Subwoofer Shootout - SVS 20-39PC vs. Sony SAWM40

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ron Eastman, Jul 8, 2001.

  1. Ron Eastman

    Ron Eastman Second Unit

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    First, a huge thank you to RyanL for hosting Kevin_Kr and myself for a home theater meet at his home. My girlfriend and I had a wonderful time, thanks to Ryan and his wife Chrissy's gracious hospitality. The evening was filled with demo scenes, great conversation and Ryan's fantastic burgers. [​IMG]
    I brought along my SVS 20-39PC from Omaha and Kevin brought his Sony SAWM40 to demo as well. After some difficulty getting sound from the SVS, possibly due to a bad cable, we decided to do a blind comparison between the SVS and Sony subs as well as compare the SVS to Ryan's powered Paradigm Monitor 90P's.
    For reference material we settled on the very demanding scene near the end of Saving Private Ryan where the tank is advancing onto the bridge and Cpt. John Miller (Tom Hanks) is fending it off with his pistol. I would estimate that the overall volume was set somewhere between 5 and 10dB below reference level. For the record, our comparison was not scientific and did not involve any measurements but it was conducted as a blind test. After explaining to my girlfriend how to switch between the different subs we unhooked the sub lines from the 90P's and left it to her to choose which sub (SVS or Sony) to hook up first while we covered our eyes and waited for her okay.
    As it turned out, sub #1 was the Sony. The reputation for this sub sounding incredible for it's price is an understatement. It played everything except the lowest of the lows and sounded very clean throughout the scene. It was not boomy at all and the bass was very tight. Compared to other budget subwoofers that I've heard, even up to the $600 range, the Sony could easily hold it's own. I must confess, not knowing which sub I was hearing I was getting a little worried that if this was the Sony I may not be able to tell the difference from my SVS. [​IMG]
    Next we listened to the same scene with sub #2, which turned out to be the SVS. As you might expect, it also played very clean and accurately while extending noticeably lower than the Sony, giving a fullness and richness to the soundtrack that provided additional realism. After the scene was finished I was relieved (pheww!) that we were able to tell the difference. Was the SVS 4 times better (as the price is 4 times higher)? I would say not, but noticeably better, more of an incremental change. A good comparison would be the difference between anamorphic material on a 16:9 television compared to it being downconverted on an similarly sized 4:3 monitor.
    Next we compared the SVS to Ryan's 90P's in the same manner. The results were surprisingly similar. The 90P's also produced some great bass, extending about as deep as the Sony sub and very cleanly to boot. While we were again able to tell the difference between them and the SVS, the only place where the 90P's lacked was in the extremely low bass where most commercial subs under $1000 can't go. One bonus I observed of having mains with powered subs is that the higher bass frequencies are completely non-directional. The 90P's sounded spectacular.
    For those on a budget who are considering the Sony SAWM40 I cannot recommend it more heartily. At normal listening levels this sub is certainly capable of handling 95% of soundtracks without missing a beat.
    Again, many thanks to Ryan for hosting the meet and to Kevin as well for bringing his Sony for our non-scientific comparison. It was great to meet you guys!
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    "The last thing I want to remembered as is an annoying blabbermouth." - Del Griffith
    my home theater - updated 6/16/01 with SVSubwoofer pics
    my DVD collection
     
  2. KonradN

    KonradN Stunt Coordinator

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    one concern i heard about the sony is that it is a bit slow for music so I am wondering if you also tested both subs with music?
     
  3. Ron Eastman

    Ron Eastman Second Unit

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    I wish I could tell you that we did. The shootout was really an afterthought and we only got to test the one movie scene due to time constraints. I'd love to test the Sony with music as I've been really impressed with what my SVS adds to music.
    It was very cool to hear these two very highly raved about subs head to head. For each subs respective price range they are tough if not impossible to beat.
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    "The last thing I want to remembered as is an annoying blabbermouth." - Del Griffith
    my home theater - updated 6/16/01 with SVSubwoofer pics
    my DVD collection
     
  4. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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  5. Ron Eastman

    Ron Eastman Second Unit

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    Lewis - Since the LFE was being produced by the powered subs in both 90P's it was split nicely between the front soundstage. When we were having difficulties getting sound from the SVS due to the bad cable (before we unhooked the sub lines on the 90P's) I had to feel the woofer on the SVS to check whether it was producing sound. You couldn't tell where the bass was coming from.
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    "The last thing I want to remembered as is an annoying blabbermouth." - Del Griffith
    my home theater - updated 6/16/01 with SVSubwoofer pics
    my DVD collection
     
  6. RyanL

    RyanL Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the kind words, Ron. It was a great opportunity to finally hear the SVS. I was very curious if it could live up the high standards that I already had set for it and I'm pleased to say that it really did exceed my expectations. I won't say that I'm not happy with my setup, but I agree that the SVS is a tremendous bargin and has a tremendous sound which was really evident during the head-to-head comparisons. When watching a scene with the SVS once could definetly experience more and felt more drawn into the movie. It was far from bad with either the paradigm's or the sony, but just "different" and not quite as involving. The SVS gave it that extra little punch that I love so much.
    Just thought I'd put in my 2 cents worth. Thanks again to Kevin for bringing over his sub and thanks to Ron for lugging the SVS all the way from Omaha!
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    Paradigm Monitor 90P's
    Paradigm Reference CC-450
    Paradigm Titans
    Aura Bass Shakers (2)
    Marantz 1550
    Aiwa 8" Sub
    JVC RX-884vbk (reciever)
    JVC XV-501bk (DVD player)
    Sharp Hi-Fi VCR
    Sony 27V20 27" Trinitron TV
     

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