RBH Sound Limited Edition SVTRS Measurements, Listening & Conclusion
Shane Rich & Gene hard at work tuning the system (left pic) ; Marani DSP OSD (right pic)
Once you have the system all connected, the magic happens. Shane Rich, Technical Director of RBH Sound, programs the basic filter crossover targets and begins taking nearfield measurements of the speaker response. We spent hours dialing in the system response and achieved the best results by calibrating everything above 200Hz nearfield and everything below at the listening position.
RBH Sound SVTRS Frequency Response - 2 meter (1/12th Octave, in-room)
(left pic - left speaker; right pic - right speaker)
RBH Sound SVTRS Frequency Response - 2 meters (1/12th Octave, in-room)
(left pic - inside tweeter axis; right pic - outside tweeter axis)
The horizontal frequency response from 0 to 45 degrees from the inside of the speaker with respect to the tweeter is flat and very uniform. I was expecting higher high-frequency rolloff of the tweeter when measuring horizontal dispersion outside the tweeter but was pleasantly surprised how similar the response was. This is a fairly wide dispersion speaker and you won't hear much tonal shift moving your head side to side between the speakers. The vertical dispersion was more tapered off when > 30 degrees off-axis but this isn't an issue from the seated ear level position and the narrow vertical dispersion is an intended design trait by the manufacturer. This should make treating ceiling reflections less critical then more conventional 3-way speaker designs. The physical tweeter height was a bit higher than seated ear level position of my theater seats. I felt it shifted the image a bit higher as a result. Simply adjusting the feet to make the speaker have a slightly downward tilt fixed this issue in my room.
After admiring the incredibly linear summed response of the system, it was time to do final tweaks to flatten out the bass response. This system has so much cone area that it needed very little boost to easily hit the target room curve.
RBH Sound SVTRS Bass Response @ Listening Position (no smoothing)
It is quite incredible to see single digit bass extension with meaningful output. Running some very low tones, we could feel the rafters in the floor shaking. It's quite a visceral experience that very few subwoofers, let alone full-range speaker systems, can deliver.
RBH Sound SVTRS Spectrogram Wavelet Response
Because of the active FIR correction and lack of analog crossover components in this RBH Sound speaker system, I've been able to achieve a perfect impulse response yielding incredible phase linearity and time coherence you just can't get from a passive speaker system. As you can see in the Wavelet graph above, with both speakers playing and measured at the MLP, the response is perfectly linear (black vertical dotted line) from 20kHz all the way down to 150Hz where the delay slightly rises as low bass frequencies. Even at 20Hz, we only see 20ms of delay which is inaudible at these frequencies. The end result is coherent full range response that sounds superbly integrated and fluidic.
RBH Sound SVTRS Speaker System installed in the Old Audioholics Showcase Theater Room
We tested the RBH Sound SVTRS speakers with all of the best gear available to us. This included the Anthem STR preamp, Yamaha CX-A5200 Atmos processor and RBH's own UNRIVALED UA-8 8CH amplifier to power them. Source devices included Control4 EA3 for streaming Tidal and Qobuz, and the Oppo UDP-205 Universal UltraHD Blu-ray player. Speaker cables and interconnects were all Kimber 8TC and Hero, respectively. The listening space is a 6,000 ft3 room that is moderately acoustically treated, courtesy of Auralex Acoustics. The listening portion of this review was written in my old theater room. I will revisit this section of the review when I get these speakers set up again at the Audioholics Smarthome new theater room.
Don Dunn from HD2020 described listening to the RBH Sound SVTRS system similar to a ride at Disney but without the long wait. I certainly could see his point when listening to various tracks from Yello. "Planet Dada [Flamboyant]" sums this experience up nicely. The bass is visceral and deep and hits you at the core when playing back on the RBH speaker system featuring eight 12" high excursion drivers. It amazed me how these woofers were able to generate so much clean SPL while barely breaking a sweat. What was equally impressive was how well integrated everything sounded in the system. The articulation of detail the AMT tweeters were able to deliver was something that has to be heard to be believed. These speakers brought out the subtle details and sustain in the sound effects that I only heard in this much detail prior on my Focal Stellia closed-back headphones. Post Malone "Wow" had the vocals anchored dead center as if the center channel was engaged when it wasn't. Bass had new depths that few speakers can dream to deliver. I found myself searching Tidal for bass intense songs just to rediscover what I may have been missing. This says a lot since I'm coming from my reference Status 8T speakers that to date are some of the finest passive speakers I've ever heard or owned.
Rebelution "Against the Grain" allowed the softer side of the SVTRS system to strut its stuff. You could clearly hear spacious reverb in the recording while at the same time extreme focus of clarity from the acoustical guitar. The vocals sounded incredibly lifelike and free of any coloration. When I closed my eyes, I was transported into the studio with the performer playing right in front of me. "You Oughta Know (acoustic)" is my favorite version of the song from Alanis Morissette. You could feel the bitter pain in her soul from the breakup of a former lover when listening on the SVTRS system. The immediacy of her voice was so pinpoint and accurate that it almost felt like it was in my head. Turning the FIR filters off in the Marani processor revealed just how much better the system sounded with it engaged. The time alignment of the minimum phase filters works! Don't get me wrong, with standard filters, this was a fine sounding speaker but once FIR was engaged, it took their performance to new levels that NOT even my beloved Status 8T speakers could achieve.
I did extensive solo listening of the RBH Sound SVTRS speaker system during my COVID-19 isolation last year and found myself streaming music I would never have done prior just to see how it sounded on this new system. Dua Lipa is an artist I found myself thoroughly enjoying on these speakers. The energy just captivated me to listen more.
SACD: Chlara - In a Different Light
If you are into SACD's and don't have this one, get it right now! What a sonic delight thanks to the angelic voice of Chlara and the brilliantly mastered and produced recording. "Hotel California" is arguably a top 10 overplayed classic but Chlara makes it her own. The decay of the bongo drums at the beginning really grabbed my attention almost as much as her silky-smooth vocals. Turning on the DSU with "center spread on" transplanted me into the recording studio with the artist for that "better than being there" experience I reserve for only the best playback systems I experience. Chlara's vocals have no hint of coloration or nasal sound, which I often hear immediately on speaker systems that utilize a compression driver. The bass line was so tactile and rewardingly deep without muddying up the soundstage one bit. I found myself turning the volume up quite a bit on the track "Like I'm Gonna Lose You" out of sheer enjoyment, noting that Chlara's vocals never wavered or sounded edgy.
Blu-Ray: Steven Wilson - To the Bone
Anyone that reads my reviews regularly knows how big of a Steven Wilson fan I am. To the Bone, while it isn't his best work to date, still has some great tunes and sounds superb in 5.1 DTS HD especially when upmixed with the DSU for a full 7.2.4 speaker layout. This album gave me a chance to hear how well the SV-821 center channel played with the SVTRS system. The opening bassline of "To the Bone" gives you an idea of how serious the RBH Sound speaker system is at playing back this record with concert level dynamics and slam. Steven's voice was focused with laser precision and the snare drums were snappy. I was completely mesmerized during the bridge towards the end of the song where the back-up vocalists were singing "me on me" and Steven comes in with "rain all the truth". The surround envelope in this recording best showcases just how superior good multi-channel music is over two-channel. My entire room was filled with pristine fidelity that wasn't fatiguing even when played at obscene levels that would send my wife running from our theater room. I used the "Song of I" to demonstrate my system to some local folks interested in hearing the SVTRS system in action. The reaction on their faces was priceless. I heard comments such as "so clear and concise," "the sound is surreal." I always enjoy exposing people to a true high-fidelity demonstration and suffice it to say, they actually decided to go with the in-wall version of this system for their new theater room in a 32,000+ ft^2 home.
SACD/ Blu-ray: Jienat - Mira
This recording remains a multi-channel benchmark for us at Audioholics, but it also has an incredible two-channel layer that is equally impressive. I caution anyone to use the volume control judiciously when playing this disc on their systems since it has extreme dynamic range that most speaker systems are incapable of reproducing at reference volume levels. The vocals were pinned dead center in Track #1 “Sissel” as if I had my center channel engaged similar to what I experienced on my Status 8T speakers. The bass was thunderous, reaching depths that only a handful of full-range speakers that I know of could reach, 2 of them being RBH Sound flagship products that I have been fortunate to have in my theater room. Track #6 “Fredrik Albert” showed off the system's fabulous transient response. The immediacy of the percussion and depth of the bass was epic and not something that can fully be conveyed in writing without actually hearing or feeling for yourself. I just had to switch to the multi-ch disc for Track #4 “DanceHall.” The envelopment of singers all around you was so freakishly real sounding that it was as if I was a fly on the wall in the venue it was recorded in. Most playback systems are incapable of reproducing the dynamics of this album, but the SVTRS system did this with utter ease and with modest cone movement from the eight 12" drivers, indicating I was barely stressing these speakers that were providing room filling, gut wrenching bass. At the end of this recording, you are rewarded with electric bass kicked that will shake you to your core IF your speaker system is up for the challenge. This disc, although obscure in content, allowed me to test the limits of my amplification and my hearing because under no circumstance was I able to detect loudspeaker compression or distress. This is the quintessential definition of what a flagship reference loudspeaker should be capable of.
Michael Franks - Burchfield Nines
At the end of the day, when I want to chill, I do it to classic Michael Franks. Burchfield Nines is such an underrated classic that only true fans can appreciate. Track #1 “When the Cookie Jar is Empty” Michael's voice came through with such delicacy and poise. The percussions seemed to pop more than I recalled on my Status 8T system. I think the midbass output advantage of triple 8" mids and four 12"s playing up to 150Hz presents itself with authority in these instances. Steve Gadd's bass drum sounded deep and tight but not as damped as I enjoyed on my Status 8T system. I have not yet been able to recreate the damped bass response I loved so much on my Status 8Ts with the SVTRS system but I hope further tuning in my new theater room will get me there again. I am of course picking nits since both RBH speaker systems produced the very best bass reproduction I've ever heard in my own listening space. Track #2 “A Robin Song” showcased the neutrality, immediacy and richness to the vocals and brass instruments that rivaled the live amplified performances I heard at Michael Franks concerts. The saxophone beamed into the left side of my head as if I was hearing it live right there. Brass instruments truly shine on loudspeaker systems that dedicate enough cone area in the midrange section to faithfully reproduce it. The cymbal reproduction of Track #3 “Wrestle a Live Nude Girl” was so vibrant with sustain that it begged you to listen until its final decay thanks to the remarkably transparent AMT tweeter. Track #4 “Burchfield Nines” is a slow, downbeat song but patience rewards with a beautiful melody and some great instrumentation. You’re showered with triangles that just slowly dissolve into the room along with clanking percussion sounds reproduced with pristine clarity that the RBH Sound SVTRS system seemed to extend beyond what I heard on my beloved Status 8T system. The trumpet just pours out with a sense of realism and warmth that keeps you captivated to listen more.
UHD Blu-ray: Bumblebee
Growing up as a kid in the 80's, nothing brought me more joy than transforming alien robots slugging it out every week on TV. I couldn't wait to get home from school to see how Megatron would verbally abuse his second in command, Starscream or watch Optimus Prime throw down and kick some Decepticon can. Bumblebee is the first live action Transformers movie that actually got the look and feel of the robots from the G1 cartoon right. Michael Bay, take note, Transformers are different colors and NOT just organic sharp metal. The opening scene of Bumblebee awoke my inner child with all the familiar faces of our favorite characters clearly identifiable on screen. The voices were as close to the original, thanks Peter Cullen, and they came across with crystal clarity on the RBH SVTRS system. This is where the SV-821 center channel really shined. The dialogue was so true to the source material without a hint of coloration or strain when turned up at reference levels. Yes the SV-821 is missing one of the three 8" mid-bass drivers that the SV-831's have in the SVTRS towers. No, I didn't miss it. These speakers have such incredible dynamic range and with so much clean power on tap from the RBH Sound amplifier, the limitation was constrained to my own ability to sustain uncomfortable listening levels for any given time. I was encapsulated in the Dolby Atmos immersive bubble of the RBH Sound 7.2.4 speaker system with the SVTRS at the helm handling the front LCR duties. I was quite pleased with how the rest of my RBH Sound speakers complimented this system. The SV-661WR on-wall are killer speakers for side and back channels. Their dual 6" mid-bass drivers with the AMT sandwiched in the middle in a vertical MTM offer incredible detail and precision for music and high dynamic range for movies. The SI-615 6 1/2" coaxial speakers with 1" ring radiator tweeters provide excellent height effects for the Atmos layer despite NOT having the AMT tweeters of the rest of the system. Of course the bass from the 4 SV-1212 subwoofers is prodigious. Anytime Optimus crushed a Deception, the tactile response was both heard and felt.
Active Speakers Are The Future
When I reviewed the Status Acoustics 8T speaker system, I not only told the Lead Speaker Designer, Shane Rich, that they'd be my last pair of reference speakers, but I also told our readers as well. These were to be the speakers I'd die with. Well, I'm not dead yet. Had it not been for Shane continually tinkering with new designs and embracing active speaker technology, I would have been fully content with that decision. The 8Ts were virtually perfect sounding without any needed EQ processing in my room. In some ways, they are still my favorite speakers and they are certainly some of the coolest looking speakers I've ever owned. But, the customization of the SVTRS system is just too incredible to ignore. The fact that you could literally tune the speaker to your room is revolutionary beyond what simple room correction systems attempt to do. FIR filters allow for precise crossover slopes and subsequent driver integration along with perfect transient response and time alignment to stay as true to the source as possible. The audible differences heard between conventional vs. FIR filters are not subtle. Getting this speaker system dialed in just right for your room really adds an additional dimension of realism to the sound. While I miss the damped bass response of the 8T system, I really appreciate the subterranean tactile response that the eight 12" bass drivers produce in the SVTRS system. Hard hitting, spine shaking, depth plummeting, yep it does all of that but NOT at the expense of accuracy of articulation or finesse. Once you hear a reference level active speaker system properly set up, it's hard to get excited about passive speaker designs. I did already liked the passive SVT system when RBH Sound launched them over six years ago but they didn't approach the level of fidelity I was hearing in my 8T system. SVTRS takes it to the next level thanks to the incredible horsepower DSP processing of the Marani along with the SOTA system amplification. Eliminating the passive crossover network in favor of digital filtering and having the drivers directly coupled to the amplifiers enables the system to reach levels of performance and fidelity NOT otherwise possible. The case for active speakers has never been more clear in my mind now having experiencing the very best in both passive and active.
With all of this incredible performance, there are some considerations. For one, the RBH Sound SVTRS is a very large and heavy speaker system. I barely fit them in my prior theater room with 8ft ceilings. If you want BIG sound like this and have it be effortless at and beyond reference levels, there simply is no replacement for displacement. This is NOT a speaker system you're going to want to put in a family room. Instead, it's meant for a dedicated theater or music room. The black gloss finish is very reflective which can be distracting when watching a movie. It's a shame RBH Sound doesn't offer non-glossy finish options. However, RBH Sound informed me they are transitioning on making Signature series cabinets locally which will allow for non-glossy finish options on future units. With its endless configuration options, this is NOT an easy system to set up so it's a good thing RBH Sound sends their designer to install and calibrate this system for you. I don't know of any other manufacturer with this much dedication to their product and customer satisfaction.
RBH Sound employed large metal cones for the feet on my review system that look cool but don't provide the best stability for such a large speaker system susceptible to being tipped over. I was not thrilled with this and suggested that they add an outrigger system and they obliged my request. In addition, RBH Sound informed me that they recently partnered with IsoAcoustics. I recently installed the SVTRS system with the outriggers in my new theater room of the AH Smarthome. Not only do they make the speakers look more impressive, but they provide the necessary lateral stability I was looking for. Their new UNRIVALED brushed aluminum knobs that secure the outrigger system give an extra touch of class and elegance. UNRIVALED indeed.
Integrating a speaker system as massive and complex as the RBH Sound SVTRS will take a commitment for an audiophile to have the proper room (minimum 3,000 ft^3) to make them shine. A dedicated listening room is a must and preferably one that has some sound isolation from the rest of the house. This speaker has ungodly low frequency output that will be felt and heard NOT just in the room they are located but in the rest of your home and nearby neighbors. If you want to throw a party(or piss off your neighbors), this is the speaker that can do it. Patience is required to getting this system dialed in and it will require at least two people so it's handy that RBH Sound sends their designer Shane Rich to help you set them up. Just make sure you feed him dark chocolate and have Coke Zero on hand since it will keep him productively working all night tuning your system while you can comfortably go to sleep knowing tomorrow will bring you audio bliss.
RBH Sound SVTRS System Installed in new AH Smart Home Theater Room
In the high-end, $50k/pair is a steal for a loudspeaker system of this caliber. Considering that this speaker system comes with ALL amplification and DSP, and the Master Speaker Designer himself to tune it to your room, this is quite a bargain with respect to the cost-no-object audiophile market. More budget minded audiophiles should strongly consider a pair of the RBH Sound SVTRs which will soon be available in an active version. More space minded audiophiles should look into a pair of PM-8s, which incorporate the same driver and DSP technologies in a much smaller and more affordable footprint pre-tuned for easy setup. You will be surprised just how much sound that system can produce for its size. In addition, RBH Sound told me they will soon be offering the an active version of the regular SVTR speaker system too.
Spending the last year with the SVTRS active speaker system has been an eye opening experience for me on the reality that properly done active speakers are not only the future, but they offer superior performance today. I found it interesting how this speaker has once again transformed the way I listen to music just like the Status 8T system did prior. I often find myself seeking out high energy, bass intense music just to see and feel how it will sound. I am always in amazement how little travel those 12" subwoofer drivers have to move to get my room shaking with deep, tight, clean bass. In the same breath, it sometimes freaks me out how anchored the phantom center image projects on vocal music as if I have the center channel engaged. Flip on the Dolby Upmixer or play a discrete Atmos source material, the SVTRS system integrates superbly for multi-channel applications. I like the exclusivity this speaker offers as well. With only 20 pairs being made, and mine being pair one, to own this configuration makes us sort of an secret society of Audioholics. Now all we need is a symbol or secret handshake.
RBH Sound SVTRS System with Sonitus & Gik Acoustic Treatments
The RBH SI-831R matching center channel is behind the Screen Innovation Acoustically Transparent Screen
Editorial Note About Audioholics SmartHome Theater Room
We recently built the new AH Smarthome and documented the entire process on our Youtube channel. This room represents the culmination of expert knowledge from every discipline in the AV industry from acoustics by Anthony Grimani and Matthew Poes, to home automation and room design by Don Dunn of HD2020 to state of the art DSP programming and speaker design by Shane Rich of RBH Sound. This room represents true State of the Art in every aspect from ultra high resolution audio and video and it is our goal to continue to refine and update this as our primary test bed for years to come.
If you can't fit a speaker of this magnitude into your room, RBH Sound offers in-wall equivalents including several SI-831 options and their SI-1212 dual 12" in-wall subwoofer. For those unfamiliar with RBH Sound (in-wall/on-wall) flush mount products, I can assure you that they are on point. My final configuration of this system will be the SVTRS towers and in-wall vertically oriented SV-831 center channel behind a 150" acoustically transparent screen from Screen Innovations. This will provide a perfect timbre match since the tweeters from the front 3 speakers will be at the same height and all speakers will be optimized with the Marani DSP. I will report more on this configuration after it has been set up.
There are very few speaker systems that can approach the level of output with the high fidelity that the RBH Sound SVTRS system offers. Sure you can go with coffin sized boxes with large compression drivers IF that's the type of sound you like. But, I've rarely heard a speaker system with large compression drivers that I didn't find fatiguing. In contrast, the AMT tweeter in the RBH System is a true gem. It offers silky smooth highs, incredible detail that makes you rediscover your favorite music, and endless dynamics. It was very difficult for me to let my beloved Status 8T speaker system go, but I knew it was time to embrace the future of active speakers. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to experience both incredible speaker systems in my own listening space. Like Don Dunn said, it truly is like a ride at Disney but without the long wait or screaming kids to contend with.
If you’re in the market to assemble an exceptional audiophile two-channel or multi-channel system that incorporates the very best in what DSP processing can offer, then you should pick up the phone after you finish reading this review to find an authorized RBH Sound dealer to hook you up. I can’t imagine anyone not being completely satisfied with this speaker system.
I won't be so presumptuous this time to say these are “speakers for life” seeing how susceptible I am to always looking towards what's next and knowing how Shane Rich is always eager to oblige my curiosity. I will, however, guarantee you that experiencing this system in person will be unlike anything you've ever heard before. It's that epic. It's RBH | UNRIVALED Sound!
RBH Sound SVTRS Active Speaker System Product of Year Review!
RBH Sound Signature SVTRS Speaker System
382 Marshall Way
Layton, Utah USA 84041-7318
Phone and Fax:
Phone: (801) 543-2200
Fax: (801) 543-3300
The Score Card
The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:
Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating
Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.
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Recent Forum Posts:
Schrodinger23, post: 1498989, member: 81322His mains are about to be even more expensive in about 30 days since RBH is increasing the prices for the SV831R and SV1212R components of the SVTRS system.
I agree. But his new mains are 30 times the cost of mine that have Raal ribbons tweeters. I guess if I throw in my subwoofers, they are only 10 times the cost. But still if his speakers are an order of magnitude more expensive, it is possible that his house is an order of magnitude larger than mine. He is an Audioholic though, so maybe it is just his gear that is significantly more expensive than even the average enthusiast.
gene, post: 1499088, member: 4348That's awesome Gene I love my RBH system hands down no contest the best setup I've ever owned period.
That passage you mention is NOT my home. I gave a demo to a client that is building a 32,000 Ft^2 home in Tampa and they were so impressed that they ordered a full in-wall version. Another upscale client recently came to my new home to hear this speaker system and they are building an 85,000 ft^2 home. If they go with a version of this system, I'm going to try to record the install on our Youtube channel with their permission. Very cool that RBH is getting this well deserved attention.
But I also enjoyed the customer support and getting to know Shane Duane and everyone else at RBH even more. Like you I am very happy that RBH is getting the recognition they deserve.
Anytime I entertain the theater room always comes up and getting to advertise RBH to my friends and company is a cool part of the conversation. I already have some friends interested and I'm very happy to be able to spread the love for RBH on that level
Schrodinger23, post: 1498981, member: 81322That passage you mention is NOT my home. I gave a demo to a client that is building a 32,000 Ft^2 home in Tampa and they were so impressed that they ordered a full in-wall version. Another upscale client recently came to my new home to hear this speaker system and they are building an 85,000 ft^2 home. If they go with a version of this system, I'm going to try to record the install on our Youtube channel with their permission. Very cool that RBH is getting this well deserved attention.
In the review Gene says his new house is 32,000+ square feet. I hope this is a typo, otherwise his house is about 21 times the size of mine.
Pogre, post: 1498462, member: 79914The Status 8T are a very special speaker. There are things I liked about that system that the SVTRS just doesn't quite recreate. The damped bass was just incredible for vinyl. The ease of setup couldn't be beat. They required virtually NO EQ and just sounded good all the time. SVTRS is a different animal. It plays louder, digs deeper, has more dynamics, and can be custom tuned to exactly how you like it. I miss my old 8Ts. I think RBH still has them at their place. But, I absolutely love the new SVTRS system. It's the current speaker to beat from everything I've ever heard.
They'd fit beautifully in my room. Also, I did contact a dealer and it's possible to get some big discounts on these speakers. Well, the passive versions that is. I'm 1/6 of the way there right now…
@gene where does this system stand compared to your Status Acoustics setup?
ryanosaur, post: 1498991, member: 86393Hahaha right! I mean, Gene is bro hams with RBH so I'm guessing got a great deal on those speakers.
Don't forget… it's his JOB, too.
I wonder if professional Audio writers can write-off Audio gear as an R&D expense?
I know I can for Cookbooks, knives, pot & pans, and other expensive kitchen gadgets.