We checked out the Prime Towers not long ago, now we are stepping up the Ultras. At $999 each, they are double the cost of the Prime, but are they double the speaker? Right away you will notice the size difference, in at least this measurement out of the box they are more than double. They look deceivingly small in pictures as they have a slightly wider front profile than the Prime Tower, however as they extend back they get much wider to make room for the two 8 inch woofers, one on each side. Ultra takes everything from the Prime and amps it up, the Prime has 2 6.5” woofers where the Ultra uses 6.5″ drivers for the mid-range. For the first part of the review, we are using them in a 7.1 Home theater. The other speakers in the room are JBL in-wall and in-ceiling for the Height and rear surrounds, and Boston Acoustics subwoofer and Center Channel, normally the LCR are all Boston.
Ultra Tower Sound
The Ultra Towers offer a presence and fullness that the Prime Tower does not, which due to the driver size difference is to be expected. The Ultra’s have bass and mids in spades, and to my ears handle high frequencies much better than the Prime’s did. They are not overly bright by any means, they just seem more balanced from top to bottom. When attempt to compare them to my Martin Logan Aerius I’s, They offer more fullness but at a cost of being more forward. What I mean by that is the soundstage of the Martin logans has more depth, where the SVS projects the stage in front of them. Granted they are incomparable speakers to me due to their construction but a difference I noticed with a conventional driver. I will say I do not recommend electrostatic speakers for a Theater setup as they have a way too narrow of a sweet spot. The Ultra’s still sound great off-axis making them Ideal for a theater where you don’t have just one person sitting in a single sweet spot. The imagine and detail is excellent when playing first-person shooters the channel separation was spectacular. SVS mentions that the Prime series and Ultra Series are timbre-matched, though I can not confirm this due to not having them both at the moment. From looking back at listening notes though I will say there is certainly a lot of similarities in tone and sound signature. If you are on a budget and can not outfit your entire theater in Ultra level, I recommend at least getting Utras for the front and get the Prime’s for your surrounds. Or if you have a fully Prime setup you can upgrade the front soundstage and have confidence that they will have a compatible sound with the rest of your system.
Roger and I watched Whiplash right after getting them set up, which by the way excellent movie if you haven’t seen it. Whiplash was a great test for these, not only is there plenty of vocal range but being about a jazz drummer there is some great full-range music in the movie as well. The Ultras delivered big time, I try not to get too dramatic in reviews but they really offer a great richness of sound over the Prime. The side panel woofers offer room-filling lows, and interestingly unlike some implementations, I have seen these are angled towards the front a bit instead of 90 degrees to the front. Personally, I think it works better this way and sounds better than others I have heard such as Diffinintive Techs style. I don’t want to come across as the Prime being a bad speaker, however, if they are in the budget the Ultra just makes a better front stage in the theater.
SVS Ultra Tower Appearance and Build
As with the Prime, the glossy piano black finish is gorgeous, and the recessed drivers have an elegant look much above the price point. Gloss white is another option I would like to see as it is gaining popularity, however the black finish is timeless. On the back, you have two sets of binding posts that accept bananas, spades, or bare wire in either a single or bi-amp/wired configuration. Once again the fit and finish of the panel is superb. As I mentioned they have a deceivingly large cabinet, they look much smaller in pictures. When looking into them make sure you have room for the footprint as it is quite a bit larger than most towers in this price range.
Frequency Response / Acoustic Data:
- Rated bandwidth: 28 Hz-32 kHz (+/-3 dB).
- Nominal impedance: 8 ohms.
- Sensitivity: 88 dB (2.83V @ 1 meter full-space, 300-3kHz).
- Recommended amplifier power: 20-300 watts.
- Floor Standing Tower Loudspeaker
- Real black oak veneer and piano gloss black finish options
- Dual gold-plated 5-way binding posts
- 3.5″ wide-flared rear-firing port
- Cloth grille with pin/cup retention system
- Elastomer screw-in feet – adjustable for level
- Spiked metal screw-in feet included – adjustable for level
- Cabinet Dimensions: 45.6” (H) x 13.8” (W) x 16.5” (D) (without grille)
- Overall Dimensions: 45.6” (H) x 13.8” (W) x 16.8” (D) (with grille)
- Shipped Dimensions: 50.3″ (H) X 21.3″ (W) X 22.3″ (D)
- Weight Unboxed: 75.4 pounds
- Shipped Weight: 86 pounds
1” Aluminum Dome Tweeter:
- FEA-optimized diffuser for airy and unveiled presentation
- Aluminum dome delivers exceptional transient response and exceptional stiffness/mass ratio
6.5” Midrange Drivers:
- Composite glass-fiber cone with excellent stiffness/mass ratio for high sensitivity and pistonic behavior beyond pass band
- Aluminum shorting ring to reduce gap inductance, lower distortion, and enhance high frequency response
- Cast aluminum basket to ensure precise alignment of critical components and additional heat-sinking capacity
- Vented voice coil former to minimize air compression artifacts at high drive levels
- Aluminum shorting rings to reduce gap inductance and lower distortion
- Long stroke motor and suspension for high output
- Vented voice coil formers to minimize air compression artifacts at high drive levels
Crossover & Cabinet Specs:
- 3.5-way crossover with premium-grade capacitors, air-core inductors and heavy-trace printed circuit boards
- Unique tapered midrange array miniimizes off-axis lobing and enhances radiated sound power into listening space
- Top midrange-to-tweeter crossover: 2 kHz
- Bottom midrange taper frequency: 700 Hz
- Dual midrange-to-woofer crossover: 160 Hz
- Separate sealed midrange enclosures minimize top-to-bottom wall dimensions and shift standing waves beyond the driver pass band, minimizing negative driver interaction and associated frequency response degradation
- Non-parallel cabinet panels reduces axial standing waves within the cabinet, reducing frequency response coloration
- Acoustically transparent and FEA optimized grilles, wedge-shaped front baffle and flush-mounted drivers all contribute to reduced edge diffraction and improved on-axis high frequency response
- FEA-optimized bracing, 1″ thick midrange/tweeter baffles and 1.5″ thick woofer baffles eliminates structural resonances and ensures the cabinet remains acoustically inert for uncolored response even at the highest drive levels
Normally I would try to figure out the right type of listener to recommend these to, however, it’s much harder when the performance is so great for the money. For 2,000 dollars it would be hard to find a better pair of towers. I really can not recommend them enough for a home theater. I think one option that would make put them even higher above similar options would be offering a model with a built-in amp for the subwoofers. It would make them the perfect option for someone who may not have somewhere to place additional subs or for a more contained minimalistic front stage area. SVS already makes some of the best subs in the industry, so I don’t think adding the amp would take a ton of extra development for them. That said, I am really excited to try these out in the 2 channel music room next. As mentioned the sound is rich and full-bodied, with excellent balance. I want to start doing a new thing at the end of the reviews and show a short list of pros and cons, basically, sum it up in some bullet points to help you folks compare what you are looking for a bit better.
What they Do Well
- Neutral Sound, perfect for movies and games
- Great imaging
- fantastic appearance
What they could work on
- powering the subs would make a great all in one tower
- offering other modern finishes
- very large footprint
The negatives are really not a big deal and far from deal-breakers to me personally. As I mentioned before, at 2000 dollars for a pair they are extremely compelling options for a theater. I found the Primes fairly comparable to the Paradigm Premier series, the Ultras are much more like the Prestige series in sound quality, and at a much lower price point.
SVS provided Hifi Chicken with Ultra Towers for Review, this review was not paid in part or full by SVS or any affiliate.