SVS PB-2000 Subwoofer Review & Measurements

01
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A Little Help From the Laws of Physics

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SVS

SVS, a company that's been specializing in subwoofers for more than 20 years, just introduced two new midpriced models, the $699 SB-2000, which I just reviewed, and the $799 PB-2000. Both use a new 500-watt RMS Class D amplifier and a super-beefed-up 12-inch driver. And they're practically a case study in how a subwoofer's enclosure design can radically change its sound.

The SB-2000 is a sealed-box design, while the PB-2000 is ported. The PB-2000 is also much larger, at 2.7 times the volume of the SB-2000.

As a ported design, the PB-2000 can be expected to have deeper response, but a steeper rolloff at frequencies below its acoustical resonance. Ported subs tend to have a lot more bottom-end muscle than sealed subs, and they tend to have greater sensitivity and higher output. However, they sometimes don't have the punch and definition of the best sealed subwoofers.

So let's find out how this bigger, potentially badder sub compares to its sealed-box brother.

02
of 05

SVS PB-2000: Features and Setup

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SVS

• 12-inch woofer
• 500 watts RMS/1,100 watts dynamic peak Class D amplifier
• RCA stereo analog input and output
• 0-180° phase control
• 50 to 160 Hz crossover frequency knob
• 3.5mm trigger input for auto turn-on
• Dimensions 20.5 x 17.3  x 22 in / 521 x 439 x 559 mm (hwd)
• Weight 65.6 lbs./ 29.8 kg

There PB-2000's feature package is the same as the SB-2000's. Both give you no fancy features, but I believe that if you're connecting a subwoofer to an A/V receiver, and using the reciever to do the crossover (the circuit that routes bass into the subwoofer and mids and treble into the mains speakers), you really don't need a lot more than a level control.

As you might expect, the setup was the same as with the SB-2000. I plopped the PB-2000 in my room's "subwoofer sweet spot" -- the place where I test almost all subwoofers -- and connected its LFE input to my Denon receiver's subwoofer output. I then adjusted the channel balance and got right into testing. The crossover point I chose was 80 Hz when I paired the PB-2000 with my Revel Performa3 F206 tower speakers and the Monitor Audio Radius 270 mini tower speaker, and 100 Hz when I paired the PB-2000 with the Sonance SB46 L passive soundbar

03
of 05

SVS PB-2000: Performance

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SVS

Read "My 10 Favorite Stereo Test Tracks" for more info about and samples of my test material.

To evaluate the PB-2000, I compared it with the SB-2000 and with my reference subwoofer, a Hsu Research VTF-15H used in sealed and 1-port-open modes.

When I kicked in with Holly Cole's rendition of Tom Waits' "Train Song," I could hear immediately how the PB-2000 differs from the SB-2000. On upright bassist David Piltch's very first note, which can cause some subs to distort, the PB-2000 played without a trace of audible distortion, and with a lot of welcome chair-shakin' power. As Piltch got into the higher notes on his bass, though, I heard that the PB-2000 didn't have quite the mid- and upper-bass pitch definition and punch of the SB-2000.

Steely Dan's "Aja" yielded a similar result. The PB-2000 sounded clean and precise, it just didn't convey as much of the character of the bass guitar -- the tone, the fingering subtleties, etc. But it sounded a lot more satisfying than the SB-2000, easily playing notes on which the smaller sealed sub struggled a bit.

On synthpop group Olive's "Falling" -- a demanding tune that the SB-2000 played surprisingly well considering its size -- the PB-2000 didn't just reproduce the notes, it almost felt like the big woofers in a good club P.A. system, with effortless, raw physical power and nary a trace of distortion.

It took a truly overwhelming test track, the recording of the Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 “Organ Symphony” from the Boston Audio Society Test CD, to find the PB-2000's limits -- although even that just barely pushed the sub out of its comfort zone. The 16 Hz lowest notes produced a little bit of distortion but a ton of chair shake and a visceral feeling that in my experience could be exceeded by only the very largest subs, like the Hsu VTF-15H or SVS's own PC13-Ultra. The lowest notes did produce quite a breeze from the port, thoiugh, something I later encountered in my CEA-2010A measurements.

Movies aren't so much my thing here on About.com Stereos; that's more the province of About.com Home Theater Expert Robert Silva's page. But I did go ahead and give the PB-2000 a spin with Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones, which begins with deep and powerful bass as a silvery space yacht flies overhead then explodes. The PB-2000 completely nailed this challenging test, shaking the hell out of my chair and sounding almost like it was tearing the very air apart. I was so impressed that I wrote in my notes, "This is everything I could want in a home theater sub." Note that I said "...everything I could want..." because I don't play my  subs crazily loud all the time. If you do, you should consider a larger subwoofer, or perhaps adding a second PB-2000.

I thought the PB-2000 blended very nicely with my Revel F206 tower speakers, but because of its lack of upper-bass punch, I didn't think it was such a great match for the Sonance SB46 L soundbar, which works best with a 100 Hz subwoofer crossover frequency. If you're mating your sub with some daintier speakers, or using it in a smaller room (say, 2,000 cubic feet or less), the SB-2000 is probably a better bet for you.

Want a second opinion? Read Chris Heinonen's review on Reference Home Theater.

04
of 05

SVS PB-2000: Measurements

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Brent Butterworth

Frequency Response
17 to 165 Hz ±3 dB

Crossover Low-Pass Rolloff
-24 dB/octave

Max Output          CEA-2010A           Traditional
                             (1M peak)              (2M RMS)
40-63 Hz avg       119.7 dB              110.7 dB            
63 Hz                     120.5 dB               111.5 dB
50 Hz                     119.5 dB L             110.5 dB L
40 Hz                     119.1 dB L             110.1 dB L
20-31.5 Hz avg    116.3 dB               107.3 dB
31.5 Hz                  118.6 dB L             109.6 dB L
25 Hz                     116.6 dB L             107.6 dB L
20 Hz                     112.8 dB                103.8 dB

The above chart represents the measured frequency response of the PB-2000 with the crossover frequency set to maximum (green trace) and 80 Hz (purple trace). I measured this response by close-miking the driver and port, scaling the port measurement and summing it with the port measurement. My tools were an Audiomatica Clio 10 FW audio analyzer and MIC-01 measurement microphone.

I did CEA-2010A measurements the same way as the SB-2000, using an Earthworks M30 measurement microphone, my M-Audio Mobile Pre USB interface and the freeware CEA-2010 measurement software developed by Don Keele, which runs on the Wavemetric Igor Pro scientific software package. I took these measurements at 2 meters peak output, then scaled them up to 1-meter equivalent per CEA-2010A reporting requirements. The two sets of measurements I have presented here -- CEA-2010A and traditional method -- are functionally identical, but the traditional measurement employed by most audio websites and many manufacturers reports results at 2-meter RMS equivalent, which is -9 dB lower than CEA-2010A. An L next to the result indicates that the output was dictated by the subwoofer's internal circuitry (i.e., limiter), and not by exceeding the CEA-2010A distortion thresholds. Averages are calculated in pascals.

These are excellent output measurements for a 12-inch, $799 subwoofer. They fall roughly -4 to -6 dB shy of what I've measured from the very biggest and best subs, but the evenness of response and output throughout the sub's operating range is impressive, and the output is probably as much as even many serious home theater enthusiasts can use.

At 20 Hz, though, it does have some port noise on the CEA-2010A test. You probably won't hear this because there's so little 20 Hz content in music and movies, but with the CEA-2010A 20 Hz test tone, it sounds like a wheezing elephant.

05
of 05

SVS PB-2000: Final Take

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SVS

The PB-2000 is an outstanding midpriced subwoofer. It approaches the performance of the very best subwoofers; the only difference you'll hear is a few dB less output. But honestly, you might not even miss that, unless you're the type who runs the subwoofer full-tilt all the time and watches nothing but action movies.

I prefer the SB-2000 slightly for music, but the PB-2000's refined muscle in the lowest octave of bass, from 20 to 40 Hz, makes it a more well-rounded choice if you've got the space for it.

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