SVS Prime Pinnacle Speakers Review

The SVS Prime Pinnacle ($1598/pair in Black Ash, $1798/pair in Piano Black Gloss) is a major new speaker release. This premium model takes the top slot in the SVS Prime lineup and offers a 3-way design incorporating a 5.25” midrange plus three 6.5” woofers. The result is a tower specified to cover 29 Hz to 25 kHz (+/-3 dB) that’s able to handle up to 300 watts of power. That’s next-level performance from a brand that’s famous for delivering exceptional prices, performance and customer service.

Additional specifications include 88 dB sensitivity at 2.83V, 1 meter and a nominal impedance of 8 ohms. The midrange/tweeter crossover is set at 2.1 kHz with a 12 dB per octave slope. The midrange deliver crossover is set at 300 Hz and also use the 12 dB per octave slope. This speaker has a 1” aluminum tweeter for highs. The 5.25” midrange is made of composite glass-fiber while the woofers are polypropylene. Both the midrange driver and the woofers feature shorting rings in the motors, cast ABS/fiberglass composite baskets and vented voice coil formers.

The cabinet is made of MDF and feature separate enclosures for each driver. Chamfering on the front baffle as well as flush-mounted drivers resulted in reduced diffraction and better on frequency response, according to SVS. Furthermore, the cabinet is built with angled bracing to mitigate resonance and improve overall cabinet rigidity.


SVS Prime Pinnacle cabinet diagram – Graphic courtesy of SVS

This is a substantial speaker, weighing 57.1 pounds and measuring 40.5″ (H) X 8″ (W) X 13.4″ (D). It’s available in both black ash and piano gloss black finishes.

Notably, SVS is always very open about discussing its designs and the performance of its gear. Moreover, company has historically published accurate specifications. So, if you want to read up about the speakers, follow this link to the company’s website.


Setup and Listening

SVS sent me a pair of the Prime Pinnacle towers in Piano Black along with an SVS SB-3000 subwoofer ($999.99), perfect ingredients for a high-impact 2.1 system. I put the speakers in my living room and powered them with the NAD M10 Masters integrated streaming amplifier ($2499.99) that’s rated at 100 watts per channel into 8 ohms and features Dirac Live room correction. That brings the total system to $5099.96.

With bass extension to 29 Hz, it’s absolutely possible to use these speakers in a 2.0 configuration and get visceral, impactful bass out of it. Moreover, with room correction (Dirac Live) that bass tightens up quite nicely.

Upon first listen, in “pure” 2.0 with no EQ or correction, it’s already clear SVS has developed a speaker that transcends price points—it’s simply great. Granted, you’ll have to use speaker positioning (and potentially some room treatment) to get the right balance of sound but these speakers are as worth giving the proper audiophile treatment as any six-figure system that you’ll find in the high-end audio show. Treat them right and you’ll get pristine, detailed sound with a enveloping soundstage that transcends the boundaries of the room and has palpable three-dimensionality to it.

Future Chaos by Bomb the Bass immediately lit up my living room with pulsating basslines and squishy synthesis that had a lush feel to it thanks to the solid performance of the Prime Pinnacle towers. Not even a hint of flab here, these speakers let you hear and feel all the details in a well-produced track. The clean sound of these speakers is a sign that SVS got the design right.

Turning on the SB-3000 added an extra layer of depth to the proceedings, but the gap between 2.0 and 2.1 is small with music. Also, I’m not one to run a 2.1 system without applying some sort of bass EQ. This may be accomplished with the SB-3000 app and parametric EQ, or with an AVR or integrated amp’s built-in EQ/room correction. Having said that, simply setting the sub level to taste resulted in a system that is eminently listenable. It is a testament to the good design of the speakers and sub that they (subjectively) blend as well as they do without any EQ.


The SVS SB-3000 sealed subwoofer – Photo by SVS

Dirac Live does wonders for smoothing out bass response and also takes care of timing and channel level issues. I ran it on the NAD M10 and post-EQ the system both sounded and measured even better in both 2.0 and 2.1 modes and achieved full-range (20 Hz to 20 kHz) in 2.1 mode. Both 2.0 and 2.1 listening benefitted from the mitigation of room gain and addressing some peaks and dips caused by room interactions.

As has been the case in other reviews right took a similar approach, the optimized system (full 2.1 with Dirac Live) sounds stunning. It’s so good, the rig could go toe to toe with far more expensive “audiophile” systems that you find it high-end shows and hotels. In some cases, the sales tax on a power cord will cost more than this entire system, and yet if you care about great sound and not audiophool jewelry the reality is that price is irrelevant. If the goal is to experience great stereo sound, you’d be hard-pressed to improve upon what you can get out of the Prime Pinnacle and SB-3000 combo.

Not only did I enjoy music through the system—it handled the tight yet airy production of Black Uhuru’s “The Dub Factor” as easily as Ministry’s thick and loud “The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste.”

And for a commenter who asked (ahead of the review) how it does with large-orchestra, classical music… nothing like an excuse to queue up some Beethoven from the Deutsche Grammophon label and crank away. Here, you get scale and scope—a large, transparent, deep image. You get the physical effects of well-rendered bass that is so crucial to getting the true impact of live orchestral music. Flutes dance, strings build to impressive crescendos and all the while your ears want more. Why? Intuitively, because these speakers are not distorting.

Credit where it’s due… a solo clarinet will tell you if a speaker is faithful in reproduction. I got chills and goosebumps out of Beethoven, which is as it should be.


Upping the Power

Because the speakers handle more power than the NAD M10 Masters delivers, I tried powering them with my 250 W per channel amp, the Crestron ProCise ProAmp. My thinking here is that if you are inclined toward “pure” 2-channel (2.0) listening then it’s worth using an amplifier that can drive the speakers to their performance limit. But when using bass management and a subwoofer, the power provided by an AVR or a device like the NAD M10 is surely plenty for most residential applications.

For this review, I did not go beyond a 2.1 system. However, I did use it to watch several movies in my living room. And my thought is that the powerful performance, and the excellent stereo image, deliver a remarkable amount of the theatrical experience. I perceived vocals as coming from the screen, and there was a sense of scale and scope to the mix—big action scenes sounded appropriately big. Despite the lack of surround sound, there was a good correlation between on-screen action and sound placement.

Watching Bumblebee, I was absorbed by the on-screen action and had to consciously remind myself that it was only stereo sound. Same thing for Captain Marvel, I’m sure if I did an A/B comparison I’d hear a marked difference in how the soundfield is rendered, but the fidelity of the 2.1 SVS Prime Pinnacle rig delivered its own kind of thrills by making sounds physical, tangible, visceral.

My experience watching movies got me thinking about what a wise initial investment & upgrade path would look like, if it were based on SVS Prime Pinnacle speakers. I recommend pairing them with a good AV receiver or integrated amp, even if your budget means that you have to start with a 2.0 system. It should be doable for under $2500. From there, I’d add the subwoofer (SB-3000 is one choice but you could go bigger or do dual), followed by a Prime Center speaker and a pair of surrounds (Prime Satellite or Prime Bookshelf) to get to 5.1. After that, I’d make the leap to 5.1.4 using the Prime Elevation speakers.  And to wrap it up, if the AV receiver supports it, I’d add rear surrounds as the final upgrade.

What I would not do is take that initial $2500 and tried to buy an AVR plus a 5.1.4 speaker system with it. There is more satisfaction to be had in connecting a pair of these towers directly to an AVR and building from there.


Conclusion

Choosing the right speakers is a matter of taste, thanks to the incredible variety of sizes, shapes, technologies and price points that are available to consumers. If your taste runs toward high-performance and impressive fidelity at prices that are justified by the design, materials and build quality then you’ve got a glorious new option with the SVS Prime Pinnacle.

If you’re looking for a premium, full-sized three way tower that does not compromise sound and yet is attainably priced relative to other gear of this quality, SVS always requires serious consideration. To me, it’s no surprise that these are phenomenal speakers because they are the latest and greatest iteration of the already familiar SVS Prime series. The company has earned its excellent reputation in terms of both product design and customer service.

With sound this tight and free of artifice, you can listen for hours on end at spirited volume levels and enjoy every second of it. There’s no doubt about it, the Prime Pinnacle is a Top Choice speaker selection for 2019.


SVS Prime Pinnacle speakers in Piano Black Gloss finish – $1798/pair – Photo by SVS


Pros

  • Attractive design
  • High Power Handling
  • Comes assembled
  • 8 ohm – easy to drive
  • Digs deep
  • Easy to build out a full surround system
  • Great for music and movies
  • Clean sound that’s dynamic, impactful
  • Excellent construction quality
  • Audition in your home
  • SVS customer service

Cons

  • Only available in 2 finishes
  • No bi-amping option
    Grills not magnetic
  • Most expensive speaker in Prime series
  • Not easy to find a pair to audition in a store

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