SVS Prime Wireless Speaker System Review Page 2

Now, here's the cool part. When you push the Prime Wireless speaker's left knob it allows easy access to any playlist, internet radio station, or song on any of the music services or your music server. There are six separate presets it cycles through, and they work just like the presets on a car radio: press and hold on the desired number to set it to whatever's playing; cycle back to play the stored preset you want. Since Play-Fi creates a direct network connection to the speakers, you don't need to boot the app to select a preset once it's stored. If six presets aren't enough, Play-Fi lets you store a separate list you can access from within the app.

Another nicety: if you have multiple Play-Fi speakers in your home, the app can distribute the music coming in from one of the Prime Wireless wired inputs to other zones. And Play-Fi is now Amazon Alexa-compatible. As long as you have a nearby mic-enabled smart speaker, such as an inexpensive Echo Dot, you can tell Alexa to play specific songs, albums, playlists, or stations in a particular zone, as well as control volume and basic transport functions.


System setup was straightforward, if a bit tedious. Fortunately, the Play-Fi app walks you through all the steps and screens, which are further extended if you add Alexa. Should you run into trouble, the online user manual is excellent, and SVS always has customer service standing by.

I warmed up with the system for a few days by placing it on my desk. Whether with low-bitrate Pandora or better-quality streams from Tidal, this nearfield install repeatedly dragged me out of my work and into utter distraction. Give the Prime Wireless system well-produced tracks, and it will impress with natural timbre mated with superb midrange and upper frequency openness and clarity. Highs were beautifully extended and utterly detailed, with no hint of brashness. Bass extension was clearly limited by the speakers' size, but it was delivered without the artificial upper-bass boost practiced by so many small speakers. It all just sounded so balanced, clean, and unforced.


And the soundstage! Even at such close range, the presentation extended beyond the speakers and was both deep and rock solid. Instruments and voices had dimensionality and were reproduced with remarkable precision from their spots within the spread; they ranged in depth from behind the speakers to sometimes well in front. Tightly-miked vocals, like Matt Duncan's in the title track from his album Beacon, leaped forward and hovered intimately just a touch behind my computer keyboard. The rhythmic bass line came through without much depth or weight, but with fine tunefulness and texture. Smacked hi-hat had natural metallic timbre and decay. And when the percussionist began whacking the clapsticks, the crisp knock hovered back right and well above the rest of the stage and was nicely etched and size-appropriate. Great stuff.

If my only yearning in the office was for deeper and more powerful bass, that hankering was amplified once I moved the system to the speaker stands in my studio. It now had a large open space to fill, and it lost the modest room gain from the wall behind my desk. These are 2-way speakers, but there's a reason SVS calls the 4.5-inch driver a midrange and not a woofer. The system is rated down to 52 Hz +/- 3 dB, and while I don't doubt that, without any obvious mid-to-upper bass contouring it sounded awfully lean in my space.

I hooked up a 10-inch subwoofer I had on hand and…wow, what a difference. Fortunately, the system retained the stunning soundstage I'd heard at my desk; it just blossomed into the bigger space and grew more lifelike. Once I added the sub, everything filled in from the midrange on down, and what was already a fairly loud system for its size gained additional dynamic authority and headroom. Acoustic and electric bass lines had their body and impact restored, bass drum kicks got their cavity and visceral weight back. One of my go-to EDM test tracks, “Like” by Cuthead, starts with what sounds like a duel between a restless kick drum and a hyper cowbell. Without the sub, you get the thumps and some transient impact from the drum, but none of that “in-your-chest” shockwave. With the sub added, the system got its mojo back.

The SVS Prime Wireless system is a purist's product. It's not a cute little standalone speaker that cleverly pretends to have more bass than it really does—not that there's anything wrong with that if you're looking for some background fill. But the Prime Wireless is for people who are serious about their music and ready to sit in the sweet spot. As long as you don't push it harder than you would any small speaker of its size, it does everything right, including near-perfect frequency balance down to its low-end limit. And as long as you don't expect it to generate more bass than you would any small speaker of its size, it won't disappoint.

But... and it's a big but...if you mate the Prime Wireless with a decent subwoofer from SVS— the company's $499 SB-1000, for instance—or another manufacturer, you'll end up with a full-range hi-fi with modern digital convenience and surprisingly good audiophile sound quality. All for a very affordable price. Oh yeah, did I mention the 45-day risk-free trial?


drny's picture

I use SVS Prime Elevation speakers in my system for Atmos height channels (with cathedral ceiling as mine are, they are a great option).
These Prime Prime Wireless would be fantastic, if they were sealed outdoor speakers, for a second zone patio speakers mounted on exterior wall.
As they are currently being marketed, they are probably too expensive for non A/V enthusiast. For A/V enthusiasts they are a decent wireless option for surround speakers.

Great to read Rob's review.
In my humble opinion, as a 40 year reader of Stereo Review / Sound and Vision, Rob was the best Editor (Al is doing a fine job in this new A/V market).
I look forward to future reviews and articles from Mr. Sabin.
Until your next contribution Rob, I'll catch you at PC.

strongstein's picture

Set next to Rob at the HDTV SHOOTOUT at Value Electronics this September and was very impressed with his knowledge and professionalism – learned a lot over those 8 hours as he shared his expertise. It was a fascinating experience!