“How low can you go?” In ten years, American SVS has managed to become one of the most respected subwoofer manufacturers on the planet. They are also among the rawest when it comes to producing proper dyyyp bass – you know, the one that goes all the way down to the basement, vibrates the foundations and shakes mom’s finest crockery down from the kitchen shelves! The new 4000 series from SVS aims to deliver even more bass without the price running wild. Among these we find the SB-4000, which is small enough to fit in a normal living room – but powerful enough to deliver bass of the right neighborly kind.
After unpacking and placing the 46-kilo subwoofer in the corner of the test room, we could see that the SB-4000 is a solid and well-built case. Our test copy came in a piano lacquer finish for NOK 2,000 extra .: The mirror-gloss lacquer undoubtedly looks good in the living room, but in a dark home cinema we prefer the matte wood veneer version.
The compact case is just large enough to accommodate a potent 13.5-inch bass. The specially made bass diaphragm has a thick rubber suspension for extra long stroke, with a powerful magnetic system and solid chassis to keep everything under control. The bass element alone accounts for just over 20 kilos of total weight, which says a lot about how powerful the “engine” we are dealing with! The amplifier that drives it all is 1200 watts, with the ability to deliver up to 4000 watts peak power when needed…
Ease of use and features
The 4000 series has also received state-of-the-art operation. All functions (volume, phase, parametric equalizer, etc.) can be controlled via the included remote control, or even better – via the SVS app which is free to download to iPhone / iPad and Android. The app offers many nice features, including the ability to store multiple “presets” for different listening scenarios.
The parametric equalizer makes it possible to fine-tune the frequency response, and weed out the worst peaks from the bass response in space. However, it is worth noting that these are manual controls: SVS has no “Auto-EQ” as some other manufacturers offer, and you will therefore be dependent on adjusting on your own with measuring equipment.
As bass-loving readers have already pointed out, the challenger from SVS shone with his absence during our previous subwoofer competition. The joy was therefore great when we got the SB-4000 on the carpet, and could drive it up against the test winner from Arendal Sound! The impressive 1723 Subwoofer 2 is currently our reference under 20,000 kroner.
It quickly becomes clear that SB-4000 retains the right genes. We start with Snoop Dogg’s Make America Crip Again, and the SVS sub delivers the heavy hip hop bass in full force. The bass makes the back of the chair shake, and it feels a bit like cruising down the street in a sunken American with a big stereo: The bass is really fat, and the heavy strokes go like pressure waves through the room. We can play so loud that the neighbors’ complaints flow on, without the subwoofer giving signs of wanting to give up. Both Geir and Audun grin appreciatively.
We move on to James Blake’s Limit to your love. The SVS sub sounds almost perfect on this type of slow, monotonous bass passages. It has even more thrust than Arendal in the very deepest frequencies. The whole room shakes!
So far so good, but what about a little faster and more impulsive techno-rhythms? Deadmau5 “Seeya” has a fast and hard-hitting bass that really puts the response to the test. Here, SVS does not keep up with Arendal at all! 1723 has a significantly tighter bass with greater dynamics in the projections, without a lack of striking power. SVS has plenty of punch it too, but it does not manage to stop and start again as quickly, which inhibits the music a bit.
– SVS does not sound as dynamic, and does not have nearly the same transient response as Arendal, Geir remarks.
Maria Mena’s cover I was made for loving you also reveals that the SVS sub is not as musically precise as the reference. Where Arendal reproduces the double bass easily and freely in interaction with the main speakers (Focal Kanta No. 2), SVS has a heavier, more “subwoofer-like” sound character. It clearly stands out in the soundscape, even after we have tried our hand at the EQ controls.
SVS sounds tough when movies are on the menu. The spaceship explosion in Alien Covenant strikes so it feels deep into the spinal cord, but the shock wave does not feel as dynamic and “explosive” as the Arendal sub does with its double basses.
Of course, we could not help but “torture test” both subwoofers with deep frequency sweeps. There is no doubt that SVS has more levels from 20 hertz and down, but the gain is not as great as we had hoped. Upwards in frequency, Arendal Sound has more impact. The bass also feels cleaner, faster and tighter, with a more seamless transition to our main speakers (Focal Kanta).
The SVS SB-4000 is a potent subwoofer, with huge amounts of deep bass from a relatively compact cabinet. Here you get a juicy and weighty deep bass that is able to set the whole room in motion! After testing a large number of subwoofers in this size and price range, we can state that SVS claims against the very best, but they do not reach the very top. The Americans must see themselves beaten at the finish line by the newcomer from Arendal, who has a captivating attack and impulse will.