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Should I cut my losses or see it through...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by carvinbassplyr, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. I've kinda come to a crossroads amp-wise. I've been using my SM900 for quite some time now and while it isn't plagued by thermal shutdown, it has other issues like a noisey eq section (don't even think about dialing up any highs on the parametric eq or the hissing will be louder than ur bass), a fairly loud 60 cycle hum and underlying distorted overtones that creep in during sustained notes especially when playing harmonics (I've had it serviced for this twice and both times it was blamed on a bad cap, but the fix was only temporary at best and it would eventually return). All this happens even with a new preamp tube. So the question is, do I stay the course or is it time to move on to another brand/setup? The SM900 is a great sounding head, but the reliability issues are getting annoying and from what I've heard these amps are like graphite necks...if u get a bad one, good luck fixing it. I've been looking @ the Carvin bx1500 and even some Hartke HA stuff since they both have tone shaping capabilities similar to the SM900 (I don't like having just a bass, mid and treble knob...not enough flexibility), but I have no way to try either one b4 making a purchase decision. Thoughts?
  2. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    If you've had it for "quite some time", and quality control continues to be a problem despite your conscientious attention to it, then I think your decision is clear: settle for the noise, or upgrade your system.

    Though you didn't say so explicitly, the implication seems to be that your SM900 sounded just fine during the early days, and has begun to distort and make noise only quite recently. Is that correct?

    If so, you may have already passed the point of diminishing returns. Sort of like a 10 year-old car that was hot stuff when it was brand new, but now spends more time in the shop than on the street... :meh:

  3. I suppose that is correct. I just thought that with regular maintaining amps like this shouldn't completely detiorate. Plus I really don't know where to begin with a different amp. New SM900's are pricey and have been plagued w/issues right out the box. Carvins aren't available locally to try, Hartkes lack a bit in the wattage dept. and not many other amps out there are setup in a way that suits what I need/want.
  4. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Have you called SWR and talked to anyone there? Maybe they can help.
  5. Ya, my head pre-dates the fender take over and my SM900 has a laundry list of mods done to it (bigger power section caps, resistor upgrades, aural enhance bypass, TLE3072 op amps, etc...) they won't touch it unless I let them return it to stock and start from there.
  6. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Whoa, Nelly! Lots of players modify their instruments. But this is unusual... :meh:

    If you want to stick with your SWR, you might just have to find an expert amp tech somewhere - and I do mean a real expert - and have him troubleshoot this thing top to bottom. Find out what all the actual issues are - once and for all. Then and only then can you decide how much more you want to invest in the thing. Or not.

    As for a new Carvin BX1500, I'm a little surprised that you're not up to speed on Carvin's 10-day, "try before you buy", no questions asked return policy - since you're the "carvinbassplyr" and all that. :p

    I have no idea of how well the BX1500 would compare with the SM900 tonally - having heard neither of them. But the darned things get great reviews around here. And they're dirt cheap, for all the features they provide.

  7. I am up to speed on that, but you u have to pay shipping both ways if you decide not to keep it. I've heard that the bx line is much better all around than the redline series and 1500 watts would give considerably more head room than the 800 (yes mine is from before they actually put out 900 watts) my SM900 puts out. I'm of the anti-coloration variety when it comes to amps. I don't like having to eq around preset tone stacks that companies like to build into their products, hence all the mods to my SM900. I like to hear my bass for what it is and then tweak as needed. Honestly, if I could, I'd take the channel strip from a high quality studio console, run that to a power amp and call it a day...but that's too much rack gear to lug around!
  8. Can't hardly blame them.
    With all those mods, it seems you've created a whole different amp. Maybe that's contributing to what you're hearing. ;)
  9. Have you thought about a preamp pedal into a power amp?
  10. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    It sounds like you may benefit from a preamp/power amp configuration so you can find the preamp voicing (or lack thereof) that you like and then have a PA-grade power amp to make it loud.

    When I left my SM900 behind, I went with a Demeter HBP-1 preamp and a Crest CA9 power amp. The combination was/is brilliant. The CA9 is heavy though but I'm sure you could substitute one of the new class D or class H amps and cut the weight in half.
  11. Yes, I am seriously considering this. A preamp/power amp combo wouldn't work as it would require more rack space than I'd like to lug around. (I currently have a Furman power conditioner, rack tuner and my SM900 and a separate preamp/power amp setup would require an extra rack space since most power amps are still 2 rack spaces) Is the boss bass eq GBE7 a good pedal?
  12. Well the sm900 is a 3 space head or 2? There are plenty of rack preamps and poweramps that are 1u each equalling 2u of space. But i was suggesting an actual pedal like ebs valve drive or tech21 series.
  13. The SM900 is 2u...I didn't see much in the way of single unit power amps putting out 800 watts...and the ones I did see were outrageously priced
  14. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Seems to me that you have all kinds of constraints and conditions that you're not willing to look beyond. That's gonna make it tough for you to find a suitable solution.

    If the price of shipping is the only thing that's holding you back from checking out a new BX1500, I can only say "good luck and happy hunting"... :rolleyes:

  15. Why are you stuck on 800+ Watts? If you need more volume you should add a cab. 500 Watts would Work in most everyday situations and SWR makes a half rack 400 Watt amp. Double it up to a whole 1u and you can slave two to 800.
  16. I say (personally) "You pay shipping both ways" from a company that only sells direct (no where to try product unless you take a trip to SD) is not a deal. :eyebrow:

    Find a good tech and get your amp repaired as you seem to have very specific needs?
  17. BogeyBass


    Sep 14, 2010
    The laundry list of upgrades could be causing more noise.

    Otherwise same problem with all amps with wayyyyy to many opamps and EQ's and crossovers and silly tube pre's.

    Muddy and noisy

    isolating the power supply with metal shields and using a better enhancer bypass. most the mods ive seen done on the net for SWR's are garbage. Changing opamps wont fix a poor design.

    not criticizing your work, just saying if you have to mod a amp.

    get another amp......try the carvin, if you dont like it send it back.

    looks like alot of eq and 2 seperate amps on a crossover.
    2ohm stable and lots of power. Seems it would be fun to step into new cabinets with LF and HF drivers and bi amp it. For one heck of a modern sounding rig.

    dont think of it as a loss, think of it as a well deserved upgrade.
    you owe it to yourself bro...get a new rig
  18. It wasn't my work. The only thing I did was put the better op-amps in cause the owner before me had put TL082's in...yuck. I hear u on the "buy another amp", but I really like the setup of the SM900's controls so to me it was kinda like taking a car chassy u like and just putting in a better power-train.
    As far as wanting 800+ watts...it's not an issue of being loud enough, I just like having the headroom so I don't have to crank the preamp gain and sacrifice tone quality to beef up the bottom. I play tuned A D G C F with the low A ringing at 27.5Hz. A frequency wave that big needs a lot of juice to be clearly reproduced/projected at high volumes. So with higher wattage I can keep the pre's gain down where I like it tone-wise and still have plenty of horsepower for those low notes.
  19. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    lose the pointless furman for a powerstrip mounted in back of the rack, then you have room for a single-spaced preamp and a 2-spaced power amp.

    the boss pedal is OK, but i don't think it has the clarity you want.
  20. BassmanPaul

    BassmanPaul Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2007
    Toronto Ontario Canada
    Personally I'd ditch the rack tuner. If your bess is reasonable you should only need a tuner once a night. My basses are so stable I only need to tweak the tuning once in a while. Yes they are Carvins.

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