SVS PB2+ versus B&W ASW750 shoot out

Discussion in 'Subwoofers' started by rags, Apr 17, 2004.

  1. rags

    rags
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    After returning from sunny Shrewsbury today I and Matt (Smurfin) settled down at his place to do a direct comparison of these two subs.

    Review discs used for the comparison were -

    Kill Bill,
    Jurassic Park 3 and 2
    Monsters Inc
    A couple of Matt’s favourite CD's (God knows what they were but they sounded good with heavy/low bass notes)

    Not many DVD's right ? I agree but to be honest it was getting late, I had to drive home and Matt had to drive up to Cambridge for a slap up Greek meal.

    In fact we didn’t even have enough time to set the ASW750 up properly - we just set the level by ear, placed it directly on the carpet without any spikes etc and in roughly the same position the PB2+ sat in. In terms of listening level we sort of established by trial and error that a reasonable level was achieved by setting the ASW750's amp gain to about 1/3 with the sub level set on Matt’s Pioneer processor at -10db.

    At the outset id like to say how big the PB2+ is - it’s just massive !! I didn’t really cotton on to it straight away in Matt’s blacked out HC room but when we took the ASW750 out of its box and placed it next the behemoth it was like OH MY GOD !!!! Now the ASW750 is not a small sub when compared to the offerings by REL and MJ Acoustics but it was at a max only 1/3 the volume of the PB2+. In fact it looked pathetic, almost wimpish next to the PB2+. We only wished that we had a digital camera to show you guys the difference in size !! Both I and Matt expected it to get an absolute pasting in the performance comparison. In terms of looks the ASW750 won hands down. The PB2+ is finished in a rough black resin like substance and looks quite industrial. Without a doubt, it’s very solidly put together.

    We listened to the PB2+ first as it was already in place and had been flattened through the BFD (actually thinking about it I don’t really know how Matt's BFD settings impacted the performance of the ASW750). Anyway to cut a long story short I loved the performance of the PB2+ - with music it sounded great going really low but never losing control or impact and with movies it was much of the same. The Kill Bill scene where Uma Thurman turns up to that girls house and they have a little tit for tat exchange was awesome - lots of heavy thuds and bangs, with impeccable timing and solid delivery. Low, really low too. JP3 where the Egyptasauraus fights with the Trex was also very good - lots of lung puncturing bass again with impeccable clean delivery. Hey these SVS guys do know what they are doing !! The bass on Monsters inc sounded exactly the same to me as it does in my room as did Jurassic Park 2 (the scene where the T Rex mommy and daddy come to collect little dino.

    So 5 stars for the SVS and for £1000 at today exchange rates it really is a good buy.

    Now my listening room is much larger than Matt’s so I didn’t know what to expect from the ASW750 in a smaller environment. To start off I felt that the ASW750 performs better in my room than Matt’s - not sure why and maybe it was psychological but in terms of direct comparison with the same discs in the same room here goes -

    We shoved the PB2+ out of the way (no easy task I would like to add!!!) and put in the B&W. Started off with the music CD's first and both I and Matt were taken aback. Very very good indeed and to be honest not much in it at all. Quite surprising really and I think Matt couldn’t believe how much clean bass this little wimp of a box was putting out. In fact at one point I felt that it was shaking the sofas more than the SVS did.

    On to movies and on Monster inc I felt that the slam produced by the B&W was just as good as the SVS. On JP3 and Kill Bill the SVS definitely sounded better as it went significantly lower than the B&W and this is where the main difference lies between the two subs. Even at reference level neither sounded strained or on the edge but without a doubt the SVS went lower and hence produced a better overall bass experience on movies than the B&W. Night and day ? No, nothing like (perhaps marginal) but better nonetheless. The B&W however did itself proud.

    Now, in terms of recommendation - if space is at a premium and looks are important than go for the B&W and to be honest and surprisingly you wont miss a whole lot. If not then I can heartily recommend the SVS. It is the better sub overall.

    Will I change to an SVS PB2+ Ultra ? TBH don't know - I was hoping for a greater step up in performance and am not sure that the Ultra will sound significantly better than the normal PB2+. I want to put my sub changing to a rest and whether than means stumping up serious money for a B4 Plus, DD18 etc is something I have still to determine. The ASW850 still hangs in the back of my mind but that may also not perform to the level I am trying to attain. Maybe its not achievable. I am as confused as ever.
     
  2. Daneel

    Daneel
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    Great write up Rags. It went pretty much as I expected. I can order a SVS now :)

    I would suggest that as the room gets bigger the difference between the two subs will grow, so in your room it would be more noticable. If money was no object at this point in time I'd go for a PB2 Ultra, you get the looks of the B&W and more performance than is required for 99% of setups.
     
  3. rags

    rags
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    Yup - go for it without hesitation. It's definately a great sub and you have to rememeber that it is also slighly cheaper than the B&W at current exchange rates).

    I feel the the ASW750 performs better in my room (so am not sure how much the bigger room theory holds) but maybe thats down to room acoustics. equipment etc. Not sure how us not setting it up and running through the BFD already set for the SVS affected it's performance. Who knows it may have improved it ! However even then the margin of difference between the two subs is nothing like what I had hoped for (Matt and I thought that it was mainly at the sub 20hz frequencies). Maybe I was expecting too much. Thats why I am now thinking about putting even more money into the next upgrade - surely this has to end somewhere.
     
  4. Daneel

    Daneel
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    Well, I told you I was impressed with your 750, how much better did you think it was going to get!?

    I think you are going into overkill mode again with anything better than a PB2 Ultra. I seriously doubt you would see any benifit of a B4 over the PB2 U. In fact, in your room a PC Ultra would probably be awesome (best driver, PEQ and less floor space). I have no idea about the DD18, but I was under the impression you had heard it and were not overly impressed, especially given the price.
     
  5. rags

    rags
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    Your right - I thought it was good but highly overpriced. Not entirely what I was looking for either.
     
  6. Stellavision

    Stellavision
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    Rags, you have certainly put my mind at ease.
    I have as you know been impressed with my ASW750 since I got it, but I still couldn't help feeling that there could be alittle something extra I could be missing out of something else.
    The svs hype especially raving about the ultra's and the pb2's has certainly stirred up my intrigue.
    However, if you say the main difference in the two was the depth capabilities, that is marginal enough for me to stop worrying and be happy with what I've got. Well for now anyway.

    I must say though, I am still intrigued to how the Kef PSW4000 performs in comparison to the B&W. I never heard the Kef, but it was one of my considerations and I have been wondering lately how it would fair against the competition. It is the same price as the ASW750, is slightly bigger but has a smaller, 500 watt amp.
    I know bigger often meens better with subs, but I suppose the B&W could potentially make more out of the smaller box by utilising that 1KW amp.
    I may ask Sevenoaks to get one in one day to kerb by curiosity.
     
  7. rags

    rags
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    Stellavision - definately be happy with what you have especially given your WAF requirements !.

    The SVS stuff is definately not hype. Well at least not in the case of the PB2+ !. A wonderful subwoofer. Whats remarkable is that the ASW750 whilst not quite upto the mark puts in a mightily good performance.
     
  8. simonthepieman

    simonthepieman
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    A fantastic write up and it makes me more excited as i ordered my
    pb2 on friday.

    I also have a bfd got it last week ,used it with my storm (which has now sold)

    Matt and others please report (put graph up if possible)
    what your curve looks like after bfd.

    In fact how do you attach an excel graph to this forum
    i'm not sure how to do it ??

    I could put my old Storm graph up so you chaps could let me
    know if i am doing it right , should the db level increase
    at the 25 to 16hz area ?

    I tried to make my line straight as poss.
    Thanks for all your help and inspiration so far!
     
  9. Ian J

    Ian J
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    You have to save the Excel graph as a picture and then upload that.

    An ideal graph would be ruler flat throughout the frequency range and the art is to get it as near that as possible.

    The room has a huge effect on the output of a sub and the same sub in different rooms will rarely produce the same graph unless it has been equalised.

    If you do a search in this forum for graphs you will see that many people have already uploaded them.

    Have a look at Jeff's graph for his PC Ultra in the sticky at the top of the forum to see what an almost perfect graph looks like.
     
  10. rags

    rags
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    After much thinking this morning I have decided to let my sub be for the time being. Im going to put the money towards a better TV as this is probably more of a priority and is an area of significant weakness in my HC.
     
  11. Daneel

    Daneel
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    A lot of people seem to like the so called "house curve", bass gets gradually stronger as the frequency drops. Check out HTF for more info.
     
  12. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Just to add a few thoughts to yesterdays comparison.

    It was a shame things were a bit "rushed", something which was made worse because MCACC was playing up when I went to calibrate the ASW750:rolleyes: - but regardless, I still believe we were able to make some meanginful comparisons.

    Overall the PB-2 Plus WAS the better sub, and clearly so....but this depended on the sort of material being played. In the mid and upper bass regions in a blind test you wouldn't be able to tell the difference: both have real punch and slam, and it's a testament to the quality of the B&W sub that it's size belies the frightening output it can deliver.

    The real differences become apparent when soundtracks plummet through the 20hz barrier. The B+W seemed to roll off very steeply, so that down to 20hz the output was very strong, but below that things just died a sudden death. The PB-2 however laughs in the face of < 20hz and is still going strong @ 16hz with no sign of distortion. It's also worth mentioning that the B+W doesn't exhibit hardly any signs of distortion (as opposed to so many other subs on the market) even when pushed hard: in the lower regions I'd still say the PB-2 edges it in the "effortlessness" stakes, but there's not much in it.

    But the trade-off for frequency extension is of course size and looks: the PB-2 is positively MONSTROUS in comparison to the 750, and looks pretty ugly to my eyes.

    Bottom line is, it really comes down to circumstances and priorities. Both are similarly equipped in the power stakes, and perform very closely in the mid-bass range, and though the PB-2 Plus plummets lower, the WAF tradeoff could swing it for many.

    I'd be happy with either, although I still believe the PB-2 still represents much better value for money considering prices. The other thing which has really struck home is how rooms affect the subs. Our comparison in many ways is only valid up to a point, because the AWS750 SHOULD come off well in my room: it's a small room, and I would guess that in a larger HT room, the gap between the two subs would be more visible (as it should be, the SVS has 2 x 12" drivers vs the 750s 1, and approx 3 times the volume!). Rags, bearing this in mind...I'd still look to the PB-2 Ultra. I have a feeling it will provide you with the last ounce of low end thump that you're missing, and I doubt the DD-18 could trounce it....

    In summary, both the B+W and SVS are 5 Star products: they cater for different customers, but both are stunning in performance. Can't go wrong with either.
     
  13. rags

    rags
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    Matt - im sort of content with the ASW750 for now. However seeing your big screen picture was like a smack in the face. I have been spending far too much on the sound side of things. I came home and watched Kill Bill and it truly sounded great. Everything was just right. However the picture on my 36inch CRT sucked big time. Time for a 50" something or other me thinks :D
     
  14. Nimby

    Nimby
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    Would I be a complete killjoy if I said that the comparison wasn't very "scientific"? :blush:

    The B&W was hampered by being fed another sub's BFD setting and was certainly not optimised for best position. It was also balanced by ear rather than being properly calibrated.

    You cannot just dump a sub down and ask of its best under the conditions of this test. The human ear is notorious for preferring a slightly louder reproduction over a slightly lower one. That's how some CD players are sold. Push the output a dB or so and most listeners would prefer the noisier one on a short shop demo. The haste of the comparison suggests that more would have been discovered over a longer, more relaxed test.

    It sounds as if the B&W did rather well under the circumstances.

    If nothing else it puts an end to B&W owners fears of being considered second rate in comparison with the "flavour of the month" SVS. There is nothing worse than believing your own sub sucks because something better has come along.

    The only remaining question is why the SVS didn't competely flatten the B&W? :devil:

    Nimby
     
  15. rags

    rags
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    Coz the B&W is a very good sub too !!! In todays sub market it represent in my opinion very good value for money.

    I agree about the non scientific set up and that why I said it upfront. The SVS did have the benefit of a proper set up and BFD etc. It is more than likely that the ASW750 could have been oprtimised to perform better (position, BFD, SPL, spikes etc) but the comparison gave us a reaonable idea. I do know that the B&W set at 1/3 of its volume and -10db on the processor was nowhere near it's limit during the test. But neither was the SVS.

    I do feel that the sub performs better in my room but there can be a number of reasons for that apart from the setup issue.
     
  16. Smurfin

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    You're a genius! - we didn't know that!:smashin:

    Wow, I didn't know that either.

    I'm staggered now!

    If you knew my AV room there IS only one position for the sub to go in. I should have mentioned in my post that the response of the B+W is very likely to have been identical to the SVS - as when I changed my Servo-15s over I found that the response was identical.


    I dunno, maybe mine isn't very good, my eyes don't go blurry:rolleyes: You're right about one thing though, B+W owners have nothing to worry about...the 750 is up there with the best of them
     
  17. rags

    rags
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    Nimby - whilst I have not heard the PCi model, I dont think it will compare well to a PB2+. If you want to hear some serious bass (and yes we can all wack it up!) pop round to Smurfins place when you are in the UK.
     
  18. TheSeer

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    Fascinating & very useful thread!!

    In order to allow the rest of us to get some idea of the relative performances of the ASW750 & PB2+, can we please have some idea of the volumes of the rooms that Smurfin & Rags use their respective subs in? If you guys don't mind, that is.

    I know that room volume isn't the only factor in a sub's performance but it will allow me to relate this shoot-out to my own circumstances......

    Thanks
     
  19. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    My room is approx 5m x 2.5m; it has been partially treated for acoustics i.e cheap n cheerful carpeting up to ear level; this automatically makes it an altogether different proposition to Rag's room, which is very much on the "live" side and much bigger. Rags will be able to tell you exactly how big it is though...
     
  20. rags

    rags
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    My room is about 18ft by 15 (maybe slightly more).
     
  21. rags

    rags
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    Converted to metres my room is about 5.5 by 4.5.

    Matt are you sure room is 5m long ?
     
  22. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Yep, maybe a touch under but it's between 4.5-5m long.

    I think you've got your measurements wrong....your room is more like 20ft long isn't it?
     
  23. rags

    rags
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    TBH not sure but I think TheSeer should have an understanding of the difference by now !

    My room also has a higher ceiling and therefore in total it adds up to a substantial volume differential between the two rooms.
     
  24. Stellavision

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    Thanks guys.

    I'm feeling much better about my ASW750 now.
    I know it significantly outperforms my previous SVS 25-31 PCi, but the PB2 Plus with two 12" drivers, subsonic filters and a huge box housing it all has been making me wonder if I can get better for the dosh.
    As pointed out though, the SVS is huge and the B&W I find is quite a managable size and I am particularly happy with the look of mine with it's black ash finish. Waf is an issue and she thinks the B&W is huge, so I think I'm at my limit here!
    I think I can live without the extra extension of the SVS in favour of a happy marriage!:D
     
  25. Stellavision

    Stellavision
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    BTW I found a review on the Kef PSW4000 which suggested that it is a good sub, but lacks the kind of slam that scares your friends!
    Review found HERE

    :offtopic:
    I'm moving out of my rented flat into my first house on Wednesday and I can't wait.
    However,
    my kit has been packed up in boxes for the last week and I appreciate my setup more than ever while I have not been able to use it this week.
    It's been agony!!!
     
  26. Peter Baker

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    Rags
    Don't mess around with a 50" TV
    You really should look at a PJ - you know you want to!!

    Peter
     
  27. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Rags, is this the ideal time to kick that loft conversion into gear?:D

    £2k will get you a CRT projector which will laugh in the face of that Sony TV....
     
  28. rags

    rags
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    PJ would be too problematic for me. Firstly I have a fairly bright south facing room with windows everywhere. Secondly the room is also a family room - can you imagine my kids having to put on the PJ to watch cartoon network ? Would love to have one but it doesnt add up.

    Loft conversion with a PJ sounds good, but my bank manager would laugh in my face !
     
  29. Ian J

    Ian J
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    Can we keep to subwoofers in this thread :lease:
     
  30. Kazman

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    I personally think the KEF subs are very underrated, I have the KEF PSW 2500, and am VERY impressed with it. OK, not as powerful as the SVS nuclear reactors;) but more than capable in the average room.

    I would have gone the SVS route, but I'd be served with divorce papers before I'd even switched it on :blush: :lesson:

    I might ask smurfin if he'd mind me coming over for just a listen to the SVS monsters he has before he moves :lease: :devil: just to hear what I'm missing out on :D
     

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