SVS Prime 5.1 Bookshelf and PC-2000 Sub Speaker Review

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by Sam Posten, Jan 8, 2015.

  1. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    SVS Prime Bookshelf 5.1 Speaker Review




    We've been privileged at HomeTheaterForum to have a long history with the fine folks at SVS, dating back nearly to their inception in 1998. SVS has setup demonstrations at several of our past Hollywood meets, sending van-loads of gear and personnel (including one of their co-founders!) to show off their huge tube shaped subs in precision calibrated demo rooms. I literally spent hours listening to their demos and talking about their tech and philosophy with them. I've always come away sincerely impressed but a little bummed that I would never have an appropriate sized theater to appreciate their powerful deep-bass capabilities, nor the budget to make one a reality in my own home.

    http://www.svsound.com/about

    SVS has grown by leaps and bounds since then though, adding their Ultra line of audiophile quality tower speakers a few years back and they have just recently introduced the Prime series, which is modestly priced and promises to bring heavy duty, quality components to the bookshelf and mini tower tier of Home Theater speakers. When the Primes were first announced, HTF was asked if we would be interested in doing a full review and I leaped at the chance to put together a package that would fit in my current house.

    http://www.svsound.com/speakers/prime-series

    While I originally expected to build a smaller package with satellites and SVS' smallest box sub for an office environment, the temptation to hear what they could bring to a typical bookshelf sized home theater was too great. Along with the SVS rep's guidance we narrowed it down to 2 of the Prime Bookshelf Speakers ($299 each retail), a Prime Center ($449 Retail) and 2 Prime Satellites ($174 each retail), all in Piano Black exterior, totaling $1395. Rounding out the 5.1 setup we agreed on the PC-2000 ($799 retail), a ported, cylindrical sub with 12" driver. I felt like gushing a bit: I'd finally get a chance to have an SVS tube sub in my own home!

    http://www.svsound.com/speakers/prime-series/prime-bookshelf
    http://www.svsound.com/speakers/prime-series/prime-center
    http://www.svsound.com/speakers/prime-series/prime-satellite
    http://www.svsound.com/subwoofers/cylinder/pc-2000

    A few weeks later the packages started flowing in, and once they arrived I began unboxing and assembling into my home. I chose a bedroom setup as it made the most sense for the size of the components and the space I had available, but I've been tempted to haul it all back downstairs and replace the 15 year old gear I have in my living room as I'm sure it would hold up well in that larger room. Maybe down the road we'll have to look at those Ultra Towers for that task.


    Total package price before tax was $2194, which I found to be quite reasonable for the quality of components and overall performance. You could scale this up a bit with full tower speakers and even bigger and heavier-duty SVS subs, or you could scale down to all satellites and a 13" cube sub if you wanted, but I found this mix to be a perfect match to the room I put it in. You could also choose to go with the matte-like black ash option which drops the total price down to $1914 as I have it configured. This is also might be a good consideration if you are allergic to the glossy look, but I would personally go with the gloss all the way if you can swallow the price difference. The glossy exterior might be a bit of a dust magnet but if you keep them clean they'll look really sharp, but not overbearingly so, in any room.



    The first thing you will notice is the weight. These speakers are using higher quality components and that means you are going to find they have an impressive heft plus a seriously solid feel. There is zero spring anywhere to be found on these cabinets.


    Actually, I take that back. The first thing you will notice is the care and quality that goes into the shipping material This stuff is packed by pros who care that the gear is going to survive transit to your home.


    Oh, and by the way, SVS has free shipping and a 45 day return policy too, so this part is worry free if you buy direct.
    http://www.svsound.com/support/authorized-svs-dealers


    With their growth has come a laundry list of distributors too, so unlike a lot of other vendors these days you aren't stuck buying online only and without ever having heard the speakers for yourself. Even internationally.
    http://www.svsound.com/support/authorized-svs-dealers
    http://www.svsound.com/support/international-sales

    It's obvious that SVS have spent a lot of time carefully crafting how their subs are packaged and shipped too. On opening this one I was immediately struck by a comparison to Han Solo frozen in Carbonite.






    The next thing you'll notice is that SVS have designed in some flourishes that make these speakers distinctive from the simple wooden boxes that fill up the big box stores. By adding some creative angle cuts the speakers become something worthy of drawing attention to themselves, especially with the piano gloss look.




    While SVS have ensured that the sub looks as inconspicuous as a 3 foot tall tube can be in your room when in it's operating state, looking at it from the bottom is something else entirely. The full impact of a 12" driver aimed directly at your floor is palpable from this angle, and SVS have embossed their logo directly on the center to let you know they are serious.





    The back of the unit is uncluttered and smartly laid out as well. SVS have made a good design change from their other subs and moved the porting to the rear of the unit instead of the top, and this hides the port nicely.




    As I was simply swapping the Prime setup in for my existing gear setup couldn't have been easier. SVS use rugged 5 way binding posts I chose to simply thread in the wires but if you have banana clips so much the better. I have to say the whole setup looks handsome in place, I might experiment a bit with putting the bookshelfs on stands (which SVS included in my demo setup, they would be an additional expense if you are building out your own rig) to widen the stereo separation a bit, but in 5.1 the sound-field they produced made it sound like elements were coming from all corners despite being this close together in the room.


    While packaging, styling and ease of setup are relevant details, the most important is, of course, "How does it sound?". On that front it is easy to go over the top with praise but I will try to be more specific than simply saying "Absolutely terrific, especially given the price point that SVS are delivering at". First, the speakers sound bigger than they are. What I mean by that is that they sound great loud, and with a dedicated (and huge!) sub handling the deep bass duties that allows them to hit the important mids and highs that are so important especially in surround sound action sequences. While the center provides crystal clear dialogue the fronts can widen that out and the Prime Bookshelf speakers do so with aplomb. When listening to stereo and 2.1 tracks they really come alive, managing to fill the room with deep, effortless sound.

    Second, as alluded to earlier, the speakers do a pretty remarkable job of just disappearing, in a good way. Probably the best term to describe this is simply 'neutral', in that I never felt like they were coloring the sound or changing the mix levels at all from what was on the disk. Some speakers have a tendency to add warmth or make vocals sound overly pronounced, and I never experienced that in my listening. Also noted, the front sound field somehow managed to reach out to the far walls of my room despite the non-optimal positioning of the speakers so closely together. That was pretty darn impressive. The rears were well positioned and they too sounded bigger than their stature. While it's not unusual to have smaller rears than fronts, these guys pounded along with action movies with gusto and were particularly useful in letting me hear where enemies were surrounding me and shooting at me from the rear while playing Destiny on PS4.

    I've had the Primes for a good couple weeks now, probably longer than SVS would have liked, and I've gotten to watch a handful of movies, listen to a couple score audio tracks, and watch a pile of TV using them. A few key moments stand out in that time. First I happened to have been gifted the Toy Story shorts collection "Toy Story of Terror" by another HTF member and it had been sticking around my office forever. I grabbed this disk on a whim and ran through the main feature and enjoyed it mildly, but then something completely unexpected happened, and that is the final bonus short "Partysaurus Rex". If you have not seen this short in full 5.1 with a quality subwoofer you have not yet REALLY seen this short. Without ruining the surprises this excellent short has in excess, I will note that it turned my bedroom theater into my own private rave scene for a solid 5 minutes. It was so good and the bass tuned just right I had to watch it again and again to make sure I wasn't just fooling myself. It really is that good and it's terrific demo material for any sub you want to test.
    http://www.amazon.com/Toy-Story-Terror-Blu-ray-Allen/dp/B00KHA88PC
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/articles.html/_/dvd-blu-ray-reviews/toy-story-of-terror-blu-ray-review-r740

    I also played a few hours worth of Destiny with the Primes and I can tell you they brought a ton of smiles, especially with the handling of the weapon sound effects and especially the taiko drum sequences in the Sound Track. Unfortunately the best Taiko track is not on the Official Sound Track recording which you could grab on Amazon or iTunes, but I have spoken with the composers and they tell me they are hoping to include in on OST2, which will include a lot more of the environmental tracks where the first one focused on tracks important to the main story of Destiny. It occurs during Daily Public Events so you hear it often in game and it really amps up the atmosphere, the link below has it playing in the background while I encounter the Public Event with the help of a special weapon called the Sword of Crota:

    https://account.xbox.com/en-us/gameclip/6c174b76-e70b-4275-b489-67a44dea506e?gamerTag=Kadath&scid=37770100-f9ae-4b80-9dad-7c1d0ec14469

    Music starts at 2:25, boom badda booooom. =) More like that, please! I really enjoyed Destiny in this setup and found that the Primes took the experience over the top.

    Another hit was watching How To Train Your Dragon 2. There is nothing quite like having the whole room shake with the force of hundreds of dragons swirling around you mid battle. Once again I was impressed with the effortless ease that the SB-2000 sub performed but even more so with the output from the smaller satellite rears. Seated mid room or relaxing while laying on the bed at the rear both proved to be excellent vantage points to witness the Prime's work their magic in a room that was not even remotely designed to act as a theater.


    Ultimately the Primes provided every ounce of what I expected from them: Solid performance, striking design, exceptional build quality and all at a price point that is remarkable for what you get. I know that there are quite a few folks at HTF waiting on early reviews for the Primes and I can happily report that SVS have delivered the goods here, these guys are worth your consideration and I encourage you to give them a solid listen at your local vendors as soon as you can. It's going to be painful to send these guys back!

    Manufacturer's specifications​

    Prime Bookshelf Specifications:
    »» 1” aluminum dome tweeter
    »» 6.5” woofer
    »» Black Ash and Piano Gloss Black finish options
    »» 5-way binding posts
    »» 1.7” wide-flared rear-firing port
    »» Cloth grille with pin/cup retention system
    »» Elastomer stick-on bumper feet (adds 3mm to height)
    »» Cabinet Dimensions: 13.2” (H) X 8” (W) X 9.4” (D) (includes grille, binding posts and bumper feet)
    »» Weight Unboxed: 15.5 pounds

    Prime Center Specifications:
    »» 1” aluminum dome tweeter
    »» 3.5” midrange driver
    »» Dual 5.25” woofers
    »» Black Ash and Piano Gloss Black finish options
    »» 5-way binding posts
    »» Dual 1” wide-flared rear-firing ports
    »» Cloth grille with pin/cup retention system
    »» Elastomer stick-on bumper feet (adds 3mm to height)
    »» Cabinet Dimensions: 7.6” (H) X 8” (W) X 8.3” (D) (includes grille, binding posts and bumper feet)
    »» Weight Unboxed: 20.2 pounds

    Prime Satellite Specifications:
    »» 1” aluminum dome tweeter
    »» 4.5” woofer
    »» Black Ash and Piano Gloss Black finish options
    »» 5-way binding posts
    »» 1” wide-flared rear-firing port
    »» Cloth grille with pin/cup retention system
    »» Elastomer stick-on bumper feet (adds 3mm to height)
    »» Keyway bracket for easy and convenient wall mounting (includes extra bumper pads for wall
    stand-off).
    »» Cabinet Dimensions: 8.75” (H) X 4.9” (W) X 5.53” (D). (includes grille, bracket, binding posts and bumper feet)
    »» Weight Unboxed: 6.5 pounds

    PC-2000 Subwoofer Specifications:
    »» New, down-firing SVS 12” 2000-series driver
    »» New Sledge STA-500D DSP amplifier, 500 watts RMS (1100 watts peak dynamic)
    »» Interchangeable top cap in Premium Black Ash and Piano Gloss Black
    »» Rear-firing 4” high-flow port with large radius inner and outer flanges
    »» High-grade black fabric exterior cover
    »» Extremely rigid and strong cylinder enclosure
    »» 17-270 Hz +/- 3 dB
    »» Dimensions: 34” (H), 16-5/8” (Outer Diameter)
    »» Weight: 50 pounds

    SVS 12” HIGH OUTPUT DRIVER
    "Designed from scratch—and optimized to through exhaustive testing until it delivered unprecedented performance we were after—the all-new 2000-series driver does us proud."
    »» FEA-optimized motor technology for low distortion.
    »» Heavy-duty 2” voice coil for extreme power handling.
    »» Upgraded Nomex spider for improved linearity and driver control at extreme drive levels.

    NEW SLEDGE AMPLIFIER STA-500D: PRECISE, FLEXIBLE, POWERFUL
    »» 500 watts RMS continuous (1100 watts peak dynamic), Class D power with ‘green’ (
     
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  2. Jason Charlton

    Jason Charlton Ambassador

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    Great review, Sam. Sounds like you really had a nice time with these.
     
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  3. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Thanks Jason, I really did! I expected great things from the sub of course but SVS are still relatively new to building out whole packages. It's clear to me they are on the right track here! You know I have always been a bang for the buck kinda buyer, and these guys are a very compelling buy given their price point and heavy duty build quality.
     
  4. ArmSC

    ArmSC Supporting Actor

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    Great review but I when I click on the pictures it says I don't have permission to view the image. I'm not sure if that was by design but I figured I would let you know.
     
  5. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    I'll say (both to the great review AND to the fact that it sounds like he had a REALLY FUN time doing this!)


    :thumbsup:
     
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  6. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Ack, sorry about that! Should be fixed now!


    I'm still new to using the HTF Gallery system, previously I have hosted my review pics on my Flickr site and linked em here. I had made it a private album while the review was still being formulated but now that it is done everyone can go see the whole album, which may or may not have extra pictures of my cats checking out the SVS Primes and other review hardware!

    Thanks Mike, coming from you that compliment means a lot. I DID have a lot of fun with these guys and might just have to keep em =)


    The SVS rep just got back from CES today and called my attention to something I did not know: The PC-2000 sub has quite a few tech innovations in it (They built 20 prototypes and ran them a hundred of hours at full power to confirm durability of the design) but this is SVS' first sub to come with their innovative feet, known as the SoundPath Subwoofer Isolation System, which can be used with their entire line and, surprisingly, attached to the bottom of subs from other manufacturers as well. They lay this out with some detail in their CES brief:

    You can buy those in packs of 4 or 6 from SVS, but the PC-2000 comes with 4 attached directly, which is an added value to this sub.


    I placed my PC-2000 on carpet so I didn't get to test this myself yet, but assuming that it is sticking around for a bit I will definitely do so.
     
  7. David Willow

    David Willow Babbling Idiot
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    I have my subs sitting on Great Grammas to achieve this same effect. Without the isolation, my windows and doors shake like crazy in my very old house. I will check out the SVS feet as well.
     
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  8. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    My PB-1000 is sitting on hardwoods.


    [​IMG]
     
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  9. Mike Frezon

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    ChromeJob and Sam Posten like this.
  10. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Pinning this to the top for a few days.
     
  11. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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  12. TroyH4

    TroyH4 Stunt Coordinator

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    Is anyone using the SVS Sats as your complete 5.1 or 7.1 setup along with the PC-2000 ? Also are you doing Atmos with these guys as well?

    My room measures 13'x14'x9' and since the room is definately on the small scale, Not sure if I want to go with all Sats from the Prime series or their bookshelf versions for my setup? I also want to include Atmos in a 7.1.4 config using 'in-ceiling' speakers.

    Does anyone have this setup currently ? and if so, how does it sound?


    Thanks,
     
  13. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    I liked it so much I bought the set and kept it in my bedroom if that's any indication. It sounds awesome =)
     

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