SVS SB-3000 powered subwoofer

SVS's recently introduced SB-3000 is a compact powered subwoofer that's $600 cheaper, a few cubic inches smaller, and 37lb lighter than the model it replaces, the SVS SB13-Ultra. Its amplifier is less powerful (800W vs 1000W), but its rated frequency response extends lower: a stygian 18Hz, compared to the SB13-Ultra's merely stentorian 20Hz.

The SB-3000's newly designed 13" driver has a vented aluminum cone, an injection-molded gasket and surround, and a polyimide-impregnated fiberglass former, surrounded by two 15lb toroidal ferrite magnets. Its new 2" split-wind voice-coil has a lower winding density in the center, flanked by two higher-density winding sections, an arrangement said to support low excursion at low output volumes but increased output range for higher output volumes. The driver has four 24-strand silver-plated Litz lead wires woven through the 6.5" 2-ply Nomex-composite spider; oversized nickel-plated high-tension spring terminals; and a low-carbon vented steel U-yoke and top plate.

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The sub's internal class-D amplifier, named Sledge, has a digital front end but an output section built with fully discrete, high-current (25A), 600V MOSFET output devices, for a rated 800W RMS and 2500W peak. All app settings, including those for its parametric equalizer, are managed by an internal high-resolution 50MHz Analog Devices DSP chip with 56-bit filtering. The DSP uses a "power factor correction algorithm" to reduce current needs by 30%–50% while maintaining a steady 360V DC from the internal power supply. This contributes to the sub's efficiency, enabling it to pump out 120dB SPLs, a significant increase over the SB13-Ultra's 111dB SPL rated output.

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SVS's user-friendly smartphone app (version 1.3.25, build 20190319), available free from iTunes (but also for Android and Amazon devices), provided me with wireless Bluetooth control from my listening-room chair. Its bidirectional Bluetooth wireless link manages each SB-3000 separately, even if they are hidden behind a couch, controlling volume, low-pass filter frequency and slope, a three-band parametric equalizer that works over a range of 20–200Hz, room-gain compensation (a high-pass filter in the range of 25–40Hz to prevent deep bass overload), presets (Movie, Music, Custom), polarity, and built-in tutorials. The app's toolbar displays the two last digits of the serial number of the sub being managed next to a Bluetooth icon, its color signifying the state of connectivity: green for "on" and white for "off." A bottom menu offers the option of resetting default settings, saving to a preset, or explaining the control feature.

For wireless audio-signal connectivity, SVS offers their SoundPath wireless audio adapter kit ($119.99), eliminating the need for typically long, costly interconnect runs. The kit contains a pre-paired Bluetooth transmitter and receiver set; the latter plugs into the SB-3000's rear service panel via a USB cable. It operates at 2.4GHz, employs dynamic frequency selection, uses forward error correction, and has an operating range of 50 feet.

Setup
Ever since JL Audio's Carl Kennedy insisted I review their f113 Fathom subwoofer in pairs, I've asked manufacturers to send me two subs for review. Dual subs, I've found, have enabled improvements in soundstage width and ambience recovery. SVS's Ed Mullen confirms my impression and lists the additional advantages of two smaller subwoofers over a single large unit, including lighter weight, smaller size, easier flow of foot traffic, greater dynamic range, a smoother frequency response across the room, decreased localization of the source of the bass, less visual impact, and easier room placement.

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The SB-3000's nearly cubic shape and relatively compact size—15.6" high by 15.2" wide by 15.7" deep—helped make up for its 54.5lb weight, making it easy for me to unbox and carry the pair, one at a time, up two flights of stairs to my listening room. Smallness and low weight also meant that sliders weren't needed to protect the listening room's hardwood floors. I plugged each of their power cords into my Torus Power RM 20 power conditioner and used unbalanced interconnects: The SB-3000 and the SVS wireless transmitter use only RCA input connectors.

I selected first Quad ESL-989s and then KEF LS50s to serve as my almost-full-range speakers: I thought their limited deep-bass response and dynamic range would benefit from a subwoofer. Both were positioned 68" from my listening position. The KEFs were placed on Franklin & Lowell speaker stands (footnote 1), with their tweeters 34" above the floor—the same height as my ears when I'm seated in my listening-room chair.

As with most other aftermarket subwoofers reviewed in these pages, the SB-3000 was designed to be used with an audio system's main speakers run full range, so they don't include built-in high-pass filters. This worked fine for the LS50 because its internal crossover has a 24dB/octave rolloff below 52Hz (footnote 2), protecting its woofer from excessive deep-bass excursions. I also tested them with my JL Audio CR-1 external electronic crossover's high-pass filters set to 70Hz, 24dB/octave, but I was unable to detect any major differences in sound quality between the high-pass filter on or off.

But the Quad ESL-989s' bass panels are vulnerable to damage from excessive excursions during sustained deep-bass passages. To avoid this calamity, while reviewing the SB-3000s with the Quads, I always used the CR-1's high-pass filter. (See the sidebar, "Using the SVS SB-3000 with an external crossover.")

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I also experimented with wireless connectivity by pairing the SB-3000s with the CR-1 crossover's outputs via SVS's SoundPath kits and their corresponding receiver modules. I connected the transmitter modules to the CR-1's low-pass outputs with unbalanced interconnects, and the receiver modules to the subwoofers' real panels via USB-A cables. LEDs on the transmitter and receiver modules slowly flashed red while linking, then remained steady, after which both subwoofers woke up and played. Comparing wired vs wireless signal connection, I could hear no differences in background noise, bass power, pitch definition, solidity, or tightness, and I experienced no drop-outs of the musical signal at any time during this review. The right- and left-channel SoundPath kits did not interfere with one another, as they did with MartinLogan's wireless kit,5 so both subs could be controlled without disconnecting one and connecting the other.


Footnote 1: These piano-black metal stands were designed by distributor Sumiko for Sonus Faber's minimonitors and can be filled with sand for damping and stability.

Footnote 2: See here and here.

COMPANY INFO
SVS
6420 Belmont Avenue
Girard, OH, 44420
(703) 845-1472
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
Anton's picture

I am saving my pennies for a pair.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

If they have 1,000 dealers plus direct sales, they must be doing something(s) right :-) .........

Jim Austin's picture

SVS is carried by Best Buy.

Jim Austin, Editor
Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Well .... That makes sense ........ SVS makes 'Best Buy' products :-) ........

JRT's picture

Dr. John P. Kreskovsky is terminating his website at the end of this month (MusicAndDesign dot com). I am not sure how quickly that will actually go dark, but could be as soon as sometime today. I also have not looked to see if any of it is captured in the internet archive "Wayback Machine".

More to the point, JPK had generously posted some very interesting write-ups of technical studies of his, and those are available right now, and maybe not for much longer. Among them is some very good information on integrating monopole woofers with gradient satellites, room interaction, power response, crossover design, dipole loudspeaker design, etc. ...very worthwhile reading and very relevant to your ESLs.

JRT's picture

http://musicanddesign.com/tech.html

edit 04 Sep 2019:
That website no longer exists.

JRT's picture

Larry Greehill, if you have problems in the future with your Quad ESL-989 pair (such as glue line separation between the stators and support structure), I suggest contacting Dr. Sheldon D. Stokes, currently in Grantham, NH.

SDS is very intelligent, highly motivated, well educated and well skilled, is very broadly capable, and has a love for the refurbishment and caretaking of Quad ESLs.

You won't find anyone better.

JRT's picture

While monopole subwoofers will be useful for the bottom octave or two, I would suggest something more acoustically similar to the gradient planar ESLs in the lower midrange and upper bass.

I would suggest looking for some inexpensive lightly used and fully functional Magnepan Magneplanar Tympani loudspeakers, the ones where each side looks like a three panel room divider.

The panels are 18 inches wide by 72 inches tall, and 2 inches thick. The outer two panels serve as woofers while the center panel handles the remaining upper frequency spectrum.

My suggestion is to use only the woofer panels, mounting a pair of panels to each side wall flanking your ESLs, mounting the side edge of a panel to the wall with some means of adjusting angle, some means of easy removal, and some means of preventing motion of the panel in use.

An 18 inch depth would have 1/4 wave cavity resonance at fundamental frequency of 13560/(18*4)= 188_Hz, and harmonics.

The two panels on each side can be mounted one in front of the other, parallel, and angled to face the listener. Separation distance between panels should be 1/Phi= 62% of the cavity depth to smoothly distribute resonance fundamentals and harmonics.

The panels should be located in the side nulls of the ESLs, which also place the ESLs in the side nulls of the woofer panels.

Whatever the voltage sensitivity is for those panels, sidewall mounting will add +6_dB, and the close coupled pairing will add +6_dB, summing with correlated phase at the frequencies of interest. The panels are resistive in nature, unlike reactive ESLs, and won't be very fussy about amplifiers at the low frequencies involved in powering these as long as the amplifiers exhibit inaudible noise at low power during quiet passages in the music, and adequately low distortion at requisite high power on 0_dBFS signal crests.

JRT's picture

I should mention that this is not my idea, and is not a new idea. People have been marrying Magnepan Magneplanar Tympani woofer panel with various Quad ESL loudspeakers for a long while, utilizing the two different technologies to best advantage.

An alternative to the older used Tympani bass panels could be to use Magnepan DWM bass panels, available new. But since these are smaller you might need more of them, and might need to get more creative in the array, wall mounting, etc.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

If, somebody can convince Magnepan to sell, just the bass panels of their new model 30.7, those bass panels may work well with the new Quad ESL electrostatics ........ Also, those Magnepan 30.7 bass panels may work well with the new Martin Logan CLX Art electrostatics :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Those Magnepan DWM bass panels may work well with their own new LRS speakers (reviewed in Stereophile) :-) .......

JRT's picture

Is the LRS worth the bother?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

It was just a suggestion for those who are interested in buying the LRS ......... Seemed like there were several, who were interested in buying the LRS in the Stereophile website forum :-) .........

Anton's picture

Vintage Acoustat 2+2's used only as woofers do a decent job, as well.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

They are taller than Shaq :-) .........

JRT's picture

Larry Greenhill, though I expect that you have seen this more than once, please take another look, as it applies well to your setup.

https://www.harman.com/sites/default/files/multsubs_0.pdf

In the file above, see Investigation 2 on slides 39 through 45. This shows your solution using 2 subwoofers in diagonal room corners and a very much better solution using 4 subwoofers located away from room boundaries (at 25% orthogonal distances from walls, at nodes associated with 4th order axial modes).

JRT's picture

That addresses the axial modes (2 bounces each), not the tangential (4 bounces each) and oblique modes (6 bounces each), but the latter are more benign because more bounces from more boundaries are required for these, and each bounce includes some energy loss to damping, much like dropping a basketball on a non-rigid floor, not much energy remains in the 4th and 6th bounce.

The evil specter remaining in this is the room's Helmholtz resonance, the listening room volume vented to external volume through the entryway, stairway, hall, etc.

Since the Helmholtz resonance affects the whole room evenly, peaks associated with constructive interference can be softened with regular linear equalization, however nulls associated with destructive interference cannot be so easily corrected. The response could be deconvolved and reconvolved to flatter room response, but the low frequencies involved would require more time to process, requiring a large buffer and imposing significant latency.

JRT's picture

...

JRT's picture

Note that the aforementioned 4-sub solution does not address the floor-ceiling axial mode.

4th order Linkwitz-Riley (LR4) crossover requires less excursion from the high passed satellite as compared to higher or lower order Linkwitz-Riley or Butterworth crossovers, so is a good choice for use with the electrostatic and it's very small Xmech. The high pass and low pass of LR4 crossover are each -6_dB at the crossover frequency, so using the fundamental Eigentone associated with the floor-ceiling axial mode would have excitation of that mode from the subwoofer similarly reduced by -6_dB, and what remains of the Eigentone would mask the crossover. The floor and ceiling are in the shadow of the vertical polar null of the dipolar electrostatic, so the electrostatic contributes much less to the floor-ceiling axial mode (excitation reduced, not eliminated).

romath's picture

Missed the link to it.

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