Review: SVS PB12-NSD Subwoofer

One could argue that it’s silly to make a subwoofer look nice. Most subs get shoved into out-of-the-way places where even the most exotic wenge veneer, doused in seven coats of hand-rubbed lacquer and applied to gracefully arcing side panels, won’t really look any better than the cheapest black vinyl wrap glued over a plain rectangular box.

Those who find ugliness a virtue in subwoofers will love SVS’ new $769 PB12-NSD, which is about as plain as subwoofers get.

 Form doesn’t merely follow function in this sub. In the PB12-NSD, function is dragging form on a long rope down a gravel road. I must have reviewed close to 500 subwoofers by now, and this one’s the most unadorned ever to pass through my living room. The sole stylish touch is the curved, perforated metal front grille.

A lot of people must like the no-nonsense design of the PB12-NSD, because SVS has just re-released it in an updated version. (Incidentally, SVS was known for building speakers in its own Ohio factory, but the revised PB12-NSD is built in China.) It has a new, improved 12-inch aluminum-cone driver, and a 400-watt variant of the 1,000-watt Sledge amplifier found on the SB13-Plus.

The amp has knobs for volume, phase, and crossover frequency, but they’re not really knobs — they’re digital encoders that control the amp’s digital signal processor (DSP). It has stereo line in and line out jacks, plus another set of line out jacks that provide a high-passed signal with the bass filtered out so that it can’t damage or overdrive the satellite speakers. The high-passed line out jacks will come in handy for audiophiles who use the PB12-NSD with a stereo preamp that lacks a subwoofer output.

Not much more to say, except that the $769 includes shipping. For a 66-pound sub, that’s a substantial savings.