What is the SVS Prime Wireless?
With this has come a gradual increase in what we expect these speakers to do. To start with, we had Bluetooth, then a digital input made an appearance, alongside some sort of auxiliary connection. From there, it is a traceable point to what you see here; a speaker that really only needs an internet connection to be a complete system. The Prime Wireless is extensively specced and boasts some technology that first appeared in some rather more expensive SVS products. On paper, it makes similarly priced conventional systems look bulky and rather limited. That’s the promise anyway, how does it stack up in reality?
Specification and Design
In driver terms, the SVS partners a 1 inch (I’d use millimetres but the land of Imperial measures doesn’t) aluminium tweeter partnered with a 4.5inch polypropylene midbass driver. The most notable aspect of this partnership is the manner in which the crossover is implemented. Instead of a passive design - which you would expect to find in a passive speaker, the SVS uses a digital crossover system. This is derived from the technology that crops up in the company’s subwoofers and SVS says is helps to ensure the relationship between the drivers is optimal rather than ‘close enough.’
The crossover works to allocate signals between four, 50 watt class D amplifiers, each allocated to a specific driver. The amps are all inside one of the cabinets rather than split between them as you would expect in a true active. This is useful in convenience terms because it means that inputs can be grouped in a single location and only the ‘master’ speaker needs a mains connection. Its passive partner connects via an umbilical cable and requires nothing else to function. Both cabinets have their low end augmented by a hefty rear bass port.
The main event in terms of connectivity is a full network audio implementation. This is a 24/192 capable client that can stream from a server over wired or wireless connection. This is backed up by internet radio and native support for a wide selection of streaming services including Spotify, Tidal, Deezer and Amazon Prime Music. The last one is a more unusual inclusion in products of this nature and potentially useful as the Prime Wireless also boasts compatibility with Amazon Alexa for those of you for whom privacy is something that happens to somebody else.
The design of the Prime Wireless closely matches the rest of the Prime range and this is no bad thing. Unlike the Ultra models, which have some very striking design attributes, the Prime models look more conventional. This does mean that this is a well proportioned and classically handsome speaker that should look as happy in a lounge full of antique furniture as it will in a fashionable pad of modern gear. Unlike its passive brethren, there is no option to go with a black ash finish and only the piano black is available. As this looks a great deal nicer than the ash, I don’t think this is a huge detractor. Like everything I have ever tested from SVS, the Prime Wireless is extremely well made and combines this with a standard of finish that is entirely competitive for the price. Only the absence of magnetic trim tabs for the grills counts against it a little.
How was the Prime Wireless Tested?
Giving the Prime Wireless the ability to act as its own source, the decoding and amplifier don’t significantly change this perception of honesty. The Prime Wireless is not a studio monitor and neither does it set out to be but the simple tonality test of Regina Spektor’s Consequence of Sounds shows that it delivers a commendably neutral and tonally honest performance. Spektor’s vocals are all over the point where any speaker is going to have to crossover from tweeter to midbass and the digital system present in the SVS works well in that it draws no attention to itself. The Prime Wireless manages to do a good job of presenting a wide and cohesive soundstage that places Spektor and her piano smack, bang in the middle of it.
Increase the complexity and select the fantastic new offering from Dead Can Dance, Dionysus and the Prime rises to the challenge well. SVS quotes a lower frequency roll off of 52Hz and this feels entirely achievable in the real world. The use of a large rear port ensures that the Prime can be sited fairly close to a wall without audible interference and this lends a degree of low end reinforcement that takes the response down below 50Hz. What this means in reality is that the SVS doesn’t struggle to deliver a bass response which is partly felt as well as heard - and with the happy proviso that if you really want to feel things, there’s a clutch of hefty subs waiting to be connected.
The only downside to this is that the bit that SVS has no real control over - the DTS Play Fi section - still doesn’t feel as slick as I’d like. Little quirks of the interface like displaying your albums as a list rather than giving the option of a grid, which is quicker to search and more visually appealing while it does so, can be annoying. More irritating is that although it is listed as a supported format, I have had issues playing AIFF files and there have been times when the move between tracks has been some way adrift of gapless. It is only fair to also say that this iteration of Play Fi is the best I have seen but when compared to some of the competition, it just doesn’t feel as good and with software like BluOS seemingly being offered to other companies to buy into, DTS’s window to get their platform truly bulletproof is starting to close.
The other inputs however are extremely good. Used as a booster for the sound of my B7 OLED, the SVS does a very good job. That honest tonality and decent soundstage are always going to be useful when listening to broadcast TV and the Prime Wireless is going to keep most soundbar rivals at a similar price honest. The analogue input is also a faithful representation of what goes in and while it lacks the interesting, if fringe, functionality of the Klipsch R41 PM where a phono stage is built in, it works well with a turntable that has a phono stage on board. There is more than enough gain to ensure that an impulse purchased copy of Mike Oldfield’s Five Miles Out sounds punchy and entertaining. Last, but by no means least, the Bluetooth functionality is stable and offers performance with 16/44.1 material that is extremely close to that available via the network player.
- Excellent specification
- Assured and spacious sound
- Very well made
- DTS Play still feels like a work in progress
- Limited control of additional inputs
- No standby
SVS Prime Wireless Speaker Review
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