SVS 20-39 PC+ Review (Long)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Edward J M, Sep 23, 2002.

  1. Edward J M

    Edward J M Cinematographer

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    Hello HTF members:

    This is my first post to HTF. I have been into HT for a few years now, and I regularly surf HTF, AVS, Spot, Klipsch, and frequently post at Club Polk.

    I am posting today at HTF because I am so impressed with this new sub and I wanted to share with everyone what an incredible product I think it is. Let me say up front I do not work for SVS, I do not personally know anyone at SVS (although they have provided exceptional CS via email), I am not affiliated in any way with the company, and I have not been bribed or coerced in any way to post this review. I am simply a very proud owner.

    Highlights of the PC+ line include a proprietary TC Sounds db-12 ultra long throw, super high output 12" downward firing, bottom mounted woofer. Triple 3" flared top firing ports. Birch end caps which are 1.5” thick and CNC’d. The enclosure is a high tech exceptionally dense and rigid fiber/polymer laminate tubing (much stronger than MDF), turned to exceptionally tight tolerances. The Indigo BASH 525 watt (RMS 4 ohm nominal) onboard amp has an infinitely variable phase knob and a 4 position SS filter (25, 20, 16, 12), with low/high/speaker level inputs.

    My HT room is roughly 12x18x8 with one permanent opening (stairwell) and 3 openings to a basement, bath and office that are normally closed during HT listening. Room volume with all doors closed is about 1,800 cubic feet. The floor is concrete slab on grade covered with Armstrong wood laminate.

    Set-up and calibration details are as follows:

    1) The sub is placed in the front left hand corner of the HT room, between the left main and the HDTV. Blurring of the picture on HDTV from vibration or from magnetic flux has not been a concern.

    2) Bass management is done at the receiver, with all speakers set to "normal" and the sub is set to "on". Crossover to the sub is set at 100 Hz for all speakers.

    3) I am using a Bruel & Kjoer (made in Copenhagen, Denmark) professional grade sound pressure meter on C-Weighted Slow response setting. I just calibrated it with the included tone generator and it reads spot-on (94 dB @ 1,000 Hz).

    4) My listening position is 12 feet from the mains/center/sub and 6 feet from the surrounds. At the "reference" master volume setting (-15 on the Kenwood), the receiver's test tones for the center/mains/surrounds all read 75 dB +/- 0.5 dB. The sub test tone reads 78 dB +/- 1dB (i.e., fluctuates between 77 and 79 dB).

    5) Individual speaker volume settings on the Kenwood are mains (+2), center (-1), surrounds (+2), and sub (-3).

    6) Settings at the sub are: one Monster sub cable running to the low level left RCA input, auto on enabled, crossover disabled, SS filter set to 20 Hz, no ports plugged, phase set at 0 degrees, gain set at about 2/5 volume.

    7) For my testing, I made sure to disable all the various cinema, speaker, and LFE trim settings on the receiver and just ran a “straight through” signal.

    Well, how does it sound? In a word - spectacular. This sub will completely alter your impressions of ALL of your best bass demo DVDs. It is tight, clean, refined, DEEEEP, and very, VERY powerful.

    The funny thing about SVS subs (I've heard two different models now - the sonic signature is very similar) is that your initial impression will be "where did all that boomy mid bass go?". These subs are very flat through the mid bass range (60-30) with none of the usual emphasis at 35-40 Hz that many sub makers deliberately build in to hide the fact that their subs have no real bottom end. This lack of mid bass bloom allows the sub to blend beautifully with the mains and it remains very neutral and undetected until the source material calls for it.

    The second thing I noticed is that there is an entire world of bass from 30-15 Hz that I never heard before on several DVDs. It is literally another dimension in sound. The ultra deep stuff is absolutely visceral - it is felt more than heard, and there are no messy 2nd or 3rd order harmonics, just pure, clean, DEEEEP bass that literally PUSHES its way through the room and envelopes you in the sound field.

    At reference levels, and if the source material calls for it - this sub effortlessly provides vision blurring, teeth rattling, couch moving, guts turn to jello, pants waffling, stuff falls off the shelves upstairs, call the fire department - REAL DEAL ULTRA LOW INCREDIBLY POWERFUL BASS.

    The third thing I noticed after extended HT listening sessions is how beautifully this sub handles bass nuance and detail during the quieter moments of movies. Subtle background bass notes that change in texture or tone all come through with perfect clarity and this makes for a very satisfying listening experience.

    Demo discs included:

    1) U-571 (DTS) (master volume at –20):

    Oh, so that's what depth charges are really supposed to sound like! Amazing! When they show the close-ups of the destroyer passing overhead with the props spinning - HANG ON. The final battle scene with the destroyer rattled several things off the shelves – in OTHER ROOMS.

    2) LOTR – FOTR (master volume at –25):

    This soundtrack is mastered on the “hot” side, so –25 gave me plenty of volume on playback. I never before heard the sub-20 Hz (actually goes to 10 Hz on waterfall charts) delayed reverb when the ring hits the ground in the opening battle scene. When the cave troll bursts into the room (109 dB peak on C-Weighted Fast setting at the listening position) and when he falls dead (108 dB), I thought the walls of my house were going to COLLAPSE. The falling bridge and rocks in the caverns and the fight with the fire demon are all VERY deep and powerful with many peaks in the 106-108 dB range.

    One small nit to pick here. The scene where the Ring Wraith is trying to find Frodo and his friends under the tree root ball: There is a bass tone at 46:09 through 46:11 that actually caused the sub to vibrate itself against the floor and move an inch or two. Just to be clear - nothing on the sub itself was vibrating – this thing is built like a tank. This gives you an idea of not only how powerful this woofer is, but also how exceptionally rigid and strong the entire enclosure and assembly is. I don’t think this issue would ever show up on anything but a very hard, smooth, slippery and acoustically dead floor like mine. Anyway, I had a roll of generic automotive grade truck cap foam tape with adhesive on one side and I simply turned the sub on its side and laid strips across the entire bottom plate, supplementing the three foam rubber feet supplied by SVS. This worked like a charm and completely damped the base plate from vibrating and moving in this scene. I recommend this easy modification if you purchase a PC+ and you will be placing it on a hard, smooth floor.

    3) Saving Private Ryan (DTS) (master volume set at –20):

    Battle scene explosions, and the tank buster/P-51 fly-over scene on the bridge (108 dB peaks) - I was RIGHT THERE with Hanks.

    4) The Matrix (master volume set at –17):

    The lobby chest punch (107 dB), the Morpheus knee drop sparring scene (108 dB), and the helicopter explosion (107-108 dB) were all MUCH deeper and stronger than I've ever heard before.

    5) Star Wars – TPM (master volume set at –15):

    The pod race – amazing. The fly-bys have such DEEP after shocks they feel literally subsonic. The wave of energy is incredible, and one of the canyon exits registered 109 dB! Ditto on the light saber duels – especially when the bad guy gets cut in half - never heard half the stuff before.

    6) The Haunting (DTS) (main volume set at -20 dB):

    We saved the best for last. We have over 100 DVDs in our collection, including all the popular LFE bass busters – but the DTS version of The Haunting is STILL the absolute, undisputed, KING of ultra low end, super pumped up LFE. Whoever mastered the DTS version of this DVD must have been on drugs because it is INSANE with bass. This DVD will blow your mind at near reference levels with this SVS sub. The combination of low, LOW bass and the sheer SPL this DVD generates will scare you - literally SCARE YOU. We kept waiting for the sub to start showing signs of distress – IT DIDN'T HAPPEN. It just kept effortlessly belting out wave after wave of PURE VISCERAL MIND BLOWING NEAR SUBSONIC BASS. Stuff rattled off my shelves - upstairs, and picture frames through the entire house were off kilter. We recorded bass peaks of approximately 111 dB (!!) at the listening position. KILLER - TOTALLY KILLER.

    What more can I say – I am OFF MY ROCKER AND OUT OF MY MIND over this SVS sub. For ONE sub to generate CLEAN 110+ dB bass peaks at the listening position 12 FEET AWAY is remarkable. This is the absolute BEST investment I have EVER made in my HT system - BAR NONE. My hat is off to SVS - they are truly THE BASS AUTHORITY.

    Regards,

    Ed - aka Dr. Spec on the Club Polk Forum
     
  2. Brian Burgoyne

    Brian Burgoyne Second Unit

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    Great review Ed[​IMG]
    You put into words some of the reactions that just left me glassy eyed and stuttering. I wanted to go out in the street and pull people in just to say: "you're not gonna believe this!"
    Have you tried the opening 5 minutes or so of Toy Story 2? Blade II and Resident Evil were a lot of fun also.
    I have a lot of movies to "re-watch" with the PC+. Even though the weather is turning nice here in the hell known as Texas, I had a hard time leaving the house this weekend. Ended up watching a matinee and two movies both sat and sun. Also did a lot of sampling of infamous bass scenes.
    What is the best bass scene in the "Haunting"?
     
  3. Edward J M

    Edward J M Cinematographer

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    Hi Brian:

    Thanks - glad you know how I feel!

    The Haunting DTS is so loaded with LFE, it's hard to say - there were at least a dozen scenes that left our collective jaws on the floor, but the "coming mother" scene, the crushing/chasing ceiling footsteps, and the ghost bursting forth and taking solid form are right up there.

    I have not seen Resident Evil, but just watched Blade II for the first time with the Black Tower of Power. I was amazed (I'd better get used to this feeling) to find that the opening scene (when the Reaper is about to kill the vampires at the blood bank) contains a loud and sustained ultra deep bass note that is so low it felt more like a pressure on my ear drums than anything else. Never heard THAT before - all the "subs" I've owned prior to the SVS all checked out around 35 Hz, and had virtually no usable output below 30 Hz.

    The other scary thing is the gain on my SVS is set at less than 1/2 - this thing clearly has a few more dB of clean output left in the tank. I may never exploit it, but it's nice to know it's there.

    Ed
     
  4. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    Real Name:
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    That was a very nice review and the way you have explained things in simple terms makes it easy for those of us who have not heard an SVS sub to understand what you were hearing.
     
  5. ErichH

    ErichH Screenwriter

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    Nice going Edward - I like the emotion approach of your review. I agree about the 40hz hump in cheap subs and I hope my SV(arrives tomorro) gives me the same smooth response you seem to have.
    I get the impression that the SVs tend to recover from transients better that most- maby the tube is the trick?
    My room is very close to yours in size , with the exception of an outward skew in the front left corner (where I'll place my Ultra) that actually induces a little extra room LF.
    Nice to be able to use a B&K meter huh?

    Congrats On The NEW Boomer

    Eric
     
  6. Mark R. Ososkie

    Mark R. Ososkie Stunt Coordinator

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    All i have to say is WOW - i'm getting mine this coming wednesday (25th) and after reading this review I'll at least know to make sure i dont watch any dvds at high volume after 10pm, thats for damn sure [​IMG]
     
  7. Jeffrey_B

    Jeffrey_B Agent

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    Edward

    I received my 20-39 PC-Plus last Friday (Sept 20) and I too am very impressed with the capacity of this sub. I have mine (for now)in the right rear corner - about 4 to 5 feet to my right (at the listening position). I would like to move it to the front - by the TV but for now, could only place it just to the left of my Mits 65 inch HDTV - along an open wall. This sub has so much power, I don't think it even needs to be in a corner (my family room is on the ground floor, concrete slab, carpet over it, 22 feet wide by 14 feet deep by 8 feet high). The only corners are on the right side - which is a brick wall with a fireplace in the center - and a brick/slate ledge aout 2 2 feet out and 2 feet off the floor (this is where my sub is now).

    Have you (or anyone else) experienced any problems placing a sub right next to the TV? I don't mean with regards to shielding - but rather, the vibrations and any effects on the electronics of the TV? I am considering moving the sub to the front but am fearful of what this beast might do to my TV!

    Any input would be appreciated. Thanks JEFF
     
  8. Brian Kleinke

    Brian Kleinke Supporting Actor

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    Ed,
    Great Review! I've been running a PC20-39 for about 16 months now and I just love that thing.
    One note: You may want to remove your system specs from your sig, as that's considered a no-no and can mess up searches [​IMG]
    Welcome to the HTF!
    Brian
     
  9. Edward J M

    Edward J M Cinematographer

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    Hi guys - thanks for the positive comments! I will indeed remove my system specs from my signature line - I wasn't aware of that - thank you for the tip.

    Yes, the B&K SPL meter is very nice, but truth be told we compared it directly to a Rat Shack model which (after I calibrated it) read darn close to the B&K. The B&K is superior in accuracy in the bass frequencies, though.

    I have my PC+ about 2 feet from my RPHDTV, and I have no problems whatsoever with mag flux or vibrations. I think with your concrete slab and carpet, floor induced vibrations will be virtually nil, which is really what causes picture distortion more than the air movement would.

    As far as recovering from transients, I would characterize this as an extremely well controlled woofer, which I'm sure is affected by a ton of variables such as the strength of the mag field and the design of the VC, the cone weight to rigidity ratio, and even the spider and suspension. I do know a ton of R&D went into the design of the db-12 woofer motor.

    Last night I was thinking more about the "sound" of this sub, and the only word that came to mind was transparent. My two previous sets of subs were decent to be sure, but in comparison sounded like a blanket was over them - slightly muffled in other words. The SVS PC+ sounds like the blanket has been lifted away, and all the detail and nuance of the bass comes through perfectly. Even at low volumes the definition and texture of different bass tones is very apparent - I am really starting to appreciate this aspect of the sound.

    Ed
     
  10. SVS-Ron

    SVS-Ron Screenwriter

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    Ed,

    Whew! That's got to rank as one of the most well-written customer reviews we've gotten yet. You did a great job of describing what is very difficult to describe... the qualitative and subjective improvements brought by adding high levels of clean, flat and low bass.

    I know there are folks that think SVS is now some mega-OEM with million dollar ad budgets, but I promise words of praise like yours are really what sells our subs, and keeps us going after a long day in the salt-mines.

    Thanks for taking the time to post your impressions! This one will be permanently archived on our site soon to be sure.

    Ron Stimpson
     
  11. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    See, now you're famous. [​IMG]
     
  12. Edward J M

    Edward J M Cinematographer

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    Whew is right.......Ron wasn't kidding!

    My review showed up on the SVS website today - never in a million years would I have ever imagined. Achieving fame wasn't my goal........I was just bubbling over with enthusiasm and I wanted to tell everyone how great these subs are. Nevertheless, I'm very, VERY flattered SVS thought enough of my review to post it on their website. I'm really pretty speechless - thank you.

    HT is all about passion and fun and SVS brings it home in spades - we had a blast (literally) tonight with Monster's Inc. and the sub simply made all the difference.

    With products like this, and people like Ron and Tom and Erik at the helm, SVS is going places - fast. Consider yourselves very fortunate my HTF friends - you are eye witnesses to a revolution in progress......in two short years, this remarkable company has both redefined the term customer service AND set the HT world on its ear.

    Regards,

    Ed Mullen
     
  13. Todd_Petersen

    Todd_Petersen Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey Ed do you live near buffalo NY I could use a smart guy like you to fine tune my system.
     
  14. Edward J M

    Edward J M Cinematographer

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    Smart, maybe - tons of experience - no. But I'm learning from all the great forums like these!

    Actually, we live about an hour apart. We can chat off line if you want to get together - catch me at Club Polk.

    If you want to buy a calibration DVD, I would like to see how close it is to receiver test tones and possibly recalibrate my system with it as well. I'm told it is better than test tones because it actually uses the DVD player as part of the circuit.

    Check around and see what everyone recommends - it seems like there are three or four popular ones out there and I can't seem to get a consensus of which is best. I'm sure the question has been asked a million times already though.

    Regards,

    Ed Mullen
     
  15. Todd_Petersen

    Todd_Petersen Stunt Coordinator

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    Cool check out speaker forum at Polk I left you a message
    Thanks
     
  16. Adam_R

    Adam_R Second Unit

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    Great to see another enthusiastic SVS review. I purchased a 20-39 PCi a few months back and have been re-watching all my movies with similar experience.
    Just a note - My SVS sits right behind my Sony 32" TV about 2 feet away and I definitely get some interference on the picture when the bass is rockin'! It's hard to see unless there is just plain color on the screen. It's not very visible when a movie is playing, but it's there.
    BTW - The Haunting DTS door knocking scene scared the pants off me! [​IMG]
     
  17. Dan Lindley

    Dan Lindley Second Unit

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    Neil, he may be about to become famous via the SVS site, but my hunch is that Edward wants to become legend. [​IMG]
    Luckily (or not, from the point of view of his aspirations), I don't think he's the only one hearing great things from SVS subs...
    Dan
     

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