SVS vs. VPMS

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by John Hergenrather, Jul 6, 2002.

  1. John Hergenrather

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    I'll start by saying this is only my opinion of a few hours this afternoon. I am also quite a newbie at direct comparisons. So if you're looking for a technical, feature filled, measurement taken review, look elsewhere! This was just a few guys having some fun and using their (untrained) ears.

    My setup :
    Denon 3801, Panny RP-91, Mits 46807, Eosone RSF100 satellites, Samson S-1000, SVS 20-39, Monster HTS-5000

    A friend of mine, Greg Shanes, loaned me his new VPMS to test out for him and demo & compare to my SVS. (Long story - he's building a room and can't use his equipment right now) I had a few friends over for the day today - John Gates and Kal Simon - you may have seen a few of their posts. We were quite curious to hear the comparison. By the way, John has a pair of 20-39s and Kal has a single 20-39. Just to let you know.

    First things first. The cabinet for the VPMS is large - about the size of a dorm refrigerator on it's side. It is quite beautiful - stained in a red /brown. It weighs a ton - or so it seemed carrying it down to my basement. Hookups were simple - we set up the Samson to parallel output, connected the cables with spades - banana plugs wouldn't go in the binding posts - and set the gain at halfway.

    Important note - I have previously calibrated my speakers and receiver with AVIA, setting my 00 level at 85db with my Subwoofer output 3-4 decibels hotter. We did listen to ALL of the movie tracks at reference level - 00db.

    The first demo material we put on was the first few minutes from Toy Story 2. And our immediate response was - MORE GAIN!! We increased the gain little by little until we had it cranked all the way. I can tell you that the first noticeable difference for me was the fact that it did not bottom out - at all. My SVS 20-39 bottoms out during the Title intro as well as during Buzz's flight through the canyon if I have it at reference level. With the VPMS it was clear all the way. Being a front firing sub and sitting on a concrete slab basement, it was noticeably louder and hit my chest harder. The floor actually seemed to shake!

    I then switched back to my SVS 20-39 and played the same scene again - same levels - same settings. I did have it bottom out at the aforementioned places. It wasn't quite as loud and didn't hit as hard. I intentionally kept from forming any opinions yet - it was only one scene.

    I switched back to the VPMS. We put on my DTS demo discs - 4 and 5. All three of us tend to prefer DTS. (not looking to start any arguments - just stating our opinions!) We ran through The Haunting demo scene and it took our breath away. WOW ! It was quite powerful the way the room shook. We followed it with the Dances with Wolves piece. Good detail. The gunshots had a bit more life. We also ran through the Ice Field scene from Titan AE, the beginning battle from Gladiator, and the depth charge scene from U-571. The battle scene from Gladiator was just too freakin loud. When the shots from the catapults hit the trees - well, I've just never thought that a scene was too loud before that. I thought things really shined with the U-571 demo. It was loud and powerful and made it even more of an "experience" rather than just watching a movie. After that we paused to talk.

    Our impression was that it was definitely made to go deeper and louder. It absolutely did so. This we had expected. Greg had told us that it was the equivalent to a pair of Ultra SVS. There was definitely a difference. Our wives noticed it as well. However, It was not as "smooth" as the SVS 20-39 we all had and used here as a comparison. The same sounds on the VPMS "rumbled" through a lot of the bass while the SVS reproduced the sounds "smoother". I realize that it's difficult to convey to you exactly what I mean. Maybe it would help to say - compare a five second snippet of sound from a Harley Fat Boy idling and a sound of a canon being shot. The VPMS had a sound that was not quite as pronounced as the rumble of a Harley, but similar if you can catch my meaning. While the SVS just reproduced the sound and that was it.

    I also noticed that with the SVS, the deep bass sounds didn't seem to have any echo, yet with the VPMS, big booms seemed to last a second longer. I don't know enough to say whether one or the other was more faithfully reproducing the sound.

    We then moved on to music. Before we tested it though we did adjust the subwoofer output of the Denon to not be so hot - again using AVIA tones to EQ the output of the Sub to the mains. First up was the DTS recording of Dianna Kralls Love Scenes. John intro'd me to this disc and I quickly grew to love it. It really leaves the impression of a table up front in a smoky jazz club. Ambiance all around. I was pleasantly surprised. Based on our movie testing, I expected it to not be very "musical". It really did blend well with my Eosone speakers. (BTW - I used to be a little ashamed of my Eosone speakers, because they weren't a , but I have truly been impressed with them since getting the SVS - they hold up quite well and compare well to other speakers I've checked out over the past year and a half. Especially for the price I paid for them!!) It wasn't overstated at all. We did turn the volume down - dropped it to -10db - a more realistic music listening volume for my home.

    John is the music listener of our group, so he went through a few other cds. I'll be honest - I don't know that I would've noticed a difference though had we switched back to the SVS during this. I guess my ears aren't trained to hear the differences in music. I would definitely say any differences between the two are more subtle in this area.

    Conclusion - The VPMS was impressive in it's depth and punch. But it wasn't as smooth. This is a brand new subwoofer though - these are the first hours it has logged, so I would expect it to smooth out a bit with some breaking in. If I were looking to upgrade at this time (I'm not!) I would want to check out a bigger SVS before deciding. I didn't dislike it, but then again I didn't fall in love with it either. I don't feel a need to validate my own purchase of an SVS, I'm just undecided as to the route I would take. Anybody want to respond???
     
  2. Ned

    Ned Supporting Actor

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    Does your SVS have the improved driver? Do you have a subsonic filter to cut below ~20hz?
     
  3. Will Gibbons

    Will Gibbons Agent

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    John,

    Did you "tune" the passive radiator on the VMPS? The passive radiator from VMPS has putty on them and there are instructions on removing minute amounts at a time to tune them. Manufacturer recommends tuning them if you change sub positions, change equipment, cables, etc.

    Regards,
    Will
     
  4. John Hergenrather

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    Ned - I do indeed have the improved driver for the SVS. I do not have a subsonic filter for it.

    Will - I did not "tune" the passive radiator. It belongs to a friend of mine and he hasn't even heard it yet! I don't want to make any changes to the unit itself because of that. I will also admit that I have seen no documentation on the VPMS and am completely unfamiliar with the process you are describing. I am not in a position to do that though. I just looked at the bottom and see the putty in the center of the cone that you were talking about. Interesting.

    John
     
  5. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    Thank you very much for this review, John. It's good to see comparisons like this.
     
  6. ShalM

    ShalM Extra

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    VMPS indeed does have very good subwoofers. Used to own one of the original subwoofers which I gave to a friend some time ago. Give them good amplification and the output is very satisfying for the money.

    I dont hear them being talked about much on HT forum though.

    BTW I am myself a dual SVS owner which is exceptionally good as many others would say also.
     
  7. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

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    I'll make a few comments here (not meant to say anything about the review or which sub is better, just some facts as I understand them):

    Reference level means that each speaker should be able to deliver peaks of 105dB to the listening position. It also requires that the sub be able to deliver peaks of 115dB to the listening position. However, if you set all your speakers to small and redirect their bass to you sub it will now be required to deliver peaks of 121dB to the listening position. Very very few subs can do this cleanly in a moderately sized room. But if you are one of the few who has a sub that can do this level, it will require a little more than twice that woofage to get 3-4dB above that level.

    A single CS series SVS is not cabaple of full reference level with speakers set to small unless you are in a very very small room. Dual Ultra's probably could though. In a large room (>3500ft^3), even dual Ultra's couldn't. And this is reference little lone 3-4dB above it.

    There are a bunch of different ways to design a drivers motor structure. It's possible to make it so that even if a driver is being pushed way past its' clean output limits it won't bottom. It's also possible to design a driver so that if you go just slightly past what it can do cleanly you'll hear that oh so nasty clank. It is my understanding the VMPS drivers are the former while the SVS driver is the later. So my guess is the reason you didn't think the VMPS sounded as clean on the movie material (but did on the music at a much lower level) is it was being pushed way past its' clean output limits.

    As for tuning the PR in the VMPS, I'm positive you wouldn't want to remove any of that putty. You'd want to add some. Removing putty will increase the tuning frequency, adding it will decrease it. But what the mass limit on that PR is I don't know. And changing this won't fix the sound for different room placements.

    Well I guess this will go against what I first said at the top, but it is still factual. I assume you are talking about the VMPS Larger? What everybody in the DIY area is curious about though, is how a single 15" PR can be used in a sub that supposedly can equal dual Ultras. A Tempest can equal a single ultra but requires two of Adire's high excursion 15" PRs. The BluePrint 1503 is about 1.5 Ultras but uses either 3 high excursion 15" PRs or a pair of high excursion 18" PRs in its' recommended allignments.
     
  8. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    There's no way the VMPS can equal dual Ultras. As Dustin said, an adequately ported Tempest is almost equivalent to a single Ultra. If the VMPS driver were capable of more displacement than a Tempest, it would be comparable to an Ultra. I haven't heard anything about its driver so I can't say for sure.

    I agree with Dustin in that the SVS subs likely bottom out shortly after reaching their limits, whereas the VMPS's driver is probably going nonlinear without bottoming (as John described its sound being not as clean/smooth). The PR might also have been causing a little compression/distortion when the loud and low bass hit.

    John, I suggest you add a subsonic filter to the SVS to prevent it from bottoming. You'll probably have more headroom them because the
     
  9. Dave Koch

    Dave Koch Stunt Coordinator

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    Add a Sub-Sonic filter...

    How is that done? That is, who makes one? Where in the audio chain do you put it?

    Sorry- I KNOW what a sub sonic filter IS, I just did not know you could "buy a box" and add one! As I have bottomed out Roy Story, I would love to see a couple. What makers are recommended?

    Thanks!

    Dave
     
  10. SVS-Ron

    SVS-Ron Screenwriter

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    Dave,
    There are other ways, but for SVS users you might consider this one here:
    http://www.svsubwoofers.com/marchandsubsonic.htm
    A simple box like this allows you to really wring out ever dB from a passive sub (as opposed to sending it bass that's far below its tuning point, which you can get away with but at the expense of higher SPLs you might otherwise attain.)
    Most self-powered subs have some sort of subsonic filter, and in many cases passive sub users can sneak by without one at all. If bottoming is ever an issue you have three choices: 1.) Turn down the sub. 2.) Add a subsonic filter 3.) Add another subwoofer.
    Or all the above.
    I find that if you do both 2 and 3 you generally can turn UP your sub, at least avoid overdriving your single sub. Number 2. is a good step in the right direction though.
    Ron
     
  11. John A. Casler

    John A. Casler Second Unit

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    John,
    Great review![​IMG]
    I don't think anyone can go "too" wrong if they select one of the top models from SVS, VMPS, HSU, Earthquake, M&K, Velodyne, Paradigm and a few others.
    Additionally I'm sure others will be quick to point out that if you are handy or a "real hobbyist" you could save money and build a DIY sub that would also shake the walls.
    Recently I demoed some of those same tracks and cuts with an "aging" VMPS Larger vs an Earthquake 15" and found the output on both to be astoundingly ear shattering and literally "wall shaking".
    I have also heard, auditioned or "set up" many of the top Subs and find that the SVS and the VMPS hold their own quite easily in any company.
    The lack of clarity and "hang or overhang" you describe to the VMPS is probably a combination of being not "broken in" and not tuning the PR by subtracting or adding the putty as previously mentioned.
    If the VMPS had the "MegaWoofer" option which makes it a little more powerful and deep, and if it had the "sound coat" option, which makes the cabinet less resonant, the SVS was not in the same performance category (other than SPLs)
    This SUB with those options can plum 16 and 17 hz with a good amp and that can make a big difference.
    All that for a sub that "starts" at $699!!
    Just play the opening scene to "Independance Day" when the soil on the Moon is vibrating as the alien ship is approaching earth. Many don't even know there is "deep, deep" bass in that scene.
    In any event, these kind of reviews do tell us what "some" of us are hearing, in the "real world", in real rooms, with our electronics.
    Once your friend gets his System hooked up and tuned, maybe you should haul you SVS (or two if you take some of Ron's advice) over and do another "run".
    Cool! (Oh and it is V-M-P-S not VPMS) [​IMG]
    John Casler
     
  12. SVS-Ron

    SVS-Ron Screenwriter

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    "All that for a sub that "starts" at $699!!"

    I don't know what the total would be for the VMPS "Larger Sub" all optioned as you describe John C., but might be worth noting (for those not familiar, and since it hasn't been mentioned) that the SVS John H. used for comparison purposes sells for $379.

    That's not to take away from your comments at all, but the simple fact is you could essentially get two 20-39CS subwoofers for about the VMPS price... and with any of the "options" you mention, two SVS's would probably cost less FWIW.

    In any case, I think Greg might have been misinformed regarding the VMPS being "equivalent" to a pair of SVS CS-Ultra's in any objective terms one might think to compare. Not that you would expect such a thing, just based on cost alone.

    All of these brands you mention would dust the vast majority of big OEM sub-woofers, but for the benefit of the less experienced reading the forum, it's important (I believe) to keep a sense of perspective.

    Respectfully,

    Ron Stimpson
     
  13. Tom Vodhanel

    Tom Vodhanel Cinematographer

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    The ID4 scene is mostly >25hz unless they remastered a newer cut lately.
    Forget about judging the clean lowend extension of a subwoofer using DVD scenes. 99% of these scenes(even the ones that drop
     
  14. Greg S

    Greg S Supporting Actor

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    Well let me take a moment to chime in here (especially since it is my sub).
    #1 I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT want this discussion to turn into another "pissing contest" as to has the best sub. If so I will email John and ask him to contact the moderators to delete as the purpose of having someone test the VMPS for me was not to stir up trouble.
    #2 This is my sub and it is BRAND NEW never seen an amp until Saturday. So please keep this in mind.
    #3 I was not present for this audition as I am currently building my home theater room/family room and am too busy to do much else right now. Also my wife is 9 1/2 months pregnant and I need to be nearby just in case.
    VMPS Info:
    My model has the megawoofer option, soundcoat, and CUSTOM red mahogany finish. Final cost on this was just at $900 with free shipping (notice the pricing is very close to the price of an Ultra). For detailed specs check their website at www.vmpsaudio.com
    Let me comment on one or 2 things. The first is the comment which I know has the whole forum "up in arms"
    ***This comment was made by me and comes from what others have told me NOT THE COMPANY NOR FROM MY OWN TESTING! I would never unequivocally state this w/o testing both the VMPS and Ultras. So based upon that this comment should be taken with a "grain of salt."
    Next would be in reference to my motivation to buy this sub. Well since this has not been discussed here (has been on other sites in their former SVS forum) I shall mention it here so that you all can understand where I am coming from.
    I have been a VERY HAPPY SVS owner for over a year and half now (an owner before their most RECENT explosion in popularity). This came about in no small way due to research on the net, specifically HTF.
    While being the upgrade junkie that most of us are ... I am always looking for something better. Once again through research of some forums I discovered VMPS. As previously mentioned I am building a new room and thus wanted a sub that was more aesthetically pleasing and high WAF, sorry the SVS just didn't do it for here. My other motivation to try something else is that I have been getting back into to listening to music more and more lately and like to use subs with my music and while I thought the SVS sounded very good I thought it lacked a little here (TO MY EARS). Thus I wanted to try something new.
    Well looking around the VMPS looked to be the best option for me and I bought with all the options custom finish, soundcoat, and megawoofer design and it was LESS than 1K. YES I had thought of the SS line (before you ask) but 2K for one sub was just an UNREALISTIC thing for me.
    Based on the comments from both John Hergenrather and John Gates I think I will be happy with my purchase. Does this mean that I think the VMPS is better ---- NO because I have not demo'ed it myself.
    Lastly I would like to take a moment to thank John, John, Kal, and their wives for taking their time to audition my VMPS for me. 99% of the time the sub wouldn't have been in my home more than 5 minutes before firing it up but I do not have that luxury right now. It means a lot to me that these folks spent a Saturday evening trying something out for me (this shows the true Home Theater spirit).
    THANKS!!!!!
    I hope that others will find this information useful and utilize it for what its worth ... INFORMATION. This is not designed to be another battle in the "War of the Subs" I constantly see going on everywhere. This is also not a RAH, RAH, RAH I bought this sub and I need to justify my purchase or else I will look like a fool. If you think any of these things I respectfully request that you move on to something else and lets keep things on topic.
    Thanks for taking the time to read this and enjoy your Home Theater Experience!!
    Greg Shanes
     
  15. Jeff_M

    Jeff_M Stunt Coordinator

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  16. John Hergenrather

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    Thanks for all the great replies, folks. There's obviously a lot for me to learn and this has been most helpful. It seems that a subsonic filter should be my next purchase.

    Dustin - I'm not all that informed on many of the subwoofer options out there. I've heard several of the SVS CS series and I've been quite pleased. Also - what I meant by reference level was 00db on my Denon, having calibrated it to 85db with AVIA. I'm sorry if I misspoke. BTW - my room is 13 X 16 with 7.5 foot ceiling. I'm not sure if this is big by most standards or not - I would guess not.

    John C. - I know that this particular VMPS (Thanks for the correction!) has a few extra options, making it an approximately $900.00 sub assembled and delivered. I am definitely looking forward to hearing it in Greg's room - he's converting his garage to a dedicated home theater with a Barco Front Projection unit! I've been over to his house on a few Saturday's to help do work, and it's gonna be AWESOME when it's done! He did move from a 25-31 CS to this VMPS sub, but I would like to hear a comparison with an SVS or two in the room when the time comes.

    Ron - I don't know what source Greg had in mind when he gave me the comparison. I do know that a large part of the difference was to come from it being front firing rather than down firing. In the past, his 25-31 sat on a stick construction floor. In the new room, it will be on a concrete slab. I noticed a decrease in SPL on my SVS when I put it in my basement on a concrete slab rather than upstairs . This is more of the room affecting the sound rather than the sub - but it does affect what we hear.

    While I was writing this, Greg replied. I had not had an opportunity to talk to him yet, so he's been reading about his sub here. Ouch - sorry bout that. I did email him the link to my original post Saturday night - I just didn't want to call him that late. Greg has been most gracious in allowing me to borrow his sub - as well as selling me most of his "old" equipment. I did not, nor do not want to stir up trouble of any kind. I just thought it would be a good idea to pass along our conclusions from a FEW HOURS of playing with a new sub. I'll be honest - I'd never heard of these until Greg bought his and started talking about it. It's been fun.

    Thanks,

    John
     
  17. John Hergenrather

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    Jeff - It was never supposed to be a "fair" comparison. I was under no illusions. We were just testing his new sub and it was my idea to give a comparison to my 20-39. BTW - I am still quite pleased with my 20-39 and have no desire to upgrade at this time.

    John
     
  18. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    I just have a curious question: Does anyone know what the tuning frequency of the VMPS is?
     
  19. John A. Casler

    John A. Casler Second Unit

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  20. Greg S

    Greg S Supporting Actor

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    Michael,

    Specs direct from their site

    Frequency Response: +0, -3dB, 17Hz to 250 Hz
    THD: 0.5% 20Hz to 250 Hz with 1W drive
    Sensitivity: 92 dB/1W/1m
    Maximum undistorted output: at least 115dB/1m SPL at 20Hz for 2.5% THD
    Drive Complement: 12" polycone active (or 12" WCF active), 15" polycone active. 15" mass-loaded passive
    Recommended crossover range: 60Hz to 250Hz
    Impedance: 4 Ohms (both woofers strapped together; otherwise two 8 Ohm inputs)
    Power Requirements: 20W to 350W rms (500W rms with Megawoofer)
    Dimensions: 23 x 32x 19" (HxWxD)
    Shipping Weight: 140 lbs.; 1" MDF construction
    Finishes: genuine oak veneer, light or dark, black cloth grill; satin black over oak or piano black over oak on special order
    Internal Wiring: 12 gauge Monster Cable


    **** I am told that this sub should pull 115db at 20Hz easily. AGAIN I have not tested this myself (and probably NEVER will since I do not do reference levels!).



    John H.,

    No sweat on the post man as I was so busy working in the garage this weekend I didn't even fire up the computer until this AM. I did speak with John G yesterday and got his impressions when he got his computer and he basically felt the same as you. I am in NO WAY disappointed by the results of this test!! Also by the time I get back you should have her pretty well broken in for me, :wink:

    John C.,

    I could not agree with you more!!!

    Thank you to all the "internet direct" companies that make other companies "rethink" their products and practices!

    Jeff M.,

    I will restate what John H. said and that is at NO TIME was this meant to be an "apples to apples" comparison since you are talking about to DIFFERENT price points. Naturally a more direct comparison to an ULTRA or a pair of CS+ models would be more equal.

    Just so EVERYONE knows I have been trying to find the time to get a fellow forum member's home who has a pair 16-46 CS+s but I have just been TOO BUSY. I can assure you this comparison will happen and I will post the results as soon as I can.

    Thanks

    Greg
     

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