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I'm very happy with my SVP-CL preamp

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Dr. PhunkyPants, Jul 13, 2004.

  1. Dr. PhunkyPants

    Dr. PhunkyPants Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    Just wanted to provide a few comments on my two-months old Ampeg SVP-CL preamp. In short, I'm really satisfied with the thick, full rock tones I've been able to dial in. I A/B'ed it with my back-up preamp, an SVT-IIp with three Slovak JJ's. The SVT-IIp has a warm, full mid-rangey sound that ends up sounding sort of "eh" on its own, but really seems to work well in the mix. That said, it's a "one-trick pony" and if you don't want that sound, you're sort of stuck.

    One key feature I really like about the SVP-CL is the five-position switch up front that more or less selects five "models" of amp--flat, low-cut, SVT, SVT+lows, and (for lack of a better description) Dub. I've found myself switching among these settings to quickly grab a variety of useful presets--a faster, if less flexible option than having a graphic EQ onboard. For example, for a reggae version of "All Along the Watchtower" I can hit the Dub position and play with the side of the thumb--highs become almost instantly inaudible. Then, back to fingers and the SVT+lows for a cover of "Blue on Black". Grab a pick, switch to the regular SVT setting for a Nickleback cover. In fact, that setting really enhances just about anything played with a plectrum.

    Once past the initial shaping section, I've kept the EQ pretty consistent. I vary the midrange setting (setting 3-@800) depending on how hard I need to punch through distorted guitars. I'm still getting a feel for how I want to use the ultra high and bright
    buttons. I may just continue to tweak them based on mood and room.

    So, overall plusses on the SVP-CL are: mute switch, intial five-position tone shaping, relatively low noise, and of course, top-notch design and construction. (Plus, who doesn’t love the bright green glowing logo?) What I miss from the SVT-IIp-lows button, ability to get absurdly, over-the-top rude in the mids.

    I'm enjoying this preamp as much as any I've owned and recommend it highly. Someday I may play around with some of the four tubes. But I see no reason to at this point. Oh, and I paid $450 for this pre at Washington Music Center.
  2. inazone


    Apr 20, 2003
    Glad you like it. Ive been waiting for a review of the new ampeg pre, thanks! :bassist:
  3. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    i definitely love mine. it absolutely has that Ampeg sound.

    its really not as thick sounding as i had anticipated, but that may be a function of the Aguilar cab and my bass. but i find it to be articulate.

    i have mine coupled with the Aphex 204 and the SansAmp BDDI that i got from you Brian (which incidentally, takes care of my input sensitivity issue when i place it between the pre and the poweramp). all this through a GS112 and it will move furniture it with the lows. :bassist:
  4. modflea


    Apr 26, 2004
    Lafayette, LA
    As an SVP Pro owner, I too was curious as to how the CL performed. Thanks for the review.
  5. Dr. PhunkyPants

    Dr. PhunkyPants Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    I know the SVT-IIp isn't EXACTLY the same as the SVP-Pro, but they may be close enough for generalization. The five-position selector on the front end of the CL really does give you at least four fundamentally different tones. The SVP-Pro does have the graphic, but it only shapes a single consistent sound. Hopefully that makes sense.

    Dep1974--what's up man? When are we going to do that NoVa bassists happy hour?
  6. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    very interesting
    i'm a preamp junkie so the comments are definitely cool
    not to mention that i've gotten over my 80's "more eq is better" mode and really dig the 5 position mid control on the svt cl
    you should post a review of the preamp in the reviews section of tb if you haven't already
    does anyone know if ampeg's reputation for equipment failure earned in the 90's has improved??
  7. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001

    anytime! i love me a happy hour. drop me a PM and let me know when and i'll see who else i can kidnap to assist us in ridding NoVA of all these adult beverages.
  8. Transverz

    Transverz believer of the Low End Theory

    May 3, 2004
    Los Angeles, CA
    My thanks for the SVP-CL review as well. I've been trying to get my hands on one of these used but to no avail. Almost picked up an SVP-PRO on eBay the other day, but lost out. I can't wait anymore! I need an SVP-CL! :hyper:

    Too bad I can't/won't buy it brand new... :crying:

    Or would I? :eyebrow:

    More reviews like this and I just might. Anyone see or know of a used one for sale, feel free to PM me! Thanks.

  9. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    Could you possibly do a comparisson between the SVP-CL, and the Sansamp RBI since they are both meant to give the classic SVT sound?
  10. Dr. PhunkyPants

    Dr. PhunkyPants Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    Hi. I used to use a Sansamp BDDI with my old rig--an SWR SM-500--to get the same type of sound I have now. I know there are some differences between the BDDI and the RBI, so let me say that I would be happy to A/B them if someone wanted to send me one for a week (I promise I'd only play it in the home studio). In the meantime, some comments on the BDDI's tone and the CL's tone.

    --I have no idea which has the better DI. The CL's XLR out is about as bare bones as the BDDI's, feature-wise. Both sound fine to me.

    --I can't get an overdriven sound out of the CL. It's a hard preamp to clip and when you do, it's not the nicest of sounds. I use a Radial Tonebone Classic (note--this is NOT the Bassbone, which IMHO sucks) for distortion, otherwise I would have kept the BDDI for the dirt alone.

    --You can deal with the CL "flat" more easily than you can a BDDI. I guess I'm saying that you can make your bass sound rather uncolored with the SVT, just like with the blend knob off on the preamp. Problem was, the EQ on the BDDI then became less effective. The CL gives you that flat sound PLUS the EQ you so desire.

    --Tube warmth. You know what tubes sound like...no solid state device full captures it. THAT SAID, REMEMBER--part of what we know and love about tube amp tone comes from the interaction between the preamp and the poweramp stages. I personally wanted high wattage solid state power (I have a Stewart 2.1) and a tube preamp and was willing to sacrifice the extra tone. So, everything is a matter of degrees and it depends on what you're looking for. Some folks just need to throw down and buy the SVT-CL and haul that sucker.

    --Is there a straightforward way to compare the tones? Hmm. Maybe I'd say that the SVT-CL is more raw in the mids, less scooped and is more of a sock in the jaw.

    --The CL must be 1000 times quieter than the RBI is, from what I hear.

    I traded the BDDI to dep1974 plus cash for his B-50R combo (which I also dig tremendously--thanks again man). Dep, dude--weigh in here, will you? You've got the BDDI now and the SVT. Am I getting this right?
  11. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay

    The BDDI can get pretty scooped sounding but thanks to the mid knob on the RBI thats not a problem. I dont have any noise issues with it either so I guess you got a bad one, they addressed the issue, or I got lucky and got a good one.

    Either way, Im pretty sure the SVP-CL isnt for me because it doesnt overdrive easily which is the reason Id want one.
  12. Nightbass


    May 1, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Does the new CL make a 60Hz hum when you turn it on? Does the whole thing hum like the SVP-Pro does?

    And how quiet is it with respect to hiss?

    Thanks for the review - it makes me want to get one, too!
  13. Thee


    Feb 11, 2004
    San Luis Obispo, CA
    I was kind of on the fence between a CL and the Pro, thanks for giving such a detailed review... sounds like I'm leaning more towards the CL...
  14. TheChariot


    Jul 6, 2004
    Boston, MA
    Yes, excellent review, and much needed. I'll be in the market for a preamp probably by the time Fall rolls around. I was pretty much decided on the Pro... but then again, I've come to realize that 9-band EQ really pisses me off. You have do so much farting around, and it gets to the point where your ready to kick someone. And then after you've got it where you want it, it seems you end up playing something else that calls for a different sound.

    I'm a fan of the loud, punchy Mids though, and you seem to signify that the PRO would be better for that. Thing is.... I often use a BP50 on the "Hi Wattage" setting just to get a bigger presence. That satisfies me really, and I'm only using a B2R. It would probably work fine with the CL as well.

    Again, thanks for the review! :bassist:
  15. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    FWIW my RBI is fantastically quiet. I can crank my Stewart 2.1 louder than gig level (volume knob on my bass turned down all the way!!) and can barely tell my rig is on.

    But I do appreciate the excellent review and comparisons. The advantage to Ampeg products is definitely the strong mids. The mid knob on the RBI is a nice feature, but it doesn't make up for the mid scoop. Rolling back Blend restores midrange, but if rolled back too much then the tube emulation effect is lost.

    I plan on checking out the SVP-CL, but I already own a nice Ampeg SVP-Pro so I'm not in a hurry.
  16. Dr. PhunkyPants

    Dr. PhunkyPants Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    Glad these thoughts have been useful. I've been surprised that as solid a contender as the SVP-CL hasn't received more press here in this forum. I think this review boils down mainly to a gut-level notion of what you're getting. You know what Ampegs sound like--this preamp sounds like that, in a good way. I didn't dig the graphic EQ on the PRO because I've never been a graphic EQ guy. I want my preamp maker to voice my preamp well and save me the trouble of having to do it for them.

    It may be time Ampeg Insider weighed in once again with his view on the CL vs the PRO. I believe his view is that the CL is the more raw, harder rocking of the two...based on the CL's roots in SVT preamp designs of the 1970's. But I will let him speak for himself.

    I think this preamp is definitely worth the extra two hundred dollars above the RBI. It doesn't have any humming issues and I think it has less hiss than my older 1.5 rach space Dememter preamp did.
  17. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    Mine has no humming issues at all. It seemed that with the Pro, it would be hit or miss whether or not i would get the dreaded hum. with the CL, i figured it was new territory that was worth exploring. As for hissing, it is no worse than other amps that i have tried.

    I havent tried the DI on either one yet, so i cant comment in that department.

    On the CL, i have the EQ where i want it. both of the bright switches are disengaged. i use the Ultra Low knob to get different sounds.

    I think the SVP-CL wound being more articulate than i expected. It has the creamy tube sound without being muddy in anyway. in fact, i have to turn on the BDDI (with about 50% blend) to get that thick chewy sound. The CL from i what i have experienced is very mid scooped. Fortunately i prefer deep smooth bass over mid tone punch, and quite honestly, i have the bass knob on my bass turned all the way off (fully cut) and the bass knobs on the Aphex and the CL down around the 9 oclock position and it still vibrates everything in the house.

    When i compare the CL with Aguilar cab to my SWR Super Redhead, The Redhead definitely displays the meaning of hi-fi compared to this combination.

    My buddy just bought an SVT-3. i will have to do a comparo when i get the chance.

    My only complaint is the lack of an effects loop.

    Dr. PhunkyPants, perhaps we should confer sometime before swapping tubes so that we can try different tubes for a more cost effective comparison.
  18. Last Friday I bought SVP-PRO. Didn`t even try any other preamp because I was so sure that it was the one. I love the sound it`s when smoothly overdriven. So warm but still cutting through. Love at the first note :D

    Is the SVP-PRO effects loop suitable for stompboxes or is it meant just for rack effects?
  19. Sammy


    Aug 31, 2000
    I second that! Thanks for the review. I also thought there would be much more on the forum about the CL. I believe I read some concerns on the output level .... but I could be confusing post :meh:

    I've been looking at preamp leaning towards the Warwick Quad. From the surface, the Quad seems to be more versitle. I haven't been able to hear a Quadexcept for at bass-tasters. The Pro I played was good, but if the CL is more "raw" SVT tone, it's on the list.

    Wonder is MF has it (45 day paid test) ;)
  20. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    Sammy, the CL's are a little weak when running into a pro level amp such as the QSC's. Dr. PhunkyPants had his CL modified to boost the output a little and the QSCs can have a mod performed to increase the input sensitivity. There are also external devices that can boost the output a little.

    i have not heard of anyone pushing one of these into a tube amp or bass-specific power amp yet.