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SVS PB13-Ultra Subwoofer Review

by October 28, 2011
Contributors:
  • Product Name: PB13-Ultra
  • Manufacturer: SVSound
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStarhalf-star
  • Review Date: October 28, 2011 09:25
  • MSRP: $ 1,999 (FREE shipping)
  • Buy Now

SVS PB13-Ultra Specifications

  • 13.5” forward-firing driver
  • Amplifier: STA-1000D Sledge DSP, 1000 watts RMS (Class D, built in DSP)
  • Ports: 3.5” high flow flared(x3)
  • Selectable 20Hz vented, 16Hz vented or sealed operation
  • Frequency Response: 18-150Hz +/-3dB in 20Hz mode (Anechoic)
  • Finishes:  Black oak, natural oak, American cherry or gloss black
  • 2 grills available: curved steel or fabric
  • Dimensions (H/W/D): 22.5” x 20.5” x 27” (29.25 with metal grill attached)
  • Weight: 155 lbs.
  • Warranty: Three years (Bumper to bumper)

Driver features
  • Custom 13.5” die-cast aluminum “open” frame
  • 3” diameter US built high temp voice coil
  • Polyimide impregnated fiberglass former
  • Nickel plated 1008 low carbon steel components
  • Copper shorting ring
  • Stitched foam core/glass composite cone
  • Parabolic SBR surround with integrated top gasket
  • Vented pole piece
  • Dual 9” linear spiders with sewn in leads
  • Dual stacked Y-35 grade ferrite magnets
  • FEA optimized underhung motor

Amplifier Features
  • 1000 watts RMS Power (Class D)
  • IFC (Integrated Function Controller)
  • DSP built in and adjustable via single knob and LCD screen
  • Volume level: -100-0dB in 1dB increments
  • High Pass X-over: 31, 40, 50, 63, 80, 100, 125Hz at 12 or 24 dB/octave (Can be disabled)
  • Low Pass X-over: 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)
  • Subwoofer Tune Mode: 20Hz (all ports open), 16Hz (one port blocked), or sealed (all ports blocked)
    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
  • Selectable power mode: On, Auto-On, Off

Inputs/Outputs
  • Balanced (XLR), left and right inputs and outputs
  • Unbalanced (RCA), left and right inputs and outputs
  • Low / High Level input voltage selector

Pros

  • Great all around performance
  • Excellent parts and build quality
  • Very flexible: EQ, DSP, multiple configurations

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Large
  • Set-up options may be overwhelming

 

SVS PB13-Ultra Introduction

SVSound, otherwise known as SVS to most familiar with the brand, was once an upstart internet direct subwoofer manufacturer focusing on providing serious bass via low tuned ported subwoofers for a reasonable cost. In the last 10+ years they have grown their operation to include full range speakers, center channels, sealed, cylinder and box subs, various finishes and even outboard EQ units, all while maintaining strong branding and staying true to their original core values. The subject of this article is their current top of the line powered subwoofer, the PB13-Ultra, which has been in production for a few years but has recently been updated with a more powerful, efficient and much smarter amplifier, loaded with built in DSP and marketed as “Sledge” by SVS.

pb13grill.JPG

SVS PB13-Ultra with Grille On

Unpacking and Initial Thoughts

When the lift gate truck pulled up to deliver the PB13-Ultra and I witnessed the size of the box containing it, I’ll admit that I was a bit surprised. I have had many large pb13front2.JPGsubwoofers delivered to me over the years, some many times bigger than the PB13-Ultra, truthfully, but for some reason I had thought that it would be a little smaller than what showed up at my doorstep. I could immediately see why SVS went with the more expensive freight shipping. This sub is far too big and bulky to be trusted with regular ground shipping services. Make no mistake, when you get one of these delivered to your house you will not be sliding it past the significant other unnoticed. Unpacking the sub I found that it is double boxed with heavy cardboard, there are thick corner protecting foam inserts, a form fitting, heavy foam top and bottom piece that fit down over the subwoofer and the supplied metal grill and the subwoofer and grill are both inside of bags as well. Even the supplied foam port plugs act as extra protection and packaging which is sort of slick in itself. Overall it is a very thorough, well thought out and protective packaging scheme, probably one of the best that I have seen yet. The unpacking can be done with one person, as I did, but it would definitely be an easier job with a helper.

After the unpacking is done the actual subwoofer is much more compact, but it is still the largest and heaviest commercial powered subwoofer that I have ever had chance to get acquainted with. As with unpacking it, moving the PB13-Ultra into place is far easier with help. Unfortunately I had to muscle the 155lb bruiser around on my lonesome a number of times. Luckily 15+ years of lugging around speakers and band equipment has given me the “tools” needed to get the job done. I would definitely not recommend that anyone else make the same foolhardy attempt if it can be helped.

Inside of the box is the usual: The subwoofer, power cable, grill, warranty information and an accessory pack, plus the foam port plugs. There wasn’t an actual owner’s manual in the box, SVS instead choosing to have it available online for download, but there was a quick start card with information on operating the Sledge amplifiers I.F.C. interface (Integrated Function Controller). My first impression after simply unpacking the sub and staring at it a moment while I took a breather, was that this was going to be a fun unit to get familiar with.

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Attached Files

Recent Forum Posts:

dmusoke posts on February 15, 2014 02:36
fuzz092888, post: 1016877
Based on the CEA results, some of the other graphs, and my own personal preferences/experiences I would go with the 20hz tune, at least based on the raw numbers. The 20hz tune is going to have lower distortion overall, in room gain will boost the extension you get slightly and you'll get more output/have more headroom over the 15hz tune.

As to the distortion question, at moderate volumes with distortion far less than 5%, I doubt you'd notice a difference between either mode. At higher volumes, depending on the content you may notice that extra bit of extension, you may not. Distortion may begin to come into play, but I doubt it. Both tunes will, by my estimation still sound similar. At full on reference playback with a demanding soundtrack is where you'd probably notice the biggest difference. Since 20hz and below is more felt than heard, I'd still probably go for 20hz tune since I'm not really seeing enough meaningful output over the 20hz tune to risk rising distortion while also sacrificing output and increasing thermal compression. IMHO of course and I'll throw in the disclaimer that I've never actually heard this particular sub so my opinion might be different if I did get to audition it. Then again maybe not as well.

I agree… Thank you so much Fuzz for the help you've provided explaining to me the details i was confused about .
fuzz092888 posts on February 13, 2014 01:26
dmusoke, post: 1016873
I see what you are saying now with the graphs. You're observations are correct in this regard. Is distortion of 10% or greater at 20Hz or lower audible? If so, then I'm tempted to think that the 15Hz mode is best overall based on the graphs iwth THD less than 5% up to the tuning frequency?

Based on the CEA results, some of the other graphs, and my own personal preferences/experiences I would go with the 20hz tune, at least based on the raw numbers. The 20hz tune is going to have lower distortion overall, in room gain will boost the extension you get slightly and you'll get more output/have more headroom over the 15hz tune.

As to the distortion question, at moderate volumes with distortion far less than 5%, I doubt you'd notice a difference between either mode. At higher volumes, depending on the content you may notice that extra bit of extension, you may not. Distortion may begin to come into play, but I doubt it. Both tunes will, by my estimation still sound similar. At full on reference playback with a demanding soundtrack is where you'd probably notice the biggest difference. Since 20hz and below is more felt than heard, I'd still probably go for 20hz tune since I'm not really seeing enough meaningful output over the 20hz tune to risk rising distortion while also sacrificing output and increasing thermal compression. IMHO of course and I'll throw in the disclaimer that I've never actually heard this particular sub so my opinion might be different if I did get to audition it. Then again maybe not as well.
dmusoke posts on February 13, 2014 00:25
I hope the new SB13 gets reviewed soon…
dmusoke posts on February 13, 2014 00:24
fuzz092888, post: 1016655
Looking more closely at the graph, you'll see that the 15hz mode doesn't offer lower distortion than the 20hz mode, except below the tuning point. The swept tone graph isn't mislabeled.

This graph shows the same thing except with a 110db tone. The distortion of the 15hz mode starts to raise higher than the 20hz mode at around 55hz and continues to rise higher than the 20hz mode until the 20hz mode gets close to the tuning frequency. Below the tuning frequency, the 15hz mode has lower distortion, as it should, since it is tuned lower. The tradeoff for that extra extension is rising distortion starting at 50-60hz. The CEA results show the same thing.

Data-Bass

I see what you are saying now with the graphs. You're observations are correct in this regard. Is distortion of 10% or greater at 20Hz or lower audible? If so, then I'm tempted to think that the 15Hz mode is best overall based on the graphs iwth THD less than 5% up to the tuning frequency?
fuzz092888 posts on February 12, 2014 08:37
Looking more closely at the graph, you'll see that the 15hz mode doesn't offer lower distortion than the 20hz mode, except below the tuning point. The swept tone graph isn't mislabeled.

This graph shows the same thing except with a 110db tone. The distortion of the 15hz mode starts to raise higher than the 20hz mode at around 55hz and continues to rise higher than the 20hz mode until the 20hz mode gets close to the tuning frequency. Below the tuning frequency, the 15hz mode has lower distortion, as it should, since it is tuned lower. The tradeoff for that extra extension is rising distortion starting at 50-60hz. The CEA results show the same thing.

Data-Bass
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