SVS CS-Ultra vs. CS20-39+…my experience

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Paul Gere, Mar 23, 2002.

  1. Paul Gere

    Paul Gere Second Unit

    Sep 3, 1999
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    Long post, but hope you’ll find it to be worth your time.

    I’ve recently had the good fortune to compare SVS CS-Ultra and CS-2039+ subs in my room with the same equipment, same amp, same source material. I’ll share my thoughts in a minute, but first…


    I bought my Ultra back in early December, 2001. At the time, I decided to go for a single Ultra vs. a pair of CS-2039’s, as the output would be about equal, as reported by SVS. Once delivered, the Ultra was an absolute thrill vs. my old M&K MX-125. It was no contest. The Ultra was a whole different animal when it came to clean, clear, deep bass! An amazing sub, indeed!

    A couple weeks after I bought the Ultra, SVS introduced the CS-Plus line. Suddenly, SVS had announced a sub with “80% of the Ultra’s performance with only 30% of the Ultra’s cost premium.” Holy smokes, what a deal! While pleased with my Ultra’s overall performance, I felt that a dual sub setup would still better serve my room as I was having trouble getting even bass throughout my listening room. I had ENOUGH bass, it was just not EVEN bass. Then there was that second unused Samson 500w amp channel! I deliberated…pondered…and watched my 45 day return window on the Ultra go by.

    Finally, I decided to take a shot at a pair of 2039CS+ subs to see if I could even out my bass response issues. I figured that at the worst, I’d have 45 days to try ‘em and then I would know for sure weather or not dual subs would make a difference for me.

    Here’s how it went…

    [FLAME RESISTANT POST DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a professional reviewer, nor do I wish to be. That said, there were no measurements used in my comparisons, except to calibrate subs with Avia and my trusty RS meter. Beyond that, all comments and comparisons are based on MY experiences in MY room with MY equipment. Your results WILL vary!]

    OK, if you’re still with me, here’s one more formality to get out of the way…


    Acurus ACT-3 Preamp

    Parasound HCA-2205 5 ch. Amp

    Paradigm Reference Studio 100’s, Studio CC, Studio ADP

    Marantz 7010 DVD player

    DH Labs Air Matrix interconnects

    Analysis Plus Oval 14 in-wall speaker wire, bi-wired to L/C/R

    Down low…

    SVS CS-Ultra

    SVS CS-2039+ (pair)

    Samson S-1000 amp (500w x 2)


    31’ long x 15.5’ wide x 8’. Sloped side walls (finished attic space above 3 car garage)

    Listening conditions:

    Typically below “reference”, but pleanty loud

    Comparison material:


    Star Wars, Episode I


    Blue Man Group, Audio DVD

    James Taylor, Live at the Beacon DVD

    Steely Dan, Two against Nature

    Other various stuff…


    One Ultra vs. one CS+:

    The first difference I noticed when comparing these fine subs one-on-one was apparent before either sub made a sound. The Ultra was noticeably heavier than the CS+. A crude verification of this was made with a bathroom scale. I found the Ultra to be about 15-20 pounds heavier then the +. Since it appears all other materials are identical, I’ve got to think the extra weight (not slight!) is due to the Ultra’s massive driver. The CS+ came with port plugs and the slick new removable grilles. More on that in a moment.


    One Ultra vs. one CS+:

    It should be no surprise that the Ultra beat the CS+ …but not by much. There was little difference in the overall sound of each sub. Each had that smooth, clean, deep and articulate SVS signature sound I had come to love with my Ultra. Where the merits of the Ultra came through were in the small details. For example, the Ultra seemed to have slightly –and I mean slightly- more clean output in the deepest bass regions. This was most evident in some of the opening scenes of TS2 and on the Blue Man Group DVD. I also noted with music (Steely Dan Two Against Nature CD), that the Ultra held a little more sustain on low bass notes. I tried the port plug in the CS+ to increase low end output, but I didn’t like the loss in output at higher frequencies that resulted. The Ultra won by a narrow margin – a smaller margin than I had expected, especially after discovering the weight difference noted above. The CS+ gave the Ultra a surprisingly good run for its money.

    Two CS+ vs. one Ultra:

    No contest! As you’d expect, the CS+ pair won hands down (it wasn’t a fair fight!), with or without port plugs. Bass filled the room with incredible, visceral punch and depth. The uneven room response problem I was strugging to fix was solved by placing one Plus in each of the front corners of my room. It seemed as though I had unlimited headroom and bass never, ever sounded strained. It took quite a while to wipe that stupid grin off my face. If two CS+’s did this, I fear the structural damage two CS-Ultra’s might have caused.

    TO SUM UP:

    Here’s the way it goes…

    1 CS-Ultra > 1 CS-2039+

    2 CS-2039+ > 1 CS-Ultra

    2 CS-Ultras > 2 CS-2039+ (untested, but intuitively true)


    How you choose to spend your money is up to you, but here are a few thoughts…

    As is always the case in our hobby, there is not a direct and even correlation between increased prices and increased performance. SVS, however, has raised the performance bar and delighted its customers with incredible performance/$ in all of its products. With that in mind, in the comparisons above, the CS+ pair is without question the best possible value for the money (IMO). In fact, after hearing the Plus subs, I wonder why SVS didn’t price them higher than they did! For just a bit more cash than a single Ultra, one gains more placement flexibility and more sheer output with dual CS+.

    That said, if floor space or WAF is a concern for you, one Ultra is still your best bet.

    Of course, you’ll certainly get a bit more slam with two Ultras, but it’ll cost you! If you’ve got a lot of room to fill and/or if ear-splitting levels are your game, a pair of Ultras will trump all other options within the SVS lineup (…unless you go for more than two!).

    Kudos to SVS for giving us so many great options from which to choose!!
  2. Craig Ball

    Craig Ball Second Unit

    Oct 6, 2000
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    Great Review Paul, I just have one question, are you using all three subs in your setup now!!!!

  3. RajeeK

    RajeeK Second Unit

    Apr 17, 1999
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    Thanks for the good review and taking the time to do it. Good information to know.
  4. Paul Gere

    Paul Gere Second Unit

    Sep 3, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Sorry guys,

    Meant to include this as a postscript...

    After the experiences in my reivew above, I chose to part ways with my Ultra. Last week, I delivered the Ultra to a new home where it became part of a dual Ultra setup. Goes without saying that the new owner is VERY pleased!!



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