SVS CS+ winner review and comparison

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by JerryIII, Feb 11, 2002.

  1. JerryIII

    JerryIII Stunt Coordinator

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    First of all, I would like to thank Bryan, Jerry, and Don for coming over to help me compare the 20-39CS, 20-39CS+, and the CS Ultra.

    The Review System:

    Pre amp: harman/kardon AVR80II

    DD Processor: Sony SDP-EP9ES

    Main Amp: Parasound HCA 2003A

    Center Amp: Parasound HCA 1000A

    Surround Amp: Parasound HCA 1000A

    Sub Amp: Samson S1000

    DVD Player: Panasonic A110

    Power Conditioner: Monster HTS 3500

    DAC: Cobalt 307

    Main Speakers: NHT 2.5

    Center Speaker: NHT Superone

    Surround Speakers: NHT Superones

    Subs: SVS 20-39CS+, SVS CS Ultra

    20-39CS+ First Impressions:

    My CS+ arrived on Thursday January 31st. One of the first things I noticed was the weight of the CS+. I believe that it weighs about the same as my Ultra. The next thing that I noticed was the new removable grill assembly. The new grill is definitely an improvement over the “screwed down” approach that is used on my Ultra. Otherwise the Two subs are identical in appearance.

    20-39CS+ Hookup and Listening Tests:

    The setup of the CS+ was quite simple due to the Bettercables cable that SVS includes with the Samson amp. I did experience the dreaded ground loop problem but this was easily remedied with a cheater plug from Radio Shack.

    Once things were setup and calibrated (78db on the Video Essentials DVD), I had a chance to listen to the CS+ for the first time. My first impression with music and movies was that this sub sounded very much like my Ultra in its speed, articulation, and depth. I was truly impressed that SVS was able to create a sub this close to the Ultra in performance at a price so low. Without doing any measurements, I would say that the CS+ is more like 90-95% of the Ultra.

    20-39CS vs. 20-39CS+ vs. CS Ultra:

    On Saturday February 9th, BryanZ brought over his 20-39CS/S700 to compare it to the CS+. Bryan’s CS was approximately 6 months old. One thing that I noticed was that the CS was a bit lighter than the + and Ultra. Coming in to this, I had never heard a regular 20-39CS. I was really expecting the + and the Ultra to walk all over it. I must say that the CS was extremely impressive and really held it’s own against the other two. We listened to the beginning of Toy Story 2 to do our comparison. The first two tracks of this DVD have some serious bass. Unfortunately, my bass test disc had not arrived in time for the comparison so we were unable to get good test data using frequency sweeps. First off, we calibrated all the subs to 80db using the Radio Shack meter. The CS was amplified by the S700 and the + and ultra were powered by the S1000. On the opening track of TS2 we were able to get the CS to bottom out at reference level in my 2400cu ft room. The + and Ultra did not bottom out at this level. We then recalibrated the three subs at 78db and replayed the intro to TS2. This time the CS did not bottom out at reference level and we were able to measure a very impressive 110 db at the listening position. Next up was the CS+ which delivered and impressive 111 db at the listening position. The Ultra was up next and it delivered 112 db. All three were loud and low. I was very surprised to see that the CS was able do deliver such impressive levels in my room. I was less surprised that the CS+ and Ultra were so close in performance. On other material I noticed that the sonic signature of the SVS subs was very similar. I really don’t think that I could tell the + and the Ultra apart if I was blind folded and they operate very well together. I did not get a chance to use the port plug.

    Conclusion:

    I was very impressed with the CS and the CS+. The CS exceeded all of my expectations. To my ears, the CS+ and the Ultra are so close in performance that I could not justify the $400 extra for the Ultra. We did not however, push the CS+ and Ultra to bottoming out. So there is no way of knowing if the Ultra would have an advantage. The Ultra did have a 1db advantage over the CS+ on the track that we measured and may be able to play louder without bottoming out. However, when you figure that you can almost buy two CS+ for the price of one Ultra the choice becomes a no brainer in my opinion. The CS+ is definitely the bang for the buck leader in the SVS line up. Those that have the money and want the best that SVS can offer will buy the twin Ultras. I love my Ultra and it does out perform the + but not by much. The comparison did tell show me one thing for sure. From top to bottom, there is no better value in bass than SVS.
     
  2. Robert G

    Robert G Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the write up Jerry. I am glad to know that my CS's are not obsolete.[​IMG] I know that my CS's continue to impress me every time I watch a movie. In my ~1850 cu, ft. room, reference levels are no problem with even the toughest material. I think it all comes down to room size when deciding which SVS to get. In my room I see no need for the + or Ultra line. But, it's nice to know that if I ever needed to fill a larger room with loud clean bass that I could upgrade to +'s without breaking the bank. Thanks again.
     
  3. Richard Travale

    Richard Travale Producer

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    Great write-up Jerry. Man, it makes me want an SVS even more. NO! Must get HDTV first, Must get HDTV first, Arghhhhhhh...[​IMG]
     
  4. Jeff Aguilar

    Jeff Aguilar Stunt Coordinator

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    Great review!
    Last month I was holding a pair of Ultra's for a friend who was having his house built. I currently have a pair of 16-46pc's so I got to compare the two sets. I had my friend come over and compare them with me and my wife also participated in the comparison. I did not take any measurements but we did calibrate the subs to 80dbs using Avia. I corner loaded the pc's in one corner and the ultra's in another corner.
    As far as the sound difference, it did not seem that one set was louder than the other. They were very close, the difference was how the subs FELT. The was definitely more punch with the Ultra's than the pc's. In the end my friend was very pleased as to how his Ultra's performed next to my pc's. I too was satified as to how my current subs compared to the Ultra's. There was definitely a difference but it was not as drastic of a change when swapped out my DCM 12" to the pc's. Because I was able to compare the two sets in my own house I do not have the urge to upgrade. I am quite satified with my pc's.
    It almost sounds like I am trying to convince myself that I DO NOT need to upgrade. [​IMG]
    Jeff Aguilar
     
  5. KevinHunt

    KevinHunt Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the review Jerry. I've just gone from a pair of 46CS's to a pair of 46CS+'s that I've had for about a week. They sound virtually identical but the +s can be pushed further, provide a bit more output and extend a bit lower with more authority. I can't say I really needed the upgrade but I sure feel more at ease when I crank the volume into the nether-regions [​IMG] which still isn't reference for me. Reference = pain = Kev won't go there......but close! Good job on the comparison [​IMG]
     
  6. Greg Br

    Greg Br Second Unit

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    Kevin,

    A question about reference level, if I calibrate my receiver so that at 75db is at 00 or -20 or whatever I choose using Avia then is it an accurate statement that whenever I turn my volume to reference level, which for me is at -20 calibrated, then I am watching the movie at reference level, and I also the sub is at reference level. I understand that not all subs can reach reference levels of bass, but I would definately think yours can. You say you never try to even listen to it at refernce level, are you saying that you never turn the volume to your calibration or are you setting your sub -db's from 75db, whereas most set theirs 5db's or so hot from calibration.
     
  7. KevinHunt

    KevinHunt Stunt Coordinator

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    Greg, the reference level on my pre/pro is -15. Here I have all speakers at 75dB and my dual subs at about 78dB. I'm saying I never watch DVDs at -15 on my pre/pro. I usually watch DD in the upper -20s and DTS around -30, so I'm about -12 to -15dB below reference on my system. I've cranked it a little louder at times but I can't leave it there for long. So I guess I'm speaking of reference levels as calibrated in my system. I think for THX specs, your subs should be able to play at 115dB at the listening position and your mains at 105dB, so this may be the different reference level people speak of. So there is reference level as calibrated in your system at 75dB or 85dB with Avia, but you still may not be getting 105 and 115dB THX numbers at this setting dependent on the size of the room etc.. At least this is what I understand. Anybody feel free to slap some sense into me.
     
  8. Curtis_Edwards

    Curtis_Edwards Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Kevin, This has helped to make my decision alot easier. Now to find the money....
     
  9. Greg Br

    Greg Br Second Unit

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    Wow, I usually turn to refrence level when I watch a movie, if anything I may -5db from refrence, I guess I have done that ever since I got the system so I am used to it, or I am deaf, I will say I have a large room and I wonder if that may take away from the volume versus listen in small room, my room is 7500cf
     
  10. KevinHunt

    KevinHunt Stunt Coordinator

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    Not sure Greg, I just know that it is too loud for me. My room is about 2800cft. Big difference between me and you as far as room size and I'm sure that's got to be part of the reason. It obviously takes a lot more volume and power to fill up a huge room. I just say put it where you like it and let er rip!! [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  11. BryanZ

    BryanZ Screenwriter

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    Jerry,
    Thank you and your wife for having us over! I enjoyed myself and will readily admit the two of you have a very nice place! Not bad for a starter home at all! You know, the perfect place for the HT would be the back yard. All that land available plus it would only be an addition to the house. [​IMG]
    After doing some research here, it does seem that my sub is older than the six months I originally thought. Looks like it is about a year - 14 months. (D'oh! :b Just seems like I haven't had it that long!)
    Unquestionably the Ultra was the best, followed by the CS+ then the CS. Price/performance, I'd have to rank it CS+, CS, then Ultra, but that is only my opinion. All are fantastic deals but the flexibility plus easily removable grill of the CS+ puts it ahead of the other two. What really surprised me was how well the CS held up. [​IMG] All of the subs performed up to expectations. Next time, we'll just have to run all three at once. [​IMG]
     
  12. SVS-Ron

    SVS-Ron Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the review guys! That was alot of work and I think folks here appreciate it. Who wants to hear SVS's opinion all the time!

    One point worth making perhaps is that the new grill design is now in production for ALL subs. CS and PC included. The rubberized screw damping served us well but it's now in the SVS history files. The assembly crew was going blind putting them in and it made grill removal much more difficult for customers. Piece of cake now.

    Can't say I'd argue with some of your ratings either. The CS/PC subs are fantastic performers and have just recently improved with a new driver as well (they've been shipping for several weeks as a matter of fact). The fact the Plus subs are very competitive with the Ultra means they are the bang for the buck champs I think. Gee, you think maybe we need to go back and just make the CS-Ultra that much better again??

    Way ahead of you on that one.

    And if you think THAT is news... you don't know "i".

    Stay tuned for more on why we felt it was time to shake up the powered sub industry, again.

    Ron
     
  13. Greg Br

    Greg Br Second Unit

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    Ron,
    ?
     
  14. SVS-Ron

    SVS-Ron Screenwriter

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    Greg,

    You should have both updates. The driver has been in production for CS and PC subs for several weeks and will almost certainly be available to customers with older versions that want the latest. We are going to officially announce this soon so watch our website news page. A number of customers with first generation drivers were sent the new ones so we could provide some feedback to those simply wanting to know "is it worth it to upgrade my driver???" You'll even be able to trade your old drivers in for partial credit when we get the page in place. Should be within the week.

    Your grill is easy to identify. If you have foam block/spacers under the grill (and no screws holding things down in the center of the grill) then you have the latest rev. of the grill.

    Ron
     
  15. Stan Marcewicz

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    Haven't been here in awhile, lots of interesting threads...

    One thing I'd like to add is that when you compare subs, there is a room acoustics issue to consider of which few are aware. The subs affect each other a bit. Especially if the unused subs are off leaving the cones undamped. And of course only one can occupy a given spot at a time.

    To cut down on the first effect, ensure that the sub's amp is on. That way the damping factor of the amp restrains the cone. Or unplug the speaker wires and short a passive sub's inputs together so that it self damps. You can also remove the other subs from a room but that slows down those A-B tests a hair.

    Stan
     
  16. Tom Vodhanel

    Tom Vodhanel Cinematographer

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    Just in case *Stan Marcewicz* ain't ringing your bell, he's one of true pioneers of DIYing, taught me 99% of what I know,and the other 1% is probably wrong...

    TV
     
  17. JerryIII

    JerryIII Stunt Coordinator

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    Tom or Ron,

    Will it be possible for those of us with SVS subs with the old grill to buy the new grill assembly and install it. It dosen't seem like it would be difficult to do.

    Thanks,

    Jerry
     
  18. Paul Gere

    Paul Gere Second Unit

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    Thanks guys!

    Still second-guessing buying one Ultra vs. a pair of CS+
     
  19. Tom Vodhanel

    Tom Vodhanel Cinematographer

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    Jerry,
    Yes this could be done without much fanfare...but there would be no actual performance benefits. The new style just makes it easier to lift the grille off in case you want to...
    a)block a port to retune the enclosure
    b)plan on running max output sinewaves near the tuning point of the enclosure and would be bothered by *wind noise* thru the grille...[​IMG]
    TV
     
  20. JerryIII

    JerryIII Stunt Coordinator

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    Tom,
    Actually, I am just an anal person who likes things to match. [​IMG] Will this upgrade be available and for how much?
    Thanks,
    Jerry
     

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