Powered subwoofers aren’t always a part of the audiophile setup. Often times getting the .1 to blend smoothly with the “2” can be a challenge. Home theater is no stranger to the high priest of audio’s low end, but much can be still be gained from a properly set up 2.1 system. While the subs ideal location isn’t nearly as directional as full range speakers, proper placement is still key to getting the best out of your system. I’ll leave the education of subwoofer placement to [articles better suited for the occasion] and keep the focus on todays review subject, the SVS PB-1000 ($500).
The SVS PB-1000 features a front-firing 10-inch ported subwoofer with a class D amplifier that is rated for 300 watts RMS (720 peak). SVS’s bread and butter is subs, so you will find a large selection to choose from in addition to the new Ultra line of [Bookshelves] and tower loudspeakers on their direct to consumer website. SVS actually offers two subs at the $500 level, the PB-1000 and the compact SB-1000, that latter of which is more of a sealed design. There is a lot of appeal to the $500 price range; I think it hits a nice sweet spot between affordability, performance and the screaming top end of things. My first sub was the bargain basement Polk PSW10, although there are still a few [even cheaper bargains] that are available.
So what does the SVS offer that the smaller guys don’t? Both the PB-1000 and the PSW10 share the same size speaker and port design, however the make of the cabinets diverges. Physically the SVS is not only larger, but also much more hearty and heftier. I’m a fan of the “black ash” finish and rounded corner design. The unit itself will take up a larger chunk of your living room real estate, but in the end I think the extra space is well worth the exchange. Listening to the Raconteurs Live at Montreux Blu Ray I immediately noticed a positive impact on the sound. The SVS offered up a noticeable tighter grip on the low end than the Polk. Patrick Keeler’s bass drum beats had just a little more thump and throttle to them. The PB-1000 dug deeper down into the depths of the sonic foundation and resurfaced with more force and detail. It was able to drive lower frequencies to audible levels than the entry level Polk in every instance. There is an old audiophile myth that if you push bass resolution to its maximum, that you will be able to tell what type of guitar the bass player is using. I feel that too much of the critical information of the guitar is striped away in production EQ to ever make these assumptions palatable, but the SVS did leave me with the feeling that I was a step closer to that experience. The Raconteurs “Little” Jack Lawrence’s bass lines were fully complemented by the PB-1000, and when used in tandem with the Ultra Bookshelves, delivered more body and overall articulation. While a wider band of bass is helpful to music, the main (and most noticeable) benefit is low-end thump. Turn it up high and you can feel it in your chest. Movies explode, delight and frighten just a little more with a lower sub sonic signature. The SVS provided these quick bursts of “pow” with energy to spare.
Simply put, the SVS PB-1000 provides plenty of value for its cost. While nearly double the price of the Polk PSW10, it clearly does much more. The low frequency capabilities (its rated to reach 19 Hz) coupled with solid impact and control make the PB an excellent starting point for people looking to get into a good sub. While not even the top of the heap from SVS, the PB-1000 makes budget subs look thin by comparison. SVS sells direct via their website and currently offers free shipping and a 45 day trial of the sub, not too shabby.