SVS did a fantastic job of making the PC-13 Ultra subwoofer as simple as possible for the user. It’s factory-preset for use with the subwoofer output of a surround processor or A/V receiver, so if you’re using it in a home theater system, you don’t have to do anything more than set the volume. When you want to get more ambitious, the way-above-average manual talks you through all the adjustments in not-too-technical language.
Choosing among the porting/tuning options was easier than I expected. I simply went back and forth between two of my favorite bass test tracks — “Train Song” from Holly Cole’s Temptation and the title track to Steely Dan’s Aja — and tried the three options. The all-ports-open (20 Hz) mode sounded a little less defined than I prefer, and the sealed mode sounded a little too punchy. The one-port-plugged (16 Hz) mode sounded ideal, delivering incredible output yet also super-tuneful sound. Of course, other settings might better suit your taste or your room’s acoustics.
To set the parametric EQs properly, you need some sort of measurement gear. Your best bet is to use an inexpensive measurement microphone, a USB audio interface, and a laptop running TrueRTA or Room EQ Wizard. (For more info, see my “How To: DIY Audio Measurement” article here.) I’ve often written about my listening room’s +6-dB peak at 40 Hz. Fixing this peak with one of the parametric EQs was simple — and the bass sounded much better defined without sacrificing any apparent output.
One nice advantage of the cylindrical design is that you can turn it so the control panel faces you for easy adjustment, then turn it back to hide the panel once you’re done with your adjustments. You can’t really do this with SVS’s big box-shaped subs.
I used the SVS PC-13 Ultra primarily in a 5.1 system with Definitive Technology StudioMonitor speakers (reviewed here), and also in a two-channel system with DeVore Fidelity Gibbon 88 tower speakers (reviewed here). In both cases, I chose an 80-Hz crossover point so that the subwoofer would handle the bottom two octaves of bass.
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