SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf Speakers Reviewed

Price: $1,200.00

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The newly-released SVS Ultra Evolution line consists of floorstanding speakers, satellite speakers, height channel speakers, a three-way center channel speaker and bookshelves. I had the opportunity to review the latter. The SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf speakers are quite a departure from SVS’ previous designs in many ways, and feature an abundance of improvements and enhancements, while still maintaining the high-value essence of the SVS brand. SVS appeared hell-bent on creating a category-busting set of bookshelf speakers designed to disrupt the $1,200 per-pair category altogether. Do they deliver? Let’s find out as that is one lofty goal…

The SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf speakers at Eric Forst's audiophile listening room.
The SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf speakers at Eric Forst’s audiophile listening room.

What Makes the SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf Speakers So Special?

  • The SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf Speakers feature an all-new tweeter. SVS has always employed aluminum dome tweeters in their speakers, regardless of tier, which are responsive, quick and versatile, but can be a little lively for some listeners. The new and improved diamond-coated tweeter aims to break this stereotype through a production process called vapor deposition, coating the tweeter and producing even more frequency response and extension, while reigning in potential harshness. The tweeter is then capped off with a unique Organic Cell Lattice Diffuser, which not only looks really cool, but allows for an open and accurate soundstage across and beyond the upper-frequency spectrum.
  • The SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf Speakers perform in the midrange space, even more so than SVS’ previous speakers. If SVS does one thing better than most, it’s woofers. The 6.5-inch composite fiber cone is crisp, clear, and authoritative, and works in tandem with the rear-ported design to keep lower frequencies under control. The voice coil former is made of vented aluminum to maximize heat dissipation and reduce unwanted effects like air compression and chuffing at higher volumes. The result is a very smooth and natural-sounding midrange/upper-bass driver that is more than capable of handling any choice of music in both loud and intimate listening contexts. The decision to go with 6.5-inch woofers pays off in the bass department as well, as they are rated all the way down to 40 Hz and can handle bass better than most bookshelf speakers in this class, which is impressive given their modest footprint. 
  • The physical design of the Ultra Evolution Speakers is a departure from their previous aesthetic and design philosophy … and it works well. The new line features a time-aligned, curved cabinet geometry typically reserved for much more expensive speakers. This configuration allows the tweeter and midrange drivers to phase together down to the microsecond, hitting the listener’s ears at precisely the same time, resulting in a significantly improved and more accurate soundstage. I was surprised to see that SVS implemented this in every speaker in the Ultra line, including the bookshelves and even down to the smaller bookshelf speakers – and the results are exciting.
  • The SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf Speakers come in three finishes: Piano Black, Piano White, and Black Oak veneer. I opted for a Piano Black pair, which gives off a sleek, premium look and feel. The curved cabinet looks quite high-end and would complement most design themes and listening spaces. Their modest size also allows them to physically blend well into the listening environment, which is always a plus. 
  • The SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf Speakers sound much bigger than their physical dimensions should allow. They are deceptively heavy at just under 20 pounds per speaker – but at approximately 15 inches tall, a little under nine inches wide, and 11 inches deep, these aren’t the largest bookshelf speakers in this price bracket, and that’s not a bad thing. This allowed me to move them back and forth from my primary music-listening area to my home theater/gaming setup with ease, and they fit easily next to my 55-inch LED TV without hanging off the sides of my modestly-sized TV stand. 
  • The SVS Ultra Evolution Speakers are relatively easy to drive, despite their 87 dB rating into 6 ohms. On paper, these speakers look potentially hard to drive, but they weren’t at all. My stock Yamaha receiver lit them up with no problem. Better electronics from, say, ADCOM did even better. Don’t get spooked, as these speakers aren’t hard to get loud output from, even on more modest electronics. 
  • SVS has a stellar reputation in terms of customer service and offers an expansive Customer Bill of Rights that includes a 45-day in-home trial, 60-day price protection, a one-year trade-up program, and a generous five-year warranty. That’s hard to beat and very worthy of mention. 

Why Should You Care About the SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf Speakers?

SVS has been blurring the line between affordable and reference quality audio for quite some time, but this latest entry appears to be their first foray into more premium territory. Those who may have not considered SVS as a true HiFi contender in the past may now be convinced to give them a try, and with no risk whatsoever.  

The Ultra Evolution Speakers are designed for the audiophile looking for a versatile speaker that can hold its own in music listening contexts. This versatility, combined with SVS’ stellar customer service reputation, is a winning combination for any consumer who might be on the fence about their brand-new line of speakers. 

The SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf speakers in white with the grill off.
The SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf speakers in white with the grill off.

Some Things That You Might Not Like About the SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf Speakers

  • The visual aesthetic of the SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf speakers is a little more adventurous than others in the category. Personally, I love weird speakers. Case in point: my growing collection of Orb Audio Mod 1s. The SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf speakers may not be quite that unique, but do look different, with their concave profile, which is unlike most other bookshelf speakers on the market. Audiophiles seeking exotic wood finishes and rounded edges may look elsewhere, but they are likely looking to spend more than $1,200 for those features anyway. 
  • Bass response is impressive for their size, dipping down to 40 Hz, but they sound even better with a subwoofer. I may sound like a broken record, as I continue to reiterate that most bookshelf speakers aren’t physically capable of competently handling low-end like a set of towers can. For acoustic music, light jazz, and other midrange heavy genres, there is more than enough upper mid-bass to satisfy most listeners. But for bass-hungry music, a subwoofer is recommended to fully unlock the Ultra Elevation Bookshelf Speakers. Luckily, SVS offers several subwoofers with incredible musicality for the price.  

Listening to the SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf Speakers…

I powered my SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf Speakers with my Monolith M2100X Amplifier, paired with a Schiit Modi DAC, utilizing my Yamaha RXV385BL Receiver as a preamp/input center. All music was streamed through Qobuz at max settings and connected directly through my Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 laptop. 

Keeping with SVS’ penchant for cinematic listening experiences, I started with Hans Zimmer’s masterful opening track from Dune: Part Two, titled “Beginnings Are Such Delicate Times.” Glitchy, spacious percussion briefly opens the track, before fading into an ambient melody oozing with melancholy, played on a solitary wind instrument. There is so much texture to be heard here, and the SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf Speakers captured every tonal variation, as inner and outer harmonies blended beautifully without loss of detail. At loud volumes, the Ultra Evolutions held firm, exhibiting minimal upper-frequency harshness that plagues so many dome tweeters. As the track reached its brief climax, the Ultra Evolutions showed off their dynamic prowess, bursting with clear, room-filling brass, synth, and percussion before calmly fading back. If the Ultra Evolution Bookshelves are this capable, I can’t wait to get my hands on a pair of the floorstanding speakers. 

Dune: Part Two, titled “Beginnings Are Such Delicate Times” from YouTube.com

I could probably feature a song from Beyonce’s groundbreaking 2024 album, Cowboy Carter, in every review moving forward, as the production value and sonic variation are unlike any other mainstream album in recent memory. For this review, I chose “American Requiem” for its ear-popping energy and Queen-inspired layered harmonies. It’s also fun as hell – a perfect fit for a pair of SVS speakers. Beyonce’s lower register stood out, sounding strong and deep from the jump. As the chaotic energy persisted and grew, her various vocal runs and falsetto remained front and center. The SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf Speakers surprised me with their imaging capability, allowing these individual elements to remain easily identifiable and prominent. At no point did I feel this was too much song for these speakers to handle, even at party volumes. An impromptu dance party in my living room ensued, and the Ultra Bookshelves were up to the task as we shuffled songs from the rest of the album. 

“American Requiem” from Beyonce’s Cowboy Carter

Will the SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf Speakers Hold Their Value?

SVS products are available direct-to-consumer, in big box stores like Best Buy, and all over the Internet through various e-tailers, including Crutchfield, which we use as an affiliate partner. As previously mentioned, SVS has a large following of dedicated fans, meaning the market for these well-recognized speakers should remain strong. While they aren’t likely to end up in your will as a family heirloom, they are not inexpensive and have excellent brand recognition, meaning they are a sound investment that should maintain a normal depreciation rate over time. 

A close-up of the new SVS tweeter by Eric Forst
A close-up of the new SVS tweeter by Eric Forst

What is the Competition for the SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf Speakers? 

  • At $1,299 per pair, the Sonus Faber Lumina II are a more traditional-looking bookshelf speaker set that features a 1-1/8-inch silk D.A.D. (Damped Apex Dome) tweeter and six-inch paper cone woofer. They won’t play as deep as the Ultra Evolutions, as their frequency response bottoms out at 55 Hz, but they produce a balanced and neutral soundstage. While boxier and less modern in appearance than the SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelves, they are quite refined-looking, with an exterior synthetic leather wrap on the sides of the cabinet and various finish options. They are slightly more power-hungry, with a sensitivity rating of 86 dB and nominal impedance of four ohms, making it a little more challenging for entry-level receivers and amps to drive them to their full capacity.
  • The traditional three-way ELAC Uni-Fi Reference UBR62 bookshelf speakers are another strong contender in this price range. At $1,199 per pair, the spec sheet is impressive here, as they feature a one-inch silk dome tweeter, a four-inch aluminum midrange driver, and a 6.5-inch aluminum cone mid-woofer. They are front-vented, which results in a slightly more musical bass presence and a smooth overall sound profile. ELAC’s signature sound tends to be refined, bordering on mellow, so for some, these could be a fine choice. 
  • The Monitor Audio Silver 50 7G ($1,150 per pair) is another interesting bookshelf speaker in this price bracket. The one-inch tweeter they employ utilizes Monitor’s renowned gold dome Ceramic Coated Aluminum Magnesium (C-CAM) material, as well as incorporating a refreshed waveguide design aimed at minimizing distortion. Additionally, the Monitor Audio has overhauled the tweeter’s magnet to ensure stricter control over the driver, thereby enhancing detail throughout its frequency spectrum. Monitor Audio speakers have always impressed me for their ability to produce big sound of a small package, and these are no exception. 
The SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf speakers in white with the grill off.
The SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf speakers in white with the grill off.

Final Thoughts on the SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf Speakers

The SVS Ultra Evolution Bookshelf Speakers represent an exciting new chapter in the SVS story. These moderately-sized bookshelf speakers will meet the needs and sonic preferences of a large portion of the audiophile population, regardless of age, status, experience or budget. These are audiophile speakers that are approachable for the masses and that is a very, very good thing. 

It’s exciting when a well-known manufacturer takes a risk and, in this case, it has paid off in the form of a balanced, powerful speaker that can be appreciated by audiophiles and home theater enthusiasts alike. The concept that you have to spend a fortune on speakers to get world-class sound is bogus, no matter what you often read in the audiophile print magazines. Imaging, dynamics, sexy industrial design, great bass and even better customer service is a pretty compelling value proposition, and these SVS Ultra Evolution bookshelf speakers deliver in spades.  

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George Felder

I have two SVS SB16 Ultra subs. Prior to their purchase, I got a pair of Mission 770s. It certainly sounds like I should’ve waited for these speakers, as my SVS subs would eliminate the need for something like the Missions!
My listening room is so small that I don’t have room for the new SVS towers alongside my TV. I will look into getting a pair of these for my daughter.

Jerry Del Colliano

Your daughter should be pretty happy.

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