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SVS SB13-Ultra Subwoofer Review

by Joshua Ricci August 23, 2015
  • Product Name: SB13-Ultra Subwoofer
  • Manufacturer: SVSound
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStarhalf-star
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStarStar
  • Review Date: August 23, 2015 08:00
  • MSRP: $ 1,599 (Black Oak Wood Veneer or Piano Gloss Black) Free Shipping
  • Buy Now

SVS SB13-Ultra Specifications

  • 13.5” proprietary long throw woofer in sealed alignment
  • CNC cut MDF cabinet, internally braced
  • Amplifier: Class D, 1000 watts RMS
  • Frequency Response (Quasi-Anechoic): 20-460Hz +/-3dB
  • Finishes: Black Oak wood veneer / Piano Gloss Black
  • Dimensions (H/W/D): 17.4” x 17.4” x 17.4” (Grille adds about 2.5” depth)
  • Weight:  92lbs
  • Warranty: 5 years (bumper to bumper)

SVS SB13-Ultra Driver Features

  • Proprietary cast aluminum frame
  • Flat wound, 3” diameter, 8 layer aluminum voice coil
  • Polyimide/ Fiberglass former
  • Large pole piece vent
  • Dual 9” diameter linear spiders
  • Integrated leads
  • Parabolic stitched surround
  • Copper shorting sleeve
  • FEA designed motor structure with extended gap plate
  • Dual stacked large diameter ceramic magnets
  • Composite: pulp/fiberglass/Rohacell cone

SVS SB13-Ultra STA-1000D Amplifier Features

  • 1000 watts  long term continuous rating
  • Class D, high efficiency, switching design, with low energy consumption standby mode
  • Detachable power cord
  • Stereo unbalanced “RCA” level inputs and outputs
  • Stereo balanced XLR inputs and outputs
  • Low / High Level input voltage selector
  • Power toggle Auto On / On
  • Main power switch
  • IFC (Integrated Function Controller)
  • DSP built in and adjustable via single knob and LCD screen
  • Volume level: -100-0dB in 1dB increments
  • High Pass Filter: 31, 40, 50, 63, 80, 100, 125Hz at 12 or 24 dB/octave (Can be disabled)
  • Low Pass Filter: 31, 40, 50, 63, 80, 100, 125Hz at 12 or 24 dB/octave (Can be disabled)
  • Phase: 0 to 180 degrees (variable in 15 degree increments)
  • High Pass Delay: 0-10ms (1ms increments)
  • Room Gain Compensation Control: 25, 31, 40Hz at 6dB or 12dB/octave (Can be disabled)
  • Parametric EQ: 2 bands overlapping, max +3dB boost, -12dB cut in 1db increments, 31, 35, 40, 46, 50, 56, 63, 70, 80, 90, 100,112,125Hz center frequencies, Q values of: 2, 2.4, 2.9, 3.6, 4.8, 5.7, 7.2, 9.6, 14.4


  • Excellent subjective and measured performance
  • Compact size with generous headroom
  • Top notch fit & finish
  • Internal DSP provides insane amount of flexibility
  • FREE Shipping!


  • Plethora of internal DSP options may prove overwhelming to some
  • Multiples may be required for headroom in large spaces


SVS SB13-Ultra Introduction

Summer is here aSVS SB13U 816.jpgnd I find myself reviewing an SVS subwoofer yet again. I believe this is 3 years in a row. I know…Poor me. This time it is the smaller, sealed brother in SVS’s Ultra line, the SB13-Ultra. Having previously reviewed the SB12-NSD, PB13-Ultra, PB12-NSD and listened to a few of the older SVS models as well, I’ve come to expect a lot from an SVS product. Perhaps a bit more than I would from a company whose products I’m not familiar with. I had also just returned the excellent JL Audio E series subwoofers which are comparable in function and price to the SB13-Ultra. That being the case I went into the SB13-Ultra review expecting a lot from it.

The SB13-Ultra was delivered in a moderate sized box that somehow still weighs about 100lbs according to my highly accurate back scale. After cutting the tape and popping the top open I could see that the packaging was substantial and very protective. The SB13-Ultra is double boxed with heavy gauge cardboard. Inside of the box are die cut foam inserts at the top and bottom and a couple of thick foam corner inserts. Removal of the SB13-Ultra was simple and took maybe 5 minutes. Contained in the boxes with the SB13-Ultra are the metal grille, the power cord and a quick start guide. The full length owner’s manual is available online from SVS. The SB13-Ultra isn’t overly large or imposing but it is a bit heavy. The gloss black finish and rounded corners with the rounded grille profile give it a nice and distinguished look. Personally I like the look of the SB13-Ultra without the large metal grille attached. The Rohacell driver cone is slightly reflective and I like the ability to see the Ultra driver working on occasion. All of the available amplifier connections and controls, the metal grille and the substantial weight give the SB13-Ultra an impression of quality and solidity as well. All in all the SB13-Ultra is a handsome and reasonably sized subwoofer that earns high marks in the aesthetic department.

Before reading our comprehensive review with measurements, check out our YouTube video overview of this sub to get an idea of how she performs and looks in a real room.

 SVS SB13-Ultra Subwoofer Review

Design Overview

The SB13-Ultra sits at the top of SVS’s sealed subwoofer line up with a price tag of $1599. It combines a powerful Class D, DSP-equipped amplifier that is controlled via what SVS terms as the IFC or integrated function controller. Changes to settings are made by a single knob that also functions as a push button. It is a slick little setup. A single push of the button enters the selection while a quick double press exits. The amplifier powers a beefy 13.5” diameter long throw driver in a relatively small sealed enclosure measuring about 17.4” on all sides. The enclosure features a large round over on the top and bottom edges of the side panels.  A heavy, formed, steel grille with a rounded profile attaches to the enclosure via a pin and cup system, covering the forward firing driver and adds a couple of inches to the overall depth of the SB13-Ultra. Four small feet on the bottom panel protect the finish from the floor. Speaking of the finish, the two available finishes are a piano gloss black which was worn by the review unit and a black oak wood veneer. Despite the SB13-Ultra measuring less than 18” a side it weighs in at 92lbs which gives some clue as to how much hardware this little guy is packing.

The SB13-Ultra driver weighs a whopping 42.5lbs!

Removal of the Ultra driver from the SB13-Ultra enclosure was not too difficult. The best way is to remove the amplifier first so that the back of the motor can be accessed first. After removing the amplifier, which allows access to the back of the driver, remove the screws holding in the driver and then the driver motor can be pushed on from below, forcing the lip of the driver’s frame up enough to get a hold of it.  Once removed from the enclosure the driver can be seen for the beast that it is. Weighing in around 42.5 lb. and comprising the lion’s share of the 92 lb. weight of the SB13-Ultra,  it looks similar to the driver used in the PB13-Ultra, but it's shorter overall and the voice coil is partially visible.  The voice coil is unique to this application, in order to optimize it for use in a small sealed box (more layers of wire for higher BL most likely). The motor in the SB13-Ultra driver is overhung, while the motor in the PB13-Ultra driver is underhung (and slightly heavier at 50.5 lb).  Features that the two drivers do share in common include a sturdy cast aluminum frame, long throw parabolic surround, composite Rohacell/pulp cone, copper shorting sleeve to lower distortion, large diameter 9” spiders to support extended excursion, large diameter dual stacked magnets, vented pole piece and 3” diameter flat wound aluminum voice coil.  The result is a massive heavy duty driver with high power handling and very long throw capability.

SVS SB13U 812.jpg

 SB13-Ultra Driver

The STA-1000D Sledge amplifier is a highly efficient Class D switching amplifier rated at 1000 watts long term power. It occupies the majority of the back panel of the enclosure. In use the amplifier certainly seemed to have plenty of power to boss around the Ultra driver. Even during heavy use with test signals in an outdoor environment in direct sunlight it did not overheat or protect at any point. Checking the plate with the scientific method of laying my hand on it after listening to loud music for a long duration revealed that it was barely warm.

The amplifier has both unbalanced RCA style and balanced XLR style connections and stereo inputs and output of both types. Nearly all of the controls for the amplifier are managed digitally by a small blue screen and a single button/knob. It is a very intuitive and easy to control interface. The DSP section of the amplifier is deeper than most and has controls for: Gain, phase, room gain compensation, low pass filter, high pass filter for the signal sent to the speakers reproducing the upper frequencies, delay adjustment for the signal sent out to the other speakers and two independent parametric equalization bands with adjustments for center frequency, cut, boost and Q. The best use of these controls is likely in pure two-channel systems where the amount of adjustments on board the STA-1000D amplifier should be enough to get the job of blending the subwoofer with the main speakers done without any other speaker management needed. These adjustments could be made by ear but the best results would likely come through the use of measurements in conjunction with the adjustments. Certainly this is a flexible and powerful amplifier.

SVS SB13U 806.jpg 

SVS SB13-Ultra (Sledge STA-1000-D) Amplifier

The cabinet of the SB13-Ultra subwoofer is constructed of MDF (medium density fiberboard) and contains a large window brace internally which the motor of the driver fits into. This brace stiffens the top bottom and sides of the cabinet and also helps support the heavy driver motor and relieves stress on the front baffle and driver mounting area. The cabinet is lined with damping material and has large radiuses on the top and bottom edges. The SB13-Ultra cabinet is strong and well damped and it exhibited no appreciable vibration, rattles or resonances during the outdoor measurement sessions.  The gloss black finish provided on the review unit was beautiful and polished to a mirror finish. As with most gloss black finishes it is attractive but easily picks up streaks, fingerprints and dust. With the mirror finish, rounded edges and compact dimensions the review unit should be acceptable in most anyone’s décor. The heavy duty formed steel grille is certainly a unique piece and high quality to boot but I admit I’m personally not a big fan of it.  The build quality, fit and finish and ergonomics of the SB13-Ultra are all top notch.

SVS SB13U 808.jpg        SVS SB13U 815.jpg

SVS SB13-Ultra Cabinet View

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