SVS PC12-NSD Subwoofer

The cylindrical design of SVS’s PC12-NSD may appear eccentric, but it’s purely functional. The tube-shaped material makes it easy for SVS to create a good, stiff enclosure at low cost. It also minimizes the amount of floor space the sub occupies. While the 3-foot-high PC12-NSD is undeniably tall, its 16.6-inch-diameter form uses only a small amount of floor space. Tuck the sub into a dark corner, and most people will never notice it.

Inside that tube are some pretty impressive guts. At the bottom is a long-throw 12-inch woofer, powered by a Class D amp rated at 400 watts RMS and 800 watts peak. At the top is a port; unlike the ports on the larger PC13-Ultra, this one doesn’t offer the option of a removable grille and foam plugs for fine-tuning the sub’s sound. An internal digital signal processor smoothes the PC12-NSD’s response.

While the controls and the stereo line input on the SVS are pretty standard stuff, the sub does offer an unusual connection option: two stereo line outputs for feeding back to an amplifier or a preamp. One of these outputs has a fixed 80-Hz high-pass filter to keep the low frequencies out of your main speakers. Thus, the PC12-NSD can be used in a stereo music system that lacks a subwoofer crossover; just run the line out of your preamp to the sub, then run its high-passed outputs to your stereo amp.

Panel Comments

We have yet to encounter an SVS sub we didn’t love, and the PC12-NSD is no exception. Will mused: “At first I wondered, ‘Is this too powerful to be musical?’ But the more I listened, the more I realized that the sound was well balanced through the entire bass range, and I really liked that it gave me deep response even at low volumes.” Geoff ranked the PC12-NSD right up there with the Power Sound Audio XV15, saying that the two sounded “very, very similar” with music and that the XV15 had just a slight edge on Terminator 2.

I, too, had a hard time finding the sonic dissimilarities between the PC12-NSD and the XV15. Played at a reasonable level (96 dB peak) with Steely Dan’s “Aja” (my favorite test of a subwoofer’s tunefulness), the PC12-NSD sounded close enough to the XV15 that moving either sub 2 feet made a bigger difference than switching subs.

To reveal a performance difference between the two, I had to set the bar very high: running Attack of the Clones and the Organ Symphony as loud as I could stand to listen. While I measured 115 dB from both subs in my listening chair, the XV15’s deepest notes sounded cleaner. But I never would’ve heard this difference had I not pushed the system to an insane volume.

SVS PC12-NSD ($749)

Best for: Space-challenged bass fanatics

Worst for: Cat owners

The Verdict

So why did I rank the PC12-NSD as a poor choice for cat lovers? ’Cause it’s covered in black velour that will make it an irresistible scratching post. With that single exception, I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t love this subwoofer.

Test Bench

22 to 235 Hz, ±3 dB

Low bass (40-63 Hz) average: 118.1 dB

Ultra-low bass (20-31.5 Hz) average: 115.6 dB

nolicorpuz's picture

Good day Brent,

I own both the Klipsch RW12d and the SVS PC12nsd (just purchased the other day).

I have watched The Wolverine yesterday to test (by ear) my new PC 12 NSD on movies. I have set the gain control of the sub to 1:00 o'clock (contrary to the recommended 10 to 12 o'clcok setting) and did some manual adjustments with the rest of my system setting all speaker and subwoofer levels in my denon 1911 to 0 db. I also used these speakers/sub settings with my Klipsch RW12d with the RW12 gain at its default setting of 0 db and flat mode. I believe that the RW12d default gain of 0 db is equivalent to a 2:00 o'clock gain in other subwoofers with control knobs. Compared with the RW12d, the PC12 was deeper and has a smoother response.

While watching The Wolverine bluray , I have turned the volume of my denon avr 1911 receiver to -8 db, the volume level which I usually use to watch movies. During the scene where the bomb dropped by an airplane exploded, the sound was deep and clean but the limiter of the PC12 red led continuously lighted until the explosion and low rumbles subsided. The same scene with low LFE content and even more demanding scenes like the ones from Star Trek and the Pacific Rim were handled comfortably by my RW12d. Although I do not have the proper SPL meter to properly compare the loudness level of the two subwoofers, I could easily compare that their output levels are the same. Could you please enlighten me through my following querries:

1. Does this mean to say that the PC12 has reached its maximum output and can not go any louder, or the limiter has been set conservatively?

2. When the limiter red led lights steadily with the duration of high LFE level, will it pose danger to the PC12? I believe that the function of the limiter will set an output limit to the PC12 that even if I crank my system to higher levels, the subwoofer can not go louder anymore and even if the red led lights steadily, its amplifier is protected from being blown out, is this correct? Most AV receivers, like mine, has also volume limiters to avoid damage to the speakers. Mine is set to 0 db in my receiver.

3. Does this mean that the smaller Klipsch RW12d is louder than the larger PC12NSD? By measurements made by Sound and Vision, the PC12 should be louder. You have measured maximum SPL output of the two as follows:

RW 12d: ultra low bass, 108 db; low bass, 115 db.
PC12NSD: ultra low bass, 115.6 db; low bass, 118.1 db.