB2-ISD, unless you are looking at some B-Stock discounted model. The HSU is $1,035 delivered, and the SVS is $950 delivered.
 

Rick Hilst

Grip
Joined
Oct 26, 2003
Messages
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I know there was (and maybe still is) a special to get the VTF-3R for the same price as the regular VTF-3 ($849). BTW, the VTF price includes the shipping (SVS price doesn't).

I am in the process of making a decision on what sub to get. I started out thinking that I would get one of the SVS subs (probably the PB2-ISD) but am now leaning towards getting the VTF-3.

There may be some other subs out there (e.g., Adire) that are also worth considering.
 

CurtisSC

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Hi Curtis - I almost forgot about that comparo write up you were planning between these two subs. Did you ever get a chance to run any tests on them, or were your impressions purely subjective? What differences did you note?
Hi Edward....no measurements taken...purely subjective. Moved the subs around the livingroom a lot.....and that is no fun.

I do believe the 20-39PC+ could get louder...but both were much more than my room could handle/needed.

On the SoundHound disc...both were able to get low(I could have openned my front door and people would think I was holding mass)...but the Hsu was cleaner. Also, on things such as Chinese kick drums, the Hsu seemed punchier. On the propellerheads CD...the Hsu seemed more articulate. For movies, there were some places where the SVS did seem to rumble a little bit more than the Hsu.

Both great subs, I would be happy with the SVS, but for me, the Hsu makes me a bit happier.

And Rick is right...Hsu is running a special on the AVSForum right now...VTF-3R for $849!
 

TanT

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Dec 17, 2002
Messages
135
Curtis: I think my MX100 is having a tough time keeping up with the Klipschs at extremely loud volume.
I am hoping that both the SVS or the HSU will go deeper louder and cleanner than the MX100. From what I read sounds like they will be.

Edward and Paul: I think I agree with you guys that the PB2 ISD has more headroom than the VTF3. At low to moderate volume I don't think there's much different between them but at extremely high volume I doubt if the VTF3 could keep up.

Rick: You're right about the deal but I think it's gone as of today. That would make it esier for me to make my final decision :)

Thanks everyone for helping out.
 

Edward J M

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2002
Messages
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Curtis - Thanks for posting your impressions. It seems no one has ever pitted these two comparably priced subs in an objective shoot-out. In-room and ground plane sweeps, THD at various SPL and frequencies, etc. I think I'll give it a shot and settle the evergreen SVS vs. HSU debate with some cold hard numbers - at least for these two models. I have 24/7 access to a 20-39PC+ I sold to a friend, and I'll get my hands on a VTF-3 one way or another. Stay tuned..........

Rick - I included the shipped price for the SVS in my previous post - $899 + $50 s/h = $950. I wasn't aware of the deal on the VTF-3R, but it seems to be over now, so the SVS still stands as less expensive than the VTF-3R.

TanT - If you consider that the SVS PB2-ISD is only $100 more (including shipping) than the regular finish VTF-3, the performance value of the SVS becomes apparent. For an extra $100 you are buying SVS dual 12" drivers, 600 watts of BASH amp, triple 3" flared ports, variable tuning (25, 20, 16) with custom EQ/SS filter settings for each tune point, and a continuously variable 0-180 phase control. That is a HUGE hardware advantage for only $100.

Not to mention, the VTF-3 has been out of stock for quite some time, with possibly a return to inventory in a few weeks........

Rick and TanT - If you have the credit limit, a good way is to buy both subs and return the loser before the credit billing cycle is up. That's why SVS gives you a 45 day test period (HSU's is 30 days). That should be more than enough time to evaluate the merits of each, and select the one you prefer.

Regards,

Ed
 

CurtisSC

Screenwriter
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Jan 28, 2003
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Edward,

All the marketing, features, and vocal customers, such as yourself, are what really made me interested in the SVS subs. And cold hard numbers of each sub have been stated over and over again.

But just like speakers that have similar numbers, when you get them into a room, they can/will sound extremely different. Definitely can not judge speakers on cold hard numbers, and I have finally found out the same is true for subwoofers. There is definitely more to it than freq sweeps, THD, and SPL levels.

I had asked in a couple of different threads in some forums the difference in sound of the subs, nobody was able to answer, it just turned into who was louder than the other. There was one comparison on AVS that compared subs from each company...that one was very helpful, but the thread got very ugly.

In the end, I had to find out myself. All marketing, features, numbers, and vocal customers aside, I wanted to hear these subs side by side. I was quite surprised by the audible differences at normal volumes...."punch" and "articulation", not sure how they translate into specs. Just like a speaker being more forward than another...how does that translate into specs? Yes, very subjective, but just about everything in audio preference is.

Apparently, when the VTF-3 is back in stock, it will have some changes.

I agree....the best way to judge the subs is to get them into your own environment some how. But unfortunately, that is sometimes very difficult. For me, it put to rest the bass quality issue between the two subs. Now ofcourse, there are other models! :)
 

Edward J M

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2002
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2,031
But just like speakers that have similar numbers, when you get them into a room, they can/will sound extremely different. Definitely can not judge speakers on cold hard numbers, and I have finally found out the same is true for subwoofers. There is definitely more to it than freq sweeps, THD, and SPL levels.
Is there? To quote Peter Aczel of The Audio Critic Magazine in a review of the VTF-2 hotlinked on HSU's very own website:

"How does it sound? Exactly as it measures, as I have said many times before. A subwoofer is a relatively simple device that presents no mysteries and hides no subtleties. It has a frequency response, a dynamic limit, and a distortion range—that’s it. (Wave launch, dispersion, power response, etc.—so important in the evaluation of full-range speakers—do not enter the picture at all)."

It would seem to me that the subwoofer which measures flatter, plays deeper, and displays lower distortion at given SPLs and frequencies will be the superior product, and will also be more accurate by definition. Whether you prefer the sound of one subwoofer over another really has no bearing on which is the superior and more accurate product.

For example, much of the character of musical bass (guitar, kick drum, etc.) will be determined by the number and amplitude of the harmonics of the fundamental notes being played. To some people, if those harmonics are emphasized - even by a very small amount - the pitch of the instrument in question is made more obvious, and the pacing of the bass line becomes easier to follow. So in the end, the most accurate audio reproduction may not be what someone prefers.

The numbers will speak for themselves. If product A measures better than product B, and someone prefers the sound of product B, fine. But he should be given the opportunity to make an informed purchase.
 

CurtisSC

Screenwriter
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Jan 28, 2003
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Edward,

You are right....I have not seen the subs measured by the same methods in the same room. And, yes, very unfair.

I agree that specs tell a good portion of the story, as it does for speakers, but it can not replace actually listening. I think buying a sub based on one person's measurements is not a wise decision. Nor do I think one should trust subjective thoughts, such as mine. Which is exactly why I wanted to hear the subs for myself.

Here is an interesting presentation on distortion and perception:
http://www.gedlee.com/distortion_perception.htm

If product A measures better than product B, and someone prefers the sound of product B, fine. But he should be given the opportunity to make an informed purchase.
Agreed, but the most information comes from listening to them.

Looking forward to your review.
 

Rick Hilst

Grip
Joined
Oct 26, 2003
Messages
16
I think I'll give it a shot and settle the evergreen SVS vs. HSU debate with some cold hard numbers
I'm enough of a skeptic that I am unwilling to accept anyone's "results" unless I am completely convinced on the scientific nature of their analysis and their complete unbiasness (is that a word?). Since you have already stated a preference for SVS, the only results that you could come up with that would be believable (to me) are ones that show the VTF-3 to be better. Otherwise, I'm going to assume that your biasness influenced your "results".

In the same way, if Curtis were to perform the comparison, since he has stated a preference for the VTF-3, any result other than SVS being better would have to be discounted for the same reason.
 

Paul_Ptaaty

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Oct 16, 2003
Messages
77
Another thing to consider is that for music many people actually prefer a bump in output from 40-60Hz, most people say they prefer their Pb2's with a 25Hz tune. Many people think that sounds "right" with a boost in the mid bass (40-60) because of so many years hearing so many speakers that are boosted in this range.

If you will notice on my first post I stated "properly eq'ed", my SVS sounded a bit boomy and loose when I first got it...but that was because at my listening position I had a room mode at 55Hz (no fault of the sub)....when this was tamed, instant tightness, depth, etc. Best bass I have ever heard.

Even in the same room in roughly the same spot, the fact that the SVS has ports on top vs side can mean room modes will have changed through no fault of the sub....think how much your freq response can change by moving a sub a foot? the ports on the SVS are much further from those on the HSU than that.

When this is taken into consideration, I will whole heartedly agree with what Ed said, the sub that measures better is better.

The HSU very well may have sounded better than the SVS PC+ in your room without EQing, and it will almost surely sound different due to change in output location due to design.

*edit* Rick, I suggest you do some more research into this topic, you can have a 10% THD at 25 Hz and be perfectly content...where as even a couple % in midrange freq will sound terrible. Now if your 10% THD introduces a number of new harmonics and port noise, then we are outside the freq range and in a different ballgame. There is debate after debate whether we can even localize below 50 Hz, do you hear any sort of argument (other than dipoles) for midrange? Or course not. It is ignorant to think we respond to all frequencies the same. The human ear happens to be tuned to freq which are most important to us, those covered by normal human speech. If we have the ability we even compensate for this using something called a house curve to boost low freq to sound the same level even though they may be 10dB higher!
 

Rick Hilst

Grip
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Oct 26, 2003
Messages
16
think how much your freq response can change by moving a sub a foot?
Isn't this an argument that basically invalidates any comparison of subs? How does one accurately compare two subs if moving one a few inches causes completely different results? Can't the argument always be legitimately made that, had you done XXX (e.g., repositioned, equalized, tamed the room mode, etc.), that my sub would have sounded better?

Also your earlier statement about many people preferring bass that wasn't flat again adds credence to the "you can't objectively compare subs" since individual preferences may vary.
 

Paul_Ptaaty

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I am about spent with this thread :)

For the original poster, SVS PB2-ISD will hands down outclass a VTF-3, as it better considering its size and drivers.

I was merely making a point about problems using any given room for purely objective measurements. As always if you can get both, return the one you don't like.

They can be objectively measured, anachoic flat field measurements (using multiple microphones for vented enclosures with non-colocated ports).

And yes, 25 Hz is close to 20Hz. 50 Hz is an octave above and distortion is still much more difficult to disern than mid freq. You always want as little distortion as possible, it is just that the lower you go, the less able you will be to perceive.

If you cross over at 120Hz you are well into normal woofer territory vs subwoofer.
 

Rick Hilst

Grip
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Oct 26, 2003
Messages
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SVS PB2-ISD will hands down outclass a VTF-3, as it better considering its size and drivers.
This is a conclusion, not a fact. I'm sure that Hsu owners (and Adire owners) would challenge that any equivalently priced sub "hands down outclasses" them.
 

CurtisSC

Screenwriter
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Jan 28, 2003
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For the original poster, SVS PB2-ISD will hands down outclass a VTF-3, as it better considering its size and drivers.
OK Paul....now you are just saying bigger is better :). I haven't heard the PB2-ISD, but by virtue of it's two drivers and enclosure, I'm sure it can get louder. But in terms of its sound quality, that has yet to be determined, subjectively or objectively.
 

Rick Hilst

Grip
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Oct 26, 2003
Messages
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To a certain extent I'm being an antagonist here since I've not committed yet to what subwoofer I am going to get (its the last piece of my HT system). However, I am with Curtis on the "bigger isn't necessarily better" argument. If I carried that argument to an extreme, then using a V8 engine to power a couple 30" drivers would result in a really great subwoofer.

I'm not so sure. I am sure it would produce an incredibly loud sub but would it be any good?
 

GeorgeJM

Agent
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Nov 4, 2003
Messages
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Take either sub, run a frequency sweep at 1/3rd (or tighter) octaves, EQ the output using a BFD or other parametric equalizer and it will easily sound better than the one you didn't choose :)

I haven't read any magazine reviews of the PB2 vs anything, but I have read one comparing the VTF3 to an SVS cylinder and a Velodyne, by Howard Ferstler, The Audiophile Voice October 2002

He reviews it against the Velodyne F1800RII, HSU TN1220HO, and SVS 16-46PC.

Excerpt of review:

Velodyne's F1800R11, "In a test-tone face off against a Velodyne F1800RII, with their outputs matched at 40 Hz, the two systems were subjectively identical down to about 30 Hz. At 20 Hz, the Hsu was 2dB louder than the Velodyne, although at moderately high levels the F1800RII was cleaner sounding at that test-tone frequency, but not by much. With musical selections the differences were impossible to detect at all, and it is likely that nobody could say that the Hsu was not a match for the Velodyne, unless the levels got really loud and low."

HSU TN1220HO, "Against Hsu’s own TN1220HO model (driven by the new 250-watt Hsu amp mentioned previously), the results were identical in terms of output at both 30 Hz and 20 Hz, although at fairly high levels the TN1220HO was cleaner at 20 Hz. At 30 Hz, they paced each other right up to very high levels. With music, the subs were functionally identical sounding at sane listening levels."

SVS 16-46PC, "Against an $850 SVS 16-46PC subwoofer, the two were equally clean at 30 Hz, at both soft and moderate levels, but with the SVS not quite so clean at higher levels. At 20 Hz, the units were essentially equal in terms of colorations. However, the SVS sub was 4 or 5 dB down from the Hsu at 20 Hz, with their levels matched at 40 Hz. With musical program sources, the two sounded essentially identical most of the time, with the Hsu perceptibly stronger below 25 Hz if the music contained such signals. This allowed the Hsu to have a slight edge with really super-clean, super-deep bass program sources."

hsuresearch.com/
reviews/index.php?id=6
 

Robb Roy

Supporting Actor
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Jul 15, 2002
Messages
711
I should know better than to touch this thread, but here goes...

First: I own a SVS subwoofer.

Second: Rick, I’ve seen/read/spoke with enough of Curtis and Ed to let you know that if either took objective measurements of both subs they’d honestly tell you what their equipment saw. I’m a very skeptical person, but I firmly believe both guys to be honest enthusiasts.

Third: All, if your ears are so sensitive that there are characteristics to a sub below 80 or so Hz that cannot be measured by anything other than your ears, then a discussion is useless –- you’ll have to demo them in person as you would a full range or a mid to high frequency speaker -– no discussion can help you. If you say the preference is due to slight variations of frequency response (exaggerating frequencies you particularly like) or distortion (it’s somehow pleasing to you), then it can be measured, but only where you’ll be listening to the sub. Again, you’ll have to demo in person, and no discussion will help.

Fourth: Frankly, if sub A cannot play as low as sub B, has more distortion at *your* listening levels (this is key, as it really is the only defense of the "just because it plays louder with less distortion doesn’t mean it’s better" argument –- if you only listen at volumes with 90 Db peaks, who cares what the THD is at 120+ Db?), and has more peaks and valleys in its frequency response, but still sounds better than sub B to you, then I’d say psychology is what’s at work here. Of course, that doesn’t really matter so long as you the consumer are happy. Of course, you’re back to having to listen to them in your environment again…

Fifth: Personally, I’d love to see some true blind tests of some low, flat, loud, with minimal distortion subs described as less "musical" vs. some of the "musical" subs with the same source/material in the same environment. My guess is the results would be questioned no matter who performed them or what their results were.

Sixth: reviews of subs that are different than the ones discussed here doesn’t really help.

Seventh: We’re seriously picking nits here, as these are both great subs by great manufacturers.

-Robb
 

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