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Size still matters: SV Sound SBS-01 System satellites review

This is part two of the SVS satellite/subwoofer review.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time raving about the SVS 20-39 PC Plus subwoofer, today we'll look at the company's satellites.

Like the subs, the SVS SBS-01 and SCS-01 speakers are generously proportioned; both use a 1-inch silk dome tweeter and 5.25-inch polypropylene woofer (the first speaker has one, the "center channel" speaker has two woofers). The SBS-01 is 12 by 7 by 9.5 inches (hwd) and the SCS-01 is 7 by 20 by 8.5 inches (hwd), so they're both big enough to make a fair about of bass on their own. I like that because it dramatically simplifies the job of setting up the system; I had everything dialed in and sounding great in a matter of minutes. One upgrade option includes selectively substituting the larger SCS-01s for the SBS-01s, because the bigger speakers will make, you guessed it, a bit more bass and play louder than the SBS-01s. If you going to listen to a lot of music, in stereo, or really crank your DVDs, I'd spring for five SCS-01s. If you're into the 6.1 or 7.1 channel thing, SVS sells extra SBS-01s for $225 a pair and the SCS-01 for $185 each. The speakers and subs are available in textured black, silver or white painted finishes, with matching cloth grilles. SVS occasionally runs sales, so check their website for deals.

SBS-01 satellite SVSound

When used as a center channel speaker the SCS-01 can be mounted on the included TILT-Base which offers up or down adjustment of 10 degrees. That's a big help if you have to place it on top of your TV or under the screen--you can "aim" the sound directly towards the main listening position.

SCS-01 center channel speaker SVSound

Trotting out my usual demo DVDs the SVS system consistently impressed, dialog was supremely well balanced, articulate and full bodied. Resolution of fine detail was very good, but they're not perfect; higher end speakers will offer sweeter, more refined sound than the SVS speakers. The speakers projected a vivid sonic recreation of the Blue Man Group's onscreen antics, and the five satellite speakers seamless soundstage made me feel like I was in the concert hall with the cheering crowd. The SVS system not only plays loud, it sounded fine at hushed late night volume.

So I went for the toughest test for budget speakers, orchestral music, with a new SACD of the Atlanta Symphony performing Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 5. The strings were beautiful, brass clear and clean; the SVS speakers clearly have what it takes to satisfy sophisticated listeners. I had to keep reminding myself, these five speakers sell go $599, they sound like at least double that MSRP.

So sure, the guys behind SVS are technically astute and passionate about what they do, but it takes a certain amount of courage just to make speakers and sub the size they need to be to sound right. If you have the space to accommodate this SVS system, you'll get 45 days to see if you agree with my rave. The SBS-01 System 5.1 Surround Sound Speakers with PB10-NSD sub goes for $999.