SVS SB-3000 powered subwoofer Page 2

Once SVS's free subwoofer control app was downloaded from iTunes, installed on my iPhone 6, and its Bluetooth functions switched on, the control app quickly found both SB-3000s and paired with them. The app enabled me to adjust all subwoofer control functions from my listening chair. Measurements were made and graphed with another smartphone app, the SPL Meter function in Studio Six Digital's AudioTools (version 10.5.6), in conjunction with the company's iTestMic microphone.

Optimally positioning the SB-3000 subs in my room was critical for attaining smooth integration of its output with that of the Quads. Usually I position each sub behind each Quad panel in the two front corners of the room, but this setup overloaded my small, square listening room. I then moved each SB-3000 subwoofer into opposite corners of the room, as advised in the SVS manual, with positive results, including excellent blending of subs and satellite speakers, consistent bass down to extremely low frequencies, and no room overload.

To fine-tune the distances of the subs from their corners, I played "Cosmo, Old Friend" from James Horner's film score for Sneakers (CD, Columbia CK 53146) through each, one at a time. I used this track's endlessly repeating bass drum beat to adjust phase and optimal distance from the room's corners. I also used the lowest frequency bands of the 1/3-octave warble tones on Editor's Choice (CD, Stereophile STPH016-2, track 21) to check the subwoofers' low-frequency extension. I could clearly hear the 40, 35, and 25Hz bands; I couldn't be sure I heard the 20Hz band, but I felt it as a pressure on my chest.

819svs.bacdetail

Listening
The SB-3000 blended well with both satellite speaker systems with minimal effort. I knew from the first listen to Lyle Lovett's vocals on "Friend of the Devil," from Deadicated: A Tribute to the Grateful Dead (CD, Arista DCD-8669), that the sound balance was good: His vocals were natural and focused, with no honk or chestiness.

After that, I listened to my favorite recordings, many of which have been listed in this magazine's Records to Die For. Most of them sounded better than ever.

The one new CD in my collection that caught my attention was Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard's film score for The Dark Knight (CD, Warner Sunset/Warner Brothers 9362049860-0). The album's "Why So Serious" track had spectacular dynamic range with the twin SB-3000s activated: Its whisper-level opening of a faint, scratchy 294Hz note morphed into a loud, crashing but undistorted heavy-metal segment, followed by a silence punctuated with ticking clock sounds and brutally loud 31Hz jackhammer synth notes, finishing with a concussive meld of these synth pulses mixed with heavy metal chords at top volume. The SB-3000 plus Quad or KEF played the synth full tilt, without evident distortion or overload, producing a mesmerizing, high-impact, crushing experience. The album's next selection, "I'm Not a Hero," featured a sustained, massive 24.9Hz synth note that seemed to suck all the air out of the room. My notes state that the "bass is like a wall and there is constant pressure." Only then did I begin to believe my room response measurements for the combination of SB-3000 and Quads: relatively flat from 200Hz down to 16Hz, ±3dB (see sidebar).

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While the SB-3000 enhanced the LS50s' dynamic range and deep bass extension, it created a seamless bond with the Quads on pipe organ recordings. It was as if I heard, for the first time, the weight, pressure, and full force of pedal chords from the 32' pipes in the Gnomus selection from Jean Guillou's recording of his own transcription for pipe organ of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (CD, Dorian DOR-90117), the sustained pedal chords rattling window blinds and the glass in all the picture frames, too many for me to dampen.

A similar transformation was heard during the fourth movement of Mendelssohn's Organ Sonata in F, performed by Thomas Murray (CD, Raven OAR-390).

Not only was the bass massive, powerful, and weighty, but microdetails of bass instruments also became more apparent. I heard subtle details in the bass drum head—muffled but solid—that underpins the chorus and soloist in the Kyrie of Ariel Ramirez's Misa Criolla, conducted by José Luis Ocejo (CD, Philips 420 955-2). Similarly, the large conga drum that opens "Hotel California," from the Eagles' Hell Freezes Over (CD, Geffen GEFD-24725), sounded appropriately muffled but massive. The bass drum in Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, performed by the Minnesota Orchestra under Eiji Oue (24/176 file, Reference HRx-70), was heavy, punchy, fast, sharply defined, and harmonically correct, with stop-on-a-dime control.

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Comparisons and considerations
I compared setup effort for the pair of SVS SB-3000s with that of the less expensive, smaller MartinLogan Dynamo 800X subwoofers ($799.95 each) that were in my listening room when the SB-3000s arrived. These two products have been the only subs I've reviewed using the JL Audio CR-1 crossover and Quad ESL-989s in my new California listening room. Both subs offer optional wireless connectivity, are compact, cost less than $1000 each, and weigh less than 60lb—all characteristics that make them suitable for stereo subwoofering.

Lengthy listening sessions suggested that the SB-3000s, placed in diagonal corners, were quicker to set up and sounded better with the Quad ESL-989s than with the MartinLogans. Because I was not able to try the 800Xes in the diagonal corners, or try to blend them with the KEF LS50s, I am hesitant to draw any final conclusions about which pair of subs might be better for other rooms or other satellite speakers. Within those limitations, the SB-3000s showed better pitch definition, greater dynamic range, and did a better job of covering the audio spectrum below 80Hz evenly in my room. Be aware, however, that each SB-3000 is larger, 25lb heavier, and costs $200 more per subwoofer than the MartinLogan Dynamo 800X.

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Conclusions
I was unprepared for the fun I had reviewing this subwoofer. Coupled with both the ESL-989s and LS50s, twin SB-3000s delivered solid bass down to 16Hz in my small listening room—I still don't quite believe it—without bloat or overload.

Its bargain-basement price explains why the SB-3000 lacks a front panel display, XLR input/output jacks, trigger on/off connectors, free calibration microphones, automatic room adjustments, and white gloves. Instead, one gets (at $119 per sub extra) wireless connectivity, which saves on interconnect costs and removes a barrier to experimenting with different room locations. The SB-3000's pitch-perfect room-pressurizing bass, small size, low weight, rugged construction, and reliable smartphone app make it an outstanding choice for small to moderate-sized rooms. New lows in reference subwoofer performance, indeed!

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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