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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. sowilson


    Jul 5, 2013
    That would be wonderful but I'm still in the process of clearing out my basement so I have place for gear - must fight GAS, must
  2. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    Have you actually done a frequency sweep of a Hiwatt set to the flattest possible eq for comparision? I understand what you're saying about the SVT but an amp with the eq set for a flat frequency response SHOULD have a flat frequency sweep. That shouldn't come as a surprise and it doesn't really say much. Two amps that measure ruler flat in laboratory conditions can still sound very different in real life. Things like harmonic content when played at realistic volumes with an actual instrument with pickups that interact with the amp. And how the amp sounds when it's pushed hard and the transformers&tubes saturate. And it's not just about frequencies. It's dynamics too. How it compresses and softens transients at loud levels. This is also a big part of an amps "color".

    The SVT has a very distinct sound when pushed into the territory where (at least I personally) think it sounds best. A DR201 (or similarly "clean" British KT88 based amps from that era) sounds more open and uncompressed to me when pushed hard. But of course, now we're into perceived "color" and personal preference so you might disagree...

    ...at least about the amp HEAD...

    ...but then there's the SVT cab. The fridge is such an important part of the SVT sound that it's almost pointless to discuss the amp head separately. When we discuss the "SVT sound" I always assume we're talking about the whole package. Anything else would be very misleading. And THAT sound is a VERY colored sound, nothing flat about it. The same could of course be said about any other amp: The cab always matters, perhaps even more than the amp itself, and it will color the sound. But there is no other bass amp I can think of that is more closely assosiated with it's matching cab than the SVT. And that is a VERY colored and distinct sounding cab. Play a Hiwatt through an 8x10 fridge and it will sound a lot closer to an SVT than you might think. To disregard the sound of the fridge in a discussion of the "SVT sound" will only tell half the story, no matter how flat the amp head itself measures at certain eq settings. So yeah, right or wrong, my statements about Hiwatt being less "colored" than Ampeg is certainly flawed from a scientific point of view when based on using the amps with different cabs. But I still think it makes sense as a real world comparison because the "SVT sound" is so closely assosiated with the sound of an Ampeg 8x10. In fact, not just "closely assosiated". The 8x10 IS the SVT sound and it is a highly colored and extremely recognisable sound.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is this: It's how the amp actually sounds in real life situations that matters to me, not how the frequency response looks when it's fed a sine wave under workshop conditions. And, to me at least, the SVT sound is a very colored sound. I'm not saying it's bad. Not at all. It's just... very colored.
    JMacBass65 and G-Z like this.
  3. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    Modeled, yes. The duncan TSC has a new hiwatt model if you want to play around with the values yourself. You can get the tone stack flatish with the right settings, certainly closer to flat than you can get a typical FMV type tone stack anyways. But to call an SVT is a heavily colored amp but not say the same about the hiwatt is ignoring reality.

    Again, I use a DR201 based amp as well, through a number of cabs including from time to time an 8x10. They aren't flat and there's nothing wrong with that.
    Korladis and JimmyM like this.
  4. _Some Dude

    _Some Dude

    Sep 14, 2016

    Because it sounds good and scooping the midrange isn't the exact wrong thing.

    That scooping is wrong is (IMO) a modern internet myth that grew out of people misinterpreting basic advice for beginners. 20 years ago the problem was noobs with their amp dialled in 10/0/10 that couldn't hear themselves on stage, and they were correctly told that if they wanted to hear themselves they needed to stop scooping their mids. Now the problem is that people believe that anything with a mild notch in the mids isn't going to cut through and that an amp needs it's mids cranked and boosted to be heard.

    If you listen with your ears and your band slots each instrument appropriately scooping out a little of the appropriate frequencies can frequently be the exact right thing if you want more clarity and definition in your mix, but that requires everyone to communicate and work together rather than fighting each other for the same sonic space.

    JimmyM and Kro like this.
  5. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    IMHO...compare head to head without regard to speakers. Plenty of people use SVTs with speakers other than 810s.

    I own a 69 SVT, Skunkworks SVT, Hylight era DR103 and DR201, and a Reeves Custom 400...all wonderful amps. SVT and Hiwatt...not better, not worse, definitely different.

    IMHO each brand has sort of a strong baked in sound. From the modeling it appears the SVT can be dialed in flatter than the Hiwatt. The strong low mids are pretty characteristic of the SVT's natural voice. The upper mids are pretty neutral but the amp tends to grind in this frequency range when pushed. My impression is the Hiwatt EQ has a bit of a dip fairly low in mid range and tendency for rather strong and hard upper mids. IMHO the tonal contour produces sort of a bright "smiley face" voicing with bass and warm mid dominant voicing with guitar. Seems counter-intuitive, but that's how I hear it.

    The SVTs are probably more versatile if you get away from the idea that you have to use an 810E. IMHO, the SVT EQ is far more powerful and flexible. I agree the Hiwatt and Reeves tend to sound a bit more open and articulate than my SVTs. This is due to the inherent voicing that is very hard to dial out of a Hiwatt style amp...double edged sword that cuts both ways. It works splendidly in some instances and fails miserably in others.

    Volume wise my SVTs sit right where it should between the DR201 and 400. I would agree that my SVTs are a bit more naturally compressed than the Hiwatts and Reeves. Perhaps the SVT's compressed feeling has some relation to the grind the amp is known for. Another double edged sword IMHO.

    If I didn't think these were all awesome amps I would sell...use what you like.
    Last edited: May 2, 2018
    Korladis and coreyfyfe like this.
  6. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Do you know for certain if the frequency plot was taken off the power amp. The reason I ask: My understanding is the SVT preamp is actually quite flat as your plot reveals, but there is a bit of a baked in low mid range boost in the power amp.
    Korladis likes this.
  7. alaskaleftybass

    alaskaleftybass Will Hanbury, Jr. Supporting Member

    Mar 21, 2012
    Sitka, Alaska
    I've been wanting to try to get an Ampeg sound from my GK too, and I stumbled upon a new product for only $99 from Ampeg: The "Classic" pedal. Get that Ampeg sound for under one Franklin! Prolly at all major brick and mortar and online stores near you..

    ampeg classic.JPG
    While I'm still a confirmed GK user, I'm beginning to desire a more traditional Ampeg sound for some projects I'm working on. For that reason I see a couple Ampegs in my near future.....
    Korladis and JimmyM like this.
  8. The SVT does not scoop the mids. You can scoop the mids using it, but you can also boost them. I like boosting them with the selector set at 800hz when I use an SVT.

    The "ultra low" switch does scoop the mids, which is why many of us don't use it.

    With all knobs at noon, the SVT has a massive upper bass/low mids hump, which then gradually rolls off in the upper mids and highs.
  9. Exactly. You can get tons of radically different sounds out of an SVT.

    Compared to what? A Hiwatt? The SVT actually has less of a baked in tone than any amp with an FMV tone stack.

    As to your assertion that everyone who plays through an SVT uses an 810 cab... well that's simply not accurate. I've used other cabs more often than the 810. Usually either my Sunn 2x15 or @callofcthulhu 's Marshall VBC412 (the SVT I've used most often is also his). It actually highlights the differences between cabs, IMO. And the versatility of its controls means that two different players can get very, very different sounds even when using the same exact rig, just by turning a couple knobs.
    Iristone and Wasnex like this.
  10. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    You're right of course, not everyone uses an SVT amp with an SVT cab. As for my "assertion that everyone who plays through an SVT uses an 810 cab"... Where did you get that from? I never said that! But in my experience a lot more SVT amps use their matching cab than with any other bass amps. Because THAT's the industry standard in bass amplification and the "SVT sound". Do you see a Marshall cab whenever there's an SVT on TV, or on a festival stage, etc? Well, you might but it would be under the guitarists Plexi. The Ampeg 8x10 is a firmly rooted industry standard and about 9 out of 10 times when you see an SVT amp it's paired with it.

    It wasn't my intention to make it an Ampeg vs Hiwatt discussion. I just mentioned the Hiwatt as an example because I personally prefer what I perceive as it's more open and uncompressed feel to an SVT and therefore the SVT is not MY personal holy grail tone. Sometimes when reading Ampeg threads you can get the feeling that all other amps are rubbish. Far from it. It's just a matter of personal taste, genre, etc.

    As for the least "baked in tone" I guess it must depend on what people are used to. A personal point of reference if you will, because the SVT is about the most "baked in" sound I can personally think of. But now I'm obviously talking about the full rig again, amp+8x10. I just can't help it. The fridge is such a big part of the industry standard sound of an SVT that discussing the "SVT sound" without considering the cab seems pointless to me. I'm pretty sure I can recognise an SVT rig blindfolded, anytime, anywhere. I can't say that about any other amp. I'm not saying it's good or bad... just saying...

    Other bass amps aren't usually that strongly associated with a particular cab IMO. Let's take the Hiwatt as an example again. Modern Hiwatt cabs aren't exactly classics (to say the least...) but the DR201 is. Personally I use a Bergantino with my DR201. The old classic Hiwatt/Fane combination, to me at least, is more of a guitar thing. And the same can be said about many other bass amp/cab combos: whenever the amp being used is NOT an SVT there's a very good chance the cab is not the same brand as the amp. Much less so with the SVT. Especially if it's a rental or a permanent backline in a venue. This makes the SVT amp+810 the rig I most often end up actually playing BY FAR (unless I haul my own stuff). Backline companies and venues wouldn't supply a different cab with their SVTs unless specifially asked to do so and probably at an extra cost (if at all). Even though lots of people use SVTs with different cabs it doesn't change the fact that the industry standard associated with "SVT sound" is the full rig with the 8x10 fridge. The SVT through a different kind of cab sounds very, very different. Not better, not worse, just different. And it's not the industry standard "SVT sound".

    That 8x10 fridge has such a HUGE impact on the sound that unless the discussion is clearly about the characteristics of the amp head isolated it would be wrong not to consider the effect of the cab. When frequency sweeps and stuff like that are introduced to the discussion (although very interesting) I think the discussion is moving in a direction that can somewhat mislead the OP about the SVT sound.

    Of course it depends whether we discuss the very distinct and recognisable sound of an SVT amp into a 8x10 fridge or if we talk about the specifications of amp head separately. And yes, I know I'm comparing apples to oranges myself when comparing a Hiwatt amp in isolation to an Ampeg amp+cab but hey, I'm not perfect! :)
    Last edited: May 3, 2018
    G-Z likes this.
  11. Mark Reccord

    Mark Reccord Supporting Member

    I'm certain I did the measurements on the speaker outputs. Mainly because I did them to address that exact thing in another thread. :D I have a plot from the power amp alone there somewhere too. Let me dig it up. Caveat: these were taken at pretty modest output levels. Can't remember if I set it up for 10V or 10W out but I think you'd find that as you approached the limits of the power amp, the frequency response would narrow a bit. I'll do that test in a while. On vacation right now. :D

    Here's the power amp alone, driven front the power amp in jack.

    Wasnex and JMacBass65 like this.
  12. Mark Reccord

    Mark Reccord Supporting Member

    One more quick note is that the raw frequency response plots don't tell the whole story, either. Harmonic content/distorion is also important so two amps with the same frequency response plot might sound quite different.
    S.F.Sorrow and JMacBass65 like this.
  13. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Very good post...I still think the comparison of the amps should be on a level playing field. SVT compared to Hiwatt with both played through an 810E would be a fair comparison. But as you pointed out earlier, the sound will then be remarkably similar because the cabinet is extremely voiced and rolls off and normalizes the high and low frequency profiles that differentiate Hiwatts from the SVT. There would still be some difference in the mids of course. A frequency sweep of the 810E would be useful to see what is going on. IMHO, it would also be useful and desirable to know what these amps sound like driving more transparent speakers. More transparent speakers will reveal more of the true character of the amps.

    A lot of Hiwatt "fans" speak very negatively of SVTs in a way that seems clear that they have only heard the amp through an 810E. Sorry....I just think it is unfair to judge the amp based upon the way it sounds with only one speaker. Surely the cabinet should be discussed, but it is separate and an option. When I buy an amp, I like to try it with lots of speakers to find which pairing sounds best.
    Korladis likes this.
  14. When I think of Hiwatts, it's with 4x12s. When I think of Sunn, it's with 2x15s.

    All manufacturers want people to use their amps with their cabs, not someone else's. However, much of the time that I see an Ampeg 8x10, it's with a different amp on top of it. I've actually used my own head through an Ampeg 8x10 more than I've used an SVT through one.

    This was primarily a discussion of the amp itself. Saying the SVT has a more baked in tone than a DR201 or a Fender Bassman is simply ridiculous. The only fair way to do a comparison is by using the same cab. I've used several different amps through my own cab, a Sunn 2000S 2x15. My main amp is a Mesa D-180. I've also used at various times a GK 400RB, SVTs, a Sunn Concert Lead, and an Ampeg PF-50T. Even the Mesa and GK sound a lot more similar to each other through my cab than my D-180 through an Ampeg 8x10 sounds to my D-180 through my own cab.

    While you may not have asserted explicitly that no one uses SVTs with any other cab, that was your implication when you said it was pointless to talk about the amp alone. And I actually see other heads on top of guitar 4x12s at shows, including Marshall 4x12s, way more often than Plexis. I couldn't tell you the last time I even saw one of those heads, actually.

    There isn't one "SVT Sound." When I've used them, I've gone for radically different tones than I suspect you would. And I can get essentially the same sound with either my D-180 or my friend's SVT.

    An SVT might be a bit more compressed than a Hiwatt, but through the same cab, to my ears the Hiwatt would likely sound quite mid scooped, which is to me a much more baked in tone.
    bigbottomend, Wasnex and JimmyM like this.
  15. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    But was it? It certainly TURNED INTO a discussion about the amp itself but that was kinda my point. It seemed to me that the "spirit" of the OPs question was more about the "SVT sound", as in "why is it the industry standard?". To me there's two things about the SVT sound that really stands out: 1) It sits really well in the mix. 2) It has a midrange character that makes it (relatively) audible on smaller speakers, like a tv. And the coloration from the 810 fridge is a MAJOR contributor to that. Therefore I felt that some of the opinions here could perhaps be a bit misleading when considering the OPs question. That's also why I said it depends on whether we discuss the industry standard "SVT sound" or the sound of the amp itself.

    Having said that, you are making some very good points and if we're discussing the amp itself I can't really disagree with you. I'm not looking to start an argument, really! It's just I thought the discussion was starting to provide answers to a question that was never asked. Apologies if I misinterpreted the OP completely!

    And yeah, you're right about the Bassman, they certainly have a very colored sound. In fact, now that you mention it that's probably the other amp I could recognise blindfolded, but with ANY cab. :) Funny I didn't think of it. I've owned a Bassman 100 for decades! Never really worked for me with bass but a huge favourite for Rhodes in my studio.
  16. I guess when people say "amp," I think of the head, only. So I may have been the one misinterpreting the OP.

    Still, even considering the very characteristic sound of the cab, it's not a scooped sound. Especially compared with the Fender Bassman and other amps that use that EQ.
  17. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    Certainly not scooped. I never said that. If anything it's the opposite, more of a mid forward character with the lows rolled off a bit (the cab that is), hence my comments about "sits well in the mix" and "audible on tv". In fact, it could be argued that the 810 cab is a bigger part of the "SVT sound" than the amp itself.
  18. Was more addressing the question of the OP. I know you didn't say it was scooped.
  19. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    The title of the thread related to the Ampeg sound, and not specifically to the SVT and 810E sound. IMHO, SVT and 810E are a bit too large, loud, and noisy for the typical studio environment, so a lot of the classic recordings used Ampeg fliptops, which are combo amps. In the case of a combo, it would seem logical to discuss the sound of the speaker and amp as intrinsically linked...but different models of speakers (drivers) were used in these amps, and I am sure some are more coveted than others. Never played a fliptop, so I can't comment on the sound, but based upon recordings, the sound is a bit different than an SVT and 810E...so it would seem there is some variation in the Ampeg sound.

    I do get your point about the SVT and 810E creating an iconic sound that should be discussed...also agree that it is wrong to not discuss this combination. However, many people assume the SVT is only capable of producing the sounds it makes with the 810E and that is just plain wrong. In order to understand the full capabilities of the amp, or any amp, it should be discussed without such limits.

    Hook up an SVT, Hiwatt, and Bassman to a quality wideband speaker and I believe you will easily pick out which head is which in a double blindfold test. IMHO, the SVT will still produce the Ampeg sound...it just won't be the SVT/810E sound.
  20. King Louie

    King Louie

    Jul 17, 2016
    Yes, my question was definitely geared to the SVT sound and why it is the industry standard, I just did not think about asking which part is the amp and which is the cab, because I kind of thought of the SVT & fridge as a unit. I realize now this is stupid, because both parts can of course be mixed with other gear. But the industry standard seems to be the SVT & fridge (or head & two 4x10 cabs), not other combinations.

    If anyone has measurements of the 4x10 or 8x10 cabs, that would still be great to confirm that they have a mid bump, but I understand that this is hard to do (not to measure room acoustics more than the cab) and I honestly already got more out of the thread than I expected. Thanks everybody!
    Korladis likes this.

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