SVS and its Prime Wireless Pro Soundbase

Last year's AXPONA brought the debut of SVS' Prime Wireless Pro active speakers ($899/pair). In the fall, I spent a couple of months listening to them, and came away impressed. "No sub-$1000 all-in-one system can attain anything close to perfection, but night after night the Prime Pros surprised me," I wrote in my review, praising their sonic balance and satisfying low-frequency extension.

The Ohio company recently launched a product that approaches streamable music from the other direction: What if you already have a good pair of speakers . . . and are in the market for a versatile, nicely-outfitted streamer/amplifier to drive them? That's the job the Prime Wireless Pro Soundbase ($799) was designed to handle. Specs include a 24-bit/192kHz DAC; 150Wpc class-D amplification; and multi-room capabilities via the DTS PlayFi app. The absence of a color screen keeps the price in check.

At AXPONA, I heard the petite Soundbase drive a $1200 pair of passive SVS Ultra bookshelves. Thumbs up all around. The Ultras were introduced eight years old but remain a hit, and the Soundbase made them sing. Bob Dylan's "Long Black Coat" features two guitars, one panned left, one right; aurally, they appeared a foot or two from the outer flanks of the speakers. (The SVS team loves the recording and uses it to voice all its products.) The Soundbase+Ultras combo also put in a splendid rendition of Marian Hill's synth-bass anthem "Differently," and of "Tangerine" by the Scott Hamilton Trio, a swing number with an intoxicatingly sweet, well-reproduced saxophone line.

An event like AXPONA essentially targets the over-50 crowd—maybe not as a strategic goal, but as a result of typical high-end asking prices being too rich for most Millennials' and Gen Z'ers' blood. Then there's SVS. It has somehow managed to capture a younger demographic's attention...and a decent chunk of that group's disposable income. Over and over, the company has done so with quality and with acclaimed customer service—not through gimmicks or by pandering to some greatest common denominator. The Wireless Pro Soundbase fits right into that tradition.

The new SVS component doesn't have the haute-design polish of Lenbrook's $949 Bluesound Powernode, but for $150 less it offers almost double the number of watts per channel, plus a dandy little scrolling-text OLED screen. It's great to have choices.