Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment


Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

It’s been nearly nine years since SVS introduced its beloved PB-1000 subwoofer, a beefy little overachiever that exemplified the company’s approach to bass, and in many ways served as the template for all the bigger and pricier models that followed. Loathe as I am to lean on clichés of this sort, that model’s popularity and longevity indicate that there was nothing fundamentally broken about it. Far from it. So what was fixed in the upgrade from PB-1000 to the new PB-1000 Pro?

A lot, actually. But not all of the modifications are obvious at a surface glance. Nevertheless, the tweaks to the platform—some minor, some substantial, but most of them cosmetically unnoticeable—add up to a significantly more flexible, tweakable, higher-performance subwoofer that still costs a shockingly small amount of money ($799.99, all prices USD, up from its $599.99 launch price due to the exorbitant recent inflation in the shipping industry).

Before we talk about what’s changed, let’s talk about what hasn’t. The PB-1000 Pro still comes in a simple Premium Black Ash chassis measuring 8.9″H, 15″W, and 20D″ with the grille affixed. It still sports the same rounded edits and mostly the same inputs—a pair of speaker-level inputs, along with stereo (RCA) line-level inputs and outputs. In large part, with the grilles affixed, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the PB-1000 from the PB-1000 Pro.

SVS

Take off the grilles, and some of the differences start to become more apparent. In lieu of the single bass-reflex port found on the PB-1000, the Pro model sports a dual-port design, accompanied by a larger 12″ driver, which replaces the 10″ woofer in the original. SVS also reports that the driver is an entirely new design with a “dual ferrite magnet motor assembly,” “long-throw parabolic surround,” and “lightweight and rigid aluminum vented cone.”

A peek at the back panel also gives hints to some more substantial upgrades. The Sledge STA-300D amp of the PB-1000 has been upgraded to the company’s Sledge STA-325D amplifier with fully discrete MOSFET output. Power specs have been given a boost to 325W RMS and 825W+ peak, and processing now comes courtesy of a 50MHz Analog Devices DSP.

The digital controls and lack of knobs on the back panel also point to the fact that the PB-1000 Pro sports the same app connectivity that first appeared on the company’s flagship 16-Ultra subs. In addition to giving you remote access to the usual subwoofer controls—level, crossover, phase, etc.—the SVS app allows you to set and quickly recall different sound presets, apply and adjust room gain compensation, change the port tuning (in case you want to seal the ports), and add up to three bands of parametric EQ.

SVS

Setting up and dialing in the SVS PB-1000 Pro

The degree to which you need such advanced controls probably depends on how you plan on employing the PB-1000 Pro. If you’re adding a sub or two to an A/V setup with a good surround preamp or receiver packing capable room correction, chances are good that setup will be largely plug-and-play, aside from a bit of repositioning, if necessary.

I took a far more complicated route with this review, partially because this is largely a two-channel-focused publication, but also because I realized something as I was reflecting on the SVS subwoofer reviews I’ve done over the years: I’ve rarely, if ever, actually put their configuration tools to the full test.

So I took two shots at adding the PB-1000 Pro to a stereo system, starting with my beloved old Peachtree Audio nova220SE integrated amp. The 220SE has preamp outputs but not a dedicated subwoofer output or crossover capabilities, so I opted to connect it to the PB-1000 Pro using speaker-level connections. Of course, the SVS sub has only speaker-level inputs, not outputs, so that required setting the system up with the speakers and sub connected in parallel. The PB-1000 Pro’s speaker-level inputs have 20k-ohm input impedance, though, so the increased load on any amp is going to be negligible. Here, I relied on Elac Sensible speaker cables from the amp to my Paradigm Studio 100 v5 speakers and unterminated Monoprice Choice Series 12AWG cables from the amp to the sub, with the PB-1000 Pro’s low-pass filter set to 80Hz.

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After a bit, I switched to Classé Audio’s Sigma 2200i integrated amplifier, since it has a dedicated sub output and crossover capabilities. In this setup, I relied on ELAC Sensible speaker cables from the amp to the Paradigm towers and a Straight Wire Encore II analog interconnect for the subwoofer connection.

With this setup, I also tinkered around with a full-range-plus-sub configuration and also setups with crossovers set at 40Hz, 60Hz, and 80Hz (12dB/octave in all cases). I used Room EQ Wizard (REW) to calculate some PEQ filters to address room modes at 45.75Hz and 55.71Hz. I honestly could have applied a single PEQ band at 56Hz with a smaller-than-calculated Q and addressed the modes just fine, but I figured since I needed only two of the three available bands at most, I might as well use them.

Putting the SVS PB-1000 Pro to the test

Truth be told, the PB-1000 Pro sounded fantastic in all of the configuration scenarios detailed above. But my entire system—meaning amps, speakers, and room—sounded best with the speakers and sub crossed over at 80Hz. This allowed me more control over standing waves and opened up the sound of my Paradigm towers a good bit. So it was the configuration in which I did the bulk of my critical listening.

The song on which all of this tinkering and tweaking made the most significant difference was Björk’s “Hyperballad” from her album Post (16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC, Atlantic/Qobuz). This is a song you’ll see me pulling out for any and every subwoofer review I do, and with good reason. Its sinewave bassline is a torture test for not only good room integration but also the tonal balance of a sub. Over- or under-emphasize any frequencies, and this song will shine a spotlight on those imbalances.

With the PB-1000 Pro, every note reached my ears—and my nether regions—with equal impact and authority, pointing not only to good response but also to good DSP design. With the volume cranked up, the SVS delivered such robust bottom end that I actually felt my tummy getting a bit queasy. But more importantly, with my main speakers crossed over with the sub at 80Hz, and after a judicious application of PEQ filters, my system managed to crank out this bowel-loosening bass without rattling the walls. The speakers and electronics disappeared into the room, leaving nothing between me and the music, even when I approached pants-flapping territory.

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For something a bit less loping and a lot more impactful, I then cued up the Beastie Boys’ “Hey Ladies (Paul Nice Remix)” from the Hey Ladies (Remixes) single (16/44.1 FLAC, Beastie Boys JV/Qobuz). This is another track I use to gauge the note-to-note consistency of any sub, but more so at the upper end of the bass-frequency range. The poppy, galloping bassline extends well up into the typical crossover range of any sub/sat system, so it’s also a good test for overall integration.

More than any sub-$1000 sub I’ve tested in recent memory, the PB-1000 Pro simply melted into my speakers with this one. This is the track with which I did most of my tinkering in terms of crossovers, mostly switching back and forth between 60Hz and 80Hz as a crossover frequency. Tonally and in terms of impact, I couldn’t really hear a significant difference between the two settings, but leaving the crossover at 80Hz did give the PB-1000 Pro more to do, and more importantly, it allowed me to better control room interactions.

Speaking in more subjective terms, I was blown away by the utter musicality and nimbleness of the SVS sub. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been, given the number of the company’s products I’ve auditioned (and owned), but it’s always a pleasant surprise to test a sub this versatile. It’s just as adept at delivering the noodliest midbass notes as it is plumbing the subterranean depths of ultra-low LFE.

Another track that spotlights the PB-1000 Pro’s capacity for complexity is Fiona Apple’s “Sleep to Dream” from the album Tidal (16/44.1 FLAC, Clean Slate Work/Qobuz). It may not seem like the ideal bass stress test, but the song makes a subwoofer do quite a bit of varied work, from the seemingly bottomless, sinking percussion and the deep bassline to the syncopated hip-hop drumming. It’s the sort of mix that makes you expect the subwoofer to call attention to itself at times, especially in the deepest of bass drops, but again—at the risk of sounding redundant—the PB-1000 Pro got the hell out of the way of the music, pressurizing the room with authority and weight, but never in such a way as to make me think about the big black box sitting betwixt my speakers doing all that hard work.

Much the same could be said of St. Vincent’s “Cruel” from Strange Mercy (16/44.1 FLAC, 4AD/Qobuz), which boasts a much more EDM-style rhythm section. The beat here is hard-hitting and unrelenting, but I nonetheless found myself struggling to hear what was coming from the PB-1000 Pro and what was coming from my Paradigm towers, aside from the most obvious of low growls.

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Given that the Classé Audio Sigma 2200i also boasts HDMI connectivity, I took the opportunity to plug in a Roku Ultra and a display and fire up Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones via Disney+. From the opening moments just after the crawl, when Senator Amidala’s sleek silver space cruiser approaches the city-planet of Coruscant, the PB-1000 Pro proved itself more than capable of cranking out the most raucous LFE sound effects of the sort you’ll never hear in any musical track. The bass here is definitely deep into “feel it as much as hear it” territory, and the SVS rose to the occasion, cranking out such gut-flopping low frequencies that I found myself backing off on the volume knob, not because the room was rattling or anything, but simply because it was a little too much to handle. And yet, the sub never showed signs of strain or struggle, introduced no appreciable distortion to the mix, and—again—never drew attention to itself as the source of this bass onslaught.

I will say this, though: in my 10′ by 12.3′ two-channel listening room, I was pretty much pushing the PB-1000 Pro to its output limits. It reached those limits gracefully, but to install it in a larger room would mean that I would probably need to corner-load it for some additional reinforcement or, more likely, add a second PB-1000 Pro. That’s not a knock against the sub, mind you; it’s just a recognition of the fact that SVS prioritizes clean output, even performance, and good frequency response over sheer SPLs.

What other subs might you consider at or near this price?

The subwoofer marketplace is a bit kooky at the moment, given the aforementioned inflation in the shipping industry, and prices are changing faster than I can keep up with. But there are two subs in the general price bracket of the PB-1000 Pro that you might also consider.

The first is RSL’s Speedwoofer 10S, which previously sold for $399 until a recent price bump to the seemingly random price of $428.71. The Speedwoofer 10S is similarly equipped in terms of IO, but it lacks the SVS’s app connectivity. It won’t give you nearly as much output below 25Hz, but it does have a weensy bit more output above 25Hz. It’s not an easy sub to acquire at the moment, though. RSL recently offered preorders for the next batch of subs coming into the US, and all of them sold out almost immediately. So your best bet is to sign up for alerts on restocks.

Another fine option is the Hsu Research VTF-2 MK5, which currently sells for $609. It’s similarly equipped in terms of inputs, and boasts a bit more output across its entire frequency range, although it’s a bit bigger at 21.5″H × 15″W × 24″D and a bit heavier at 62 pounds.

If you’re not sold on a ported sub, you might also consider the sealed equivalent of the PB-1000 Pro: SVS’s SB-1000 Pro. Output is lower across the board, especially below 25Hz, but the SB-1000 Pro is a fantastic sealed option, and it takes up a lot less space given its more compact cabinet dimensions. It also sells for a good bit less at $599.99, but it supports all the same app connectivity and most of the tweakability of the PB-1000 Pro, and it comes in a larger variety of finishes, including gorgeous Piano Gloss Black and Piano Gloss White.

TL;DR: Should you buy the SVS PB-1000 Pro?

There’s simply no denying that the recent price increase from $599.99 to $799.99 changes the value proposition of the PB-1000 Pro a bit, but given the volatility of the subwoofer market right now, it’s perhaps not as much as you might think.

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At its original price, the PB-1000 Pro was almost too good to be true. At its new price, it’s still a heck of a value, especially if you’re looking for a good ported sub that’s equally up to the task of delivering foundation-shaking low-frequency effects and the nuances of musical midbass. Honestly, my only real beef with the sub is its plain-Jane Black Ash finish. I understand that extra finish options would raise the price of the sub even more, but I think it has the performance chops to justify it.

In every other respect, this is one hell of a bass-maker, assuming its output capabilities are a good match for your room.

. . . Dennis Burger
dennisb@soundstagenetwork.com

Associated Equipment

  • Speakers: Paradigm Studio 100 v5.
  • Speaker-level connections: Elac Sensible Speaker Cables; Monoprice Choice Series 12AWG speaker cable.
  • Line-level connections: Straight Wire Encore II analog interconnects.
  • Sources: Maingear Vybe PC, Apple iPhone 12 Max, PlayStation 4, Roku Ultra.
  • Power protection: SurgeX XR115 power conditioner.

SVS PB-1000 Pro Subwoofer
Price: $799.99.
Warranty: 45-day risk-free in-home trial; five-year unconditional warranty.

SVS
340 Victoria Ave.
Youngstown, OH 44515
USA
Phone: (877) 626-5623

Website: www.svsound.com