Secrets Benchmark Product Review

SVS PB12-Plus Subwoofer

Part I

January, 2006

Ed Mullen



● 12" Down-firing Driver

● Ported Enclosure

● 525 Watt BASH Amplifier

● Parametric Equalizer Built-In (except on Textured
    Black version)

● Dimensions: 25" H x 18" W x 25" D

● Weight: 110 Pounds

● Available in Textured Black, Rosewood, Maple,
    Cherry, Piano Gloss Black

● MSRP: $899 USA Textured Black, $999 USA in
    Wood Veneers, $1,099 in Piano Gloss Black ($99
     for Shipping)




SVS (also known as SVSound, previously SVSubwoofers) offers an extensive line-up of high-performance subwoofers, with eight powered box models, and fourteen (counting both powered and passive versions) cylinder models.

SVS has separate R&D and manufacturing facilities in Ohio, and several other satellite offices across the United States. While the majority of SVS sales are Internet-direct, a limited line-up of products is offered via exclusive dealers in Europe and Australia.

SVS ships via UPS or flat rate freight depending on the product, and provides shipping notice and tracking information to the customer via e-mail. CONUS orders are typically received within 3-5 business days. Most international customers will receive their order within 7-10 business days.

The model reviewed here is the PB12-Plus, which is a ported box enclosure, with a 12" driver, and 525 watt amplifier.

The Design

I was impressed with the packaging solution for this subwoofer. It was well engineered and very protective, and should withstand rough handling during shipment. The attached pallet further protects the underside of the box, and also allows a hand truck or fork truck to be used for easier transport. The subwoofer came wrapped in a white sheet to protect the finish – a nice touch.

Additional items in the shipping container included an SVS pen, a spare fuse, two foam port plugs, a detachable power cord, optional rubber adhesive feet, and the Owner’s Manual. I glanced over the manual, and found it to be well-written and comprehensive, with good diagrams and instructions on using the PEQ (Parametric Equalizer).

One of the more recent SVS introductions is a family of variable-tune, single-driver box subwoofers with a new cabinet and porting design, and a native 20 Hz tune with all ports open. The models in this family (from least expensive to most expensive) are the PB12-ISD/V, the PB12-Plus, and the PB12-Ultra. They are distinguished by progressively more capable woofers, amplifier power levels, features, and finish options.

The PB12-Plus review unit came in gloss piano black finish. Other available finishes include textured black and four real wood veneers (oak, maple, cherry, and rosewood). The textured black cabinets are built in the USA exclusively for SVS. The premium finished cabinets are made by Sound Art China (SAC), the same company that builds the excellent enclosures for (among others) the AV123 Rocket loudspeaker line.

The gloss black and wood veneer versions of this sub include a parametric equalizer control (also found on the more expensive Ultra version). Cabinet fit and finish on the review model were very good, and the piano gloss black finish was deep and lustrous. The plate amp and vents were well fitted, with tight seams and flush mounting.

The physical configuration is a downward-firing woofer, rear mounted plate amp, three 3” wide-flared rear-firing vents, and an integral baseplate. The baseplate provides a consistent firing surface for the woofer, regardless of the flooring material. The baseplate comes fitted with six semi-rigid rubber disc feet suitable for most surfaces like carpeting or linoleum. SVS provides a packet of soft rubber 3M half-round feet for slippery surfaces such as laminate or polished wood. Don’t install these optional soft rubber feet until the subwoofer is located in its final position, or they might tear off if you attempt the slide the subwoofer with them installed.

The PB12-Plus is a large subwoofer, measuring 25” tall x 18” wide x 25” deep and weighing about 110 pounds. The large internal volume provides exceptional efficiency and output at the deepest frequencies, and also allowed SVS to use longer vents (with internal 90 degree elbows) to achieve the desired vent length required for a native 20 Hz tune. The interior of the cabinet is lined with fiberglass and features an extensive two piece brace that also acts to internally support the triple vent tubes.

About Variable Tuning

While the native 20 Hz tune is deep enough for nearly all applications, the PB12-Plus can be tuned even deeper. To do so, the user inserts a foam port blocker (two are provided) and adjusts the amplifier tuning knob from 20 Hz to 16 Hz. Inserting the port blocker drops the tuning frequency of the enclosure to about 16 Hz, and adjusting the tuning knob enables a custom equalization curve and high pass filter optimized for the 16 Hz tune. The PB12-Plus can be tuned deeper still by inserting two foam port blockers and adjusting the amplifier tuning switch to 12 Hz (again enabling a custom equalization curve and high pass filter optimized for the 12 Hz tune).

Improving deep extension by lowering the tune of the subwoofer sacrifices some overall total SPL output capability, as shown in the objective testing section below. The PB12-Plus will offer the highest overall output capability (above 20 Hz) with all three ports open in the native tune, and this configuration is therefore recommended for larger rooms and/or very high playback levels. In the 16 Hz tune, the PB12-Plus still retains two 3" ports, which should remain turbulence-free under all but the most aggressive playback levels. The 16 Hz tune therefore represents a very good compromise between ultra deep extension and high output capability.

In my opinion the PB12-Plus is under-ported in the 12 Hz tune, and this might result in some port turbulence (chuffing) at high playback levels. This tune also places considerable stress on the driver, because cone excursion requirements increase substantially over the majority of the pass band with a 12 Hz tuning frequency. Considering how deep this subwoofer can play in the 20 Hz and 16 Hz tunes, I don’t see a practical reason to use the 12 Hz tune.

Click Here to Go to Part II.

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