Sigberg Audio SBS.1 Active Loudspeaker Review

S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
sbs pair6.jpg
Sigberg Audio is a newer company that launched in early 2020 and specializes in high-end loudspeakers with a markedly different design philosophy. Their loudspeaker systems are geared toward the two-channel crowd yet promote a design that necessitates subwoofers as well as incorporating much of the electronics onboard the speaker itself. For review today, we have the Sigberg Audio’s SBS.1 speakers. They are an upscale bookshelf loudspeaker and priced as such at over $7k/pair. The questions we will ask in this review for such an unusual speaker are: what do these medium-sized bookshelf speakers do to justify that kind of price? What situation are they best suited for? And how well do Sigberg’s unusual design theories pan out in practical use? Read our thorough review to find out…

READ: Sigberg Audio SBS.1 Active Speaker Review
 
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D

Def Bonce

Audiophyte
Thank you for the great review, these must be really great speakers and I bet they sound great!

I disagree what you wrote about the prices, they could be sold for far less and still be build in Europe.

Example: KS Audio C88 Monitors, similar concept, two 8 inch carbon (!) drivers, one of them coaxial,
case, amplifier, drivers, all made in Germany and they are sold in shops, not direct distribution,
yet each of the C88 cost 1300-1400 Euros per piece right now.


Even if the Sigbergs would cost half, they are still too expensive.
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
Thank you for the great review, these must be really great speakers and I bet they sound great!

I disagree what you wrote about the prices, they could be sold for far less and still be build in Europe.

Example: KS Audio C88 Monitors, similar concept, two 8 inch carbon (!) drivers, one of them coaxial,
case, amplifier, drivers, all made in Germany and they are sold in shops, not direct distribution,
yet each of the C88 cost 1300-1400 Euros per piece right now.


Even if the Sigbergs would cost half, they are still too expensive.
To add to the point, at that price point "fairly accurate" just won't do. These have to be ruler flat first and EQ if so desired.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
Thank you for the great review, these must be really great speakers and I bet they sound great!

I disagree what you wrote about the prices, they could be sold for far less and still be build in Europe.

Example: KS Audio C88 Monitors, similar concept, two 8 inch carbon (!) drivers, one of them coaxial,
case, amplifier, drivers, all made in Germany and they are sold in shops, not direct distribution,
yet each of the C88 cost 1300-1400 Euros per piece right now.


Even if the Sigbergs would cost half, they are still too expensive.
I don't think those monitors are the best for comparison. The SBS.1 are using high-end parts, and, while I don't doubt those KS Audio monitors are using decent parts, there is no way they are on the level of the Sigberg speakers. If the KS Audio speakers were using a Hypex amp, that alone would hike their prices up by at least 1000 euros. I wouldn't think that those carbon weave drivers are on the same level as the Sica drivers. My guess is that the cabinetry, finish, and attention to detail are not on the same level. Just because the overall design is similar doesn't mean that these speakers are the same. The SBS.1 is more like a hi-fi no-expenses-spared speaker. Whether those premium parts are worth it to you is a matter of preference, but if you see the fit, finish, and build quality of the SBS.1s firsthand, you wouldn't think the price to be exorbitant.
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Warlord
Here’s, the thing: the market is clearly accepting these price points for European Speakers. Arendal, Buchardt,
Dutch & Dutch…
Just because it doesn’t match to your value does not mean it has no value.
I do agree that the FR has some points that don’t look great, but they also look better than other Speakers that garner high praise and fans among the masses. More too the point, though, some of that performance does not look like it would actually affect the SQ: the jag above 10K or the rise down low. Most “concerning” to me is the swale in the midrange that looks like a much wider, gentler attempt at a BBC style mid range compensation.

What I see is one of the better applications of a coaxial driver to date. Every time I see a FR sweep of such, they tend to be all over the place and much less cohesive. But for that one jag above 10k you have a nice treble performance.
Moreover, I see what looks like a speaker that will take well to EQ, and an ER DI that looks really amazing meaning that reflected sound will be quite well controlled.

Is this Speaker for me? No.
Do I respect what is accomplished? Absolutely.
 
Sigberg Audio

Sigberg Audio

Audioholic Intern
The performance of a speaker isn't easy to gather by just reading the on-axis response.

Compromise always needs to be made between on-axis and off-axis response, one needs to understand how the speakers interact with a typical room, etc.

It's also worth mentioning that these speakers are designed to be placed parallell with the back wall (zero toe-in). That means on-axis will not be the listening axis. Typical listening angle would be around 15 degrees:

1651772568224.png


On this axis you're pretty much at +/-2dB, and the curve you see is by design, not deviations. The slight rise in the low end is not an accident. We could have made this +/-1dB if we wanted too, but that would not give the best result if you also consider off-axis response, or how it sounds. Also note that there is no craziness even above 10khz at this angle. :) Finally, the cabinet has a 4 degree tilt, which means there's slightly more top-end energy sent into the room than the graphs indicate.
 
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S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
The performance of a speaker isn't easy to gather by just reading the on-axis response.

Compromise always needs to be made between on-axis and off-axis response, one needs to understand how the speakers interact with a typical room, etc.

It's also worth mentioning that these speakers are designed to be placed parallell with the back wall (zero toe-in). That means on-axis will not be the listening axis. Typical listening angle would be around 15 degrees:

View attachment 55866

On this axis you're pretty much at +/-2dB, and the curve you see is by design, not deviations. The slight rise in the low end is not an accident. We could have made this +/-1dB if we wanted too, but that would not give the best result if you also consider off-axis response, or how it sounds. Finally note that there are no craziness even above 10khz at this angle. :) Finally, the cabinet has a 4 degree tilt, which means there's slightly more top-end energy sent into the room than the graphs indicate.
This is a good point. A lot of the devotees of the CTA-2034 crowd miss that not every speaker was designed to be listened on-axis, in fact, quite a few are not. So the intended angle of listening can be between 15 to 30-degrees, and I have seen many instances of this myself. Probably something I should have emphasized in the review!
 
Sigberg Audio

Sigberg Audio

Audioholic Intern
@Sigberg Audio what is happening in the 2-4K range, please?
That is an intentional drop, again partly to compensate for off-axis response. As a quick example to emphazie the point, let's look at for instance 45 degrees. We will see that we're suddenly flat / have an even drop all the way to 3khz, so the dip present from 2-3khz on-axis is gone, it's almost a slight rise. This range would be too powerful if the on-axis were flat.


1651780590105.png



Building a good speaker isn't just measuring and hammering the on-axis response flat. I've spent hundreds and hundreds of hours listening to all kinds of different music on these speakers, during that time we sometimes find things that stick out or sound wrong despite an even on-axis response. And when inspecting with measurements we can find things like this, making it evident that we need to do adjustments that ensure that also the off-axis response and early reflections are balanced. :) If it had sounded better with a flat on-axis response from 2-4khz, that's how they would have been tuned. But that is not the case. I won't chase perfect on-axis response at the expense of the overall sound, even though I know that means some will misunderstand what they're seeing when looking at the graphs.
 
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ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Warlord
That is an intentional drop, again partly to compensate for off-axis response. As a quick example to emphazie the point, let's look at for instance 45 degrees. We will see that we're suddenly flat / have an even drop all the way to 3khz, so the dip present from 2-3khz on-axis is gone, it's almost a slight rise. This range would be too powerful if the on-axis were flat.


View attachment 55869


Building a good speaker isn't just measuring and hammering the on-axis response flat. I've spent hundreds and hundreds of hours listening to all kinds of different music on these speakers, during that time we sometimes find things that stick out or sound wrong despite an even on-axis response. And when inspecting with measurements we can find things like this, making it evident that we need to do adjustments that ensure that also the off-axis response and early reflections are balanced. :) If it had sounded better with a flat on-axis response from 2-4khz, that's how they would have been tuned. But that is not the case. I won't chase perfect on-axis response at the expense of the overall sound, even though I know that means some will misunderstand what they're seeing when looking at the graphs.
I get it.
I know it is not a Mid Range Compensation as I commented earlier. It did pique my curiosity, though, as it was evident in the On-Axis, and LW plots from the Spin. That said, it was not mirrored in the Early Reflections or FR DI plots.

Thank you for taking the time to comment on this! It is evident from your participation here and what I've seen at ASR that you guys have put a lot of thought and effort into this.

It would be very interesting, I think to see a review of a complete system including one of your Subwoofers to get a full 3rd Party report on how the entire concept integrates and delivers on the stated goal.
I'm no stranger to a 2-part Speaker with my mains having a Bass Cabinet and Upper cabinet containing the Mid and Tweet. I know this isn't quite the same thing, but the integration aspect would be (IMO) the linchpin in marketing your concept.
While it may be out of reach for many, there will likely be just as many people who will be interested and consider it more deeply with that type of report.

Cheers!
 
M

MandM

Audioholic Intern
I realize with speakers the whole package is obviously more than the price of parts combined....but $1296 USD for 2 amps and 4 speakers? The remaining $5946 USD goes where exactly?
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
I realize with speakers the whole package is obviously more than the price of parts combined....but $1296 USD for 2 amps and 4 speakers? The remaining $5946 USD goes where exactly?
This is downplaying what is in this package. A pair of SBS.1s get you six amplifier modules in what is likely the best plate amps that money can buy, and six high-end Italian drivers, as well as two high-end DACs with tons of configurability, all set in an overbuilt enclosure with a true satin black finish. Most audio companies sell their products at a 5x multiple of the raw component cost. Its very possible that the SBS.1s are being sold for lesser ratio than that. You can argue about the diminishing returns of using such expensive components, but the pricing of the SBS.1s is appropriate if you just want to talk about raw parts cost.
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Warlord
This is downplaying what is in this package. A pair of SBS.1s get you six amplifier modules in what is likely the best plate amps that money can buy, and six high-end Italian drivers, as well as two high-end DACs with tons of configurability, all set in an overbuilt enclosure with a true satin black finish. Most audio companies sell their products at a 5x multiple of the raw component cost. Its very possible that the SBS.1s are being sold for lesser ratio than that. You can argue about the diminishing returns of using such expensive components, but the pricing of the SBS.1s is appropriate if you just want to talk about raw parts cost.
Don't forget about the inclusion of all shipping and customs costs!
 
gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
Livestream tonight at 11:30pm EST:

 
Sigberg Audio

Sigberg Audio

Audioholic Intern
The ratio on cost vs sales price is indeed lower than what is typical in the industry, which is possible due to the direct sales model. Whether paying the premium price for that quality is worth it, is as James said of course something everyone has to decide for themselves.

It's the same approach with our subwoofers. Hypex and Scan-speak and high quality, European built cabinets makes for a premium price. Not everyone will find that worth it, which is perfectly fine.

We're lucky to have a broad range of both speakers and subwoofers available, so everyone can find products that fit both their budgets and priorities. :)
 
Sigberg Audio

Sigberg Audio

Audioholic Intern
It would be very interesting, I think to see a review of a complete system including one of your Subwoofers to get a full 3rd Party report on how the entire concept integrates and delivers on the stated goal.
I'm no stranger to a 2-part Speaker with my mains having a Bass Cabinet and Upper cabinet containing the Mid and Tweet. I know this isn't quite the same thing, but the integration aspect would be (IMO) the linchpin in marketing your concept.
While it may be out of reach for many, there will likely be just as many people who will be interested and consider it more deeply with that type of report.
James did use our 10D subwoofer during this review, but as both speakers and subwoofers can be sold separately, a decision was made to also review them separately.

I do obviously agree that the package is part of what's cool with this. It's not really a satelite+sub system, it's a 3.5-way speaker system. Both speakers and subwoofers has crossovers specifically designed for each other, making integration easier, and you get a setup that are both small and relatively discreet, but at the same time have a wider frequency range and dynamic range than what you'd typically get from even large floorstanders. It's hard to explain the capacity of these small speakers without actually hearing them. Which makes it understandable that one would look at for instance the KS C88 monitors and assume due to their size and larger drivers that they will be better and play louder.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Seriously, I have no life.
That is an intentional drop, again partly to compensate for off-axis response. As a quick example to emphazie the point, let's look at for instance 45 degrees. We will see that we're suddenly flat / have an even drop all the way to 3khz, so the dip present from 2-3khz on-axis is gone, it's almost a slight rise. This range would be too powerful if the on-axis were flat.


View attachment 55869


Building a good speaker isn't just measuring and hammering the on-axis response flat. I've spent hundreds and hundreds of hours listening to all kinds of different music on these speakers, during that time we sometimes find things that stick out or sound wrong despite an even on-axis response. And when inspecting with measurements we can find things like this, making it evident that we need to do adjustments that ensure that also the off-axis response and early reflections are balanced. :) If it had sounded better with a flat on-axis response from 2-4khz, that's how they would have been tuned. But that is not the case. I won't chase perfect on-axis response at the expense of the overall sound, even though I know that means some will misunderstand what they're seeing when looking at the graphs.
All those points you make, are really important ones, and crucial. Congratulations on a really impressive design. I have been advocating design concepts exactly on those lines for some time. My speakers incorporate many of the design concepts you have articulated here, especially my center speaker.

It is long past time to ditch the past and current speaker approaches. The current speaker designs on the whole are outdated and not nearly adequate for modern recorded media and applications. They also perpetuate those ghastly receivers, which can't go on the ash bin of history soon enough.

Congratulations on well thought out and executed innovative design. Those speakers have a good chance of becoming a landmark design.
 
mono-bloc

mono-bloc

Audioholic
A couple of small points. Firstly for that price I would expect them to arrive in a wooden crate, with a Cardboard box and packing inside.

May be I have this all wrong, or I'm reading it wrong, But this statement has me concerned. I quote,, Pricey, but shipping as well as import taxes and duties are included . Unquote. What your saying or there saying in effect is if I import a pair of these I will not be paying duty, GST, etc. Someone's dreaming, Put plainly if you want the item you will pay the 10% import duty, or you won't get the goods. This also applies if your buying used / 2nd hand which has already had the VAT, paid on original purchase.
 
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