November 13, 2012

Put A Leash On That Dog! SVS STA-800H DSP Controlled Chassis Amp.

The high end community can sometimes be vicious. News began to appear sometime ago about Wilson Audio's latest arrivals destined for Malaysian soil. They include a pair of the brand spanking new flagship speakers called Alexandria XLF, a Thor's Hammer sub woofer and more subtly exciting item, a single Watch Dog passive sub woofer, which happens to belong to a very famous personality in high end dom. As the high end community awaits with baited breath to have a go at the latest Wilson products, there are some whose hopes may be more sinister than others. The Watch Dog proved hard to tame, and will bite when not well fed. I see my buddies joy diminished within days as he struggles to find a suitable controller and power amp to match the mighty Watch Dog(remember that song by Baha Men, called Who Let The Dogs Out?). I can hear some enjoying the drama already?

Fear not, as the dog owner is very resourceful and seek the help of a dog's whisperer, in the form of Max Loh, from Maxx Audio fame. The dog whisperer was a little hesitant at first, as the dog may be deemed too highly strung(read, too high end), but agreed to undertake the dog obedience training, and get the equipment required for the job. A month later the equipment arrived in the form of an SVS STA-800H DSP Controlled Chassis Amp(SVS speak for DSP equipped power amp, all 800Watts of it!)
SVS STA-800H DSP Controlled Chassis Amp, looks well built enough for the money, but more importantly has all the adjustment features required to integrate a sub woofer in to a high end stereo system.

After 2 weeks of obedience training, my buddy declared his Watch Dog ready for the Dog Show Off! Prior going for the dog show, I must admit I was somewhat as skeptical as the dog whisperer himself! I mean come on, this is a DSP plate amp we are talking about! I was not sure if it could match up to the hunger of the Watch Dog, or if it was transparent enough to handle music in an high end audio set up, paired with a pair of Wilson Sophias. Feed it some decently powerful music, and all my earlier skepticism blown to bits. The SVS had the authority to tame the Watch Dog like a leash tied around it's balls! The bass was solid, yet tunefully refined, not a dog's hair out of place here! And lastly, when we were playing track 11 of the KLIAV Show reference CD, Comes Love By Louise Rogers, where the song starts with Louise's sultry vocal inter playing a super detailed double bass. I was dumb founded to hear the double bass player's breath, hand/body movements brushed against the instrument's resonant wood body and fingers on the fret board. I've heard this song many times in my very own system, but only a superbly well tamed 2.1 speaker/sub set up can achieve this kind of clarity, and detail levels. Mind you, all this without the music losing any of it's transient or dynamic impact. I walk away from today's listening session suitably impressed with both the Wilson Watch Dog and the SVS STA-800H combo. I think my buddy feels vindicated now against all whom pre-judged him earlier. Personally, I think he's just getting started and this should be one of those combo which will be a force to be reckon with. I mean the potential is just starting to be realised, and the there's still much to be un-locked!
The Wilson Watch Dog passive is a very high end sub woofer that requires very specific amplification to tame it. However once done right, it will reward with some of the most accurate and tuneful bass notes heard.

I doubt that if I could isolate and heap praises to either the Wilson sub woofer or the SVS DSP plate amp. As we all know Wilson seldom makes a bad product(if somewhat expensive) these days, what is more interesting is that the budget priced SVS STA-800H is more than up to the task, sound quality wise, and the DSP smart enough to get out of music's way, yet remained flexible enough to allow the kind of full control required to integrate a high quality sub woofer in to an high end stereo system. The variety of connections on offer helps the SVS cause too. My only brickbat with the SVS STA-800H is that the gain setting should be more flexible to allow incremental adjustments of 0.5db per step instead of 1db, which I know the original Wilson Watch Dog controller is capable off. However, that's insignificant considering the SVS STA-800H can be bought with only about 10% to the Wilson controller's retail price. Now, if that's not a high value to performance ratio proposition, I don't know what is!

SVS is indeed the giant killer specialist of sub woofers today!

Note that this is not a review, as it does not follow our usual review protocol, hence it's just a preview done based on a listening session.

SVS Sound is sold by Maxx Audio, contact Max Loh at 017-6778820.


Wang said...

Nice post Big E.

I enjoyed reading this and I am sold! Definitely sounds like the kind of sub combo I will be looking at!

Great stuff!

Big E said...


I am sold too, while both are great products, the SVS DSP plate amp proved exceptional for the money.

You could spend a whole lot more $$$ and may be get very little more sound quality, but for value to performance ratio, it's a giant killer!