SVS SB12-Plus 12-Inch Front-Firing Powered Subwoofer

The SVS SB12-Plus Is Powerhouse Bass in a Compact Package

SVS SB12-Plus Powered Subwoofer
SVS SB12-Plus Powered Subwoofer. Photo (c) 2007 - Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

The SVS SB12-Plus powered subwoofer is not just powerful. Housed in a very compact sealed cube and just over a foot long in each dimension, this subwoofer delivers clarity, tightness and undistorted deep bass response – what you would normally find on more expensive subs. The SB12-Plus also offers an extensive array of controls that allow the user to tweak performance parameters to specific room environments and listening tastes.

 

SVS SB12-Plus Product Overview

Here are the specifications and features of the SVS SB12-Plus.

  • Frequency response: 22Hz to 150Hz +/- 3 dB. This means that extremely low frequencies are reproduced accurately.
  • Power handling: 450 watts, RMS continuous. This means that the SB12-Plus has a consistent high-power output capability when based on standardized measurements. 
  • Crossover: Low pass continuously variable from 40Hz to 120Hz. High pass low-level inputs: 80Hz. High-level inputs: 100Hz. The crossover adjustment determines the point at which frequencies are reproduced by the subwoofer and which frequencies are discarded or sent to other speakers in the home theater system. You can disable the control on the subwoofer when your receiver has its own internal subwoofer crossover control. This allows the subwoofer to opt for the LFE frequencies that are being sent from the receiver without further modification.
  • The subwoofer cone is 12 inches in diameter.
  • The SB12-Plus is continuously phase-variable from 0 to 180 degrees. This is used to match the in-out motion of the subwoofer speaker to the in-out motion of the other speakers in a home theater system.
  • Enclosure type: Sealed/acoustic suspension, 12-inch front-firing main driver
  • Input/output connections: Two line level/RCA phono jacks, two line level XLR jacks, and two sets of stereo high-level speaker in/out terminals
  • Dimensions: 14 inches high x 14 inches wide by 14 inches deep without the grill. Depth increases to 14.5 inches with the grill. 
  • Weight: 40 lbs.

The SB12-Plus has several adjustment controls. Gain is the volume control. 

  • Phase matches the in/out subwoofer driver motion to the satellite speakers. This control is continuously variable. 
  • The crossover control sets the point at which you want the subwoofer to produce low-frequency sounds against the ability of the satellite speakers to reproduce low-frequency sounds. This control can be defeated if you're using the subwoofer crossover control on a receiver.
  • The Auto-On function detects when audio signals are present and activates the subwoofer amplifier in response.  
  • The PEQ (parametric equalizer function) can adjust for the response characteristics of a room. This function can be defeated when it's not desired or necessary. 
  • The room size compensation control helps determine the lowest frequencies that can be produced accurately in a specific size room.

Setup and Installation

The SB12-plus can be connected in three ways.

The easiest is to connect the subwoofer line output from a home theater receiver. Other options include using left/right speaker connections from receivers or amplifiers that do not have a dedicated subwoofer line output. The subwoofer accepts the entire signal that goes to the main left and right channel speakers in this type of setup, but it only utilizes the low frequencies for itself and passes the remaining frequencies to main speakers via traditional speaker output connections. 

A third connection option is via XLR connections. This type of connection used in professional audio setups. 

LFE Performance

When I compared the SB12-Plus with comparable subwoofers, I found a definite difference in performance.

Where the SB12-Plus differed from the competition was the utter strength of output at the very lowest frequencies.

The SVS SB12-Plus produced excellent, very deep, tight bass. This subwoofer proved to be an excellent match for the rest of the speakers. The SVS SB12-Plus showed no fatigue or drop-off with Blu-ray/HD-DVD/DVD soundtracks that have strong LFE effects, producing all LFE effects at full impact.

As a music subwoofer, the SVS SB12-Plus reproduced clean bass response on several bass-notable music cuts. The most impressive performance characteristic for me in terms of actual listening was the lack of boominess that's common with less accurate subwoofers, especially budget-priced models.

What I Like About the SVS SB12-Plus

  • It has an excellent bass response. The LFE reproduction was tight and clear, not muddled or boomy. This was evident across a wide range of film and music source material.
  • Its small cabinet footprint allows easy placement and lessens the physical domination of the subwoofer cabinet in relation to another room decor.
  • The large power output of the SB12-Plus makes it a good candidate for a variety of room sizes.
  • Most subwoofers have ports, but the SB12-Plus is completely sealed so the entire bass output is the result of the actual speaker driver and isn't magnified or altered via an additional port output.
  • Given what the SB12-Plus offers both in terms of features and performance, it is a very good value.

What I Didn't Like About the SVS SB12-Plus

  • It has no wireless remote control, but this is an issue with many subwoofers, not just the SB12-Plus. 
  • Extensive calibration is required for best performance. This is both a plus and minus. It's great that the SB12-Plus can be adjusted very precisely, but it does take a little care and time that some users without technical backgrounds may find challenging. 
  • It's very heavy for its size. This is not a negative as much as it is a warning to take care unpacking, lifting or moving the SB12-Plus to avoid injury. Its size is deceptive compared to its actual weight, which is about 40 pounds. 

Final Take

The SB12-Plus is a compact but heavy sealed unit with a powerful built-in low-frequency amplifier. The driver is front-firing. The rear panel has the connections and controls.

It has many adjustment options that allow precise matching to a variety of satellite speaker types and room characteristics. The only downside is that the controls are on the back of the subwoofer panel and there is no remote control to allow adjustments from a distance. 

The SB12-Plus matched well with a variety of system setups. The subwoofer showed no fatigue or drop-off, reproducing even the lowest of frequencies at full impact. It was also very much at home with the music-only material, reproducing deep electric bass, bass drum, and other low-frequency instrumentation accurately.

I was very impressed with the SB12-Plus. This subwoofer is a real winner, but a sound meter should be used in conjunction with the user manual setup instructions for optimal performance. It can easily hold its own against many of the more expensive subwoofer brands and models and is more than enough for many home theater setups.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer.