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I cannot get a good sound out of this SWR SM400...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by function, Apr 8, 2006.


  1. function

    function

    Sep 7, 2005
    I'm running an ESP LTD through it into an Ampeg 810 and I cannot dial in a good sound on the EQ or bass/treble knobs - does anyone have any suggestions for settings? I've run similar amps (SVT-III) in the same rig and gotten great results, but those weren't my amps. No matter what I do it feels like the whole thing just sounds farty and empty. Any help?
     
  2. Start with running it flat and the Aural Enhancer all the way down. Most everyone here that owns an SWR will tell you the same thing.

    Mike
     
  3. anderbass

    anderbass

    Dec 20, 2005
    Phoenix. Az.
    It might be time for a new amp. I played SWR gear for years and came to the same conclusion. The sound of Ampeg and SWR amps are about as far apart as you can get.
    I dont think you can eq, the basic sound out of a amp, and now that you have played through a ampeg, you know thats the type of sound, your craving.
     
  4. Tim1

    Tim1

    Sep 9, 2005
    New Zealand
    Try a Sansamp SABDDI in front - the only way I could get a good sound out of mine as I recall.
     
  5. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Learn how to use the 4 band semi parametric EQ. Theres not many tones you can't dial in with that bugger. Also, make sure you are correctly bridging the amp, not trying to run the cab with one side of the SM-400.

    I tried an SM-400S with an 810E one time, and it was fantastic. Just take the time to learn how to use the head and I think you'll get great sounds out of it.
     
  6. vision

    vision It's all about the groove!

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Endorsing Artist: MTD Basses, La Bella Strings, and 64 Audio IEMs
    what kind of sound are you going for? the swr may not be the best match with an ampeg 810, depending on your tone preferences.
     
  7. Steve

    Steve

    Aug 10, 2001
    I have an SM500 which is basically the same front end...

    You REALLY have to know what you're doing with that thing. There are tons of variables and the Q is really pointy.

    The sliders are also darn sensitive and it's easy to go right past what you want.

    The fact that the frequencies aren't very well marked doesn't help the situation much.

    It's one of the most versitile but least user friendly amps I've ever owned
     
  8. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    I usually use a frown EQ on the sliders rather than the usual smilie. This helps push the mids and define the sound. Quite a powerful amp when setup right...can be murky with the wrong EQ.
     
  9. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    I also tend to use the EQ to boost mids on the SM-400, and agree its not a friendly interface. But it does get really good sounds when dialed in.
     
  10. function

    function

    Sep 7, 2005
    I think my problem is the parametric EQ. The mids are not a problem at all, its actually the opposite - no matter how I dial up the EQ I cannot avoid a really mid-heavy "honk". Even a smiley face setting doesn't really scoop them enough (not that I'm looking for a sound that is all high and low end). I might try the SABDDI because I remember it accomplishing that well, but I've always wanted to aim for simplicity - one bass, one amp, one cabinet. Or I guess its time for a new amp. Thanks for the input
     
  11. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    The SWR head and Ampeg cab seem to go against each other in my mind. What made you go with this combnation?
     
  12. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    take each EQ slider, boost it to maximum, and sweep through the frequency band. Do this for each band with all the others flat. When you find the frequency that makes the honk the absolute worst, cut at that frequency. Then, if you want to go even farther, cut the bands on either side of it slightly as well.

    IME SWR/Ampeg combinations can be fantastic. Ampeg heads with SWR cabs, SWR heads with Ampeg cabs ... all good sounds, and each quite different from the next.
     
  13. Brad Maestas

    Brad Maestas Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2003
    Oakland, CA
    I'm assuming you're using the SM-400S (stereo model)? One side of an older 400 will barely push a 112 cab, IMO. Even with the 400 bridged you're not gonna get tons of volume. Even though the 810 is fairly efficient, all the drivers eat up watts like nobody's business. It takes quite a bit to get it going. When you were complaining about the honky, mid-heavy sound that made me think that you might have the polarity reversed. Of course if you are properly bridging it with a banana plug, the polarity usually doesn't matter as long as you're plugged into the two top posts.

    About a month ago, a buddy borrowed my AI Clarus I while his amp was being repaired. He said he just needed it for a quick rehearsal. He said he got to the rehearsal, plugged it into his 810 and it sounded like @$$. Well, he didn't tell me he was gonna plug it into an 810! Of course it's gonna sound bad when you drastically underpower a cabinet, especially with that little amp!
    Point being, the 810 is a big mama and it needs plenty of juice. I think the SM400 is ideal when bridged mono into a 4-ohm 410 cab. I think once you get to an 810 you might be underpowering your speakers. Just a thought.
     
  14. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    About the possibility of underpowering, try setting the lowest EQ band all the way to the left (40 hz) and cutting -3 or -6 db at that frequency. Then turn up the bass knob, which is at 80 hz. You'll get the perception of a big bottom but won't be wasting power on the lowest end. The cab has a -3db rollof of 58hz, so you won't miss much low end by doing this.

    Perhaps it will only provide a small improvement, but take a look at what tube is in the amp. I found subtle but noticeable tonal improvement changing to a JJ ECC83 tube. Some of the others sounded brighter, perhaps adding to the honk. Sovteks were both noisy and cardboad sounding.
     
  15. function

    function

    Sep 7, 2005
    thanks a lot for all the info, guys. I have the SWR/Ampeg setup for a simple reason of cost. I picked up the 810 off of a guy for $200 (it's ugly, but works perfectly) and the amp for a similar cost. I have the SWR bridged with the banana plug going straight into the cabinet. I guess I didn't consider that it might be underpowering it. Do you think that a pre-amp/power amp system (Crown 402 or 602?) might be a better temporary setup for a guy on a budget - until that great deal on a SVTCL falls into my lap?
     
  16. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    I don't think that the cab is underpowered unless you're playing really, really loud or are using a scooped EQ with a lot of bottom dialed in.

    Start with a flat EQ, set the aural enhancer around 1 o'clock and adjust EQ slowly from there. IIRC, with the EQ knobs straight up, the EQ centers are 100 hz, 200 hz, 500 hz and 1000 hz. Leave the centers in this position first and experiment with the sliders.

    Keep the bass and treble knobs flat...straight up...while doing this.

    Report back to us...I think you'll find a way to make this rig sound nice.
     
  17. function

    function

    Sep 7, 2005
    I'm definitely going to try these suggestions out at practice tonight, but yeah, I am driving this amp really hard. I'm up against a Hiwatt 200 full stack and a drummer that hits like he's playing with baseball bats.
     
  18. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    You might suggest that the present volume level is for the audience via the PA and that lower stage volumes produce better music :meh:
     
  19. Brad Maestas

    Brad Maestas Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2003
    Oakland, CA
    +1
     

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