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Today’s Show:

Review: SB12-NSD

If you have been listening to us for a while you know that we feel subwoofers are essential home theater gear. There are so many units on the market it may be hard to decide which one to buy. Some subwoofers can fill giant rooms with bone crushing sound but they cost a small fortune to own. What do you do if you have an apartment or small room and you still want a great sounding sub? We’re glad you asked. The SVS SB12-NSD (MSRP $650) is a 12 inch sealed sub that packs great sound into a small package.

  • Amp – 400 watts RMS (800 watts peak)
  • Driver – 12 inch front firing
  • Design – Sealed Subwoofer
  • Frequency Response – 23 – 270Hz +/- 3dB
  • Dimensions – 14.6” H X 14.2” W X 14.2” D
  • Weight –  35 lbs
  • Warranty – 5 year unconditional


The first thing you notice when you open the box is the beautiful fit and finish of the subwoofer. It has a high WAF. It comes in two finishes, charcoal black vinyl or for $30 more you can get a polished piano black finish that matches most TVs made in the past few years. The next thing is the size, it measures a little more than a cubic foot. That means you can easily find a place for the subwoofer to fit in your family room. We placed it just to the left of the TV in the front of the room a few inches from the wall. We reran the calibration on the Harman-Kardon 2650 and began a three week listening test.


During the three weeks we listened to movies, television, and music. The SB12 did a great job with all of them. What really impressed us was how good it sounded even at low levels. You still had feel that a subwoofer was in the room but without overpowering everything else. This is especially good if you have people in the house that are sleeping or you live in an apartment with neighbors above or below you. Make no mistake however, when you turn up the volume on the sub it will rattle your walls.

We decided to put the SB12 through its paces with the train crash scene in Super 8 and the final boxing match in Real Steel.  In Real Steel when the champ jumps into the ring the thud the subwoofer makes goes through your body and into the bone. You can feel each crushing punch as the robots fight. You begin to want the robots to move around so you can feel their footsteps reverberate through the room. In Super 8 the explosions were quite deep and loud. The SB12 put you right in the middle of the action. We ended up watching the scene twice!

Music was a big surprise for us. We have listened to a few subwoofers that muddy everything else. Not so with the SB12. We found the bass deep and crisp. Even in tracks that don’t have that real deep bass tone. Some audio tracks are about the booming bass others like classical music are about all the instruments. The SB12 added enough bass so you could enjoy it but not so much that in overpowered the rest of the instruments. However, if you want more of that deep penetrating sound, you can always turn up the volume. Even at higher levels we found the bass was clear but we recommend that for movies. Somehow watching the news is still not good even with an awesome sounding subwoofer.


If you are ready to improve the subwoofer that came with your HTIB and move into a more mid-tier unit without breaking the bank, or if you want big sound from a subwoofer that doesn’t take up too much space, the SVS SB12-NSD should be high on your list. The deep clean bass the SB12 produces will improve the listening experience of just about anything you listen to!


Download Episode #544

Posted by The HT Guys, August 16, 2012 11:02 PM

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.