SVS Prime Wireless Pro SoundBase Review


Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Power to push most speakers with clarity at all sound levels.
Wi-Fi connection supports up to 192kHz/24- bit high-resolution audio.
Plays from a wide variety of streaming and physical music sources.
Clean design with easy-to-read front display.

Minus
The DTS Play-Fi app is clunky, buggy, and hard to use.
There is no equalizer to make sound adjustments.

THE VERDICT
With the Prime Wireless Pro SoundBase, streaming music has become a sit-down-and-listen experience rather than just background music. It has excellent sound quality for a reasonable price. It’s a great addition to include quality stereo music streaming, even if you already have a sound system.

For anyone who has been waiting for streaming music to be a high-quality sit-and-listen experience, the SVS Prime Wireless Pro SoundBase streaming integrated amp fits the bill. It’s the second-generation S VS wireless smart integrated amplifier.

Not only can it play just about any high-resolution audio file you send to it, but this 300-watt class D amplifier powers your speakers easily for outstanding sound. Connect it to standard speakers, and it becomes a DTS Play-Fi zone with reference sound (i.e. uncompressed) quality that can stream from numerous music services like Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz, Amazon Music, and others.

But this SVS does more than stream via Play-Fi. The Pro SoundBase can stream directly via WiFi. It can play audio using Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast. Moreover, the WiFi Critical Listening mode doesn’t have the same bandwidth limitations and can handle up to 24 bit/192 kHz for the highest resolution audio.

The Pro SoundBase also has several ports to connect to other hardware sources, instantly transforming them into Play-Fi streaming devices, and it does all of this for under $700.

Features
The Prime Wireless Pro SoundBase is a small unit that can fit into the corner of a shelf. It has modern clean lines, so it won’t stand out on top of your media center. Plug it into any wired speakers, download DTS Play-Fi, and it’s as simple to get started as signing into your favorite music services.

It's easy to see what you are playing on the OLED display that shows the current song and music source. It’s large enough read from across the room. Connect to the Prime Wireless Pro SoundBase in just about any way available:

• Using Bluetooth with AAC and aptX that can handle FLAC files.
• Using line level input, optical, or HDMI ARC.
• Playing high-resolution music directly from services direct play via WiFi in Critical Listening Mode for the highest quality sound available.

  With it the integrated amp's Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) can perform at the level of much higher priced standalone DACs, decoding at a rate up to 192KHz/24-bit for lossless bit-for-bit sound quality.

The Pro SoundBase can be controlled by AirPlay on iPhone, iPad, Spotify Connect, Google Chromecast, apps on a connected TV, using the Play-Fi app on devices or a desktop, the Pro SoundBase remote control, Alexa, Google, or Siri voice control, or via the buttons located on the front of the unit.

Despite all of the choices of music services and control options, SVS made it easy to play your favorite music. Add your selected songs from Amazon Music, Tidal, or others to create a unified Play-Fi playlist. Six preset buttons can be programmed so you can switch to music that suits your mood. Beyond the preset buttons, you can create unlimited Play-Fi scenes with a simple tap when playing albums, playlists, artists or tracks.

Unboxing and First Impressions
The Prime Wireless Pro SoundBase easily fits in a corner of my media center. It arrived with SVS Prime Bookshelf speakers that dwarfed the Pro SoundBase and two SoundPath Ultra Speaker Cables. It was physically ready in just minutes.

After plugging into power, buttons on the back started the process of connecting to WiFi and pair ing to Bluetooth. There’s no power button on the SoundBase. During setup, I had to reset the Pro SoundBase so the Play-Fi app on my iPhone would discover the unit. This required restarting my phone, unplugging the SoundBase, and then pressing the buttons again to reconnect and re-pair. It appeared in Play-Fi after the reset.

There is no SVS app for the SoundBase. The only menus to control the Pro SoundBase are those that control the lights on the display. All playback and preferences are done through the Play-Fi app. Perhaps it’s less confusing as there is no equalizer or other controls. While I didn’t need to micro-manage and tweak the sound, I was disappointed to have no control over the levels. The next step was to choose which music sources I wanted to display by toggling on those I use and then signing into each one. Spotify appears on the music source page but uses Spotify Connect, which takes you out of the Play-Fi app and launches Spotify on the phone.

Adding the Pro SoundBase in the Alexa app was easy and enabled the Play-Fi skill. I changed the device’s name as its original name was several numbers and a mouthful, and I wanted something that would be easy to say to Alexa. I changed the name to Pro SoundBase in both the Play-Fi and Alexa apps. It wouldn’t control the unit. When I created a Play-Fi speaker zone called “Living Room,” Alexa worked (in a DTS Play-Fi system, you can create different zones in your home, each playing music from different sources or servers). I could start and stop playing, switch to a different source, and play specific songs. There is a list of Alexa commands in the Pro SoundBase manual.

On the other hand, Google quickly added and controlled the SoundBase, but it only works with Google Chromecast music partners, and it has limitations to its sound quality.

The OLED display is a nice feature and easy to read with bright and big bold letters. The six little preset buttons are unobtrusive, but the SVS logo’s blue light could be distracting in a dark room. Still, it’s simple to change the lights or display by pressing the big left button until you like the brightness level, including turning off all lights.

Performance
There are two aspects to consider when evaluating Prime Wireless Pro SoundBase’s performance. There is the capability of the hardware which is responsible for the quality of the sound. And there’s the streaming experience, namely the DTS Play-Fi app.

The hardware is where the Prime Wireless Pro SoundBase shines. Getting this kind of power and high-resolution sound from such a small, value-packed amp is remarkable. First, I wired it to the SVS Prime series full-range bookshelf speaker. SVS sent along its Soundpath Ultra Speaker Cable, providing a clear, interference-free, secure connection. Later, I connected it to a pair of Definitive Tower floor-standing speakers and subwoofer and finally tested it by plugging in Sennheiser IE900 wired in-ear monitors.

The amp’s power was immediately noticeable simply because of its ability to drive the speakers. It excelled at playing dialogue via the HDMI ARC connection to my TCL TV. To hear dialog clearly on my 5-year-old Onkyo receiver (about 50 Watts per channel), I would have to crank up the volume to 57%. The Pro SoundBase consistently reproduced clear dialog at a 25 to 30% setting.

Turning up the music to half volume, I could hear the lyrics and tunes not only downstairs in my (albeit small) house, but upstairs as well. That never happened before.

Another small but happy surprise was when I was listening to Netflix movies with Spatial Audio. During Murder Mystery 2, there was a commotion, and I was taken aback that the audio filled the room and that the sound appeared to be coming from beside me. An SVS customer support person confirmed that they had the same experience.

But this Pro SoundBase is really about the music. There was a slight difference when listening to songs from the Play-Fi app in FLAC format at 16 bit / 44.1 and playing directly to the SoundBase, where the DAC can handle up to true ultra high-resolution formats of 192khz/24 bits. (Although there is no indication of the sound resolution once the music plays directly on the SoundBase.) Transferring to the Pro SoundBase was as easy as tapping an icon. It only took a few seconds for the music to switch.

Most of the music tested was played directly to the Pro SoundBase using Critical Listening mode for the best quality. On Tidal, John Klemmer’s smooth jazz saxophone solos in Hush were open and precise, allowing all instruments to appear as they were in the studio.

Clapping hands in Rosalia’s Malamente were so clear I could hear the snapping of palm flesh against each other. But the highs weren’t as clear. Tambourines were a little shushy and muddied together. This may have been due to the speakers, so I connected to my older Definitive towers, which gave more of a clear tambourine sound. Plugging in my IE 900 Sennheiser in-ear monitors, the tambourines became crystal clear with the vibration of each little cymbal clashing.

Joni Mitchell’s music takes on another dimension when played in high resolution, and the Pro SoundBase did not disappoint with either set of speakers. Both Sides Now, playing on Amazon Music Unlimited, was emotional as I could hear every sigh, poignant emphasis, and pause as Joni’s voice reached into my chest and made me want to cry. The midtones were so powerful that I had to remind myself this was streaming.

Yes! Roundabout came alive with plucking guitar strings, resonance, richness, emotional voices, and clarity.

In my listening tests, the amplifier impressively showcased its fidelity, especially noticeable when playing bass-heavy Hip Hop tracks. Initially, I perceived what seemed like distortion in the lows, but further investigation revealed this was an intentional aspect of the recordings, not a flaw in the equipment.

To further validate this, I connected a Definitive subwoofer with crossover and volume controls, carefully adjusting the settings. This only confirmed the amplifier’s capability to accurately reproduce the textured and nuanced bass. A striking example was Bad Bunny’s “Monaco” where the amplifier faithfully delivered the track’s pumped-up bass, revealing the deliberate distortion embedded in the recording.

The six-button presets were a welcome feature with so many music sources available. Each preset can be programmed by pressing a button on the unit or the remote until the display indicates the button has been set. It can be programmed for an artist, a Pandora radio station, an album, your playlist, or random tracks in a music library. It’s just as easy to reprogram the buttons. It was easy and fast to go from jazz to lively, cleaning music to sit-down-and-listen songs.

If you want more than six presets, the Play-Fi app allows you to create Scenes. While playing a song, press the icon with the finger on a box and name the scene. Each scene can be set to play at a specific volume, automatically play in Critical Listening mode, and more.

As good as the sound quality was, the streaming experience did not keep up. There is no proprietary app from SVS to help the situation. It is a DTS Play-Fi device and uses the Play-Fi app that’s poorly designed and buggy. I would choose to play an album on Tidal and then want to get to a different track, but I couldn’t find the list of songs in a playlist or on an album. Amazon Music required several clicks to navigate and often would timeout and spin the loading icon.

Trying to switch between sources with the Play-FI app didn’t always work. I press the note in the upper-left corner. It would bring up the sources, and I would pick another source, but the Pro SoundBase wouldn’t change. I had a Scene to play Daft Punk in direct play; tapping the direct play didn’t return the playback to Play-Fi control. I’d have to switch to another service and then go back to the album to continue playing.

The way around these issues was to play music through the TV. Tidal, Spotify, Amazon Music, and more music apps are available on many TVs. I chose to play from my Apple TV 4K, which is connected to my TV. There was a slight degradation of the sound quality that took some of the breathiness out of Joni Mitchell’s vocals, but the convenience made up for it. Playing from the TV had the added benefit of viewing playlists, more straightforward navigation, more responsive playback, and the ability to view lyrics on the TV screen when available. 

Conclusion
Before the Prime Wireless Pro SoundBase, streaming was usually reserved for background music. It provides audiophile-quality music with the convenience of streaming from all your music apps. It’s a powerful amp that creates separation, clear dialog, and an experience that makes you want to sit and listen.

If the DTS Play-Fi app becomes too annoying, consider giving up a little sound quality by playing through an app on the TV or other streaming device like an Apple TV 4K. Or be sure to create Scenes or program presets for any music you regularly like to play. If you have more patience, you can create a Play-Fi playlist or play through the music apps.

It’s a great little unit; you can use it with your existing speakers, and you’ll get sound quality far beyond its $700 price tag.


Specs

DIMENSIONS: 3.23" (H) X 9.10" (W) X 8.81" (D)
Amplifier Specs: 300 watts RMS (150 watts x 2 into 4ohm) Class-D Power Amp; Rated Bandwidth: 10Hz-20kHz (±1 dB)

WIRELESS STREAMING OPTIONS: DTS Play-Fi: Lossless 192kHz/24-bit via Critical Listening Mode over WiFi; Apple Airplay 2 for iPhones and iOS devices; Chromecast for Android Phones and Devices: CD Quality; Bluetooth 5.0 with AAC and aptX; Spotify Connect

INPUT SPECS: HDMI audio input. Supports ARC and eARC; Left/Right RCA Input: Input Impedance: 20K; 3.5mm Aux Input: Input Impedance: 20K; Toslink Optical Input: S/PDIF receiver -sampling frequencies up to 96kHz; Bluetooth 5.0 with AAC and aptX; 6 front panel presets for one-touch access to music services and playlists; Ethernet; USB service port also for powering wireless accessories (See SoundPath Wireless Audio Adapter); 3.5mm IR control input

OUTPUT SPECS: Subwoofer Output: 2V MAX; Left/Right RCA Output: 2V MAX; Front 3.5mm headphone output: 1V@32Ωmax; Ethernet

COMMENTS
xelasal955's picture

This is a great choice for www.delawaredrywallers.com for enhancing stereo music streaming, especially at the reasonable price of $699.

marky's picture
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