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May 2018
Best Audiophile Product Of 2018 Blue Note Award
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
SVS SB-2000 Active Subwoofer
A reasonably-priced high quality 12" powered subwoofer system.
Review By Tom Lyle

 

SVS SB-2000 Active Subwoofer Review

 

  At times I must come off as some sort of audio-curmudgeon, such as when I became upset when I noted some audiophiles calling a component a preamplifier rather than a line stage. There have been other times, too, that I've gotten upset over someone using what I consider the incorrect nomenclature for an audio component or part. Thankfully, I've gotten over that preamplifier versus line stage episode. But I'm still working on the fact that some sell speakers that they call "subwoofers" yet don't go below 20 Hz. "Sub" what? Thankfully, there's no reason to have any ill will in regards to the SVS SB-2000, since SVS claims that it reaches down to 19 Hz and might even reach lower depending on one's room size and its placement in one's room. What makes this SVS SB-2000 subwoofer even better is that it is rather small, measuring only about 14.5" x 14.5" x 15.5". The sub's depth is a little greater when attaching its curved grille, but even still, this is quite a small subwoofer when one considers how deep it reaches into the bass region with its 12" woofer and 500-Watt internal amplifier. Best of all is that the SB-2000 costs less than $700. Its specs make it perfect for matching it with the gear in my second system located in a common space of our home.

After we moved into our new home about 11 years ago, it didn't take very long before I was forced set up a second system for listening to music while not in my dedicated listening room two floors away. This system serves not only as a source of music while on our first floor, but is also able to act as a more modest system where I could audition gear that might not fit into my main system, which is made of components that in some cases approach the state-of-the-art. Soon after I set up the system I acquired a pair of EgglestonWorks 2-way floor-standing speakers, which are fantastic sounding, especially when one considers that they only use one 6" mid/woofer driver and a 1" tweeter near the top of the cabinet that stands only about 3 feet high. Its high-quality bass frequencies reach down to the low-40 Hz region, which is very good for a speaker of its size, and even though it is a very tight, pitch-specific bass with an excellent transient response, the bass certainly is not a subsonic one. Even so, I never really thought much about adding a subwoofer to this system until quite a long time after the system was set up.

 

SVS SB-2000 Powered Subwoofer Review

 

Considering
If one is considering purchasing a subwoofer, and especially if one is considering purchasing a subwoofer from SVS, I strongly suggest visiting their very well-designed website. In addition to SVS having a full line of subwoofers ranging in price from around $500 to about $2500, they also manufacture speakers and cables. The reason why I suggest visiting their website is because along with their product listings are pages upon pages of advice about how to choose and set up a subwoofer in one's system. The SVS site is a very professionally assembled and is one that I wish more audio companies would emulate. One of the articles featured is titled "Why Go Dual?" which touts the benefits of using two subwoofers rather than the rather common satellite/sub setup that uses a single sub and a pair of main speakers. Of course, in practice, I'm well aware of the benefits of using two subwoofers. In my main system the sonic difference between using a single sub located in the right corner of my listening room versus the relatively recent upgrade of using a subwoofer behind each of the two main speakers had sonic gains that were made immediately apparent. Although there is at least one disadvantage to using two subwoofers, and that is space, which is at a premium in the room where my second system is located, and therefore I'll have to settle for just one subwoofer in this system. Even though two subs are better, one sub is certainly not only half as good.

The SVS SB-2000 arrived at my home double boxed, and very carefully packed. Its unpacking instructions are printed on the outside of the large box, and setup was made even quicker and simpler with SVS's easy to understand instructions. The sample of the SB-2000 that is still set up in my system has a glossy piano black finish and highlighted the sub's excellent fit and finish. It's 12" driver is front-firing, the amplifier and its controls are on its rear panel, and the cabinet's rubber feet were already installed.  In SVS's literature and on their website, they laud the SB-2000's driver with statements such as it having a dual "high-grade" ferrite magnet, powder-coated cast aluminum basket, "Finite Element Analysis (FEA)-optimized motor structure, and a dual shorting ring that reduces gap induction to lower the driver's distortion specs. They also state that it has an extended pole piece that  improves heat sink and thermal management properties, a 2" diameter, "high-power" voice coil, that they upgraded it to have a Nomex spider which improves linearity and driver control at extreme drive levels, "high-quality" insulated tinsel leads with 3-point-contact precision alignment, a lightweight aluminum cone with polypropylene dust cap to provide "excellent" rigidity and pistonic behavior, and a low-creep rubber long-throw surround for "excellent durability and longevity".

 

SVS SB-2000 Powered Subwoofer Review

 

Predict
Long-time readers of my reviews are most likely able to anticipate what I'm going to say next -- that the specifications of the driver used in the SB-2000 seem as if they are outstanding, but specifications aren't what we hear in our listening rooms. We hear music. Therefore, SVS could have made the SB-2000's driver from used plastic garbage bags that are held together with Krazy Glue, and if the results they get are that the subwoofer sounds great, and on top of that great sound SVS provided a sufficient warranty, I'll still would have high praise for the SB-2000. And with that in mind, I began setting up and listening to the SVS SB-2000. The sub's controls are on a rear panel, with a continuously variable volume/gain, 0 to 180 degrees phase, and a (50 to 160 Hz) 12 dB/octave low pass filter frequency control with a disable/LFE setting. On the panel are also the RCA inputs where one connects the output from a preamp or receiver. For a single mono connection to a preamp or receiver, one can use the R/LFE input, the LFE being an automatic low pass setting sent from an A/V receiver. For a 2-channel application, one can choose to use one or both the left and right inputs. There are also a pair of line output RCAs. The Sledge Class D amplifier powers the 12" driver is super-efficient and runs cool, as any Class D amp should.

 

SVS SB-2000 Powered Subwoofer Review

 

Listening
Many audiophiles would consider the system in which I used the SVS SB-2000 subwoofer a small one, even though non-audiophiles visiting my home never do, as it takes up most of the area in front of the fireplace that is on the first floor of my home. I suppose it is small in comparison to the main system in the dedicated listening room where I test most of the equipment I'm sent for review for Enjoy the Music.com. Despite what size one might call it, it is quite a nice system, and nearly a perfect one for a review of the SB-2000 subwoofer. In this system are a pair of EgglestonWorks Isabel Signature speakers, which are powered by a pair of tube or solid-state monoblock amplifiers – the tube amps are the mighty PrimaLuna DiaLogue Six, and the excellent solid-state amps are the AURALiC Merak monoblocks. These monoblock pairs are very different sounding amplifiers, but both are what I would consider very transparent sounding, and very capable of driving the EgglestonWorks speakers. The sources for this system are all digital and are continuously changing and depend mostly on the gear rotating in and out of the system in the main listening room, which could be as simple as an OPPO universal disc player connected to a Benchmark Media DAC3 HGC digital-to-analog converter, or as opulent as connecting a digital source to an EMM Labs DA2 converter (review forthcoming). But the majority of the time the source was rather modest, such as the OPPO player, or even a Logitech Squeezebox Touch network player connected to the Benchmark DAC.

The SVS sub was placed in a location very close to the point between the two speakers, and after experimenting with placement for a while the subwoofer ended up with the back of its cabinet slightly entering the mouth of the unused fireplace. Because I don't use a receiver that automatically sets the low-pass filter of the sub (and likely never will), it took a while to find the settings of the SB-2000 that would satisfy both the technical side of my brain and its musical side. As you might have guessed, both sides of my brain agreed upon the same setting, with the frequency of the low-pass filter set at just below 80 Hz, and the volume somewhere above being just about able to hear the sub's contribution to the sound of the system, and just below the volume of the sub's sound being intrusive.

 

SVS SB-2000 Powered Subwoofer Review

 

So, after more than a month of the SB-2000 in this system, what did I think of it? For a $700 subwoofer that was matched with a pair of speakers that originally sold for about $6500, powered by amplifiers that costs at least four times the price of the subwoofer, the SVS SB-2000 sounded more than just capable, but very nice, indeed. Not only did this rather low-cost subwoofer sound pretty darn good, it looked great performing the task. It's piano black cabinet's fit & finish belies its low cost, and even without its high-tech looking grille attached, its cosmetics didn't only fit in with the rest of the system, it enhanced it. Most importantly was the sub's sound, the low end of the SB-2000 went deep enough to satisfy just about any material that passed through it, its bass was tight, pitch specific, and never sounded "out of place". By out of place, I mean it did not sound disjointed, at least not if that was the intent of those on the recording being played, as the low-end sounded as it was emanating from my main speakers. And that's the goal of a sub/sat system, isn't it – to have the sub not stick out like the proverbial sonic sore thumb?

 

 

 

I used "The Robots", the first track on the Kraftwerk album The Mix not only as a test to help me set up the subwoofer, but for enjoyment as well, as I think this 1991 album is one of the finest electronic pop albums to have ever been recorded. Using this album to set up this system, either by playing the CD or having it stream from my home network was much more fun than work. As a quick aside, "The Robots" first appeared on Kraftwerk's 1978 album The Man Machine, in both English and German versions, the German title of the album being Die Mensch·Maschine, and the track titled "Die Roboter". Its lyrics reference the revolutionary technique of robotics, and how humans can use them as they wish, and even though the word "Robot" is attributed to the Czech writer Karel Capek, they sing a portion of the track trough a robot-sounding voice in Russian, "I am your servant, I am your worker".

During the first portion of the track the powerful sounding bassline has the lead, which had me once again, after hearing this tune about a zillionth time, grooving along with it in my head, not only because of the way Kraftwerk has of penning a melody, but because the SB-2000 can easily reach deep into the bass to reproduce this bass synth sound with such ease. Through the SVS sub it was reproduced with a tight, tuneful quality that, once again, belies its price. Then, Kraftwerk adds a second bassline. This bass synth is obviously from a different patch; it has a more resonant sound, a little grittier, but still has a rather rounded quality to it. That both basslines were occurring simultaneously didn't bother the SB-2000 one bit. Rather than the sound turning to mush, this subwoofer was able to separate the two basslines, letting me follow both. Plus, what a great song!  Kraftwerk takes the older version of the tune and modernizes the track, without it ever sounding cheesy, or ever sounding that it isn't being played by the same band that recorded it 13 years earlier. But this very is funkier, more dance-floor oriented, yet extremely listenable off the dance floor, too. And thanks to the SB-2000 (and of course, the sonic prowess of the rest of the system), I was able to enjoy this track and the rest of the album to its fullest.

 

 

Later on, I spun Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland album. Some of us older audiophiles remember all too well that this album suffered a lousy mastering job for quite some time. Despite this fact, it spent 38 weeks on the Billboard pop charts, and at the number one position for two of those weeks. It took them long enough, but eventually, the record companies came to their senses and remastered this classic. It was re-mastered quite a few times, actually, its most current releases make it sound as if it is practically a different record. The album leads off with "And The Gods Made Love", a sort of highly controlled freak out session where engineer Eddie Kramer gets to show off his penchant for tape and effect manipulation of the original sounds laid down by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, plus Hendrix's contribution as producer. All of this makes it clearly evident that this album was recorded in 1968, its psychedelic sounds hardly out of place. Part of this sound collage includes bass frequencies that emanate not only from certain instruments on the mult-itrack being slowed down, but also by EQ'ing the drums to sonically inflate their low-frequencies. The SVS SB-2000 subwoofer responded by reproducing these sounds as required, shaking the window frames in the room, while also rattling the insides of my gut. Playing this track demonstrated that SVS' specifications are indeed honestly stated.

 

SVS SB-2000 Powered Subwoofer Review

 

Conclusion
But let me be frank. The SVS SB-2000 is not going to be suitable for all systems, as some listeners might (and should) devote as much resources as possible in order to properly match it with the quality of the rest of one's system. Does the system in which I tested this sub deserve a better subwoofer than the SVS SB-2000? Probably. It would be nice to have a subwoofer with a remote control, and it would also be nice to have a way to adjust its settings automatically, short of connecting it to a receiver that has internal subwoofer setup controls, which isn't going to happen. It would even have been nice to have a sub that was even more extended in the bass than the SB-2000 and have even better sound quality overall. But those features would have cost lots more than the SB-2000. Because of it being designed by a company that obviously knows a thing or two about subwoofers and has put this knowledge to good use by manufacturing a subwoofer that can fight way above its weight class, an audiophile (or non-audiophile!) can hook up this subwoofer knowing they are getting the most for their money.

I'm not sending this sub back to SVS. It's staying right here within my system where it can perform the task of not only adding some high-quality low bass to the sound of my system, but to improve the sound of the entire system. Am not sure of the exact science behind it, yet adding a subwoofer improves more than just the sound of the deep bass. It also improves a system's soundstaging abilities, its imagining properties, and the system's midrange becomes more natural sounding. The SVS SB-2000 did all of this, and more, for an extremely reasonable price. Recommended? You bet!

 

Tonality

Sub–bass (10Hz – 60Hz)

Attack

Decay

Inner Resolution

Fit And Finish

Self Noise

Value For The Money

 

Specifications
Type: Self-powered subwoofer system
Front-firing 12" driver with 2" voice coil, SVS 2000-series driver with dual high-grade ferrite magnets
Finite Element Analysis (FEA)-optimized motor structure
High-quality insulated tinsel leads with 3-point-contact precision alignment
Lightweight aluminum cone with polypropylene dust cap

Amplifier Specifications
Sledge STA-500D DSP amplifier
500 Watts RMS continuous (1100 Watts peak dynamic)
Efficient and cool-running Class D topology

DSP control for accurate response and refined behavior under all operating conditions
Auto-On / On toggle switch
3 to 12V trigger with 1/8" (3.5 mm) TRS mini-jack input
Stereo line-level RCA Input & Output connections
Input Impedance: 47 kOhm (unbalanced line-level RCA)
Continuously variable volume/gain control
Continuously variable (0 to 180 degrees) phase control
Continuously variable (50 to 160 Hz) 12 dB/octave low pass filter frequency with disable/LFE setting
Fixed 80 Hz 12 dB/octave high pass filter on line level outputs
Detachable power cord
Screw-in rubber feet
Premium black ash and piano black finish options
Protective non-resonant steel mesh grille
Cabinet: Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) construction
Dimensions: 14.6" x 14.2" x 17.1" (HxWxD with grille)
Weight: 34.8 lbs.
Price: $699

 

Company Information
SVSound
260 Victoria Rd.
Youngstown, OH 44515

Voice: (877) 626-5623 
Website: www.SVSound.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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