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My AMP BH-420 is here!

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by vision, Feb 28, 2006.


  1. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    My AMP BH-420 was delivered today (thanks Crockettnj!)...

    I haven't been able to really test it out yet (it was pretty late by the time I got home) but I'm liking it so far. I basically just played it through my Epifani 310UL for 5 minutes, and then plugged into the headphone jack to see how the tone controls sound. Here's some initial impressions...

    This thing is loud, a good deal louder than the SWR SM-400 that I'm currently using. Once again, I only had it plugged in for a sec, but I really noticed that I was able to get more volume out of it. As far as tone, you can really tell that the AMP and the SWR have similar heritage...they are in the same tone family. They both have the 4 band semi-parametric eq in addition to shelving bass and treble, both have an "enhance" function, etc. When set flat, the tones are strikingly similar. One big difference I've noticed so far though is the AMP eq section is more powerful...a small bit of knob-tweaking goes a long way with it. Also the tone knob (precurser to the Thunderfunk's timbre knob) is just great...a little nudge to the left really warms it up alot. This may be the biggest benefit over the SWR - that tone knob gives me more variety of sounds than the SWR's more pure hi-fi voicing.

    The real test will come in a band setting, which I'll be able to do tomorrow night in rehearsal. I'll post an update then!
     
  2. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    These are phenominal heads and your love for it will only grow with time. Funny how 20+ yr old technology still hangs with new (if not exceeds it)...
     
  3. +1

    A well designed piece of equipment is well designed regardless of how old it is!
     
  4. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    After reading IvanMike's History Lesson post on the Thunderfunk, SWR/Eden, I can see why I think the AMP sounds really similar to my SWR SM-400...both preamps were designed by Steve Rabe. It looks like the AMP BH-420 was basically the precurser to the SM-400...
     
  5. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Okay, here's an update after tonight's rehearsal...the main thing I noticed is that this head is VERY LOUD. The tone is really good set flat, but I am noticing that it dosn't have as much of the top end sizzle that I love from my SWR. I'm looking forward to seeing how it performs on a gig!
     
  6. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Nice! Keep us informed as to how it works out for you. I have no doubt that it will sound great on the gig. :D

    Tom.
     

  7. It doesn't surprise me at all that it sounds quite a bit louder than the SWR, due to its more 'mid punch' voicing. I also notice on the TF that if you like a more 'sizzly' sound, the 'switch' can really help set to the non-default SS mode versus the traditional TF/AMP 'tube' mode.
     
  8. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    This is a good point...the tone knob on the AMP to the right give more of a high-mid voicing, and the treble knob adds highs but not that extra high end sheen.

    It is SUPER loud though, so it was punching through the entire band!
     
  9. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    I tell ya, it's about the loudest 400 watt SS head I've ever used...
     
  10. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    +1...especially into an efficient cab like the Epifani 310UL...I can't even imagine needing more volume!
     
  11. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    The "funny" part is that SWR's wattage ratings are quite high in my opinion. Their 400 watts sounds like 200 to me...
     
  12. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    By the way, if anyone knows how to get find rack ears for these old AMPs, let me know!

    Did I mention that this thing is LOUD???
     
  13. Fawkes007

    Fawkes007

    Sep 13, 2005
    SF Bay Area
    Not to be a jerk, but the current SWRs sounds like ass to me. Which is a shame, because when I first played thru them in 1987, I thought they were fantastic.
     
  14. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    Honestly, I can't stand SWR's either. Personally, I don't think the that BH-420 sounds like an SWR.
     
  15. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    I'm going to do a shootout between the AMP and my SWR tonight. So far, when set flat, they sound exactly alike. The AMP is just louder, and doesn't have the high end sheen that comes from the SWR's transparency knob. I have an old SWR though...an SM-400 from 1990. I'll do a direct comparison going between them and post my thoughts.
     
  16. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    I just finished a full shootout between these 2 heads so I could hear them directly after each other. I used my trusty Peavey Cirrus 5 and my Epifani 310UL. The SM-400 has an Electro-Harmonix 12AX7 installed instead of the stock Groove Tubes 12AX7. (I found the EH to be more warm.) I went back and forth between the 2 amps for around an hour.

    The biggest difference between the 2 is the AMP is WAAAAAYYY louder. (Like I've been saying all along.) Both are rated at 400 watts (actually the SWR is 420 @ 4 ohms), but the AMP sounds almost twice as loud. I had to back up the volume on the Cirrus every time I went back to the BH-420 because it was just so much louder.

    As far as tone, they really do sound very similar. When I started with both set flat, the SWR had a little more sheen on the high end. But then I remembered that "flat" on the SWR's Aural Enhancer is not at 12:00, but all the way to the left. After that adjustment, they REALLY sounded like each other. I wish that the AMP had an enhance knob instead of just a button - I like what it adds when its just a touch on, but any more than that and its completly unusable. I can't see myslef using that button on the AMP at all.

    The EQ sections are really similar, with a few noticable differences. The bass and low end on the AMP is a bit more punchy and tight, while the SWR has a wider, more open low end. The treble knob is exactly the same on both...very smooth until you get to 3:00, and then alot of hiss comes on at once. However, on the AMP I was able to back off the tone knob a bit to get rid of the hiss. This was my favorite setting on the BH 420...I was able to get a bit of that SWR sheen without having it sound too scooped.

    Volume aside, it would be a toss-up between these 2 amps. I really like the tone of both, and the EQ sections are equally powerful. But the BH-420 really blows away the SM-400 in terms of sheer volume and headroom. The true test will come on a gig...I'll post an update next week on that!
     
  17. Crockettnj

    Crockettnj

    Sep 2, 2005
    North NJ
    when trying my ampbh420 it was louder than i anticipated as well, and was "volume control for volume control" louder than anything else i had here, wt300 included. They are ballsy, huh?!

    thats one of my gripes with it as well. its too much when on (imo). then again, on my eden in only dial in VERY little enhance infrequently anyway.

    maybe the doc could replace it with one?

    punchy and tight. damn straight it is! gotta love it!

    It very well could jsut be the pot needs replacing?

    overall, your experiences with that AMP sound remarkably similar to mine~!

    glad you are enjoying it. nice amps imo.
     
  18. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    In regards to SWR vs AMP tone, I've only had newer SWRs and their tone sucked IMHO. They were just missing "something" (not sure what). The AMP just seems to have what the SWRs were missing. I know I'm not describing it well, but that's the only way that I can put it. The AMP is just balsy yet warm and very punchy. The SWR's I've had just seem so blah... All of the SWR's I've had with the exception of one (SWR Mo Bass) had SS pre-amps. Maybe that's why...
     
  19. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    If you were playing through SWR's with a SS preamp, then they must have been the Workingman or WorkingPro gear, which was the midgrade line they came out with. All of their proline gear has always had a tube preamp.

    SWR's reputation seems to have really been tainted by this. I'll bring up my SM-400, which was made back in 1990, and guys will bash SWR based on the newer low-mid range stuff they are coming out with. The SM-400 is a classic - it was essentially the AMP BH-420 with a couple extra features added like the tube in the preamp and the stereo capability. When Steve Rabe left AMP he just took the same design and added to it. Thats why these two amps sound so similar.

    Since Steve has left SWR, and Fender bought them out, the reputation has just gown way down, even for the products he designed for them years ago. The current SM-500 is still the same design as the SM-400. It sounds exactly the same, I've A/B'd the 2. My only issue with SWR gear is that they aren't as loud as the power rating would suggest...this has to do with the voicing of the preamp, and it wasting power on alot of lower frequencies. Also, they have been seriously lacking in product development...the only new products they have been bringing to the table is lower end gear. But the proline stuff (the SM-900 and SM-500) sound great, just like they always have.
     
  20. clavefa

    clavefa Te Traigo El Tumbao

    [ . My only issue with SWR gear is that they aren't as loud as the power rating would suggest...this has to do with the voicing of the preamp, and it wasting power on alot of lower frequencies. Also, they have been seriously lacking in product development...the only new products they have been bringing to the table is lower end gear. But the proline stuff (the SM-900 and SM-500) sound great, just like they always have.[/QUOTE]
    +1 When i've a/b'd those amps with similarly rated amps the SWR's did'nt sound as loud and i always wondered why?, but they still sounded great.