The Good:The SVS Prime Bookshelf speakers are affordable with excellent treble, good mid-range and surprising bass.


The Bad: If the SVS Primes have one weakness it could be the mid-range. While it’s good, it’s not as balanced as SVS’s top tier speakers, the Ultras.


Summary: SVS may have done too good a job with the Primes. The Ultras cost more but only offer an incremental improvement over the Primes. Coupled with a good subwoofer, like the SB-1000, and you have a rockin’ 2 channel system.


SVS Prime Bookshelf Review

Occasionally in the world of home theater you come across a product that makes you stop and take notice. For me it was the SVS Prime Bookshelf Speakers. I’ve listened to numerous speakers over the years, and during that time I’ve heard plenty of speakers that have that “WOW” factor. However, these speakers usually come with a “WOW” price. This is why I was so surprised when I got an opportunity to demo SVS’s new Prime Bookshelf Speakers. These speaker have a presence about them both visually and sonically that stops you in your tracks.

SVS Prime Bookshelf Speakers


The SVS Prime Bookshelves arrived at our office in a sturdy cardboard box with ample protective foam. Each speaker was encased in both a protective cloth and plastic wrap. Removing the protective material from the speakers revealed two perfect piano gloss finished speakers.


The Primes come in two finishes, black piano gloss and black ash. Both models sound identical. The only difference is that the black ash are $50 cheaper at $249 each. The speakers weigh in at about 16 lbs each and have a relatively small footprint at 13.3″ (H) X 8″ (W) X 10.3″ (D). You can easily place them on speaker stands without them taking up too much room or drawing too much attention. Of course, with the piano gloss finish a little attention wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.


Structurally, they’re made of solid MDF board and have ample amounts of internal bracing. Popping the grill off the front reveals that the Bookshelves have a 1″ aluminum dome tweeter and a 6.5″ woofer. On the rear of the Prime Bookshelves you’ll find two five-way binding posts and a rear port. Because of the rear port, you’ll want to have several inches of breathing room behind the speakers to eliminate possible distortion.


Along with the Prime Bookshelf speakers, SVS also sent us a SB-1000 12 inch subwoofer. Like the bookshelves, the subwoofer came clad in a piano gloss finish. The 1000 uses a sealed design and measures a meager 13.5″ (H) x 13″ (W) x 14″ (D).  The SB-1000 is proof that great things come in small packages. It doesn’t go as deep as some larger subwoofers, but it does produce tight accurate bass which is ideal for music playback where precision is coveted.

SVS SB-1000 Subwoofer

SVS SB-1000 Subwoofer



For the review we connected the Primes to a Marantz PM8005 Stereo Receiver. Once connected, the Primes surprised me right out of the gate. As soon as I cued up the first song they grabbed me. I reluctantly pulled my ears away, but the one thing that was immediately apparent was that they had a very open and wide sound stage.


After a substantial break-in period the first artist we tackled was EverLove. Their single Cities in Dust has a slow tempo that gradually transitions to a harder edgier sound. The Primes displayed good range and agility. The bookshelves produced surprisingly deep and punchy bass. Although they lacked the extension of the Prime Towers, the bass they produced was full and detailed. Adding in the SB-1000 subwoofer filled out the bottom end letting the Bookshelves focus on treble and mid-range. Together, the SB-1000 and the Prime Bookshelves complement each other perfectly.


With Bastille’s “Bad Blood” track, the Prime Bookshelves excelled. Vocals were rich and smooth creating a life-like listening experience with little coloration. I was curious to see how the Prime Bookshelf Speakers stacked-up to the Ultra Bookshelves. Luckily a friend of mine happened to have a set on hand. After extensive prodding, he was gracious enough to let me borrow them for an afternoon of listening. The results were staggering. I expected to hear a substantial difference between the two, but I didn’t. The Ultra Bookshelves had a more substantial bottom end delivering more bass extension than the Primes. The mid-range was also tighter and a tad more accurate. This isn’t a knock against the Primes. The fact that they sound so similar to the Ultra’s is a testament to SVS’s engineering.


Zack Snyder’s 300 proved that the Prime Bookshelves are equally adept for movies. Dialogue was clear and crisp. The opening scene where Xerxes  messengers rumble to Sparta to deliver the God King’s message demonstrated the full range of the Prime’s. The musical score in the background was dynamic and powerful. The horses hooves pounded the ground with authority and force even without the SB-1000 subwoofer in the mix.



I came away from my time spent with the Prime Bookshelves very impressed. They have clarity and detail that you rarely see at this price point. The mid-range is very good, although not quite as balanced as some upper echelon speakers. The bass response of these little black beauties is agile and accurate, if not thunderous.  For $299 each, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better sounding set of bookshelf speakers. Paired with a good subwoofer and you’ll have a 2.1 you system that your audiophile friends will be jealous of.


Manufacturer Information:

SVS, Inc.

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