Suspension of Disbelief Created with 13 SVS Speakers and 2 Subwoofers in Arizona Home Theater

Joseph in Mesa, AZ

The creativity of SVS owners amazes us sometimes. Take Joseph from Mesa, AZ who has one of the most impressive all-SVS home theater audio systems we’ve ever seen that includes two Ultra Center speakers used as side surrounds, dual PB16-Ultra Subwoofers and 15 speakers total. He’s a hardcore fan of Dolby Atmos cinematic height effects and room-shaking bass, both of which he mastered in his listening room. He’s also the co-founder of the first SVS owners Facebook group, a phenomenal resource for anyone looking to share their experiences, ask questions or see the creative ways other people are using SVS.

The Setup:

  • AVR Processor: Denon X8500
  • AVR (Amp Only): Marantz SR8012
  • Dayton Audio SA230 Amp
  • 4 ADX Bass Shakers
  • Oppo203 UHD Player
  • Sony X800 UHD Player
  • PS4Pro (God of War 4 Edition)
  • Nvidia 1080TI Gaming PC

Questions And Answers:

When did you first start getting into high-performance audio and home theater?

For many years I was using a Logitech X530 5.1 audio system with my PC games. I didn't own a relevant home theater display and was solely focused on PC gaming with a 28" monitor. I even fabricated 2 brackets I bolted to my gaming chair so the rear speakers would sit about 2 feet behind my head while gaming. It wasn't until August of 2016 when I purchased a 55" 3D OLED that the Home Theater experience really started to matter to me. The OLED blacks made me want to achieve a better overall experience after seeing how crisp and sharp a display could look it peaked my interested to begin exploring how to improve the sound experience as well.

What has the progression of your system been like?

I am going to rule out anything prior to August 2016 because there was nothing meaningful and primarily I used a Logitech X530 PC speaker system and subwoofer. However, my first home cinema system was the Definitive Technology ProCinema 600 5.1 system in a 10x9x8 room. After a short time, I slowly replaced the entire Def Tech system with SVS. Also moved into a new house and had a slightly bigger space.

When/how did you first discover SVS?

I first discovered SVS via Facebook Home Theater Groups where there was occasional discussion on SVS Subs. I finally heard an SVS Sub (SB-2000) at Best Buy Magnolia in February of 2017. I brought in a few movies (John Wick and Interstellar) and wanted to test the subs against a few scenes that had completed shredded my then current sub to see how the SB-2000 would handle those scenes. I was highly impressed at the authority the SB-2000 offered over the most demanding scenes that had previously caused me grief. I also attended an SVS live event here in Scottsdale, Arizona not too long after I had dual SB-2000's and that's where I got a chance to meet the President and some other SVS staff as well as demo the SB and PB-4000's along with several other SVS speakers for the first time.

What was the impact of adding dual ported SVS subwoofers to your system?

I owned all sealed subs prior to the PB16's. I was able to identify and quantify the difference each time I moved up to the next biggest sub. Finally, I ended up with PB16's. Having never heard them I was somewhat holding my breath on if I would like them as much as I liked all the sealed SVS subs I previously owned.

I noticed a few differences with the ported 16's over the SB16's. The biggest improvement is the way the PB16's handle deep and intense highly active LFE in movies, especially scenes where the bass drops for long periods of time and is held low. The PB16's appear to reproduce all ultra-low LFEs in short bursts, or in long highly active LFE scenes effortlessly with plenty of headroom. The impact of pressure has increased in the space (1,300-cubic feet) to the point the bass shakers are not really needed when listening near reference volume. The sealed 16's definitely were working harder to produce similar results and had a lot less headroom for this type of LFE.

I did lose a tiny bit of tight bass note generation definition by switching to ported which I also noticed right away when I put my first go-to EDM track for testing subs up to that point (Spitfire by Infected Mushroom). It definitely is a trade-off that is worth considering as I can see both sides of the argument on why you would prefer one over the other.

So in a nutshell, where it is most needed the ported (PB16's) offer more headroom and can extend past all LFE challenges that I've thrown at them with room to spare (I could go a lot louder if I wanted). Another benefit of the SVS PB16's is the optional port plugs for slightly modifying the bass extension and response. This in conjunction with the SVS smartphone app give a tinkerer more flexibility for bass tuning according to preference. My preference is to keep all ports open for music, and either all ports open, or 1 port plugged for movies.

What were your impressions of the Ultra speakers compared to other models you demo’d?

To anyone wondering if the SVS Ultra Towers are worth their price. I personally have heard much more expensive speakers and I preferred the Ultra Towers. I've tested them in just about every configuration with my current system and I ended up running them with the plug-in and set them to Large with LFE+Main for 2.2 channel since I have the PB16's as well. A huge benefit with SVS is the 45 days trial period. There is nothing to hide, nothing beats an in-home, same gear, same space demo to see if they fit the bill for you. Give them a listen and you won’t be disappointed!

We've never seen center speakers used as surrounds, what led you to that decision and how have you enjoyed the results?

My space has gone through several changes in regards to available room to fit everything as I envisioned. For this reason, I was tempted to try Ultra Centers as LCR, which, after trying, I was pleasantly surprised. I did not observe any negative effects from turning the centers vertically, and in fact I noticed a greater sound presence, and it seemed to be more separated and enhanced imaging compared to the Ultra Bookshelves I had been using for the fronts. Eventually I realized I could fit the Ultra Towers as fronts with the PB16's so I had the choice to use Ultra Centers or Ultra bookshelves for side surrounds as I already owned both.

This presented a problem of course because of the size and weight of the Ultra Centers compared to the Bookshelves. This lead to a week-long project of replacing the 4 speaker stands I had been using with wall mounted shelves to complete the vision. I'm incredibly happy with the result. It keeps with Dolby's recommendation to use monopole speakers for Dolby Atmos, and it provides greater(larger) sound presence from the side channels, I am now considering replacing the rears with Ultra centers also.

What's some of your favorite content for Dolby Atmos and how have the Prime Elevation speakers enhanced it?

I think the Hans Zimmer Live From Prague Bluray is one of the best impression leaving Atmos discs available. The height effects are subtle, but the total package is a masterpiece. A recent UHD movie I was impressed with was Fury. The Atmos track in this movie is spectacular because the crew spends much of the movie inside a tank with people occasionally walking on top of it. you can hear the sounds of the footsteps coming from above you as if you're in the tank with the crew. Another scene from Fury is when the allied forces are firing on the German Tiger Tank and the rounds are ricocheting off into the distance. as the ricochet travels up and off you can hear the sounds carrying up and through the sound stage. A spectacular use of height effects.

The biggest reason for going "all-in" with the 6 Dolby Atmos ceiling speakers (Prime Elevations) I would say came from having watched Ready Player One in a Dolby Prime Theater which has 16 Atmos speakers. During that movie the scene in which the lead characters are dancing in the Oasis, an event happens (no spoilers) and the Atmos effects in that scene were panning across the ceiling like I've never heard before. It enhanced the immersion a great deal and revealed to me that there is benefit to having more height channels.

I firmly believe that the use of height channels will get better and better, much like HDR has. The Elevations also allow me to cross them over at 80HZ which gives them a bit more meat and presence compared to the previous Atmos modules I had used. The White Elevations have a very high WAF score in my experience as well, though without the speaker grills which I prefer for the aggressiveness the WAF score is lessened.

Why did you start the SVS Facebook Enthusiasts Group?

To be fair, the SVS Sub and Speaker Enthusiast Facebook Group was the brainchild of my buddies Andy and Jez who are also the admins in the group. We all had SVS subs or speakers in our setups and had planned to acquire more. Being big fans of the fit, finish, and quality of SVS subs and speakers we were hoping we could help facilitate a place where other SVS fans could share opinions, experiences and pictures of their SVS gear. It's been a great group with a lot of members showcasing their SVS upgrades. We've grown to over 2500 members this month and have new members joining everyday.

Anything else you'd like to share with readers and the SVS community?

My room is 13(L)x11(W)x9(H), the main listening position is 7' back from screen and screen is 55" (looks a lot smaller from the pictures but really isn't that bad at 7' away.) Just want to give a shout-out to SVS for being actively involved within their community. I've had nothing but incredible experiences when dealing with SVS personnel either over chat, phone, email or even the Facebook Messenger and have always felt like a highly valued customer.

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Apr 11, 2024