Help with Carvin vs. SWR stack

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by KB, Sep 4, 2000.

  1. KB


    Jan 13, 2000
    Chapel Hill, NC
    I currently own a SWR WM 15 (old version) and I was looking to upgrade. I am considering the Carvin RL610 (R600 head with 2x10 and 1x15 speakers). Since I don't live anywhere near California I can't test out what this Carvin rig would sound like and how it compares to my current workingmans 15 combo sound wise. The other stack I was considering was a SWR 350 with the son of bertha 1x15 and Goliath Jr 3 (2x10). I know the SWR rig would be cool, but it also costs approximately $1700 where as the Carvin rig is only $1100.
    Does anyone know how the sound compares? I usually play my active Carvin LB70 bass. I am looking for versitility and portability and good sound at a cheaper price. Is the SWR rig sound really worth a $600 difference in price? They both seem to be similar (tube pre-amp, effects loops, etc.) but the Carvin has more watts and is cheaper.
    I have never heard a complete Carvin stack before so I don't know how the sound compares. I have read the recent posts on Carvin amps but I want to learn more. Please help me with any info you may have. Thanks

  2. lump


    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK

    I made my second stop at Carvin a coupla months ago on the way over to Korea, pretty much for the express purpose of paying more attention to how their amps sound (my first trip I was paying more attention to the basses, and just played through the 600W combo). I'm kinda in the same boat - I already own an Carvin 2x10, and am lookin' to maybe add the RL600 and a 15. I really like my Peavey, but it's just such a pain in the ass to move (I'm on the third floor now) that I think I need to go more modular.

    I've tried the WM350 with the SOB :))) cabs, and sound-wise, and the Carvins have a very similar tone (although I must admit that the only amp I ever truly hated was a Hartke). What's funny is that I opted for my Peavey over the WM350 because even at only 210 watts (without the extension cab), the Peavey was WAY louder (and yes, cheaper). That's my main beef with SWR - their "lower end" stuff just isn't very loud, and IMO tone becomes irrelevant if no one can hear you. On the other hand, the 600W (actually 300/300 bridged) Carvin is VERY loud. Some of the doodads aren't great (like the noise gate), but it has some other pretty cool shaping tools. I think that's been a complaint on here before - there are almost TOO many options. I would tend to agree - I just wanna plug and play without having to f*** with it for three days to find the sound I like best. The cabs are very sturdy though, and reasonably light (mine weighs only about 45lbs).

    Is the SWR worth $600 more? I guess if you like the sound better, then yes. For me, since I don't hear a significant difference, not a chance. The good news is that if you wanted to try the Carvin, you wouldn't have to wait two months to receive it like with the basses. The bad news is if you don't like it, it's gonna be some pretty hefty shipping costs to send it back. Also, from what I've read on here, there seem to be more problems with their amps; I've seen a few people who have had to send the first one back cuz something was wrong with it (Tom7 for one, I think). That may be a factor to consider too. Oh, and Carvin isn't as "cool" as SWR :rolleyes:...

    Anyway, that's my $.02.

  3. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    I recently maybe 2 or 3 months ago bought a Carvin RL 4x10 bass cabinet. For the money you pay on them they are well worth it. My friend has an SWR 4x10 cab we ran both with his head Ampeg SVT head (an original one too not a reissue) and then with my Hartke 2000 head. We didnt notice any real noticeable difference in sound. (at least not a $600 one) I cant say anything good or bad about the Carvin Amps though because Ive never heard one. My Carvin Cab is only 70-75lbs and easy to lug around. A good quality cabinet at an extremely good price!! I was also like most people are with mail order and really leary about buying it like Im sure you are.
  4. KB


    Jan 13, 2000
    Chapel Hill, NC
    The Carvin setup is starting to sound more interesting (especially considering the price difference). Any other ideas or comparisons of these setups? I am not too concerned about the noise gate (or even the compressor) on the carvin. I already own a 1000W Carvin 12 channel PA system for my band and it seems to do OK (the fan on the amp is a little loud). Any other opinions or info on Carvin's stack vs. SWR (or Eden or Ampeg, etc.). My biggest concern is that I can't listed to the carvin first, but I have decided that the 2x10 and 1x15 is the way I want to go. (I really like the 15" sound).

  5. Pietzsa


    Mar 23, 2000
    Orange, Texas
    I own the a new R600 and I love it. I've played SWR, Eden and pretty much everything else and I chose the Carvin. I actually put my search down to the SWR Redhead, and the Carvin RC210. I played them both and went for the Carvin. The noise gate is useless, but the compressor is one of the best I've heard in a combo. It took me about a month to really get the tone I wanted out of it. You can make as complicated or simple as you want with all the EQ. I ended up running it pretty much flat except for the mids and compression. It's a great amp and every soundman I've played for has loved it.

    WAKOJACO Guest

    Jul 5, 2000
    Binghamton, NY

    If you got the dough, go with the SWR. Without a doubt.
    Don't limit yourself to two brands, go to a music store and try everything.
  7. Bob C

    Bob C

    Mar 26, 2000
    Duluth, MN
  8. mikemulcahy


    Jun 13, 2000
    The Abyss
    Its real simple, dont be "brand blind". Listen to everything you can and get what you #1 Like
    #2 Can afford
    Everyone here has their own taste find yours.
  9. sundog


    Jan 20, 2000
    Having owned the Carvin RC-210 for about a half a year now...I have messed with the settings and configurations until I finally arrived at the one I like.

    I took the head out of the 210 combo cabinet. I Built a small rack for it and I bought an Alesys compressor. I run the Carvin R600 head (the head in the RC210 combo) bridged, full range into a 4 ohm Peavey 115BX-BW (Kevlar impregnated Black Widow that handles 700 watts peak).

    So now I am running my Carvin as a head only, at 700 watts into the Peavey 15" cabinet. It is the cleanest, punchiest, warmest sound I've ever had. It's easy to haul around and it's enough bass to cause bowel movement, yet very clean even at very low volume settings (I can't even tolerate it above 5).

    I have tried so many speakers over the years...the 2-10's, the 4-10's...2-12's, 4-12's, 15's...18's and after twenty or so years of playing I still always come back to 15" speakers. It's just my own personal preference. I like the fact that 15's have such a nice warm (yet clean) sound to them instead of the harsh, biting sound of smaller speakers (in any configuration) yet the newer 15's and cabs are quite capable of handling the bottom end just as well as any 18" I've had.

    Besides, my Carvin RC-210 combo cabinet is now being used as a kickass stage monitor.
  10. Let your ears choose.

    I've had my SWR Bass 350 for 4 years and never regretted it, having tried out loads of others before and since. IMHO the Carvin stack I tried out at the time was not as versatile or warm as the SWR, but everyone's tastes are different. If you want to save some cash what is wrong with getting the SWR head and Carvin (or Peavey) Cabs?
  11. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA

    I sold my SWR400 and picked up a Carvin RC210 Combo. I couldn't be happier with the decision. It is alot more portable than the SWR with a 4x10 cab, and sounds great. I agree that the noise gate is useless. But, I get the sound that I have had in my head for years--something I could never do with the SWR. The ability to blend solid state and tube preamps in the Carvin is great. And, I live in Georgia, so I ordered it over the internet without ever having had the chance to play it. Do know, however, that most music stores frown upon Carvin(and will even lie to you about their quality) since they can't make any money off of the brand. So, if you go with the Carvin, you will get screwed if you ever try to trade it in on something.
    Hope this helps.


    WAKOJACO Guest

    Jul 5, 2000
    Binghamton, NY

    From personal experience, if you have trouble with Carvin equipment, it can be an unpleasant experience getting service. Although I still own a couple early 80's basses, I no longer mess with Carvin gear after having a bad experience trying to get a Carvin Combo amp. fixed. I ultimately ended up paying for the repair as well as postage both ways, just to get the unit back and sell it in disgust.
    It should have been totally covered by Carvin. Local guitar shops will not have pity on you when you have factory direct equipment.

    On the other hand, I had a SWR amplifier replaced no questions asked after sending SWR an E-MAIL, even though the factory warranty had run out. These guys WILL stand behind their stuff. I had to pay absolutely nothing.
    Further, you can see the higher quality of SWR gear in small things such as switches and pots(knobs) as well as in the components such as the integrated limiters and tone shaping abilities. Personally I think the SWR sounds much better, but, like I said earlier, don't limit yourself, you might like Eden or Ampeg better than either SWR or Carvin.