SVS 3000 Micro subwoofer Page 2

One such "favored" deep-bass album is a dreamy live recording of Toshio Hosokawa's composition "Lotus Under the Moonlight – Concerto for Piano & Orchestra," a live performance from 2006 at the Concert Hall Art Tower Mito in Japan; Hosokawa/Mozart (Live) (16/44.1 FLAC, ECM/Tidal) is a perfect example of a record that, in order to be fully grasped, needs the scale and impact of its bass to reach the listener.


Performed by pianist Momo Kodama and Seiji Ozawa's Mito Chamber Orchestra, Hosokawa/Mozart is punctuated by strong, long, circa-40Hz drum booms with copious reverb tails. Those foreboding booms are set against long, vibrant silences and quiet, moody ramblings on Momo Kodama's close-miked keyboard. The language of this composition relies heavily on its contrast structure, pitting a cavernous bass drum and deep, long-string piano notes against sharp-pointed staccato clinking on the treble part of Kodama's keyboard.

To get cleaner, more detailed sound from the extreme left of Kodama's keyboard, I tweaked the 3000 Micro's low-pass filter downward to 68Hz and the level down to –29dB, at which point the bass-register piano notes snapped into full-textured focus. At that moment, with that recording, my system's octave-to-octave tonal balance seemed ideal. Bass and lower midrange exhibited a satisfyingly pure harmonic structure. Plus, all the bass sounds appeared to be coming from the LS3/5a's, not the sub.

I couldn't stop myself: I measured my new three-speaker three-way to see what all that mindful listening had wrought. The low-pass filter was set for 68Hz with a 12dB/octave slope, which, as expected, left the 100Hz to 1kHz octaves unchanged. The 40Hz–100Hz region measured essentially flat, matching my 100/1k/10kHz baseline, and 30Hz was now down by only 5dB; it had been down 25dB before the subwoofer was added. At 20Hz, my system was now down only 14dB. Except for a narrow –5dB dip at 160Hz, and another, slightly broader dip at 400Hz, my homebrew LS-3-way measured +0/–2dB from 40Hz to 12kHz. I was deeply (pun intended) impressed.

While I was reveling in low bass and flat frequency response, I noticed something else I thought was important: In my room, the SVS's dual 8" cones projected their energy with more ease and flow than the 6.5" KEF KC62 cones had. In my incommodious room, the 3000 Micro sounded like it was cruising effortlessly, thanks, probably, to the 50% increase in piston area (over the KC62, footnote 1). This effortlessness translated into a less-audible integration between it and the LS3/5a satellites. Lesson learned: The harder a sub is working, the more you hear it huffin' and puffin'.

At the risk of sounding like a schoolmarm, I'll remind readers that "scaling" subwoofers to main speakers—and all three speakers together to the listening room—is the main challenge facing audiophiles who seek a fast-sounding, clear-spoken sub-sat system. By "scaling" I mean paying mindful attention to the ratio of the main speaker's cone area, to the subwoofer's cone area, and that to the room's volume. When these three elements are in a just-right proportion, the speakers stand a better chance of disappearing.

SVS + Harbeth M30.2
Once my brain acclimated to the sound of full-range response, bass frequencies when they weren't there were conspicuous in their absence. That's how it was when I installed the Harbeth M30.2 monitors and powered them with the Parasound Halo A21+ amplifier. At first, all I noticed was how fast, flat, and uncolored they were and how much they sounded like an electrostatic speaker. But once I got past my Parasound-drives-Harbeth awe, I noticed how fast the 30.2s rolled off below 50Hz and how lacking in fullness the lower registers of Areni Agbabian's piano sounded while playing "Mother" from her album Bloom (24/96 FLAC, ECM/Qobuz).


A Stereophile reader who goes by the screen name "thethanimal" recommended Bloom to me, describing it as "Gorgeously atmospheric vocals and piano from this Armenian-American woman, with Nicholas Stocker on various hand drums, chimes, bells, gongs, etc. Air, space, reverb tails, timbre, tactile drum skins, nuance, and emotion for days. Seems right up your alley." Thethanimal nailed my taste perfectly.

Playing Bloom, the Harbeths had never sounded more fit, fine, and inner-detailed. My brain kept saying "Wow! That is what fast, flat frequency response sounds like!" When the Areni Agbabian album finished, I got out my Stereophile Editor's Choice warble tones and measured the M30.2s at my listening position.


Normally when I measure speakers, I set my baseline at 80dB at 1kHz. In this case, after I plotted the graph, 1kHz turned out to have an obvious 3dB peak. When I lowered my baseline to 500Hz, the M30.2s measured ±3dB, 50Hz– 12kHz, except for a sharp 7dB dip at 120Hz and a 5dB slump at 2.2kHz. That's flat.

Where should I start with my SVS 3000 Micro subwoofer settings? The Harbeth drops 24dB/octave below 50Hz, so, for fun and symmetry, I decided to set the low-pass filter at 24dB/octave at 50Hz.

Measuring, it appeared that 24dB/octave at 50Hz was a good idea. It also appeared that I had set the 3000 Micro's level too low. I tweaked the level up to –20dB and then, adjusting in 1dB increments, to –16dB. For a long while, I was lost in a focused zone of listen-measure-adjust-measure-listen. In addition to the 24dB/octave filter slope, I tried 18dB and 12dB/octave. I experimented with phase, because at one point I had a 6dB peak at the 50Hz crossover frequency. I started messing with the 3000 Micro's parametric EQ, trying to eliminate that inaudible but mentally bothersome 7dB dip at 120Hz.

When I stopped experimenting, the 120Hz dip was gone; 80Hz was up 2dB from baseline; 50Hz was up 3dB; 40Hz was right on baseline; 30Hz was only 3dB down (!!); and 20Hz was still easily audible at –15dB. Now I am listening to a DIY 3-way speaker that is ±3dB, 30Hz–12kHz. The impact on the music isn't only in the bass. After those adjustments, Bloom had significantly more "air, space, reverb tails, timbre, tactile drum skins, nuance, and emotion." And I'm smiling.

I could bore you with details about how easily the SVS combined with the Magnepan .7s, but I would rather tell you how the SVS 3000 Micro subwoofer made me fall back in love and admiration with the Harbeth 30.2s. As long as I've had the "2s," and as much as I've enjoyed their neutrality and stat-like resolution, I have been uncomfortable with their 24dB/octave fast rolloff. The 30.2's bass goes at least 20Hz lower than my LS3/5a, but the abruptness of the 30.2s low-frequency cutoff seems unnatural. I've noticed it frequently, and it has kept me from using the 30.2s for pleasure listening.


I never imagined that a $799.99 subwoofer could make The Big Harbeth (the P3ESR is The Small Harbeth) into one of the most musically satisfying speakers I've ever engaged with, but it did. Listening with the Harbeth plus sub has shown me once again how important the balance is between treble extension and bass extension. If one or the other rolls off too soon, my brain will be distracted by it.

You know
I have used BBC LS3/5a speakers for more than 40 years. In all that time, subwoofers were never more than an occasional curiosity—until I discovered this hot new category of high-tech microsubs. My experiences with KEF's KC62 sub ($1499.99) taught me a lot, and these SVS 3000 Micro auditions have taught me even more. The first thing I learned from the SVS was that the KEF's 6.5" cones might have been a little small for matching with my speakers in my room. The SVS's 8" cones let music flow with more ease. Both subs are extremely well-built, offer good value at their price points, and perform effectively as enhancements to my reference loudspeakers.

If I were asked what, if anything, the more expensive KEF KC62 did better than the less expensive SVS 3000 Micro, I'd say pitch definition. Pace and timing, too. But it was close. The KEF's tone seemed slightly more correct, and it danced with slightly greater precision.

Nevertheless, in my room, with my speakers, and my mostly gentle music, I felt more at ease, more satisfied, with the SVS 3000 Micro. A big part of that satisfaction came from the intoxicating-to-use SVS smartphone app, which seems well and thoroughly conceived. In fact, everything about my first SVS subwoofer experience pointed to a manufacturer that specializes in "well and thoroughly conceived" subwoofer experiences.

If I was a consumer instead of a reviewer, I'd probably buy this one. Highly recommended.

Footnote 1: The 3000 Micro's dual 8" cones have about 50% more woofer-cone area than the KEF KC62's dual 6.5" cones: 50.3 square inches compared to 33.2 square inches for the KEFs.
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partain's picture

I have a very old , very massive SVS sub that burned out its amplifier a year ago , SVS quickly sent me a new , upgraded amp with replacement directions for a modest sum .
Good people.
If I wasn't already over-endowed with bass capability , I'd love this new mini-sub .

Anton's picture

Señor Herb, could we beg the dimensions of your room?

I would love to get these, but I wonder if my room might not be a good fit.

Also, your opinion on one sub vs. two.

My fantasy is two of these babies lurking where they are felt, but not seen!

Thank you for the lovely review on a gREAT topic!

Herb Reichert's picture

my room measures 13' x 11' x 9.5' high. But!!!! It has no doors. Both sides of my main speakers open into hallways leading to other open ooms. So the volume is quite large and the boundaries are nebulous. Voice sounds clear and natural anywhere in this room. What's funny though, is how the system sounds noticeably muddy and less dynamic with the bedroom door (which is down at the end of a hall) closed. Also, the room is small enough that even without a sub, it sounds different with the windows open or closed. Rooms, like people and dogs and cats, have very distinct personalities.

On the one or two sub question: I can't advise because I've never been in your room. And . . . I am just now beginning to learn about how different subs 'feel' in my room.
good luck


Jack L's picture


Easy easy, my friend. Adding subs to a home audio system is no "fantasy" at all. IMO, it is NEEDED !

FYI, I've installed 3 x 10" driver active subs to my humble system (L, R, L+R) many years back. I never look back as I am so so gratified having done so to ENHANCE my music enjoyment.

Why 3 subs so many? Well, as I already posted here before, there is usually an array of microphones (L, R, & L+R) overhanging the performance podium to pick the overall performance & acoustics of the hall. So Why not 3 subs then, to reproduce what the mics picked up ?

Listening is believing

Jack L

Anton's picture

Thank you!

thethanimal's picture

I’m glad you enjoyed the album. I recently was introduced to The Arcadian Wild’s album “Finch in the Pantry”; since you’ve avowed a love of bluegrass I think you’ll enjoy it as well. Not as emotionally enthralling as “Bloom” but great fun and poignant at times, with what to me seems like excellent recording of a live band (possibly a single centered stereo mic?). My buddy brought over the 180 gram 45 rpm vinyl, but it sounded as good on Tidal to me.

I recently replaced my 12” sealed SVS sub with the REL T/5x. The boom and overhang are gone, but I’m not sure it has the output I need in my larger open-concept space. Do I go for a second T/5x or jump up sizes? First world problems.

Herb Reichert's picture

I loved Bloom.

Now I think before you try another sub, you might wanna try Roscoe Holcomb's Folkways album The High Lonsome (Folkways LP FA 2368) it is so "emotionally enthralling" it cracks my chest open.

Meanwhile, with subwoofers, and regular loudspeakers, no one can advise from afar. You have to try them and see how they feel in your room.


thethanimal's picture

I’m enjoying Roscoe Holcomb now. Though I never heard this music much growing up it’s in my blood somehow; generations of farmers in upstate SC and western KY course through these veins. My uncle half jokes that my grandfather was a real life Ulysses Everett McGill in his younger years, and I’m inclined to half believe it.

I did mean the sub question to be rhetorical, but if you’re ever in Atlanta you’re welcome to stop by for some Decware / full-range driver / subwoofer fun. With a toddler and a wife who likes to go to bed earlier than I do it’s been hard to find time to fully express the neurosis required for proper subwoofer integration. My attempt during dinner preparation yesterday wasn’t well received.

Mikk's picture

Here in Australia, the 3000 micro is just over half the price of the SB3000. I imagine this would be due to much reduced shipping costs for the Micro’s micro shipping size, comparatively?
Either way, it makes 2 x 3000 Micro’s a feasible and affordable option for those of us not in USA, which is a definite win.

PeterG's picture

Great review, as always. As a proud member of the "need" a subwoofer camp, it's driven me bonkers to read sub reviews with no comparisons to other subs, only comparisons of stand mounts with and without subs. Even worse, stand mount reviews that do not use subs, then opine that the speakers could use a bit more base (Doh!) As you illustrate with the Harbeths, subs can be transformative. So many a speaker review is incomplete without them. Cheers!

MauriceRon's picture

how meny subs do you have? & which ones...

PeterG's picture

I have two systems with one sub each:

My first is a REL T5 paired with B&W CM-1s--it is a direct competitor to the SVS in the review, except it does not have an app. Just as the SVS, it takes some time to set up, and has a dramatic impact, breathing life into the sound. My little REL also has helped some very good floor standers.

My primary system is a couple of steps up the food chain--a B&W DB3D paired with B&W 805s. I chose the DB because B&W designed them specifically to match with their 800 series, and the DB app's automatic room correction makes placement and set up extraordinarily easy--just a few minutes.

Whatever your price point, if you do not have gigantic floor standers, it would be hard to find better bang for the buck than a well-matched sub.

Good luck!

MauriceRon's picture

thank you...which sub do you like the best....?

PeterG's picture

I prefer the B&W, but it's 3-4X the price, so maybe that's not a surprise.

B&W, REL, and SVS are all excellent. As Herb points out, matching is critical. So the best thing to do is get help from your local dealer if you have one. If you do not have one, I think I'd reach out to one or two of these companies online and ask for help matching to your main speakers. Good luck!

krahbeknudsen's picture

Dear Herb, Great article as usual. I was wondering whether you have played around with high pass for the speakers? This article I find very interesting:

remlab's picture

..JA could figure out a way to test subs. I'm assuming he has a very good reason for not.

picky audiophile's picture

I wonder if Herb managed to come to a rest with certain settings. It might be tempting to incessantly readjust these subwoofer settings. Just in order to compensate for constantly shifting sound imperfections on a per-record basis.

Herb Reichert's picture

is when its right (at any price level) we can relax breathe easy and notice all the little flowers in the back corners of the soundstage


Jack L's picture


Surprised to see from the picture above showing yr audition was carried out with the Falcon micros sitting on a table !

Would it be much better to have had the Falcons mounted on a pair of sturdy tall stands as Rogers always sound best when mounted on designated heavy duty tall stands, IMO.

I never want to listen to any small bookshelvers without mounted properly on floor stands as the sound will be subtantially compromised.

Listening is believing

Jack L

John Atkinson's picture
Jack L wrote:
Surprised to see from the picture above showing yr audition was carried out with the Falcon micros sitting on a table!

That's a stock "lifestyle" photo supplied by SVS.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Jack L's picture


Glad you pointed it out.

No wonder! But still, the sub manufacturer should know better how to achieve better sound using the sub with proper placement of
the main speakers.


Herb Reichert's picture

My original Rogers LS3/5a came directly from CBS Television studios with Rogers factory wall mounts.

These small BBC monitors are voiced to work well near a wall or sitting on a recording console. They work very well on a desk.

Likewise the KEF LS50 works 'fine' sitting on a bureau or desk.



Jack L's picture


Yes, I fully agree when the monitors were used in studio when detailed accuracy in reproduction is paramount.

Yet, for HOME use, IMO, it will be an entirely different ballgame where closest to live performance is paramount.

So mini loudspeakers, e.g. the Rogers, MUST be placed on designated heavy-duty tall stands, far away from the walls & any furniture, etc. in order to get the best result, in term of image size & positioning, soundstaging & spatial envelopment etc. This is my experience.

I want to visualize the performance playing behind & beyond the loudspeakers back wall with sky being the limit for the performance atmosphere. When music is on, all loudspeakers are sonically 'vanished'.
Quality small loudspeakers mounted properly on quality tall stands can do the job.

Yes, difference objectives even for the same loudspeakers.

listening is believing

Jack L

Anton's picture

I would certainly love that!

mcrushing's picture

Herb, that Hosokawa/Mozart/Momo Kodama Record is mysterious, etherial and fabulous. Thanks for putting it on my radar. ECM delivers once again.

Bo Dacious's picture

It reminds me of the old Sunfire Junior (replaced by the Super Junior)subwoofer. Similar size and an excellent performer. A side by side comparison would be interesting. This SVS 3000 Micro have great adjustability so if might be a little easier to fit in with different main speakers and room.

tonykaz's picture

Mr.HR and his many associates seem to have access to ( or already own ) The phenomenal Abyss Headphone with it's 7 hz. Sub capabilities.

Should we ask for how this little Subwoofer System compares with a known outstanding ?

It might be 'unfair' to compare any large multi-driver transducer system that's limited by Room interactions, crossovers , wire, amplification, DACs but having an available reference is what a Reference is all about, isn't it?

Price wise, an Abyss System would be comparable in cost if not a bit less.

Tony in Venice Florida

ps. from the perspective of a 'decades-ago' importer and dealer for full-range Audio Systems, I have a feeling that my own modest & very vintage Sennheiser HD580 has no trouble ( effortlessly ) outperforming large loudspeaker systems . ( I do own full-range loudspeakers for background music )

Anton's picture

Probably great for when you host Hi Fi Club meetings, as well!

No vinyl, headphones are the reference...was your store called "Onan's?"

MatthewT's picture


tonykaz's picture

My Audio Industry participation was during the Vinyl era, which has diminished to about 3% of the Media Sales now-a-days.

For the most part, a SubWoofer isn't needed for 33.3 which Engineers curtailed due to the groove limitations of Vinyl .

Recording people can now include significant content in the lowest Frequencies, tons of dynamic Range ( 20 bits ) and even feature loooooonnnnngggg decays.

Tony in Venice Florida

Anton's picture

Fine wine accounts for about 3% of total wine sales.

Fine dining makes up 1.4% of the restaurant segment.

I assume you also troll the wine and food forums telling them how Gallo Hearty Boxed Wine and McDonalds are the food trends you have latched onto?

Jazz sales make up only a small portion of the market compared to pop.

And you say digital is providing scads of dynamic range?

I think Onan may be your patron saint.

tonykaz's picture

Fine wine is 3%, hmm. Are the 97% cheap drunks?

Music Format buyers were once Vinyl buyers that abandoned 33.3 by an overwhelming percentage for overwhelming reasons that everyone knows well.

Committed 33.3 people are still sarcastically crying over the milk spilled long ago, almost shunning the non-believing. Has 33.3 become a Cult ?

Going back is not an option.

Tony in Venice Florida

Jack L's picture

Hi Tony

Sorry to disagree.

Apparently you haven't tried out good LPs with sub bass music using quality subs yet.

Here I just quote 2 LPs I own that pump out floor rocking sub bass notes via my 3 subs (L, R L+R) hooked up direct to my design/built tube phono-linestage:

(1) Richard Strauss ALso Sprach Zarathustra played by Boston Symphony directed by William Steinberg. (DGG 2535 209 1971).

I can virtualize some 20Hz subbass notes slowly crawling toward me, followed immediately by sharp powerful kettle drum beats !! Breathtaking transient !

(2) Andrew DAvis plays the organ at Roy Thomson Hall (CBC ERA 109
digital master 1984)

The last track of Olivier Messiaen rocks my 700sq ft basement audio den !!

I am yet to audition any CDs that can impressed like the above 2 LPs.

Listening is believing

Jack L

tonykaz's picture

Thanks for writing back,

My relationship with 33.3 Vinyl is primarily historic.

I still own a Stored Collection of Recordings that will probably end up in someone else's hands.

I rely on portable gear that easily reaches into the ultra low frequencies with powerful authority.

Perhaps there are some Vinyls that reach down to the lowest range, I'll accept that you discovered 2ea. ! I'd be worried that the Player would resonate with those powerful pressures to create a feedback loop.

Ultra low frequency capability remains kinda frightening to me as I encounter it, it's a Jurassic Park Predator feeling that has me looking around for a scary attack.


I love listening to Drums which now seem more Live and Real than they ever did over multidriver music systems. 5 or 6 watts in a headphone system accomplishes what a couple thousand Subwoofer Watts might do.

And Piano recording now seem to have a much richer range of harmonics than I recall my previous Full Range systems revealing.

Home Audio Gear is benefiting from plenty of juried Engineering talent now-a-days. ( older favorite gear might sound limited by comparison ) .

Vintage gear still sells well & 300B WESTERN ELECTRIC Tubes still cost mega dollars while an outstanding ABYSS Diana & Head Fi Amp ( both made in USA ) cost $5,000 US.

Tony in Venice Florida

Jack L's picture


YES, I love the ELEGANT sound of vintage WE300b like crazy. It sounds sooo effortless, so airy & so captivating. Yes, it ask for mega bucks assuming genuine ones are still available.

But for those rich & affordable who already own crazy priced amps, like USD125,000 Audio Note Japan 'Kegon' (17W+17W 2x2WE300B), whatever 'mega' bucks to pay for the vintage WE300Bs is only peanut to them.

I can only sum up the lively sound of WE300B:
"A Cinderella spinning ballet in her dancing shoes !"

Jack L

tonykaz's picture

It seems that Tubes are the easiest and least expensive way to have outstanding Sound Quality.

I'll submit the low priced Schiit Valhalla 2 ( for $300 used ) and a partial set of Russian Glass ( for around $200 ) will delight.

But Glass has a rather short half-life compared to a Solid State device.

Still: Tube rolling can be cheaper than outright buying pricy Transistor Gear.

Tube Rolling is also a crazy-fun hobby in/of itself.

I live with the Sound Quality limitations of Shirt Pocket Gear that travels well, besides I'm not going for the addictive dopamine release when I'm out ( which is most of the time ).

Tony in Venice Florida

ps. $1,500 for assured Sound Quality ( WE 300B pair ) seems reasonable if they live for the thousands of hours claimed.

Jack L's picture


Yes, "glass" is a vacuum state device & stops working when atmospheric air gets into the tube sooner or later, depending on the tube internal structure. Power tubes normally go faster due to operating at the high voltage/current, resulting thermal runaway due to very high operating temperatures.

That said, driver tubes will last much longer due to cooler working on lower voltage/currents.

FYI, the vintage 50-year-plus-old Telefunken ECC83s used in my design/built phono-linestage for many years now, are still kicking butts with no sign of backing down. Believe it not, they are operating off 440V HV DC supply --- no sweat !!

Jack L

tonykaz's picture

I agree, Tubes can last a Lonnnnnnggggg time.

Keep those fingers crossed.

Tony in Venice Florida

remlab's picture

tonykaz's picture

Are you the person that performed this Review?

Are you confident that this review is accurate ?

Have you auditioned any of the Abyss Products or are you making decisions based on someone's technical measurements ?

Still, all these Graphs might just be what Outstanding looks like on a Oscilloscope. ( or what might be the Closest to Outstanding we've ever gotten to )

I have my own audiosciencereview that I use to evaluate, why would I need someone's mic, Scope and signals?

--- I did tend to trust Tyll & John Atkinson's measurements ---

Tony in Venice Florida.

dcolak's picture

How can we know if it is a good product without the measurements???

Please add the measurements. Reviewing hi-fi without measurements makes no sense.