SVS CS-Ultra: Is it musical?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Michael Mohrmann, Jan 31, 2002.

  1. Michael Mohrmann

    Michael Mohrmann Screenwriter

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    When I wrote the subject line of this post, I wondered whether I was asking the right question. Nearly every post dealing with the SVS subwoofers on this and many other online forums talk about reference SPLs, removing one's home from its' foundation, knocking pictures or drywall loose, annoying the neighbors, etc. What few references there have been about music mention pipe organs, techno, less than 20 Hz sounds.

    What I am interested in is how the CS-Ultra performs with everyday music in the 20-80 Hz range. I am less concerned about out-of-this-world SPL levels for HT. I am curious about the integration of the CS-Ultra with the mains for music. Has anyone compared the CS-Ultra (or any other SVS sub) with the likes of ACI's Titan II/II LE, REL's Strata III or Storm III, Monitor Audio's FB 212, or any other quality subwoofer with music?

    Michael
     
  2. Michael Mohrmann

    Michael Mohrmann Screenwriter

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    Or is it that most people don't purchase SVS subs with music as a priority?

    Michael
     
  3. Steve Zimmerman

    Steve Zimmerman Second Unit

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    I own the Ultra and listen to about 75% music and 25% HT. I have full-size mains, but run them as Small and have the subwoofer set at the same volume as the mains (i.e. not hot). My receiver crossover is fixed at 80Hz.

    I've tested my mains and I'm pretty sure that with an ICBM or other such bass management I could lower the crossover to 40Hz or 50Hz and still be happy--but my point is that the Ultra sounds GREAT to me in that 40-80Hz range and is obviously incredible in the lower than 40Hz range. Very tight, not at all sloppy.

    However, I should point out that I haven't listened to any of the subwoofers you mentioned.

    --Steve
     
  4. Craig Morris

    Craig Morris Stunt Coordinator

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    Michael, you've echoed my thoughts exactly.

    Shaking the foundation and reference level bass at 20Hz is the LEAST of my subwoofer priorities. As you said, integration and music performance is the priority for some of us.

    Even SVS' website is highly biased to the "shake your house home theater" approach. That doesn't tell me anything.

    I'm not knocking SVS. I've never even heard one. But the talk on this forum, and the slant of their own marketing does not appeal to me as a critical music listener. Just my 2 cents.
     
  5. Steve Zimmerman

    Steve Zimmerman Second Unit

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    Yes, well it *is* called the Home Theater Forum, after all. Plus, many 2 channel music listeners are too snooty to use a subwoofer.

    --Steve
     
  6. Michael Mohrmann

    Michael Mohrmann Screenwriter

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    "Yes, well it *is* called the Home Theater Forum, after all."

    You may be right, I could be in the wrong forum to ask these questions. Maybe the "Audio and Hi-Fi" forum over at AVS, you think?

    "Plus, many 2 channel music listeners are too snooty to use a subwoofer."

    Well, there are quite a few people interested in a subwoofer both for music and for HT. I have tried several high output subs that were adequate for HT, but were just awful to integrate for music.

    "...but my point is that the Ultra sounds GREAT to me in that 40-80Hz range and is obviously incredible in the lower than 40Hz range. Very tight, not at all sloppy."

    I'll take that as a positive musical review of the CS-Ultra. Thanks!

    Michael
     
  7. JerryW

    JerryW Supporting Actor

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    Yes, IMO, it's quite fast and musical.

    The problem that most people run into with subs is that they listen to music at the same LFE levels that they listen to movies. This can make your bass more exaggerated and "boomy". For music I tend to set the sub at 75dB, the same as my other spkrs, and for HT I set it at +5dB "hot" for better effects.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that for music you shouldn't necessarily want to hear that you have a seperate sub, it should be seamless. But for HT many prefer more low-end impact over accuracy (this includes me).
     
  8. Andy Anderson

    Andy Anderson Second Unit

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    Michael-
    You're in exactly the right place to ask this question. [​IMG]
    Got an Ultra on B-stock a week or so ago, and I'm still smiling.
    I have been doing some rather critical listening on both the HT and music fronts. The Ultra is ridiculously powerful--room response is a big issue--I'm definitely going to need an EQ to tame some of it. I've been very pleased with it's performance, however, on both movies and music. It's tight and quick, and it has amazing presence and authority. It's been making me search through my CD collection to find worthy tracks.
    (BTW, I use a Marantz SR7000, B&W 603 S2 mains, B&W LCR6 S2 center, and B&W 602 S2 rears.)
    I know that it's tough, because you don't really get a chance to audition the SVS's, and need to rely on customer comments. I'll agree that the SVS site is very geared towards movie soundtrack reproduction, but read through some of the reviews linked on that site, especially this one:
    Brian Weatherhead's review
    Good info there.
    Hope this helps,
    Andy
     
  9. Jack Gilvey

    Jack Gilvey Producer

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    As long as flat, extended deep bass doesn't strike you as amusical, then the SVS's are "musical". Many audiophiles find the presence of deep bass anathema, and much prefer subs which roll off deep bass giving the impression of "tightness" while, in actuality, it's "leanness". I find accurate reproduction of as wide a bandwidth as possible very "musical" as long as it's not at the expense of smooth FR or good transient response, a price not paid with an SVS or other well-engineered reflex designs.
     
  10. JerryW

    JerryW Supporting Actor

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    As always, well put Jack.
     
  11. Conrad_S

    Conrad_S Stunt Coordinator

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  12. Craig Morris

    Craig Morris Stunt Coordinator

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    "Yes, well it *is* called the Home Theater Forum, after all. Plus, many 2 channel music listeners are too snooty to use a subwoofer."

    I may consider myself a critical music listener, but I also consider myself a home theater fan as well... they are not mutually exclusive. The problem is, unless you have unlimited $$$, you are forced to compromise and decide which will be your priority. Anyone who has heard a REL (or similar sub) for music reproduction would never want to be without a sub in their audio system.

    I also find that a system setup for 'flat' (truely flat in-room response is very difficult to achieve) frequency response sounds best for music and theater. i.e. I prefer not to boost my sub level for theater.
     
  13. Andy Anderson

    Andy Anderson Second Unit

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    Jack-

    Well put. I couldn't agree more.
     
  14. Bhagi Katbamna

    Bhagi Katbamna Supporting Actor

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    I use a SVS 16-46 and listen to mainly classical music. There are no problems with the sub's "musicality". The problem with subwoofers is usually that they are not set up properly and thus distort the music.
     
  15. ling_w

    ling_w Second Unit

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  16. Michael Mohrmann

    Michael Mohrmann Screenwriter

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    Thanks for all of the excellent comments. I am starting to get a better picture of what one might expect with the CS-Ultra and music.
    "As long as flat, extended deep bass doesn't strike you as amusical, then the SVS's are "musical". Many audiophiles find the presence of deep bass anathema, and much prefer subs which roll off deep bass giving the impression of "tightness" while, in actuality, it's "leanness"."
    Jack, I have had lean in system, both from the processor and from the sub, so I think I understand what you are trying to state here. Our main speakers can produce some decent bass, but what I am looking for is the flat, extended deep bass to compliment them.
    Michael
     
  17. Magpile

    Magpile Auditioning

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    Does it matter how it sounds when the gound below you is opening up? Just make sure you strap all your subs together so they don't fall down into that pit.

    If you are listening to music and you are not hearing the sub, then you are not listening to it loud enough. Go to your subwoofer and turn that dial to 10. I know with some modifications, you could modify that sub amp of yours so that you could actually crank it up to 11. Maybe to 12 also, but you better strap yourself onto some crane, because all the mineshafts below you are all going to collapse.

    We usually use another transducer in addition to a sub. We would winch up one of the rustbuckets in the front yard up a tree. Then when a LFE scene occurs, we just let the winch go and our every jug and tire in the house would be knocked over. And maybe a few shotguns would go off too. Can't do that with music though.
     
  18. SVS-Ron

    SVS-Ron Screenwriter

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    Mike, Craig, others.
    "Musicality" is indeed as important to us as home theater performance but frankly we don't feel ANY compromise is needed to build a sub that is superlative in both areas.
    Certainly the "is it is a musical sub??" question often arises but as Jack mentioned already, one does not obviate the other. "Musical" subs in our opinions are just what Jack has laid out in the past, namely ones that due to various design constraints typically do NOT do justice to the bottom octave. So such a sub (which may well be VERY pricey!) will sound great with midbass needs of most music (let's call it 30Hz and up), but stumble badly when the SPLs go up (a common HT need) and/or the bass gets REALLY low (or say below 25Hz for this argument).
    At that point the "musical" sub is no longer able to cope with HT needs. What about the greater depth and SPL (sound pressure level) of a "Home Theater sub" make it less musical? Nothing. Not if it's got the linear (flat) response and can maintain this at all manner of SPL (high, low in between). Jack also alluded to the fact that sometimes REAL bass reproduction can be a bit of a shock; one that can take some getting used to.
    What if you were TOTALLY familiar with a piece of music and had no sub or a sub that had poor response below 30Hz...yet the music had PLENTY of bass below this point (you just never heard it before). Then one day you add a sub like and SVS? Like a properly adjusted monitor, or a new eyeglass prescription, the immediate reaction can be "whoa...wait just a damn minute (my music has changed!). 9 of 10 times we find folks in this category do need a bit of adjustment period. After that there is NO going back. Music without true bass reproduction is just not the same thereafter. And like it or not very few systems without a subwoofer do justice to anything approaching deep bass at anything but what we technically refer to at SVS as "Grandma levels".
    That is, some speakers (and many subs) may squeek out a few dBs below 35-35Hz but only at such low SPLs as to be inaudible. Or worse, the bass down there is so poorly reproduced (distorted) that listeners start to feel that low bass doesn't SOUND musical. Nothing could be further from the truth. Deep bass properly reproduced should provide the seamless anchor to the mids and highs of your music. Drop the deepest bass and you might sense more "punch" or "speed" but really it's just looking at your music with artificial blinders on. A sort of aural "rose colored glasses" approach to sound. No deep bass is probably better than POOR low bass, but with ever more affordable subs that DO go low and do it cleanly, there is no reason to avoid it.
    Take some time to skim the reviews here: http://www.svsubwoofers.com/reviews.htm
    I think the one thing that will keep coming up looking at our reviews is how amazing the music performance of our subs are (clearly some of the comments would apply to any maker of subs that can go deep and with linear exention maintained at a range of SPLs). A careful read of our site will reveal this emphsis on music performance too. We're all for room rattling bass, as long as it's accurate, and there is ZERO compromise when it comes to clean and true bass reprocution for your Yo Yo Ma, Kid Rock, Gershwin, or Ben Folds Five.
    What do you think we do when we're not watching movies? ;^)
    Ron
     
  19. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Jerry:

    I definitely don't agree with this statement here:
     

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