Surround Sound Speaker Systems

SVS STS-01 Floor-standing Speakers, PB10-NSD Subwoofer, and AS-EQ1 Subwoofer Equalizer

ARTICLE INDEX

In Use

I tested the speakers, subwoofer, and EQ box using CDs from my media server, Marantz SA-7S1 SACD player, BAT VK-5i preamplifier, and BAT VK-75SE power amplifier. Cables were Nordost and Legenburg.

The first thing I had to do was set up the EQ on the subs. I placed them several feet apart, turned the volume control half way up, connected them to the AS-EQ1, connected the AS-EQ1 to a USB port on my laptop, and booted the program. The sub's crossover was disabled, and the phase was set to 0.

Shown below is a series of screen shots, as I went through the process of analyzing and correcting the room response for the subs. As you can see, it steps you through the process very easily. When I got to the message about the EQ box not sensing that I had a satellite speaker connected, it offered me the choice of just proceeding ahead without it. There was no consequence to this, other than having to manually turn the subwoofer volume a bit after I was finished. This did not affect the EQ, only the final loudness in relation to my two main speakers. I like bass a lot, and would have probably done this even if I had balanced the subs against one of the speakers during the EQ setup, and I usually turn the bass up a bit.

As suggested during the software run, I placed the included microphone in three different positions for separate measurements. In this case, I have two chairs by my picture window where my wife and I sit in the evening and listen to music while reading. So, the microphone placements spanned about three feet laterally.

This last screen (below) shows the before and after EQ curve for my setup. As you will see in the bench test section, the curves shown in the results screen really do match what I got with a calibrated microphone and response analysis software.

The last step saves the settings in the AS-EQ1, and you can disconnect the USB cable, turn off your laptop, and connect the AS-EQ1 to your receiver's sub pre-out. In my case, since I was not using a receiver with bass management, I set the PB10-NSD's low-pass crossover to 50 Hz.

I listened to many CDs in my collection that I store on my music server downstairs. It sends the digital bitstream to a Squeezebox Duet music streamer which is connected via Toslink optical cable to a Cambridge Audio DacMagic upstairs to the listening area. The DacMagic's XLR balanced outputs go to the BAT VK-5i preamplifier. I also listened to some SACDs with the recently reviewed Marantz SA-7S1 SACD player.

Both Susan (my wife) and I were extremely impressed with the sound of these very, very affordable speakers. However, I was not surprised. This has become the norm for SVS. Now, you can get floor-standers from many companies in this price range. The price is not unique. It is the sound that you get from these speakers at that price that is unique. I think it is a simple business strategy, which is to put most of the money into the drivers, and not so much into the enclosure. No rosewood veneer here. Just great sound.

Comparing the STS-01's to the MTS-01's, it appeared that the STS-01's had a little more brightness, and the bass (without the subs) was a bit more forward. Putting the subs into the package, and adjusting the volume control on both subs, yielded a full range sound that was very natural, without too much sibilance. There was no boominess, nasality, nor was there any midrange congestion (due to having so many mid-drivers).

I preferred the MTS-01's sound, because it was flatter, but the brightness of the STS-01's was by no means objectionable. Strings, brass, and the human voice all came through in a delightful manner. I have to say here also, that the speakers could easily be made to have a flat response by using the Auto EQ functions that are in most new receivers these days. So, slight variations in frequency response have become almost irrelevant. Distortion is a different issue, and we will look at that in the On the Bench section.

Dialing in the volume with the PB10-NSD subwoofers added the low registers when I played pipe organ music. It is really quite amazing to get such deep bass from a relatively small driver as subwoofers go. The sub produced very clean sound, without noticeable distortion. I was able to get 103 dB maximum SPL (before the built-in limiter kicked in) using a combination test tone consisting of 20 Hz, 31.5 Hz, and 50 Hz sine waves.