SVS Prime Bookshelf HiFi Speaker Review
In this review I compare the SVS Prime Bookshelf speakers with all the speakers I had reviewed this far in my speaker group test; the Wharfedale EVO 4.2, Klipsch RP600M, Bowers & Wilkins 606 and Q Acoustics 3030i.
As I have owned, used and calibrated lots of SVS subwoofers and each of them have always delivered exactly what they promised and as a result I have a lot of respect for SVS as a manufacturer. This was my first time listening to SVS speakers so I was very interested to see if the speakers delivered like the subwoofers.
My initial impression through setup and first listening, is that these speakers have ‘IT’, whatever ‘IT’ is. We can see why when we look at their frequency response in my room (see below) they are ultra-smooth from 500 Hz and upwards through their midrange and treble. Of the reviews completed so far, no other speaker tracked as well through the complete frequency range. The KEF LS50 (not part of this review) measure similarly well and the SVS Prime reminded me of the LS50 from my initial listening, albeit the SVS Prime costing considerably less.
I wanted to make this group test all about comparisons and the more speakers reviewed there more comparisons I was able to make, however the EVO 4.2 was the first speaker in the test to be reviewed, so what speaker would I compare them to .
I recently reviewed Wharfedale Linton Heritage speakers which while they cost more than the EVO 4.2 I felt they would be a great speaker to use for the initial comparison. I have been contacted by many viewers of my YouTube channel asking me the question of which speaker should they buy Linton or EVO so this could be a great way to give them more information to make the right decision for them
I came into this review with a typical expectation of an SVS product, big ass bass but really the physical size of the Prime Bookshelf speakers is in the middle of this group test and we can see from their measurements they are designed for big bass at all.
The bass from the SVS Prime is very tight, tuneful and on-point but the perceived amount of bass being the least substantial of the speakers so far reviewed in this group test. The Prime reminded me of the Bowers 606 in terms of their bass delivery, as I am a bass-hungry audiophile or more accurately I strongly believe in the importance of equal loudness which means a lot of bass is required as it goes deeper in frequency I found the SVS Prime to be on the lower limit of what I needed to be satisfied. Compared to the Q Acoustic 3030i the Prime clearly sacrifice the overall amount of bass for bass tautness which is not a bad thing. The Klipsch RP600M also have a very tight bass, but provide a more substantial bass that creates a more solid foundation of bass on which the overall presentation sits itself. The SVS sound a lot less substantial, even after carrying out my custom DIRAC Live calibration to try and better balance their sound.
One niggle I found, after using DIRAC Live to manage the bass response of the Prime I detected a slight ‘chuffing’ from the rear port. This is not a major criticism, but something to be mindful of if you are looking to use some DSP with the prime. Its very possible the Prime were designed with home cinema use very much in mind, where they would be used with a subwoofer(s). A subwoofer would therefore add the bass foundation that would help to warm up the midrange and possibly relax the overall presentation.
Treble sits in the middle of the speakers reviewed to this point in the group test. The SVS Primes are less lively than the Klipsch and B&W 606, you can see this in their measurements too. They have more treble presence and life than the Q Acoustics 3030i and the Wharfedale EVO 4.2 again you can see this in the measurements.
To me they have the just about the right balance in the treble upper frequency ranges for the most part. The SVS deliver a nice amount of treble liveliness, combined with treble quality, clarity and crispness and the treble never gets subdued in the overall mix and certainly holds its place, again a good thing for home cinema. There is a little of what I would call "zippiness" from the Prime speakers and unusually for me, I preferred their sound with their grilles on, as this mellowed them sound and smoothed the presentation a little and helped with the "zippiness" some.
Midrange and vocals are definitely a key strength of the SVS Prime. Both male and female vocals sound very focussed, clean and balanced in terms of the information they provide, they sound honest in the vocals with never once sounding anything is missing, being added or emphasised. They therefore deliver music in a matter of fact ‘warts-and-all’ way. This is partly because of their leaner, less substantial bass and we I have already mentioned more bass from subwoofers would help to mellow the mid-range delivery and therefore improve the musicality of their overall performance. Nevertheless, The Prime have a "technically accurate" sound. In this way they sound quite different to the Wharfedale EVO 4.2, which are less incisive but more musically engaging for being so as they let you into the music more for being more relaxed.
The soundstage of the Prime is impressive its organised, decisive, separated and spacious. Again, I think this would be great for home cinema.
The review pair were finished in a sumptuous looking piano-black finish and were extremely solid and well made, with nothing to fault. In this finish they are priced at £619, one of the more expensive of the review group. Fortunately, SVS also produce a black-ash version at £529 which makes them exceptionally good value for money, although at both price points have extremely stiff competition.
I am full of admiration for what SVS has achieved, the Prime Bookshelf are not perfect, but are clearly the result of some very good engineering. Yes they appear to trade off some musicality in favour of technical honesty but this may be a good thing depending on what you are looking for.
If you are thinking of purchasing these, pay attention to bass, also I suggest partnering them with the right HiFi components if you want to use them exclusively for 2 channel stereo use, I would go with more sweet sounding HiFi, rather than more analytical, accurate sounding HiFi.
Frequency Response - 48Hz – 25KHz ±3db
Style - Two way rear ported box
Sensitivity - 87db/1m
Normal Impedance - 8Ω
Recommended Amp - 20w – 150w
A Serious Bang for Buck Award is granted in recognition of a products stand out high performance being significantly greater than its perceived price point