Mesa WD800 vs Ampeg SVT

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by TubeDood, Jun 6, 2019.

  1. TubeDood

    TubeDood Inactive

    May 31, 2019
    Hey fellow bassers
    I am looking to buy a Class D backup to my SVT ( 2pro) and I gave it a go with a few others on the market but couldn't find one that didnt sound thin compared to the thickness of a tube power section .

    The one to come closest for me was the GK MBF800. But still .... in the end too thin of a sound, and when pushed , lost definition and sounded kind nasally.
    But I feel that Class Ds do have enough " slam " and punch , so my concern is not in that area , tone wise.

    And I pass the preamp when comparing, plugging into the effects return to hear only what the power section is doing.

    Which brings me to the conclusion of looking at the WD800 because of its power amp dampening feature .
    before when I was comparing class Ds , I tried 6 different ones , but none of those were the Mesa Class D's .... simply because I gave up at #6 and didnt order anything after that.

    Can anyone that's been able to compare both give some insight to if the technology behind Cass Ds have finally caught up to match tube thickness and dynamics?

    Cheers Mates!
    Ellery and armyadarkness like this.
  2. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa Boogie, Development Engineer-Genzler (pedals), Product Support-Genz Benz
    It's not so much a change in technology as a change in design approach that addresses what you (and others) may be looking for. The Streamliner is another that addresses this but in a different way.

    That said, there are plenty of players that don't care all that much for this kind of thickness and bloom, and prefer a "less tubey" tone (for lack of a better description). That's why the damping is adjustable on the WD, some folks don't like the looser feel and this helps address this potential limitation. This is also very cabinet dependent, which might help explain why different players have different impressions of the same amp.
    Nuage420, BruceG63, Al Kraft and 25 others like this.
  3. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    You probably won’t find a more subjective definition of anything than “tube thickness“ and “dynamics”.

    I know a “only you can determine that answer by doing side-by-sides” probably isn’t the answer you are looking for.

    But it’s the only true answer. Unless you enjoy an endless parade of opinions and conjecture.

    Edit: which is absolutely the last thing I’d use to describe Agedhorse’s post above...:D
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2019
    AGCurry, Al Kraft, dbsfgyd1 and 6 others like this.
  4. Wfrance3

    Wfrance3 Supporting Member

    May 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    This wouldn't be the "real deal", but Ampeg make pedals that will get you a decent version of their "baked in" sound. It's an idea you might check out...
  5. TubeDood

    TubeDood Inactive

    May 31, 2019
    I can understand the subjectiveness of general descriptions, and I totally understand " try before you buy"
    I was just wondering if some SVT users made the switch thinking they weren't losing anything .
    And I like the Poweramp dampening feature because of the reason of being able to sharpen its delivery.

    So maybe I should word it differently .
    Does the Mesa poweramp have the signature tube sag when in its " loose" setting ?

    I've tried their pedals , and much was left to be desired for me.
    In fact , Ampegs all tube amps are the only thing I like from Ampeg.

    Again , I was passing the preamp for testing , so I'm not too concerned with their " baked in " sound.
    I was a GK 700rb player for 10 yrs until I desired that warmth from tubes.
    Wfrance3 likes this.
  6. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    You are not going to find anything that sounds like an SVT, I mean it's girth. As others will point out there are louder amps, there are more clear sounding amps etc etc but nothing will replace that big heavy boat anchor experience if that is what you're looking for except for maybe another tube amp and I haven't found a tube amp like that either except for maybe a Marshall Major. Now that being said I have not tried all class D amps and have not tried a Mesa either but i have never read anywhere from anyone that any class D amp can totally replace an SVT head. Also this is my subjective opinion although I think my opinion is widely shared by other SVT users.
  7. TubeDood

    TubeDood Inactive

    May 31, 2019
    That's a good word I should have used = girth.
    And I agree , that's why the other 6 I tried went back ... most of them had the heft ... but not the girth.

    Also , my second choice of amp to the SVT was a Marshall JCM .I will have to try a Major
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  8. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    I sold mine in 1976 for 150.00! Nowadays, at least over here they routinely go for a minimum of $2000.00 to $3000.00, well someday......:laugh:. Big sound though, the only thing they lack is the tone shaping abilities of an Ampeg, they made them for both bass and guitar but their the same amp with a couple of differences that can be changed easily by someone who knows what they're doing.
    TubeDood likes this.
  9. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    ok, I'm going to cautiously reply to the OP as this can get to be such a loaded topic ... replacing the revered SVT.

    The Mesa WD800 can be set to drive both the pre and the power section into "tube emulation" ... with the EQ available, I'm certain you could get close to the SVT type sound, depending on what that means to you. If that was not enough, you could put a Tech21 VT/VTD in front of it and add the SVT flavor that way.

    Even someone as Ampeg oriented/affiliated as JimmyM uses the VT pedals for their classic B15 and SVT flavors, so that's certainly one validation point to consider.

    good luck OP
    pcake, Ellery, Ewo and 1 other person like this.
  10. _Some Dude

    _Some Dude

    Sep 14, 2016
    I have a WD800 and SVT.

    The WD800 is thick, but it’s a different sort of thick. The midrange is sculpted different. The SVT midrange is sort of a blunt force instrument for cutting through, whereas the Mesa midrange is more surgical. It cuts where it needs to and doesn’t cut where it isn’t needed. This could be perceived as not being as thick, or it could be perceived as improved clarity.

    As for tube sag... I don’t think that’s what the damping control was meant to achieve. I believe it’s meant to change how tightly the power amp clamps down on the speaker. Low damping does a great job of loosening up the speakers, and it is helpful if you’re using into a sealed cab.
  11. TubeDood

    TubeDood Inactive

    May 31, 2019
    I am familiar with the VT... I love the DI version ( cuz of the the blend knob)

    Which prompts me to think , if the Mesa is not a formidable replacement , I might just get another VTDI and just run into FOH exclusively and leave the SVT & 412 at the practice spot.
    djaxup likes this.
  12. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Man, the Streamliner is the closest small head to the SVT in my mind - warm, fat and clear. Almost too good to be true, IMO and can be had for ~$500 used. I also love my Aguilar TH700 - not as fat as the SVT or Streamliner, but not thin either. I love the sound of that head - vintage warmth meets modern flexibility, clarity and presence.
  13. TubeDood

    TubeDood Inactive

    May 31, 2019
    You tapped on the other concern I had , I love mids!
    And sometimes find the mids in the SVT too " blunt " for some overdrive settings , so it sounds like the Mesa could be a good fit there
    Arthur U. Poon likes this.
  14. _Some Dude

    _Some Dude

    Sep 14, 2016
    IMO, it is.

    The big mids thing sounds great for lower levels of drive, but past a certain point the rest of my band mates start giving me that look...
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2019
    gepettus, Ampslut and TubeDood like this.
  15. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    One other comment...

    Last weekend, I got to play my 59 PBass into the SVT-VR and Heritage 810 at an outdoor show where I could crank it up (to noon!). NOTHING I’ve ever heard will get you THAT sound.

    I have other amps that sound great and work amazingly well at gigs, but c’mon :smug:
  16. The closest I ever came to that feel in a SS amp, and I used to own a '74 SVT, was the Aggie DB750. IMHO I just don't see the Class Ds pulling it off.

    BTW, I returned my WD800.
    Coughdrops, Joebone and TubeDood like this.
  17. Ampeg SCR-DI into a Quilter Bass Block 800.

    The EQing capability of the SCR-DI combined with the tube-like power curve that Pat Quilter gets in that amp are quite astonishing.
  18. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I have both an SVT and the original Walkabout. The Walkabout does a respectable vintage tubey tone. Many sound guys prefer it to the SVT. Its line out is fantastic.

    @agedhorse has stated all along that he stayed as true as he could to the original. So I have every reason to believe that you should be able to dial in something you love with it. The preamp section is deadly versatile. That para mids section will take you from pillowy round to slice and dice mids quickly.

    I wouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger. I think you'll be pleased.
  19. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Doesn't mean I buy into it as a replacement for an Ampeg tube amp :D I buy into it as a replacement for an Ampeg tube amp with the caveat that it is much better than having a plain vanilla DI and an SS amp. Mostly, though, when I use the VT Deluxe, it's for convenience when all I need for pedals is a little light overdrive and fuzz, plus a clean sound with speaker simulation so my DI line sounds more like a mic'ed cab than it can without it. The sounds are quite good, but they're not quite to the level of an actual tube amp or a serious high end tube DI like the REDDI. However, I'm not about to carry two SVT's to a gig with one as a backup, so when I bring a tube amp I bring a lightweight SS amp as a backup, usually a PF800 or 350. Even though it's not the same, sometimes I just have to tell myself that the hit I take on sound by using SS doesn't cause people to walk out in protest :D
  20. TubeDood

    TubeDood Inactive

    May 31, 2019
    Lol .... I know that look.
    So if you could only have one ... which one of the 2 would it be and why?

    I know exactly what you mean , selling my 70s SVT is one of my biggest regrets.

    I have heard many good things about the walkabouts .... and yes .... I just might buy to try.
    two fingers likes this.