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SVS Ultra Bookshelf Speakers Review

by August 18, 2014
SVS Ultra Bookshelf Speakers

SVS Ultra Bookshelf Speakers

  • Product Name: Ultra Bookshelf Speakers
  • Manufacturer: SVS
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStarhalf-star
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStarStar
  • Review Date: August 18, 2014 08:00
  • MSRP: $ 999/pair
  • Buy Now

SVS Ultra Series Bookshelf Specifications

  • Two-way bookshelf, 1.7” rear port, ¾” MDF with 1” baffle, braced
  •  Finishes: Black Oak Veneer, White or Gloss Black
  •  6.5” Glass fiber cone with cast frame and vented former
  •  1” Aluminum dome tweeter
  • 2-way crossover, 2nd order HP/LP (electrical) Air core inductors, premium capacitors
  •  Xover Freq: 2kHz
  • Port Specifications: 1.7in Flared rear port
  •  Impedance: 8 ohm rated but measured 4 ohms, 87dB Efficiency (measured 300Hz – 3kHz)
  • Frequency Response: 45Hz to 32kHz +- 3dB
  •  Dimensions: 15” x 8” x 10”
  • Weight: 20lbs each

Pros

  • High end sound quality at a reasonable price
  • Excellent build quality
  • Rugged design can be played loudly without distress

Cons

  • 4 ohm speaker despite the 8 ohm rating
  • May need to add a sub to achieve full range sound

 

SVS Ultra Bookshelf Introduction

SVS Ultra Front ViewSVS is known for their legendary subwoofer performance, quite often leading the industry in the performance per dollar equation.  However, when they announced their Ultra Series of speakers with claims of high fidelity and value, I was a bit skeptical.  This was especially the case since past speaker offerings from SVS failed to impress me.  Thus I just had to get my hands on the new Ultra Series Bookshelf speakers to see if they were the real deal or not, especially after hearing Marshall sing his praises about their Ultra Towers.  So do they live up to the SVS name? 

Read on to find out and also check out our impressions via our YouTube Video Review.

SVS Ultra Bookshelf Youtube Video Review

Design Overview

The ultra cabinet is constructed of sturdy 3/4" MDF with a solid 1" thick front baffle. 

The SVS Ultra bookshelf speaker is a two-way, rear ported speaker with a 6.5” glass fiber cone and 1” aluminum dome tweeter.  In reality the woofer cone material is nothing more than treated paper upon closer inspection but glass fiber sounds more interesting so I’ll give it to them.  The woofer has a nice cast basket frame, substantial motor structure and a vented former to help reduce turbulence at the gap and also provide some degree of cooling for the voice coil.  The 1” aluminum dome tweeter features a ferrite motor structure, a plastic phase plug to reduce high frequency break-up mode, and a metal screen to protect it from curious children with prying hands.  The crossover is a 2-way, 2nd order electrically symmetric HP and LP featuring an air core inductor and poly capacitor on the tweeter circuit and rugged iron core choke on the woofer.  The metalized padding resistor on the tweeter is on its own standoff to improve heat dissipation.  This is a little detail often forgotten by lesser designed products.  The cores are all orthogonally oriented to reduce crosstalk coupling and the speaker wires are encased in foam padding to eliminate mechanical buzz in the cabinet. 

SVS Ultra Mid Woofer   SVS Ultra Tweeter

SVS Ultra Drivers

SVS Ultra Internal View Crossover

SVS Ultra Internal View

The cabinet is constructed of ¾” MDF instead of the standard 5/8”, with a full 1” thick front baffle where rigidity is needed most, especially since both drivers are countersunk and flush mounted into the baffle to reduce diffraction.  The cabinet is further stiffened with a generously sized brace that is firmly affixed to all surfaces instead of the cheap stick style bracing often found on less costly speaker systems.  The cabinet is generously stuffed with insulation and I actually had to remove some of it to get a peek of the crossover.  The outer surfaces are radiused to reduce diffraction and the grille is constructed of thick MDF instead of cheap flimsy plastic.  This provided excellent rigidity and allowed for the grille to be tightly fit onto the frame to reduce losses.

SVS Ultra Back View

SVS Ultra Bookshelf Back View

This speaker has all of the right parts to make for a good quality design with solid engineering principles to back it up.

The SVS Ultra bookshelf speakers come standard as bi-ampable or bi-wireable, a feature many competitors either lack or charge a premium for. We chose to single amp the speakers for our listening tests.

SVS utilized the National Research Council (NRC) anechoic chamber in Canada to measure and test the Ultra speakers in addition to voice tuning it in real rooms.  This speaker has all of the right parts to make for a good quality design with solid engineering principles to back it up. 

The SVS Ultra bookshelf speakers come in three finish options {black oak veneer, white or gloss black} and all finishes are real veneer, not vinyl wrap.  SVS doesn’t up charge for any of these finishes.  Ours came in gloss black which looks exquisite and I highly recommend choosing this finish.

Let’s take a listen to see if they live up to the hype.


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About the author:

Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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Recent Forum Posts:

Asif1980 posts on December 01, 2018 16:40
Hey all- after being in LCR for almost 2 years, I'll be adding surrounds. My LR are Tekton design Double Impacts and SVS ultra center, should I go SVS Ultra bookshelves or SVS Ultra Surrounds?? I don't see that many reviews for Ultra-Surrounds but Ultra Bookshelves has some many reviews.
Pogre posts on July 26, 2017 19:20
phxrider, post: 1200738, member: 83168
Well, the girlfriend and I moved in together a few months ago and I'm finding myself with a nice jump in disposable income from combining expenses, lower insurance in the new zip code, eating at home more, etc. Since she had the speakers on the ceiling, I used that to justify upgrading my pre-pro from a Onkyo PR-SC885P to a Yamaha CX-A5100 for Atmos and converted her old receiver into an amp for them, and I'm actually pretty shocked at the improvement in the overall sound. Now I'm getting that “voice that won't stop” you mentioned… It's been quite a few years since I've upgraded anything, so what the heck…. BTW, Atmos is REALLY cool if you haven't tried it - better than I expected.

A friend of mine has Hsu and his system sounds terrific - but these Ultras are getting SUCH good reviews, I'm really leaning that way, plus between Ed Mullen responding personally to pretty much any issue I've ever had, sending me a new woofer with “running improvements” when I mentioned I heard some bottoming, and giving me a Sledge amp at cost when the original BASH one died, SVS has provided me amazing customer service over the years - it's really hard to go with someone else when I know they have something top notch to sell me at a reasonable price.
Mention that stuff if you contact them. They'll probably offer a discount, especially if you order in multiples.

I've not heard a lot of other very well respected brands but I think I know good sound when I hear it and the Ultras really do sound amazing. They can handle some power, the BS dig surprisingly deep and they both have pinpoint imaging and are very accurate. The tweeters they sourced for them are really, really good. Not harsh or tinny sounding at all and an fea optimized wave guide.

I love mine, if you can't tell…
phxrider posts on July 26, 2017 19:04
Pogre, post: 1200737, member: 79914
For that matter, if you can afford a pair of PBU 16's… I'm jealous. There is better pricing from equally respected manufacturers, so you know. Hsu, Rythmik and a few more. I went with Hsu's VTF-3 MK5 dual drive package and don't regret it. sounds amazing.
Well, the girlfriend and I moved in together a few months ago and I'm finding myself with a nice jump in disposable income from combining expenses, lower insurance in the new zip code, eating at home more, etc. Since she had the speakers on the ceiling, I used that to justify upgrading my pre-pro from a Onkyo PR-SC885P to a Yamaha CX-A5100 for Atmos and converted her old receiver into an amp for them, and I'm actually pretty shocked at the improvement in the overall sound. Now I'm getting that “voice that won't stop” you mentioned… It's been quite a few years since I've upgraded anything, so what the heck…. BTW, Atmos is REALLY cool if you haven't tried it - better than I expected.

A friend of mine has Hsu and his system sounds terrific - but these Ultras are getting SUCH good reviews, I'm really leaning that way, plus between Ed Mullen responding personally to pretty much any issue I've ever had, sending me a new woofer with “running improvements” when I mentioned I heard some bottoming, and giving me a Sledge amp at cost when the original BASH one died, SVS has provided me amazing customer service over the years - it's really hard to go with someone else when I know they have something top notch to sell me at a reasonable price.
Pogre posts on July 26, 2017 18:45
phxrider, post: 1200735, member: 83168
I forget the exact measurements off hand but it's a pretty big room, probably 20'x12' with a 12' ceiling, and it's open to the kitchen and sides… Pretty much an acoustic nightmare, in theory…

However, right now I have 5x Yamaha HS80m studio monitors and the PCU13 for my “real” speakers and it's LOUD and the bass is STRONG. But I'd like something with a little better clarity (and that don't need XLR cables + power + trigger wires and boxes, for improved WAF/GAF) which is why I'm considering the SVSes. I was actually considering going to a single or dual PBU16 for the sub (or running the 13 with a 16 until I can get another 16). The Atmos speakers are Klipsch Quintets that she already had wired into the ceiling when I moved in, and I repurposed the center into a single surround back. (In case you're guessing, I don't already own the MX-A5000, I would get one if I moved away from powered monitors though.)
I would love a pair of PBU 16's, but they're a little out of my price range. I really think you'd be great with another PCU 13. As for the speakers, if you have the money and like the looks by all means get the towers (I did), but you will get very similar performance from the bookshelf speakers when a sub or 2 are in the mix.

For that matter, if you can afford a pair of PBU 16's… I'm jealous. There is better pricing from equally respected manufacturers, so you know. Hsu, Rythmik and a few more. I went with Hsu's VTF-3 MK5 dual drive package and don't regret it. sounds amazing.
phxrider posts on July 26, 2017 18:36
I forget the exact measurements off hand but it's a pretty big room, probably 20'x12' with a 12' ceiling, and it's open to the kitchen and sides… Pretty much an acoustic nightmare, in theory…

However, right now I have 5x Yamaha HS80m studio monitors and the PCU13 for my “real” speakers and it's LOUD and the bass is STRONG. But I'd like something with a little better clarity (and that don't need XLR cables + power + trigger wires and boxes, for improved WAF/GAF) which is why I'm considering the SVSes. I was actually considering going to a single or dual PBU16 for the sub (or running the 13 with a 16 until I can get another 16). The Atmos speakers are Klipsch Quintets that she already had wired into the ceiling when I moved in, and I repurposed the center into a single surround back. (In case you're guessing, I don't already own the MX-A5000, I would get one if I moved away from powered monitors though.)
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