My NEW 25-31PCi vs. SW15 Review

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Phil Iturralde, Apr 12, 2002.

  1. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    My SVS 25-31PCi finally came around 5:30pm [​IMG] last night (April 11, 2002) and I took my time to set it up, ... this sucker is 66 lbs and after moving out my 68 lbs AudioSource SW15 200w 15” sub (thru & under my Grand Piano), then vacuuming / cleaning the corner of the dust bunnies, ... I lifted my SVS 25-31PCi over my Grand Piano and placed it in the corner! Time to take a breather!
    Initial Setup/Calibration:
    I spent some time** (3-4 hours) calibrating and re-calibrating, checking my final results w/my Dave Grusin, Bob James, Diana Krall, Joe Sample, etc. Jazz Music CD’s, etc. With my DVD’s, I primarily used Toy Story 2, a couple of THX trailers, Diana Krall DVD and Tomorrow Never Dies / SE. Early this morning, I finally settled on what I felt was a good balance between the Music CD Sub setting vs. DVD Dolby Digital / DTS LFE settings.
    ** Music CD’s - This is the area where I took an extra long time to calibrate the balance, because it's done by ear. Once I was satisfied with this playback balance, using moderate to above AVG listening levels (peaks up to 95 dB), I then REF Calibrated the DD/DTS LFE track using Video Essentials DVD LFE test signal (finalized early this morning)
    Video Essentials:
    ·HT Speakers = 75 dB (± 1/8 dB)
    ·SVS = 77 dB (lowest swing 75 dB / highest swing 79 dB)
    Equipment final settings:
    oYamaha RX-V995
    ·SWFT = -13 (range: 0 to –20)
    ·DD LFE = -5 (range: 0 to –10)
    ·DTS LFE = +5 (range: -10 to +10)
    oSVS 25-31PCi
    ·Level: ½ power (12 o’clock position)
    ·Crossover = Disabled
    Initial Assessment: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    I can honestly say that, ‘ALL’ the sub-sonic impact from my $199 AudioSource SW15 (15” woofer & dual-ports which moves a lot of air) is still there with my new SVS 25-31PCi, but I’m happy [​IMG] to report that what disappeared from my musical/movie content, was an apparent low frequency hump that my AudioSource SW15 has and outputs some of the time, depending on the software material.
    After carefully REF Calibrating the SVS 25-31PCi with my HT/family Room and JBL Speakers, the SVS 25-31PCi lowest frequency output (under 25 Hz) up to the 90 Hz x-over was, ... is as Tom & Ron stated, very clean & flat!! (Let me quickly say ... “thank-you” Tom & Ron!!!)
    Like my AudioSource SW15, ... the SVS 25-31PCi seamlessly blended in with my JBL S26/S-Center speakers very smoothly & nicely
    Music CD's: (Effects off – 2-CH, primarily Jazz)
    One of the first thing my SVS 25-31PCi vs. AudioSource SW15, revealed was that my Jazz Music CD's had more lower bass content and impact when called for by the different CD recordings. It was obvious to me that the biggest difference is the audible fact that the AudioSource SW15 did veil some of the bass guitar / upright bass delicate notes or aggressive attack slap! contained in some of my Music Jazz CD’s.
    Needless to say, I was more than pleasantly surprised that my new SVS 25-31PCi is clearly playing back some unfamiliar bass notes, bass lines, sustained notes, base guitar fingering strings sounds, etc. that were in my CD recordings all the time, but somewhat buried deeply in the AudioSource bass sound! (...”thank-you” Tom & Ron!!!)
    So, the SVS 25-31PCi 1st Hallmark here then, is it's ability to clearly playback those mid & lower bass notes, effortlessly and with great authority, raising the level of realism by balancing the played back Jazz CD Music with a solid fundamental lower sound foundation! In a sense, I’m now hearing the original mixed lower sounds foundation content, along with my already familiar super flat mids and crystal clear spine tingling highs, ... that was originally put in the music by the Recording Sound Engineer.
    But like my JBL's Studio Series Speakers, the quality of what is heard, is depended on the quality of the Digital Recordings, ... which is why I choose recordings by Dave Grusin, Bob James & Joe Samples DDD Mastered Music CD's to Calibrate the SVS by ear w/my JBLs!
    NOTE: The AudioSource SW15 was a very competent performer, especially for it's $199 (CostCo) price, ... I carefully integrated it in my HT room and REF Calibrated it using VE = 79 dB (lowest swing = 76 dB / highest swing = 81 dB) to achieve a balanced sound with sub-sonic impact without the associated boomy or bloated muddy bass sound – all without taking it apart and stuffing is with polyfill. (It’s going to my vacation house w/my JBL NSP1’s.)
    DVD Movies:
    2nd Hallmark - This arena is where the SVS shows it's world-class audiophile mettle vs. AudioSource SW15.
    For example, with Toy Story 2 (approx. @ -10 dB below REF Level) , a few seconds before the “Toy Story” Logo fly's to it's center lock location in the beginning, the room literally LIT-UP with previously "Unfelt ENERGY", [​IMG]
    ... in my pant leg, floor (20’ x 20’ is solid cement w/oak flooring), couch, wall, windows, air ... I monitored it with my SPL Meter (9' from my Center / about 12' from the 25-31PCi corner) and all that "Felt ENERGY" started - when the needle was still around 94/95 dB area (Dial = 100 / Speed = FAST / Weight = “C”) ... climaxing with an SPL Fast Peak above 105+ dB! Man, that was GLORIOUS!!! (... “thank-you” Tom & Ron!!!)
    I cannot remember (not because of age :p) ), ever experiencing this sub-sonic LFE effect before with this DVD!!!
    This leads me to believe, if the DVD has encoded energy in its somewhere, anywhere, ... the SVS 25-31PCi will reproduce that sub-sonic LFE with Cinematic Theater Class “Impact and Decay”! To quote "Tom Nousaine" in Sept. 1997 Stereo Review
     
  2. Jeffrey Forner

    Jeffrey Forner Screenwriter

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    So, what you're saying is, you're happy. [​IMG]
    Thanks for the review, Phil. It's always fun to read posts like these. Enjoy your new bass!
     
  3. jeff lam

    jeff lam Screenwriter

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    Great review Phil! Glad you like the SVS. One question though, with th TV you have why don't you have a progressive scan player?
     
  4. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    Yeah - Jeffrey Forner - I'm Happy!! [​IMG] Thanks! I also enjoy reading your detailed reviews!!
     
  5. Tom Vodhanel

    Tom Vodhanel Cinematographer

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    Phil,

    Thanks for taking the time to post such an in depth review of the woof. As you have found out...even the little $549 PCi is quite a potent performer. I like your "no decay means no bass" quote from TN. Some folks just don't realize the first octave 16-32hz cannot be *fast* by definition.

    TV
     
  6. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    Tom, your welcome, but in all reality, ... it is I, that should thank-you for offering such a well designed, thought-out, Home Theater Product that raises the Level of the Big Blockbuster Dolby Digital & DTS 5.1 DVD Music / Movies that we all love, ... at an incredible price!!!
    The other morning, before everyone got up (the bedrooms are located on the other side of the house), I watch some selected scenes from Jurassic Park III and basically scared myself! I've watched this movie about a dozen times since I got the DVD (didn't see it @ the Cinema Theater), but this time, I could feel and hear all the previously unheard LFE 'energy', like within the Spinosaurus roarrrr, ... incredible! So, I decided that I'd watch some selected scenes in U571, Tomorrow Never Dies, and Star Wars! [​IMG]
    After we finish our Taxes tonight (we always owe money, so we wait until the last moment), maybe I'll finally get time (wifes OK) to invite some family & friends over and watch an entire movie from beginning to end! I can't wait until they feel (wink - wink), ... the DVD movie!! [​IMG]
    Phil
     
  7. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    After 5-days of use (though not much last night because of Taxes [​IMG] ), ... I re-CHECKED my REF Calibration early this morning, and up'd my SWFR Setting by a value of 1, now = -12 (was -13), DD & DTS LFE unchanged.
    To verify my REF Calibration (any reason to verify my REF Calibration is good enough for me [​IMG] ), after breakfast, I watched the opening scenes in "Tomorrow Never Dies" /SE DVD @ about -10 dB below REF.
    At that level, when the very first Lighter Bomb that James Bond threw explodes, ... I'm feeling, the couch, the floor, etc. vibrate with the explosion!!
    I monitored the SPLs again (SPL Meter 9' from 'sweet-spot' to Center / SVS 12' Front RT-CH corner) and I read 100-102 dB+ as an AVG for all the different explosions, gunning the Jet engines, etc., during the 'Terrorist Depot' Chaos Scenes! Now, one of those explosions in opening scenes not only moved my pant leg (I'm getting use to that now... [​IMG] ) but now, it also moved my shirt sleeve - Whoa! That was unexpected!! [​IMG] This is way too cool!!!
    Other monitored SPL's (from memory) for the curious:
    106 dB+ - one of the explosions during Bonds escape
    103-105 dB - Cruise Missile explosion / JB Jet flying thru the fire & smoke
    101-102 dB - Two missiles hitting the mountain, after missing JB jet.
    102 dB+ - 1 of the Bass notes in opening Song - Sheryl Crow
    90-95 dB - Sheryl Crows voice range
    104 dB+ - Initial first scene - the Stealth Boat
    106 dB+ - Munching Torpedo initial entry into the Missile Frigate
    98-102 dB - assorted sub-sonic Torpedo traveling noises
    Well, you get the point and I had to get ready for work!
    "Tomorrow Never Dies" / SE DVD is now an entirely different DVD, Audio wise, from what I've watched many, many times since 1999!
    While all this strong LFE energy is being played, none of the orchestration, especially the string section & electric guitar (Bond's theme) or dialog is losts! My JBL S26 / S-Center explicitly floats the Movie soundtrack behind all the action, with a broad soundstage beyond my R&L speakers.
    I've owned a number of passive to powered subwoofers over the last 21 years (sold some too when I was a Audio/Video/Computer dealer from my home in the early 80's), and I can say that I have never experienced a sub woofer in my home that was close to the performance, energy and sub-sonic foundation of my new SVS 25-31PCi!! [​IMG]
    Anyone on the fence, ... you won't regret the purchase of any SVS model and it will add to your Real Cinematic Theater auditory & tactile HT experience, ... which is what its all about!!! [​IMG]
    Phil
     
  8. Jeffrey Forner

    Jeffrey Forner Screenwriter

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    Phil;

     
  9. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    Jeffrey - I agree with your excellent revealing description and synopsis!
    The reviewer probably has di/bipole surrounds, because with monopole surrounds, the Piano 88-key spread is behind (my surrounds are 3-feet behind my 'sweet spot') eminating at & in-between the L&R surrounds.
    If you can imagine a Grand Piano key layout, the
    - Left surround: lower key octave
    - Inbetween L&R surround: middle key octave
    - Right surround: higer key octave
    An old Jazz trick practiced by keyboard artists, Bob James, Dave Grusin, David Benoit, Joe Sample with their 2-channel CD music.
    Highly recommended!
    Phil
     
  10. SteveK

    SteveK Supporting Actor

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    Jeff/Phil- I agree about the SVS not dominating the audio experience. I remember some years ago I purchased (then returned) a cheap subwoofer. I did not like the "bass" it produced, as it was entirely too boomy for my tastes. Ever since then, I had done without a subwoofer, because if that was what "bass" is all about, I didn't want it. I purchased my SVS 20-39PC with great hesitation, because I did not want a repeat of the boomy bass I had heard years ago. I was determined that I would return it if I found the bass to unnaturally emphasized as my previous sub (during the very brief time I owned it) had done.

    Well, needless to say, I didn't return the SVS; instead I've now upgraded the driver. It gives you deep bass, but not bass that unnaturally and inappropriately dominates the sound you hear. This is particularly true for music, as I've heard subs that seem to "woof" on EVERY note. That's not the way I want to hear my music or movies, and that's not the way SVS provides bass.

    So I am definitely very well pleased with my SVS. It hasn't made any cracks in the wall and my cats have never vomited, but it certainly gives a nice rumble when called upon.

    Steve K.
     
  11. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    Phil
     
  12. Tom Vodhanel

    Tom Vodhanel Cinematographer

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    Phil,Steve...

    I think you guys have pretty much summed it up. Any subwoofers performance is going to be dominated by the room,location of the sub,location of the listening position and calibration methods. We have a lot of guys who love to run the subs 3-5dB *hot* on the RS meter(which is an actual 5-8dB hot in reality)for DVD films. That could very likely produce too much bass for critical music listening.

    TV
     
  13. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    Next, I run Video Essentials LFE Test Signal so I can adjust ... the LFE channel of the Dolby Digital 5.1 system.
    1) I started w/DD & DTS LFE default settings:
    o Yamaha RX-V995 (fixed x-over 90 Hz)
    · SWFT = -12 (range: 0 to -20) (Value after calibrating my 'normal' subwoofer level above.)
    · DD LFE = 0 (range: 0 to -10)
    · DTS LFE = 0 (range: -10 to +10)
    o SVS 25-31PCi
    · Level: ½ power (12 o'clock position)
    · Crossover = Disabled
    · Phase = 0 (located front right corner)
    2) Next, I run Video Essentials DVD Test Front Signal
    3) 1st Test Signal = Left channel)
    4) I then turn-up my Yamaha Volume Control knob until the LT Channel = 75 dB
    . . . at this point, I don't touch the Volume Control knob again
    5) 2nd Test Signal = Center
    6) I use the remote and change the Center Level until = 75 dB
    7) 3rd Test Signal = Right Front Channel
    . . . if the SPL doesn't = 75 dB, I use the Balance Cntrl Knob until it is
    . . . I re-check the Left Front and Center if I used the Balance Cntrl.
    . . . Fortunately, both L&R is equal.
    8) 4th Test Signal = Left Surround
    . . . I use the remote and change the LT Surround Level until = 75 dB
    9) 5th Test Signal = Right Surround
    . . . I use the remote and change the LT Surround Level until = 75 dB
    10) I change the Radio Shack Meter = 80 dB (all other options the same: Weight = "C" / Speed = "Slow")
    11) 6th Test Signal = LFE
    . . . I use the remote to change the DD LFE Level until = 77 dB (lowest swing 75 dB / highest swing 79 dB - of the needle)
    . . . Result = -5** (Dolby Digital LFE)
    12) Afterwards, I re-run the test again to verify my values.
    13) That sets the Dolby Digital LFE
    14) For DTS LFE, I added 10 to DD LFE "-5" = +5** (-5 + 10 = +5 - DTS LFE)
    **Equipment final settings:
    o Yamaha RX-V995
    · SWFT = -12 (range: 0 to -20)
    · DD LFE = -5 (range: 0 to -10)
    · DTS LFE = +5 (range: -10 to +10)
    o SVS 25-31PCi
    · Level: ½ power (12 o’clock position)
    · Crossover = Disabled
    So, I don't experience 10 dB difference in the subwoofer levels between my Dolby Pro-Logic and Dolby Digital 5.1 (AC-3) / DTS 5.1. Using my
    Yamaha RX-V995 3-subwoofer controls (each w/memory):
    A) SWFR
    B) DD LFE
    C) DTS LFE
    ... when I switch between my Music CD's and Blockbuster DVD's (LFE]!
    Phil
     
  14. Manuel Delaflor

    Manuel Delaflor Supporting Actor

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    Phil,

    Im aware that you state, without doubts, that your SVS gives more SPL and Extension to your ears, and your SPL meter. But can I ask you to compare your two subs (the SW Fifteen and the SVS) with your SPL Meter? Perhaps using 1/3 scale tones?

    That would be Amazingly Interesting!
     
  15. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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  16. Manuel Delaflor

    Manuel Delaflor Supporting Actor

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    To bad I didn't told you this idea before!! [​IMG]
    Anyway... is just that I really want to know which are the exact SPL differences before buying anything... [​IMG]
    Hmm... what's more... at the same time you clean up from spiders, please make the testing!!! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  17. Steve K.H.

    Steve K.H. Supporting Actor

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    Excellent Post, SVS is my next purchase.
    Now, the 39, or the PC+... decisions, decisions.
    [​IMG]
     
  18. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    FYI: Follow-up, for those who might be interested, ... specifically REF Calibration values after speaker break-in period.

    1)SVS 25-31PCi - 4 month later
    2)JBL S-Series (S26 & S-Center) speakers - 6 months later.

    Original REF Calibration Results - as posted in the 1st post above - April 12th (changes in RED);

    Quote:



    Video Essentials:
    ·VOLUME KNOB = -16 (12 o'clock position - added for comparison)
    ·HT Speakers = 75 dB (± 1/8 dB)
    ·SVS = 77 dB (lowest swing 75 dB / highest swing 79 dB)

    Equipment final settings:
    oYamaha RX-V995
    ·SWFT = -13 (range: 0 to –20)
    ·DD LFE = -5 (range: 0 to –10)
    ·DTS LFE = +5 (range: -10 to +10)
    oSVS 25-31PCi
    ·Level: ½ power (12 o’clock position)
    ·Crossover = Disabled





    Latest REF Calibration results:

    Video Essentials:
    ·VOLUME KNOB = DOT (between -16* & -12*)
    ·HT Speakers = 75 dB (± 1/8 dB)
    ·SVS = 81 dB (lowest swing 79 dB / highest swing 83 dB)

    Equipment final settings:
    oYamaha RX-V995
    ·SWFT = -11 (range: 0 to –20)
    ·DD LFE = -5 (range: 0 to –10)
    ·DTS LFE = +5 (range: -10 to +10)
    oSVS 25-31PCi
    ·Level: ½ power (12 o’clock position) - no changes
    ·Crossover = Disabled

    Both the JBL & SVS broke-in nicely, and the above results indicated that to achieve the same 75 dB SPL (HT Speakers) required a little more Volume increase (approx. 2 dB). At the same time, as I located and insulated some of the more annoying vibrations in my HT/family room, I increased the SVS 25-31PCi REF SPL++ ...

    FROM: 77 dB (lowest swing 75 dB / highest swing 79 dB)

    TO: 81 dB (lowest swing 79 dB / highest swing 83 dB)

    ++I increased the SVS output a little around a couple months ago during one of my REFERENCE Calibration SPL Checks.

    With the above latest settings, @ approx. -15 dB below REF Level, ... I monitored 112 dB* during the reversed LFE sound effect, while playing the LOTR opening battle scene @ my 'sweet spot', which is around 9' from the Center Channel!! All present viewers were in awe!! [​IMG]

    *Direct SPL reading w/out adjusting for SPL error - DIAL = 110 / Weight = C / Speed = FAST

    I'm still amazed & pleased with the overall super wide & clear Cinema Theater playback coupled w/effortless sub-sonic impact SPL's that the JBL S-Series & SVS 25-31PCi combination provides in my 20' x 30' HT/family room. My brother was so impressed, he bought his own SVS 25-31PCi!!! [​IMG]

    FYI: Yamaha RX-V995 Analog Volume Control Locations vs. REFERENCE Calibration Test Tone Sources:

    Dolby Digital 5.1
    ·VOLUME KNOB = DOT (between -16* & -12*) / Video Essentials @ 75 dB
    ·VOLUME KNOB = DOT (between -20* & -16*) / Internal Test Tones @ 75 dB
    ·VOLUME KNOB = -12* / Sound & Vision @ 85 dB

    DTS 5.1
    ·VOLUME KNOB = -16* / Sound & Vision @ 85 dB

    *Yamaha uses dB Scale increments with their Volume Control Knob
    -20 dB = 11 o'clock position
    -16 dB = 12 o'clock position
    -12 dB = 1 o'clock position

    Phil
     

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