Big sub, big sound. Sure the PB16-Ultra is a beast, but given today’s technology, bringing low-end performance sans distortion requires of size and weight. SVS has a pair of subwoofers featuring their new 16” driver, the SB16-Ultra, previously reviewed by us and the PB16-Ultra. The SB is a sealed box design, while the PB is a ported box.
If you are looking to reproduce the lowest subsonic octaves, then the PB16-Ultra is your choice.
Build Quality / Looks
In our review of the SB16-Ultra, the sealed version of this subwoofer, he mentions the increase in subwoofer size that accompanies moving to a 16” driver, and that definitely applies to the ported version. It tacks on an additional 50 pounds compared to the SB16-Ultra in an even larger enclosure. At a 175 pounds, the PB16-Ultra is built to produce strong bass levels with no cabinet vibration. 3 ports sit below the massive 16” driver and on top is an angled LED display and control panel.
Unlike Chris, I was not able to unpack and set up this beast on my own. Thankfully he came over and helped as getting it up the stairs was no easy task. The heftiness aside, unpacking and setting up was pretty easy as SVS has taken a lot of care in the packaging. They even have a handy unpacking video on the website!
Once out of the box, the PB16-Ultra shines with its glossy piano black finish. It is also available in black oak, but I can’t imagine not going with the beautiful piano black. The build quality, like the SB16-Ultra, is impeccable. Smooth edges and beyond solid construction make this subwoofer feel like you are getting what you pay for. I love the angled inset front display. Not only does it provide instant feedback, it gives the SVS a presence that it means business, and boy golly does it back that up.
Usually, I’m not easily impressed with shimmery displays on objects that don’t really require them, but it is a nice touch on the SVS and it gives it an elite look. What I enjoy even more though is the ability to control the sub via remote or phone app. Listen, I’ve got neighbors, a wife who doesn’t always watch movies with me, and sometimes a scene just gets a little out of hand and I need to dial back the bass a bit. Or it’s the middle of the day and no one is around and I want to crank it till I feel it in my bones. Either way, having that control in my hands on the couch is amazing.
It also means you can easily play with the different modes like music, movies, or custom setups from your optimal seating position. Hear what sounds the best. The app, available on iOS and Android, is straightforward and easy to use and it pairs automatically with the sub. No complicated setup process here, thanks SVS!
Like the SB16-Ultra, the PB16-Ultra has a few features that are most easily accessed via the phone app. Control volume, crossover, phase, room gain, and a 3-band parametric EQ. The EQ allows for adjustments on frequency, boost, and Q-factor.
Unlike the SB16-Ultra, the PB16-Ultra has 3 3.5” high-flow ports on the front. These ports allow for increased output at low octaves as well as 3Hz of additional extension when using one port plug-in extended mode. There are 3 port plugs included, allowing for further customization of the subwoofer’s sound. I opted for extended mode, placing one plug in the center port.
The opening series of bass notes on Edge of Tomorrow provide a perfect introduction to the PB16-Ultra’s capabilities. You could host a photo shoot with the PB16’s ports blowing a supermodel’s hair in the wind from the amount of air the high-extension 16” driver can move. That amount of low-frequency energy will shake your entire house, so anything that can produce a noise from vibration, will. The final bass frequency in that opening must be somewhere around 15Hz, certainly not much higher, and I have never heard a sub reach it, until the SVS PB16-Ultra. Hearing, or feeling, those subsonic notes is a