SVS Prime Pinnacle Speaker Review
By Chris Heinonen on
A few years ago I was doing a guide to bookshelf speakers and brought in the SVS Ultra bookshelves for a listen. I came away very pleasantly surprised that they managed to produce a clean, detailed sound but also one with plenty of bass thanks to their 6.5” woofers. So when SVS was showing their new Prime Pinnacle speaker at CES 2019 that uses three 6.5” woofers, along with a 5.25” midrange and 1” tweeter, I was quite excited to see how they would sound. At $1,600 a pair, they aren’t cheap, but they offer better build quality and performance than I would expect to get at this price.
SVS Prime Pinnacle Design
The Prime Pinnacle Tower houses those five drivers I mentioned and has three bass ports on the rear of the speaker. Mine came finished in a piano black finish that looks fantastic, far better than the standard woodgrain version and worth upgrading to in my opinion. They are deeper than they are wide but are a fairly compact speaker. A pair of bookshelves on decent stands would take up the same footprint in a room so they aren’t a monster speaker that you’ll have to work to find space for. A single pair of binding posts that accept bare wire, bananas, or spades serves as the input on the back. Spikes and rubber feet are provided in the box for use on any surface. At 57 pound each, I can move them around without too much effort, but I’m also glad my test room is on the main floor of the house.
The build quality on the Prime Pinnacle is very high. Rapping my knuckles on the cabinet provides a solid, higher-pitched sound as there is no echo or resonance coming from the cabinet itself. I do wish SVS would move to a magnetic grill instead of relying on one with pins to hold it in place. I’ve had the pins break on me far too often from moving them around, or just poor packing, and magnets provide a much cleaner look with the grill removed. Maybe they can update it in the future or even add a white finish to match that people might want to display in their living rooms more than a black box.
For my testing of the SVS Prime Pinnacle, I used the NAD M10 integrated streaming amplifier as well as my Anthem MRX 1120 receiver. When listening to music I chose to go full range without any subwoofer, but used a subwoofer when watching a movie.
SVS Prime Pinnacle Performance
Metallica’s “The God That Failed” has bass that reminds me why I fell in love with Metallica back when I was young. Plenty deep with a sweet groove, very tight, and rhythmic. It’s not my favorite Metallica track, but there is more than enough guttural low-end here for anyone. On a better track from the same album, “Nothing Else Matters”, the guitar picking that opens the track is clean and clear. As soon as Lars kicks in with the drums, you hear that low-end kick drum start and fill the room. The Pinnacle keeps the vocals and guitar anchored to their spots with great clarity, but also fills the room with the low-end bass at the same time.
“Belfast” from Orbital has a deep, punchy bassline that the Prime Pinnacle has no trouble with. The main melody floats through the air with ease, but the main action is the bass. It’s all electronic, so I can’t say how “real” any of it sounds, but I can say that the Pinnacle packs a much larger punch than you expect from a tower of this size. The bass causes the surface of my desk to rattle, and I certainly feel the impact.
The bass line that opens Massive Attack’s “Angel” is instantly recognizable. At no time while I listened to the song was I missing a subwoofer, as my walls still rattle and my chest still feels the impact of the bass. You can easily go deeper and louder, and SVS will be more than happy to help you with that, but for most people that simply won’t be necessary. The bass has a wickedly fast snap to it and none of the bloat or fat that you’d get from a cheap subwoofer producing this bass using a port. You’re getting a sound here that no bookshelves can hope to reproduce and from a set of towers that truly aren’t that large or expensive.
If you’re old enough to remember watching MTV for actual videos, then you certainly watched the video for “November Rain” more than once. From a time when Guns N Roses could do whatever they wanted, this nearly nine-minute song remains epic in scope and size through the SVS. Slash shredding his guitar is fantastic, and the drums are loud and clear. The SVS does no favors to Axl’s vocals, they probably sounded better through the headphones with my discman back in 1994, but that’s no fault of the speakers.
Good speakers lay recordings bare, and New Order’s “Ceremony” shows this off. You can hear the individual pieces at the start being spliced together, and the sometimes low-fi nature of those individual pieces. It certainly doesn’t sound like they’re playing together in the same room as much as having some solo pieces mixed together, but that’s what the record sounds like. You can easily hear lots of studio manipulation, the echo of the room that they’re recording in, and that guitar that you can recognize as soon as it starts.
“The Rip” from Portishead features Beth Gibbons voice as the central object, but with a nice acoustic guitar that sounds clean and natural through the Prime with good echo and decay. As the track starts to build the Prime allows the sound to scale in size, but never to the detriment of the sound quality. I can pinpoint exactly where it sounds like the instruments are, both left and right and which sound closer and further away.
Giving a listen to the 2019 version of Godzilla:King of the Monsters, the SVS Prime Pinnacle do a fantastic job with dialogue and explosions. Godzilla uses the subwoofer channel almost continually for 2 hours and while the Pinnacle can’t keep up with a dual 15” sub they do a remarkably good job for a pair of smaller tower speakers. There is plenty of impact during the monster battles and those looking to build a surround sound system around them, or just using them as a nice pair of speakers for a living room system, will come away quite happy with how they perform.
SVS Prime Pinnacle Conclusions
I spent far too long with the SVS Prime Pinnacle speakers, which shows that I was happy enough with how they sounded that I didn’t try to get back to my reference KEF THX in-wall speakers as quickly as possible. They provide a detailed, full-range sound in a fairly compact package that left me completely satisfied. For a two-channel system or a home theater, I’d be quite happy to make the SVS Prime Pinnacle the center of it, as I never felt as though I was missing anything while listening to them. If you want a pair of speakers that provides fantastic sound for the price, and doesn’t need a subwoofer unless you truly need the deepest bass, you should try out the SVS Prime Pinnacle.
Great overall sound quality, bass that is plenty deep for almost anyone, well designed and built.
The front grill uses pins and not magnets, only finishes are black, not the last word in mid-range clarity.
The SVS Prime Pinnacle is a speaker that sounds like it costs far more than $1,600 a pair. The construction is top-notch, and the sound quality is fantastic. Listening to stereo music on these was a complete joy, and they will serve as the basis of a great two-channel or multi-channel system.