SVS SB16 Ultra Subwoofer Review

The US-made, sealed enclosure, active subwoofer was tested in a well-designed movie room. The subwoofer has an aesthetic and contemporary design, glossy black finish, rounded edges and a square front display that is clearly visible from a distance of 15 meters, but can be dimmed or even turned off if considered too intrusive. Thanks to the closed, stable MDF housing, vibration is very minimal. Equipped with fiberglass, plastic composite cone, and a steel grille that protects the speaker, which is very practical but not an overly convenient solution.

SVS SB subwoofer

The surface of the glossy housing is quite delicate, so it must be handled with care and attention. The 55 kg, 40 cm device has a power of 1,500 watts and a peak power of up to 5,000 watts via the MOSFET circuit. Such high performance was required because the airflow inside the enclosed speakers could reduce the performance, so the design engineers had to come up with a solution to compensate for the sound issues caused by low sound pressure.

Force enclosed in a box

SVS subwoofer speaker

The Class D Sledge amplifier operates with a 50 MHz signal control processor. This is important to mention because the SB16’s primary goal is not to radiate wall-shattering basses, but to convey the broadcast sounds clearly, intelligibly and in detail. The amplifiers are made in Canada.

The frequency transmission is between 16-460 Hz. Thanks to the 4 ferrite magnets in the aluminium casting basket, the 20 cm diameter pendulum coil and the heat-resistant NOMEX, the distortion is extremely low. The size of the pendulum coil is remarkable, as 50 mm pendulum coils have been used before, but it is 200 mm large in the case of the SB16, and huge ferrit magnets are also used, which make the sound much more stable, balanced and clear. The 200 mm pendulum coil definitely requires huge magnets. Serious force is required to move the firmly, hardly suspended membrane. The SB16 Ultra subwoofer has an enclosed system (sealed enclosure type), so the air flowing in it actually resists the membrane.

SB16 remote control

The remote control is the size of a credit card. The subwoofer also has rubber feet to prevent scratching the floor. Despite the fact that the subwoofer has been given a really solid housing, it is worth considering placing a granite speaker pad under the subwoofer and the other speakers, or even on top of them, which completely reduces any resonances.

SVS sounds even the lowest, deepest ranges without distortion. The subwoofer has a wide range of settings, thanks also to the parametric EQ.

SB 16 EQ app

To have a calibration software available for the speakers as well is almost basic criterion to meet expectations of audio and hi-fi fans today. This is also true for the SVS subwoofer. You can adjust filter modes, frequency responses, volume, phase with the software. This application can also be operated via a mobile phone, but you can also make settings using the infrared remote control.

Of course, room calibration software alone will not solve the problems of an untreated room with poor acoustics, which is why it is important to perform acoustic treatment of walls, ceiling and window surfaces of the rooms where we wish to place the expensive audio products. If the sound is ideal in a room, the room calibration programs can really work effectively.

SB16 Ultra back

It was really easy to install and set up, we didn’t encounter any difficulty at all. Balanced stereo XLR, and unbalanced stereo RCA inputs and outputs, a 12 V trigger socket is located on the unit. If you want to filter the basses from the main speakers, it is also recommended to use a stereo preamplifier or a surround processor with a built-in subwoofer. The mobile application also runs on Android or iOs devices, of course the subwoofer also has a Bluetooth connection. Up to several SB16 Ultra devices can be controlled at the same time. You can also set Music and Movie modes.


We first tested the subwoofer while watching a movie. We watched the adventure film King Arthur-  Legend of the Sword, released in 2017. Combined with the Dynaudio Contour 60 speakers and the Denon AVC X8500H home theatre amplifier, the SVS subwoofer worked perfectly. While watching the movie, we experienced a very natural, clear sound. Basically we felt in the middle of the scenes we were watching thanks to the subwoofer that provided intense beautiful and balanced sound and ideal basses, moreover, an accurate, dynamic and detailed sensation through sounds.

We also tested the performance of the subwoofer for music. We listened to Metallica’s song Master of Puppets. The dynamics and accuracy as well as details proved to be absolutely perfect. For higher basses, however, we heard some minor flaws. The performance and sound could have been more perfect for the upper bass sounds.

SVS SB16 Ultra subwoofer main pic.

The SB16 Ultra subwoofer can be a good choice for any home theatre or music fan. Thanks to its respectable size and power amplifier and DSP processor, it can deliver even the lowest, deepest sounds without distortion. Distortion-free operation is also ensured by the closed MDF housing. The exterior has a really nice, glossy piano lacquer finish. However, the lacquered surface is delicate and retains fingerprints. Of course, it also has a useful and easy-to-set room optimisation program. With the help of a downloadable application, controlled via a mobile phone, we have a wide range of setting methods. The display can be read very well even from a greater distance.

The steel grille that protects the speaker is practical, but not aesthetic. We found some sound errors in the higher bass frequencies; they could be further refined and improved. On the negative side, we would mention the large, heavy size and the rather high price. Compared to its predecessor, there has been no significant changes in quality, yet the price has been well increased. While the SB16 isn’t perfect in many ways, it deserves to be taken to the podium ahead of its market competitors.


Written by Róbert Polgár

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