It’s always difficult when you name a speaker something like Pinnacle. Not only do you have to deliver something that really does sound like it’s reached the heights of what is possible, but you also leave yourself open to the question: where the hell do we go from here? We can’t answer the latter, but we can confirm that SVS have definitely reached the former. The SVS Prime Pinnacle floorstanding speakers are arguably the best they’ve ever built.
What We Like
- The SVS Prime Pinnacle speakers deliver warm and engaging sound quality that is quite addictive.
- The bass on the Prime Pinnacles is just sublime.
- The construction and build quality are top notch—a premium design without the premium price.
What We Don't
- The SVS Prime Pinnacle speakers demand a solid amp to get the best out of them.
- The highs on the Prime Pinnacles are perhaps just a little too loose and blurry.
- The gloss finish is a serious fingerprint magnet.
SVS Prime Pinnacle Specs
|$1,600||20-300W/8Ω||88dB||3 x 6.5", 1 x 5.25", 1 x 1"||29Hz||25kHz|
*LF = Lowest Frequency
*HF = Highest Frequency
Table of Contents
Design and Features
SVS Prime Pinnacle Looks and Build Quality
You can pick an SVS speaker out of the lineup from fifty yards away. This is a company with a very distinct house look, that look being ‘ancient monolith chic meets alien supercomputer’. The SVS Prime Pinnacle speakers, are big, black, monolithic, and as we shall soon see, very much ideal for anyone who is even remotely interested in audio. The design hasn’t changed dramatically from the original Prime Towers, so much so that if you put them side-by-side, you’d have to take a second to tell which is which.
Then again, that’s no bad thing. Our speakers, which came in a fingerprint-attracting gloss black, instantly became the focal point of our audio system. The black reflective surface (there is a matte option available) seems to suck in the light, and certainly manages to draw eyeballs. Although these speakers aren’t particularly wide (8”) or high (41”, about average for a pair of floorstanders), they go deep. A depth of 13.9” means they have a sizeable footprint, and although they don’t have the positioning problems faced by the awkwardly shaped SVS Ultra Towers, you’ll still need to make sure you place them some distance away from the wall to get the best out of them. Those with small spaces need not apply.
What that does mean is that they are more suitable for hi-hi, in terms of their looks, then they are for home theater. They performed just as well in either setting (see below) but we genuinely thought that putting them on either side of a TV or projector screen risked taking away the focal point. These are not speakers that fade into the background
At 57 pounds each, you can just—just— about manage unboxing them yourself, although like most of the companies products, things will be significantly easier if you have a friend or willing partner. However you do it, the immediate impression of the speakers is that they are heavy, with the solidity that bodes well for the sound. The MDF cabinets are clearly braced in all the right places, and thick enough to contain any resonance. They may not be the most attractive speakers we’ve ever seen— nothing this monolithic could ever be described as truly beautiful. But they have a certain brutalist appeal all on their own, in the same way a government skyscraper does: big, solid, unmoving, eternal. They make other speakers, like the otherwise excellent Focal Chora 826, look flighty and ethereal.
Drivers and Connections
Let’s start with the woofers. You get three of the damn things, taking up most of the front of the speaker, each one measuring 6.5”. This is not, as we shall see, a speaker that has any trouble with the bass. Above the three woofers is a single 1” tweeter, surrounded by the distinctive SVS plate with the screws forming across. Above it, there’s a 5.25” mid-range driver to fill in the blanks.
The Prime Pinnacles are three-way speakers (here’s what that means). And although we should probably save this particular talk for the section below, where we discuss sound quality we think that the crossover that SVS are using here is something quite special. It’s called the SoundMatch, and although you can’t see it— it resides inside the speakers— it really does manage to create a cohesive soundstage. There is some loudspeaker technology, like the Uni-Q driver on KEF ‘s Q950 speakers, that is widely celebrated as pushing the audio world forward. We may be getting ahead of ourselves here, but we think that the SoundMatch crossover should be in the same conversation.
There’s a single pair of binding posts around the back of each speaker. They work fine, and can accommodate both banana plugs and bare wire, but it’s worth noting that you won’t be able to bi-amp or bi-wire the speakers. If that’s an approach you want to take, it may be worth spending a little more to get a set of speakers with four binding posts on the rear of each. We recommend something like the Klipsch RP-8000F, which are around $400 more expensive. Overall, the SVS are a better speaker, but they cannot offer the same versatility that the Klipsch can.
Round the back, you’ll find three open bass ports. It’s for this reason we strongly recommend positioning the speakers at least a foot away from the wall, two feet if you can manage it. Otherwise, you’ll notice an audible loss of power in the low end. One thing that we’d like to see in future editions of the speaker is the inclusion of foam plugs to close these ports, as found on the company’s bigger subwoofers like the PB16-Ultra (full review here). We don’t claim to know whether or not the sound would improve, or even if it’s advisable to do so given the size and shape of the sonically inert cabinet. But it would certainly be interesting to try.
A minor annoyance: the grille, which fits over the drivers at the front of the speaker, is not magnetic. That’s irritating for a set of speakers that cost $1,600 for the pair. Instead, you get plastic binding posts and holes, which tarnish the look somewhat. It’s not a huge problem, just something to bear in mind.
Beyond that, you also get a set of metal feet that screw into the bottom of each speaker. We have hardwood floors, and we were more than happy to keep the default rubber feet attached. We didn’t feel we had a problem with isolation, so swapping out the feet isn’t something you necessarily need to do. It’s good to have the option, though.
Sound Quality and Performance
SVS Prime Pinnacle Soundstage and Sweet Spot
We’ve already mentioned the SoundMatch crossover built into the speakers, and it’s worth talking about the effect on the sound. Essentially, what it does is create one of the widest and most forgiving sweet spots we’ve ever encountered in a floorstanding speaker. Sweet spot, of course, refers to the area in the room whether sound is at its truest and most natural, usually directly opposite the speakers, and roughly somewhere in the middle. The wider the sweet spot, the further away you can be from this point while still getting the optimum sound. The Prime Pinnacles manage to pull off quite a trick, with the sound seeming to follow us as we moved from left to right in front of them. Compared to the aforementioned Focal Chora 826 speakers, which are extremely fussy and narrow, it was an absolute pleasure.
We were also seriously impressed with the soundstage. Picking out different instruments, or elements in a movie, was a breeze. The different audio elements occupied clear positions in space, and we never had any problem differentiating where they were coming from. Admittedly, most floorstanding speakers these days offer very decent soundstage, but we really did feel like the Prime Pinnacles went above and beyond what we were expecting. They do a fantastic job, and the audio that came out of them was convincing and clear.
Performance with Music
SVS are all about the bass. You only need to take a look at some of their subwoofers to know that. It’s a product category they excel in, and even in budget models like the SB-1000 Pro (full review here), the low end is still phenomenal. That philosophy bleeds into their larger speakers, and it’s definitely the case with the Prime Pinnacle.
With three woofers and three open bass ports, you’d expect low end to sound superb, and it is. It’s the kind of thundering, rambunctious bass that puts a real smile on your face, and seems to perform particularly well when playing music in a hi-fi setup. Hearing a gnarly bassline through these things, or the sub-bass slam of a kick drum, is an absolute joy. Given that the speakers can put out sound down to around 25Hz, which is in the range of most subwoofers, that’s not surprising. We actually had an SVS subwoofer with us, the highly competent and surprisingly effective SVS 3000 Micro. We tested the speakers with and without the subwoofer, and although we felt the sub definitely added something extra into the mix, we got along quite happily without it. These are the kind of speakers you can buy without worrying about having to invest in a separate sub.
And boy, do these speakers love music. They have a warm, engaging, full sound signature that really lends itself to genres like R&B, EDM and hip-hop. While grungy heavy metal did give the low end a little bit of trouble, the overall impression was that of a speaker that just begs to be pushed, that begs you to turn the volume up. The audio quality was tremendously fun and exciting, even a little addictive. The very best speakers, we think, are the ones that let you have fun; that reward your investment with something you want to use over and over again. These speakers are neither subtle in looks nor in sound, and you know what? We think that’s a very good thing.
Performance with Movies
One important thing to note with the SVS Prime Pinnacles is that the highs are a little too laid back. It’s not that they aren’t present – they are, and they provide good enough detail. But compared to the warm and addictive mids and bass, we sometimes felt like we wanted a little more from them. They didn’t have the same snap and sizzle as something like, for example, the Wharfedale Evo 4.4 speakers.
We noticed this while playing music, but we noticed it even more when listening to movies. Sure, we got as much excitement as we could handle when it came to dinosaur roars from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and the thunder of turbine engines in The Wandering Earth. But the one thing we did find was that dialogue didn’t sound quite as crisp as we would have liked. In addition, elements like bullets whizzing by didn’t sound all that threatening, without the upper ranges being able to provide the energy.
We don’t want to overstress this problem. Again, the highs aren’t bad. They get the job done. But compared to how well the speaker performs in other areas of the frequency spectrum, it’s a little surprising to find them lacking here. They felt a little loose and blurry. Part of this might be down to amp selection. While testing in our home theater setup, we relied on a Denon AVR-S750H AV receiver, a workmanlike model that gets the job done but which isn’t particularly brilliant, in sonic terms.
We didn’t have another receiver on hand to test our theory that a more expensive and better tuned model would boost the highs a little, but we did note that they seemed to have a lot more energy when paired with our Denon PMA-600NE stereo amp, which is much more robust and interesting in terms of sound. Essentially, what we’re trying to say is: pick your amp carefully. These are speakers that clearly respond to good and careful amp choice. We had this confirmed when we paired them with a Marantz SA30 stereo amp, a $3,000 model that is (in theory) much better than the Denon. We preferred the Denon-SVS pair, which had significantly energy and fizz than the Denon-Marantz pairing.
Why You Should Buy the SVS Prime Pinnacle
Because you want the best pair of floorstanding speakers currently available. Because you demand energy and excitement from your music, and thunderous power from your movies. Because you appreciate speakers that are well made, solid, and rewarding. The SVS Prime Pinnacles are an example of superb engineering and dedication to excellent sound, and we think they are as close to essential as a pair of loudspeakers get. Again, we can’t imagine where SVS actually go from here. Or to put it another way: if there is another pinnacle to reach, we will be amazed.'
Why You Should Not Buy the SVS Prime Pinnacle
If you demand pinpoint realism or neutrality from your audio, these speakers aren’t the ones for you. The laid-back highs will be frustrating to anybody who likes pure detail in their music. As such, we think there are better options to go for, some of which we discussed below. We’d also say that these speakers are relatively expensive, at $1,600 for the pair, and there are certainly more affordable options available.
SVS Prime Pinnacle vs. SVS Ultra Tower
The SVS Ultra Towers are, for lack of a better description, the bigger, uglier brother of the Prime Pinnacles. They have one of the most unique and distinctive shapes we’ve ever seen in a floorstanding speaker, with a flared rear that makes them look like something out of the Batcave. The biggest difference between these and the Pinnacles is the bass. The Ultra Towers sport twin opposing 8” woofers on the side of each speaker, and as a result, go down much deeper and hit much harder in the low end than the newer model. That said, we don’t think they are superior. In fact, by now, they feel positively outdated, with the overall sound signature of the newer Prime Pinnacles more than measuring up. Add in the fact that they are more expensive, to the tune of about $500 more than the Pinnacles, and much tougher to position inside a room, and we think you can skip right over these. They are a great set of speakers, but there are better and newer options available. The world has moved on.
SVS Prime Pinnacle vs. SVS Prime Tower
On the face of it, the SVS Prime Towers are very similar to the newer Pinnacles. The design is slightly different, but the specs are almost identical, one of the few differences being the lower amplifier power range (20 to 250 watts, versus 20 to 300 for the Pinnacles) and only two bass ports instead of three. We don’t think they sound nearly as good, which is not surprising: the newer Pinnacles benefit from years of R&D since these were released. That said, they are significantly less expensive, at just over $1,000 for the pair. That means that if you want to experience some of the SVS sound, but don’t feel like springing for the expensive Pinnacles, these may be worth it.
SVS Prime Pinnacle vs. Focal Chora 826
We adore the Focal Chora 826, mostly for their sound quality. When put head-to-head against the Prime Pinnacle they come off as more detailed and clean, with far more emphasis on a precise top end. That’s one of the big downsides of the SVS speakers, so if you like your detail, the 826s are worth a look. Having said that, they are much fussier with positioning, with a much narrower sweet spot. They are also more expensive, at $2,190 for the pair. We really like them, and we think they are among the best speakers you can buy right now, but they definitely have their problems, and won’t be suited for everyone. Focal make great speakers, but overall, we think the Prime Pinnacles are better.
SVS Prime Pinnacle vs. KEF Q950
At $2,500, the venerable KEF ‘s Q950 cost nearly $1,000 more than the Prime Pinnacles— but boy, do you hear it. These sound absolutely superb, matching warm and engaging mids with thunderous bass and clean detail up top. Thanks to KEF’s Uni-Q driver, they also have one of the widest sweet spots of any loudspeaker we’ve tested, meaning they are ideal for those with tricky rooms, or for listening positions that may be slightly off center. The one thing to bear in mind is that they are even more demanding of their amplification tech than the SVS speakers. You need to be careful to pair them with good electronics if you’re going to get the most out of them. A very solid, if expensive, set of speakers.
SVS Prime Pinnacle vs. Wharfedale Evo 4.4
For those who want a little more power and energy then the reasonably sized Prime Pinnacles can provide, it’s worth checking out the Wharfedale Evo 4.4. This is a beast of a speaker, with a big, bold sound that is ideal for larger rooms. It’s very hard to think of a listen that is as exciting or punchy as the Evo 4.4. They are more expensive ($1,998 for the pair, versus $1,600 for the Prime Pinnacles) but we think it may be worth it if you have a big space to fill. Of interest: they contain AMT (Air Motion Transformer) tweeters, which use a specially folded membrane to move lots of air with minimal energy. As a result, the highs are much more natural and precise than the SVS speakers.
SVS Prime Pinnacle vs. Klipsch RP-8000F
As mentioned above, the SVS Prime Pinnacle feels a little more natural with music than it does with movies. But if you want a speaker that is the polar opposite, we strongly recommend checking out the Klipsch RP-8000F speakers. They are absolutely superb in a surround sound setup, really bring across the nuances of dialogue, and lending a little bit of heft to bullet impacts, kicks, and punches. Details are super clear, although we do feel that sometimes the soundstage falls down a little. Overall, the Prime Pinnacles are the superior choice, but these are excellent if you are building a home theater setup.
|SVS Prime Pinnacle||$1,600||20-300W/8Ω||88dB||3 x 6.5", 1 x 5.25", 1 x 1"||29Hz||25kHz|
|SVS Ultra Towers||$2,000||20-300W/8Ω||88dB||2 x 8", 2 x 6.5", 1 x 1"||28Hz||32Hz|
|SVS Prime Towers||$1,000||20-250W/8Ω||87dB||2 x 6.5", 1 x 5.25", 1 x 1"||30Hz||25kHz|
|Focal Chora 826||$2,190||40-250W/8Ω||91dB||3 x 6.5", 1 x 1"||48Hz||28kHz|
|KEF Q950||$2,100||15-200W/8Ω||91dB||3 x 8", 1 x 1"||44Hz||28kHz|
|Wharfedale Evo 4.4||$2,000||30-200W/8Ω||89dB||2 x 6.5", 1 x 2", 1 x 1"||44Hz||22kHz|
|Klipsch RP-8000F||$1,898||150-600W/8Ω||98dB||2 x 8", 1 x 1"||32Hz||25kHz|
*RAP = Recommended Amp Power
**Sens = Sensitivity
***LF = Lowest Frequency
****HF = Highest Frequency
Test Equipment for This Review
Below, you'll find a list of equipment we used in conjunction with the Prime Pinnacles while doing our listening tests for this review. It's all gear we are familiar with, which helped us evaluate the speakers’ audio quality. We mixed and matched depending on whether we were listening to music, or movie audio.
- Denon AVR-S750H AV Receiver
- SVS Satellite 5.1 Home Theater System
- SVS Prime Elevation Height Speakers
- Denon PMA-600NE Stereo Amplifier
- Chord Electronics Hugo 2 DAC
- Andover Songbird Music Streamer
- Marantz SA30 Stereo Amplifier
- Marantz SACD30n Music Streamer
- SVS 3000 Micro Subwoofer
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