- Manufacturer & Model
- SVS Prime Wireless SoundBase
Small size, wide range of streaming options including Bluetooth and DTS Play-Fi, can connect with other DTS Play-Fi enabled gear, plenty of amp power.
Prime Wireless SoundBase is SVS's second major wireless product. It's an integrated amp that takes advantage of DTS Play-Fi, which provides access to Hi-Res audio streaming from your favorite streaming services. It also allows SoundBase to integrate with other DTS Play-Fi products to create multi-room and whole-home audio systems. Demo sessions found playback controls to be simple, and SoundBase flexed plenty of muscle to competently drive multiple kinds of speakers and great sounding music.
SVS has been firing on all cylinders in recent years, cementing its prodigious offerings as some of the best no-brainer buys on the market. Of course, the word "best" is subjective, but SVS's fully-retooled lineup of loudspeakers and subwoofers is tough to beat when considering moderately-priced gear. Today, we're turning our attention to wireless audio and the company's nifty Prime Wireless SoundBase. This particular model is a bit of an oddity in SVS's arsenal, primarily because it's not a speaker but rather a powerful integrated amp.
I first uncorked a Prime SoundBase sample last summer, using it as part of an evaluation of Monoprice's 8" Alpha Series In-Ceiling speaker. The integrated amp's utility and performance capabilities were immediately evident, confirming the need for a spotlight review of its own. Many thanks to SVS's fabulous team for its patience as my review queue was paused for much of the last year. So without further delay, let's fire-up SVS's power-packed device and dive deep into what makes it an appealing buy.
SoundBase is a flexible two-channel integrated amp that's sized perfectly for lifestyle use. It can unobtrusively slide into a media center or cabinet, or rest on a tabletop without dominating the landscape. And its wireless capabilities allow owners to enjoy a quality streaming experience using speakers of their choice. Of course, output is always a top concern (especially with something that's sized small), but rest assured because SoundBase is endowed with plenty of muscle.
While SoundBase possesses the power to drive a wide range of speakers, usability and flexibility make it a fantastic component. Reaching well beyond basic wireless connectivity like Bluetooth, SoundBase makes use of DTS's Play-Fi platform, which allows for high-quality streaming from just about any device. It also enables SoundBase to pair with other Play-Fi enabled equipment (regardless of brand) for whole-home or multi-room audio playback.
Simple enough, right?
SoundBase's specs read like those associated with a larger piece of gear. Take, for example, its 2 x 150 watts (4 ohms) of Class D amplification and a rated output bandwidth of 10Hz - 20,000 kHz. Or consider its dual-band Wi-Fi and a Critical Listening Mode that grants single-zone streaming of Hi-Res 24-bit/192kHz audio. There's also Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, which opens the door to higher-quality Bluetooth streaming via AAC and aptX. And who can ignore DLNA compatibility and onboard decoding of a wide range of file types, including MP3, M4A, AAC, FLAC, AIFF, and WAV files (up to 24-bit/192kHz)?
Unlike a large-footprint receiver or integrated amp, SoundBase packs the above capabilities into a smartly designed space-friendly chassis (3" H x 9.10" W x 7.88" D, 4.89 lbs) that also houses several different physical connections. Those include backside stereo RCA inputs, 3.5mm and digital optical inputs, and single subwoofer and stereo RCA outputs. And for those moments where discrete audio is needed, SVS's engineers included a convenient 3.5mm headphone jack on the amp's faceplate (along with simple volume, source, playback, and preset controls).
Unboxing and Set Up
I sense that I've written this before, but it's worth writing again: SVS does an excellent job connecting buyers with its impressive audio offerings. That connection begins with a polished website and an appealing brand image, continues with fast shipping and quality packaging materials, and ends with excellent customer service. My particular review sample arrived in its standard product box, tattooed with SVS graphics, containing well-made internal protective materials. Based on past experiences spanning some half-a-dozen SVS reviews, I'd expect nothing less from an SVS product.
SoundBase doesn't ship with many extras. You can forget about items such as physical remote, batteries, external antennae, an extensive manual, or other accessories. What you will find is a power cord, a handful of promotional materials, and a quick start guide… a detailed manual can be found on SVS's website.
As stated earlier, wireless control of SoundBase is primarily achieved through DTS Play-Fi and the free DTS Play-Fi app (Android and Apple). Once powered up from a factory state, SoundBase instantly enters a Wi-Fi setup mode that's navigated using your preferred device and the Play-Fi app; light and tone sequences help to guide the process. Once connected to a network, owners can assign SoundBase a unique name and streaming services can be registered within the Play-Fi app. The entire process takes roughly 5 minutes and minimal technical skills are required.
Two functions – Bluetooth pairing and re-initiating Wi-Fi set up – require depressing one of two buttons on the backside of the chassis. Luckily, both buttons can be found and operated without a direct line of sight – as long as you can reach the back, you should be good to go.
SoundBase is an attractive piece of kit that possesses a boxy presence and a minimalist faceplate accented by dual top-side racing vents, top- and front-side SVS badges, and blue LED lighting. From a distance, it has a rock-solid look complete with a dull-sheen black finish that carries just a hint of sparkly complexity. Handling the unit communicates a sense of quality, largely thanks to its bottom-heavy weight.
The chassis comprises a metal casing that wraps from the back to the bottom, where you'll find additional venting and rubber isolation feet. The rest of the body features plastic surfaces that look more exotic than they feel. If you're wondering where SVS found savings to keep SoundBase's price point under $500, the smart incorporation plastic (not to mention the use of a non-LCD front display) certainly didn’t hurt.
The front panel's Source/Preset and Playback/Volume knobs are also plastic; while lacking the robustness of high-quality machined metal, both turn and depress with notched tactile feedback. And moving around back, SVS opted for plastic 5-way binding posts and RCA connection points with gold plating, which is a nice touch.
Overall sizing allows SoundBase to fit comfortably on a wide variety of surfaces, giving owners tremendous flexibility when it comes to placement. In fact, it's small and rugged enough to unplug and move around your home (or even toss in a bag to relocate to a secondary location). Perhaps more importantly, SoundBase can discretely power speakers in a room where AV equipment isn't the intended focal point. To note: the chassis's near 8" of depth is somewhat compromised and lengthened by the included power cord. Once plugged in, the cord adds an additional 3" of depth, making it a factor that space-conscious buyers should consider.
It's worth mentioning that SoundBase lacks a physical power button or sleep mode. This keeps the integrated amp in a constant ready state. Of course, this level of readiness comes at the cost of power consumption, which is a negative, but SVS says it eliminates any startup glitches and meets international requirements for standby power. Also, SoundBase has four LED lights that remain lit (flashing or steady) while it's powered on. One illuminates a snazzy blue SVS badge on the faceplate, another is a green LED visible through SoundBase's top right heat vent, and the final two are mounted on the rear. If you're considering using SoundBase in a light-restricted setting, such as a darkened media room or a bedroom, take these LEDs into consideration as you might find them destracting when the lights are dimmed.
For review purposes, I tested SoundBase with a variety of speakers, including Monoprice's 8" Alpha Series In-ceilings, SVS's Ultra Tower and Bookshelf speakers, and Polk Audio's RTiA 3 bookshelf model. Music was sourced from both Spotify and Qobuz, however, Qobuz was the only source used for critical listening.
It's obvious that SoundBase’s size is a major selling point, but its streaming capabilities and Class D amp proved to be the stars of the show. Packing muscle you'd expect from a component two to three times its size, SoundBase was able to drive all four speaker models, including the Ultra Towers, without running out of steam. And while Bluetooth streaming delivered a pleasing sonic experience, sourcing tunes from Qobuz using SoundBase's Critical Listen Mode was an absolute delight.
I challenged SoundBase with a variety of music, from rock and singer-songwriter to electronica and jazz, and the results were pure and revealed. The amp didn't inject any unwanted hiss or noise, nor did is gasp or run out of steam when pushed. Quite frankly, the fact that it carries a subwoofer output was an afterthought during demo sessions.
Take, for example, my romp with Deadmau5's "Strobe - Radio Edit" using the Ultra Towers. This song exploded with a lively and emphatic soundstage that played wide and appeared to climb the walls. Bass, as heard in other favorite electronic tracks, was confident and tight, impressively driven by SoundBase’s power. "Messages From Nowhere" was another eye-opening Deadmau5 track, as a pulsing low-end exhibited strength far outweighing SoundBase's rather diminutive physical stature. And, much like "Strobe," the soundstage revealed lots of swirling complexities that weren’t smeared or suffocated.
SoundBase wasn't shy about handling more delicate tunes, either. When asked to playback Norah Jones's Come Away With Me in its lossless Critical Listening Mode, SVS’s Ultra Bookshelf sounded downright impressive. Jones’s tunes were delivered all the buttery smooth bass lines and smokey vocals I had hoped to hear.
Most importantly, for a renegade listener such as myself, volume levels commanded by SoundBase were impressive. While falling a tad shy of the potent, clarity laced presentation my reference Emotiva amp arrangement delivers at extreme volume levels, SVS's small wonder was able to get close enough. And that kind of performance was realized across all four speakers during listening sessions. SoundBase can easily – I repeat, easily – replace a decent AVR for casual music listening.
SoundBase’s wireless playback capabilities proved to be solid gold. I experienced zero dropouts or streaming hangups, Bluetooth pairing with an iPhone was easy to achieve, and managing presets on the front of the device was simple. The presets are certainly a value-add, as they allow owners to anchor a favorite song or playlist to one of six slots that are selectable on the front of the unit. These can be activated even when your device isn't present. Also, navigation of streaming services through the Play-Fi app was smooth and quick with negligible delay. Of course, much like other ecosystem apps, Spotify was accessed outside of the Play-Fi using Spotify Connect.
I grew to appreciate some of SVS’s utilitarian design choices, including the use of a basic backlit display. Display selections using the Source/Preset knob were clearly communicated, thus minimizing any complex interactions and keeping me focused on the music, which is exactly where I wanted to remain.
At $499, SVS's Prime Wireless SoundBase delivers a tremendous value proposition that's backed by a company known for quality and performance. Having spent a significant amount of time operating SoundBase with a variety of speakers, it's easy to vouch for its intelligent and highly functional punch. What's especially intriguing is SVS's integration of DTS Play-Fi. While it allows you to purchase and integrate multiple SoundBases or pair SoundBase with SVS's Prime Wireless Speaker, it also grants you the freedom to create a whole-home audio system using Play-Fi enabled equipment from other brands.
Ultimately, SoundBase will leave you scratching your head, wondering how SVS crammed so much power and wireless magic into such a simple box. I’m certainly sold! Easy to recommend.
Prime Wireless SoundBase Specifications
- Cabinet Dimensions: 3" (H) X 9.10" (W) X 7.88" (D)
- Overall Dimensions: (includes feet, knobs, rear in/out jacks, speaker terminals): 3.23" (H) X 9.10" (W) X 8.81" (D)
- Packaged Dimensions: 6.73" (H) X 12.24" (W) X 12.24" (D)
- Weight Unboxed: 4.89lbs
- Rated Bandwidth: 10Hz-20kHz (±1 dB)
- SN Ratio: 90dB @1V input, 2 x 150W output
- Power Amp: 300 watts RMS (150 watts x 2 into 4ohm)
- Left/Right RCA Input: Input Impedance: 20K
- 3.5mm Aux Input: Input Impedance: 20K
- Toslink Optical Input: Input Impedance: 75Ω
- Subwoofer output: 2V MAX
- Left/Right RCA Output: 2V MAX
- Front 3.5mm headphone output: 1V@32Ωmax
- Switch Mode Power Supply: Auto Switching 100 – 120V / 220 – 240V, 50/60Hz
- Additional: Fuse - 6.3A/250V, Detachable power cord, Unconditional 2-Year Warranty