PSA S1500 - Musical Sub: a brief review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 21 Old 05-04-2015, 11:08 AM - Thread Starter
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PSA S1500 - Musical Sub: a brief review

The PSA S1500 – Great Size Great Sound


I waited until I tried this sub for about a month to post a brief review in order to have some time to see how it performs. My comments are really only related to music as home theater isn’t my main interest (at this point).

If you are a two channel “musicphile” and don’t already own a subwoofer, you’ve no doubt have wondered whether a sub would improve your system/sound. If your ultimate pursuit is transparency, dynamics and the “live music sound/feel”, I have no doubt that the PSA S1500 will kick your experience up another notch….whether you have satellites, bookshelves or floorstanders.

Why? Because, deep, powerful bass is one of the x factors that makes music more captivating and exciting and not many home audio systems have this capability without a good subwoofer. And the great thing I found using the S1500 is that the improvements are apparent on virtually all recordings, not just the “demo your system audiophile recordings”.

My floorstander based system resides in the living area of a non rectangular but roughly 30’ x 40’ open concept room that has concrete/tile floors and 10’ ceilings. The mains sound open, transparent and spacious and the low end is pretty good for a room this size. Having heard subwoofers in other people’s homes (some good, some not so good) the urge to improve my sound gave me the nudge to try a subwoofer of my own.

A little bit of research revealed that there are plenty of good ID and B&M sub options. What drew me to Power Sound Audio were the reviews, their reputation, warranty, trial/return option & made in America attitude. What drew me to their new S1500 was the size, which was small, the output, which was large and the controls including room size rolloff and time delay which I suspected would make it easier to integrate.

I placed an order via their website (with no issues), subsequently asked them to delay shipment for a couple of weeks as I was going out of town (no issues) and then took delivery when I returned (no issues). The sub was well packaged and arrived in perfect condition.

I located the sub to the right of my right speaker about 2’ from the rear wall and 3’ from the side wall. I let the mains run full range and brought the sub in a 50hz and listened for the next week or so. Overall, the sound was pretty good, certainly better than the floor standers alone. Then, I began tweaking (by ear and via you tube frequency response videos). I found that I had no strong peaks but nulls at 50hz and 80hz. I moved the sub a few inches. I high passed the mains at 80hz and also brought the sub in at 80 hz and voila, the nulls disappeared. The bass was now tighter, deeper and more realistic and unlike anything I’d ever heard in my home system before.

Overall, I’d say that it was easy to integrate the S1500 and get great sound without microphones, measurement programs, computers and digital sound shapers. And, to be clear, with the S1500 well integrated with the mains, there is no localization of the sub whatsoever. The bass you hear/feel remains properly positioned, left/right/center based on the recording and the mid/upper bass cues given by the mains.

My initial impressions of the S1500 after four weeks:

1. The cabinet – relatively small and very solid; it will easily fit into almost any room

2. The finish - It’s a lot better looking in real life than on the web photos. Yes the surface sparkles when hit with direct sunlight but in indirect light, it has a matte black look that is a good match with my floorstanders and TV. And no doubt, the finish is tough and won’t scratch very easily

3. The grills – really well made, tough, tightly attached and very nice looking


4. The power cord – detachable, 3 prong and about 6’ long


5. The controls – easy to access, easy to read and when you turn the mains off and just listen to the sub you can definitely hear the sound change as you rotate the controls. My current settings are gain set to 9am, time delay to 0ms and the room size set to large


6. Auto on/off – works flawlessly; it takes about 2 seconds to switch to on after the music first starts and then another 2 seconds until the signal off/on delay allows the sub to play


7. Quietness – absolutely no hums, buzzes or hisses, dead silent


8. The output – shocking how much clean bass this small sub puts out into a 12,000 cubic foot open concept room and how defined and tight it is throughout the room... powerful if you are in to home theater and tuneful if you are in to music


9. The sound – turn off the mains, and from 80hz on down what you hear are the thumps, thwacks, bumps, grunts and pressure that you expect in this frequency range . Now turn the mains back on and what you have is a well-integrated, powerful musical bottom end that has no problem keeping up with quick complex bass lines. Things don’t just sound better, they feel better, like you are at a venue listening live but without the crowd noise.


10. The sound (part 2) – when the sub is turned on, the soundstage gets larger, the overall level of ambience improves and previously bright sounding music sounds less bright

11. Break In – I have about 40 hours on the S1500 at this point. Somewhere in the 15-20 hour range it became even tighter than it was out of the box and with improved pitch

Is the S1500 the ultimate musical sub? I can’t really say as it’s the only sub I’ve ever had in my system. What I can say is that the low end sound/support it provides is clean, deep, has a really good pitch and blends well with the mains. So, as the 30 days comes to a close, the S1500 is definitely not going back and I can’t say enough good things about dealing with PSA.


I suspect that in the months to come, I will get around to trying further tweaks with a REW/miniDSP or a DSPeaker Antimode, and when that happens, I will report back.
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post #2 of 21 Old 05-04-2015, 11:43 AM
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Congratulations! Your review showed that even in an “extreme” room, a subwoofer will indeed enhance your music enjoyment.

I did smile when I read number 9. The sound. I did this as well. I turned off my mains and just listened to the sub. I was laughing. I paid THAT much for THIS? Of course, turning the mains back on had me saying that I was GLAD I paid that much for this .
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post #3 of 21 Old 05-04-2015, 02:20 PM
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post #4 of 21 Old 05-04-2015, 02:25 PM
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Nice write up!

I had the s1500 for a few weeks and was impressed with the build quality of the subwoofer and the output. It's a very good value for the asking price and PSA is very well run company.





No itch to try out the s3000 given your large space?
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post #5 of 21 Old 05-05-2015, 03:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the comments and links. As for the question about going to a larger sub given the size of my room, the answer is no. The S1500 can output far more low end into my space than would ever be needed for music...even with musical peaks in the 90-95 db range (my typical listening is 85-90 db peaks). So, at least at this point, and maybe since I'm not looking to pressurize in a way that is desired by the home theater fans, the S1500 was a great choice.

Also, you will note from the one photo that my mains are flanking a Samsung 4k curve. The music system including the sub are wired to play movies via an Oppo 103 or the Comcast X1 system. So, its not that I don't use the system for home theater, its just not my main focus.

Over the past month, I've probably watched a dozen movies or so with the sub turned on. The room shakes, the chairs vibrates and you can feel the deep frequencies in your body (the listening position is 13' from the mains/tv). I don't currently have a way to measure the low end volume or how deep its going but compared to listening through just the mains prior to getting the S1500...well there is no comparison.
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post #6 of 21 Old 05-07-2015, 07:50 AM
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So sweet!
The pictures look good too.
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post #7 of 21 Old 05-27-2015, 01:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deepat04 View Post
Nice write up!

I had the s1500 for a few weeks and was impressed with the build quality of the subwoofer and the output. It's a very good value for the asking price and PSA is very well run company.
If I may ask, did you switch to another sub?
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post #8 of 21 Old 05-27-2015, 08:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JosephTonyStark View Post
If I may ask, did you switch to another sub?
I did, SVS SB13U.
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post #9 of 21 Old 05-28-2015, 05:30 PM
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Thanks for posting your thoughts on the S1500. I always enjoy reading owners comments.

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post #10 of 21 Old 07-01-2015, 09:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deepat04 View Post
I did, SVS SB13U.
My I ask why you switched from the S1500 to the SB13?
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post #11 of 21 Old 07-01-2015, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by kluken View Post
My I ask why you switched from the S1500 to the SB13?
Ditto
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post #12 of 21 Old 07-09-2015, 11:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kluken View Post
My I ask why you switched from the S1500 to the SB13?
I ultimately decided to keep the SB13U for a number of reasons. First and foremost was, sound quality. I tested it mainly with music, playing tracks I was familiar with. I asked my wife to give me feedback on which subwoofer sounded better to her, without telling her which one was playing and she also preferred the SB13U.

Other reasons I kept the SB13 was its design, finish and driver/amp all are a step above the S1500 (IMO). MSRP for the sb13u is 1600 vs 950 for the S1500, this is not a knock on the S1500, as it clearly is using quality components.

I was able to get the SB13U for about $200 more then the S1500 so price did not play much of a deciding factor.

If you are trying to decide between the two my recommendation is to buy both and audition them side by side.
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Last edited by deepat04; 07-10-2015 at 02:43 PM.
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post #13 of 21 Old 07-10-2015, 05:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deepat04 View Post
Other reasons I kept the SB13 was its design, finish and driver/amp all are a step above the S1500. MSRP for the sb13u is 1600 vs 950 for the S1500, this is not a knock on the S1500, as it clearly is using quality components for its price range.

What method(s) did you use to ascertain the driver/amp combo in the SVS is a 'step above' the pair used in the PSA? Design is a matter of personal taste, as is finish (although I would agree the SVS has the better finish), but I don't see how you can quantify the quality of the respective manufacturers parts choice unless you reverse engineer them.
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post #14 of 21 Old 07-10-2015, 06:16 AM
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Originally Posted by JimWilson View Post
What method(s) did you use to ascertain the driver/amp combo in the SVS is a 'step above' the pair used in the PSA? Design is a matter of personal taste, as is finish (although I would agree the SVS has the better finish), but I don't see how you can quantify the quality of the respective manufacturers parts choice unless you reverse engineer them.
+1, especially since the S1500 uses a Speakerpower ICE amp and a custom Eminence Lab 15 driver--both highly regarded in terms of performance and quality.
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post #15 of 21 Old 07-10-2015, 08:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimWilson View Post
What method(s) did you use to ascertain the driver/amp combo in the SVS is a 'step above' the pair used in the PSA? Design is a matter of personal taste, as is finish (although I would agree the SVS has the better finish), but I don't see how you can quantify the quality of the respective manufacturers parts choice unless you reverse engineer them.

Jim I believe you measured both and posted the data @ HTS. I compared both...albeit...the XS30se and based on my personal auditory recall they were fairly close in terms SQ. Maybe with a slight edge to the SB but not in terms of output and/or extension.

Ps: Another member I respect around here will soon post his impression likely on the SB13U > xs30(non SE) & the s3000i.

I am eagerly awaiting his thoughts because his last review steered me in the path of the XS30 at the time.

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post #16 of 21 Old 07-10-2015, 08:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy p View Post
Jim I believe you measured both and posted the data @ HTS. I compared both...albeit...the XS30se and based on my personal auditory recall they were fairly close in terms SQ. Maybe with a slight edge to the SB but not in terms of output and/or extension.

Ps: Another member I respect around here will soon post his impression likely on the SB13U > xs30(non SE) & the s3000i.

I am eagerly awaiting his thoughts because his last review steered me in the path of the XS30 at the time.

Cheers, Bill...
I did indeed evaluate the SB13U, but the PSA was actually an XS15se. It's my understanding the driver is virtually identical between the S1500 and XS15se, but the amp is substantially different. Because of that I suspect the response will differ to some extent.

I have spoken to Tom about an S1500 but those guys are so swamped he asked me to hold off on that review for a few months (that was back in early May). I'll reach out to him again toward the end of the summer and see if I can make it happen.
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post #17 of 21 Old 07-10-2015, 08:56 AM
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What I find to be true is if a person likes the look of subwoofer A better subwoofer B, then he/she will automatically like the sound better too. Psycho Acoustics at play here. I have directly compared the PC12NSD vs a XV15se and the SVS does not sound any better. They both sound great but the PSA simply has more HP. I like the looks of both so no bias was at play with my comparison.
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post #18 of 21 Old 07-10-2015, 02:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimWilson View Post
What method(s) did you use to ascertain the driver/amp combo in the SVS is a 'step above' the pair used in the PSA? Design is a matter of personal taste, as is finish (although I would agree the SVS has the better finish), but I don't see how you can quantify the quality of the respective manufacturers parts choice unless you reverse engineer them.

I agree Jim. I should have emphasized IMO, I did not recommend one over the other because any testing I did was subjective to my opinion. The amp on the SB13U appears to be a step above that of the S1500 because of the digitally managed controls via small screen on amp plate as well as DSP controls, the knobs and overall appearance of the am... Once again this is purely my opinion.

My goal was to keep the one that had the best sound quality, in my room with my system and listening habits, the SB13U came out on top, the bonus of having a subwoofer with a nicer finish and design ( once again IMO ) was a plus.

If anyone is on the fence between PSA and SVS subwoofers, buy both and test them in your listening space.



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post #19 of 21 Old 07-10-2015, 04:10 PM
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That's it in a nutshell really; individual preference. Everyone is different, as is their respective situation, so there's no one-size-fits-all. Personally I'm glad it's that way. I would hate to have no choices.
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post #20 of 21 Old 08-14-2016, 08:24 PM
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I have to chime in and say that I'm a very happy owner of the PSA S1500-b. I can't believe you can get this much sub at this price range, made in the USA and Energy Star Compliant. I put up a review here and I'm stoked this forum lead me to PSA as I probably never would of found them without AVS. Such tight clean bass.
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I have to chime in and say that I'm a very happy owner of the PSA S1500-b. I can't believe you can get this much sub at this price range, made in the USA and Energy Star Compliant. I put up a review here and I'm stoked this forum lead me to PSA as I probably never would of found them without AVS. Such tight clean bass.
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What does Energy Star Compliant bring to the table?...just having a sub is already outside of energy conservation issues
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