SVS, the highly acclaimed online consumer direct retailer best known for its subwoofers, has introduced a new tower speaker that in some ways blurs the lines between its existing loudspeaker lines. The Prime Pinnacle tower, as its name implies, is now the top dog within the SVS Prime speaker line. In some ways, though, Prime Pinnacle sits outside of that series, in a sort of in-between position between Prime and Ultra, both from a price and performance perspective.
Priced individually at $899 high gloss black ($799 if you're good with black Ash veneer), Prime Pinnacle comes in at just $100 less per speaker ($200 per pair) than the high gloss Ultra tower. As such, one can't help but wonder: if you can afford $1,800 for a pair of speakers, why not just push it up a notch and spend $2,000 for a pair that's obviously positioned as a step-up product?
The answer is obvious once you compare the two products: The Prime Pinnacle's smaller footprint and lack of side-firing bass drivers makes it a speaker with fewer placement constraints. SVS makes it clear that in a perfect world, the Ultra tower is the better sounding speaker. However, the owner's manual for the Ultra tower dedicates much more ink to careful placement, especially with respect to the space from the rear and side walls required to achieve that higher performance. We know that not all of our readers have perfect rooms, and as such the Prime Pinnacle may give you similar or better performance than the SVS Ultra due to its somewhat more traditional overall design.
Traditional though it may be, the Prime Pinnacle still builds on years of R&D and speaker design on the part of SVS. Located above the one-inch aluminum dome tweeter, housed in a sealed enclosure, is an all-new 5.25-inch midrange driver that was developed specifically for this speaker. It uses a glass and fiber cone material in conjunction with a cast ABS fiberglass basket and vented voice coil. An aluminum shorting ring helps improve frequency response while reducing gap inductance and distortion.
The tweeter used here comes over from the Prime Tower but integrated in a custom way precisely for the Prime Pinnacle tower. A diffuser, created using Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to simulate and then optimize its performance, creates a broad dispersion pattern to achieve a wide and realistic soundstage for all listeners regardless of their seated position.
Using three bass drivers in one enclosure is an SVS first. However, SVS took it further by implementing separate ported sub-enclosures for each. While this 6.25-inch polypropylene transducer is similar to the one used in the company's existing Prime Tower, it is tuned differently with a distinctive crossover unique to the Prime Pinnacle application. These bass drivers possess a long stroke motor and suspension design along with similar technologies of the midrange driver mentioned earlier.
In part due to its numerous sub-enclosures, the Pinnacle's cabinet is substantially reinforced and inert, while the three ports are voiced to bring the speaker's frequency response to an impressive 29Hz to 25kHz (±3dB).
As I noted earlier, the size of the Prime Pinnacle is quite manageable. At approximately 41 inches tall, and a svelte 8-inch width, with a 14-inch depth, the towers strike a sexy balance that is not so small that it appears insignificant, yet not so large as to be intrusive or obnoxious. At 66 pounds, the tower can easily be positioned and adjusted as needed.
As mentioned above, the finish options include black ash veneer or high gloss black. My review sample was the former and exhibited flawless fit and finish at its price point. Acoustically transparent fabric grills attach mechanically, providing the finishing touch.
The Hook Up
My cozy dedicated home theater room, at 14.5 feet wide and 13.5 deep, also works well as a two-channel audio room and provides the perfect listening space to challenge the SVS close-quarter speaker placement claims.
For the duration of this review, I drove the speakers using a Halcro MC70 seven-channel amplifier rated at 200 watts per channel. Having those extra channels of amplification also allowed me to add a center speaker and surrounds to the mix (Webern on-wall monitors from Vienna Acoustics' Schönberg speaker line) to test the Pinnacles in a home theater application.
An Oppo BDP-105D served as my primary source, and I used NAD's M17 Version 2 Surround Sound Processor as the brain of the system. All components, as well as the SVS towers, were connected using Wireworld balanced cables and speaker wire. I positioned the Prime Pinnacles a few inches off the rear wall and slightly toed them in toward the center of the room after a bit of experimentation.
Click over to Page Two for Performance, The Downside, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion...