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Question about SWR sound and power

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by pedroferreira, Dec 24, 2003.

  1. pedroferreira


    Feb 10, 2003
    I'm about to buy a new amp and cabinet.
    The amp will be a SWR SM-500. The cab a SWR Goliath III (4x10).
    I want to get the full potential of the amp, so I'm thinking in the 4 ohm version. But if i choose the 8 ohm version, later i can add another 8 ohm cab and i can choose:
    Goliath Jr. (2x10)
    Son of Bertha (1x15)
    Big Ben (1x18)
    or i can choose another Goliath III to complement the first Goliath.

    Example: If i choose the Son of Bertha i will have 3 configurations from where i can choose from: Goliath alone; Son of Bertha alone; or Goliath and Son of Bertha together.

    But maybe the Goliath alone will give me the sound that i want.

    I love the swr sound. I loved all the amps i've tried from swr and i owned a Basic Black combo.
    I don't have to tweak the eq much to get my sound on an swr.
    The sound i like to get is that Marcus Miller sound but not so bright (i have a '78 Jazz Bass with rosewood fingerboard).
    I play many different styles of music: Pop, Funk, R/&B, Disco, Salsa, Brazilian Samba and Bossa Nova, Jazz; but what i like the most is Funk and R&/B.

    What do you think?
    The SM-500 will deliver 400 watt@8 ohm and 500 watt@4 ohm. This 100 watt difference is a big difference? I play with a lot of bands from different styles (loud drums; no drums, just percussion; drums and percussion...) and i want to depend only on my amp for my stage sound. Will 400 swr watts be enough?
    Or maybe i will never buy another cab and the best choice will be having right now the full 500 watt with a 4 ohm cab? (if i choose this cab i can always buy another 4 ohm cab and run the both in stereo.The SM-500 can handle 2 ohm configuration on each side in stereo operation)

    Thank for all your answers.

    Happy Christmas,

  2. Mo'Phat

    Mo'Phat Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2003
    San Diego, CA, USA
    hmmm...The last sentence shows me that you should probably get the 4 ohm Goliath III so if that's the only cab you use, you'll be getting all the available power from the head.

    When you say you like the SWR sound, 9.999 times out of 10, the SWR sound is an SM-400 through a Goliath II. That's the combination that defined the brand. Going with the Son of Bertha isn't really necessary, as I've found 4x10's to be fuller, rounder, and more 'loud' than 1x15. The Big Ben is the optimal match for the 4x10, but getting another 4x10 would go toe-to-toe with it in terms of loudness.

    I don't think you really need more power than what the SM-500 can put out with any of those cabinet combinations, plus you can always add a power amp later.

    The only other option, since you want to have your amp be your only stage monitoring, is to get a Bass wedge 2x10 monitor on the floor that's plugged into your head. It'd be angled up toward you and you'd be getting pure bass tone.
  3. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Those 100 watts will make little difference in volume. However...

    If you get the 4 ohm cab, adding a second 4 ohm cab would work fine in stereo mode and produce the same power for each cab. Basically, two 8 ohm cabs in bridge mode would get 250 watts each. In stereo, a 4 ohm cab would get 250 watts per side.

    An advantage of using two 4 ohm cabs in stereo mode is that you could adjust the relative balance between cabs...couldn't do that if they're together in bridge mode.

    BTW, my big rig is an SM-400S into a Goliath II...big, thick sound!
  4. Finger Blister

    Finger Blister

    Jul 8, 2003
    I have an SM400-S that has the same power rating
    as the SM500. Go 4 ohm cabs.

    Need one cab? Go bridged.
    Need two cabs? Go dual 4 ohm cabs Stereo.

    Forget the 2x10/1x15 combination.
    Sounds great, not as much volume.

    Stick with the Goliath.

    I use a single Henry 8x8 run mono at 500 watts min.
    and it's really loud.
    Keep a Golitah Jr. to run bridged for small stuff.

    That's what I think is your best bet.
    You can always add later.
  5. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I use an SM-900 with a pair of 8 ohm cabs. Similar set of variables, and no regrets.

  6. One other thing to consider - the amp will run most efficiently bridged at 8 ohms (or in stereo at 4 ohm per side) even though it's rated for 4 ohms bridged. The extra 100 watts will come with alot more heat and wear and tear on the amp. Better to run it at 8 ohms bridged in that respect. Personally I like the 4 ohms per side in stereo option...
  7. Cantstandsya

    Cantstandsya Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2001
    Fontana, CA
    If you run two 4ohm cabs in stereo the SM-500 will also run alot cooler versus one 4 ohm cab or two 8 ohm cabs in bridged mode.4 ohms bridged seems to really push that amp too hard IME.
  8. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    All of my SWR amps have run hot, and I've run them all at the lowest allowed impedence. I've run into a few minor problems with my SWR equipment over the years, but I've never had any failure related to excess heat or overtaxing the amp.

  9. I think the important distinction is at lowest rated impedence, you'll clip the amp easier than at a lower impedence. There's a reason why you only get an extra 100 watts going from 8 to 4 ohms - the amp's efficiency is dwindling. Here's an endorsement of this theory from one of SWRs own and a guy with the best live sound I've heard, Bryan Beller (taken from his website) -

    "I'm a big believer in power amp headroom, and as such I try never to run power amps at 4 ohms, regardless of what the power rating might be. Some people believe in getting just as much power as they need, and then running their amp to its fullest potential on every gig they play (which usually means bridging the amplifier at 4 ohms). Can you do that? Sure, but I don't care what your amplifier manufacturer says (SWR or otherwise), the amp will run hotter, components will fail sooner, and unless you're running an all-tube power amp, there are noticeable losses in sound quality at high volumes. I believe in running everything at 8 ohms, and if you need more power than your amp can deliver at 8 ohms, the answer is to go out and make the investment in an additional power amp."
  10. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Anyone who wants to invest in an additional power amp and haul it around to every gig, so that their rig can run cooler and maybe last a little longer, maybe sound a wee bit better (my amp sounds okay to me going at full tilt) -- more power to them. I won't disagree with any of the benefits cited, but I would question how important those things are to me.

    Also, I don't think anyone needs to be particularly scared about running their SWR amp at 4 ohms. I'm sure someone out there has suffered a heat induced failure, but I've heard plenty more comments about these amps running hot and chugging along with no problems.

    I'm not arguing with what you (and quoted source) is saying -- just that in the real world with practical and economic realities, running your SWR amp at 4 ohms like zillions of folks do, is hardly a recipe for certain disaster.

  11. Cantstandsya

    Cantstandsya Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2001
    Fontana, CA
    I have.But only with 4ohms bridged on an SM400S.It shut down all of the time after less than an hour of playing and I wasn't even pushing it very hard,mabye halfway on both gain and master volume.Yes they(SWR)run hot no matter what but mine really cooked when I ran 4 ohms bridged.I never had a problems with 4 ohms a side stereo or 8 ohms bridged.
  12. Finger Blister

    Finger Blister

    Jul 8, 2003
    I run my SM 400-S LOUD all night long, bridged
    into a 4 ohm load.

    It gets warm, but never hot.
  13. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Man, I can't get the master volume up to 12:00 on my SM-900 without clipping the power amp, even at 8 ohms! Are you sure you weren't clipping?!?
  14. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    You're thinking along the right lines. I'd start with the Goliath at 8 ohms, then pick up a Son of Bertha or Goliath Jr. later. You'll be able to live with the 100-watt difference (a few dB, give or take) for a while, then pick up the other cab. The 410 will be pretty loud on its own at 8 ohms.
  15. gnome01


    Oct 30, 2001
    Bronx NY, USA
    I use an old SM400 into a goliath II, so that runs at 8 ohms, and holy crap does it get hot! I'm not sure it makes that much of a difference how it's run, although it only puts out 20 more watts at 4 ohms. Despite its pizza heating capabilities, I've never had a problem, and this head is at least 13 years old.
  16. pedroferreira


    Feb 10, 2003
    Thank you for all your answers.
    Another question: Do you notice differences in the sound of the Goliath 4 ohm and Goliath 8 ohm?

    secretdonkey: How do I know if the power amp of the sm-500 is clipping?
  17. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    They are supposed to get hot by design see manual.
    Every SWR engineer and local techs suggest that you not run 4 ohms bridged as that is 2 ohms a side and is the least efficient state. See the manual. They are great amps and can do lots for you, why exceed their design parameters? Get a larger SWR amp and an 8 ohm golialth. Greater ease of resale when when your cabs are 8 ohm. That being said I used two 4 ohm Goliath Jr.s with an SM-400. For big gigs I used another complete stack. Now I use Bass 750 with a Goliath III 8 ohm and it's always enough. Well outside I use two 8 ohm IIIs. Rahan's suggestion. Is your bass powerful or weak in output? First consideration.
  18. Warwick


    Dec 17, 2003
    Has anyone tried a 8X10 SWR Megalioth and was wondering if that would be too much for gigs of around 300 indoors?
  19. Warwick


    Dec 17, 2003
    Bump please I need opionions because I cant try a Megalioth and was wondering opinions first.
  20. Finger Blister

    Finger Blister

    Jul 8, 2003
    There's no reason on the planet that you need
    anything that large as a single cabinet.

    Unless you have a few roadies or good medical insurance.
  21. Primary

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