SVS Ultra Bookshelf Speakers Reviewed

By |

SVS Ultra Bookshelf Speakers Reviewed

Page 1 Page 2

SVS-Ultra-bookshelf-review-two-shot-small.jpgSVS is an American audio company known mainly for its subwoofers, one of which I recently had the pleasure of reviewing. What is not mentioned in my review is the fact that I was so enamored with the sub's performance that I ended up buying it. As you'll soon find out, I had a similar experience with SVS's Ultra Bookshelf speaker.

Additional Resources
� Read more bookshelf speaker reviews from's writers.
� See pairing options in our Subwoofer Review section.
� Explore more reviews in our Amplifier Review section.

These speakers are actually part of a full line of SVS speakers, which includes the Ultra Towers, the Ultra Center and the Ultra Surrounds. The Ultra Bookshelf retails for $499 each; while my review sample featured a compelling high-gloss piano black finish, it's also available in a black oak veneer (real wood). It's a two-way monitor comprised of a one-inch aluminum dome tweeter with an FEA-optimized diffuser, which according to the SVS site is said to provide an "airy and unveiled presentation." FEA is a method of computer-modeling the design in order to produce a very specific type of performance. The key is that this happens prior to manufacturing. (That's an oversimplified explanation; you can certainly Google it if you want to learn more.) The woofer is a 6.5-inch composite glass-fiber cone and considering its performance, it was obviously a focal point for the SVS engineers. Frequency response is 45 Hz to 32 kHz; nominal impedance is eight ohms and sensitivity is rated at 87 dB. The Ultra Bookshelf measures 14.9 inches high by 8.5 inches wide by 10 inches deep, and each speaker weighs a stout 19 pounds.

The Hookup
The first thing I noticed, beyond the Ultra Bookshelf's exemplary finish, was the angular, wedge-shaped design of the cabinet. Beyond being aesthetically pleasing, the shape provides more accurate sound across the frequency spectrum. I began the hookup by stand-mounting each of the Ultras in place of my Epos ELS 3s. While the speakers come with jumpers attached for bi-wiring or bi-amping, I went the conventional route in hooking them up to my modest two-channel listening rig, which consists of an NAD C325BEE, an Oppo DV-980H and a MusicStreamer II DAC. For streaming from my music library, I used a MacBook Pro. As you make your way through this review, keep in mind that I paid $400 for the NAD, $170 for the Oppo and $150 for the DAC. Some of you might be asking if this gear is up to the task of reviewing a pair of bookshelf speakers that retail for about $1,000, and the answer is, unequivocally, yes. This is a compliment to the Ultras, as they're not the least bit power-hungry and played plenty loud with the rated 50 watts per channel that the NAD puts out. My USB cable came courtesy of WireWorld, and the analog interconnects for the DAC and OPPO were SVS's SoundPath cabling. For playback software, I used a combination of Amarra (for Apple Lossless files) and Decibel (for hi-res files). After about 14 hours of break-in time and some positioning experimentation, it was time to start the listening party.

To begin, I did a bit of A/B testing between my Epos ELS 3s and the Ultras. I noted that the Ultras exhibited much stronger bass and a marked advantage in terms of balance. While the Epos speakers were a bit thin in the lower frequencies and a bit etched in the upper, the Ultras were the polar opposite. Sure, one can argue that there's a significant difference in price point ($400 vs. $998), but the Epos speakers are highly regarded in their own right, winning Absolute Sound's Budget Component of the Year way back in 2003.

Read more about the performance of the SVS Ultra bookshelf speakers on Page 2.

  • Comment on this article

Post a Comment
comments powered by Disqus

HTR Product Rating for SVS Ultra Bookshelf Speakers

Criteria Rating







Disagree with our product rating? Email us and tell us why you think this product should receive a higher rating.

Latest Bookshelf Speaker Reviews

Jan 06
MartinLogan Motion 20i, 15i, and 30i Speakers Reviewed MartinLogan is best known for its high-performance hybrid-electrostatic speakers, but those large panels generally command a premium price tag, to...
MartinLogan Motion 20i, 15i, and 30i Speakers Reviewed

Dec 09
Home Theater Review's Best of 2019 Awards As 2019 comes to a close, we at look back at all the products we reviewed this year and pick the best of the bunch, from affordable favorites to flagship products that make us drool.
Home Theater Review's Best of 2019 Awards

Nov 13
Polk Audio S10 Satellite Speakers Reviewed Every audio junkie might need a pair of speakers like the Polk S10s. Small, dynamic, smooth, sleek, easy to power,...
Polk Audio S10 Satellite Speakers Reviewed

Oct 07
Polk Audio Legend Series L100 Bookshelf Speaker Reviewed On the surface, Polk Audio's little L100 bookshelf may seem like the least interesting offering in the company's new Legend...
Polk Audio Legend Series L100 Bookshelf Speaker Reviewed

Sep 18
Orb Audio Booster1 Micro Soundbar/Stereo Speaker System Reviewed Is it just me, or are TV and movie sound engineers actually getting worse at making dialogue easily discernable in...
Orb Audio Booster1 Micro Soundbar/Stereo Speaker System Reviewed