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SVS Ultra Tower Are Big Speakers

2/6/2014 9:34:42 AM
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The SVS Ultra Towers are big speakers. At 1.14m tall, our piano-black review pair dwarfs the majority of the competition at this price. They’re deep too, due to their unique slanted trapezium shape. Want understatement? Move on.

Of course, one of the benefits of that big cabinet is that it allows for big drivers – and plenty of them. Each of the 3.5-way Ultra Towers has a 25mm aluminum dome tweeter, dual 16.5cm glass-fiber mid-range drivers and dual horizontally opposed 20cm woofers, mounted in this way to help reduce distortion.

The SVS Ultra Towers

The SVS Ultra Towers

There’s a rear-firing port at the back too, which, combined with the side-firing woofers, means giving the Ultra Towers really need space. Put them too close to a back wall and they’ll sound overly bassy; too close to a side wall and they can sound closed-in.

They sound as big as they look

The bigger-is-better theme doesn’t stop at design. If you’re looking for speakers to impress in scale, volume and bass weight, you’ll get that by the shed-load.

Going loud enough to seriously bother your neighbors, these speakers excel in deep, tight, impactful bass which, for all its heft, is still agile and responsive.

But they aren’t without fault. The Ultra Towers can bring a feeling of heaviness when it’s not really wanted, and lack the ability to handle more delicate tracks quite as well as their more articulate counterparts.

Great scale and bass weight

Great scale and bass weight

And the weighty bass only emphasizes the Ultra Towers’ rather unrefined treble, as a run-through of Eminem’s treble-heavy Berzerk shows. There’s a harsh edge and lack of detail to the treble that can sound rather unpleasant at certain frequencies and, while it improved during testing, this was still noticeable after several days of solid playback.

So, be careful with system-matching – and feed these speakers the best quality tracks you can. They aren’t very forgiving with poor recordings.

Not the last word in finesse

Subtlety and dynamics are a little awkward too. Listening to Harvey Two-Face from the Dark Knight soundtrack, we don’t get the sense of build-up to a crescendo we do with something like the Spendor A6Rs. It’s almost as if the SVSes are scared to go quiet, so you don’t hear that dynamic shift as strongly; they start off loud, only to go louder still.

However, the scale these speakers offer is undeniable, and they ensure a spacious, open sound with good stereo imaging – each instrument is placed well in the mix. Individual notes can lack the same sense of insight and texture though, and the start and stop of notes can be missed, once again showing up the Ultra Towers’ lack of subtlety and precision compared with competitors.

And despite the surprisingly agile bass, the Ultra Towers still lack bite. Vocals are clear, articulate and well-balanced, but lacking a little pep. This leaves tracks feeling rather emotionless, as if the artist was just doing a guide track rather than the final recording.

And despite the surprisingly agile bass, the Ultra Towers still lack bite.

And despite the surprisingly agile bass, the Ultra Towers still lack bite.

These speakers are a tale of two halves. What they do well is instantly impressive, but take a little longer with them and the story begins to unravel. You get a lot of speaker for your money, but there are more rounded, better executed speakers out there at this price.

Rating

For: Great scale; superb bass; powerful; good stereo imaging; clear, articulate midrange.

Against: Unrefined treble; lack dynamic punch; unsubtle; need a big room to shine.

Verdict: Great scale and bass weight, but there are too many gripes here at this price.

Specifications

·         Sensitivity: 88dB

·         Impedance: 8 ohms

·         Amplified power: 20 – 300W

·         Dimensions: 45” x 13.8” x 16.25”

·         Weight: 65 pounds

 

 
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