SVS PC-4000 Subwoofer Review
That's no moon, that's a sub
What is the SVS PC-4000?The SVS PC-4000 is an active subwoofer and forms part of the company's new series intended to replace its older 13-Ultra range with more powerful models that also include features previously only found on the 16-Ultra subs. So along with 13.5-inch drivers and 1,200 watts of digital amplification, you also get a front display, remote control, and a smartphone app for detailed setup and parametric EQ.
The new range includes the cylindrical PC-4000 I'm reviewing here, the sealed SB-4000 and the ported PB-4000. The PC-4000 is designed to deliver a similar sonic impact to the other two models, but uses a smaller footprint. It might look like R2-D2's harder big brother and costs £1,999 as at the time of writing (November 2018), but it could be ideal for someone who wants big bass from a smaller space.
DesignThe SVS PC-4000 is a cylindrical subwoofer that essentially looks like a giant black pedal bin, and wouldn't seem out of place on the Death Star. It's very tall, standing 1190mm high, but its 419mm diameter means it has a relatively small footprint. As a result, it can be placed in the corner of the room and, despite its height, the PC-4000 is surprisingly unobtrusive. That's not to say moving it is easy, it's still a two-man job, but compared to the PB-4000 it doesn't resemble a black chest freezer in the corner of your lounge.
The build quality is excellent, with a solid 2-inch thick MDF construction and rigid internal bracing. This highly reinforced internal design, combined with acoustic insulation, eliminates all coloration or resonance from the cabinet. There's an attractive piano gloss black finish, along with a protective and durable non-resonant steel mesh grille around the circumference, which is covered by an equally durable black fabric.
The PC-4000 sits on what SVS refer to as its SoundPath Subwoofer Isolation System. In English, that's four large Elastomer (rubber) feet that provide both isolation and support for the sub's 41.9kg of weight. The feet are designed to decouple the sub from the floor and deliver cleaner and tighter bass. It's also designed to reduce floor and wall vibrations, noise artefacts and complaints from neighbours.
At the top of the PC-4000 there is a removable section that reveals the three upward-facing ports, along with foam bungs for a spot of room tuning if necessary. At the bottom, there’s an inlaid blue 8-digit LED front display (a first for an SVS cylindrical sub) that provides feedback information, but it only lights up when receiving a command from the controls next to it, the remote or the smartphone app.
It might look like R2-D2's harder big brother, but it's a beautifully made sub
Connections & ControlThe connections on the SVS PC-4000 are located on a panel at the rear, where you'll find balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA stereo inputs and outputs with an ultra-wide input voltage for consumer and professional applications. There's also a three-pin socket for the heavy-duty 6-foot power cable and an on/off switch. Unlike most subwoofers, there are no controls at the rear, they've been replaced by a menu driven system that can be controlled from the front of the sub, via the smartphone app or using the provided remote.This credit card sized IR remote control includes buttons for volume, up/down, back and enter, along with the presets and a brightness control for the LED display. It's a simple but effective remote, even if it is the kind of controller that easily lost down the back of the sofa. You can set up the PC-4000 using either the remote or the controls on the front of the sub, which are located next to the display at the bottom.
However, for the best results I'd recommend using the smartphone app, which is very effective and freely available for iOS or Android. It works over Bluetooth and allows you to do a full set up from the main listening position, which is very convenient and ideal for getting the best results.
The app controls all DSP functions including volume, low pass filter, phase, polarity, room gain, port tuning, three custom presets and system settings. An integrated 3-band parametric EQ allows for precise frequency and Q factor adjustments down to the single Hz level with four different slopes. There's an easy-to-follow tutorial and two-way feedback that shows updates in real time on both the app and subwoofer interface.
There's phono and XLR connections, a remote control, and an effective Bluetooth app
SVS PC-4000 Features & SpecsThe SVS PC-4000 sports a 13.5-inch downward-firing driver that weighs over 22.5kg on its own, and uses a finely tuned underhung motor configuration. This massive (20.1kg) motor utilises a dual-ferrite magnet assembly in conjunction with an 8-layer, flat wire, edge-wound 3-inch aluminium voice coil, and a high density, cast aluminium basket to provide improved rigidity and strength.
There's a glass fibre, laminated dustcap over a reinforced and vented paper-composite, cone sub-structure that is designed to ensure a light, ridged, and neutral radiating surface. This is combined with a proprietary injection-moulded gasket and long-throw parabolic surround, which deliver extreme bass excursion and high sound pressure levels over a longer operating life.
The power comes from a Sledge STA-1200D amplifier, which is rated conservatively at 1,200 watts RMS but can deliver up to 4,000 watts of peak power, thanks to an efficient high-current Class D design combined with a fully discrete MOSFET (metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistors) output stage that is more reminiscent of a Class A/B design.
There's also active Power Factor Correction (PFC), which serves as a line conditioner, surge suppressor and voltage regulator to accommodate wide voltage fluctuations in the household supply and eliminate the potential for ground loop noise in order to enhance audio transparency.
The PC-4000 has a sophisticated high resolution 50MHz Analog Devices DSP (digital signal processor) with double precision 56-bit filtering. This allows user adjustable low pass, phase, polarity and room gain compensation using three parametric EQs. These custom EQ and DSP limiter settings have been tuned specifically for the cylinder cabinet design
When combined with port tuning, users can create the best alignment with speakers and produce an optimised performance in any room. The bass ports are located at the top, and SVS includes foam plugs that can be used for port tuning. Depending on how you use these foam plugs there is a choice of three tuning modes: standard, extended and sealed.
If you leave all the ports open that's the standard mode, with the highest maximum output; if you plug one of the ports that's the extended mode with deeper extension but slightly less maximum output; and all three ports plugged is the sealed mode which offers the best transient response. For testing we used the PC-4000 with all three ports open but did experiment with one, two and then all three ports plugged.
A 13.5-inch driver and 1,200W of power is sure to please those with limited space
Setup & OperationIn terms of setup, I positioned (with a bit of help) the PC-4000 at the front corner of my dedicated home cinema. Once the SVS is positioned and connected then you can set it up and although you have three different ways to do this, the smartphone remote app seems the best option. It's well designed with an intuitive user interface, and it proved to be very stable over Bluetooth.
The home page allows you to set the subwoofer volume and turn the subwoofer display on or off. You can also access a range of options from which you can select Home/Volume, Low Pass Filter, Phase, Polarity, Parametric EQ, Room Gain Compensation, Presets and System Settings. For each of these options there is an additional help page that explains what the feature does and how best to set it.
You can set up the sub so that it is On (which is the default), in Auto (which means it comes on when there's a signal) or you can use a Trigger as part of a controlled system. In terms of the display, you can set it so that is shows the Volume (the default setting), you can set it so that it shows the SVS logo or turn it off entirely.
You can turn the low pass filter on or off depending on whether you're using the sub with a Low Frequency Effect (LFE) channel. If the low pass filter is on then you can set the frequency at which the sub crosses over with the main speakers and you can adjust the slope at which the low pass filter rolls off (the default is 12dB).
There's also a Phase control, which allows you to shift the timing of the subwoofer output to align with the main speakers or additional subwoofers, and a Polarity control that allows you to reverse the electrical polarity from positive (default) to negative if necessary.
The Room Gain Compensation control allows you to adjust for excessive sound wave density in smaller rooms by reducing the bass at either -6 or -12 dB per octave, below a frequency that is adjustable from 25 to 40 Hz. You do this by turning the room gain compensation on or off and adjusting the high pass frequency and the adjustment slope (12dB is the default setting).
There's also a Parametric EQ control with three EQ adjustments that you can use to compensate for peaks and dips in the acoustic signature of the room that couldn't be avoided during initial placement. Each of these EQ adjustments can be set for Frequency between 20 and 200 Hz in single Hz increments, for Boost in a range that goes from +6 to -12 dB, and for Q Factor (bandwidth) from 0.2 to 10.
You can create presets as well, with the option of no preset, a Movie preset for when using the PC-4000 with film soundtracks (which introduces a mild bass boost), a Music preset for listening to two-channel music with a subwoofer (which is flat) and a Custom preset if you'd rather create one of your own.
About the only thing the PC-4000 lacks is an auto EQ feature but you can make adjustments manually if you have a calibrated microphone and audio spectrum analyser software.
The shape makes installation flexible and the setup app will keep tweakers happy
SVS PC-4000 PerformanceI should start this review by saying that if I was thinking of buying an SVS 4000 Series subwoofer, then this cylindrical version would probably be my choice. It doesn't have quite the titanic sub-sonic range of the huge ported model, which can get down to a staggering 13Hz, but it's a damn sight less intrusive. It also isn't as small or nimble as the sealed unit, but it can deliver deeper bass, going down to 15Hz compared to the sealed unit's 19Hz. While I appreciate we're at the limit of what the human ear can even register, there's a lot to be said for bass you can feel.
SVS has the cylindrical subwoofer market to itself, which is surprising because I think it's a great idea. The concept allows for a relatively small footprint and greater freedom in terms of positioning, especially in the corners of rooms. However the vertical size of this sub also allows for some serious low frequency action. In testing, the PC-4000 proved to be an impressive performer, delivering deep and controlled bass that you can genuinely feel. Much like the PB-4000 that I reviewed earlier in the year, this cylindrical version also revealed a surprisingly nuanced performance.
As a result the PC-4000 proved to be adept whatever content I tried. Blade Runner 2049 has a soundtrack that makes full use of the low frequencies that can be delivered by modern soundtracks. From the opening credits there are some serious bass notes that, thanks to this sub's ability to physically move air, I could really feel. The same was true of the almost atonal score, as well as the action sequences where the SVS delivers some superb low-end impact. As K gets thrown the wall by Sapper Morten, or when rockets rain down in the junk yard scene, the bass hits with a visceral punch.
Naturally, I had to try the ultimate subwoofer test, the very start of Edge of Tomorrow, which begins with a subterranean bass note that's been known to reduce lesser subs to a quivering mess. Not so the PC-4000, which pressurised the room to an almost disturbing level. The only sub I've experienced that has gone lower is the PB-4000, and either way I'm glad my house is detached. The bass that the PC-4000 delivers is clean and free of distortion, even when mining the sub-sonic depths. It's also surprisingly responsive, with a tightness and nuanced performance that belies its actual size.
This means that, despite all the low-end extension on offer, there's also a pleasing degree of subtlety. As a result I found it to be extremely musical, dancing around the song-driven score of Baby Driver, but still able to land the synchronised gunshots and explosions. The sub is able to harness its considerable power, and release it with speed and precision, remaining taut as it hits hard but doesn’t linger. This makes it a great all-rounder that doesn't overpower soundtracks, integrating with the other speakers and adding the necessary low-end support without pushing the sound field off balance.
This subwoofer is certainly capable of delivering the big bass moments when required, but the PC-4000's controlled performance and general lack of distortion means it has a presence that is felt as much as it is heard. This results in more impact and less distractions, but also means it can work away in the background, often creating an effect so subtle that you might not realise why you feel uneasy. A rather suitable case in point is the original Star Wars, where there is a constant low frequency rumble during scenes on the Death Star. The PC-4000 beautifully delivered the drone of this space station that's the size of a small moon, subconsciously suggesting the barely contained power within.
This excellent cylindrical subwoofer delivers deep and surprisingly subtle bass
- Fantastic bass performance
- Very low distortion
- Effective smartphone remote app
- Flexible setup and control
- Extremely well made
- Relatively small footprint
- No auto EQ
SVS PC-4000 Subwoofer ReviewI have previously reviewed the SVS PB-4000 ported sub; and for me, the cylindrical version delivers an almost identical experience but has the benefit of not being the size of a chest freezer. In fact, if space is an issue then the SVS PC-4000 might be the ideal solution because it offers the kind of sub-sonic impact that only a physically large subwoofer can create, but does so from a relatively small footprint. It's also flexible in terms of positioning, so you can plonk it in the corner and you'll be amazed at how unobtrusive it is. However it's also good, delivering deep, clear and distortion-free bass with a surprising degree of subtlety.
As a result, it can handle both music and movies, with a responsive tightness that suits the former, and the ability to hit like a sledgehammer when required to by the latter. The PC-4000 is also a bit of a bargain when you consider its build quality, features and performance, making it hard to fault. There's no auto EQ feature, which means for an optimal setup you may need to do certain things manually, but the smartphone app is excellent and is sure to delight tweakers. Overall, the SVS PC-4000 is a well made and expertly engineered subwoofer that delivers a superb performance and comes highly recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £1,999.00
Value For Money9
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