We get requests to design a free AV plan for our customers on a regular basis. Most of the time it is the budget, the room and some preferences in use and brands that do the talking, but every now and then there are some additional requests on the wish list.
So what do you do when the ideas of an interior designer are thrown into the equation and the brief is that it should sound like any top notch home theatre but there is no way there are going to be any black floorstanding speakers in the lounge? We decided that no challenge was too big and we put a special set-up to the test at the Rapallo lab. The results surprised us in a very good way…
Our customer was very keen on SVS speakers and subwoofer. He had read the reviews online and after a demo at our lab, he was decisive: it had to be SVS.
The SVS Ultra floorstanding speakers are amazing. Their frequency response is generous (a very low 28Hz to a decent 32kHz) thanks to the dual side-firing opposed woofers at the base of the units. They compete with the big names without any problems. But they are big, at 1143mm high they are higher than what quite a few people can fit into their lounge or (media) room (and they only come in black, and not in white as per the specifications from the interior designer…)
That is where the SVS Ultra bookshelves come in. The reviews of the bookshelves are consistently excellent, but they are limited by the laws of physics in terms of lower frequency range: a bottom at 45 Hz is quite a bit higher than the 28Hz of the Ultra floorstanders. Also, the bookshelves just don’t have the body to resonate and give weight to those lower frequencies. So how do we solve that?
Introducing the SB-1000 subwoofer, and not just one, but a pair of them. The trick is to use the high level speaker level inputs, by wiring the front left and front right speaker outputs in parallel: 1 cable pair going to the bookshelves, 1 cable pair going to the subwoofers.
We put it to the test in our lab, and the results blew us away. We connected the speakers to a Yamaha RX-V679 av receiver, and went through a good few tracks on Tidal to test all frequency spectrum ranges and different volume levels. Because of the high level speaker connections, the subs got fed a discrete signal each and allowed for a beautiful stereo image. We placed the subwoofer as close as possible to the bookshelves in order to minimize phase related anomalies over the transition bandwidth, and we left the phase on both subwoofers set to 0 degrees. A great sound and the added flexibility to adjust bass levels at will.
One problem remained: what about the LFE signal for (Dolby/DTS) surround signals? Simple…just add 1 extra subwoofer. The 3rd SB-1000 went into the back of the room. We set the phase to 0 on the 3rd LFE sub and let the AVR set the subwoofer distance (through the YPAO calibration of the Yamaha AVR). Because the fronts are set to large (full-range), the LFE sub won’t see any of that content – so phase issues between the subs is not a problem. We set the other speakers in the system to small with an appropriate crossover and the LFE sub then sees the redirected bass for those channels, plus the LFE channel. The results were perfect for a room of 3.4 by 5.4 meters, which is relatively small. Got a bigger room? Get bigger subs! After all, the SB-1000 is just the SVS entry model, and there are 2 levels up from that model in the sealed, and another 3 levels up from the SB-1000 in the ported range.
So there you have it: the interior designer and the lady of the house were happy: white speakers (all together 10, including the 7.1 surround speakers with some in-ceiling speakers from Definitive Technology) all with very small to small footprints. And our movie loving customer was very happy with solid bass for music tracks (very crisp and tight thanks to the sealed SB-1000s), and enough rumbling when star destroyers enter those opening sequences in Star Wars. And what’s more; we managed to fit it all nicely within the customer’s budget of $6,000 to $8,000 for the speaker system with AV receiver. A winning team!
Do you have a home theatre dream with it’s own challenges or limitations? Don’t hesitate to give us a ring or send us an email. We can’t wait to work with you towards the perfect solution.
The Rapallo Team