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post #1 of 15 Old 09-09-2016, 11:36 AM - Thread Starter
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SVS SB13 Ultra or PSA 15S / S1500 / S1800 / V1800 / S3000i

Apologies if this is going to be a long read, but I'll try to include as much info as I can, up-front. I'm looking for a new sub for my home theatre setup because Hulk on Bluray destroyed my 17 year old B&W ASW2000 and I can't get the driver to work like it used to before, even though I've had it repaired.

The ASW2000 was a 12", ported, hulking big thing with a 175W amp that did a great job on movies but sounded like utter crap with music, so I never used it for music. I might add I ran it at barely 30-35% volume for the majority of its time with me and it did a good enough job of shaking the house!

After the 2000 died on me I swapped-in a little 8", sealed B&W 608 that I had spare and have been using it for about a year now, but I'm finally ready to get myself a proper sub to replace the old 2000. The thing is, having used the sealed 608 for a year, I realized just how good this little 8" sealed sub was compared to the garbage the ported 2000 was, when listening to music. Obviously it can't hold a candle to what the bigger, ported sub could do in movies. Still, my use is around 50/50 music and movies, so I want the new sub to definitely sound tight and do justice to my music, not be useless like the older, bigger B&W was.

My setup consists of a pair of B&W 604S2 floor standers as fronts, LCR6 center, 602S2 bookshelves (very large) as rears. I use a Denon AVR-4520 to power the whole setup and run video out a Panasonic AE8000 projector to a 120" Grandview screen with 1.0 gain. I use my system with the amp running at around -25dB to -20dB most of the time, though I will crank it up louder from time to time for music only. Oh, I also listen to vastly different kinds of music from rock, to pop, to jazz, to classical, to electronica!

My living room measures 21' wide by 16' deep and the ceiling is 8'8" high. This runs into my dining room off to a side which is another 10' deep by around 17' wide. There's also a stairway to the back and a passage in between the living and dining rooms. Having said that, my fronts are only around 9'6" apart and my rears are a couple of feet wider apart. The sub has to be placed between the fronts, due to aesthetics and room design.

I've looked around for a decent sealed sub to replace my older, ported B&W and have narrowed it down to two brands, PSA and SVS, both of which are available locally in India, where I live. Please don't recommend other brands to me, because I'm really not interested in importing anything myself.

SVS' Merlin speaker wizard recommended the SB13 Ultra to me and it looked great to me on paper. The PSA distributor here currently only has the 15S, the V1800 and the S3000i in stock. I spoke with Tom Vodhanel on PSA's website and he reckoned that a V1500 would be good for my needs. When I told him I might prefer a sealed box, he said the S1500 should suffice. He also felt that the S1500 would compare favorably to the SB13-Ultra. He also told me the 15S was identical in performance to the S1500, if I wanted to go downward firing.

So this is what it all boils down to. Here are the local costs for the various models (crazy compared to your US pricing):

SVS SB13 Ultra: $2175 with the sound isolation feet thrown in

PSA 15S: $1622
S1500: $1801
S1500 Black Ash finish: $2341
S1800: $2341
V1800: $2341
S3000i: $2702 (Crazy, given it's the same price as the SB13 Ultra in the USA, even if it is a whole notch above the SB13 Ultra in terms of capability).

I guess what I'm wondering here is, which speaker would be best for my needs? Then, factoring the local costs in, which makes the most sense? I could afford to buy any of them, I just don't want to get something that will be massively overkill and, as a result, a waste of money.

Will the S1500 justify the price premium over the SB13 Ultra or should I just get the 15S and pocket the change? Alternatively, should I get the S1800 / V1800 for around 10% more than the SB13 Ultra? Lastly, is there any sense even considering the S3000i, given that it is significantly more expensive, and would it actually be too much sub for my needs? I think I'd prefer a front firing, sealed sub, and no, I cannot get two subs, it has to be just the one.

Lots of questions, I know, but lemme know what you guys think.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this long post!

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post #2 of 15 Old 09-09-2016, 11:40 AM
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V1800 hands down for a 50/50 mix in that large open space. 3000i would be minimum IMO for sealed. S1500 will suffice but you would be better served to buy a sub that will have some headroom to spare.
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post #3 of 15 Old 09-09-2016, 11:51 AM - Thread Starter
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I know it sounds like it's a large, open room, but in actual fact the soundstage is barely 10 feet wide and the speakers are around 14 feet ahead of my chairs.

I can't audition any of these subs here, unfortunately, and we don't have the 45/60 day trial period on offer here either, so I've gotta try and guess what's gonna work best based on things people say.

Has the game really moved on that much in the past 15-20 years for ported subs and are the V1500 / V1800 capable of doing nice, tight music? I can't stand it when a sub muddies up the sound by sounding laggy like my older B&W used to. Maybe it was just not very good by comparison to today's offerings? Also, how come with a 175W amp that old B&W was never even run over 40% volume by me, yet today I'm being recommended subs with 700+ W amps and 15-18" drivers?

Do you not think an S3000i would be too much for my room? Also would an S3000i provide similar thump to a V1800 for movies? Which would be the better sub for music?
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post #4 of 15 Old 09-09-2016, 12:58 PM
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Things have changed a lot...sealed being better for music is a myth. The V1800 will do both exceptionally well. Again better to have a little more sub then you need rather then not enough and you catch yourself grabbing the remote and turning the volume down because some scene just caused your sub to make a funny noise. You can always dial back a more powerful sub and it will still sound balanced.

That being said I would only go sealed if the room was smallish and or music was your main listening source. Or you plan on running multiple units. Sealed is normally cheaper because the same size driver can be put in a smaller enclosure. Ported sub's are larger but yield a +8db advantage around port tune over its sealed brothern. Look at the S1800 and V1800.

Also most of these high quality ported sub's have port tunes in the 15-20hz range, so the port contributes little to no output above 30hz in the audible bass range. Part of that old myth of sealed being better was that ported sub's from 20yrs ago had tuning points in the 30-40hz range, so the port would add group delay and longer decay rates in the audible bass range muddying up the sound.

All that being said I still vote V1800 first and 3000i second, but both will probably knock your socks judging by your previous sub.
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post #5 of 15 Old 09-09-2016, 01:12 PM
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I went with a V1500. I had lots of issues at first, from muddy bass in music to weak sounding bass in movies. I can tell you it was 100% due to non-sub issues. After numerous emails with Tom (can't stress how awesome his customer service is) and lots of help from others on here, I have it dialed in very nicely now. Movies shake the entire house, and music is very clean and tight sounding. Overall, I'm beyond impressed with how awesome the vented sub handles both music and movies. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend any PSA vented sub to someone looking for a musical sub.
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post #6 of 15 Old 09-09-2016, 01:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Kentucky View Post
I went with a V1500. I had lots of issues at first, from muddy bass in music to weak sounding bass in movies. I can tell you it was 100% due to non-sub issues. After numerous emails with Tom (can't stress how awesome his customer service is) and lots of help from others on here, I have it dialed in very nicely now. Movies shake the entire house, and music is very clean and tight sounding. Overall, I'm beyond impressed with how awesome the vented sub handles both music and movies. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend any PSA vented sub to someone looking for a musical sub.
This is my worry. I'd be utterly crushed if I spent this kind of money on a new sub and felt that it gave me muddy bass. Out of interest, what changes did you make with your settings to get it to sound better? My major concern is that I am really quite restricted to just one spot in the room for the sub. I suppose I could switch it from right of center to left of center, but that's about it.

@basshead81 I haven't been able to dig up any info on what freq. the flow port on the old B&W was tuned to, but I guess what you're saying makes sense. That old sub just sounded slow and muddy with music and generally made things sound worse in 2.1 than just stereo.

Any ideas on why these new subs have amps that are so much higher power than the older one I had? Ok they have larger drivers, but even so...175W to 700-1000W is a gargantuan leap. Volume isn't even a major consideration to me and this makes me wonder if I should be looking at one of the lower PSAs or even a lower SVS model? For movies I love the slam and thump as much as the next guy, but for music I just want it to sound really good and not artificially bass heavy, if you know what I mean?
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post #7 of 15 Old 09-09-2016, 01:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kbk_75 View Post
This is my worry. I'd be utterly crushed if I spent this kind of money on a new sub and felt that it gave me muddy bass. Out of interest, what changes did you make with your settings to get it to sound better? My major concern is that I am really quite restricted to just one spot in the room for the sub.
I started with an issue with my receiver subwoofer pre-out, Tom got me set up with some extra pieces to correct that. Once I got good volume out of the sub, it was simply changing settings one-by-one on both my receiver and on my source players (PS4/HTPC/etc) to get it all sounding great. I left the settings on the sub alone (crossover all the way up, phase at 0, gain at the 12 'oclock position) and only changed settings on my receiver and source players one at a time to see the differences. I re-ran the YPAO setup with each change, so it's a process that takes a very long time to complete. But it's very worth it, the final product has phenomenal sound. It puts a smile on my face very time I hear it.
In the end, I tried a few different sub positions like front corner, front center, nearfield behind the couch, etc. Each had a slight difference in output but I don't think any of them sounded bad once I had everything else good.
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post #8 of 15 Old 09-10-2016, 07:15 AM
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1)The gain setting on the subwoofer has little correlation to the amount of the available amplifier power that may be needed during your listening sessions. I'd wager that you've maxxed out the asw amplifier even at moderate master volume levels on a regular basis.

http://www.powersoundaudio.com/pages/gain-control

2)The asw2000 was tuned around 29hz iirc. The FR was over damped too. This will tend to have a negative effect on things like impulse response, group delay, etc.

3)The costing through our distributors will never be even remotely close to our website pricing. We might incur $80 shipping a S3000i. They will often spend $300-400-500 just to ship it into their area. Add import fees, regional taxes, etc to that. Then they have all of the overhead of warehousing it, customer support, promoting it on their website, etc. THEN, add the shipping to you and everything involved in that. It would be more beneficial to compare each product's performance rather than how close your cost is to a USA based website imo. For example, the S3000i offers nearly 2x the performance(output) of the s13u and costs about 25% more in your region.

Here is a generic example. Widget A and B.

A costs 10 bucks to manufacture and is sold on the website for 12 bucks.
B costs 5 bucks to manufacture and is sold on their website for 12 bucks.

A "dealer" might pay 11 for widget A and then spend a ton of money to ship it half way around the world, etc. So they need to sell it at 16 bucks just to make a LITTLE profit.

A dealer for widget B pays 8-9 bucks and sells it for 14 bucks and can really make a big profit.

Tom V.
Power Sound Audio

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep,
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post #9 of 15 Old 09-10-2016, 08:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey Tom,

Thanks for the insight. I'd already worked out that your dealers are working on tighter margins than SVS' here and that the S3000i was a notch up from the SB13u. I'm leaning heavily toward the 3000i now, I guess I'm just wondering if it's too much sub for my needs (is there such a thing? Lol)
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post #10 of 15 Old 09-19-2016, 11:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Cool

So my S3000i arrived today and I literally laughed out loud when I saw the size of the box! Hooked it up to my system and did about an hour's worth of fiddling with settings, both to music as well as Incredible Hulk Bluray.

Early impressions are great, I think I made the right choice, the sub is tight and handles music nicely and creates quite a kaboom in HT. I've got it at 50% gain ATM, 0 delay, crossover at 150hz, room size large with AVR set to all speakers small, except for fronts, sub handling LFE + main and LPF set to 80hz.

So far I've realized how much better it sounds in my arm chair than in another arm chair in my living room. It also, obviously, sounds significantly worse on my sofas, 'cause they are at 90 deg. to the speakers.

Anyone have a link to a setup guide for getting the most outta your new sub? I do not have any mics or spl meters, except for the Audyssey one that came with my AVR4520 Denon receiver.

Thanks to all for suggestions in my decision making process and a special thanks to Tom V for patiently answering my questions!
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post #11 of 15 Old 09-19-2016, 11:57 AM
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First I would recommend turning the crossover on the sub off and letting the 4520 handle the crossover. Might not help with how it sounds on the couch; a second sub might be the only fix for that, but it might help with the overall sound of the sub. I think 150hz is pretty high.

As for a setup guide. You can try Dolby.com. I find their website pretty useful.

Last edited by Rowan611; 09-19-2016 at 12:00 PM.
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post #12 of 15 Old 09-19-2016, 12:38 PM
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Turning the crossover up to 150hz defeats it.
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post #13 of 15 Old 09-19-2016, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kbk_75 View Post
Early impressions are great, I think I made the right choice, the sub is tight and handles music nicely and creates quite a kaboom in HT. I've got it at 50% gain ATM, 0 delay, crossover at 150hz, room size large with AVR set to all speakers small, except for fronts, sub handling LFE + main and LPF set to 80hz.
Turn that to LFE only, your bookshelves dont need that low frequency sent to them IMO....and I've read that you want the LPF to 120Hz.

You run Audyssey yet?
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post #14 of 15 Old 09-19-2016, 02:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Haven't had the chance to run Audyssey yet, will do so tomorrow. Can't find my 4520's ACM1HB mic, but I reckon I can use my DM409A mic that came with my 4311 just fine.

My fronts are floorstanders, not bookshelves, and when I change the setting to LFE only, it's the sub that doesn't play unless there's a dedicated LFE track so basically it won't work for music at all, which is why I've got it set to LFE + Main. Also, when I set my fronts to 'small' I lose a good deal of mid, especially low mid and it ends up sounding kinda high and low with nothing in-between, which is why I chose to leave the fronts as 'large' and switched the centre and rears to small, even though they are all very large bookshelf speakers.

If past experience is anything to go by, Audyssey will do an ok job even if it gets distances and things wrong, but I'll end up wanting a bit more from the sub than Audyssey thinks I should have!

I'll also have a listen with slightly lower crossover on the sub and by tweaking the room size knob as well, see how that sounds!
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post #15 of 15 Old 09-20-2016, 05:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Unhappy

So Audyssey is turning the sub waaaay down and also boosting the highs massively when it's allowed to set EQ. This is making the system sound like I've suddenly added some super tweeters to my system instead of a new sub!

It's also getting the speaker distances quite drastically wrong. My front right and my sub are pretty much side-by-side, for instance!

Here are some screenshots of what Audyssey is doing! Can't say I care for the results much.
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