SVS is one of our all-time favorite subwoofer manufacturers. Simply from a raw performance perspective, they will go toe to toe with just about any sub on the market and in the under $2,000 price range are arguably the price/performance leader. Two SB13-Ultra subs anchor the reference audio setup here at the Poor Audiophile. Now, SVS is poised to set the subwoofer industry on its head again with the announcement of their brand new SB16-Ultra and PB16-Ultra subwoofers. The new subs are the largest and most powerful in the company’s storied history.
“The Ultra Series subwoofers have been the most important SVS products for so long that we knew our newest iteration had to be groundbreaking on many levels. I challenged our engineering team to create a signature subwoofer line for the entire industry and not just for SVS and to push the boundaries of innovation and performance as much as possible,” said Gary Yacoubian, SVS president and managing partner. “We set out to create the reference standard for all subwoofers and shake the foundations of the audio world by making this level of world class experience available to more people than ever before, and I think the world will agree with me. We did it.”
The SB16-Ultra is a sealed design while the PB-16 Ultra is ported. Both subs have mind-boggling specifications. They are anchored with a 16-inch driver and a huge eight-inch wound voice coil. SVS says that the voice coil is the largest ever used in a consumer-based subwoofer.
The massive voice coil girth allows the amplifier to exert complete control over the 16-inch driver and remain accurate and distortion-free with pinpoint speed in transients, even at reference playback levels. Four of the heaviest toroidal ferrite magnets ever used in a subwoofer generate high levels of magnetic force and machined motor elements produce astounding levels of low frequency output. The cone material consists of a premium fiberglass resin composite that moves extreme amounts of air and sonic energy without ever flexing or losing control.
Amplification on these new subs is nothing short of awesome. The SB16-Ultra and PB16-Ultra subs are anchored by a Class D Sledge STA-1500D amplifier. SVS says that the on-board amplifier will deliver 1,500 watts of continuous power and a mind-numbing peak that surpasses 5,000 watts. There is a fully discrete MOSFET output. Discrete MOSFET output unbridles the nearly limitless power in the Sledge amplifier and pushes the 16” driver to extreme levels of performance. SVS says the MOSFET output also represent an upgrade over the less robust integrated circuit output stages found in nearly all other Class D subwoofer amplifiers.
Both the SB16-Ultra and PB16-Ultra subs feature a 12-volt trigger for automating the sub’s power-on with home automation systems. For true audiophile setups, the 16-Ultra subs feature both stereo balanced and stereo inputs and outputs. You can therefore easily daisy-chain multiple SB16-Ultra and/or PB16-Ultra subs with ease. You can even use a pair as stereo subs in a dedicated two-channel environment or stereo listening or custom tailor your setup as you see fit. There’s no shortage of options.
The on-bard DSP is a powerhouse. Under the hood is a 50 MHz Analog Devices Audio DSP with 56bit filtering. SVS is one of the very few consumer subwoofer manufacturers to use 56-bit filtering.
Brand new to the 16-Ultra Series subs is a smartphone app to tailor DSP settings and control the subwoofer. The 16-Ultra Series are the first models by SVS to feature app-based connectivity. The Apple iOS and Android app gives you complete control over bass management. You can set polarity, room gain, phase alignment, parametric EQ and other DSP functions, and conveniently store custom presets. The app is a huge addition since SVS’ previous subs had all controls on the rear of the subs, requiring you to move the subs or perform acrobatics to see what was on the display to fine-tune the sub.
The app appears to be very well thought out. You can fine tune bass down to 16Hz and below from any seat in the house and best of all, bi-directional feedback shows updates in real time on both the app and subwoofer interface. Bluetooth connectivity allows adjustments to be made when subwoofer is not in sight. Control is also available via an IR remote and a front panel display. We applaud SVS for adding a front-panel display to the new subs.
Build quality has been an undeniable hallmark of every single SVS product we’ve ever seen (and we’ve seen lots). The 16-Ultra subs appear to continue that tradition. Indeed, a subwoofer capable of creating such extreme levels of sonic energy requires a formidable cabinet design. The 16-Ultra Series is built with a double thick MDF front baffle and rigid internal bracing to support the drive unit and to ensure an acoustically inert environment. The highly reinforced internal design helps minimize any chance of coloration or resonance from the cabinet, even when the deepest low frequencies are played at reference sound pressure levels.
If you’re hoping Christmas comes early this year then you just got your wish. The SB16-Ultra and PB16-Ultra subwoofers will start shipping on November 1, 2016. Pricing for the new 16-Ultra series subwoofers is $1,999.99 for the sealed SB16-Ultra and $2,499.99 for the ported PB16-Ultra. Both models are available in a premium black oak or piano gloss black finish and come standard with a protective, non-resonant steel mesh grille.
For our part, we know can’t wait to set our eyes on these new subs and get units in for review.