SVS vs REL and experiences with both: your comments and preferences...

I’ve owned SVS and now own REL but just wondering who has had both and would care to share your experiences between the two. They seem to both have great advertising but a much different approach to it . Customer service is top notch too.  They both to me seem to have tons of reviews and getting awards......Thoughts.....
I’ve owned a pair of SVS SB-12+ in the past and if I had a smaller room, I’d still own them. Great build quality, excellent, sealed box performance, and fantastic value.

I now have a single REL 212SE and it too offers great performance... at a much higher price, but the build quality reflects that. The REL is smoother than any sub I’ve had in my system, and I got it at a price to good to pass up, so I expect to keep it a long time to come.

I love both SVS and REL but they are different. The SVS subs I have owned were really nice. I had a little sealed 12” that was awesome. Older sub but was built so well. Better than their new offerings. What was cool about it was you could set the crossover, say at 70hz, then pick a range in which to boost it, say 30hz. Im not sure why sub companies don’t still offer this type of adjustment. The other SVS I had was a monster. 2 13” drivers with 3 huge ports. The thing was close to 100 pounds and I was barely able to get it in my listening room. It was waay to big and I should have passed but I digress. That thing literally shook my entire house.

I’ve had 3 REL subs. The T5i, T9i, and S3 SHO. They were all great subs too. Ideally, I’d have 2 T9i’s and 2 SVS SB 2000’s (of higher up the range, sealed box).

The SVS’s seem to have more punch and the RELs are unparalleled in there speed and finesse.
Another sub thatI had that I really liked, that no one ever talks about, is the Monitor Audio Gold GX15. For a 15” sub, its fairly compact. It uses a great driver with massive motor, voice coil etc. They have a remote with an easy to read display on the front. Another great sub to try if one ever comes up near you!

I have a SVS SB4000 and a REL S5 SHO in my system as well as a Rythmik F12SE. Both the SVS and the REL have plenty of power and cycle nice and low. The biggest difference between them is in their reproduction of the musical envelope; Attack, Decay, Sustain and Release. The SVS does a pretty good job of this reproduction, the REL, not so much. They are both fine with attack, but when it comes to decay and sustain the REL extends the timing of this portion of the envelope, maybe by as much as a quarter to a half second longer. The REL gives you a big fat, maybe even lush sounding bass, which a lot of people really like, but it is not nearly as accurate. This issue may only be present on REL subs that are equipped with a passive radiator so models without one, like the T5i probably don’t exhibit this trait. The other issue to me with REL is the lack of a variable phase control.

I have two older RELs, a Britannia B1 (two channel) and an old Storm III (now for a TV room). The old Def Tech Powerfield F-1500 sub (mostly 'boom') for the home theater is being replaced.

I received an SVS SB-3000 and two just-discontinued SB-2000 subs at Christmas.  For the music system I set the SB-3000 at 55Hz with a normal 12dB slope (volume -30dB). Main audio speakers were now high passed successfully at 70Hz (12dB slope again) with a DSPeaker room (bass) correction unit. So pretty much +/-2dB from 31Hz to 2kHz, solid bass power.

The jury is out on the sound. The B1 goes deeper (ported) but I don't ever use it to my knowledge. The SB-3000 seems to have a bit more power in the semi-low/mid bass and seems quicker. A switch back to the B1 for a week or so will help to solidify impressions. Although I have never thought I overloaded the B1 (the speakers die first) I feel like the SB-3000 has more power/authority (although it remains invisible to the ear).

If the SB-3000 doesn't stay in the two channel audio setup it will be because I find I like running stereo SB-2000s better (it will be my first attempt, coming eventually). I put just one SB-2000 where the REL B1 and SB-3000 sat to try with my audio mains, and with no high volumes there's almost no difference. So if those little SB-2000's can run cleanly/flatly into the 30s, stereo subbing might be the ticket. Then the SB-3000 would light up the small 2200 cu ft theater room.
I'd be looking squarely at SVS instead of REL. The value is with SVS. I cannot speak to long term quality of SVS. I'm hoping it's good. REL makes great subs. You will pay more for them IMO. I feel my B1, some 15 yrs old and $3200 new, was at least equaled by the SB-3000 at a mere $1000. Technology has met cost-conscious manufacturers. Look at HSU Research and Rythmik amongst many other mfrs.

I've had the REL R505, and REL R528 in the past and about a year ago moved off a REL G1 mkII  to a pair of SVS SB4O00's.
I'm  stunned how great the SVS subs are. Easy to set up, the app is very good. No way would I go back to RELs.
The SVS have more impact, detail, and faster. 
I have two REL S2 SHO’s and I love them.  I really like their high level connection technology because they play like additional woofers.
@tom_hankins i think going from one sub to two is a huge difference...2 are always better than one. But you didn’t try two same Rel as opposed to the two SB4000’s. Not a great comparison. I’m sure the SB4000’s are great subwoofers. But two Rel G1v2 are probably a great comparison to the two SB4000’s. Big driver size difference. 
I want to make a point on value here. Obviously the SVS has better value per say but considering the Euro dollar, anyone within the US. and especially Canada(like me) get slaughtered on exchange and duties. Hence the value difference. But I can still say, fit and finish, engineering is phenomenal on the Rel’s. The SVS to me is just okay.....

Also: from a “Musical” term used frequently in this hobby, I find Rel to be far more musical. The SVS has the boom trophy. 
I’ve had 2 SVS woofers, one dead right out of the box. SVS customer service was great, but woofer number two had a dead amp. Complete garbage IMO. Bad luck, sure... but, come on man! My S510 is great. No complaints, yet.
I currently use 2 RELs from the "Q" era, a Q108MKII and a Q150e, and both work perfectly in my main hifi rig...can't recommend them more highly, and they cost 200 bucks each (pre-owned) at different times around 5 or so years ago...had the 150e first and loved it, so when I found a clean 108 (a friend has 2 of these) I added it...great move as they sound excellent together. 
I have not owned any current Rel but I do have 2 x SVS Ultra SB. My buddy had the Rel G1's and after hearing my two SVS subs, he just sold his 6 x G1 subwoofers. I'm not a big subwoofer guy and I don't utilize them to their maximum but instead only look for that last octave. However I do like articulated bass and I find after owning many different subwoofers that the SVS Ultra SB does everything correctly and nothing wrong. Highly recommend!
I have two RELT9i integrated perfectly with Harbeth speakers.  They sound right with music, plenty of deep bass and punch when the music calls for it- never overbearing or blocking any midrange detail.  No slow or lagging beats- they keep right up with the mains. 
These are the first subwoofers to accomplish this out of others I have tried. 
I have no interest in any other subwoofers.   

There are no absolutes in Audio, only preferences. The truth is I hate to post on Audiogon, because far too many threads turn into silly arguments. You are a dealer for SVS and admit that you have not heard any current REL, but you imply that they lack articulate bass. The bottom line is you have a financial incentive as a dealer and I don't. I've owned both... SVS SB15 & 16 Ultras, REL Carbon Limited's and I currently use REL G1 MKII subwoofers. In addition, I've owned HSU, Martin Logan, and JL Audio subwoofers. It's just my opinion, but if I wanted a subwoofer for HT only, I would select SVS over every subwoofer I've owned due to price versus performance. If price wasn't a consideration and it was for HT only, I would purchase JL Audio. For 2-channel only I prefer my REL G1 MKII over every subwoofer I've ever owned. It isn't just about bass, but no other subwoofer has improved everything across the audio spectrum like REL. There's more detail, air, and spacing between instruments when my subwoofers are engaged. There isn't a night and day difference, but easily discernable. What's fascinating to me is I can't tell my subwoofers are on until I turn them off.  
My son has a sealed SVS 2000 Pro in a 3500 cubic foot room in his music only system.  $900 in the gloss finish...looks to me well made and arrives well packed.

Great sub, tiny, completely disappears.  Runs his mains full range and brings the SVS in at goes deep and has great tone up higher.  I give all the credit to the built in 3 band parametric equalizer that gives you tremendous ability to "adjust" the sound from your seat, with your smartphone. 

@yakbob the Rel 212SE is a phenomenal subwoofer. I cannot find and faults about this particular model. I own two of them and they integrate seamlessly with my system. They simply disappear and are the most beastly/ well crafted subs I have the pleasure of having. Thumbs up to Rel. 
One thing I would like to say that many people have also heard is that Rel makes subwoofers - AND ONLY SUBWOOFERS - which I think is why they are what they are. SVS makes speakers, subwoofers, cones and cabling........They both make great subs, but Rel subs do things that no other subs do and that is that they effect the whole spectrum. Highs, midrange and low end is effected. Scale and depth of soundstage is affected. And that’s something special as they specialize in just subs.....Something to think about.

You realize that SVS started out making subs and only later added speakers and other items?
absolutely....I almost tried the svs speakers but didn’t. That’s when I purchased the PB13 Ultra....wasn’t 
They both make great subs, but Rel subs do things that no other subs do and that is that they effect the whole spectrum. Highs, midrange and low end is effected. Scale and depth of soundstage is affected. And that’s something special as they specialize in just subs.....
That is exactly how I feel about PSA subs and what their designer Tom Vodhanel does. That’s what I call ’voicing’. PSA does it, if not better than any other sub manufacturer for far less cost to the customer than REL or SVS. I’ve owned 4 different pairs of SVS subs and never liked any one of the models voicing. And Tom Vodhanel's PSA customer service is legendary. REL to me, is way overpriced, IMHO. The highest compliment I can give PSA subs is you can’t hear them. You only notice them when they are not on/playing.

@tyray, the problem is that the Euro dollar is awefull then the exchange if your Canadian which contributes to people not deciding on Rel. Understandable. But if one is willing, a Rel is the sub to have....IMO.....
I have had a number of SVS subs in the past...  I started with the Ultra16, their flagship sub at the time, it died within a few hours of use on the day it arrived.  The amp went.  It was replaced with another one, it died within a week, the speaker coil fried.    My impressions of it while they were working was that it lacked detail, it was not musical at all, very boomy.
I later got two or three different cylinder subs from them, the basic one up to their top line Ultra versions.   3 of the 4 subs I used (over a few months time) died; one set on fire internally and filled the room with acrid smoke of burnt electronics.  That was enough of that, I got my money refunded (they do have very good customer service) and I moved on to Axiom Audio subs and I got one Bryston Model T sub.  Granted the Bryston is expensive, way more than the top line SVS, it was around $5500; but holy moly what a difference in build quality and performance.  The Axiom subs are super nice too, in fact they build Bryston speakers.   All of the newer subs from these guys are bulletproof and extremely musical, smooth, articulate and detailed.   It's real bass.   Plus all of the drivers and amps are built in Canada, no Chinese import stuff here and it shows.
That is my experience in the sub world.
I understand your grief when it came to your subs amplifiers dyeing on you  My svs did the same just after the warranty ended. Replaced it with newer amplifier and really wasn’t impressed after that. Sold it shortly after...
I replaced my JL Audio E-112 (2), with a pair of REL  S/510, due integration  issues. I was running my speakers full range with the subs working underneath, altho the subs sounded very good on some material I just could not eliminate some bass boom and hum. At times I thought it just might be the individual tracks. So I decided to get the REL.s, and the integration, for me, is much better, after getting the subs setup, I no longer have bass issues.  
Sorry and surprised to hear of your problems with your SVS subs.  My two lowly SVS SB12-NSD subwoofers have been cranking for a number of years with no problems, knock wood.

I've owned 6 SVS subs (that I can remember).  I've had no issues with any of them, including some that were fairly old when I purchased them.  I ran a pair of PB 12 Plus/2 subs for quite a while, but eventually went to all sealed subs.  Rythmik is another great option as is Power Sound Audio.

My main system includes 2 SVS SB 13 Ultra and 2 Rythmik F 25.  I haven't owned any Rel subs, but have heard them.  My subs are well integrated with my mains and only make themselves known when the source material calls for it.  I'm sure it would be nice to have 4 high output Rel subs, but I can't justify the cost difference and doubt that it would sound much (if any) better than my current setup.
@big_greg. Your last comment is an assumption. You won’t really know until you try. Just curious which Rel subs you have tried? 
@bacardi I don't want to spend thousands of dollars more to try different subs when what I have already sounds great.  What part of that confused you?
Not confused at all. Lol . No need to get snotty never answered my question as to which Rel sub had you tried in the past? 
After comparing his $9K Studio III to a JL Audio F113 and my 18" our friend was so disappointed he sold the huge 2-10" the very next week. That was some years back.

Since then the company was sold and judging by the essentially unchanged setup procedure I would question the new ownership just how effective crowning the drivers and adding chrome bits has improved their product? 

maxboy00, are you currently using the same wall outlets and line level source that you used for the JL Audio E-112s to your S/510s? 
@bacardi I don’t know which models they were. I’ve heard one of their smaller subs at the showroom of the dealer where we have our music club. It was one of the smaller ones, maybe one of the T series? We were listening to Klipsch La Scalas. I was actually surprised that little sub could add some meaningful bass to those speakers in a fairly large listening room. One of my friends has one of the larger Rel subs paired with a JL Audio sub. Maybe the best bass I’ve heard in a home system. Having said that, the same friend has been to my house and had very complimentary things to say about the bass my system. Two Rythmik F25s and two SVS SB13 Ultras.
Nice. I’ve looked at the Rythmiks but haven’t heard them. I’ve always been curious of them but nobody I know has had one.  Do you use all four subs for theatre movies too? 

I replaced my JL Audio E-112 (2), with a pair of REL S/510, due integration issues. I was running my speakers full range with the subs working underneath, altho the subs sounded very good on some material I just could not eliminate some bass boom and hum. At times I thought it just might be the individual tracks. So I decided to get the REL.s, and the integration, for me, is much better, after getting the subs setup, I no longer have bass issues.


Maxboy00, I just looked at the photos in your system page. The REL S510s look great. May I ask if you have compared the dual REL S510s with SVS SB-3000 before going with the former.

The REL specifically the S510 is high in my shortlist based on its aesthetics and high build quality. I can imagine the high gloss black finish and silver cone to match the main speakers in my system. Other subs look slightly cheap and less elegant although sound quality may be stellar. Apart from sound quality, looks do matter in my book.

The only thing I don’t like about the REL is the price. One S510 can get me two units of SVS SB-3000.

It’s just my opinion, but if I wanted a subwoofer for HT only, I would select SVS over every subwoofer I’ve owned due to price versus performance. If price wasn’t a consideration and it was for HT only, I would purchase JL Audio. For 2-channel only I prefer my REL G1 MKII over every subwoofer I’ve ever owned. It isn’t just about bass, but no other subwoofer has improved everything across the audio spectrum like REL. There’s more detail, air, and spacing between instruments when my subwoofers are engaged.


Ricred1, this is useful. Similarly I have read few experiences on the higher end RELs which include the No. 25 improving on the soundstage in the music. With the sub switched off, the soundstage was said to have collapsed. Improvement in the bass may not necessarily be limited to deep bass.

I spent a lot of time investigating the REL S serie specifically the S510 and the SVS equivalent which is the SB-3000. I have more or less decided that the S510 is the one but read few comments about the cheaper SB-3000 "outperforming" the REL.

There are few comparisons between the REL S510 and SB-3000 on this forum and avforums. The remarks about the differences between the REL and SVS have been quite consistent. The SB-3000 was said to go lower, has a tighter and more grippy bass and stops in a dime. The REL was said to sound looser and less grippy and didn’t go very low. Some of the traits with the REL may have contributed to the aspects of musicality and soundstage.

@ryder, Thanks for the kind comment. 

I looked long and hard at SVS SB-3000 subs, I read many reviews and peoples comments about them and determined that SVS was a better fit for H.T. This is strictly my view. 

The most common complaints about  the RELs are no numbers on the X-over and volume settings.....completely agree.....have to count the clicks. The other being no variable phase, I thought this would be an issue,  since both JL and Rythmic offer it but so far no complaints. 

For me, the REL's were very easy to set-up and to get Intergrated with my mains, took about three days. 

Lastly,  all of my past subs have been 12in, I wasn't sure I wanted  the S/510s, I contacted REL tech support and they told me the S/510 would be more than did my dealer.  So far quite happy with the end results.

Best of luck in your search. 


Maxboy00, thanks for the response which is appreciated. That's it. It would be the REL. A friend who is the hifi industry also advised that REL is a safer bet than the SVS.  Similarly I wrote to REL support but my story was a little different.  I was hoping they would endorse the T9x I was looking at but the tech advised that the model is not good enough for my speakers. The S510 and S812 were recommended instead.

I too think that SVS will be better for Home Theater while the REL is more appropriate for music. It's good to hear that the S510s integrate well with the main speakers in your system.

See my comments below. I would buy REL but not SVS. If the intended use was stereo, I would buy Rythmik, which I did, twin FG12 SE. The servo amp is fast...


I bought a very big sub from them 15+ years ago for HT. I think it was the SVS PB12-NSD/2. I live in Ohio so i picked it up. I had it for a few years, it was hard to tune in, because of the two styro foam plugs. The driver developed a problem and I thought I could get it serviced. Nope. They really didn’t want to touch it. They wanted for me to buy a new sub. I inquired about buying the driver and replacing it myself. Nope. Sold it at a garage sale for next to nothing owch! Years later I visited a stereo/home theater store looking for stereo subwoofers. They told me they had problems when SVS was accepted as a brand. SVS was still selling direct to consumer and were giving better prices??? Not a great business model. Long story short, not a big fan of SVS. Right now, I am a fan of Rythmik subs for music.


Interesting. When you inquired about the replacement driver from them, what was their response? Perhaps it's not available anymore and since SVS subs are not very costly, the cost of getting a new sub may be more practical than repairing the old one. Either way, your experience seems to suggest that after-sales support is less than satisfactory.


Yeah when I bought that sub, it was many years ago. I don't think they made those drivers anymore but they could have sold me an updated one? SVS has really taken off since then, the company has gotten bigger. The visit to the stereo/HT store was just about 4 years ago. And the fact they undercut he retail store was actually more troublesome to me. I really couldn’t buy a sub from them now....


I take delivery of a pair of S510's tomorrow. I've been researching placement for the best two channel audio. Where mine are likely to go is similar to your placement. But, I've read conflicting suggestions on whether the REL's should go on an ARC flush with the mains, slightly in front or slightly behind. I noticed yours are slightly behind.

Did you play around with the other two options? Any placement tips?





The placement of my subs follows the guidelines recommended by REL. There is no room to place the subs inside of the speakers, with others subs I have tried front firing placement and placing the subs opposite to one another.....  I think they sound best, in my room, as shown. I did snap some  pictures and asked REL if they thought anything needed to be adjusted and they said the subs are well placed.

One big difference is adding proper room treatments,  I am still working on this, but have notice smoother bass.

I hope you enjoy your  RELs, and wish you happy listening.