SVS PC-2000 Subwoofer Review

 

The PC-2000 is the most recent sub from SVS Sound. It shares the same basic components as the PB-2000 and SB-2000. The three subs utilize a 12″ driver and 500-watt amplifier, the main difference being the PB-2000 and PC-2000 feature ported cabinets, whereas the SB-2000 is sealed.

Last year I reviewed the PB-2000 and found it to be a very competent and enjoyable subwoofer. The PC-2000 is very similar, although it does manage to eke out one extra Hz of low-frequency extension versus its cubic cousin.

Aside from offering a tiny bit more extension, the PC-2000’s performance is reminiscent of the PB-2000. However, they are not identical. Therefore, I put the PC-2000 through its paces for an all-new review.

Reviewing a subwoofer can be a bit tricky because the room has so much influence on how it sounds. Room-related issues are especially troublesome when using only one sub. Normally, I suggest two subs to help tame peaks and dips. However, that might not be practical in this case—the PC-2000 may be a great value, but at $800, it’s not cheap.

Features

The down-firing ported PC-2000 is a very substantial sub. The enclosure is taller than it is wide, measuring 34″ (H) x 16.6″ (diameter), and it weighs 50 pounds. That’s 15 pounds lighter than the PB-2000, making it quite a bit easier to move around. Cylinders are naturally resistant to flexing, negating the need for much bracing, which is why the PC-2000 weighs less.

SVS rates the frequency response from 16 Hz to 260 Hz (+/-3 dB). The company rightly notes that room gain may result in 2-3 dB of added low-frequency extension. Hitting 16 Hz is quite an achievement for an under-$1000 subwoofer; it is equivalent to the lowest note of a pipe organ. With a PC-2000 in your system, true full-range audio reproduction is possible.

A 500-watt amplifier (1100W peak) powers a 2000-series 12″ aluminum cone driver. A 4″ flared port sits beneath the amp on the backside of the sub. The amp offers a set of stereo line-level RCA inputs and outputs. The right-channel input doubles as an LFE input.


Here’s a look at the PC-2000’s 12-inch driver

The PC-2000’s built-in audio controls include a constantly variable phase setting, volume adjustment, and a variable, defeatable lowpass filter.

The sub’s enclosure comes wrapped in a matte-black cloth. It has a glossy-black top that caps the cylinder. A monolithic black cylinder is perfect for dark theaters, but it can look a bit stark in a brightly lit space. Since it is tall, there is no hiding it. It would be interesting to see a PC-2000 wrapped in a custom fabric.


Here’s a look at the inputs and the port

Setup

This review marks the debut of a new listening space in my house dedicated to 2-channel music. After reading and discussing AVS Forum member feedback from a few recent speaker and subwoofer reviews, I decided it was time to create a simple listening space. It’s much closer to typical music-centric 2-channel listening rooms I find in music enthusiast’s homes, as compared to the multi-channel home-theater studio I’ve used in the past.

For the 2-channel rig, I used a Pioneer Elite SC-55 AVR to decode digital audio, perform bass management, and power the speakers. The only room correction I applied was standing-wave compensation provided by the SC-55, which works to correct uneven response in the bass region caused by room modes. I did not use EQ with the speakers. I set a 100 Hz crossover in the AVR and connected it to the sub using the LFE input.

I placed the sub between the left speaker and my turntable, 30″ from the room’s corner. In-room frequency response is not perfect, but the SC-55 did a good job taming it.

In the multi-channel system, I used a Pioneer Elite SC-85 AVR as a preamp. I applied Dirac Live room correction to the system using a miniDSP DDRC-88A 8-channel processor, which in turn fed a Crestron Procise ProAmp 7×250. During the setup process, I had Dirac optimize the soundfield for only one seat—the main listening position. I used the same bass-management settings as the 2-channel system, including the 100 Hz crossover.

In the home-theater system, the sub sounded best placed in the front left corner. Dirac Live helped tame peaks and dips in bass response, and corner loading gave the sub the boost in output it needed for home-theater duty. As long as I sat in the sweet spot, the bass response was acceptably close to linear, with a maximum variation under 10 dB measured from the main listening position, where I did all my listening.

I used SVS Prime Tower and Bookshelf speakers for my listening sessions. In the 2-channel space, I swapped between the Tower and the Bookshelf, listening to each model as a stereo pair with the PC-2000.

For the multi-channel system, the Prime Bookshelf speakers served as surrounds while the Prime Towers acted as L/R mains. Naturally, I used a Prime Center speaker for the center channel.

Performance

The PC-2000 is a great sub. While the difference in specs between it and the PB-2000 is small, I enjoyed the PC-2000 at least as much. I’m not sure if it was the one extra Hz of rated low-frequency extension, the rear-firing port, or the down-firing woofer, but I thought the PC-2000 sounded as good or better than the PB-2000. When asked to go into the infrasonic realm, it provided goose bump-worthy subterranean bass on demand.

In addition to the SVS Prime speakers, I used the 2-channel system to try the PC-2000 with other tower and bookshelfspeakers, including GoldenEar Triton Five towers, PSB Imagine X2T towers, PSB Imagine XB bookshelf speakers, Pioneer Elite Atmos-enabled bookshelf speakers, and Klipsch RP-160M Monitor bookshelf speakers. I did not appreciate how liberating it would be to forsake EQ—I can swap speakers in seconds, with the only required adjustment being a tweak of the subwoofer’s level to match up with the speakers. I found it easy to integrate the sub with all the speakers I tried; it blends well and handles various crossover points with ease—including a relatively high setting like 150 Hz.

Regardless of which speakers I used, with music, the main thing I noticed was how natural basslines sounded when using the PC-2000. Whether it was acoustic, electric, or synthetic, the PC-2000 aced bass. And drums. And anything else that took advantage of its low-frequency prowess.

With movies, the PC-2000 proved it can keep up with the demands of modern cinematic soundtracks. That includes thuds, infrasonic droning sounds, bass sweeps, and explosions—not to mention the music. Plus, I found that the bass response stayed within an acceptable envelope wherever I sat on the couch. If I had to choose between two $400 subs and one PC-2000, I’d go with the PC-2000 despite the issues with using just one sub. That said, a pair of PC-2000s would surely offer a superior bass experience to using only one.

The single PC-2000 easily kept up with both my systems. The stereo rig is situated in a living-room area with an open floor plan including an open kitchen. The space measures 11′ x 33′ x 10′, which is 3660 cubic feet—about double the volume of my theater/studio space. Despite the larger size of the room, the SVS cylinder performed admirably in the 2-channel system.

The PC-2000 was unflappable, just like the PB-2000. No matter what I played, it never sounded like it was struggling to keep up. According to SVS, DSP keeps things in check when the sub approaches its performance limits. I found it did so discretely and without complaint.

I do not possess the means to measure a sub in an anechoic environment—I don’t have a yard and I live in a city. Nevertheless, in-room measurements confirm that the PC-2000 goes down to 16 Hz in my room. Furthermore, it can hit that frequency with some authority—as in make-the-whole-house-throb-and-rattle-the-dishes authority—without losing steam when played for an extended period in a sine-wave torture test. Notably, until you start pushing it, the super-low bass is very clean—there’s no distracting distortion or port noise.

Listening

As always, the proof is in the pudding, which means listening to music and movie soundtracks.

I like dub, rap, and electronic music. As a result, quite a few tracks I listen to include very deep sounds that take full advantage of the PC-2000. I started my listening in the 2-channel room.

Special King Size Dub by Dub Syndicate is a great reggae album. The first track “The Only Alternative” (featuring Lee Scratch Perry) got things going. It has that classic Jamaican dub sound that comes from the use of real instruments along with some echo and reverb. Production quality is very high, so the drums and bass came across as very authentic-sounding.

“Mafia” is the second track on the album, and its bass has a deep resonance that you can feel in your body. The PC-2000 did not exaggerate the deep notes when delivering the requisite “feel it in your bones” effect.

Monday Night – Live at the Green Mill, Vol. 2 by Patricia Barber takes you right into an intimate jazz club. The recording is very clean and captures the ambiance of a live show very well. For this review, it served as my reference for live acoustic music.

I particularly like the sixth track, “Postmodern Blues,” on which the sub exhibited its trademark combination of power and subtlety. The recording effectively transports you to another time and place—it brings you to the show. You can even hear the wait staff collecting glasses from tables! Bass that sounds and feels authentic is a crucial part of conveying the experience, and the PC-2000 delivered on that. I am talking about very subtle bass here, not a home theater-style bludgeoning.

The eighth track on Patricia Barber’s album is the well-known “The Beat Goes On,” and as you might expect, it includes drums and bass. The PC-2000 offered accurate articulation that allowed the instruments to sound real.

I happened to get lucky on a visit to a thrift shop last week and picked up a very nice turntable for $25. Regardless of the known flaws of the recently resurgent analog disc-based format, 33-1/3 rpm LP records sounded great on my system—nice enough to use in reviews. As a result, I recently picked up the Beastie Boys’ classic Hello Nasty on vinyl. Track after track featured bass textures that came through with perfect clarity, all thanks to the PC-2000. If you have not heard the album or haven’t heard it in a while, go get it—it’s extremely good!

Back in the digital realm, I torture-tested the PC-2000 with a track I made for the express purpose of pushing subs to their limit. “Sub Verted” is meant to sound ominous—I originally produced it to scare kids who came to my door on Halloween…by using subwoofers.

The track—which is downloadable here—contains deep, powerful bass effects. On lesser subs, you hear and feel very little when you play the track—most of the content is below the frequencies inexpensive subwoofers can effectively reproduce. The PC-2000 provided a highly tactile experience throughout the track—it was a commendable performance for a single12″ sub.

The PC-2000’s ability to play low without audible distortion made it a pleasure to audition with music.

On the home-theater side of things, I fed the sub a constant diet of action movies. As a crucial part of a surround-sound system, it devoured everything I fed it, providing enough impact to make movie soundtracks a physically involving experience. I love it when a car door slams and you can feel the thud in your chest. Foley effects—at their best—should feel as real as they sound, and the PC-2000 delivered such nuance.

Neill Blomkamp’s Chappie provided a perfect test for the PC-2000. It’s a high-action sci-fi thriller with shades of Robocop. It co-stars Ninja and Yolandi Visser, aka Die Antwoord, the South African rap duo. While I’d rather have twin subs for any movie, the PC-2000 did not let me down, even when the volume and action reached a frenzy, which it often does in this flick.

I revisited Alfonso Cuarón’s Oscar-winning Gravity, which I use as a reference of sorts. It takes bass in Foley effects to a completely new level, conveying the experience of being in a spacesuit through thuds and thumps. Moreover, during action scenes, the movie is not afraid to flex your sub’s driver to its limit. Thankfully, the PC-2000 remains cool and collected as it belts out the bass.

Another movie I used to test out the sub was Jupiter Ascending. It’s not my favorite among sci-fi movies, but the production value is very high, and the sound, in particular, features a lot of bass thanks to the prevalence of spaceships and explosions. We all know spaceships make deep-bass sounds in outer space, right? Anyhow, the PC-2000 brought those rumbles to life and made the movie more enjoyable to watch than it would have been without a sub that can play as deep, loud, and clean.

Conclusion

Much like its 2000-series siblings, the PC-2000 is a simple design; it does not sport fancy features such as DSP-based EQ or auto-calibration. It does not even offer speaker-level inputs. That means it is best suited for use in a system with bass management, typically in the AVR or pre/pro.

I’ve done a lot more listening to the PC-2000 than I could hope to touch on in this review. It’s such a perfect fit for the 2-channel rig, I used it as part of a bookshelf-speaker shootout I’m working on. While I am not going to discuss the relative performance of the speakers before I post that piece, I will gladly talk about my impressions of the PC-2000 paired with any of those speakers.

As I said earlier, the PC-2000 is incredibly similar to the PB-2000. The difference is so minor, choosing between the two comes down to aesthetics and placement options. Nevertheless, the PC-2000 is technically the better performer, with its slightly lower bass response (16 Hz versus 17 Hz). To me, that’s reason enough to go with the PC-2000. But because they are so similar, if you read the PB-2000 review, everything I say in it applies to the PC-2000 as well.

With subs at every price point, the PC-2000 is a great deal for $800. Its design maximizes the quantity of high-quality bass you get for your money. Its ability to reach 16 Hz puts it in a select club of subs that—when paired with speakers that reach 20,000 Hz—can create a true full-range speaker system. That alone is worth the cost of entry.

REVIEW SYSTEMS

Two Channel

Sources

Windows 8 laptop running Tidal
Revolver Rebel turntable with Linn K9 cartridge

Amplification and Processing

Pioneer SC-55 AVR

Cables

Monoprice 12-gauge OFC speaker cables
Mediabridge Ultra Series subwoofer cable
Mediabridge Ultra Series HDMI cable

Speakers

SVS Prime Tower speakers
SVS Bookshelf speakers

Surround Sound

Sources

DIY Windows 8 PC running Tidal
Oppo BDP-103

Amplification and Processing

Pioneer SC-85 AVR
Crestron Procise ProAmp 7×250
MiniDSP DDRC-88A Dirac Live processor

Cables

Monoprice 12-gauge OFC speaker cables
Mediabridge Ultra Series subwoofer cable
Mediabridge Ultra Series HDMI cable

Speakers

Two SVS Prime Tower speakers
Two SVS Bookshelf speakers
One SVS Prime Center speaker