SVS PC-4000 Subwoofer Review

Build Quality
PRICE $1,800

Outstanding bass response
Onboard parametric EQ
Useful remote and smartphone app Uncommon form factor
Lacks auto-calibration
Uncommon form factor

If floor space is an issue but you still want subterranean bass response, the PC-4000 is the perfect choice.

SVS has been a staple in the home theater industry for 20 years now, and I’ve been a proud owner of one of the company’s PC-Ultra cylindrical subwoofers for the past 13-plus years. When I was introduced to the brand, I remember taking a lot of heat from my wife for putting a “scratching post” in our family room. When she heard it for the first time, though, she realized that no cat in its right mind would ever go near the beast!

The majority of people seem to prefer their subwoofers to come in the shape of a box, not a vertical tube, for various reasons. On the other hand, if floor space is an issue, a cylinder (depending on its height) can provide similar cabinet volume in a smaller footprint. The PC-4000, with a 13.5-inch driver, has a diameter of 16.5 inches. But it’s just under 47 inches tall, so unless you hide it behind a potted tree, it won’t exactly disappear into the room.

The PC-4000 is among SVS’s recently released 4000 series subwoofers, which take some technology developed for the PB16-Ultra and SB16-Ultra flagships I reviewed in late 2016 ($2,500 and $2,000 respectively, February/March 2017 issue and The PC-4000 has two box-shaped siblings, the sealed SB-4000 ($1,500) and the PB-4000 ($1,900), which, like the PC-4000, is ported and houses the same hardware. The PB-4000’s footprint measures a considerable 20.5 inches wide x 27.7 deep, and it weighs 60 percent more than the PC-4000 (153 pounds versus 92)—so moving the tube is much easier on the back!

418svssub.300.jpgStill, there are tradeoffs for gaining some floor space with the PC-4000. Its rated output is slightly less than that of the PB-4000. The latter sub goes a few hertz deeper (according to the spec sheet, 3 Hz deeper in Extended mode than the PC-4000’s rated 16 Hz), and it provides a few more decibels of output overall.

An Old Friend
As noted below, I now use multiple subwoofers in my system. But I lived with a cylindrical model as my singular, primary sub for a long time. In my room, the sweet spot for sub placement is in the front left corner. This location provides the most output, due to room gain—and in my case, the coverage is acceptably even. Unfortunately, there’s a fireplace hearth that infringes on that floor space, and getting a boxed sub in that particular corner is impossible without unreasonable room modifications. However, a cylinder fits perfectly, with room to spare.

The PC-4000 arrived with the shipping box looking like it had been to hell and back. I was nervous to crack it open, but the well-packed sub had survived without a hint of damage; SVS certainly knows how to package their wares for the long journey to a customer’s home. Although the sub is heavy, most of its weight is in the base, where the driver and amplifier reside, so maneuvering it into that tight corner was easy.

Compared with my vintage PC-Ultra, the PC-4000 has a fresh look. First, the top ring is finished in a piano gloss black, which is a nice touch. Also, the fabric wrapping around the tube isn’t as fuzzy as that of my reference sub, giving it a slimmer, more refined quality. The PC-4000 comes standard with SVS’s SoundPath Subwoofer Isolation System (reviewed on our website), accessory feet that I added aftermarket to my PC-Ultra. In my home, these amazing elastomer props provide a bit more punch to the sound while removing room rattle and bass bleed to the rest of the house. Another design change involves the cabinet’s base. The one on my older sub has a wood plinth approximately 2 inches below the woofer (with the feet attached to the bottom of it). The PC-4000 lacks this, so I’m curious to see how it will balance when sitting on carpet.

The technical details are extremely impressive, highlighted by the new 4000 series driver, which is a beast. Besides its 13.5-inch diameter, it weighs 49.6 pounds, and it features an eight-layer aluminum flat-wire edge-wound 3-inch voice coil, along with two stacked ferrite magnets. Powering this impressive woofer is a Sledge STA-1200D amplifier, rated at 1,200 watts RMS and providing more than 4,000 watts peak power (cue Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor’s grunts). The amp has both balanced and unbalanced inputs/outputs, a 3V-12V trigger input, and a detachable grounded power cord.

There’s an App for That
For the initial installation, there are three options for setting up the various controls. Just above the SVS logo near the base of the cylinder is an LED display, along with control buttons. If you don’t want to bend down, you can make all of the adjustments from the money seat using the IR remote (line of sight needed). Or better yet, download the SVS app from the iTunes Store or Google Play and use your phone/tablet to connect to the sub via Bluetooth. This is the most convenient of the three options, since you don’t have to learn to navigate the somewhat complicated menu tree.

In addition to controlling volume, the app lets you set the low-pass filter, phase, polarity, and room gain compensation (a much-needed feature for rooms where the lowest frequencies are exaggerated), and it even includes a parametric EQ (PEQ). PEQs are handy because they let you set the desired frequency of the filter (20 to 200 Hz), increase or decrease the SPL (dB) boost or attenuation of the filter band, and adjust the bandwidth (Q factor) to tailor the sub’s output to fit your particular room. Furthermore, there are three user presets (Movie, Music, and Custom) to save your settings for various listening scenarios. You can select these from the app at the push of a button.

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