The Good: The SVS Prime 7.1 Channel system has a powerful and rich sound. Music and movies come alive thanks to the overall balanced and authoritative sound of the system.

 

The Bad: The center channel’s high frequency tendencies can rob some music and movies of warmth.

 

Summary: It’s tough to beat the SVS Prime series in terms of value. For a modest price you get a audiophile grade home theater system at a fraction of the cost.

 

SVS Prime Series Review

Founded in 1998, SVS is a relative new comer to the home audio world. However, since their inception, their speakers have consistently garnered high praise from industry experts. The SVS Ultra Series of speakers are currently the pinnacle of SVS’s line of speakers. However, the superb sound quality of the Ultra series comes with a high price tag. The new SVS Prime Series attempts to bridge the gap between sound quality and affordability. From our time spent with the SVS Prime Series, we think they’ve succeeded.

 

With the Prime Series you get two finish options; polished piano black and black ash. The review samples that we had were the polished piano black. Since we didn’t see the black ash up close and personal, we can’t comment on their build quality. Nonetheless, if you want to save a few dollars the black ash models are a little lighter on the wallet. Our configuration consisted of the Prime Towers, Prime Center, Prime Bookshelves, Prime Satellites, the SB-1000 Subwoofer and the Marantz AV-7701.

 

SVS Prime Towers ($499 – $599 each)

SVS Prime Tower Speakers
When we received our review samples we were immediately struck by the high-gloss finish. The Prime Towers are a modest 36″ (H) x 8″ (W) x 11″ (D). Popping off the grill reveals a 1″ aluminum dome tweeter with a dedicated 4.5″ mid-range driver underneath. As your eyes move downward you’ll see dual 6.5″ woofers. The towers use a 3.5 way design with each woofer possessing their own crossover points. On the rear you’ll find two bass ports so ideally you’ll want to place these several inches away from your wall. Everything inside the Towers is geared towards eliminating distortion and interference. As such, the bass and the mid-range drivers are all housed in separate compartments.

SVS Prime Tower Speaker Black Ash (Each)

Price: $499.00

4.8 out of 5 stars (16 customer reviews)

11 used & new available from $350.00

SVS Prime Center Speaker ($349 – $449)

SVS Prime Center Speaker

The SVS Prime Center channel comes in a compact tight little package. Measuring only  7.7″ (H) X 18.6″ (W) X 9.2″ (D) it’s on the smaller side as far as center channels go. Like the Towers we had for our demo, the SVS Prime Center came in an immaculate high-gloss finish. Removing the grill revealed (2) 5.25 inch woofers, a 1 inch aluminum dome tweeter and a dedicated 3.5 inch mid-range driver. The center channel uses a 3-way design with the tweeter aligned directly above the mid-range driver. The mid-range driver is isolated in it’s own separate compartment in order to eliminate any interference from the woofers.

 

SVS Prime Bookshelf Speakers ($249 – $299 /pair)

SVS Prime Bookshelf Speakers

The SVS Prime bookshelf speakers feature a two-way design with a 1″ aluminum dome tweeter and a 6.25 inch woofer. The bookshelves use SVS’s soundmatch network to provide a smooth transition from the tweeter to woofer. Like all of the speakers in the Prime line, much of the tech from the Ultra series has trickled down to the Prime bookshelves. Because of this, the SVS Prime bookshelf speakers sound much bigger than they are.

 

SVS Prime Satellite Speakers ($134.99 – $174.99 /pair)

SVS Prime Satellite Speakers

The SVS Prime satellite’s are the smallest speakers in the series measuring only 8.85″ (H) X 4.9″ (W) X 6.3″ (D). Being that their chief function is to handle the surround effects in soundtracks they don’t need to have the size or power of their bigger siblings. Despite this, they do utilize a 2-way design with a 1 inch aluminum dome tweeter and a 4.5″ woofer positioned directly below. The backs of the satellites also include keyhole slots for easy wall mounting. SVS offers a satellite 5.1 system and 2.1 system with the SB-1000 subwoofer on their web site. While we didn’t have enough of the satellites on hand to actually test these in a 5.1 arrangement, we did have enough to try them out in a stereo alignment.. We’ll expand upon our findings later on in the review.

 

SVS SB-1000 Subwoofer ($499 – $599)

SVS SB-1000 Subwoofer

The sealed enclosure of the SB-1000 measures a meager 13″ x 13″ x 13″. It’s compact size makes it relatively easy to place in your listening environment.  Unlike the other speakers in the Prime series, the SB-1000 subwoofer is actually available in three finish varieties; piano black, black ash and gloss white. It’s rated at 300 watts and boasts a 12″ long throw driver. It’s frequency response of 24-260 Hz means it has enough oomph for most soundtracks.

 

SVS Prime Series Performance

Equipped with a Marantz AV-7701 we were eager to see how well SVS’s Prime Series performed. We had a little intrepidation regarding the center channel for the Prime series. Given it’s small size we had doubts about whether it would be able to keep up with the rest of the speakers in the line. However, the center channel proved us wrong. Dialogue was clear and crisp. If we had to use one word to describe the center’s mid-range, it would be smooth. When watching Captain America:The Winter Soldier on blu-ray, the center channel was never drowned out or overwhelmed by the intense on screen action scenes.

 

The Prime Towers had a balanced and natural sound. The upper frequencies were well represented without coming across as sharp. The Prime Towers aren’t big in size, but they have a surprisingly big sound. Even when we took the SB-1000 subwoofer out of the mix, the Prime Towers had a nice punch. There are other tower speakers that will give you better bass response in this price range, but few that we’ve listened to can match the accuracy of the Prime Towers. It’s bass output was very tight and for some music sound tracks you could possibly get away without a subwoofer.

 

The Prime Bookshelf and Satellite speakers did an admirable job of creating an active and engaging surround experience. Transformers: Age of Extinction and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King really allowed the Prime system to show what it was capable of. Every battle in Return of the King had a sense of excitement thanks in part to how well the Bookshelf and Satellite speakers handled the surround effects. These two movies also allowed the SB-1000 subwoofer to strut it’s stuff. With Age of Extinction every punch and every explosion was simply thunderous. In Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, the SB-1000 produced enough bass on several occasions to shake our chairs. However, the SB-1000 never sounded boomy. Like the Prime Towers it’s bass output was tight and accurate.

 

For music playback, the SVS Prime speaker package was nearly flawless in it’s performance. When listening to several of Carlos Santana’s most well known tunes, the Primes produced a vivid and exciting sound stage. Michael Jackson’s Xscape album also sounded beautiful on the Prime’s. Jackson’s “Love Never Felt So Good” had a depth that we hadn’t heard before in a speaker setup in this price range. The speakers and the SB-1000 subwoofer provided a united and powerful performance. The SB-1000 is an ideal subwoofer for music lovers. In our listening tests it never came across as muddy or inaccurate. It’s ability to blend with the rest of the speakers in the Prime line-up provided an almost surreal listening experience that made us want to go through our CD collection and re-visit albums that have been collecting dust on our shelves.

 

Despite the aforementioned positives, the SVS Primes aren’t perfect. While we vastly enjoyed our time spent with the SVS’s, we did note that the center channel during music playback had a tendency to over accentuate higher frequencies. This resulted in some sound tracks lacking warmth.

 

SVS also offers the satellites and SB-1000 as a part of a 2.1 and 5.1 system. Since we had two of the satellites we decided to throw them up front to see what the little speakers could do. We expected a small thin sound, but that’s not what we got at all. The satellite’s mid-range had a surprising amount of depth that left us a little stunned. They didn’t quite have the range of the towers, however they did broadcast a wide and powerful soundstage. The one caveat is that the SB-1000 subwoofer is a must with these. While the mid-range is well represented, the lower frequencies are a bit underwhelming so a subwoofer is highly recommended to help out with the low end.

 

Conclusion

The SVS Prime speakers are pretty much an audiophile’s dream system. They sound great and are reasonably priced.  Overall, they have a balanced and full mid-range and fantastic bass response. Few speakers in this price range can match their balance. Their ability to perform equally well for music and movies makes them the total package.

 

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