SVS has built up a crazy following around their massive active subs and passive Prime Series speakers. Their products are designed to offer the enhanced dynamics and excitement needed to build a quality home theater, but at the same time offer enough refinement for audiophile level music presentation. The cool thing is they do all of this while keeping prices reasonable.
Since low cost, high-performance gear is my thing, the SVS Prime Wireless Speaker System was high on my list of powered bookshelf speakers (bookshelf speakers with built-in amp) to review. The system retails for $599 and for that price you get a complete network capable hi-fi rig. That means speakers, amp, and source all in one compact package. It looks good on paper, but is it worth the cash? Read on, and I’ll let you know what I think…
The pair of speakers I’m reviewing was sent to me by the company in return for an honest review. They will be returned to SVS shortly after the review is completed.
Specs at a glance:
- Tweeter | 1″
- Mid-woofer | 4.5″
- Freq. Response | 52 Hz-25 kHz (±3 dB)
- Amplifier Power | 200 Watts (50 watts x 4)
- Dimensions | 10.24″ (H) 6.10″ (W) 7.21″ (D)
- Weight (speaker pair) | 18.28 lbs
- WiFi, Bluetooth, & Direct Connections
- High-Resolution 192KHz/24-bit DAC
- Stream Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM, Amazon Music and many more streaming services
When I first took the speakers out of the box, the first thing I thought was, “Wow…these look good!” I got the White Gloss pair, a new finish released just a few weeks before them landing on my doorstep, and they look super classy. They also come in Piano Black Gloss, by the way.
The cabinets are quite substantial, with a rap of the knuckles on the side producing a brief “thunk” instead of a hollow sound, which points to suitable materials and bracing. The acoustically transparent grilles are mechanically attached meaning they use posts that insert into the front baffle instead of magnets which I prefer. However, at this price point, it’s not the end of the world, and I think they look better with the grilles on anyway.
The second thing that came to mind was, “Wow these are smaller than I thought!” They are less than a foot tall, and a little over seven inches wide. This is not to say I consider the size a problem. Actually to the contrary, I think the size makes them flexible, being small enough to be used on a desktop, but large enough to work on speaker stands.
The Prime Wireless speakers are basically a classic rear-ported two-way design with a 1″ aluminum dome tweeter and a 4.5″ polypropylene midrange driver. The system makes use of Dual Class-D Power Amps with discrete driver Bi-amplification to provide 50 watts of power to each tweeter and woofer for a total of 200 watts RMS power.
There’s a reason why active speakers are becoming so popular, and that’s the ridiculously easy setup. These SVS speakers are no different. Basically, you take them out of the carton, connect the left and right speakers with the included 10ft interconnect cable, and then plug them in. The interconnect cable uses proprietary connectors on each side, so unlike some systems that use a standard speaker connection, you have to use the wire that SVS provides.
The good thing about SVS, however, is that they offer optional 15 and 20 ft cables that you can order direct from the company. This is nice because nothing is worse than getting a pair of active speakers with a proprietary cable too short for you to properly place them. That being said, the 10ft cable is plenty for most applications.
Connectivity is what sets these bookshelf speakers apart. There are not many stereo speaker sets at this price with the myriad options the Prime Wireless system has. There’s Dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth with aptX and AAC for CD-quality streaming, plus Optical and line-level inputs for connection to TVs, gaming consoles, CD players, turntables, etc. There’s also an Ethernet input for a hard-wired Internet connection. Digital signals are converted to Analog by a High-Resolution 192KHz/24-bit DAC.
Of course, with SVS being a company that makes excellent subwoofers, there’s also a sub out, but it’s not just an ordinary sub out. It automatically sets an active high-pass filter when a sub is connected, making it easier to blend the sound of the main speakers and subwoofer.
The WiFi connection opens up some elegant tricks, like compatibility with the DTS Play-Fi app. The Play-Fi app opens access to a multitude of online streaming services like Deezer, Tidal, Spotify, as well as local music stored on your phone or tablet. You can also access music stored on a network drive connected to your home network.
What makes Play-Fi great is that you can set up a multiroom system similar to Sonos, playing the same music on speakers throughout the house. But unlike Sonos, you are not limited to devices of just one brand. You can connect to any Play-Fi compatible product from brands like Audiolab, Onkyo, Pioneer, Arcam, and many more. You can stream any source playing through the SVS speakers, even the Line Input to the other devices.
Play-Fi also adds Alexa Compatibility so you can use an Alexa device like an Amazon Echo to control the Prime Wireless System via voice. A simple “Alexa, play some Hip-Hop” is all it takes to get them playing. I think it was genius of SVS to include a mature platform such as this in their speakers. The app is well developed and works without a hitch. Why reinvent the wheel? I also like that it doesn’t tie you down to the product line of a single brand.
BTW, Spotify Connect is supported as well, so if you have Spotify Premium service, you can control playback via the Spotify mobile and desktop apps. So as you can see, there is no shortage of sources when it comes to this SVS product.
While all this networking capability is excellent and all, I must mention that the Play-Fi app is the only option you have for remotely controlling the speakers. There is no physical remote control supplied with the Prime Wireless system.
This wasn’t a big deal to me since I would use the app on my phone to stream music nine times out of ten. However, if your phone or tablet dies, you will have to use the front panel of the right speaker to change the volume or play music. Again, not a significant issue to me, but worth mentioning.
By the way, even using the front panel on the speaker gives you a good amount of functionality. Beside having knobs to change the volume and source, or play/pause the music, you also have the option to select six presets which can be set to your preferred sources within the Play-Fi app. That way, even without your phone, you can quickly cue up some of your favorite music.
For my sound testing, I placed the Prime Wireless speakers on heavy metal stands about two feet away from the back wall. The stands were placed about six feet apart, and the speakers were slightly toed in towards my listening position.
I used Tidal streamed via the Play-Fi app for the majority of my testing, and that is where the following listening impressions come from.
The first test track I cued up was “How Deep Is Your Love” from PJ Morton’s Gumbo Unplugged, which is an excellent live recording. A good system will be able to present a wide soundstage with excellent separation between PJ on lead vocal, and the background singers behind him to the left. It will also be able to give some nice weight to the drum and bass guitar keeping rhythm on the right side.
The SVS speakers did very well with this song. The speakers just disappeared, and the imaging was rock solid. PJ’s vocals were crisp and had decent separation from the background vocalists. Everything was in its place. The soundstage was wide even though there wasn’t a lot of depth. While there was a slight lack of transparency and a little bit of port noise, the bass was weighty and held the rhythm like a champ.
The second test track I played, “Within” from Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, showed off the considerable scale and dynamics of these little speakers. I couldn’t believe how hard these speakers could rock within reason. We can’t forget we are dealing with 4.5-inch midbass drivers here. This is a big song, almost theatrical in scale, and a lesser system sounds strained when playing it.
But not the Prime Wireless. These speakers played the song so big that for a minute I thought I had a pair of tower speakers. I can’t imagine how it would’ve sounded with a sub connected. I probably would’ve shaken the whole house.
For $599, it’s hard to think of a separates system that will give you the enjoyment of these two small speakers. They provide you with access to tons of music right out the box (if you have music subscriptions) and they will also stream that music to other devices that are part of the Play-Fi system. The sound is engaging with sweet (though slightly rolled off) highs, nice mids, and punchy bass. No matter what genre I put on, I enjoyed what I was hearing.
This package gives you a ton for your money. If you are looking for a budget-friendly all in one hi-fi system, you need to check these out. Highly Recommended!
Music Mentioned In This Review:
I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My thirst for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.