SVS SCS-02(M) Speaker System

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $1,706 At A Glance: Listening fatigue immunity • Extremely solid build • Factory-direct value

SVS Sound designs its products from the bottom up. The company got its start as a subwoofer manufacturer, fascinating point-one-obsessed audiophiles with unusual (and potent) cylinder-shaped models. Check out the company’s Website at svsound.com under products and you’ll find the subwoofer category listed above speakers and systems. If you want to add an SVS sub to an existing system, the Website’s Merlin engine lets you key in the make and model of your non-SVS speakers to obtain recommendations on compatible SVS subs. Merlin will even offer suggestions for subwoofer crossovers in both surround and stereo systems.

Despite its longer history and strength in subs, SVS shouldn’t be typecast as a sub-only company. It also makes some pretty good speakers. Thanks to factory-direct distribution, its products are an exceptional value, especially considering how solidly made they are and how they perform. This company stands behind its products: The SVS Bill of Rights includes a 45-day return policy, 60-day guaranteed prices, 90-day defective-product exchange, one-year trade-in policy, five-year unconditional warranty, and free shipping.

A Tale of Two Series
The S-Series is one of two speaker lines from SVS, along with the more expensive M-Series. The M-Series is the only one to include a tower, along with center and stand-mount models. In contrast, the S-Series includes an LCR that SVS calls a monitor, plus center, stand-mount, and bipole surround models. There was a tower in the original S-Series, but it got axed in this second-generation line because the LCR/monitor was outselling it. Does SVS see the lines as two halves of a continuous train of thought, with the mixing-and-matching potential that implies? Due to iffy timbre matching, the answer is no. Instead, SVS simply assumes those who want towers will gravitate toward the higher-priced line, while those who want stand-mounts will prefer the lower-priced one. Form factor leads to price point, or vice versa. This review covers the SCS-02(M) LCR/monitor, SCS-02 center, SSS-02 bipole surround, and SB12-NSD sub.

The SCS-02(M) LCR/monitor and SCS-02 center are identical in dimensions, weight, and driver array, differing only in the position of the grille badge and the vertical-positioning TiltBase supplied with the center. Build quality is substantial. Enclosures, though Spartan looking, have elegantly rounded machined edges, no visible seams, and a textured black vinyl finish that produces a strong tactile response—you could practically strike a kitchen match on one of these things. They are fairly inert, a helpful trait in a speaker that aspires to uncolored bass response down to the subwoofer crossover. Tough perforated metal grilles are attached to chrome mounting pins. For wall mounting, you have your choice of OmniMount 20 compatible threaded insert or keyhole mount.

On the flush baffles of both models are a 1-inch BlackSilk soft dome tweeter and a pair of 6-inch Softcap polypropylene-coned woofers. Both drivers are custom designed and exclusive to the S-Series. The tweeter includes ferrofluid cooling for claimed improvements in power handling, heat dissipation, reliability, and resonance suppression. The manufacturer adds, “It’s rare to see ferrofluid employed at this price point,” but I’ve not seen industry statistics to back that up. The Softcap woofer includes a soft dust cap—hence the name—in an effort to suppress resonance and improve midrange response. The crossover in this second-generation product has been substantially improved over the first. It features air-core inductors and what the manufacturer describes as top-grade capacitors.

The spec sheet mentions a THX-style acoustic alignment. This refers to the way in which the sealed enclosure’s natural acoustic rolloff around 80 hertz complements the bass management of A/V receivers. Set your receiver to an 80-Hz subwoofer crossover and the combined result is a 24-dB/octave rolloff, half acoustic, half electronic. “The result,” SVS notes, “is a phase-correct, 24-dB/octave, high-pass/low-pass crossover between the speakers and subwoofer—just as the original home THX standard intended.”

The SSS-02 surround has a similar tweeter and woofer in duplicate, mounted on adjacent baffles at a 45-degree angle. It is a bipole speaker with two sets of drivers operating acoustically in phase. Some speakers of this design can be switched to run in dipole mode, providing more diffuse surround effects. However, this speaker is strictly bipole. In any event, a correctly mounted bipole will never aim either of its driver arrays directly at the listener, so it still provides much more diffuse surround effects than a conventional monopole.

SVS took a less-is-more approach to the SB12-NSD subwoofer, fitting its 12-inch, front-firing, aluminum-coned driver into a cube of just 14 gloss-black inches. Like the other three speakers, this one comes in a sealed enclosure, totally eliminating the issue of port noise. In lieu of a honking bass reflex port, this sub works its low frequency magic with DSP-driven equalization and limiting, getting the best out of its indomitable 400-watt Class D amp. Going over the specs, I couldn’t resist asking about the “low creep rubber surround.” Was this a Radiohead reference? It just means the performance of the surround will remain consistent over the life of the woofer, keeping electro-acoustic performance parameters up to original spec.

Associated equipment included a Rotel RSX-1550 surround receiver and Oppo BDP-83 SE universal disc player. Except where noted, all demos took advantage of Blu-ray’s wealth of programming and lossless DTS-HD Master Audio.

COMPANY INFO
SVS Sound
(877) 626-5623
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COMMENTS
kelsci's picture

I am not a lover of D'Apps. for the main left and right speakers. I have a pair of Old Garrards that I tried in this fashion. I just do not think they were "right" Now of course this may be dependent on the positions of these types of speaker relative to ear level which in my mind would take some real experimentation. To confuse the issue of the SVS is the fact that the tweeter of the left/right speaker is a design that is not in line with the woofers as many D'Apps. are. The photo shows the tweeters facing towards each other on stands. You could call this a mirror image. I would switch the L/R speaker to see if they should be more opposite each other. Again this is a mirror image. The problem I have with mirror image of these types is that to my ears the phasing of the speakers or the whole surround system could be out of wack.

There is another factor that I never seem to hear of anyone testing. What wiring scheme is used in those speakers relative to the woofers. Some clowns put 2 four ohm speakers in series to make 8 ohms. This could make an awful sounding L/R speaker. The right thing is to wire two 12 to 16 ohm woofers in parallel. Your impedance will be 6 to 8 ohms and your speakers at the very least will phase correctly with the system. Fortunately those old Garrards were wired the latter way and have made a good center channel speaker for my system.

micahspoop's picture

Hi Mark,

I noticed you rated the performance of this system as moderate. What alternative would you suggest around the same price? Also, can you explain to me what exactly it was that led you to rate the performance as moderate? Also, I am just beginning to learn more about the wonderful world of audio. Thanks in advance.

Mark Fleischmann's picture
"Not terribly revealing" was one of the phrases I used. There are several other descriptions that point in roughly the same direction. For alternatives you should look to our Top Picks. One item within a few hundred dollars of the SVS system is the RSL 5.1 Theater system. The speakers are smaller but due to their enclosure design they still have some bass response. In general I hesitate to make this kind of A-vs.-B comparison in the comments section because it disserves all the manufacturers as well as the reader himself. Read the review text, check the measurements, and to the extent possible, hear the products with your own ears. Both SVS and RSL both have generous money-back return policies which enable you to try their speakers in your own home for several weeks before making a permanent commitment.
micahspoop's picture

Mark, I appreciate the advice, which I will most definitely take.

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