Review : SVS PC-2000 Cylinder Subwoofer

SVS PC2000

SVS PC2000

  • Product Name: PC-2000
  • Manufacturer: SVS
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStarStar
  • MSRP:
    $
    799
  • Buy Now

Specifications

PC-2000 Subwoofer:

  • Elegant interchangeable
    top cap with choice of piano gloss or black ash finish.
  • Down-firing 12″
    2000-series driver
  • Rear-firing 4″
    high-flow port with custom-tooled outer port flare.
  • Premium black-knit
    speaker grille cloth cylinder covering.
  • Rear-mounted Sledge 500W
    amplifier SVS-exclusive flush mounting system.
  • SoundPath Subwoofer
    Isolation System feet included as standard equipment.
  • Extremely rigid and
    strong cylinder enclosure
  • Overall Dimensions:
    16.6” (OD) x 34” (H) (includes SoundPath Isolation feet)
  • Weight (unboxed): 50
    pounds.
  • Shipped Dimensions:
    38.2″ (H) x 19.0″ (W) x 20.0″ (D).
  • Shipped Weight: 57.5
    pounds.

Driver:

  • New SVS 12” 2000-series
    driver.
  • Powder-coated cast
    aluminum basket.
  • Dual high-grade ferrite
    magnets.
  • Finite Element Analysis
    (FEA)-optimized motor structure.
  • Dual shorting rings
    reduce gap induction and lower distortion.
  • Extended pole piece
    improves heat sink and thermal management properties.
  • 2” diameter, high-power
    voice coil.
  • Upgraded Nomex spider
    for improved linearity and driver control at extreme drive levels.
  • High-quality insulated
    tinsel leads with 3-point-contact precision alignment.
  • Lightweight aluminum
    cone with polypropylene dust cap provides excellent rigidity and pistonic
    behavior.
  • Low-creep rubber
    long-throw surround for excellent durability and longevity.

Amplifier:

  • New Sledge STA-500D DSP
    amplifier.
  • 500 watts RMS continuous
    (1100 watts peak dynamic).
  • Efficient and
    cool-running Class D topology.
  • DSP control for accurate
    response and refined behavior under all operating conditions.
  • Main power rocker
    switch.
  • Auto-On / On toggle
    switch.
  • Normal and Hi input
    voltage switch
  • 3-12V trigger with 1/8”
    (3.5 mm) TRS mini-jack input.
  • Green standby mode with
    > 0.5 watts consumption.
  • Stereo line-level RCA
    Input & Output connections.
  • Input impedance – 47 kΩ
    (unbalanced line-level RCA).
  • Continuously variable
    volume/gain control.
  • Continuously variable
    (0-180 degrees) phase control.
  • Continuously variable
    (50-160 Hz) 12 dB/octave low pass filter frequency with disable/LFE setting.
  • Fixed 80 Hz 12 dB/octave
    high pass filter on line level outputs.
  • RoHS compliant,
    lead-free construction and world-wide safety certifications.
  • Detachable power cord.

Pros

  • Very accurate bass reproduction
  • Extraordinarily low weight versus cost and performance
  • Small footprint
  • Very good low-frequency extension
  • Well protected against heavy use

Cons

  • Cylinder shape will not suit everyone’s taste
  • Amplifier status LED is very bright

 

SVS PC-2000 Introduction

The most
well-known manufacturer-diPC2000 SVS pic.jpgrect subwoofer company is undoubtedly SVS. While they
have grown into a multi-million dollar company doing business across the world,
SVS’s origins were humble enough, as a small crew who hand-assembled subwoofers
in Ohio. Their first subwoofers were passive cylinder units released in 1998
and which were later followed by active cylinder models. While SVS has expanded
their lines out greatly from those first cylinder models, they have always had
cylinder subwoofers available, and their latest subwoofer is an example of this
type. The PC-2000 follows 17 years of its design type from SVS, which is quite a
legacy to carry considering cylinder designs were how SVS made their mark in
the audio business. So, with all that extensive design experience packed into
the PC-2000, how well does it carry the torch for its SVS heritage?

Unpackaging and Setup Guide

PC2000box2.jpg

SVS PC2000 Exterior
Packaging

The PC-2000 is
shipped in a descriptive box that leaves no mystery as to its contents. It is
shipped in a very sturdy cardboard, and, while not exactly double boxed, it
might qualify as 1.5 times boxed thanks to two rugged internal cardboard
sleeves which hold the shaped foam inserts. The sub is further wrapped in
plastic to protect it from moisture, and a heavy-duty paper encircles the sides
of the sub to protect the sub’s fabric exterior from nicks and runs during
unpacking. This sub is very well protected from harm during shipping, and the
packaging is well designed.

PC2000unpackingF.jpg

SVS PC2000 Interior
Packaging

Upon opening
the exterior box, one is greeted with an illustrated unpackaging flyer that
explains how to unpack the PC-2000 in the intended manner. The owner’s manual,
which is also available on the product page website as a PDF, concisely
explains connectivity and setup with diagrams, and also lists the many features
of the PC-2000. For those who are new to the world of subwoofers, the PC-2000
owner’s manual looks to be clear enough to get you going without much
confusion.

Appearance

The atypical
shape of cylinder subs is not one which everyone will find to their liking.
However, SVS has tried to make it as palatable as possible by covering the sub
with an attractive black fabric and giving it a black oak veneered top. The top
is also available in a black gloss finish for an extra $50. The aesthetic
strategy seems to be to make the PC-2000 as innocuous as possible, since that
black fabric is like a light silk. In fact, it was difficult to get a picture
of the PC-2000 that gave it more detail than just a black shape. Personally, I
was not bothered by the appearance of the PC-2000, but in a brightly-lit room
with a more traditional décor, I could see how it could clash. On the other
hand, it might fit nicely in a more modern interior. In a dimly-lit corner, the
PC-2000 should disappear rather well, and its light-absorbent covering would
make it a great choice for rooms with projection screens, where
light-reflective objects can reduce contrast in the picture. Its small
footprint makes it easy to tuck away in a corner, and, if one needed to
increase its spousal-approval-factor, maybe a plant could be set on top of the
sub (so long as it is only the plant that gets watered and not the subwoofer).

PC2000directS.jpg     PC2000darkComp.jpg

One minor note
is the power status light on the PC-2000 is quite bright, so while the subwoofer
generally tries to be inconspicuous, that light, especially if facing the
listener, is difficult to ignore (although it is not intended to face the
listener). There is certainly no question whether the sub is standby mode or
not. In a dedicated home theater room with a projector-lit screen, the status
light could definitely interfere with the picture if facing the screen. The
light can be easily blocked by construction paper or electrical tape, so it is
not a big deal. As long as the user is willing to do something like that, the
PC-2000 is still an ideal choice for rooms where light-control is a concern.

 PC2000close.jpg

Close up of PC2000 for
view of fabric texture detail

Design Overview

A good place
to begin to explain the design of the PC2000 is with its most unique feature:
the enclosure. Its cylindrical form may be a turnoff to some, but it will be a
draw to others thanks to its light weight and relatively small footprint. The
cylindrical part of the enclosure is made from a very sturdy cardboard, similar
to if not the same as the sonotube type; this is a very tough cardboard and is
not easily punctured or damaged. One of the theoretical structural advantages
of the cylinder form is the rigidity of its sidewalls versus the rectangular
walls of typical subwoofer However, I did not break out an accelerometer to
test for surface vibrations. That said, I did not hear anything I thought to be
a cabinet resonance during my time with the PC-2000.

PC2000BottomC.jpg  PC2000internalC.jpg

PC-2000 Bottom View (left pic); Internal View (right pic)

The feet of
the PC-2000 are something SVS has termed the ‘SoundPath Subwoofer Isolation
System’. They are made from a rubber that has been fine-tuned to a specific
hardness. The idea is to isolate vibration of the subwoofer enclosure from the
floor, so the sub only vibrates the air and not the floor and thus things
resting on the floor. I have always been skeptical of the effectiveness of
isolating direct mechanical vibrations of a speaker enclosure in reducing the
shaking of objects around a room, although I think it may have some merit on
thin flooring. The SoundPath feet can be purchased separately for non-SVS subs
and look to be a more sensible solution than large foam isolation pads for
those who want to try isolating the mechanical vibration of their sub from the
floor.

Removing the
driver and peering into the PC-2000, we see a good amount of stuffing lining the
sidewalls. The 4” diameter port stretches down deep into the cabinet and is
flared on both ends for reduced chuffing. A circular ¾” window brace in the
middle of the tube helps to reinforce the sidewalls and also holds the port in
place. A rubber pad sandwiched between the driver and port’s bend shows that
the port is partially supported by the driver, and the rubber likely damps any
vibration from the driver to perhaps eliminate knocking noises between them
when the subwoofer is driven hard. The bottom baffle in which the driver is
mounted is a 1” thick ring of MDF, and the sidewalls of the tube look to be
maybe ½” to ⅜” thick of the very sturdy sonotube-type cardboard. Altogether,
there is certainly more attention to cabinetry here than simply placing a
driver in a sonotube. The placement decisions of driver, bracing, amp, and port
show some careful thought went into this design.

PC2000driverSideC.jpg

SVS PC-2000 12″ Subwoofer Driver

The SVS PC-2000
driver is based on the Tymphany PeerlesPC2000driverAngleC.jpgs XXLS platform, which has long been
renowned for its very low inductance and high linearity. The XXLS (which stands
for Xpanded Xtra Long Stroke) is a pricey driver to buy on its own, and the one
used in the PC-2000 is customized for SVS’ application. Ed Mullen, SVS’s
Director of Technology, said that they went through 17 iterations of the driver
for reasons of performance, durability, and reliability before all criteria and
design goals were met. Let’s go over a few of the driver’s features: a sturdy
cast aluminum basket holds the cone and motor sections together. Two ¾” stacked
magnets provide the voice coil a powerful magnetic field. Venting is done
through the voice coil former just under the cone through a series of holes. An
aluminum cone provides a stiff but light exterior and likely greater durability
than conventional paper cones. Dual shorting rings are used to short out
induced current created by the motion of the charged voice coil within the motor.
A Nomex spider provides stiffness against horizontal motion while allowing
smooth vertical motion and should be able to retain its shape even after a long
time and heavy use. Everything taken together, the PC2000 driver looks to be a
finely-engineered work with an emphasis on linearity and durability.

The PC-2000
uses a 500-watt, class D, DSP amplifier that they call the Sledge STA-500D
Amplifier. The digital signal processing allows SVS to precisely shape the
frequency response of the subwoofer, and implement more controlled limiting
than could be achieved with traditional analog amplifiers. Among the features
of this amp is the very low standby power consumption of less than 0.5 watts,
continuously variable phase control, and a continuously variable 12dB/octave
low pass filter running from 50 Hz to 160 Hz with an LFE disable setting. One
of my favorite features is the high-passed line-level outputs. This makes the
PC-2000 a great candidate for two-channel computer systems, which rarely have
any bass management. With the prevalence of bedroom recording studios, I
believe that there are more of these systems than is commonly thought, and the
addition of this simple onboard bass management by SVS makes the smooth
integration of a subwoofer into such a system a far easier task than it
otherwise would be.

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.