I love deep bass in music and movies, and subwoofers offer the best way to reproduce that low-frequency content. I’ve long used subwoofers from SVS, a company that is very familiar to the AVS Forum community for its outstanding products.
My current setup includes the PB-13 Ultra, a ported-box design, and the SB-13 Ultra, a sealed-box design. The PB-13 Ultra is in the front corner of my theater, and the SB-13 Ultra is located in the rear of the room in the opposing corner. These locations provide the optimum response, a determination that was made after much trial and error.
Late last year, SVS announced a new subwoofer line that would replace the 13-Ultra line, falling just below its reference 16-Ultra line of subwoofers. The new 4000 series includes the SB-4000 ($1500), a sealed-cube design, the PB-4000 ($1900), a ported-cube design, and the PC-4000 ($1800), a cylinder design that AVS Forum Senior Editor Mark Henninger wrote about in this First Look.
SVS’s announcement piqued my interest. I contacted with my friends at SVS, and they agreed to send over a pair of PC-4000s, which would allow me to compare their performance with my reference 13-Ultra series subwoofers.
All three new models offer 13.5″ rigid-composite cone drivers with high-excursion parabolic surrounds and Sledge STA-1200D amplifiers that provide 1200 watts of class-D power (4000 watts peak). The high-efficiency, cool-running class-D topology includes 32-amp/600-volt MOSFETs that are meant to lower EMI and increase efficiency while providing enough power to produce clean sound well beyond reference listening levels.
The 4000 series subs also have DSP capabilities provided by a 50 MHz Analog Devices audio DSP with double precision 56-bit filtering. The DSP can be programmed using a dedicated app for iOS and Android devices that offers three user presets. Each of these models also includes a remote control, but the app provides the most flexibility. And like the 16-Ultra line, the new models feature front-mounted displays with menu controls, a significant ergonomic improvement compared with the 13-Ultra series.
Other features include user-adjustable low-pass, phase, polarity, and room-gain compensation with three parametric EQs and port tuning (ported models only) for optimizing alignment with the main speakers. Custom EQ and DSP limiter settings are tuned specifically for the PC-4000 cylinder-cabinet design. XLR and RCA stereo inputs and outputs are compatible with a wide range of input voltages for consumer and professional applications.
A feature called Power Factor Correction (PFC) pre-regulates the wall-outlet voltage to a solid 360V DC so the sound quality never falters no matter what’s coming out of the wall. PFC also lowers the average current and smooths the input current, allowing for 1200W of amplifier output from a standard 15A mains circuit.
Unboxing was a breeze, thanks to the straightforward instructions. I have to say these cylinders are mighty handsome. While they aren’t quite as aesthetically pleasing as their shiny, glossy, cube-shaped counterparts, their smooth lines, slender frame, and black-fabric covering make them imposing without overstatement, while the gloss cap on top adds class to keep significant others from deeming it unfit to mate with the other elements within the room—at least in my case.
In my room, I get the smoothest bass response when I put subwoofers in the left-front and right-rear corner. The PC-4000 isn’t exactly lightweight, but maneuvering them into place wasn’t bad thanks to their shape. I utilized the RCA connections and set the subs to power on/off when my A/V processor is switched on/off.
There are three tuning modes based on how the three tuning ports located on top of the cylinder are blocked using the supplied foam port blockers:
- All Ports Open (Standard Mode) = Frequency Response 17-200 Hz (±3 dB)
- One Port Blocked (Extended Mode) = Frequency Response 15-200 Hz (±3 dB)
- All Ports Blocked (Sealed Mode) = Frequency Response 16-200 Hz (±3 dB)
A convenient front-mounted display features Intelligent Feature Control (IFC) with bright blue dimmable/defeatable 8-digit LED front display.
I made the necessary connections, set the PC-4000s to Extended Mode, and used the iOS app to get everything dialed in. After a few measurements with Room EQ Wizard, I ran Audyssey on my Marantz A/V processor. Post-Audyssey, I normally run my subwoofers at +5 and +3 decibels, and that didn’t change with the PC-4000s. Things quickly fell into place, and I was ready for some preliminary listening.
I wanted to give the subs some break-in time before hitting them hard. The first Blu-ray I played was Into the Storm, which has a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. It’s an active surround mix with lots of room-energizing bass. Right off the bat, the cylinders produced a full sense of tactility, much like I’ve experienced with SVS Ultra subs, but with a new layer of richness with a physical feeling of contact that made the onscreen experience more realistic.
Moving on to some of my favorite discs, I pushed them harder. Titles like Terminator: Salvation, Hulk, Battlefield Los Angeles, Tron: Legacy, Elysium, and Dredd delivered room-coupling bass that engaged my senses with its palpable extension that never wavered even in the face of extreme sound pressure levels.
For me, how well a subwoofer delivers music is every bit as important as how well it delivers movie soundtracks. With music, the quality of the bass takes precedence over the quantity. Hearing individual notes as well as the texture of the bass is essential.
When I began to listen to music, the first thing that came to mind was how smooth the cylinders sounded. Subwoofers with larger drivers can sometimes sound bloated, slow, or boomy. This might not always be noticeable with movies, but it can be quite obvious with music. I heard no issues here. I was able to achieve a very good transition between the dual cylinders and my Canton Ergo speakers. Bass was clean and taut; the response was quick and articulated. There never seemed to be an excessive amount of bass, but only what was contained within the scope of the recording. I enjoyed the PC-4000’s ability to flesh out the subtle nuances and pitch definition of acoustic bass.
Bass-drum hits seemed to extend well into the room, with solidified punch and depth. Each octave within the lower registers of the electric bass was reproduced with full-bodied precision and detail. Individual notes were easily discerned, which gave them excellent presence. Synth bass simply floored me as the PC-4000s filled the room with fully textured, deep bass that brought a smile to my face.
Finally, I moved onto the Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray titles that are especially bass-worthy, which I will post shortly. I selected scenes that I was familiar with, set the volume to my normal listening level, and let them wash over me. Again and again, I found myself impressed with the cylinders’ ability to deliver gobs of powerful bass as well as how delineated and composed they rendered it, despite content at or even below their tuning point.
As a fan of the Ultra-13 series, I’ve always appreciated their ability to balance muscle with finesse, especially with demanding material. The PC-4000 makes that muscle not only bigger but more sinewy, especially when flexed. Their definition and balance remain positive attributes, while their response feels prodigiously full and room coupling.
Once again, SVS has come up with a winner. The PC-4000 plays deep, clean, and loud without breaking a sweat. It is extremely capable of handling the most demanding movie soundtracks with foundation-cracking ability, and it reproduces music with subtly and fine articulation. I am not only impressed, but I’m pleased to add these terrific performers to my reference review system. For those of you contemplating the move from the SVS Ultra-13 Series to the 4000 Series, I believe you will be pleased with the results.
Oppo UDP-203 UHD Blu-ray player
Sony PlayStation 3 game console/Blu-ray player
Marantz AV7704 preamp/processor
Sherbourn Technologies 7/200 7-channel amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 7-channel amplifier
Calibrated with CalMan 5 & C6-HDR meter from Spectracal
Stewart Filmscreen Studiotek 130 G3 (100″, 16:9, 1.3 gain)
Carada Masquerade motorized horizontal-masking system
Canton Ergo 611 DC (2, LR)
Canton Ergo 605 CM (center)
Canton 965DT in-ceiling (4, overhead)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (2, side surrounds)
Canton 443 in-wall (2, rear surrounds)
SVS PC-4000 subwoofers (2)
Better Cables Silver Serpent
Apple iPad with iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Panamax M5400-PM power conditioner/surge protector
AC Infinity Aircom T8