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SVS SB12-NSD Subwoofer Review Listening Tests


For all of the listening sessions the SB12-NSD was placed in the front right corner of the room firing into the corner about 4 inches from the walls. This places the subwoofer a little over 4 meters from the primary listening position. I have determined this to be the best available single subwoofer placement in the room for most units. Audyssey was run on the system to allow it to integrate the SB12-NSD, which was then followed by a check and recalibration of the subwoofer and speaker levels prior to the listening sessions. The internal low pass filter was defeated in favor of the internal one inside of the Onkyo PR-SC886P processor I use.

Blu-ray: Foo Fighters – Live at Wembley Stadium 


After integrating the little SVS into my main system I queued up a couple of favorite music selections from various genres and gave those a listen at moderate volume while I tried to decide on what concert Blu-ray I wanted to enjoy while evaluating the SB12-NSD’s performance. What immediately stuck out to me about the SB12-NSD was that it had a very nice upper register that seemed to blend through the crossover region exceptionally well. Small details and sharp transients falling in this range sounded very crisp and clear, certainly better than many subwoofers which seem to have trouble at the top of their range or through the crossover transition to the mains perhaps due to a limited or rolled off upper end bandwidth. Eventually I decided to watch the Foo Fighters concert recorded live at Wembley stadium in London. Mostly because I am a long time Foo Fighters fan and this concert in particular I have watched numerous occasions so that I am very familiar with it. The SB12-NSD did well right from the start, producing clear bass tones and a punchy kick drum with a smooth blend into the main speakers. On the harder driving songs with Nate Mendel dialing in a brasher bass guitar tone and Taylor Hawkins really laying into the drums the SB12-NSD produced a well defined attack and more output than I had expected when the master volume was increased liberally. Additionally clarity and note definition were well maintained which can be a problem with small subwoofers in big spaces. Often a smaller subwoofer will start to blur notes together or flatten the dynamics once they are required to produce more than moderate output in a big room. Not so with the SB12-NSD. It remained composed and clear. I also caught a few other live concerts while the SB12-NSD was being reviewed including the latest rock n roll hall of fame induction ceremony. While The Beastie Boys did a very entertaining set which I enjoyed, the Red Hot Chili Peppers gave the performance of the night in my mind and also had the best rhythm section if not the best mix too. Flea and Chad Smith are still a potent combination and the SB12-NSD delivered the bottom end of their funk rock delivery in a big way with plenty of pop and thump. I watched this with the master volume cranked up a touch louder than normal and the littlest SVS responded well.

Blu-ray: X-men – First Class


Having turned in a solid performance with both multi-channel and two channel music could the SB12-NSD continue to impress with its handling of the LFE channel during a dynamic and taxing action movie? In order to find out I selected the latest movie from the X-men franchise X-men: First Class. I was impressed with the overall mix and quality of audio present in this movie the very first time I watched it. The LFE channel in particular is used adroitly with good variety in volume, texture and depth. Virtually any scene involving Magneto is guaranteed to have some hefty bass transients. For example near the beginning of the film a young Magneto is forced to use his as yet undeveloped powers or face cruel consequences. This angers young Magneto which results in him smashing file cabinets around the room like tin cans and crushing various metal objects with his mind. During this scene there are very deep and heavy bass transients which are room flexing when reproduced right. Having some familiarity with small subwoofers and big action movie playback in this room I was a little worried how the SB12-NSD would handle this type of material but this proved to be of no concern. Certainly the SB12-NSD could not quite muster the sheer depth and room shaking power that some much larger and more expensive subwoofers have exhibited on these types of scenes but I was rather impressed with how well it did do considering its very compact size and modest cost. The very deepest bass frequencies seemed to be a little bit compressed or absent at times when required at high volume, such as the aforementioned Magneto scene, but otherwise the SB12-NSD put out a surprising amount of bass and seemed to be well in control in the process. At times the amount of bass filling the room was quite impressive for such a small subwoofer. Any scenes having thumping club beats or music in particular were well presented. During the final extended battle scene of the movie there is very heavy and difficult to reproduce bass throughout, once again mostly involving Magneto. While the SB12-NSD could not quite get to the bottommost depths of the content or quake the room as violently as some much larger subwoofers have, it still did pretty well. At no time did I hear bad noises or distress coming from the SB12-NSD and that is always my foremost concern with compact subwoofers being asked to anchor the LFE channel in a large space. SVS again seems to have masterfully executed their protection system because the SB12-NSD must surely have been into the limiter at a few points during playback of Xmen: First Class yet I heard nothing that would clue me into that fact. After this better than expected movie performance I found myself pondering what sort of further improvement adding an additional one, two or even three of the review units siblings might result in.


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Recent Forum Posts:

TulsaSKD posts on September 24, 2012 15:40
Would anyone know how this sub compares to the Velodyne Optimum 10?
Clark123Le posts on September 04, 2012 03:08
It even out performs some vented designs w/re

jinjuku posts on September 03, 2012 17:45
Looks like a direct answer to Emotiva's 12" sealed sub.
Ricci posts on August 23, 2012 12:44
In a nutshell you add +9db to the outdoor 2 meter “rms” CEA-2010 measurements and compare with the (peak) SPL levels needed for the room ratings.

the CEA-2010 measurements presented here are taken at 2 meters outdoor groundplane and are “rms” not peak values. This is equivalent roughly to a 1 meter anechoic (free space) SPL measurement.

The indoor SPL levels are considered to be a corner loaded subwoofer which puts the sub in 1 meter 1/8th space which adds +18dB over a 1m anechoic (free space) measurement. We are considering the listening distance from the subwoofer as being roughly 4 meters in most cases which drops the spl by 12dB (18-12= +6dB at this point.) A peak SPL report of the same signal reported via an rms calculation method will produce about 3dB higher numbers. (Add 3+6= +9dB) So that is why we are adding 9dB to the reported CEA-2010 numbers to compare them with the indoor peak SPL numbers required.

Note that if a sub just barely misses in one frequency band by a single dB or less, for example falling short by 0.7dB at 31.5Hz only, we will go ahead and give it the benefit of the doubt as long as it meets the other criteria since it is a drastic 6dB drop back to the next smaller room size.
mpstein posts on August 23, 2012 11:58
I'm sorry but now I'm a little confused on this issue as well.

From what I understand, the sb12 scored a raw score of 96.3db at 25hz. From there, are you adding in the +12db from putting it in the corner as well as adjusting it +6dB for the conversion?

Is its total score 102.3 or 104.3?

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