Originally Posted by Snowmanick
SVSound had two set up in the room, set up at 90 degrees of each other. The towers were in a 2 channel set up with a Classe pre and amp (didn't catch the model numbers). They were a couple of feet into the room, giving the ports on the back plenty of room to breathe. The monitors, center, surrounds and an SB13-Ultra were set up with Rotel gear in a 5.1 configuration. The monitors were surprisingly close to the wall behind them (maybe 4"-5" from the port to the wall). The room had several SVSound staff on hand to answer questions, including Gary Yacoubian, Dan Marks (the Director of Operations) and Mark Mason, the lead speaker designer. All were friendly, fun, and knowledgeable. They also had a PB13-Ultra on display with a corner cutaway to show the massive driver and stout enclosure. I was both thrilled at how cool the cutaway was and saddened to see the proud warrior cut apart.
I got to demo both set-ups, and came away impressed. Before I give any impressions, the disclaimers: the room was too small in my opinion, and it is a show, so set up and treatments etc. will have an impact when people actually have these in their homes, any opinions I give are purely subjective, based off of audio memory (which is very fallible), and the opinions are really only relevant to me as we all have different ears, tastes, preferences, etc. Also, I am an owner of SVS gear (subs) and a fan of the company. Finally, I forgot my media at work in my rush to get out the door (D'oh!) so I was listening to other peoples tunes. With the exception of one track I know very well (Miles Davis Blue in Green), most of the tracks I heard were unfamiliar to me.
First impression, the bass. I heard the bass from the hallway before I even got to the door. This didn't really surprise me, it's SVS after all, but then I found out it was just the towers with no sub. That did surprise me a bit. The mid-range was clear, and if a little laid back (as opposed to the British tradition one finds in, say, KEF's R-series or the new LS50's), it blended very well with the highs. The upper registers actually surprised me the most, in a very good way. I found the tweeters provided plenty of air, without coming across as etch-a-sketch "hi-fi." I heard a lot of detail through the mids and tweets, and after a good solid listen to the speakers, I was very impressed with just how clean they sounded. The Ultra towers reminded me of a lot of the higher end ($$$$) speakers that I was listening to at the show.
All of the top end goodness caries over to the monitors. In a way, I actually preferred the monitors with the sub through the mid-range as it seemed better tailored to the room. With the monitors so close to the wall, I was expecting them to be a bit boomy, but it wasn't at all. I forgot to check or ask if they had any type of port bungs in them or even offered.
(As a side note, I think SVS should bring some bass traps if they come next year, the towers could overload the room at times. But that is a room issue, not the speakers as far as I could tell)
As for the 5.1 demo, SVS was using a demo disc with a few different tracks and clips on it. One was a 5.1 DTS MA recording of a classical music concert. The bass definition was very good, but I was more impressed with the sound of the bow's on the stringed instruments. Again, I found plenty of detail and impact here, with out the brightness and artificial edge that a lot of speakers impart. The recordings didn't have much that really brought attention to the center or surrounds, but that could also be that they were just blending with the mains very well. I would have liked some tracks with dialogue and/or vocals to be able to see how the monitors and center blended with the human voice when it pans across the front soundstage. Maybe I'll take a BD or DVD with me tomorrow. I did note however that the volume was deceptive. When we were demoing some of the 5.1 tracks, the system was very clean, and it appeared to be playing at a moderate volume. Then I noticed that two other people were talking, and having to talk quite loud over some of the bombastic parts, and I couldn't make out what they were saying. I was about 3-4 feet from them, so it kind of came as a shock.
The enclosures are all visually interesting. The trapezoidal shape, combined with the cut-lines along the corners, make the speakers look smaller than they really are. They are also rather unique, with so many speakers either being straight edged rectangles or the almost ubiquitous bowed sides that have become de rigueur over the last 5-10 years. I wish the enclosures came in some of the super-sexy finishes that Aperion was showing off, but the high gloss black looked nice and will probably fit in with a lot of homes. On my second visit to the room (I came back to hear the 5.1), Thomas J. Norton was in the room, and commented about the potential issues with the gloss finish and front PJ's. The screen on the towers only covers the upper half of the speaker, and the lower front face is the gloss black, which might give a reflection. He has a point, but the speakers are also available in black oak if that is a big concern. He also felt the speakers had too much "bling" (his word) with the trim rings, tweeter grill, etc. I humbly disagree, they kind of reminded me of the KEF R's and some B&W's. Though I would have preferred the trim rings to have hidden the screws as the KEF R's do (see pic's on the product lit to see what I am talking about).
One other note, the last song I listened to was some heavy metal song that another attendee brought in ( I think he said the name of the band was Lamb of God, but I could be misremembering). Not my kind of music, but it did show that while the bass on the towers is rather strong at low to pretty high volumes, when pushed it will compress. The Classe pre was showing a volume of -6.5 (but I have no idea what it was calibrated to), and the mids and highs were still going, but the bass didn't seem to be as powerful and defined. This could have been the recording, but if metal is your thing, I'd still get a sub if you want to crank the tunes.
In the end I was really impressed. I came away thinking that SVS had done something different with the voicing, on purpose, of the speakers. While they were very easy to listen to, they didn't have the same sound that a lot of $2k towers seem to emulate. They had plenty of detail, kind of like the Salk Song Towers do, a lot of energy in the upper range without being bright, and plenty of bass.
As for pic's, sorry, I don't have any. My wife lost our camera years ago, and if any of you have met me you've seen why we never replaced it