SVS SB16 Ultra Subwoofer Review

The US-made, enclosed, active subwoofer was tested in a well-designed movie room. The appearance is aesthetic and modern. It has a glossy black finish, rounded edges and a square front display that is extremely visible from 15 meters away, but can be dimmed or even turned off if distracting. Thanks to the closed, stable MDF housing, vibration is very minimal. Equipped with a fiberglass, plastic composite cone, a steel grille protects the speaker, which is a very practical but not overly nice solution.

SVS SB subwoofer

The surface of the glossy housing is quite delicate, so it must be handled with care and attention. The 55 kg, 40 cm device has a power of 1,500 watts and a peak power of up to 5,000 watts via the MOSFET circuit. Such high performance was required because the airflow inside the enclosed speakers could reduce the performance, so the design engineers had to come up with a solution to compensate for the sound problems caused by low sound pressure.

Force enclosed in a box

SVS subwoofer speaker

The Class D Sledge amplifier operates with a 50 MHz signal control processor. This is important to mention because the SB16’s primary goal is not to radiate wall-shattering basses, but to convey the broadcast sounds clearly, intelligibly and in detail. The amplifiers are made in Canada.

The frequency transmission is between 16-460 Hz. Thanks to the 4 ferrit magnets in the aluminum casting basket, the 20 cm diameter pendulum coil and the heat-resistant NOMEX pill, the distortion is extremely low. The size of the pendulum coil is remarkable, as 50 mm pendulum coils have been used before, in the case of the SB16 this coil is 200 mm, and huge ferrit magnets are also used, which will make the sound much more stable, balanced and clear. The 200 mm pendulum coil definitely requires huge magnets. Serious force is required to move the firmly, hardly suspended membrane. The SB16 Ultra subwoofer has an enclosed system, so the air flowing in it actually resists the membrane.

SB16 remote control

The remote control is the size of a credit card. The subwoofer also has rubber feet to prevent scratching the floor. Despite the fact that the subwoofer has been given a really solid housing, it is worth considering placing a granite speaker pad under the subwoofer and the other speakers, or even on top of them, which completely reduces any resonances.

SVS sounds even the lowest, deepest ranges without distortion. The subwoofer has a wide range of settings, also thanks to the parametric EQ.

SB 16 EQ app

Today, it is almost a basic expectation among audio and hi-fi fans to have calibration software available for the speaker as well. This is no different for the SVS subwoofer. You can also adjust filter modes, frequency responses, volume, phase with the software. This application can also be operated via a mobile phone, but you can also make settings using the infrared remote control.

Of course, room calibration software alone will not solve the problems of an untreated room with poor acoustics, which is why it is important to treat the walls, ceilings and window surfaces of the rooms with the right acoustic products. If the sound is ideal in a room, the room calibration programs can really work effectively.

SB16 Ultra back

It is really easy to install and set up, it didn’t cause any difficulty at all. Balanced stereo XLR, and unbalanced stereo RCA inputs and outputs, a 12 V trigger socket is located on the unit. If you want to filter the bass from the main speakers, it is also recommended to use a stereo preamplifier or a surround processor with a built-in subwoofer. The mobile application also runs on Android or iOs devices, of course the subwoofer also has a Bluetooth connection. Up to several SB16 Ultra devices can be controlled at the same time. You can also set Music and Movie modes.

Sound

We first tested the subwoofer while watching a movie. We watched the adventure film King Arthur-  Legend of the Sword, released in 2017. Combined with the Dynaudio Contour 60 speakers and the Denon AVC X8500H home theater amplifier, the SVS subwoofer worked great. While watching the movie, we experienced a very natural, clear sound. Placed in the middle of the acts, the subwoofer, with its intense beautiful and balanced sound and ideal bass, gave us an accurate, dynamic and detailed experience.

We also tested the performance of the subwoofer in the field of music. We listened to Metallica’s song Master of Puppets. The dynamics and accuracy as well as the detail proved to be absolutely perfect. For higher bass, however, we heard some sound problems. The performance and sound could have been even more perfect for the upper bass sounds.

Verdict

SVS SB16 Ultra subwoofer main pic.

The SB16 Ultra subwoofer can be a good choice for any home theater or music fan. Thanks to its respectable size and power amplifier and DSP processor, it can deliver even the lowest, deepest sounds without distortion. Distortion-free operation is also ensured by the closed MDF housing. The exterior has a really nice, glossy piano lacquer finish. However, the lacquered surface is delicate and shows fingerprints. Of course, it also has a useful and easy-to-set room correction program. With the help of a downloadable application that can also be controlled via a mobile phone, we have a wide range of setting methods. The display can be read very well even from a greater distance.

The steel grille that protects the speaker is practical, but not aesthetic. We found some sound errors in the high bass, the upper bass could be further refined and improved. On the negative side, we would mention the large, heavy sizes and the rather high price. Compared to its predecessor, there has been no significant change in quality, but at the same time its price has become much higher. While the SB16 isn’t perfect in every way, it deserves a podium finish among its competitors on the market.

Written by Róbert Polgár