MOVIE PERFORMANCE To check out cinema playback, I turned to the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, The Curse of the Black Pearl. This rollicking movie is fun for the whole family, and the sound designers didn't miss a trick. The first appearance of pirate Jack Sparrow's ship is accompanied by pure mayhem, including swords and knives that make squishy sounds as they enter and leave human flesh. (Did I mention this is a family film?) While the effects swirl about, the orchestral score energetically pumps up the action, and there's even a bit of dialogue.
It takes a competent speaker system to handle this and a truly good one to do it justice. I was impressed with the SVS SBS-01system. The front satellites were commanding throughout, remaining punchy without sounding strained, even at loud levels. Later, on board with the skeleton pirates, the percussive orchestral score and sound effects punctuate the action, and the sats complied with taut response. The center speaker was alert to its dialogue duty, anchoring the voices to the images, but with good dispersion and intelligibility. The SBS-01 satellites functioning as surrounds lacked the ambient spread of dipoles, but their wide dispersion created a truly surrounding sound field unmarred by any obvious squirting of sound from specific localized points. In that opening scene with the ship, I was truly immersed in the middle of the raid, with cannonball and other effects whizzing through my room.
Not surprisingly, the subwoofer was as impressive on movies as it was with music. Cannon fire and explosions were explosive. Wimpy subs go splat when confronted with this much impulse energy, but the PB12-NSD really banged it out, enunciating each effect with deep clarity. This is a serious subwoofer.
BOTTOM LINE Though unassuming, the SVS SBS-01 home theater speaker system offers great sonic performance for the money. The sats deliver smooth, unfatiguing sound that will warm you on the coldest nights. And if you can find a back strong enough to lift it, the sub will hammer out all the bass you'll need. If you're after a system that takes a commanding position between low-cost and silly-expensive, the SBS-01 hits a sweet spot.
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