Thursday, March 16, 2017

SVS PC-2000 Home Theater Subwoofer Review

With all of our hectic daily lives, movies are a way we can get away for a short time and have some quality entertainment. It’s easy to think about the importance of a high quality video image. But just as important is the audio. After all, how much do you miss if you watch a movie with the sound muted? And now looking at just the audio, a subwoofer is extremely important. Try watching an action movie without a subwoofer, and then with a subwoofer. Having that depth of sound for explosions, for example, gives so much more excitement. Enter SVS Sound with their PC-2000 subwoofer.

SVS Sound is an excellent one stop shop for all your speaker needs for your home audio system. But their specialty is with subwoofers.  For many years, all they did was subwoofers. And those subs were awesome! After all, their old school 16-46 PC Plus is still the subwoofer that is called up in our reference home theater system. And it performs amazingly! So when given the opportunity to review their PC-2000, we naturally jumped on it!

Features and Specs:

Subwoofer Specs

·         Elegant interchangeable top cap

·         Down-firing 12" 2000-series driver

·         Rear Firing 4" high-flow port with custom-tooled outer port flare

·         Premium black-knit speaker grille cloth cylinder covering

·         Rear-mounted Sledge 500W amplifier SVS-exclusive flush mounting

·         SoundPath Subwoofer Isolation System feet included as standard equipment

·         Extremely rigid and strong cylinder enclosure

·         Overall Dimensions:  16.6" (OD) x34" (H) (includes SoundPath Isolation Feet)

·         Weight (unboxed): 50 pounds

·         Shipped dimensions: 38.2" (H) x 19.0" (W) x 20.0" (D)

·         Shipped Weight: 57.5 pounds

Driver Specs:

·         New SVS 12" 2000-series driver

·         Powder-coated cast aluminum baasket

·         Dual high-grade ferrite magnets

·         Finite Element Analysis (FEA)-optimized motor structure

·         Dual shorting rings reduce gap induction an lower distortion

·         Extended pole piece improves heat sink and thermal management properties

·         2" diameter, high-power voice coil

·         Upgraded Nomex spider for improved linearity and driver control at extreme drive levels

·         high-quality insulated tinsel leads with 3-point contact precision alignment

·         Lightweight aluminum cone with polypropylene dust cap provides excellent rigidity and pistonic behavior

·         Low-creep rubber long-throw surround for excellent durability and longevity

Amp Specs:

·         New Sledge STA-500D DSP amplifier

·         500 watts RMS continuous (1100 watts peak dynamic)

·         Efficient and cool-running Class D topology

·         DSP control for accurate response and refined behavior under all operating conditions

·         Main power rocker switch

·         Auto-On / On toggle switch

·         3-12V trigger with 1/8" (3.5mm) TRS mini-jack input

·         Green standby mode with > 0.5 watts consumption

·         Stereo lin-level RCA Input & Output connections

·         Input impedance - 47 k ohm (unbalanced line-level RCA)

·         Continuously variable volume/gain control

·         Continuously variable (0-180 degrees) phase control

·         Continuously variable (50-160Hz) 12 dB/octave low pass filter frequency with disable/LFE setting

·         Fixed 80Hz 12dB/octave high pass filter on line level outputs

·         RoHS compliant, lead-free construction and world-wide safety certifications

·         Detachable power cord.

The SVS PC-2000 came shipped in a nice looking box with photos of the subwoofer and it’s specs. Opening the box revealed a well protected subwoofer, with foam wedges on all four corners to hold the round tube in place securely in the box. After taking off the plastic revealed an extremely well made subwoofer. After all, they are made in the USA. Materials used in the construction of the enclosure was a solid cardboard tube, with a nice black cloth covering, with wood caps on both ends. The top cap is black and shows the wood grain. The bottom cap is what holds the subwoofer in place. On one of the sides is the built-in amplifiers and port, I also really like the soft rubber feet at the bottom. The box also included the power cord and manual.

When it comes to the components that make up the SVS PC-2000, the key components would be the enclosure, amplifiers and driver. I love the tube design. It allows for a very small footprint.  The SVS PC-2000 has a set tuning from the tube. And don’t let the cardboard fool you. It actually is very strong, as proved by our 16-46 PC Plus still being used after around 10 years. The tube is an industrial grade thick and hard cardboard, and it makes for a stiff tube. The wood end caps and the amplifier are able to easily be mounted.

The amplifier is a very high quality Digital Class D amplifier. It’s rated at 500 watts RMS. Build quality is excellent. The only difference in amplifiers between that amp, and the ones found on the higher models is higher output and extra features. The built quality is still the same.

The heart of the SVS PC-2000 is the driver, and the driver in the PC-2000 is an excellent one. The driver in the PC-2000 is their entry level 12" driver. But after many years of improving and raising the bar, it is an excellent performing driver that in most other manufacturer’s subwoofers would not be anywhere near entry level! The driver features an aluminum cone with high quality rubber surround. It’s an efficient driver that makes the most out of the power it is fed. It’s not really high power handling, but it puts out a lot with that power!

Having the 16-46 PC Plus, we are familiar with the SVS quality. We also previously reviewed their top of the line PC Ultra. So when unpacking the PC-2000, I was very pleasantly unsurprised. Whether it is the top of the line or entry level model, you can count on a very high quality product! Materials used in the construction was very good. The build quality was equally just as good. As you move up the line, you get more features and better performance.  Now lets see how this PC-2000 performs!

In listening to the SVS PC-2000, I started with movies first, and then turned to music. With it primarily being a home theater subwoofer, that made sense. I went through my movies to look for good action movies that had a lot of explosions and action.  I started with GI Joe: Rise of Cobra, with the scene where Cobra initially went after the warheads. The PC-2000 played deep with good impact, dynamics, and authority. The sustained rumble was quite smooth and very well controlled. Next I turned to the new Star Wars Episode VII. The scene where Kylo Ren tries to use the Force to read Ray’s mind has some serious bass! It takes a real Juggernaut of a subwoofer to be able to play under 20 cycles. That depth is taxing on all components of a subwoofer. And if this scene wasn’t difficult enough, I cranked it! The bass in this scene was incredibly deep and sustained! And the SVS PC-2000 kept up with it very well. It was mayhem in our demo room, with shutters , doors, and walls vibrating like crazy. It shook the whole house! On few occasions the SVS PC-2000 could be heard bottoming out, and this scene was one of them. Next came the new Dr. Strange movie. There were good bass test scenes throughout! When the battles went on, and buildings manipulated, the mayhem continued with a low rumble that was so deep you could feel it. It played with very good authority that was very well controlled and sustained, with the occasional bottoming out.

Next up was music, and here the SVS PC-2000 performed just as well. I went through multiple different genre with pop, disco, new age and even my bass discs. Quick beats had really good punch and impact. Longer bass tones had a lot of authority and were well controlled. Everything I played sounded just as it was intended. My favorites were probably the Fresh Aire 7, the Chakras of the Body - Chakra 1. Also Sprach Zarathustra and my bass disc, Bass Mekanic: Sonic Overload, were favorites. The Chakra 1 track really showed the resolution and pitch definition that the SVS PC-2000 was able to provide. Also Sprach Zarathustra proved just how deep the sub could go and be sustained doing so. It wasn’t loud, but it felt like an earthquake! And then the Bass Mekanic:  Sonic Overload, was loud, clean, and dynamic, hitting hard! The whole house shook, and my daughter ran in telling me to turn it down cuz loose change that was on a high shelf was vibrating off and falling on the ground!!  I was also pleased to see that with the high output the SVS PC-2000 was able to put out, it still ended up being very musical as well!

I was very pleased with the performance of the SVS PC-2000 subwoofer. Being a bit of a bass head, I like a lot of bass. Yet I don’t listen to our reference sub the SVS 16-46 PC+ as loud as I had the PC-2000. I wanted to really torture it and see what it can and can’t handle. I was very impressed with what it could handle, especially given it’s spot in the SVS line-up, as one up from the entry level.

I think the best way to explain it is to use an analogy, comparing it to an engine redline. Typically the higher performance the engine, the higher the redline, or the personal breaking point. The redline for the SVS PC-2000 is not as high as the redline of their PC Plus line, or their Ultra line. Those lines have more output from the amps, and drivers are overbuilt to handle more. So when I was able to get the SVS PC-2000 to bottom out on occasion, that was just because I was really pushing the sub to play very loud and very deep. And at levels I typically wouldn’t listen to. So while it’s redline is not as high as the PC Plus or Ultra line, it’s still higher than most other subs on the market.

SVS did extremely well with the SVS PC-2000! So well that I would say the PC-2000 has set the benchmark in standards that a true home theater subwoofer should meet. There are a lot of home theater subwoofers out there.  Most will go down to 30Hz, and many will go down to 25Hz.  But not many will go down to UNDER 20Hz, and do so with authority.  SVS is one of the rare big dogs.  After all, when T-Rex comes, you want to be able to FEEL him come! And the SVS PC-2000 can do just that. Given it’s $800 price point, it is worth every penny, and gives a huge bang for your buck! Add to the fact that they have a 5 year warranty and a 45 day audition period, you really can't go wrong! Based on it’s design, features, quality and performance, the SVS PC-2000 has earned our Highly Recommended Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.svsound.com.  Reference gear used:  Onkyo TX-NR1007 Home Theater Receiver, Oppo Digital BDP-103D Universal Blu-ray Player, Sony VPL-HW15 Bravia SXRD 1080P Front Projector, NHT Classic Three front, center, and rear speakers.


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Monday, March 6, 2017

Magellan RoadMate 6630T-LM GPS and DashCam Review

We live in an ever changing world. This is especially true with consumer electronics. Consumer electronics are constantly being improved on, and get better. Magellan started with excellent car GPS receivers. They later started making DashCams.  DashCams then became integrated into their GPS receivers. Now with the Magellan RoadMate 6630T-LM, the internal DashCam gets hi-definition!

Features and specs:
o    5" Touch Screen Display: Large, vibrant, sunlight-readable display with day and night views for easy visibility and high resolution for video playback.
o    Free Lifetime Map Updates: Never worry about out-of-date maps again. Download the latest map information (up to 4 times a year) for the life of your Magellan RoadMate navigator.
o    Free Lifetime Traffic Alerts: Real-time traffic updates sent directly to your GPS unit to avoid traffic jams and other delays. Choose to continue your current route or take a suggested detour. Travel times are provided for all options.
o    Traffic Camera Alerts by PhantomALERT: Receive audible and visual warnings of fixed red light and speed cameras along your route free for one year. Become one of the many reporters on the roads by submitting your own discoveries or by rating the reliability of alerts. Premium content is available for an extra cost which includes black-spots (high accident areas), school zones, and dangerous intersections and much more.
o    Full HD 1080p Integrated Dash Camera: Forward facing dash camera continuously recording crystal clear video in 1920x1080 resolution.
o    Excellent Day & Night Recording: Camera features 6 glass lens + 1 IR filter, aperture (f/1.8), and wide angle lens (110˚).
o    Impact Recording: 3-Axis G- Sensor measures forces and movements and lock current video, previous video clip, and next recording upon impact.
o    Lane Departure Warning: Visual and audible warning notifies the driver if they are wandering out of their lane.
o    Forward Collision Warning: Visual and audible warning alerts drivers if they are getting too close to the car directly ahead.
o    Location, Date and Time Data: All video recordings display GPS location, date and time information.
o    Landmark Guidance: Receive directions using 10 POI categories of landmarks as your guide, making it a more intuitive way to navigate.
o    Junction View: Realistic images of freeway signs and arrows guide you to the correct lane to make driving easier, safer and less stressful.
o    Speed Limit Warning: Manage your speed along your route with optional settings for visual and audible alerts.
o    Best Parking: Provides parking garage locations, hours of operation and directions to the entrance.
o    8GB microSD Card Included: Compatible up to 64GB Class 10 microSD cards.
o    Driving Break Reminder: Receive an audible alert that it is time to switch drivers, or if driving alone, take a break and relax. Driver's select the amount of time they can drive before being reminded.
o    Headlight Reminder: At sunset drivers are notified to turn on their headlights for better visibility and safer driving.
o    Digital Camera Mode: Detach device from its mount and it can be used to take hi resolution images.
o    Video Playback Mode: Use the large hi-resolution screen to immediately watch any recorded video.
o    Manual Save and Protect: Save any recordings with simple touch of a button. Let's you save any unexpected moment that is not impact related.
o    Multi-Destination Routing: Plan a trip with multiple stops in the order you want, or let your Magellan navigator select the most efficient route.
o    OneTouch™ Favorites Menu: Find your favorite restaurant, bank, gas station and more in any city with a single touch. Easily create shortcuts to your favorite destinations and previous searches with personalized bookmarks so you can quickly find them anywhere you travel.
o    QuickSpell® with SmartCity Search: As you type the first few letters of your target address QuickSpell instantly narrows the search based on your destination.
o    7 Million Points of Interest (POI): Search and route to millions of preloaded destinations such as gas stations, restaurants, hotels, attractions and other points of interest.
o    Highway Exit POIs: Search and route to millions of preloaded destinations near upcoming highway exits.
o    Preloaded Premium Maps: Travel the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada with all the maps you need, pre-loaded on your device.
o    Automatic re-route: Missed the turn? It happens to the best of us. Quickly get back on track with auto re-route.
o    Customizable Route Method: Select shortest distance, fastest time, most use of freeways, or least use of freeways.
o    Spoken Street Names: Hear street names and directions for a clear understanding of when to make the next turn while you keep your eyes on the road.
o    Address Book: Create and store personal points of interest and skip repeated address entry.

DEVICE
·         Dimensions (English)5.3" x 3.3" x 0.8"
·         Dimensions (Metric)135mm x 84mm x 20mm
·         Weight (English)6.4oz
·         Weight (Metric)181.4g
·         Battery Type950mAh, Li-ion rechargeable
·         Battery Life2 Hours
·         CameraYes
·         SpeakerYes
·         Stereo Audio JackYes
·         CPUAllwinner A33 ARM Cortex-A7 1.2GHz
·         Expandable MemorymicroSD
·         Temperature Range (F)14F to 158F
·         Temperature Range (C)-10C to 70C
·         Internal Memory8GB
·         SD SlotYes
SCREEN
·         Display Resolution, WxH800x480 WVGA
·         Screen Size5.0"
·         Display TypeColor, Capacitive
·         Touch ScreenYes
GPS & SENSORS
·         GPS Accuracy3-5 Meters
·         High-Sensitivity GPSYes
·         Antenna TypeMultidirectional Patch
MAPPING & NAVIGATION
·         Preloaded MapsUS, Canada, Puerto Rico
·         Points of Interest7M
·         Turn-by-Turn RoutingYes
·         Lifetime Traffic AlertsYes
·         Highway Lane AssistYes
·         Map UpdatesLifetime
·         Multi-Destination RoutingYes
·         OneTouch Favorites MenuYes
·         Speed LimitsYes
·         Spoken Street NamesYes
·         Branded POIsYes
·         POIs Along RouteYes
·         Smart City SearchYes
·         Smart DetourYes
·         QWERTY/ABCD KeyboardYes
·         Find Your CarYes
·         Landmark GuidanceYes
·         Junction viewYes
·         Traffic Camera Alerts by PhantomALERTYes
CAMERA
·         Resolution1920x1080
·         Horizontal View angle110°
INTERFACE & COMMUNICATIONS
·         USB PortUSB 2.0
·         PC CompatibleYes
·         MAC CompatibleYes
·         Wi-FiYes

 
The Magellan RoadMate 6630T-LM came well in a nice looking color printed box with photos of the receiver and it’s features. Included were the receiver, dash mount, power cord, microSD card, and owner’s manual. Materials used in the construction of the receiver was mostly plastic. Quality of the materials was very good as is the fit and finish. It felt well made in hand, as is quality Magellan is known for.

Setting up the Magellan Roadmate 6630T-LM was very simple. Thanks to the suction cup windshield mount, it was quick and very easy to get it mounted where I wanted it. The power cord was plenty long enough to plug into the power outlet. The menus were just as easy to follow and go through in getting the GPS and DashCam all set up. The menus also let you make adjustments and enable the features that you want. The ones I loved the most were the alerts for photo radar and stop light cameras, to help you not get a ticket for them.

There are also a lot of other features that I really liked. In a large metro city, there tends to be multiple freeways. And on-ramps and off-ramps can get confusing when merging. The lane guidance that gives you a visual is extremely helpful! There are also multiple safety features, such as the Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision warning, and Driver Break warning. It even has a Headlight Reminder. I did, however, notice that not all features carry over from other products. So while it has built-in GPS and DashCam, it does not have the Wide Dynamic Range feature as is found in the MiVue 420.

As is the case with other Magellan products reviewed, the Roadmate 6630T-LM GPS and DashCam performed very well! It never steered me wrong. Accessing the points of interest to find a gas station of restaurant was extremely easy. My wife loved the display of the speed limit on screen, and the notifications when I was over it. She also laughed at the notifications that I was following too close. I liked the photo radar and red light camera warnings, although some of them seemed to be in an area that no longer had them. The GPS functionality performed in spades.

The DashCam part of the receiver also worked very well, in Magellan style! I loved the resolution that gave good details, thanks to the true hi-definition. In the event that I needed the details, I know I would be covered. Night images were ok, and worked well also. While performance here was good, it would have improved with use of wide Dynamics Range. Yet I was still able to see and make out the night images.


The Magellan RoadMate 6630T-LM GPS and DashCam gives us a lot of usability, and the features we really need.  It also provides additional features such as photo and red light camera detection, and collision detection that are highly beneficial! And the performance was as expected from Magellan. Based on its design, features quality and performance, the Magellan RoadMate 6630T-LM DashCam has earned our Highly Recommended Award. With an MSRP of $229, you are getting a big bang for your buck. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.magellangps.com.


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