Rarely does high-end audio offer a value proposition like that seen in the SVS SB16-Ultra subwoofer ($1999.99, all prices USD). Now that might sound like a bold statement, but as I was unboxing this big, bad SVS sub, I couldn’t help thinking about just what was enclosed in the massive cardboard box my son and I had hoisted up into my listening room.
The SB16-Ultra’s total shipping weight is 145.9 pounds. The unboxed subwoofer itself weighs 122 pounds and is 20″H by 19.5″W by 20.1″D—like I said, it’s big. And that gargantuan size is fitting, as the SB16-Ultra is one of two flagship subwoofers made by SVS—both are built around the company’s proprietary 16″ Ultra-series drive unit. (The other flagship Ultra model is the ported PB16-Ultra, which is even heavier at 174.5 pounds and more expensive at $2499.99.)
The SB16-Ultra’s driver is no mere off-the-shelf subwoofer driver—SVS engineered and manufactures it specifically for its best subwoofers. You’ll read more about that beast in the next installment of this blog series, but for now, suffice it to say it’s tantamount to a large V8 engine. Like the old saying goes, there is no replacement for displacement.
What I appreciated about SVS’s packaging of the SB16-Ultra—SB is for sealed box, although I’m sure you already figured that out—is that you don’t need to lift the subwoofer out of the box at all. The two ends of the box both open, and you push the subwoofer from the back so that it slides out the other side. Easy-peasy—no risk to your back.
A few things struck me as I got the SB16-Ultra and its accessories unpacked. I liked the grille, which is the heaviest of heavy-duty grilles that I’ve seen. This massive piece of metal would be right at home on The Walking Dead, welded over a windshield right before the car takes on an encroaching zombie horde.
The backside of the grille is fitted with large-diameter pins—it’s not going anywhere once installed—but notice the compliant pads that protect the beautiful Piano Gloss Black finish. (Black Oak Veneer is also available.)
Speaking of the finish, the Piano Gloss Black of my sample was free of ripples and orange peel. This is impressive given the SB16-Ultra’s reasonable price. I’ve seen inferior finishes on loudspeakers costing well over $20,000 per pair. This is one beautifully made subwoofer.
Right above the massive front-firing woofer is the control panel: another welcome feature making the SB16-Ultra more user friendly than many subwoofers. There’s no crouching behind the sub with a flashlight and reading glasses (OK, I still need the reading glasses) to make adjustments.
Balanced input connectors are another nod to the audiophiles out there who have balanced outputs on their preamplifiers or preamp-processors.
A small remote control is included with the SB16-Ultra. I’ll be exploring the use of this remote versus the SVS app in future blogs. Regardless, I do appreciate a physical handset. Most of you old-school audiophiles will agree with that position, I think. Write in and let me know if you disagree.
Damn, that’s a big driver. The SB16-Ultra definitely has the brawn, but let’s see if we can get it to sing with a bonafide killer two-channel audio system. Tune in to SoundStage! Global in the coming months to find out the result of this little (big) experiment.