SVS SB13-Ultra Review by Adam Wood Summary Product Name: SB13-Ultra Subwoofer Manufacturer: SVS Performance Rating: 5/5 Value Rating: 5/5 Review Date: September 05, 2012 MSRP: $1499 preorder pricing / $1599 regular pricing (Shipping Included) The SB13 represents the smallest and least expensive of SVS's Ultra line of subs. It is reasonable for you to expect the SB13 to be outperformed by the significantly larger, ported, and more expensive PC13 and PB13. While it should be outperformed at high output levels in large rooms, at least in my room and with my listening habits (and with music and movies cranked much louder than normal to review it), the SB13 is on par with the PC13 that I have had for five years. The SB13-Ultra makes use of a proprietary 1000W class D Sledge amplifier and 13.5” cone driver in a relatively small sealed cabinet, and the result is well-controlled and...when called upon...gut-wrenching bass. My initial reaction of surprised wonder was only reinforced during my weeks of using this fine new addition to SVS's top line. Highly Recommended. Okay, now on a less formal note – I love it. LOVE it. It gives me the same performance that I’m used to from my PC13-Ultra, and it’s a lot smaller. It also has more power and settings (including a second band for the PEQ) than my PC13 with the older amp. This thing cranks, and I consider it a bargain at the introductory $1499 (including shipping). I am very grateful to Audioholics and SVS for letting me preview this sub and allowing me to share my experience with you all. I will be happy to answer any questions that you have. Feel free to PM me or start a new thread so that everyone can participate. Pros - Outstanding performance, especially given the size (17.4” cube, not including the grille) - Very similar performance to the much larger PC13-Ultra in my ~3800 ft³ great room (with openings to other large areas) - Dual-band parametric equalizer (PEQ) Cons - Limited finish options (textured black oak and polished black) - No flush-mounted grille options (metal grille adds depth and increases footprint) Video Overview This video is meant to supplement the text but does not contain the full review. It shows the physical size of the sub (as well as it compared to a PC13-Ultra), my listening room, and operation of the amplifier. (Sorry for the lack of catchy background music.) Note: At 4:38 in the video, I refer to an amplifier switch as being for input level “sensivity” - I should have said “voltage.” Unpacking and First Impressions The SB13 arrived double-boxed and well protected. Inside the inner box, the subwoofer box and separately packed metal grille were individually wrapped and sandwiched in between top/bottom packing trays. Mine didn’t come with a “how to unbox” sheet on top, but I’ve done it enough times to know how, and Ed Mullen of SVS said that those instructions are normally included. I only mention this because there may be others of you who, like me, can’t left a 92-lb cube out of a box. Right on top of the packaging is a quick start guide to help set up the sub. Also included is the power cord. Upon unpacking the sub, I was greeted by the black oak finish. I had hoped for the piano gloss black because the shiny finish catched my eyes in photos, but I quickly learned to love the black oak (more later). The fit and finish are top notch, and the SB13 just exudes quality. Had I plunked down my hard-earned money for this, I would not have been disappointed. Design Overview Size (W, H, D): 17.4” x 17.4” x 17.4” (20.4” with grille attached) Weight: 92 lb. Finish options: Gloss black and black oak Grille options: None. All come shipped with the metal perforated grill The SB13-Ultra is a 17.4” cube (without grille). There is a metal grille that attaches to the front using four posts and adds about 3” of depth overall. Either finish is applied to all six sides, and the bottom surface has four conical rubber feet that screw in. While I originally had hoped for the gloss black finish, the black oak turned out to work very well in my room. I placed it in a corner, and it was much less obtrusive with the black oak because the duller finish didn’t have hardly any reflections off of it. I’m not sure which I’d buy, but I’m leaning towards the black oak now that I’ve had a chance to try it. The one thing that I don’t love about the design is the metal grille. While it isn’t actually dirty, the finish always makes me feel like something is rubbing off on my fingers when I touch it. Also, the four posts are a bit difficult to push into the box because the grille folds inward at those locations. It does look good, but the added 3” of depth was too much for where I wanted to place it, so I left the grille off. A flush-mounted grille would be my preference, but there are no grille options at this time. Because it was difficult to move around on the carpet, I removed the four feet and placed four furniture slides under it. With that, it slid around really easily. After my first impressions of how closely the SB13 performed compared to my PC13, I asked Ed Mullen how he thought the designs compared. He was nice enough to send me the following: Listening Tests For all of my listening tests, the SB13-Ultra was located in the front right corner about one inch from the walls. My listening position is approximately 15 feet away from the sub, and it's where I placed the mic for MCAAC and where I placed the SPL meter for my measurements. The overall summary is that the SB13 performed very, very well. It blended extremely well with the other speakers, and only rarely (very rarely) could I localize it. I listened to a lot of different material, and below are some of the highlights. Blu-Ray: Mr. and Mrs. Smith One of my test scenes for subwoofers is the desert scene where the two "Smiths" are out to kill Tank. It has John riding through the desert on a dune buggy, and the scene where he jumps over a hill has quite a thump when the buggy lands. After that, the scene where he shoots the Widowmaker at the hill is quite impressive, as is the shortly following detonation of the explosives. When I first got my PC13-Ultra, I couldn't stop grinning when John jumped that hill and I felt that buggy land - I'd never, ever felt that with my previous sub. It's just an awesome ride with the right sub(s), and I was very happy that the SB13 gives that same experience! Really impressive for such a relatively small sub. Blu-Ray: Transformers If you've seen this movie, then either you are really familiar with the scene at roughly 1h56m10s when one of the Autobots pushes off the ground by firing his weapons then lands and jumps over a screaming woman...or you need a better sub. That bass sweep is in other movies, but I like that scene. I really like that scene. That bass just reels me into the movie. The PC13-Ultra handles it with no problem - and so does the SB13. The SB13 didn't break a sweat.