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SVS Pinnacle 3.5-Way Floorstanding Speakers

12-09-2019 | By Editors at Positive Feedback | Issue 106

These speakers can rock, plus produce excellent macro and micro dynamics too!

Review By Dr. Matthew Clott

With this article, Positive Feedback continues its content-sharing relationship with Enjoy the Music. Dr. Matthew Clott shares his thoughts about SVS's Pinnacle 3.5-Way Floorstanding Speakers.

Dr. David W. Robinson, Editor-in-Chief

SVS came on the scene several years ago and impressed everyone with their range of high performance subwoofers. They established themselves as a high value to performance product and sold primarily dealer direct. Their subwoofers come in multiple sizes, multiple price points, and in both sealed and ported versions to seamlessly mesh with home audio and home theater systems. With their success, speaker production was an obvious progression, and they introduced a 5.1 HT system, bookshelf speakers, dedicated surround speakers, and floorstanders. Considering the popularity of today's home theater, Gary Yacoubian (President of SVS) brilliantly maneuvered his company's subwoofers and 5.1 speaker system into Best Buy's Magnolia high end distribution network to increase exposure and prove to the world that his company's product can deliver, and deliver strong. Manufacturer direct is still the bulk of their sales, and he implemented a 45 day in home audition policy with free shipping and returns, 100% money back. Heck, they will even generate the return paperwork and arrange for pickup! This policy exudes confidence in their product and makes it obscenely easy to try truly risk free. They also have a five year warranty.

Technical Details

At a retail price of $1599.98 the SVS Prime Pinnacle sits at the top of their Prime line and below their Ultra line. The key words here are "affordable performance." The Pinnacle is a beautifully designed floor standing 3.5-way speaker, measuring 41.1" high x 8" wide x 13.9" deep, and weighs a hefty 57 pounds. That weight conveys the amount of internal bracing, driver heft, and cabinet reinforcement utilized by the SVS engineers. These guys are used to building cabinets to withstand the massive forces that huge subwoofers create. Call it trickle down, call it experience, call it elf magic, but these speakers are seriously solid beyond their cost point. The cabinet has chamfered front baffles to reduce edge diffraction and improve both imaging and widen dispersion. The footprint is petite, the design is elegant, and the implementation is meticulous. They come in Piano gloss or premium black ash finish options. I received the piano gloss option, a totally reasonable $200 up charge considering the quality of the application, seamless continuity, and richness of luster. I have seen $4000 speakers that didn't have the finish quality of these Pinnacles.

The Prime Pinnacle's utilize a 1" aluminum dome tweeter, single 5.25" glass-fiber midrange, and three 6.5" polypropylene woofers. There is a separate sealed midrange enclosure and three independent woofer enclosures, each utilizing a 2" rear port and tuned to slightly different frequencies to optimize low frequency extension and midrange integration. Here's where the specs get interesting. The engineers integrated these five drivers utilizing a three-way crossover (2.1kHz and 300Hz) with a nominal (and VERY easy to drive) impedance of 8 Ohms and 88dB sensitivity. They recommend a wide range from 20 to 300 Watts of required power, although I found that it took over 50 Wpc to really optimize dynamics and low frequency extension.

Speaking of low frequencies, these $1600- speakers are rated from 29Hz to 25kHz! Yup, they produce sound down to an impressive 29 Hz! Would you expect anything less from a company primarily known for its earth shaking subwoofers? Standard five-way binding posts complete the electrical end of the description. I respect the fact that they chose to not utilize bi-wire posts as very few in this price point really bi-wire or shotgun anyway.

I have to compliment them on their packaging. The speakers arrived double wrapped and protected in well-engineered foam inserts designed to both protect if falling out of an airplane, and make removal of the speaker easy and back pain free. Well done, package design team! And thank you.

Listening Test

Reportedly, their engineers spent more time voicing these speakers than any other. They were designed specifically to sound good with both music and home theater, and to work well in most rooms. It appears the three small 2" rear ports allow for more flexible placement, as they suggested I placed them within 12" of the front wall. I tried the Pinnacles in several locations, and my findings were consistent with what one would expect, the further out they came the wider and deeper the soundstage, and the leaner the base. But they are, unquestionably, designed to be placed about 12-16" off the front wall as that is where the base is both deepest and most taut. For home theater, soundstage depth is irrelevant, but for music reproduction I preferred them about 24" off the wall. It was the ideal compromise. At that distance stage is wide, although even perpendicular to the front wall I rarely heard extension of the stage well beyond the outer edge of the speaker. Centrally, image specificity was quite good and stage height was natural and correct.

Listening to classical allowed the Pinnacles to stretch their arms a bit and their strengths to shine. These speakers can scale. "Night on Bald Mountain" properly conveyed gravitas, and showed how nice it is to have a full range speaker (yes, these speakers do go below 30Hz for under $2000, no sub needed). And Saint Saens' "Danse Macabre" offered both proper delicacy and weight when required. Where they fell short was a true sense of texture that some of the best in this price begin to offer. "Ziggy Stardust" proved that these speakers can rock, and push macro and micro dynamics into the room.

Low frequency extension is clear, tight, deep and downright wondrous at this price point, and puts the Prime Pinnacles in a class by themselves. Although the Pinnacles lacked the last detail of accuracy and clarity, and could not truly reproduce the subtle tonality and complexity of a cello (not really much in this price point can), what it does do VERY well is engage you in the overall experience by doing macro really well. In Thor: The Dark World's "Asgard," the reproduction of horn and tympani sent me soaring above Asgard, and feeling the majesty that piece conveys.

SVS's stated goal for the Pinnacle was to create, "Audiophile refinement and musicality without sacrificing wide dynamic range, deep, effortless bass and all the excitement of a world-class loudspeaker." While the Pinnacle does not truly accomplish "audiophile refinement," and certainly is not a "world class loudspeaker," when looking at the whole of audiophile offerings, it certainly competes favorably with its similarly priced competitors.

While manufacturers like ELAC and Magnepan offer a sense of refinement and harmonic complexity the Pinnacle lacks, the Prime Pinnacle counters with scale, rhythm, dynamics, and real low end extension. If you are looking for a speaker that does music and HT equally well, the Pinnacle is an absolute no brainer. If you're building an audio only system and can't fit a sub, yet want near full range performance at an affordable price, the Pinnacle may be your only choice. If you're looking for an audio only speaker to convey the subtle nuances of a saxophone, the complex textures of a cello, or the harmonic richness of a French Horn, and can either utilize a sub or just don't value what's available under 40Hz, your options widen significantly. Considering the risk free trial opportunity SVS offers, it's tough to pass up the chance to give them a try and see if they work for you.

Listening List

  • Natalie Merchant's "Peppery Man" (Leave Your Sleep, Nonesuch, 522304-2, 44.1kHz/16-bit)
  • Yes's "Leave it" (90125, Rhino Atlantic, XWAR21829F96, FLAC 96kHz/24bit)
  • Oscar Peterson Trio's "You Look Good To Me" (We Get Requests, Verve, XVRJ8606D64, DSD single rate 2.8MHz/64fs)
  • Mussorgsky's on "Bald Mountain: Tuileries" (Russian Showpieces, Sony Classical, B000003FMY, 44.1kHz/16-bit)
  • Count Basie (Live at the Sands, Mobile Fidelity, Reprise Records,9362-45946-2, 44.1kHz/16-bit)
  • Hugh Masekela's "Coal Train (Stimela)" (Jive Africa, Jive, JVD-0330B, 44.1kHz/16-bit)
  • Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" (Time Out, Analogue Productions, XAPJ8192D64, DSD single rate 2.8MHz, 64fs)
  • Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" (Unplugged, Reprise Records, 945024-2, 44.1kHz/16-bit)
  • Sinatra's "The Lady is a Tramp" (57-In concert, DCC, UCDCC 101, 44.1kHz/16-bit)
  • Rimsky Korsakov's "Dance of the Tumblers" (The Snow Maiden, IMP Digital, B075DHQ1NH, 44.1kHz/16-bit)
  • Alison Krauss's "Down to the River to Pray" (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Mercury Records, WAV 96kHz/24-bit)
  • Mussorgsky's "Dance of the Persian Slaves" (Khovanshchina, Act IV, Pentatone, FLAC 96kHz/24-bit)
  • Shelby Lynn's "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" (Just a Little Lovin', Lost Highway Records, FLAC 196kHz/24-bit)
  • "Asgard" (Thor: Dark World, Universal, B00FXH21M0, 44.1kHz/16-bit)
  • Saint Saens' "Danse Macabre" (Witches' Brew, Blue Moon Imports, B0098YTXAC, 44.1kHz/16-bit)
  • "Ziggy Stardust" (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Rhino/Parlophone, B0106UFG1G, 44.1kHz/16-bit)

Associated Equipment

  • Analog Source: Lyra Atlas SL cartridge, VPI HW40 turntable and arm, Manley Steelhead phono stage
  • Digital source: Laufer Teknik Memory Player MP64, Light Harmonic Davinci 2, NAIM Uniti Star
  • Amplification: Absolare Signature Integrated, GrandiNote Essenza Integrated, Octave V80SE with Super Black Box Integrated, Musical Fidelity TriVista Integrated, NAIM Uniti Star
  • Speakers: Dynaudio Consequence Ultimate, Laufer TeknikThe Note, Zu Audio Druid Mark V, Elac UniFi B5, pair of Vandersteen Sub Three w/M7-HPB
  • AC Power: Dedicated Square D 125 amp panel w/10 gauge runs to each outlet, Furutech GTX-D-NCF Rhodium outlets, dedicated circuits for each outlet, Environmental Protection EP-2750 ground filter on each circuit, EP-2050 surge protection/waveform correction
  • Power Conditioning: Shunyata D6000, Richard Gray 400S, Torus RM20BAL
  • Rack and Shelf Support: Adona SR4 & Nemisis ALGC racks, Symposium Ultra shelves, Symposium Rollerblocks 2+ doublestacks, HRS Nimbus, Shun Mook Giant Diamond Resonator, IsoAcoustics Gaia 1 & 2, IsoAcoustics Orea Bourdeaux
  • Interconnect - Crystal Cable Absolute Dream 1.0m XLR, Analysis Plus 1.0m Micro Golden Oval XLR, Shunyata Anaconda S 8.5m XLR, Cable Crystal Connect Reference Diamond 1.5m RCA phono w/ground cable
  • Digital: Light Harmonic Lightspeed 20G USB, Wireworld Platinum Starlight USB, Empirical Audio 1.0m S/PDIF
  • Speaker Cable: Crystal Cable Absolute Dream 2.0m (spade to banana), Analysis Plus Big Silver Oval 2.0m (spade to spade)
  • Power Cable:Shunyata Z-Tron NR 15 amp, Shunyata Z-Tron NR 20 amp, Enklein DAVID 15 ampereAcoustics: Dedicated room, Vicoustics, GIK, Acoustic Wings, Auralax,
    Room: 15'1" wide x 18'5" long x 9'2" high
  • LP cleaning machine: VPI


  • Type: 3.5-way, five driver floorstanding loudspeaker
  • Frequency Response / Acoustic Data: Rated bandwidth: 29 Hz to 25 kHz (+/-3dB)
  • Nominal impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 88dB/w/m (300Hz to 3kHz)
  • Recommended amplifier power: 20 to 300 Watts
  • Tweeter: 1" aluminum dome FEA-optimized diffuser for airy and unveiled presentation.
  • Midrange Driver: 5.25" composite glass-fiber cone with aluminum shorting ring
  • Woofers: Triple 6.5" long stroke motor polypropylene cone.
  • Crossover: Three-way with premium-grade capacitors and air-core inductors.
  • Tweeter-To-Midrange Crossover: 2.1kHz (12 dB/octave slopes)
  • Midrange-To-Woofer Crossover frequency: 300Hz (12 dB/octave slopes)
  • Cabinet: Separate sealed midrange enclosure with angled bracing
  • Dimensions: 40.5" x 8" x 13.4" (HxWxD)
  • Weight: 57.1 lbs.
  • Price: $1599.98 per pair

SVS Sound



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