I recently covered SVS’ new Prime Series Loudspeakers that were announced at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF). SVS has now begun shipping the first batch of speakers. My review set arrived on Tuesday of this week.
My review setup consists of the SVS Prime Bookshelf speakers in high grade piano black finish ($599.98/pair) and an SVS SB-2000 subwoofer ($699.99) for a 2.1 configuration. It should be noted that the high grade piano black finish, which I cover in more detail below, commands a $100 premium over the standard black ash finish. In black ash finish, the Prime Bookshelf speakers cost $499.99.
The SB-2000 is SVS’ mid-range model and was an existing product. It’s a step below the SB-13 Ultra sub I previously reviewed. Thus, the total cost for the review setup is $1,299.97.
When you look at the specifications and potential performance of this package, it’s an utterly incredible value. You have a system with the potential to reach down to 19 Hz +/- 3db for about $1,200 (black ash) or $1,300 (high-gloss piano black). That’s unreal.
Ultimately, however, we’ll have to see how this setup performs once the review period is over. Nevertheless, here are some of my first impressions of the Prime series speakers.
My review pair arrived via FedEx. Before accepting the delivery, I noticed that the box containing the Prime Bookshelf speakers had been punctured on one side. As you can see in the photo below, the damage was pretty severe and I was worried that one or both of the speakers had been damaged.
|The Prime Bookshelf Speakers came with significant damage to the outer box from FedEx. Even though the speakers weren’t double-boxed, the spacing, internal padding, and packaging prevented any damage to the speakers.|
The SB-2000 subwoofer box was intact. To make sure everything was OK, I opened up the Prime Bookshelf box with the FedEx deliveryman there to make sure that the speakers hadn’t suffered any physical damage.
|The SVS SB-2000 Subwoofer arrived without any external damage.|
Thanks to SVS’ packaging, the speakers themselves were in pristine physical condition. I accepted the deliver but notified the folks over at SVS just in case I notice something post-setup during the review period.
|The Prime Bookshelf speakers are covered in protective cloth and again covered by a plastic bag.|
My Prime Bookshelf speaker review set came in SVS’ spectacular piano black finish that I raved about during my SB-13 Ultra subwoofer review. This finish is like a mirror. It’s simply beautiful and can only be appreciated in person. Photos just don’t do it justice.
|The Piano Black Gloss finish of these speakers is mirror-like and will rival and even beat the finish on speakers costing $10,000 or more.|
Let me be clear, SVS didn’t cut any corners in the finish of these speakers. I’m very hard-pressed to tell any difference at all between the finish in the Prime series loudspeakers and SVS’ top of the line Ultra Towers (see the pic below comparing the two).
|The finish on the $599/pair Prime Series is the same quality as their $1,999/pair Ultra towers.
I’ve stacked the SVS Prime Bookshelf on top of an SVS Ultra Tower and there’s no difference in the finish.
The finish on these $599/pair speakers will put to shame speakers costing upwards of $10,000. Yes, it’s that good and it’s not a hyperbole.
These speakers are of modest size and are definitely WAF or Wife Acceptance Factor-friendly. They don’t have the size and heft of more expensive monitors. You can easily and discreetly put them on a stands, in a bookshelf, or on a countertop without issue. They are not an eye-sore.
At the same time, they don’t feel cheap by any means. Each Bookshelf speaker weighs in at 19 pounds. I did a knuckle rap test on the enclosure to see how solid it felt. Knocking on the speaker cabinets didn’t produce the same deadening “thud” that I had experienced with SVS’ ultra series. I therefore decided to inquire about any differences in the cabinet design and bracing.
Gary Yacoubian, SVS’ president was kind enough to provide some insight into the cabinetry construction between the Prime and Ultra lines. Gary said:
Across both the Primes and Ultras we use the same high quality MDF material for 25mm (1²) thick front baffles, and 18mm (3/4²) MDF on the other sides and braces. The one model that is different is the Prime Satellite, which still uses a thicker 18mm Front Baffle, and 12mm (1/2²) on the other walls.
Both the Ultra and Prime series have extensive internal bracing, well beyond what one might expect at their respective price ranges. That said, the Ultra series as a whole uses more extensive bracing through each model.
I’m appreciative to Gary for answering that initial question.
Moving on to some other general observations. The tweeter is protected by a non-removable perforated metal cover and there’s a port on the rear of the speaker. The tweeter’s cover cannot be removed.
The grille isn’t magnetic and is held on with traditional pegs. While magnetic grilles would have been a really nice touch, if this is one area where a cost compromise was made, that’s a trade-off I’ll take every time.
The grille mesh is highly transparent as you can see in the picture below and should pass plenty of air nicely. The grill itself was extremely rigid and thick. I’ve owned and reviewed speakers costing far more than these Prime Bookshelf speakers that have had inferior grille designs and were made of thin, cheap plastic.
The binding posts on the Prime Bookshelf are solid and no-frills. Their solid look and feel reminds me of the binding posts Madrigal would use on their high-end $3,000+ Proceed amps back in the day. For those who recall, Madrigal also made Mark Levinson electronics before they became part of Harman International.
While the binding posts certainly aren’t the same as those on the Ultra series speakers, I’m extremely impressed at the attention to detail and quality that SVS has packed in here for a $500/pair of speakers. It seems to me that where they’ve made compromises, they have taken the higher-road and used the best quality parts at the price point they were targeting.
There are no feet on the bookshelf speakers nor are there any screw holes for mounting to custom stands. SVS includes some 3M elastomer stick-on rubber feet in case you choose to place the speakers on a table or bookcase. It should be noted that SVS isn’t taking any shortcuts here either, this is exactly what they do with their Ultra series bookshelf speakers.
If you want to use these with stands, SVS sells high-quality Sanus stands on their site. I suggest high-quality, sturdy third party stands to prevent these monitors from tipping over.
Initial impressions of the SVS Prime Bookshelf Speakers and SB-2000 subwoofer continue to live up to the high standards I’ve come to experience with various SVS products. Having the ability to compare the build quality of the Prime review samples with the SVS Ultra Towers and the SVS SB-13 Ultra subs directly, it’s apparent to see the potential value that the Prime series offers to the serious audiophile on a budget.