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Advice Please... Ampeg SVP-Pro + QSC PLX1602 vs. ???

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by ampeglb100, Mar 1, 2005.

  1. ampeglb100


    Oct 1, 2002
    Portland, OR

    First of all, I have spent the past two weeks reading reviews on Talkbass, Ampeg.com, Harmony Central, and Musicians Friend, so I have done my homework and I know what has been said thus far. I would just like some last minute feedback on what I considering to buy basedon my homework and past 11 years of playing.

    I am in two 4 peice (2 guitars, bass, & drums) instrumental rock bands. I play very melodically, use a lot of chords/arpeggios, like to play tight, stacatto parts with lots of breaks, as well as lot of mellow, clean parts. I use a Rat distortion pedal for all my distorted parts, but I want my clean tones clean. I play G&L LB-100's and sometimes a Kawai KRB bass - either way, I am strictly a passive p-bass player. However, I have always used the pre-amp of my amps to bring out my tone. I use an Ampeg 8x10 Classic in one band and two 4x10 classics in the other. I have been using a SVT-3pro for one and a B-2R for the other. The SVT-3pro to me is basically what I like, but I need it cleaner and I need more power (my gain is up 7 and master is up to 6 just to be heard). The B-2R is barely worth mentioning - the pre-amp section is too limiting and the sound is both harsh and muddy to my ears, plus it is underpowered.

    So... I need two bass amps. Money is less of an object... I have a budget of $3000 for this whole deal, plus or minus depending on what I find. I want to buy new, and I will not do the refurbished thing. Weight is an issue, but more over, maintainence and reliability is my main concern. I had a Mesa Bass 400+ for years and liked it alot, but had to retube it 3 times and played many shows with my B-2R backup because the Mesa was not feeling good that day. I cannot tolerate that kind of crap with any amp, and certainly not for this kind of money.

    I must have a graphic EQ in addition to hi/low/mid tone controls, and I like to ultra hi/lo of the SVT-3pro a lot, plus the mid selector. I want an all tube pre-amp for sure, but a clean one. I don't need to try and get my distortion from my amp, that is what the Rat is for, but I do want a clean, clear, warm sound out of the amp. If you saw my EQ settings, it would be like a ski ramp up from the low to hi, with the low at 0db and the high at the max +db (I think 12?), with the EQ all the way mixed in, and the bass/mid/hi at 1, 3, and 4 respectively. I like bright, articulate, aggressive bass tone with tight lows, clear mids, and transparent highs. Its like Segovia trapped in Geddy Lee's body playing bass.

    OK. So... I really want to buy the SVT-4pro, but there are so many reliability posts about that amp that I don't see how I could... Even I can see that if it is cooled from the side and you put it in a rack the thing is going to have issues. Plus I don't need the biamp, crossover, and compression crap. But I do like the tube pre/ss power amp combo all in one box, and $1300 + rack is right at my price limit. I really wish I could buy that amp... but I can't.

    So, next up is the SVP-Pro and a power amp. The SVP-Pro is quite literally, exactly what I want in the pre-amp section, exactly. Sounds like the noisy issues have been resolved, but this pre-amp does have alot more tone control, including high end, so more hiss would be expected anyways - I would think. For the power amp, the QSC-PLX 1602 seems perfect. Less weight, 1600 watts at 4 ohms is the max I can run my cabs at, excellent design and rear to front cooling sysem for the rack mount should keep it cool... So, this setup would be great, it seems, though the whole separate preamp/power amp thing is new to me and honestly, I never thought I would be a "rack guy". So, for $500 + $700 + rack (+ power conditioner?) this would be right in my price range too.

    But wait... I am so close to going all tube for just a few buck more, what a co-inky-dink... For $1600 there is the SVT Classic, end of story. OK, I am sure it will nail the fuggin' seventies tone, but I don't want the seventies Ampeg tone. This is why I choose the SVP-Pro over the SVP-Classic pre-amp. I have to have the Graphic EQ and more tone control, I do know that... I am sure this is a great amp, but I am not trying to sound like every other rock bass player from 1974 - or can someone set me straight, is the SVT Classic so hi-fi and clear that you don't even need the Graphic EQ?

    So... what about the SVT-2pro? Only $100 more, so I'm up to $1700 + rack and way over budget, unless it totally provided something that the tube pre/ss power combo couldn't like having to re-tube every few years and having to worry about the thing. This is the same dilemma with just buying the Mesa Bass 400+ again... I would if they were to give me the something that just cannot be found elsewhere, but aside from the hassle, what is that? Plus the SVT-2pro seems to have a slew of bad reliabilty issues as well... why do all the amps that seem so perfect have so many issues?

    So, basically I am at the point of buying the Ampeg SVP-Pro and the QSC PLX1602, unless someone can suggest another alternative. This seems in theory to be the best bang for the buck, the best reliability, the most flexability for the future, and the best way to get a clean, clear, tube tone with plenty of power to push my cabinets... but I could be wrong, am I? Any other ideas? I have looked at Eden, Aguilar, SWR, etc, but they don't really have the features I need, and I really do dig the Ampeg sound, but just the more modern Ampeg sound.

    Thanks in advance...

  2. TheChariot


    Jul 6, 2004
    Boston, MA
    I think you've got it all figured out, my friend. The SVP-Pro sounds like its your preamp, as long as you can take care of the hiss (if you have to). 1600Watts should be tolerable to your two speaker setups, and the PLX amps are nice and light.

    Yes, you should definately buy a power conditioner. You dont need the super top-o'-the-line model... I would think that $100(x2) would suffice for that purchase.

    IMO, you should go for it. I'm only 18, but I've played through each and every one of the products your thinking about buying, and I think the SVP-Pro is as close as you'll get to the 3Pro sound. Also, I've been scavanging TB for about 9 months, absorbing every bit of info I can get on here... I plan on making a career out of Audio Production and/or Sound Reinforcement :smug:

    Give it a go :)

    ::siiiigh::.... the 3Pro and B2R once again fall short in the power section. :rollno: NOW do you B2R guys see what I'm saying? :p
  3. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    I play an SVP-Pro with a PLX1602 in a loud (3 guitars) rock and funk band, and it sounds fantastic. For cabs I'm using a 4 ohm Aguilar GS410 and an SWR Big Ben 1x18, full range stereo. It sounds huge: clear, present, warm, and juicy. If you like the 3-pro, this rig will blow your mind.

    I got my PLX from lord valve with the sensitivity increase mod so that I could run lower output preamps, but with the SVP I can drive the PLX to full output with the attenuators just past the halfway point, so you probably do not need the mod.

    The SVP does hiss some, but not enough to bother me in a live setting. I've never recorded with it, but have gone direct into PAs many times with good results.
  4. Schwinn


    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    The graphic eq on the SVP-Pro is nice, but to be honest, I just set it and leave it. I don't really use it much, but I like it switched on. This hiss of the unit is there, but it isn't an issue, except if I wanted to use the XLR line out to record. The SVP-CL, from what I've heard on here, sounds like it can get a nice hi-fi sound. Nothing but positive comments on the CL. It doesn't do distortion but you don't need that anyway. Maybe you can find a store that carries both and buy both with the intention of returning one in a few days after a real demo at home.
  5. ampeglb100


    Oct 1, 2002
    Portland, OR
    Well, in case anyone is curious, I have decided to just try the SVT-4Pro. I actually ordered the SVP-Pro and the QSC PLX1602 and a Furman Power Conditioner and a rack and the cables (all times two)... and just couldn't for some reason feel good about doing that. It just really seems like overkill to me, so I canceled several hours later.

    I have had a few more practices and have learned a few things:

    The SVT-3Pro is too gritty for me. I like the EQ, the Ultra hi/low/mid, and the tube preamp, but I don't like the inherantly gritty tone of the amp and I don't like having to turn the master and gain up to 6 or 7 to be heard. I like the overall control of the sound of this amp, but I just want it cleaner and louder.

    The B-2R actually is the opposite problem. The thing is perfectly clean and can actually get louder than the SVT-3Pro (not much...), but it is just too smooth and I can't seem to dial in the right hi/low/mids to cut through. By myself it sounds OK, but when the band comes in it just gets lost.

    So, if I could take the SVT-3Pro, remove the grit, and increase the power, I would (in theory) have the perfect Ampeg bass amp.

    The SVP-Pro now makes less sense because it seems like the extra driver tubes (which I don't need at all) are part of why the unit is so noisy. Plus if I can't use the direct out of it, well... that's a problem.

    But the SVP-CL lacks the EQ and tone control that I need to bring out my sound.

    I am tempted to say screw it and go all Solid State, in which case the B-4R looks damn tempting. But without the ultra hi and low and the tube pre, it would just be a louder B-2R.

    I am tempted to just say screw it and buy the Mesa 400+, but I can't even find one new on the web, plus it would blow my budget, plus the re-tubing and having to worry about it. I don't care about weight, it is the 12 glass tubes and careless people I am worried about. If everything goes to hell, I may re-visit this option though...

    The SVT Classic has the same problems and the SVP-CL, so I won't go off here, but I am curious as to how great this amp is supposed to be. It seems really nice, but not really what I need tone control wise.

    The SVT-IIPro is tempting too, but I would rather go with the Mesa I think. I may re-visit this, but I do have the same tube amp issues...

    So................. Then there is the SVT-4Pro. OK, no driver tubes, perfect - don't need them. EQ? Yes. Ultra hi/lo/mid? Yes. Tube preamp? Yes. Power? Plenty of power. Issues? OK... For many of the posts I have read it seems like people have been using the speakon connectors improperly, were using older models, or just ran the amp really hard. Granted, that does not explain away everything, and every amp is going some potential for going bad, but then again the SVT-3Pro has many issues too, but mine has been fine. I figure that even if the SVT-4Pro broke down once every two years and I had to get it fixed under warranty, it would still be cheaper than retubing. This amp just seems to be exactly what I need, except I don't need the compressor or the crossover, but I would rather have those off than have extra driver tubes I don't need that cause noise or be lacking in other features that I really do need.

    I don't need to be way, way louder, but I do need to be able to be cleaner and cut through without running the amp hard. The preamp/power amp thing seems great if you really need to fill large room or play outside, or if you are just into rack gear, but I am mostly doing medium sized venues and would prefer an all in one unit.

    So, I ordered them. At least I have 45 days to run them each at least twice a week and play some shows and different venues. Worst case scenario is that I return them back and then re-visit this dilemma, but at least then I will know...


  6. r379


    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    If you don't mind, let us know how the 4 Pro works for you.