Perhaps the most banal thing I could do in the introduction to a review of SVS's new PB-4000 subwoofer would be to turn it into a car analogy. You'll forgive me, then, for doing exactly that. This past summer, my dad handed me an exciting but difficult task: find the perfect seventh-generation Corvette for us to take on road trips together, as well as to car shows and cruise-ins at the local diner. He had only two requirements: it must be a convertible, and it must come equipped with the swanky 3LT interior package. The rest was up to me.
It's not as easy a decision as you might suspect, if you're not a Corvette junky. We now have three (soon four!) base models to pick from, not to mention tons of suspension, exhaust, and extras packages bearing different badges--all of which combine to create significantly different cars designed for very different drivers. In the end, we picked up a Stingray (geared more toward our desired purposes than the other, racier models), but that's really completely beside the point. The point is that the wealth of choices facing consumers these days can be staggering. It's a good thing, of course. Whatever you want, there's probably a version of it tailored specifically for your unique needs and desires ... but choosing between them isn't easy.
Take SVS's current subwoofer lineup. The comparison with the current Corvette lineup is eerily apt. The 1000 Series? They're kind of your standard Stingray. Gobsmacking performance at a pretty amazing price. Probably more than enough subwoofer for large swaths of the general population. The 2000 Series is more like a Stingray with the full Z51 performance package--a bit of a step up if you need more room to breathe. The Plus Series? That's your Grand Sport: a more serious performance machine that still manages to be practical for everyday use by your average enthusiast. The 16-Ultra Series gets way into ZR1 territory: a take-no-prisoners King of the Hill that's honestly just too much of a machine for most people, unless you have the dedicated space to really open it up.
That positions the new 4000 Series as the Z06 of the lineup--a step up from the Plus Series and something of a taming of the 16-Ultra Series for practical purposes. Really, the three new subs in the 4000 Series represent the ultimate in performance, scaled back just enough to make them practical for a larger number of people.
But enough with the automotive comparisons. Let's talk real specs for a minute. The PB-4000, the ported offering in the new 4000 Series lineup, is a replacement for the outgoing PB13-Ultra, and it measures in at a hefty 152 pounds and change, the bulk of which comes from its 49.6-pound, 13.5-inch driver and 44.3-pound motor, with its eight-layer, three-inch edge-wound flat wire aluminum voice coil. Much of the rest of that weight comes from its Sledge STA-1200D amplifier, which is rated (almost certainly in typically conservative SVS fashion) at 1,200 watts RMS and greater than 4,000 watts peak power. The amp also houses the sub's balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) line-level inputs and outputs, as well as a 3v-12v trigger input.
At 23.4 inches tall, 20.5 wide, and 27.7 deep, the PB-4000 may not seem significantly smaller than its bigger PB16-Ultra sibling, but that space saving is enough to be the difference between cabinets that fit into my system and cabinets that don't. It also weighs a good 20 pounds less than its top-of-the-line counterpart.
I'm making comparisons with the PB16-Ultra specifically, and not the outgoing PB13-Ultra, because the PB-4000 borrows all of its new technology from the PB16. Yet, at $1,899.99 (when finished in the standard black ash), it costs a hundred dollars less than the PB13-Ultra did (the piano black gloss finish will cost you $100 more). Better and beefier technology at a cheaper price? On paper, there's certainly a lot here with which to be smitten.
Before we dig too deeply into the PB-4000's connectivity and setup, let's talk about my main listening room for a moment--because, all other things being equal, choosing between high-performance subs is mostly a factor of environment and desired impact.
My media room as a whole (shown below) is a little over 17 feet deep by nearly 19 feet wide, with my listening space limited to about 13 feet of that width. The left wall is a half wall leading into the kitchen. I sit about 6'7" from my display, which puts me pretty close to the middle of the room. There are two spots along the front wall in which I can place subwoofers (marked by the Xs below)--one of which results in a null at my seat centered around 45 Hz, the other of which leads to a less egregious null a little above 80 Hz. As such, multiple subs are a must for me to achieve even bass response across my entire sofa. (For what it's worth, what you don't see in this rendering are numerous organic acoustic treatments comprised mostly of strategically placed bookshelves, movie shelves, and draperies. The fireplace is also closed.)
SVS was kind enough to loan me two PB-4000 subwoofers for the course of this review, but I did start by calibrating and running one by itself, merely to test its output. It proved plenty sufficient, so I plugged in the second sub and recalibrated my Emotiva XMC-1 via Dirac, with the subs set to dual mono and with filters applied independently to each. The bulk of the correction applied was to the nulls mentioned above. Aside from that, the subs left very little for Dirac to do.
Joining the pair of PB-4000s were my GoldenEar Triton One towers, SuperCenter XXL, and Triton Seven surrounds. Despite the bass capability of my main speaker system, I set the crossover point at 80 Hz for everything but the center, which I crossed over at 100 Hz (to avoid some slight resonances in my credenza).
As for specific setup functionality of this sub, of course it supports SVS's excellent mobile app, which gives you access to all manner of features that are otherwise impossible or simply nowhere near as easy to tinker with via the front-panel controls or the included remote: setting up trigger control or signal sensing, for example, as well as things like dimming the blue LED displays on front of the sub. The app also gives you access to a room gain compensation tool, as well as three bands of parametric EQ, although you'll have to do your own measurements if you want to tweak those. Other settings controllable via the app include volume, polarity, high-pass, and port tuning. The app communicates with the sub via Bluetooth and pairs in seconds.
I ran the left PB-4000 in standard mode (all ports open) and the right in extended mode (one port sealed) for all of my testing, with the exception of the CEA-2010 measurements detailed below.
One other thing worth mentioning about the sub is its design. Given the size of the cabinet, I assumed that my wife would walk into the room, take one look at these beasts, and immediately murder me right in my neck. Instead, she simply paused and looked for a moment, then asked, "Are you buying these?" When I reported that they weren't in the budget at the moment, she paused and said, "That's a shame. They're gorgeous." And indeed they are--mostly as a result of the curved and perforated floating grilles, but also due to little design elements like the Apple-esque sculpted recess that houses the controls, as well as the tight curvature of the top and bottom corners of the cabinet. It's all a lovely melding of strength and grace that you'll certainly be familiar with if you know the 16-Ultra Series. If not, try to see these subs in person instead of judging them by photos alone. The photos don't do them justice, in my experience.
Click over to Page Two for Performance, Measurements, The Downside, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion...