The SVS SBS-01 Bookshelf Loudspeakers Reviewed

Bookshelf loudspeakers with big sound

SVS SBS-01 Bookshelf Speaker
SVS SBS-01 Bookshelf Speaker. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

When it comes to deciding what speakers to get, sometimes the amount of space you have dictates the size of speakers you are able to comfortably accommodate. Although a good floor standing speaker can deliver that big sound, sometimes a bookshelf speaker fits into your listening space much better. The challenge is finding a bookshelf speaker that can deliver the sound quality you desire, despite its smaller size.

Introduction to the SVS SBS-01 Bookshelf Loudspeaker

The SVS SBS-01 bookshelf speaker provides both positives and negatives but is a good performer. When used in a two-channel system with music listening emphasis, this compact speaker produces good, overall, sound quality. However, the SBS-01 was more restrained in the mid-range and high frequencies than the comparison speaker used (more on this below).

On the other hand, despite their small size, the SBS-01's produced tight, non-muddled upper bass response. In addition, when used as part of the surround sound home theater speaker system, including a subwoofer, these speakers do very well with movie soundtrack material.

SVS SBS-01 Features and Specifications

  • The SBS-01 is an acoustic suspension (sealed enclosure) bookshelf loudspeaker with 5.25-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter. Impedance: 8 ohms.
  • 1-inch ClearSilkT diaphragm tweeter with frequency response up to 20kHz (+/- dB).
  • High-frequency crossover at 1.2kHz. This is the point where the high frequencies are sent solely to the tweeter and the mid/low frequencies remain with the woofer.
  • 5.25-inch polypropylene cone woofer delivers bass response down to 68HZ (+/-3db).
  • Sensitivity rating of 85 dB.
  • Power handling is rated at 20 to 120 Watts. You can use these speakers with just about any stereo or home theater receiver available.
  • Magnetically shielded for home theater use. This means that the speakers can be placed next to a TV if needed.
  • Speaker Dimensions: 12-inches H x 7-inches W x 9.5 Deep
  • Speaker Weight: 11 pounds.
  • The speakers can be placed on a shelf (shelf needs to be about 10-inches deep), top of a cabinet, or mounted on the wall if desired.

Audio Performance

The SVS SBS-01 speakers produced good sound quality in a two-channel setup but were more restrained in the upper mid-range and high frequencies than the comparison speaker used for this review (Klipsch B3). This was evident on several recordings, such as Norah Jones on I Don't Know Why and Loreena McKennit's An Ancient Muse CD. However, despite their small size, the SBS-01's produced tight, non-muddled upper bass response.

In a home theater setup, the SBS-01 worked well as a main, center, or surround speaker. Although these speakers were somewhat restrained in the previous two-channel tests, they did provide a balanced and good, directional, sound image in a multi-channel setup, especially with the addition of a subwoofer. Having only two SBS-01s to use for this review, they were tested in the roles of center, main, and surround channels by switching them out with the Klipsch B-3's mentioned earlier. In the role as a center channel speaker, the SBS-01 provided good vocal clarity, but the B-3 was better.

The SBS-01s were adequate to the task of providing good audio from several DVD, Blu-ray, and HD-DVD clips used, including DVD - House of the Flying Daggers, Master and Commander, U571, Blu-ray - Spiderman 3, Fantastic 4 - Rise of the Silver Surfer, Pirates of the Caribbean 1 and 2, and HD-DVD - Transformers, 300, Hot Fuzz, Batman Begins, and Top Gun.

The SBS-01's were able to handle high volume while maintaining good clarity. However, this speaker seems more at home as part of a home theater system, with the addition of a subwoofer. Although they can serve well as a standalone speaker in a two-channel system dedicated solely to music playback, with a good upper bass response, for the best low-frequency result, consider adding a subwoofer to the mix.

Pros

  • Good overall sound quality
  • Tight upper bass response
  • Easy to Place on a table, stand, or on wall
  • Solid construction

Cons

  • The sound is somewhat restrained in the upper-frequency range.
  • The midrange needs more presence.

The Bottom Line

Although there were differences in the liveliness between the SBS-01s and the Klipsch B-3, the SVS SBS0-01's are definitely a good value.

NOTE: SVS has discontinued production of the SBS-01 bookshelf loudspeakers, but they may still be available used via third parties, and is worth seeking out. For a look at SVS's current bookshelf loudspeaker offerings, check out their Official Loudspeakers Page.

For additional suggestions, check out our listing of Best Affordable Bookshelf Loudspeakers.