Abigail Savage, Actress/Sound Editor, Orange is the New Black

Abigail Savage is best known for her role as inmate Gina Murphy on the hit Netflix show Orange is the New Black. She’s also an accomplished sound designer and audio tinkerer who’s done surgery on a subwoofer and assembled an eclectic mix of high performance audio gear in her Brooklyn apartment that she calls, “A Real Frankenstein System.” When it came time to replace her surgically repaired subwoofer, Abigail followed the sound advice of Tom and Rob from the AVRant Podcast, which led her to SVS.

Because she lives in an apartment with neighbors below, her goal was to find the best compact subwoofer to provide accurate and impactful bass, even at low listening levels, without taking over the room physically. The search ended with an SB-1000 Subwoofer, which has become her new home theater “companion” by filling in the low end with the perfect amount of ever-present bass.

In this Q&A, Abigail discusses how she got into audio and the effects the SB-1000 Subwoofer has had on her system.

The Setup:

  • SVS SB-1000 Subwoofer
  • Audio Physics Gemini 2s
  • Vac Rennaisance 3030 Tube Amplifier
  • Alesis M1 Active Powered Monitor Center
  • Focal Sibs for Side Surround
  • Focal Little Birds for Rear Surround
  • Grace Digital Bluetooth Amp w/ Pocket Transmitter sending signal via Apt X
  • Marantz SR5010 AV Receiver

Questions And Answers:

When did you first get into audio and start caring about sound quality?

My dad was a serious audiophile and when I’d come over to his apartment, he would always be so excited to play whatever new classical album he had picked up, and he was always upgrading his system so it was cool to see it evolve over time. He probably got into it when I was around 12 and by the time I was 20, he just had an amazing system.

I can remember one time he played me a record and a CD of the same recording, and it blew me away to hear the sound quality of the vinyl versus the CD. I know now it was probably a badly encoded CD, but at the time it was pretty exhilarating to hear the sonic difference. So part of my appreciation came from these experiences, and also because I’ve had some pretty awesome gear handed down by my dad. My system now is a 5.1 and he is the classic two-channel audiophile, so we still have our own unique tastes.

What made you decide to upgrade the subwoofer in your system?

It’s a pretty funny story. I had an older subwoofer that had broken several years back, at a point in my life when I had more time than money. I decided the best option was to jerry-rig the one I had by replacing the amplifier on the back with one I picked up from Parts Express. It kind of fit, and it worked, but we had to cut into the MDF and patch a hole in the back so definitely not a perfect solution.

Fast forward to this year and after I upgraded my receiver to the Marantz and calibrated my system with Audyssey, it beefed up the subwoofer levels tremendously, much higher than I’d been listening to. We were watching Jurassic Park 2 and during some of the really powerful sound effect sequences that required a lot of subwoofer, there was this horrible, whiny pitched noise coming out of the system, and I knew the culprit immediately. There was just too much air pressure being forced through the holes in my jerry-rigged subwoofer so I just said, “It’s time to get a new subwoofer.”

How has the SB-1000 Subwoofer impacted your system’s performance?

It’s been great. The one thing I noticed right away and what always strikes me is that it’s just so smooth. It’s just always there playing its part in the system, adding impact and slam but never coming off as too aggressive or forced, especially considering what Marantz can do for low level listening. It’s just really fit in perfectly.

What do you primarily listen to on your main system?

Honestly, it’s very little music, and almost all TV and movies. We have a very open apartment where the kitchen, living room and dining room all sort of flow together so we have a little radio in the kitchen that is sort of like the path to least resistance for music, which, if my dad knew that, he’d be very upset considering his traditional audiophile ways. [laughing].

Any great audio moments you can remember after initially hooking the SB-1000 up?

The first movie we watched after upgrading to the SVS was the new Mission Impossible and there was this one musical sequence that went with a chase scene and all seven speakers and the subwoofer were just dancing to the score in perfect unison. I was eating dinner with my wife at the time and I just stopped and had a big grin on my face for a minute while absorbing how much better it sounded.

But really, what I’m liking about the subwoofer as I spend more time with it, is that it’s like this constant companion, and now whenever there’s low frequency content, I’m hearing and feeling bass on a whole different level than before. But it never calls unnecessary attention to itself, which I definitely pick up on as a sound editor.

Any projects you’d like to tell the SVS community about?

The new season of Orange is the New Black comes out June 17, and this season is seriously dark – I’m very curious how our fans will react! Aside from that, I’ve been working on sound editing for some indie films and the next one to come out will be “Don’t Think Twice”, which is comedian Mike Birbiglia’s new movie. You won’t get a ton of raucous subwoofer moments but there’s some great actors involved and it blends comedy and drama in a really meaningful way.

The company I work for is called Dig It Audio and it’s one of the top boutique audio mix and post production houses in New York City for film, gaming and television. We have a lot of projects going on right now, and people can learn more at digitaudio.com.

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Aug 9, 2023