SVS and the New Ultra Evolution Pinnacle

Ever since the announcement some two weeks ago, I've been eager to hear the SVS Ultra Evolution Pinnacle loudspeakers, which, at $2499 each—or, you guessed it, $4998/pair—are cheap in high-end terms but quite expensive for SVS. Coming from such a high-value company, I'm thinking, this could be a serious assault on audio's high-end. Stereophile has already lined up a review.

When I walked into SVS's two-channel room—they also had a home theater room, something you don’t see much of at AXPONA—the first thing I noticed is that in every chair taken was a younger human—under 40, let us say. That's evidence—extremely anecdotal—that if you want to reach younger folks, you need to focus on value. Close to half were women. I don’t know what that’s evidence of.

The Ultra Evolution Pinnacle is tall. Each weighs about a hundred pounds. It has four 8" woofers—two facing forward and two to the rear, in force-balanced pairs, ported out the back; that’s a lot of bass-producing surface area. Each speaker has two proper 5 1/4" midrange drivers; all these drivers—midrange and bass—have glass-fiber composite cones. The tweeter—just one on each speaker—adds a vapor-deposited layer of diamond to the previous-generation's tweeter. There's a diffuser that should help keep the tweeter from sounding edgy or harsh.

Perhaps the most surprising design feature, considering the price point, is time alignment. All five front-panel drivers are positioned in an M-T-M (which I suppose makes it a W-M-T-M-W alignment). The front baffle tilts back to tweeter level halfway up then forward again, aligning the drivers so that so that they … what exactly? Precisely what SVS means by time-alignment isn't clear. Their literature calls it "Acoustically Centered Time-Alignment Architecture," which "maximizes phase coherence and renders pinpoint accuracy and convincing soundstage." Probably, the drivers are aligned to produce a wavefront in which all frequencies line up as they radiate out—but it could also mean that the wavefronts converge at a particular point, which presumably would lie somewhere along the tweeter axis.

But never mind that—how did they sound?

The first thing I noticed—and it's not surprising in a big speaker from a company known for subwoofers—is bass. Lots of bass. Good bass. Then again, they were playing Massive Attack ("Angel"), so of course you heard bass. I, too, would play Massive Attack if I were presenting a demo of these speakers.

At first, I noticed big midbass. Then the deep bass came in—also big. Awesome, in the less jaded, more literal sense of provoking awe. The soundstage was restricted by the size of the small room, but there was a good bit of depth. I was very much aware of the bass carving out the shape of the room; I still don't understand how that works, but it does.

SVS's Larry McGough, who was presenting, then served up Angelina Jordan's take on "Bohemian Rhapsody." I was sitting on the front row in an outside seat. her voice seemed unfocused. Someone left and I moved toward the center, still in the first row; then Jordan was precisely centered. I don’t know this recording, but the timbre seemed good.

The ultimate test of a pair of speakers like this will be whether they can reproduce something dry and natural, like a well-recorded piano, in a way that seems natural: all wood, wool, and steel. Apparently, there was nothing like that on the playlist. I'm confident that Sasha’s upcoming review of the Ultra Evolution Pinnacle will test this.

The big SVS speakers were powered by an Emotiva XPA-2 Gen3 2-channel amplifier ($1199). The preamp was Emotiva's PT2 (available now at a sale price of $599), and the source was the Cambridge Audio CXN2 network player ($1099). Cabling was by SVS. The value in this system was off the charts.

DaveinSM's picture

I’m not too much of a snob to admit that these look interesting, and I especially look forward to JA’s measurements.

These are almost the same size as my old Thiel CS3.6s, though quite a bit more imposing, I’m sure. These also remind me of the classic Dunlavy SC-IVs with their WMTMW setup. Thankfully in a significantly smaller package.

With 4 x 8” woofers - and look at those huge sourrounds! They look like subwoofer surrounds. With SVS’ subwoofer experience, I bet these go deeeep, and cleanly.

avanti1960's picture

especially measurements! I agree with your assessments and reservations. Aside from the (abundantly) impressive bass and sub bass, I liked the refinement I heard in the midrange and treble as well as the overall tonal balance.
A gentleman in the room requested something from artist Billy Cobham be played. Once the SVS reps figured out how to spell "Cobham" we were off and running with some rapid fire percussion that had force, impact and pressure. An undeniably thrilling reproduction by the "Ultra Evolution Pinnacle Towers". Partner with more robust amplification and supporting electronics and these might be destined for audiophile superstar status. At least for the ones that like to rock.


Finally a speaker company that thinks about future audio junkies by designing speakers real people can afford! It was because of the high prices that I began designing my own speakers. I use the same 'force cancellation' setup for my speakers which does amazing things for the woofers and the cabinet - NO VIBRATIONS!!! The only disagreement I have is that they didn't use an AMT, Ribbon or Planar tweeter which I find to be far superior than a cone tweeter.

Anton's picture

Thank you reporting on this speaker!

The description of the sound seems quite different from the sound snippets in other show it 'just being nice,' or something unsaid?

It didn't leave me really interested in the speaker, even though I am very interested in these speaker, if you know what I mean.

Looking forward to the review.

Gotta say, I am rooting hard for their success!!!

Jim Austin's picture

I haven't read other reports. I presented an honest description as I heard it, though I am acknowledging that my exposure was too brief and limited to make a proper assessment.

Jim Austin, Editor

Jewbacca's picture

I was bitten by the audiophile bug only in the last couple of years and mainly because I finally had a space in which to build a good system. Went from a Best Buy special to a custom built room and a system sadly in the mid/low six figures, and that was with buying lightly used or demo equipment.

After trying out several exceedly expensive subs, I ended up with two SVS PB16 Ultras. I could not be happier, and they are easily the cheapest components in my system. Very impressed with the company and their tech.

Intrigued to read (and hear) more.