Make your own free website on

<< back to Athena Audition Series review

SVS PB1-ISD (PB12-ISD) Subwoofer

(Please note that the latest version of the PB1-ISD is now known as the PB12-NSD.)

Front view of PB1-ISD   Rear view of PB1-ISD

It was clear from day one that the 150-watt 8-inch Onkyo subwoofer was no match for the Athena AS-F2s.  Though a good match for the Onkyo speaker package, the Onkyo subwoofer just wasn't enough for the already deep extension of the Athena's.  So after a few emails to Ron and Tom at SVS, I ordered a PB1-ISD box sub.  It arrived last night (in my case UPS must have handled the box was in great shape), and I quickly hooked it up and ran the auto-calibration on my receiver.  Within minutes I was again using Black Hawk Down to see what I've been missing.

Even though I liked the little Onkyo sub, it's obvious it just doesn't have the extension needed for low bass.  I thought I was hearing the thrum of the helicopters in Scene 4 (Irene), but boy was I wrong.  There is a lot of low stuff I was missing, things the Onkyo just didn't go low enough to capture.  The SVS really puts you inside the chopper, feeling all the vibrations of the machine.  My fiancé was upstairs in the shower, and wasn't as happy as I was when she reported that the walls of the upstairs bathroom were vibrating.

Even though my initial impressions are very positive, I'm unable to give any further information at this time. Unfortunately the new SVS has quit working.  Running through some of the tests on the AVIA disk this morning, the sub just died at some point.  I have emailed Tom and Ron at SVS, and currently I'm waiting for a reply.  I've heard nothing but good about their customer service, so I'm optimistic about resolving the problem quickly.  I replaced the fuse twice, but it seems to blow again immediately.  Ron has emailed me and is working with tech support to solve the problem which could be the amp or woofer.

April 29, 2004 - SVS has shipped a new amp which should arrive on Monday, May 3.
May 4, 2004 - I received the new amp on Monday as scheduled.  SVS included instructions and a bit to turn the square headed screws that hold the amp in place.  The procedure was simple, and the only thing that slowed me down was trying to get my hands in the enclosure and behind the driver to connect the wires from the new amp.

After recalibrating, I brought out Saving Private Ryan (DD version) and started with the D-Day landing scene.  As noted in the Black Hawk Down test, there is a lot of low LFE that I had never heard almost steady low rumble that lasts throughout most of the opening battle sequence.  

Next up was Finding Nemo.  I just recently purchased this DVD, and have never watched it the whole way through.  I have however, tried out the 'Darla tapping on glass' scene with the old Onkyo sub.  I was far less than impressed.  The Onkyo just didn't make much of a statement with the scene.  It was one of the few scenes that I found where the Onkyo was noticeably stumped.  I'm finding there are plenty of scenes in which I never heard things that were lower than the Onkyo could reach, but this particular scene was one in which I could tell the Onkyo was stumbling and falling short.  With the SVS, it's just plain awesome.  Everything shakes.  I was finally able to hear (and feel) this infamous bass demo scene I've read so much about.  Fun!  I ran through some scenes from other  DVDs I own...Matrix, U-571, and Fellowship of the Ring.  The Bridge fight sequence in FOTR was quite impressive. 

Overall I have to say I'm very happy with the PB1-ISD.  It's nice to have a sub that can keep up with the new Athena system, and rumble the walls (and ceiling) when called upon to do so.  Is it a sub that will satisfy me for life?  I don't think so.  I've given SVS $600 (plus shipping), and they've given me a taste of what a real subwoofer can do, and an interest in what more a subwoofer can do.  I'm happy....for now.  In the meantime, I'm starting to save for something in the PB2 family.

June 3, 2004 - The SVS PB1-ISD is down and out for the count.  After a month of service it died again...exact same problem as before.  SVS again was quick to respond to my report of the failure, and has offered to replace the sub with a new unit, but I have decided to return it for a full refund (SVS has also offered to refund the shipping cost so that I am out nothing but time...and a subwoofer). 
July 12, 2004 - Having researched subwoofers for a replacement of the PB1-ISD, I have found that SVS is still the best bang for my buck.  I ordered a PB2-ISD (now discontinued) and have been very pleased with this monster.  It's huge, powerful, and has been trouble-free for the first month of use.

Rear view of PB2-ISD

SVS PB2-ISD (aka PB12-ISD/2)

It's unfortunate that my PB1 was plagued with a recurring problem.  When working, it supplied tremendous bass for HT and music applications, and is very similar in performance to the larger PB2-ISD I currently use.  The SVS line seems to offer terrific value in subwoofers, and with the announcement of the smaller and lower-priced PB10-ISD, they appear to have filled the gap in the lower price bracket subwoofer market.  An in-depth review of the PB10-ISD can be found here.

I've now owned the PB2-ISD for over six months. It has been an outstanding performer, and unfailingly reliable - even with DVDs sporting overcooked LFE that rearranged the knick-knacks on our shelves. The size of the PB2, which appears incredibly huge at first, seems to shrink into the corner after a few months. It almost looks too small now. I've upgraded my receiver, and bass performance is definitely much better with all speakers set to small and the crossover fixed at 80hz. SVS continues to extend outstanding customer service, answering emails within hours...even on weekends. SVS is developing a line of full range speakers, and I'm anxious to see if they can match the performance of their subs.

Update 11.19.09
I've now owned the PB2-ISD for over five trouble-free years!

<<   1   2   3  >>


Questions or comments?  Email me at

Valid XHTML 1.0!   w3c css validated