Mark Craven doesn’t have to make too much space for big bass with this dual 8in woofer. Read our SVS MICRO 3000 Review.
Since launching in the late 1990s, American company SVS has developed a reputation for home cinema subwoofers that blend high performance with bargain price tags. And the 3000 Micro, it’s dinkiest model yet, continues that trend.
POSITION: Compact, ranged above SVS’s 1000 and 2000 Series models
PEERS: REL T/7x; KEF KC62; SVS SB-2000 Pro
When SVS says ‘Micro’ it means micro-sized, because the new SVS 3000 has external dimensions of just 276×297×272mm (HWD). First though, I’ll admit that the idea of a compact subwoofer, specifically designed to take up less floor space than a traditional model and therefore be more suited to installation in a living room or gaming den, doesn’t quite fit my image of the SVS brand. This, after all, is the company that sells 16in ported subwoofers that almost require a forklift truck, vertical-standing cylinder models nearly a metre high, and ‘Ultra Tower’ floorstanding loudspeakers that make no attempt to hide their monolith- from-2001 style.
According to the company: “Fully active dual-opposing 205mm SVS drivers are connected in parallel to a single power amp. In this configuration they receive identical amounts of current to ensure precisely controlled and mirrored operation. By firing in unison in opposing directions, the mechanical energy transferred to the cabinet is effectively cancelled, creating a sonically inert enclosure that resolves the age-old problem of micro subwoofers moving around a room. An inverted driver surround allows for maximum excursion and moves massive amounts of air from the diminutive enclosure to generate sound pressure levels you can feel at the deepest frequencies.”
Yet, actually, those tower models (such as the PC-2000) are proof that SVS is a brand that puts some thought into the rooms its products will end up in. So maybe I shouldn’t be surprised its been bitten by the compact bug. Company present Gary Yacoubian even sees it as a noble endeavour, telling me: ‘Perhaps it could open up the world of great bass to more people.’
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The 3000 Micro, as the name indicates, is part of its 3000 Series. This means it shares the same 800W Sledge DSP amplifier unit as the SB-3000 and PB-3000 models. Inside this small enclosure, SVS has packed two 203mm bass drivers, mounted opposite each other in a force-cancelling geometry, both of which are driven by a Sledge STA-800D2 Class-D amplifier that SVS rates with an output of 800-watts continuous, to deliver a claimed frequency response from the subwoofer of 23Hz to 240Hz ±3dB. Only here it’s used to power smaller drivers, in a smaller cabinet, at a lower price.
The new drivers are 8in aluminium cone designs, mounted on inverted surrounds to boost excursion potential. They’re connected in parallel to the sub’s singular amplifier, a configuration that SVS says means they receive the same amount of current ‘to ensure precisely controlled and mirrored operation.’
Harnessing the power of the Sledge amplifier is a 50MHz Analog Devices Audio DSP with 56-bit filtering that enables you to optimise the frequency response, which the company claims is: “the most sophisticated DSP engine available in a home audio subwoofer, maintaining pristine sound quality faithful to the source material through advanced in-room tuning, optimised frequency response curves and powerful DSP controls.”
“This level of processing power is an anomaly at this price range and plays a key role in maximizing the 3000 Micro subwoofer’s real-world potential,’ says Sam Encel, of Interdyn, which distributes SVS in Australia. “It enables chest-pounding, musical bass with accuracy and depth from a shockingly compact cabinet that fits anywhere and seamlessly blends into any room and speaker system, energizing the space with astonishingly rich, effortless, and detailed bass.”
As advertised, the 3000 Micro really is rather small, just 27cm deep and only a toucher taller and wider. It sits on a quartet of small rubber feet and limits design flourishes to just a modest ‘SVS’ badge.
Finish options include piano gloss white, which Yacoubian reveals is more of a sop to the European market than the company’s native US. There’s no price premium for it, so certainly give it consideration, but I’d be perfectly happy with the sumptuous piano gloss black dressing of our review sample. There’s no sign of SVS’s traditionally more affordable (and less agreeable) black ash finish.
Now, if you’re getting a sense of deja vu, I don’t blame you. Last issue we looked at KEF’s KC62, a fellow dualopposed sealed subwoofer with a miniaturized design. It’s tempting to consider them as direct rivals, but I’d argue that’s really not the case, because while the KEF model is considerably more stylish and even more compact (by virtue of its overlapping voice-coil technology), it’s some £ more expensive. They are different horses for different courses.
As with all of SVS’s current subwoofers (following the recent arrival of the 1000 Series Pro range), the 3000 Micro can be controlled via smartphone app. This connects to the subwoofer via Bluetooth, rather than Wi-Fi, which likely makes for a quicker setup.
The 3000 Micro also features control and custom presets via the aforementioned SVS DSP smartphone app, available for Apple, Android and Amazon devices. Owners are able to control volume, access multiple DSP functions and program custom presets to allow easy switching between music, movie, and gaming modes.
Users can also adjust crossover frequencies, adjust a three-band parametric equaliser, set polarity, overall signal phase, room gain and more. The Bluetooth connectivity is bi-directional so you can see the effect of your adjustments in real time on both the app and also on the unusual rear panel subwoofer interface. Yet for the more experimental/ knowledgeable, there’s some interesting stuff here, including Movie and Music preset modes; a parametric EQ tool with three user slots (and a neat, visual representation of the response changes your finger taps will bring); and Room Gain Compensation feature (which covers 25Hz, 31.5Hz and 40Hz, enabling you to smooth output at a targeted frequency that your room dimensions have a problem with). The app itself is very responsive, and includes pop-up tutorials to describe what each feature does.
The 3000 Micro sub features control and custom presets via the DSP smartphone app
After spending a week with this woofer, one thing was obvious: it performs very much like SVS’s more regular models. Slam, depth, and output all beguile. The pursuit of a tidy form factor hasn’t resulted in obvious compromise.
Using the Bluetooth app to make an easy volume tweak – after my AVR insisted during setup on going below my preferred hooligan level – I was soon feeling battered and bruised by the performance of this cute cube.
The highway chase sequence in Sonic The Hedgehog (4K Blu-ray) found the 3000 Micro happily throwing its weight around. The engine of Dr. Robotnik’s armoured truck has a throaty growl, but underneath there are much deeper notes that signify the vehicle’s power and size. The soundtrack thumps ominously, and when the harpoon crashes through the car window it slams into the SatNav with a tight, sharp thud.
Later, during the film’s climactic street battle between old spiky and Robotnik, the sound of the hovercraft’s thruster, and the low-frequency surge when Sonic smashes into it, hit with startling volume and weight, before smoothly decaying.
I dug out Ready Player One (4K Blu-ray) and its race sequence. This did highlight the limits of the SVS’s low-end extension (it’s rated down to 23Hz) as the footfalls of first the T-rex and then King Kong missed out on the scale and depth that I’ve heard on larger subs – but for a woofer intended for small environments, it’s hardly lacking. Meanwhile, its handling of the M.U.T.O-by-the-bridge sequence in Godzilla (2014, Blu-ray) was thrilling – a smorgasbord of low- and mid-bass effects and whumps that stopped and started, rose and fell, with delightful precision.
During quieter, more thoughtful fare, the 3000 Micro doesn’t just shut up shop. With the Dolby Atmos mix of Promising Young Woman (Sky Cinema) it needed to show a lighter, more nuanced touch, adding an easy-does- it sense of ambience (including the background music of the nightclub and coffee shop scenes), and helping the film’s oddball soundtrack hit new lows. Its upper-range bass performance felt spot-on – rich and textured. And then the sound team throw in a huge, room-rattling LF rumble when Cassie arrives at the bachelor party, and I realised my AVR was right all along and had to dip the volume a bit.
SVS no doubt wants hi-fi enthusiasts to enter the world of subwoofers, and the unobtrusive 3000 Micro is an obvious potential partner for a stereo loudspeaker pair. With Michael Jackson’s Beat It (Tidal), it imbued the kick drums with a lovely sense of physicality, and bounced along tunefully to the track’s iconic bassline.
I dutifully switched to the sub’s Music preset for two- channel listening, and the effect of its adjusted response, in my room, was a minor but welcome additional level of bassline body.
Eventually, just as with KEF’s KC62, interested parties will have to weigh up the benefits of the 3000 Micro’s size and styling, versus its price and performance. SVS itself sells a range of larger models that go deeper and stay louder, and pack the same connections and slick control options. Perhaps this model’s biggest rival is SVS’s own single 12in-driver SB-2000 Pro, which sells for the exact same price and has more potential to range below 20Hz.
Judged entirely on its own, however, this can be considered a first-rate woofer, mixing a very high-quality finish with customisation potential and a performance that only a total bass-head wouldn’t love.
“SVS subwoofers have won nearly every award from 2017–2020 respectively, including CES Innovations Awards and, for the past four years running, Expert Imaging and Sound Association (EISA) awards for Best Home Theatre Subwoofer,” said Encel. “And this new SVS 3000 features the same technologies used in the models that won those awards including from the flagship 16-Ultra Series.”
The 3000 Micro comes in a choice of Piano Gloss Black or Piano Gloss White finishes and features extra thick MDF side baffles and rigid internal bracing to support the active dual-driver assembly, and to ensure an acoustically inert environment.
EISA COMPACT SUBWOOFER 2021-2022
Other models in SVS’s 3000 series use a single, large woofer in a sealed or ported enclosure. Here, however, the US bass specialist has introduced its smallest ever subwoofer driver (an 8in aluminium cone), and fitted two of them within a new, rock-solid cabinet measuring less than 30cm in all directions. The 3000 Micro is therefore destined for use in spacestarved home theatres and living rooms, while still delivering the performance that brand fans will expect. Its onboard 800Wrated Sledge DSP amplifier keeps a tight rein on proceedings, allowing this sub to mix control and subtlety with brute force when needed. Factor in the affordable price tag and it’s a clear category winner.
A superb addition to SVS's portfolio of home cinema subwoofers that outperforms its siZe and price point. Overall styling and the Bluetooth control app are positives too.
Best SVS MICRO 3000 prices in the US ?
Best SVS MICRO 3000 prices in the UK ?
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DRIVERS: 2 x 8in aluminium cone woofers ENCLOSURE: Sealed, with dual-opposed driver configuration ONBOARD POWER (CLAIMED): 800W (RMS) Sledge amplifier FREQUENCYRESPONSE (CLAIMED): 23HZ-240HZ (+/-3dB) REMOTE CONTROL: No. SVS Bluetooth app instead DIMENSIONS: 278(h) x 297(w) x 271(d)mm WEIGHT: 10.2kg
FEATURES: Stereo/LFE line-level input;stereo output; Intelligent Control Interface (ICI); 50MHz Analog Devices Audio DSP; 12V trigger; auto standby/on control; low pass filter, phase, polarity, room gain compensation and parametric EQ on SVS control app; structurally reinforced MDF cabinet
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG: The rarest of things: a Hollywood videogame adaption that doesn’t suck. Sure, it’s family-friendly antics won’t appeal to all, but there are Easter Eggs aplenty (including a Fast & Furious gag) and the Dolby Atmos soundmix on Paramount’s UHD Blu-ray is routinely entertaining and chaotic.
Despite the compact dimensions, the 3000 Micro plays deep into the frequency basement; 22 Hz is astonishing. Thanks to DSP support, the 3000 Micro manages to reproduce the lowest frequencies like a big one. App Features: Slope lowpass, room correction (high-pass), and 3-band parametric EQ.
The 3000 Micro delivers exceptional levels for its size. To prevent the dainty 8-inch cones from fluttering and distorting at the lowest frequencies, the electronics lock down at 93 dB. Above a still remarkable 30 Hz, the 3000 Micro plays considerable volumes.
SVS 3000 Micro vs. KEF KC62
The top purple curve is the SVS 3000 Micro, while the curves below are various playback levels of the KEF KC62. The dynamic EQ limiter kicks in hard in the 30 to 80 Hz range where bass is more needed and noticeable in my experience.
Just this weekend I was testing adding an SVS SB-3000 low passed very low at 32 Hz to fill the sub bass from my main speakers. Testing with sine waves it was extending alright below 30Hz to 20 somethings. Then I played lots of bass heavy EDM and acoustic jazz bass, and when I turned off the amplifiers of my main speakers, I could barely hear the sub, even with my ears next to it! The result was kind of surprising and very disappointing: it makes virtually no difference for music!
My testing showed that the most important range is 30 to 80 Hz, which is exactly where the 3000 Micro wins over the KC62.
The Harbeths, KEFs, and especially the Maggies require an exceedingly quick and musical subwoofer, so we’re happy to see the performance validation in real time during his listening sessions, and with some very challenging content.
Our subwoofer design philosophy demands seamlessly blending with the fullrange speakers, so we’re really pleased Herb experienced this with the 3000 Micro in such different setups. In order to accomplish this, we design subwoofers with flat frequency response, speed in transients, and significant output to below the threshold of hearing. In this way, a well-designed subwoofer can complete the listening experience without detracting from the excellence of the full-range speakers.
Of course, anyone who has ever tuned a subwoofer by going back and forth from the listening position to the rear panel knows it can be tedious and trying. It gave us great pleasure to read that Herb found using the SVS smartphone subwoofer control DSP app to be an “intoxicating” experience.
Gary Yacoubian, President SVS