SVS SB-4000 Subwoofer Review
By Chris Heinonen on
Since moving to a new house, I’ve been unable to find subwoofer bliss. I had an SVS PB-1000, but the 10” driver was no longer powerful enough for me and I wanted more. I also have been using a dual 15” subwoofer from Power Sound Audio, but for a smaller 11’x13’ room, it was too large. What I wanted was something small enough do allow for dual subwoofers, but that still provides enough low-end force to fill the room. When SVS announced they were releasing a new line of 13” subs in the 4000 series, testing out the sealed SVS SB-4000 was at the top of my list. While it can’t provide that chest-pounding impact that a subwoofer like their PB-16 Ultra does, it has done an amazing job of filling my room and integrating into my reference theater system.
SVS SB-4000 Design
The SVS 4000-series uses an updated 13.5” driver that comes in at a ridiculous 43 pounds. That weight is from the massive magnets around the driver, which is what drives the SB-4000 to fill a home theater despite the smaller size. Most of the other features in the 4000 series, including the SB-4000, are trickling down from SVS’s 16” models. There is the updated amplifier than can deliver 1200 watts continuous with 4000-watt peaks. It also has the integrated parametric EQ and Bluetooth, allowing you to optimize the subwoofer for your room and control it all from your phone. The included remote also lets you control all the settings from your listening position, though since the iOS app does the same I always used the app.
The cabinet comes finished in black ash or piano black, and I went with the piano black for this review. Despite my worries, I never had issues with reflections while watching my OLED or projector inside my theater room. The cabinet is MDF with plenty of internal bracing and a quick rap of the knuckles on the case reveals the sturdy build quality of the sub. Unpacking it was as easy as it could be, given the weight of the sub itself. Once unpacked I popped it into the front corner of my room, below in my in-wall right speaker. The SB-4000 is compact enough that it fits in there without blocking the in-wall speaker or interfering with my motorized Stewart Studiotek projection screen. I re-ran Audyssey to integrate the sub with the Denon AVR-X6400H that was here and then it was off to the listening tests.
To make it hard on the SVS, I queued up Edge of Tomorrow first thing. If you haven’t watched the film, the opening credits have a subsonic tone that goes incredibly deep and will test the limits of any subwoofer. Since the SB-4000 is sealed I wasn’t sure how low it would go, but it didn’t disappoint. The room began to rattle and shake, but the SB-4000 chugged right along showing very little strain. It can’t do the depths that the PB-16 Ultra did on the same test, but I expected as much. The SB-4000 is less than half the volume of that beast and did much better than I actually expected it to do, leaving zero complaints from me.
Moving over to Thor: Ragnarok, I was surprised that a bit into the movie, the SVS didn’t seem to be electrifying the room as it had with Edge of Tomorrow. It turns out that the mastering of the audio on Thor has it much quieter than most tracks, with the subwoofer set even lower than the main speakers. The app for the SVS made it easy to fix this from my listening seat, letting me add 3-5dB to the sub and fixing the imbalance in the mix. Once I did this, all those impacts from Mjolnir were heard as the battle for Asgard filled the room. The SB-4000 made every bullet, hammer swing, and lightning blast felt, but did so while integrating with the main speakers.
My main reason for preferring a sealed subwoofer over a ported, other than size, is how well they can handle music. This is where the SB-4000 excels and the limitations of the size are pushed aside. The 13” woofer is more than powerful enough to convey the drums and bass in everything I listened to. Though it is considered cheesy today, and almost ruined by endless American Psycho quotes, when the drums kick in on Phil Collins “In The Air Tonight”, it is still fantastic. The SB-4000 combined with my KEF in-walls to deliver every single note of it with impact and clarity. Taking a detour through some of Metallica’s greatest hits, I discover just how much deep bass I was missing from the tracks when I first heard them as a teenager as I hadn’t returned to many of them since then. The release of Prince’s studio version of “Nothing Compares 2 U” sounds fantastic. From the opening notes, there is a ton of low-end material here that the SVS handles perfectly. Bass and drums have a huge amount of impact but remain tight and controlled. Most importantly, this provides us an excuse to include that amazing track here in the review.
The more I listened to the SB-4000, the more I was impressed with how it performs. It integrates well into my theater, with ARC and Audyssey both providing a seamless transition from front speakers to the subwoofer. It is easy to forget that it is there, but then when an action scene comes on screen or the drums kick in for a song, it makes its presence felt. My favorite Radiohead track for low bass is “Idioteque” off Kid A, with a thumping bass line that plays throughout the whole song. Played through the SB-4000 it offers the same level of impact that I’ve heard live when they play it in concert. The SB-4000 does exactly what I want in a sub: make my speakers sound like they play down to 20Hz without any effort or strain by completely disappearing.
There are only two things on the SB-4000 that I want to bring up as possible areas of concern. While it has a three band PEQ you can use for the room, it has no automated calibration routine. You can use RoomEQ Wizard to do this, but it’s much harder than systems that do offer automated EQ. I’d like to see a system like ELAC uses, which combines a smartphone app with the driver to measure the room and correct the response automatically. It also, due to the size, can’t punch you in the chest with air like the PB-16 Ultra can. It does a remarkable job with everything given the size, and I’m perfectly happy with the performance, but you can’t overcome physics.
SVS SB-4000 Conclusions
I’ve listened to many SVS subwoofers in my theater room, and it is basically a Goldilocks situation. The PB-1000 was too small for it and didn’t offer the music performance that I was after. The SB-16 Ultra was too physically large for the space and had the ability to overwhelm it with bass. The SB-4000 is just right for my room: Powerful enough to easily fill it and not distort even when pushed, but small enough to hide in the corner and even allow for me to add another one to the mix.
If SVS wasn’t going to make me send it back, I’d keep the SVS SB-4000 here as my reference point for a subwoofer in my room. It performs wonderfully with everything I threw at it, and I would certainly add one down the road to even out the bass response and provide even more impact. For those people with reasonably sized home theater rooms that want clean, controlled bass that does well with both movies and music, the SB-4000 is a wonderful sub and comes highly recommended.
Tight, controlled bass, flexible setup with remote and app, PEQ to tailor the sound to your room.
No automated EQ setup, lacks the impact on films that their ported subs have.
If you want tight, controlled bass for movies and music and space is at a premium, the SVS SB-4000 will fill your room while integrating with your speakers. It does a fantastic job and sounds wonderful in my home theater system.