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SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 System review: Small speakers plus big sub equals theatrical thump

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The Good The SVS is a nicely styled, compact 5.1 system which offers great build quality. The 12-inch subwoofer puts out tight yet plentiful bass. The system's sound was characterized by excellent integration between all of the satellites and powerful punch on blockbuster soundtracks.

The Bad It can sound a little too cold and bright with music; dialing in proper sat-sub blend can be a chore.

The Bottom Line The sleek, compact SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 System sounds tremendous with movies, thanks in large part to its potent subwoofer, but lacks warmth with music.

7.4 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Sound 7
  • Value 8

Often when buying a home cinema system you'll have to work out whether to ultimately choose style or performance. Both options come with their own compromises. Style-first systems may blend with your decor but lack the physical size needed for decent sound quality. When performance is the ultimate goal you may with massive hulking speaker boxes placed throughout your room.

The SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 System sits somewhere between these diametric opposites. It offers smaller, somewhat attractive speakers but is also correspondingly limited in its sonic capabilities.

The system's real star is the subwoofer, which is both compact and a competent performer. To our ears, the satellites would work better as surrounds rather than supplying the entire soundtrack, especially when it comes to playing back music as opposed to movies

The system starts at $999 in the US for the black ash version, which costs £950 in the UK and AU$1,899 in Australia.

Design and features

Sarah Tew / CNET

The SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 is SVS' first budget system and follows its more expensive Ultra offerings. The Prime system uses five identical satellite speakers -- for left, right, center and surrounds-- plus the SB-1000 subwoofer. Both are available in black ash or piano gloss; the latter, which we received, will cost an extra $200 for the system.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Each satellite features a 4.5-inch polypropylene driver is conjunction with a 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter which is incidentally also used on the Prime Towers .

Sarah Tew / CNET

The speakers are ported and feature a frequency response of 69Hz-25kHz (+/-3 dB). They come with a cloth grille and also include a rear bracket for wall-mounting.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Meanwhile the SB-1000 subwoofer ($499/£449/AU$699 separately for black ash, $599/£529/AU$799 for piano gloss) is a sealed design with a 12-inch "lightweight" cone which offers a 24Hz-260Hz frequency response. It's paired with a 300W amplifier and comes in a compact box only 13 inches square.

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