Canadians have long been able to purchase US-made SVS products from the company’s website. But we’ve always had to wait longer and pay more for these products than US customers. That’s because until recently, SVS did not have a Canadian distributor. In October of 2005, Sonicboomaudio.com (Sonic Boom Audio) was appointed the exclusive Canadian SVS distributor. And that’s great news for us Canadians. You no longer have to guess what the final price of the product will be after the exchange rate, brokerage fees and other absurd fees. The price you see on the Sonic Boom Audio website is the price you pay. To acquaint me with the SVS brand, the company sent me their entry-level PB10-NSD 10-inch subwoofer ($579) to play with.
With a size of 15″ x 19″ x 21″, the PB10-NSD is a fairly large subwoofer so it will take a good chunk of floor space in a room. Sonically, this large cabinet volume gives it a great advantage. When it comes to subwoofer design, a larger enclosure can translate into a deeper, more precise bass performance. SVS wanted to design the best possible 10-inch subwoofer, so they placed a 10-inch woofer into a 12-inch sized enclosure. Pretty clever, huh? Well, there’s actually a little more that went into their subwoofer design. The PB10-NSD has a front-firing design with its polypropylene woofer sitting in the bottom left corner of the front baffle. The front baffle has a massive thickness of 1-inch. The woofer has a huge synthetic rubber surround and dual spiders for maximum excursion. Also placed on the front baffle, is a large 3-inch porting hole that’s flared on both ends to 6-inches. The large size of the port allows the subwoofer to breathe with the efficiency of a larger unit and reduce port noise. The power for the PB10-NSD comes from a 300 Watt Canadian-made BASH digital switching amplifier, designed in collaboration with SVS to match the design of this subwoofer. BASH circuit topology uses the best of Class D and Class AB amplifiers and claims to achieve both class AB sonic performance and class D efficiency. Some of this amplifier’s features include a thick aluminum front plate, over-capacity heat sinking, custom equalization to optimize the frequency response, and a special infrasonic filter to protect the woofer below the ultra deep tuning point.
The rear panel of the PB10-NSD contains a gold-plated low level RCA subwoofer input, an auto/on switch, a separate on/off switch and dials for phase and volume. All the switches and dials have a solid, sturdy feel. Since no high level inputs are provided, this subwoofer must be used in conjunction with an A/V receiver that has a subwoofer output (which all modern Dolby Digital receivers have). The exterior of the PB10-NSD box is finished in a seamless poly wrap that is very rugged – I “tested” its ruggedness. During the time that I was evaluating the subwoofer, I dropped stuff on it a couple of times (not purposely of course) and the finish wasn’t affected at all. This type of finish is great to have especially in a subwoofer. Other subwoofers that I’ve owned, all seemed to get scratched up over time. The finish is available in a choice of three solid colours: black, white or silver. A set of six removable rubber feet maximize the stability of the subwoofer. A heavy duty, removable power cord is supplied with the subwoofer. Overall, the build-quality of the 60-pound PB10-NSD feels and looks rock-solid.
With the PB10-NSD connected to our Marantz SR8500 A/V receiver and a set of Sinclair Audio Brighton Series speakers, I was ready for some low frequency stimulation. I had the crossover dialed in to 80 Hz on the receiver, so that all frequencies below 80 Hz were fed to the subwoofer.
I played with the gain dial until the volume of the subwoofer blended with the rest of my speakers. First up on my ‘test menu’ was one of my favorite sci-fi flicks, Aliens. The PB10-NSD played a powerful, loud thunder produced by the US marine’s drop ship engines. In a later scene, the PB10-NSD produced a convincing explosion when the drop ship crashed on the alien infested world. Black Hawk Down is another great movie with bass-intense scenes. The low frequency pounding of heavy machine guns filled my room with frightening realism. Grenades and anti-aircraft missiles exploded with powerful rumbles that shook my room. During the scene when the Black Hawk chopper came crashing down, the PB10-NSD rattled me right to the core. This subwoofer had the ability to place me right in the middle of the war zone. The BASH amplifier had plenty of power and never sounded like it was reaching its limits, no matter how bass demanding the movie passages. But the bass wasn’t just powerful, it was clean and well controlled. The PB10-NSD was able to clearly deliver the various bass notes of more complex low frequencies, which other subwoofers might mash into a single sound – something great to see in this price range. This subwoofer had no problem keeping pace with Hollywood soundtracks, the dynamics of its bass were great.
If you like to really feel your bass, yes, the PB10-NSD can do that too. With the volume turned up a little, I watched some of the explosions from Black Hawk Down again. I literally felt the shock of these explosions. A few minutes later, I was not so politely asked by a family member to turn it down because things were shaking in the room above the home theatre. Not bad for a 10-inch subwoofer! Even at this higher volume, I didn’t hear any distortion or boomy bass.
Next on my ‘test menu’ was a selection of music CDs. During these music tests, I used our reference Axiom Audio M80 v2 towers as the left and right channels. I adjusted the volume level lower for music listening. The PB10-NSD produced a smooth low-frequency response while listening to every track from Norah Jones’ Feels Like Home album. Slower bass passages sounded rich with a natural fullness. The subwoofer blended very well with the Axiom towers. It delivered just the right amount of bass without overbearing the mid-frequency details played by the towers. Again, the individual low frequencies were clearly discernable, instead of sounding like a single muddy note. Songs from Diana Krall’s Look of Love CD reached my ears with the same smoothness across all low frequencies. The PB10-NSD produced a consistently tight bass response with every song. Bass notes played at the same time as a kick drum were clearly distinct. Overall, the PB10-NSD was capable of adding powerful and clean bass notes to the music that my tower speakers were not able to produce.
There is no question that the PB10-NSD sounded better than many of the subwoofers that I’ve heard in the $579 league. It delivered the required impact while watching Hollywood flicks but it also played with the elegance that’s critical for enjoying music. This subwoofer’s only downside, if you want to call it that, may be its size – it really is the size of a typical 12-inch subwoofer. For this reason, it’s most suitable for use in medium and large rooms, unless you’re a bass freak and wish to dedicate a big chunk of a small room’s real estate to get bass. However, if the PB10-NSD fits your budget and space, you should definitely add it to your potential shopping list. Personally, the PB10-NSD left me wondering just what the other subwoofers, higher in the SVS line-up, are capable of. After all, the PB10-NSD is labeled by SVS as an entry-level model. SVS products are available in Canada exclusively through Sonicboomaudio.com (905-944-8484) and in the US through svsound.com (703-845-1472).
$579 MSRP (Canadian)
SVS PB10-NSD 10-inch Subwoofer
• Proprietary, SVS long-throw 10″ NSD woofer
• 300 Watt BASH digital switching amplifier
• Anechoic response (+/- 3dB): 20 Hz to 100 Hz (in room extension will be 2-5 Hz deeper)
• Phase adjustement: 0-180 degrees
• CAD cabinet with CNC brace and 1-inch front baffle
• Front-firing design with flush fit woofer and vent
• 3-inch, wide-flare port fittings
• Heavy-duty, removable 8 foot power cord
• Three finish choices: black, white and silver
• Dimensions: 15″ wide x 19″ high x 21″ deep
• Weight: 60 lbs