Movie Fan Goes from Watching to “Experiencing” After SB16-Ultra Subwoofer and SVS Speaker Upgrade.

Jose in Miami, FL

Modern, minimalist and acoustically treated home theater system unleashes “breathtaking, captivating,” sound that let Jose from Miami stop watching movies and start experiencing them. Feeling the chest-pounding and controlled bass from a sealed cabinet SB16-Ultra subwoofer and the dynamic impact of four SVS Ultra Surround speakers, his home theater has become an immersive escape that transports him from life’s daily hustles to the world of film.

The Setup:

  • Denon AVR-X4400H
  • Emotiva XPA-3, Emotiva A700, Emotiva A500
  • Sony PS4
  • Logitech Harmony Elite & Amazon Alexa for Control
  • BlueJeans Cable for all interconnects & wire
  • Custom ATS Acoustics Acoustical Panels (4)

Questions And Answers:

How did you first hear about SVS?

I first heard of SVS back in 2009, frequenting online forums when I was looking to add a second sub to my system. Every recommendation sent my way included SVS' famed cylinder subs! In hindsight, I have no idea why I didn't get one at the time...

What design aesthetic were you going for with your home theater and room in general?

Combining a home theater with a living room, not to mention the first room you see when you walk in the home, meant it had to fall in with the rest of the design for the house. Thus, I had to incorporate the same ideals: modern, minimalist, with clean lines - which led to my decision to remove all the equipment from view and hide every single wire. The concept was planned months in advance of setting up the system. Each visible component - the subwoofer, the front speakers, the display - had to also function as a piece of decor as well.

What was the impact of adding the SB16-Ultra subwoofer to the overall soundstage?

When I purchased it back in the summer of 2018 to replace a subwoofer with a blown amplifier, I still lived in an apartment, so I was forced to - what's a good way to say this - restrain it. I knew what I was planning for the near future, so I took the plunge regardless. Now that I live in a single-family home, I've taken the muzzle off - and can finally feel for myself the true effect during my movie watching experience. It was instant, breath-taking, captivating - everything I had heard and read was now being felt. Frequencies I had only imagined before now rumbled through my soundstage. I've always been a fan of the tightness and speed of sealed enclosure subwoofers, and here - here was the crowning achievement of that technology.

Why is bass important to your home theater and music experiences?

The immersion factor goes from 100 to 0 when you remove the subwoofer from the equation. It adds "feel" to the experience - the tactile sensation that rumbles through your body and throws your senses into the fray. There's no experience without it.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome when setting up your system?

Going for the clean, minimalist, free-of-visible wires look had to be planned out well ahead of time. During construction, for example, to accurately lay out the ceiling speakers to not conflict with the mechanical, plumbing, and structural systems of the house - while running all the speaker wire for the surrounds and ceiling speakers to the media closet ahead of time. As the display is on an exterior insulated wall, running wires in-wall was out of the question, so I had to build a custom "cover" for the wiring. I expected the set-up to take me a few days - it ended up taking me two weeks, assembling after I got home from work, and on weekends, to ensure everything is exactly as I had envisioned/designed it.

How was it blending the Ultra Surrounds with other speakers in your systems? Why did you choose them for surrounds?

Often, surrounds in most companies' speaker offerings feel like afterthoughts - never engineered or constructed to the same standards as the fronts or the center of a particular model line. Quality surrounds to me are a critical part of the home theater experience - there's always that small percentage of films that have sounds that some surrounds frankly can't replicate well or crackle during playback - and after a few years of shortchanging myself, I grabbed 4 Ultras two years ago and haven't looked back. The large woofer separates these surrounds from others and makes them worth every penny. It was a seamless integration to the rest of the system after calibration, and now, even powerful surround tracks like the 4K of "Annihilation" are conveyed effortlessly.

What was the effect of adding acoustic panels?

I learned the cruel lesson of reflectivity at my old apartment - massive windows and 20-foot ceilings meant that, in some areas of the place, it was louder than it was right in my seating area! Without the space for a dedicated theater room in this home, nor the ability to convert the garage, incorporating large custom art acoustic panels solved both the aesthetic & the reflectivity issue in one go. The wall to the right of the soundstage was specifically built by me with dual layers of drywall and soundproofing insulation to minimize sound to the rest of the house as well. Echoes are reduced, sound waves adding up in random areas are eliminated, and a cleaner sound is achieved. Minimizing sound transmission and surface reflections provide that last bit of detail to a better soundstage, after all the gear.

Why is having a high-performance home theater/audio system important to you?

Home theater has been my hobby for over 13 years, since my father unknowingly gifted me a home-theater-in-a-box back in college and sparked this passion. Since then, I discovered that there's watching movies - and then there's experiencing movies. Feeling like you're there in the thick of the action, an extra in the scene, in a complete escape from whatever's going through your mind at the time; firmly placing you in the world of the film. Chasing that feeling of immersion has always been my primary goal. It's absolutely worth it after an exhausting work week to sit back with my wife, a good drink, and transport us into another world.

Anything else you’d like to share with the SVS community?

When it comes to the all-encompassing subject of WAF, it's always better to ask for forgiveness than permission! "I'm doing it for US, honey!" goes a long way!

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Apr 11, 2024