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SVS PC-2000 Cylinder Subwoofer Sound Quality Tests

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Finding a good spot for a single subwoofer is tricky in a typical room. After some trial and error, I managed to find a spot that ‘only’ had a 6 dB dip at 50 Hz in the sub’s frequency range, and I decided to stay with this response for most of the listening. The room correction equalization onboard the AVR I used (Pioneer Elite SC-05) did little to alleviate the situation, since it does not equalize below 63 Hz (not that equalization can do much to correct high-Q nulls). I normally use four subwoofers in this system with which I get a pretty decent in-room frequency response, even with no equalization. We at Audioholics have harped on the need for multiple subs for a good frequency response in the past in articles such as this one. The room has an enormous effect on how the bass is heard, and separating the sound of the subwoofer itself from the way the room ‘processes’ that sound is an essentially hopeless task, particularly if you are not intimately familiar with the subwoofer and the recording. Bottom line: the way this sub sounds in my room at my listening position is not going to be the way it sounds anywhere else for anyone else. Readers would do well to keep this in mind, not just for this subjective impression of the PC-2000 in this review, but the subjective impressions of any subwoofer in any review where the frequency response was not flat (ie. the vast majority of them).

Music Listening

The PC2000 gave the bass a palpable presence and proved its musical chops...

Let’s begin with some recordings of natural instruments. One album with plenty of good-sounding bass is the Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me Soundtrack. This album features well-recorded virtuoso upright bass on many of the tracks. The PC-2000 hit all the marks here: the transients of the plucked strings, the pitch definition of the slides, the quick attack and decay of the kick drums. In such albums when evaluating subwoofers, we have to be careful not to attribute upper frequency sound from the speakers to the subwoofer. To get a sense of how much the sub is actually doing, it is illuminating to mute the speakers but not the sub. I think it would surprise many bass aficionados to hear not only some of the subtle sounds the sub is making but also some of the sounds they thought the sub was making when it really wasn’t, such as much of the sound on the double bass, which is heard mostly as harmonics that lay above the conventional 80 Hz crossover. For what this reviewer heard in this recording, the PC-2000 gave the bass of the Twin Peaks movie soundtrack a palpable presence without being overbearing, and proved its musical chops.

FWWMOST.jpg       interstellarOST.jpg

Let’s shift our focus to another important bass instrument: the pipe organ. Outside of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, it is difficult to think of a better-known example of this instrument’s grandeur than the Interstellar soundtrack. Indeed, it is rumored to have been the death of some commercial cinema subwoofers! The recording studio stated, “The sound on Interstellar has been specially mixed to maximize the power of the low end frequencies in the main channels as well as in the subwoofer channel.” The pipe organ blazes through the Interstellar soundtrack, with long sustained deep notes taking up a major chunk of the recording’s dynamic range. Strong fundamentals can be seen reaching down to 20 Hz in spectrographs. The bass here is unrelenting, and at high levels, can be a severe strain on any single subwoofer. I am happy to report the PC2000 not only survived this ordeal, but acquitted itself well at these high drive levels. That isn’t to say it matched the sheer magnitude of bass of the Danley subwoofer system at the Imax theater where I was lucky to view Interstellar in 70mm—which no single 12” could ever hope to achieve—but the PC2000 lent the bass a sense of power without any signs of struggling. The PC-2000 kept its composure through one of the most the most taxing music scores ever conceived.      

PC-2000 lent the bass a sense of power without any signs of struggling.

Turning to electronic music recordings that tend to take more advantage of low frequency bass, I queued up Free System Projekt’s Pointless Remainder, released in 1999, which is reminiscent of the old school arpeggiation-heavy electronic music, a la Tangerine Dream. Swirling synths, pulsating bass sequences, and buzzing drone sweeps suffuse Pointless Remainder, and low frequencies are used on multiple levels throughout this album. I decided to use this album to evaluate the PC2000 not only because of the multitude of bass sounds, but also because the bass in this album is not used in an over-the-top manner unlike so much other contemporary electronic music. (I also used it because I enjoy listening to it!) The PC2000 had no troubles conveying the subtleties of the low-frequency content as well as the bolder bass lines of Free System Projekt’s music.

freesystems.jpg       NoTurningBack.jpg

Let’s now turn from subtlety in bass to something brazen. For this task I turned to Calyx’s No Turning Back, a now classic Drum’N’Bass album released in 2005. It is difficult to think of a genre that will give subwoofers as much of a workout as heavy-duty Drum’N’Bass; pounding, high-BPM breakbeat percussion and ceaseless growling bass lines make it their mission to destroy woofers. Would No Turning Back be able to make the PC-2000 break under pressure? I am happy to report the PC2000 brought rumble to the jungle and executed the task with panache. I did reach the upper limits of the subwoofer’s output abilities, but the subwoofer did not beg for mercy—mind you, this was at a very high loudness level, where I measured 115 dB peaks at my listening position with the sub about 5 feet away. This is much louder than most people would ever drive this subwoofer. The PC-2000 kept its cool until near maximum volume levels, although the bass did become somewhat indistinct when the sub was pushed to its limits, but this could have been due to signal clipping as well as distortion from the sub itself. Any driver when pushed to its limits will produce distortion that can muddy up the bass, so this should not be taken as a ding against the PC-2000, which retained its composure up to very loud levels. For No Turning Back played at loud levels, I found the PC2000 was able to hit surprisingly hard for a single 12” 500-watt subwoofer.

Movies

the PC-2000 brought rumble to the jungle and executed the task with panache.

One film viewed with the PC-2000 was Jurassic World, which contains a soundtrack that is a great demo for any subwoofer system, as any movie about dinosaurs should be. It’s an especially appropriate choice seeing as how the first Jurassic Park film was the first to truly take advantage of high-level deep bass; a “ground-breaking” movie in more ways than one. The Blu-ray sound mix contains lots of strong deep bass content, sometimes reaching deep into the single digit frequencies. Roars, dinosaur stampedes, explosions, and collapsing structures give the subwoofer a continuous workout throughout Jurassic World. The PC-2000 brought life to the low end with aplomb. It was likely missing the ultra-deep frequencies, and it isn’t going to be hitting THX Reference levels by itself, but for most people, I do think a single PC-2000 would have adequate output. Films like Jurassic World are why subwoofers like the PC-2000 exist, therefore it should be no surprise that it excels in this kind of content.

jurassic-world-blu-ray.jpg       prometheus.jpg

Another film used to evaluate the PC-2000 was the 2012 science-fiction opus Prometheus. At times Prometheus can be dense with layers of low frequency sounds from things like spaceship landings, gooey monsters, rock blizzards, and a booming orchestral music track. However it does not overdo the LFE channel with constant noise that swamps the soundtrack and turns the bass into an indistinct continuous rumble as with some other major science fiction movies. As with Jurassic World, the PC-2000 proved itself capable of bringing the thunder when needed without becoming boomy and without drawing negative attention to itself. The climax in particular has a plethora of different low-frequency sound effects that were all energized by the PC-2000 while keeping the individual bass sounds distinct. 

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

shadyJ posts on June 18, 2021 11:58
bladerunner6, post: 1489949, member: 92851
Any chance there will be a review of the new Pro version?
Thanks
Nope. The reason is that the pro version will behave nearly identically to the box pro version. If you want to know how the pro version performs, just look at the PB numbers.
bladerunner6 posts on June 18, 2021 10:48
Any chance there will be a review of the new Pro version?
Thanks
cardsdoc posts on March 21, 2018 12:11
shadyJ, post: 1238960, member: 20472
I would take two PC-2000s over a single PC12-Plus in a heartbeat. The Plus series of subs are getting pretty long in the tooth, they are SVS's oldest sub at the moment. My guess is they probably don't have a huge advantage over the PC-2000s, maybe mostly only at frequencies below 25 Hz. Above that, I would guess maybe only a 2 dB or so advantage, if that. Keep in mind this is all speculation. For sure knowledge, ask SVS.

I am also guessing that SVS will revamp the Plus platform within the next year to bring their new amplifier technology from the 16-Ultras and 4000s to the Plus series. They will probably rename the Plus series the ‘3000’ series, since that fills the gap between the 2000s and 4000s. SVS may take that opportunity to enhance the driver and get more performance out of it.

When I was considering moving from PC-2000 to PC12+ this is what SVS told me:

“In the 20 Hz mode, a pair of PB12-Plus will provide about 60-70% higher dynamic output than a pair of PB-2000s, along with comparable deep extension. In the 16 Hz mode, a pair of PB12-Plus will provide about 40-50% higher dynamic output than a pair of PB-2000s, along with considerably better deep extension and higher clean output in the 13-18 Hz band.”

In my experience the biggest difference was cleaner bass and more output under 20hz in extended mode which I enjoyed. It does have mildly more overall output but I was never listening at high levels so didn't really take advantage of it. Having a digital amp control on the PC12+ I thought was very valuable especially when experimenting a lot with duals and placement. Agree dual PC-2000 over single PC12+. NO question there. I actually just traded up my PC12+s to PC-4000s. My 1 year trade up window was about to end and couldn't resist even though it is probably overkill for me.
shadyJ posts on March 20, 2018 21:36
I would take two PC-2000s over a single PC12-Plus in a heartbeat. The Plus series of subs are getting pretty long in the tooth, they are SVS's oldest sub at the moment. My guess is they probably don't have a huge advantage over the PC-2000s, maybe mostly only at frequencies below 25 Hz. Above that, I would guess maybe only a 2 dB or so advantage, if that. Keep in mind this is all speculation. For sure knowledge, ask SVS.

I am also guessing that SVS will revamp the Plus platform within the next year to bring their new amplifier technology from the 16-Ultras and 4000s to the Plus series. They will probably rename the Plus series the ‘3000’ series, since that fills the gap between the 2000s and 4000s. SVS may take that opportunity to enhance the driver and get more performance out of it.
nibhaz posts on March 20, 2018 21:05
shadyJ, post: 1238940, member: 20472
That depends entirely on how much SPL you are after. For my own tastes, I would want at least two PC-12 Pluses even in a small room. For some people, a single PC-12 NSD would be more than enough even in a large room.
shadyJ since the price difference between a pair of PC 2000s and a single PC-12 + are only a few hundred quid what is your opinion assuming that the goal is a balance between spl and frequency response across multiple seating positions?

I am in compete agreement that a pair of PC-12 Plus would be preferred but for those on a budget the pair of PC-2000s vs a single PC-12 Plus is a interesting thought exercise considering the minimal price delta between the two options.

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