There have been times in my career when I was certain someone oopsed and shipped me an empty box. Granted, almost all of those times were when I was covering gaming headsets or lightweight gaming mice or custom IEMs or things of the like—never an honest-to-gosh hi-fi stereo amp. Until, that is, the new SVS Prime Wireless Pro SoundBase arrived at my door.
It’s hard to tell from the photo alone, but the box measures a respectable 12″ × 12″ × 6″—not full-sized, but about what you’d expect for a lifestyle-friendly amp whose bias toward wireless connectivity is baked right into its name. It’s even harder to tell from the photo that the shipping weight is just shy of seven pounds, all in. My dad, who has been helping me unbox and set up gear while I’m recovering from surgery, nearly yeeted the thing when he picked it up from its resting spot in the foyer to carry it into the den for photography. “I thought amps was heavy!” he said with an exasperated huff.
“Not this one, apparently,” I replied.
“I reckon not,” he said.
Open up the box, and the first thing you encounter is a nice little packet of literature, including a handy setup guide that anyone of any experience level should be able to follow with ease. What’s extra promising, though, is the glimpse of what sure as heck looks like expanded polyethylene padding. For a product at this price point ($699.99 USD), I would have expected to see expanded polystyrene used instead, but the use of polyethylene points to a little more care and a little more thought given to the amp being able to endure multiple whacks and whomps on its way to its recipient. It also just looks and feels fancier, to be honest.
Indeed, beneath the top bit of packing, the amp is secured with a two-piece expanded polyethylene solution that not only looks capable of taking a licking but also isn’t brittle and breakable the way EPS is. The amp is also double-wrapped for extra protection. Curiously, though, by this point in the unboxing process, I would expect to be seeing some accessories. A power cord, maybe. A remote control. Something. Did I miss a box? Did my dad actually yeet something here?
Nope. As it turns out, the power cord and remote control are tucked into the bottom endcap, beneath the amp, in purpose-carved little recesses. The economy of the packaging design is impressive.
I know that may not mean much to most people, but less wasted space means less waste in transport. Less fuel spent on shipping. Less to recycle if you’re inclined to do so with your electronics packaging, and less clutter in your attic if you save your boxes for future use.
Normally, when I’m unboxing a product, I like to get a look at the faceplate first. It’s the aspect of the design that’s intended to make a first impression, after all, if there’s any intentionality to the design whatsoever. But with the SVS Prime Wireless Pro SoundBase, it wanted to back out of its cloth wrapping, so I let it. At first glance, I’m digging the build quality of its binding posts, which are a step up from what I expected (based purely on price, not on the reputation of SVS).
I have to admit, though, that my heart sank a bit to see that DTS Play-Fi logo. For whatever reason, I mistakenly thought that SVS dropped Play-Fi in the upgrade from Prime Wireless to Prime Wireless Pro. Sadly, that distributed audio protocol continues to hang in there like a loose tooth. Whatever, though. The amp also features a generous selection of other wireless connectivity, including Bluetooth (5.0 with AAC and aptX codec support), Apple AirPlay 2, and Chromecast. So if I weren’t reviewing this thing, I wouldn’t have to deal with Play-Fi at all (or, as I call it, Burger’s Bane). Who knows, though? Maybe this will be the product that changes my mind about Play-Fi. It has, after all, benefited from some pretty significant quality-of-life upgrades here lately, including gapless playback. So we’ll see.
In addition to all the wireless support, the Prime Wireless Pro SoundBase also features a pretty generous selection of wired connectivity, including line-level stereo RCA ins and outs, a 3.5mm line in, an HDMI ARC port (!!!), an optical in, a subwoofer output, ethernet input and passthrough (also !!!), and an IR input, which is an especially nice surprise.
Flipping the amp around to get my first good look at its faceplate, I have to say: this thing is simply adorable. Like, I want to flip it over and give it belly scritches. The source-select and volume-control knobs also give nice tactile feedback of the sort I wasn’t quite expecting. Not sure why, though—they feel like scaled-up versions of the knobs on my beloved old SVS Prime Wireless speakers.
The picture you see above is a do-over, by the way. I originally just took a picture of the amp itself, but again struggled with the fact that it looked so much bigger in photos than it actually is. So I glanced around the room for the first thing I could see that gave a reasonable sense of scale, and my eyes landed on my GAN 356 M Niu Edition, a limited-edition 3×3 twisty puzzle released to commemorate Chinese New Year last year. As its name implies, it measures 56mm on each side, or just a hair over 2.2″, which should give you some sense of how itty-bitty the amp actually is.
So, needless to say, the first thing I’m going to do is connect the Prime Wireless Pro SoundBase to my big Paradigm three-way towers just to see what it’s capable of. Of course, I’ll also connect a more appropriate 2.1-channel system with some smaller bookshelf speakers, which I imagine will be a much fairer load. But we’ll see, won’t we? Keep an eye out for my full review, coming soon.
. . . Dennis Burger