You may already know the American brand SVS for its internationally renowned home cinema subwoofers. The company is often limited to this area alone even though it spanets all speakers intended to go hand in hand with subwoofers to create 5.1 multi-channel sets and more. SVS has taken bookshelf speakers from its catalogue, which are most often intended for surround effects, and has transformed them into active speakers.
The first Prime Wireless speakers came out just over four years ago. They made a strong impression with true Hi-Fi qualities, well beyond the simple wireless background music function. Now, Prime Wireless have gone Pro. It doesn’t mean they are intended for professional use. It’s just the name that SVS has given them in order to differentiate them from the previous version while adding new features, which explains their higher price of £270.
General Presentation of the Prime Wireless Pro
Prime Wireless Pro speakers still have their compact bookshelf speaker case that is easy to place on furniture or support feet. The speakers come in black or white, both with a beautiful lacquer finish. The fabric of the speaker cover matches the chosen colour. Small rubber pads are provided, to avoid damaging the underside of the speaker.
These smart speakers work as a stereo pair with one being active and the other passive. Only the first is connected to a power outlet. It is equipped with its own amplification and that of the passive speaker. A proprietary 3-metre cable is provided to connect the two speakers. You can instantly see the difference between the two speakers on the front. One is blank while the other has a display and buttons.
The non-pro version only displays backlit icons while the Pro speakers have a sufficiently-large screen which can be read from wherever you are listening. It has two multifunction potentiometers and six preset buttons. These few commands make it easy to control the speakers for the everyday listening of your favourite internet radio stations for example.
You can see the two loudspeakers once the covers are removed. The 25mm aluminium dome tweeter is protected by a metallic grate and finished off with an optimised diffuser. This is also the case for the cover’s inner design, which doesn’t alter sound reproduction when in place. The speaker’s bevelled edges, especially on the upper part closest to the tweeters, have also been calculated to eliminate diffraction and improve the sound image.
Below there is a middle register/modest 13.3cm diameter woofer. It has a polypropylene cone and aluminium ring, all with the aim of minimising the weight while providing great rigidity. The ventilated coil support prevents unnecessary air compression. The thick half-roll suspension is also noticeable, distorting the capabilities of these speakers in the lowest frequencies. The woofers are finished off with classic bass-reflex outlets on the rear panel.
The master speaker has four amplification channels of 50 Watts RMS each rated Class D. This means that the speakers all have their own dedicated amplifier and active upstream filtering.
Using Prime Wireless Pro
The Prime Wireless Pro speakers are self-sufficient if you only stream music through Qobuz. However, SVS has provided enough connections to add other sources and therefore create a complete system. There are four audio inputs on the rear panel. The first two are analogue, RCA and mini-jack. It’s perfect for connecting a turntable with its RIAA preamp.
Then there is an optical digital input, for a CD player for example. Mainly, the HDMI ARC/eARC socket is intended to connect the speakers to a TV. The aim is to replace the soundbar for this more versatile music and home cinema system. Another advantage, thanks to the HDMI connection, is the TV remote control which turns the speakers on and off together and controls the volume.
Finally, on connections, there is also a mono output for a subwoofer, by chance an SVS model, as well as two RJ45 network sockets. The first feeds the speakers while the second is a mirrored output for another nearby device. Finally, you can also listen to music with the Prime Wireless Pro speakers via Bluetooth.
The speakers can be controlled from the DTS Play-Fi mobile app, either via Wi-Fi or a wired network. This integrates Qobuz in Hi-Res, as long as you have activated the corresponding “Critical Listening Mode”. Qobuz menus offer new releases, selections, best sellers, awards, etc. All these entries are accessible via the “Discover” option. You will find your personal playlists, your favourites and your purchases in three separate access areas. There is also a search engine and the option to change Qobuz playlists. However, all the editorial and informative sections are missing.
It is possible to manage multiple rooms with other SVS smart products and even devices from other compatible manufacturers through the DTS Play-Fi app. You can then easily group/ungroup speakers. Alternatively, the Prime Wireless Pro speakers are compatible with AirPlay 2 and Chromecast. They can also be controlled by voice with Alexa and Google Assistant.
SVS provides an infrared remote control for volume, source selection and recalling one of the six presets. Everything you do is confirmed on the front display, like the volume level and the name of the current source. When playing music on Qobuz, the logo, the artist and title of what is currently being played is displayed. This is the bare essentials, and it’s enough when you glance at it. But others, like Harman Kardon, have a colour display with the record covers.
We have replaced our usual Dynaudio speakers with the Prime Wireless Pro, well clear of the rear walls to let the vents do their thing. The HDMI ARC connection also allowed us to do some tests in audio/video configuration.
Starting off by listening to the Buster Williams album Unalome, we immediately enjoy the presence established by the SVS Prime speakers. There is an authentic aspect in determining the notes of the main instruments, which are well separated from each other, each in their own bubble, in different planes. The saxophone reaches a high frequency, totally free, with nothing constraining it. The same is true for the double bass, which resonates as far as the floor in our listening room. The depth of the bass is exceptional for such small speakers. When the female voice takes over, it settles in front of the instruments, a little high up, with a mixture of naturalness and precision.
When we switched to Kevin Puts symphonies conducted by Ji Su Jung, the soundstage developed well behind the speakers, slightly beyond the rear wall of our listening room. Micro-information is not erased and contributes to the effect of depth and development of the different planes. There is a slight lack of precision in the positioning across the width. Soundstage stability can depend on the listening position to within a few centimetres. This requires a bit of trial and error in pinching the speakers to get the best result, something in which other speakers are less sensitive.
We return to Kurt Elling’s latest funk album, SuperBlue: Guilty Pleasures. The exacerbated presence effect plays its role perfectly on this recording with both impact in the bass, warmth in the voices and extension in the highest frequencies which remain detailed without being overwhelmed by the rest of the message. The notion of power has never been more apparent to us with amplified bookshelf speakers. We doubt SVS processes the signal to adapt it to what we want to hear. But why hold it against them when the result is so well controlled?
We end our test sessions with the HDMI ARC socket connected to a TV. The SVS speakers happily play clips, concerts and films alike. Musically, we find the same qualities with sufficient bass, breadth and precise voices in the centre. The speakers have no trouble creating a soundstage that matches the big picture. Although we are only in stereo, the perfectly rendered reverberation and phase shift allow us to get into the action in front of us. The overall effect is impressive, and you may really find yourself in a dilemma between choosing these small speakers or a soundbar of equivalent price. We have made our choice.