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SVS B4-Plus more than measures up (1 Viewer)

BrianKR

Second Unit
Joined
Oct 19, 2002
Messages
498
I have been debating back and forth on how to best give my opinion on the SVS B4-Plus "super sub" for the past week now. Finally I thought I’d just wing it as I fumble through my notes, trying to make sense of it along the way :)
The reason for my indecision on how best to tell people about this sub is because of just how long and frustrated a search it has been for me. I want people to understand just how the B4-Plus stacks up against all of the other subs I have tried over the past 2 years. Two years is a long time to look for just a sub to complete a Home Theater setup. I have tried a wide assortment of commercial subs to compliment my B&W speakers for both music and movie listening. When I started piecing this setup together I thought the sub was going to be the easy piece of the puzzle, so I figured I would do that last.
I just wanted to buy a sub that didn’t stand out over the rest of the speakers and integrated seamlessly with my setup, unless of course the scene/soundtrack called for some bass intensive punch.
The first few subs I tried were just thunder/boom boxes. They stood out and overpowered the rest of the speakers like a sore thumb. Music and movies just didn’t sound good on them. I was always finding myself tweaking those subs so they would blend in better with music or give more punch for HT, without drowning out the rest of the audio. It took me a few months and several failed attempts into my search before I realized just how hard it was going to be to find a sub that would do everything I wanted the way I wanted.
The problem I had finding a sub that I could be satisfied with was that, none of them ever seemed to do the job equally for both music and HT. If it sounded great with music it usually lacked impact (SPL slam) for HT and if it had the impact for HT the clarity seemed to suffer during music, this wasn’t always the case but usually. I have come close several times to finding a sub I was satisfied with, but I always found myself wanting more, whether it was detail or volume. I did run across a couple subs that played well for both music and HT but it didn’t give me enough volume for bass intensive scenes so I tried adding a 2nd with those brands, in most cases I still wasn’t satisfied. At one point I tried using two different brand subs at the same time one that was good for music and the other that performed well for HT, but I didn't like the way any combination I tried sounded together. One thing I learned from all of this, my basement is extremely stubborn on bass resonating within the room.
I was at a point where I was just going to go to a local audio store and buy 2 of what the salesperson considered their stores flagship sub. Thank God I didn't give up due to frustration, because my search for a subwoofer "has" finally come to an end, "The SVS B4-Plus!"
The appearance of the B4-Plus:
First off, the packing of the crate was astonishing! It was sent via a freight company, shipped on a pallet, with ¾” MDF board screwed and steel banded together to the pallet. The driver and I, set the crate on my porch by the front door. I couldn’t wait to take the crate apart and peek inside! Once I got the top and walls off of the crate, I was surprised to see more foam (9” of it on each side!) protecting the sub; it too was steel banded together with some type of treated corner board (compressed cardboard) protecting the foam itself from the bands. This sub could've been airdrop via parachute into my backyard, and it would have been scratch free. When I finally hit pay dirt, nothing prepared me for just how beautiful the finish on this beast was. The pictures Ron S. from SVS posted on the forums (the very sub in my home) do this sub "ZERO" justice! You have to see it in person to understand just how beautiful the finish and design of this sub is. I was simply in awe. This is a beautiful "grade A" quality piece of furniture, which is built like a tank (and almost as heavy as one:)), with not one flaw to be seen anywhere on the cabinet. (Tom V. asked me to go over it with a fine toothcomb upon its arrival. It was a first for him to use a freight company and he was very concerned with how they would handle it.)
The only drawback in the subs appearance (to be honest it’s a pretty big drawback) is the exposed drivers on the front, back and side (but this was to be expected it being a beta version of the sub). It really takes away from the subs overall appearance, and also is cause for concern having kids in the room. I am working out some ideas to cover the drivers, especially the front driver, which is in the direct line of fire. It's my understanding SVS is looking into grille options, which will be included with the B4-Plus in the future.
If you are to order one, know that you will need no less then 2 adults to move this box around.
Dimensions of B4-Plus: 25" x 25" (with a 2" pedestal making it 27") x 32 1/2", weight 195lbs.
Appearance = A-
The Build quality is top notch but the lack of grille covers and the overall size of this "beast" (WAF, may be a problem for some due to the size of the cabinet), is the reason there isn’t a plus (+) next to that A
Performance of the B4-Plus:
I took some SPL measurements after calibrating all of the speakers to 85dB using an Avia disk.
The room dimensions: 24 x 16 x 8 ½
Amp used to power B4: QSC RMX2450 (2400w)
Rane Parametric Equalizer (PE17) only used as a subsonic filter for these measurements.
Radio Shack SPL meter connected to a tripod @ 40" height (ear listening position), set to C-weight & Slow-response
I took the measurements of each scene @ 2 distances and settings.
All ports opened with SS Filter set to 20hz @ a distance of 1 & 4m (4m being m listening position)
2 ports blocked with SSF set to 16hz @ 1 & 4m.
Volume set to –5dB under reference.
First row of numbers are all ports opened and sub filter set to 20hz. 2nd row of numbers 2 ports blocked SSF @ 16hz.
Movie scenes:
THX Opening in Star Wars PM
@1m 113dB @1m 112dB
@4m 108dB @4m 107dB
Star Wars PM: Chapter 22 scene "Lap Two" / Time 1:04:17
@1m 112dB @1m 111dB
@4m 107dB @4m 106dB
Star Wars AOTC Ch 1 "Return to Corusant" / Time 0: 02:01 & 0:02:08
@1m 118dB @1m 117dB
@4m 112dB @4m 112dB
Star Wars AOTC Ch 1 "Return to Corusant" / Time 0:03:24
@1m 121dB @1m 120dB
@4m 113dB @4m 112dB
Titan AE Ch16 "In the Ice Ring" / Time 1:03:47
@1m 116dB @1m 114dB
@4m 111dB @4m 109dB
The Matrix Ch32 "Rooftop Rescue" / Time 1:51:16
@1m 115dB @1m 113dB
@4m 108db @4m 107dB
Jurassic Park III Ch5 "The Spinosaurus" / Time 0:24:05
@1m 116dB @1m 114.5dB
@4m 111dB @4m 109.5dB
Pearl Harbor "Attack" Ch22 / Time 1:29:58
@1m 124dB! @1m 123dB
@4m 117dB! @4m 116dB
I took these measurements with a couple of friends over while getting their opinions/impressions of the subs performance and sound quality. Of all the movies we viewed/listened too, Titan AE's "In the Ice Ring" scene was our favorite. The crackling of the ice breaking apart with the spaceships engine rumbling, and ice colliding into each other, is a great mix of highs and lows that sent the room into a frenzy and had all of our jaws on the floor. We were all blown away and thought it simply sounded incredible! The most "fun" scene (as my friends described it) was the Pod Race scene in Star Wars Phantom Menace. The resonating of the room while playing this particular scene was unbelievable. It felt like you were right there while the ships were passing by and exploding through the tunnels. But the shocker to us all was Pearl Harbor. None of us had any idea there was such tremendous bass in certain scenes of that movie. Previously I only watched the movie once, in my family room, which has no surround sound (it's a chick flick after all). My friends and I almost jumped completely out of our chairs during the attack scene when the black cook, watched nervously, while the propeller on the bomb stopped spinning, and he said, "Son of a BITCH!" OMG this explosion caught us totally off guard, which was one of the loudest explosions we have ever heard in a movie. It not only shook the room we were in, but my "ENTIRE" house. It scared the hell out "most" of us (some of my friends needed a trip to the bathroom immediately following that scene:laugh: ). Before I started replaying this scene to measure it's output I went upstairs (no kidding) to make sure nothing was broke. Actually I found myself doing this several times throughout the day.
The next 2 movies I tried were Jurassic Park III "The Dino Duel" scene and Star Wars AOTC “the Return To Corusant" scene, where the ships fly overhead, also the assassination attempt. These scenes give most subs “fits”, and I wanted to see how the B4 measured up to this challenge of mine. It handled both movie scenes flawlessly, even at reference levels! During all of these bass intensive scenes, the "B4" not only did not show any signs of driver strain or port noise; it didn't even break a sweat.
None of us could believe what we were hearing & feeling from this "BEAST"!
W/ HeadRoom - HeadRoom - HeadRoom & no port noise or noticeable distortion of any kind even when hitting 130dBs, "The Performance of this beast is just Off the Charts!"
Performance = A+++
Summary:
Up until I received the B4-Plus sub, the SVS CS+ subs were what I preferred most for my basements HT room; even then I felt I needed more punch to get my stubborn basement room to come alive. So I contacted Tom V. at SVS and told him I was returning the CS+ subs to purchase a set of Ultra's for additional output. Even though I knew it was a minimal increase in performance, I thought it might just be enough for this room. He told me if I wasn't happy with the output of dual CS+ subs; Ultra's were not going to do it for me either. Then Tom let me know a new creation was emerging from the R/D skunkworks that no one outside of SVS had heard of yet, and that it would have the headroom/power of roughly 4 SVS Ultra's. He went on to tell me how it would play at reference levels in most size rooms with little to no distortion. To say I was intrigued would be an understatement; I was salivating. He said if I was interested and didn't mind waiting he would send me a beta version when they were ready. This was a couple months before the PC+ series was about to be released but this is exactly what I was looking for most in a subwoofer so I didn’t hesitate to say “YES!”
BTW, I had other subs to keep me company while I waited. :emoji_thumbsup:
The wait was much longer than Tom or I had anticipated but DAMN was it worth it!
The B4-Plus integrated beautifully with my B&W Nautilus speakers. During music it never stands out unless you count having your chest pounded during kick drums or room resonating during horn music. I played over 50 music CDs on it from classical to heavy metal. Every type of music I ran through this sub was a new experience. I can’t recall ever having a sub that I didn't have a complaint or two about while playing such a wide variety of listening material. I have yet to be displeased while playing "any" music or movies on the B4-Plus. Plain and simply, the bass reproduction is flawless.
I am hearing detail in music and movies I have viewed/listened too dozens of times that I have never heard before. This is an outstanding subwoofer, with extremely tight deep bass that you have to witness for yourself to truly appreciate. No ones written words will do this subwoofer justice. You just wont believe the shock waves of bass you hear and feel from this box. When I would play material that has "deep" bass with very high SPL (115dB+), I would go over and stand next to the sub to see if I could hear “any” distortion from the drivers or ports. I never heard distortion of any kind but my pants legs would be blowing from the air the drivers were pushing around even though the box barely shook/vibrated at all. When I would place my hand on the box it was a mild vibration. I'm assuming this is because of the weight of the cabinet and or just how solid it’s built. Most likely this sub could be used as an end table. I am looking into buying a sheet of glass to go on top if it, more so to protect the finish, than to place anything on top of it.
This sub is so subtle and yet so powerful at the same time. The sound that it produces is so clean, fast, and deep; with insanely powerful (SPL) and pinpoint accurate bass. It just boggles my mind and puts a big silly grin on my face every time I fire it up.
The B4-Plus outperformed all the other subs I have ever auditioned in this room, in quality and quantity, and that’s a lot of subs.
Pros:
A gorgeous cabinet with outstanding build quality, extremely tight, deep, accurate bass reproduction that plays extremely loud (possibly enough output for a movie theater :D), and will blend very well with any system. Powerful, seamless integration (easy to make "disappear" with speakers), excellent for music and home theater with unmatched performance with very detailed output. The value/bang for the buck with this sub is unparalleled (it would take 4 or 5 subs to match this subs headroom/performance). Simply put this sub has insane SPL capabilities at a huge range of frequencies!
Cons:
This is a very big & heavy cabinet that requires at least 2 adults to move around, so setup/placement could become a headache if you don't have help on hand. Also WAF "may" be a problem with some that might not go for (hopefully the style and finish of the cabinet will win them over. Just coordinate with SVS and do your best to match the furniture or speakers in the room it's going in) the shear size of the cabinet. Other than that I can’t think of any, unless you count possible damage to household items or the home itself :frowning: and making neighbors your enemy.
Subwoofers owned/auditioned in home the past 2 years:
Klipsch RSW 15, Infinity IL 100 & 120, Polk PSW650, Mirage bps400, Dual HSU VTF-3's, Dual Paradigm Servo -15's, Sunfire Signature, Velodyne HGS 10 & 18, Rel Storm, Super Nova MKIV & SVS CS+ series w/1000w Samson amp (20-39 & 16-46 CS)
But honestly, I have never used "ANYTHING" that outperforms this sub in sound quality or quantity!
Conclusion:
If you are like me, and have been looking for a sub to play both music and movies with no sacrifices to be made of any kind. A sub that can play reference levels in most any size room (within reason, it wont power a stadium, at least I don’t think it will ;)) with little to no distortion (I have yet to witness any) then this is “THE” sub for you!
And again, in my opinion, because this really can’t be said enough, the finish on the cabinet is simply stunning and the build quality is outstanding! It's a true furniture grade finished cabinet that is as solid as it is heavy! IMHO, this is better than any larger diameter sub I have ever tried. Incredible volume, low bass extension, and definition like nothing I’ve ever heard before.
The bass is so far beyond what I have ever experienced---musically and on DVDs, I have never heard such limitless/effortless bass reproduction.
Overall this sub is OUTSTANDING A+ all the way!
I just wish I could afford a 2nd, for aesthetics purposes only.
SVS should put a Disclaimer on this sub:
If you are on speaking terms/friends with your neighbors, it's not advised to purchase this sub! If you don't get along with your neighbors and want them to move out, BUY THIS SUB TODAY! Furthermore: SVS is will not be responsible for "any" structural damage to your home or household items/collectibles or those of your neighbors. Finally, you might want to consider asking your insurance agent if quake insurance exist in your area, if not, will they make an exception :D
 

jeff_coil

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Dec 3, 2002
Messages
157
My jaw dropped just reading this review! I know the challanges in a basement HT I am living it too!
Thanks for the post
 

Edward J M

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2002
Messages
2,031
Brian:
Thanks for an OUTSTANDING review. I can tell a lot of hard work and time went into your report and I'm sure I speak for all on HTF - it is greatly appreciated.
My HT room is not big enough to warrant such a beast (maybe a second PC+ ;)) but it's very encouraging to see that there is now an SVS product for the very largest and most demanding HT rooms and the most discriminating of listeners. Kudos to SVS!
Question: Do your SPL readings with the RS meter already contain the typical correction factor for low bass? Most of the passages you described/tested contain significant content in the 20-30 Hz range, and the RS SPL meter is down around 5-6 dB at those frequencies.
Also, did you take any readings on the C-Weighted Fast setting, and if so were they significantly different?
Regards,
Ed
 

BrianKR

Second Unit
Joined
Oct 19, 2002
Messages
498
Thx Edward

Sorry, I forgot to include that they were "actual" SPL numbers from the RS meter.

No, I haven't tried using C weighted fast settings but I will do so later tonight. I will do so with the scenes included here to make direct comparisons and see if there are any differences.
 

BrianKR

Second Unit
Joined
Oct 19, 2002
Messages
498
Thanks for the great review. It kept me salivating the whole time.
Thx Frank,
I keep napkins and tissues on hand in my HT room when I introduce friends and family to the B4+.
Jaw dropping and salivating is the best way to describe everyone's reaction when they come in contact with this sub for the first time!:D
 

Edward J M

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2002
Messages
2,031
No, I haven't tried using C weighted fast settings but I will do so later tonight.
Well, I'm going to say everyone can conservatively add about 4 dB to all of your numbers to obtain the actual SPL at those frequencies. You might want to consider adding in the "RS Correction Factor" in your future results.
Also, I think you might eek out a few more dB on the Fast scale too.
Now that's downright scary!!!! :)
 

David Lorenzo

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Dec 12, 2002
Messages
198
htf_images_smilies_smiley_jawdrop.gif
Oh.. My.. God..
I need to find a better job just to get this sub. What is the price on this behemoth?
Edit: Nevermind. I just saw the B4 news on the SVS site. 2,499 seems like a bargain for this kind of performance.
 

John Doran

Screenwriter
Joined
Jan 24, 2002
Messages
1,330
fantastiuc review brian - i can't wait for mine to get here late next week or early the week after...

i think i'm going to have to take a couple of days off work, if not to let my back recover from moving the sub, then at least to blow the doors off with my favorite bass-heavy dvd's (bridge of khazad-dum, here i come...).

- jd
 

Cees Alons

Moderator
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 31, 1997
Messages
19,775
Real Name
Cees Alons
Great review, Brian!

I have yet to be displeased while playing "any" music or movies on the B4-Plus. Plain and simply, the bass reproduction is flawless.
Apparently SVS did everything right again. I have always been bothered by that unfortunate and artificial contrast that we can read and hear so often: musical bass versus film-bass.

Nonsense, IMO! The secret (if you want to call it that) is: proper bass, accurate bass.
An audio installation that's able to reproduce the audible spectrum with utmost accuracy (including phase truthfulness, absence of relative delays, flat frequency response and low to zero distortion, and so on) is perfect for both. Neither musical audio nor film music can use flaws or are improved by it, period.

Accuracy is the word.

I'm waiting to hear even more of this sub!


Cees
 

Michael R Price

Screenwriter
Joined
Jul 22, 2001
Messages
1,591
Thanks Brian, that was a great review. I'm assuming there was never any noticeable distortion from this thing even at the 120db+ levels? And I have to ask if you ever turned up the sub some more just to see how loud it would go? Or did you go off the scale of the SPL meter at 126db? :)
 

BrianKR

Second Unit
Joined
Oct 19, 2002
Messages
498
Thanks Brian, that was a great review. I'm assuming there was never any noticeable distortion from this thing even at the 120db+ levels? And I have to ask if you ever turned up the sub some more just to see how loud it would go? Or did you go off the scale of the SPL meter at 126db?
Thx Mike,
I honestly did not hear noticeable distortion any time while testing the B4+. Port noise and audible distortion is what I listened for most. Most all box subs have noticeable port noise, not this one from what I could tell.
120db+ is so loud! I did bury the needle a couple times while playing movies at reference levels and some music CD's. I never went beyond reference level. I usually don't go above -10db (under) reference while playing DVD's.
 

Ned

Supporting Actor
Joined
Feb 20, 2000
Messages
838
You'd only need 307 velodyne HGS-18's to match the SVS :)
Would dual Ultra's match these SPL levels?
 

Michael R Price

Screenwriter
Joined
Jul 22, 2001
Messages
1,591
Ned, no, this looks like the output equivalent of 3-4 Ultras (lower distortion too, I'd bet). And Brian, I do understand your not wanting to test its limits. I'd be too scared to do so myself. I remember that part in Pearl Harbor you talked about (which sounded impressive but didn't really blow me away), and reading your comment about it makes me really want to get a serious subwoofer. And serious speakers as well, of course. :)
Did the rest of your system compress and distort at the levels you tested the B4? That's a sub that's tough to keep up with.
 

Zack_R

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Nov 4, 2002
Messages
220
Thanks for the review! Sounds like an awesome sub!


Up until I received the B4-Plus sub, the SVS CS+ subs were what I preferred most for my basements HT room; even then I felt I needed more punch to get my stubborn basement room to come alive.
Since you mentioned you only calibrated the B4 sub with avia is it safe to assume you did the same with the CS+ subs?

The reason I ask is because avia does not do a good job of telling you if the bass your speakers are producing are cancelling one another at your listening position. You need individual pink noise test tones in the 40 hz to 100 hz range in 1/3 octaves (as an example) measured with an audio meter to determine if you have severe cancellations.

Since you also mentioned you normally listen at 10 db below reference it would have seemed that two CS+ subs would have given you the slam.

I was also wondering (maybe wear some earplugs) if you could document the Toy Story 2 Logo db intro like you did the other movies? This is the only DVD I have in my possesion at the moment.

One last question. When you recorded the SPL from 4M away did you have all other speakers playing?
 

seng

Auditioning
Joined
Jan 18, 2003
Messages
3
Great review!
I would love to see a shootout between this sub and the ContraBass subwoofer by servodrive. According to Mark Seaton, 1 contraBass ($2500 without the amp)is equal to 4 HGS 18's!
Now the question is, which one of these is better?
www.soundphysics.com/cb.html
Seng
 

Mark Seaton

Supporting Actor
Joined
Oct 10, 1999
Messages
599
Real Name
Mark Seaton
Hi Seng,

Two corrections...

First, as for actual low end production, a ContraBass will out woof a pair of HGS-18s at low frequencies without too much trouble. I wouldn't hesitate to say the perception of the ContraBass with most DVD soundtracks would be like that of 2-4 HGS-18s, but 4 could certainly achieve higher total SPL over some bandwidth.

Secondly, the ContraBass is a good deal more than $2500. The ContraBass as sold through professional sound contractors for Church, theme park, studio, and organ reproduction use list and sell for $3,600 as of Jan. 31st, 2003, $3000 was the price before that date. The new, and as of yet un-publicized, Theater Calibrated ContraBass gets some additional circuitry to further flatten out the top end of the sub, and most significantly gets a hand selected motor for quieter operation, along with overall tigher QC. This variant is sold through custom home theater installers at a suggested retail of $5,500. If sold directly from us online, I would guess it might be a bit closer in price to the B4-Plus.

As for the comparison, from what I can tell from the details posted thus far, the B4-Plus and the ContraBass are rather different beasts. The ContraBass is optimized for unequalized, free field response to ~16Hz and relatively high efficiency at those frequencies. In my estimation the B4 looks to be an interesting solution to providing full level playback from a single enclosure when used with all 4 ports open. Much above 20Hz, I would expect the B4 to exceed the ContraBass in continuous output, mostly due to the huge power handling, where the ContraBass would be reasonably close dynamically. With most reference scale systems, a pair of ContraBasses are typically specified by consultants who have used them before, mostly in the name of reducing the continuous power required and increasing headroom, particularly below 20Hz. I *suspect* (as I haven't seen associated specs) to acheive a low enough tuning to support 16Hz output you would need to plug two of the ports. It will be interesting to see what sort of output and distortion is available with two of the ports plugged.

While the B4 strays from some of my personal goals, I expect is will be a great solution for many bass hungry customers and in it's trade offs it should acheive the noteable goal of full level playback without being overdriven.

Regards,
 

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