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SVS SB-4000 Subwoofer

Review Date July 23rd, 2018 by
OVERALL
Highly Recommended
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Overview - Starting at $1,499.99 for the standard black ash model (add another $100 for piano gloss finish) the SVS SB-4000 is, by most standards, a rather pricy item for what amounts to one speaker in a big cube box. As most home theater fans already know, however, a quality subwoofer can make a world of difference to your enjoyment when watching movies or listening to music, and may be the most important addition to any audio system. Good subwoofers require excellent design and engineering, and tend to be expensive. To justify the purchase, the SB-4000 offers tremendous power, deep bass extension, and a host of useful control features that help make the sometimes frustrating struggle for smooth, even bass a little easier. Highly Recommended

OVERALL
Highly Recommended
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INTRO


Within the home theater community, SVS is well known as one of the best brands for high quality, high-performance subwoofers that deliver a lot of bang-for-the-buck value. Although SVS subs aren't exactly cheap, they're actually reasonably priced in relation to comparable products from other well-regarded speaker manufacturers. Introduced recently, the 4000 series – which is comprised of the sealed box SB-4000, the ported box PB-4000, and the ported cylinder PC-4000 – is not the top of the line for SVS or the most expensive of its subwoofers. Instead, these models fall between the 2000 series and the Ultra line.

SVS 4000 Series Subwoofers

SB-4000 ($1,499.99)
Dimensions: 18.3" (h) x 17.8" (w) x 20.9" (d)
Weight: 102.3 lbs
Driver: 13.5"
Amplifier: 1,200 watts RMS (4,000 watts peak)
Frequency Response: 19-310 Hz ±3 dB

PB-4000 ($1,899.99)
Dimensions: 23.4" (h) x 20.5" (w) x 30" (d)
Weight: 153.2 lbs
Driver: 13.5"
Amplifier: 1,200 watts RMS (4,000 watts peak)
Frequency Response: 13-200 Hz ±3 dB

PC-4000 ($1,799.99)
Dimensions: 47" (h) x 16.6" (w) x 16.6" (d)
Weight: 92.4 lbs
Driver: 13.5"
Amplifier: 1,200 watts RMS (4,000 watts peak)
Frequency Response: 15-200 Hz ±3 dB

At or around 18" per side and weighing over 102 lbs, the SB-4000 (reviewed here) is a big, heavy box. It's even deeper with the optional metal grill installed on the front face. It dwarfs the SB-2000 I've been using for the past few years, which seemed like a beast to me when I acquired it. This may make it difficult (but not impossible) for a single person to maneuver the subwoofer through their home. More importantly, although bigger subwoofers can move more air and hit deeper bass registers, their larger physical footprint may limit practical placement options in a home theater, which ironically can result in poorer bass performance. (See my recent article about that.) These are crucial factors to consider before purchasing any subwoofer. That decision will involve more than just looking at the power specs.

Aesthetically, the SB-4000 is a pretty standard black cube. Paying a little extra for the piano gloss finish may look a little fancier, but (in my experience from the SB-2000) it's also a dust and fingerprint magnet. The standard black ash finish blends into my room décor unobtrusively, which is about as much as I can ask from any subwoofer. SVS's 4000 series and Ultra series models are distinguished from most other subwoofers I've owned by having a light-up LED display on the front panel for use during setup. The light from that can, of course, be turned off, but note that it defaults to turning back on if the subwoofer is ever disconnected from power and then plugged back in. If that bothers you (and it likely will if the sub sits beneath your TV or theater screen in the front of the room), the display can be programmed to go dark again on a timed delay.

GETTING IT GOING


As mentioned, the hardest part about setting up any subwoofer is finding the best spot to place it in order to benefit from the room's acoustics. After that's determined, most subwoofers typically have only a limited number of controls, such as a gain dial and a phase switch. The SB-4000 goes a fair amount beyond that. The unit actually does not have any dials or knobs on the back panel. It comes with a very simple, rudimentary remote control that can make some adjustments using the LED display, but I found that navigation clunky and frustrating.

The much better option is to download the free SVS App (available for either Apple or Android) to a smartphone or tablet. This provides much more control in a convenient and intuitive interface. The app connects to the subwoofer by Bluetooth, which initially gave me some problems since the Bluetooth receiver didn't like being in the same room as my Wi-Fi router, but I eventually cleared that up by resetting the router a couple of times. Once connected, the app has an extensive bevy of settings – from the basics like gain and phase to polarity and room gain compensation. The most intriguing and potentially useful is the three-band Parametric EQ, with which you can target and adjust unwanted dips or peaks in your frequency response. I would not recommend playing around with this feature willy-nilly because you will likely end up doing more harm than good. However, when used in conjunction with a calibration microphone and measurement software (such as Room EQ Wizard), it can be a powerful tool for ensuring the most even bass.

SVS App Screens

PERFORMANCE


Perhaps the least surprising thing to learn about the SB-4000 is that it's an exceptional subwoofer capable of producing incredibly clean and powerful bass. That should almost go without saying. SVS products have a sterling reputation for quality and performance, and their published specifications are reliably accurate.

With a large 13.5" driver, frequency response rated down to 19 Hz, and 1,200 watts of power, the SB-4000 can really bring the thunder when it needs to. If anything, it's actually overpowered for my own moderately-sized home theater room, and I had to dial the amplifier gain down to -16 dB after calibration. To test it out, I put in a number of my favorite bass-heavy movie scenes, including the climax of John Wick, the first couple of car chases in Mad Max: Fury Road, the throbbing techno score over the first zombie attack in Resident Evil: Afterlife, and the insane bass drop during the opening credits of Edge of Tomorrow. They all slammed me with impressive impact. The Dia de los Muertos set-piece in Spectre rattled my bones and the concussive opening sequence in Blade Runner 2049 just about shook the walls of my house apart.

The bass in all these scenes was not just loud but also extremely precise. The SB-4000 is equally adept with music as it is with car crashes and rocket blasts. It can reproduce deep cello notes with crisp clarity just as well as it can deliver an earth-shaking explosion. Even at near-reference volume levels, this subwoofer never sounded boomy and never distorted during any content I played.

FINAL THOUGHTS


I have no doubt that most people will consider a $1,500 subwoofer to be a major investment in their home theater, but the SVS SB-4000 delivers more than enough power and performance to satisfy even the most demanding bass hounds. If that weren't enough on its own (and it should be), SVS sweetens the deal with an excellent setup app that offers a number of sophisticated control features to fine-tune the bass response in your room. The SB-4000 comes Highly Recommended to buyers looking for a high-end subwoofer without an exorbitant boutique price tag.

Those desiring a little more extension into the lowest registers should also look at SVS's ported models, while those with very large listening spaces (and a bit higher budget) might consider the Ultra series.

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