SVS New Flagship Speaker Line Ultra Evolution Series Tech Overview
- Product Name: Ultra Evolution Pinnacle, Titan, Tower, Bookshelf, Nano, Elevation, Center
- Manufacturer: SVS
- Review Date: January 13, 2024 00:00
- MSRP: $5,000/pair - Ultra Evolution Pinnacle, $4,000/pair - Titan, $3,000/pair - Tower, $1,300/pair - Bookshelf, $900/pair - Nano, $900/pair - Elevation, $900/each - Center
- First Impression: Gotta Have It!
SVS New Speaker Evolution or Revolution?
SVS has announced the new replacements for their venerable Ultra series which is appropriately titled the “Ultra Evolution” series. These speakers make some major changes to the outgoing series and scarcely resemble the prior designs. Indeed, revolution might be a better word for the scale of these changes than evolution.
The most major changes occur in the tower speakers, and the most obvious difference comes in the arrangement of the drivers. In the outgoing Ultra towers, the tweeter was arranged in an MTM (midrange-tweeter-midrange) configuration with the midrange drivers, and the bass drivers were set at the bottom side panels of the enclosure in a dual-opposed configuration. The Ultra tower was arranged as a 3.5 way design so the mids did NOT share identical bandwidth. In contrast, the Ultra Evolution series sandwiches the MTM array now making it a WMTMW array (woofer-midrange-tweeter-midrange-woofer). The advantage of this design is that it helps to make the tweeter more of an acoustic center than it was before, and that should benefit its imaging abilities. Both mids sharing the same bandwidth also have an advantage of increased sensitivity and output in the critical midrange frequencies while also helping to control vertical dispersion.
To further emphasize the tweeter as the acoustic center, SVS has recessed it in the cabinet and pulled the midranges and bass drivers forward. They did this because the points of acoustic transmission in most drivers tend to be the voice coil, but the voice coil is much further back in woofers than tweeters for the leading edge of the cone or the front of the driver. In other words, if all these drivers were mounted on a flat baffle, the sound of the tweeter would be ahead of the midrange, and the midrange’s sound would be ahead of the bass driver’s sound, and none of them would be completely synchronous (although the audibility of this asynchronous alignment is in question). What SVS has done is they have aligned the drivers by the positions of their voice coils so that the arrival of sound to the listener is far more concurrent. So there is more to the shape of the cabinet than just cool styling.
SVS has doubled the bass driver count on their tower speakers, and their new Ultra Evolution towers now have four bass drivers instead of two. SVS has also expanded its tower speaker selection, so users have a choice between a large edition, a medium-sized edition, and a normal-sized edition. The big dog of this line-up is called the Ultra Evolution Pinnacle and uses four 8” bass drivers, two 5.25” glass fiber composite drivers, and a “diamond-coated” dome tweeter (more on this tweeter in a moment). Four 8” bass woofers add up to a lot of displacement and have the same surface area as a 16” cone. I expect this tower speaker to be very potent in low frequencies. The medium-sized tower is called the Ultra Evolution Titan and uses four 6.5” bass drivers, two 4.5” midrange drivers, and a 1” diamond-coated dome tweeter. The four 6.5” woofers in this tower should have the same surface area as a 13” cone, so again, this tower should also have great bass performance. The smaller tower is called the Ultra Evolution Tower and uses four 5.25” bass drivers with two 4.5” midranges along with the 1” diamond-coated dome. Four 5.25” bass drivers should have the same surface area as a 10.5” cone, so again, this tower should have good bass performance. Four bass drivers can move a lot of air, even if the cones are just 5.25” in diameter.
Another interesting design cue that SVS has employed is that they have paired each bass driver to have an opposite-facing orientation so that each front-firing bass driver has an opposed rear-mounted counterpart. The advantage that this brings is that the momentum from the moving mass of the bass drivers is canceled out so that the speaker will have very little rocking motion. This will result in a very steady and inert cabinet. Having all the bass drivers firing forward might have given the enclosure a fair amount of vibration which is not ideal, especially for placement on hard floors.
Each rear-firing bass driver is placed next to a port, so each tower speaker has dual rear-mounted ports. Depending on the tuning frequency, enclosure design, and port design, these speakers could potentially reach down to very deep frequencies thereby making subwoofers an unneeded accessory. Dual binding posts in the rear suggest that the woofers could be separately amplified for some serious firepower; quad bass drivers should be able to handle a lot of amplification.
One advantage of the bass driver layout that SVS doesn’t seem to tout in its marketing is the ability to deal with ground-bounce cancellation. Ground bounce cancellation is when the direct sound of the bass driver collides with the ground-reflected sound from the bass drivers, and the timing difference between those two paths causes phase conflicts that create peaks and nulls in the low-frequency response. In the older Ultra towers, SVS solved that problem by placing the bass drivers close to ground level, so the sound could not reflect off of the floor since it started from that point. With the Ultra Evolution series, the higher elevation of the bass drivers will lead to ground-bounce cancellation, but the many different locations of the bass drivers should do a lot to average out the phase conflicts. I would expect the low-frequency response to be relatively smooth for this reason.
New SVS Diamond Coated Tweeters
SVS does tout their “diamond-coated” tweeter claiming they are using an industrial grade diamond dust applied using a vapor deposition process that significantly increases the breakup frequency, but I think the word ‘diamond’ is more of a marketing gimmick, and these are probably just competently designed aluminum-dome tweeters with a treatment that might slightly improve their high-frequency behavior.
The reality is that competently designed aluminum domes can be very good and high-performing on their own. However, if SVS has found a way to improve its performance without adding a major manufacturing cost, then I am all for it, no matter how they want to market it. The tweeter has a dome cover that SVS calls the “Organic Cell Lattice Diffuser.” It sounds like something that the science team on board the starship Enterprise invented to fight the Borg. It looks like it serves a similar function to Paradigm’s Perforated Phase-Aligning lens (that sunflower-patterned grille that covers their tweeters and midranges) in that it prevents acoustic emissions from different parts of the dome from interacting with each other thereby causing phase conflicts and incurring a rough response.
SVS Ultra Evolution Model Line Up
Along with these three towers, SVS is also releasing a corresponding center speaker, two bookshelf speakers, and a wall-mounting elevation speaker. The center speaker is called the Ultra Evolution Center and uses the 1” diamond-coated tweeter along with a 4.5” midrange and two 6.5” bass drivers. There is a larger bookshelf called the Ultra Evolution Bookshelf that uses a 6.5” bass driver with the 1” diamond coated tweeter. The smaller bookshelf speaker is called the Ultra Evolution Nano and uses the 1” diamond-coated tweeter with a 5.25” bass driver. The elevation speaker is specifically for Atmos height channel purposes and uses a 5.25” bass driver with the 1” diamond-coated tweeter. One interesting aspect of the elevation speaker is that it comes with a ceiling-mounting bracket, so it can be mounted on the ceiling just as easily as the walls.
Concerning the outgoing Ultra series, the prices of these speaker classes haven’t increased much, which is always good news. The two larger towers are significantly more expensive than anything in the Ultra line, but the older Ultra series doesn’t have anything corresponding to such massive tower speakers. The announced pricing is:
- Ultra Evolution Pinnacle: $5,000/pair
- Ultra Evolution Titan: $4,000/pair
- Ultra Evolution Tower: $3,000/pair
- Ultra Evolution Bookshelf: $1,299/pair
- Ultra Evolution Nano: $899/pair
- Ultra Evolution Elevation: $899/pair
- Ultra Evolution Center: $899 each
These speakers will be available in gloss black, gloss white, and black oak finishes. The Ultra Evolution series is scheduled to go on sale sometime during the first quarter of 2024, although no exact date has been announced.
Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.