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Confused: The Ampeg SVT sound and the low-mids thing

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by King Louie, May 1, 2018.

  1. King Louie

    King Louie

    Jul 17, 2016
    Hi Guys,

    I have become a little confused in my quest for the best bass sound (hobbyist, only a few years in). This is a question to the experienced players here, who have played live a lot.

    For a good band sound, there seems to be quite unanimous agreement that boosting the mids, especially the low mids, on bass makes life a lot easier for everybody in a band situation. The P-Bass does this naturally, so it seems to be a favourite amongst sound guys. (I switched to a P-Bass and I like how it works with my band, so works for me.)

    Now every instrument seems to have a Holy Grail of sound. For the violin it is the Stradivarius, the guitarists love the Marshall Full Stack, and for bass it is the Ampeg SVT.

    Now what does the SVT do? From everything I've read here plus other sources, it scoops the mids. (It even seems to have a switch to scoop the mids even more - correct me if I'm wrong.)

    So how did the SVT become so popular, if it seemingly does the exact the wrong thing?

    Don't misunderstand me, I'm not dissing SVT, I did not even ever play one. It sure is the sound everybody is after. I am just confused.
  2. Bim1959


    Apr 15, 2009
    Naples Florida
    Sales and electronic tech/piano tech: England Music Center - Clinton IA - now closed
  3. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    Scoops the mids? Um..... I think not. Rolls off the low bass and tightens up the sound (the fridge)? I believe so.

    There is the amazing mid shift knob as well...
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    And here I was about to go to bed...


    OK, so turn off the ultra switches and put the knobs at noon, and you get a hump in the low mids and a gradual tapering off of the frequencies as you go up the spectrum. People who say the SVT scoops the mids when set like this are talking out of their asses. However, you CAN get a mid scoop out of it, and it's about as simple as hitting the ultra-hi switch. You can also get mid boosts and cuts out of it in different ranges depending on how you set the mid selector knob and mid knob. And you can get pretty close to flat response by turning the knobs in a certain way, too. If you turn the knobs and/or use the ultra switches, you can get pretty much every sound you could ever want out of them.

    Also, this business about "mid scoop = bad" is a bunch of crap, too. It all depends on the music you play and your tastes, and if you like a mid scoop, then use it and don't worry about what anyone on the internet says. I don't...I usually have a little bit of a mid scoop in my sound (although I also use other sounds), and I really don't care who doesn't like it because -I- like it.

    In short, it's best to plug into one yourself and make up your own mind, and that's true about all amps, but it's especially true with the SVT, because so many people talk like they're experts on them when the closest they've gotten to one is using an emulator. I can name 20 different SVT users off the top of my head and they all have different sounds.

    OK, now I'm going to bed.
    Last edited: May 1, 2018
    chadds, ezra1, dralionux and 75 others like this.
  5. King Louie

    King Louie

    Jul 17, 2016
    Edit: This was a reply to craigie

    Well on this thread

    Sansamp VT Bass DI (SVT Setting)

    there is an excerpt from the Sansamp manual on how to achieve an SVT sound with the Sansamp. And it sure looks scooped to me... Especially because the Sansamp seems to scoop when it is flat (not including references here).
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I believe this exactly makes my point about people who judge SVT's by emulators. Someone at Sansamp likes that ultra-hi mid scoop sound and put in the settings to achieve it. It means nothing other than the tastes of the VT's design team. Despite that, I will say that the VT is an excellent Ampeg emulator, but it's certainly not the only sound you can get out of a VT or an SVT.
  7. King Louie

    King Louie

    Jul 17, 2016
    Thanks alot, JimmyM! Great to hear an actual expert's view. It makes sense that amp model programmers would use a mid-scooped setting as SVT sample setting because in general, mid-scooping sounds more pleasurable for short-term listening. Consumer Hifi products have mid-scooped sounds to stand out in the shop, and amp models are normally bought from 5 minutes of testing as well...
  8. xroads


    Nov 6, 2012
    I would like to add that this holy-grail Ampeg thing consists of the combination of SVT and 810 cab.
    You need both in order to have that sound.
  9. G-Z

    G-Z My other account is a Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2018
    I'm still not 100% where I want to be even with that combination...yet...but it's still the nicest place I've been.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 1, 2018
  10. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Yeah the "SVT sound" is a combination of a lot of things.

    It's got a ton of raw tube power. It has a huge hunk of iron output transformer. It has a really versatile EQ section. And, yes, the sealed 10s cab is a big part of it.

    But I don't think the "signature" sound of an SVT is scooped at all. I think the wall of low mids followed by highs that gently slope off as you go up the spectrum are the attributes I hear in my head for the SVT. Having recently gotten one again for the first time in a long time, I can tell you that's where mine "wants to go".

    But like Jimmy said, it does have a great EQ section. And, depending on the cab(s) you use with it, it can be a really versatile amp.
    Last edited: May 1, 2018
  11. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    Perhaps king Louie XIV is thinking of the “fender tone stack” which scoops the heck out of the mids. The SVT on the other hand uses a baxandall tone stack I believe. I’ve read about it here but don’t claim to know anything....

    I really like prince jazz funk sessions 1977 for a scooped out bass sound that’s just killer. Andre Cymone on bass. No idea what equipment was used.
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  12. johnpbass


    Feb 18, 2008
    Glen Mills, PA
    Both excellent points. People think the SVT is all about overdriven tone. I've mentioned this before but my favorite SVT tone is its clean tone. My go to example of one of my fav SVT tones is Dave Hope's of Kansas.
    Last edited: May 1, 2018
  13. For a scooped SVT sound, the best i can think of is Tom Petersson on the early Cheap trick albums. He used to use three live. But yeah naturally they're not scooped, using the ultra lo switch really scoops out the mids, it doesn't boost the bass just scoops the mids.
    Pbassmanca and johnpbass like this.
  14. Mark Reccord

    Mark Reccord Supporting Member

    I knew these would come in handy again some day. These are measurements of my SVT that I did some time ago:

    Channel one, ultra switches out, EQ flat. I think I set it up for 10W into the load but I can't remember exactly. It's pretty flat. As you increase power I think you'd see the low end begin to roll off a bit.

    Channel one, Ultra low in the + position. This is quite mid-scooped and I think the "SVT" setting on the Tech 21 stuff is based on the ultra-lo being engaged.

    Channel one, Ultra-lo in the - position.

    So you can see from these that the SVT is not inherently mid-scooped when the ultra-lo is not engaged and very much mid-scooped when it is.
  15. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    ^ Truth. And, in days of yore, this is why many Sans Amp users were put off by the Tech 21 products that left off a dedicated control for mids.
    dagrev and JimmyM like this.
  16. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    The SVT has a range of sounds, it isn’t a one trick pony. It just takes some knob turning. Yes, it can do certain “Ampeg” sounds that the amp is famous for. But that doesn’t have to be the only sound that you can get out of it.

    It’s funny, when I play through my SVT, it sounds rich, deep, and low.
  17. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
  18. BillMason

    BillMason Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2007
    Or a B15.
    P-oddz, Cpt FixIt, MattZilla and 5 others like this.
  19. Mark Reccord

    Mark Reccord Supporting Member

    A speaker-level DI, just more distributed than normal. :D

    Seriously though, it's a Lundahl LL1530 DI transformer. I'm using a couple of resistors to drop the voltage from the dummy load and then dropping it down to a level my interface can handle with the transformer. The transformer is flat right down to 10Hz and out to about 50kHz so I don't think it's having much effect on the measurements.
  20. PotsdamBass8

    PotsdamBass8 Supporting Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Long Island, NY
    Also worth pointing out that a mid cut or scooped mids is a simple name for endlessly different things. I think that the 810 cab adds a big low mid bump, regardless of what you put into it. You can also have a cut at some other point in the mids, and still have that low mid bump. And yes, cutting certain mid frequencies and boosting or leaving others flat can make a sound that simultaneously cuts through and also sits in the mix very nicely.
    P-oddz, craigie and InhumanResource like this.

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