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SM900 fading away - What's the best replacement ?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by SWRnut, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. SWRnut

    SWRnut Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2008
    Columbia, SC
    I have had an SM-900 for probably twelve years or so and loved it, but lately it has had some issues (shutting down at random times) and I am afraid that it's days may be numbered. I am looking for a replacement recommendation, Some folks claim that the SWR sound since Fender bought them, isn't the same or is there some new smokin' amp out there that I should look into ? I don't want any more weight than the SM-900, but would love to keep the same wattage. I am driving two Schroeder cabinets 1212L and a 412L that are 4 ohms each.
    Let me hear from all the techies out there.
  2. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Is the fan working? Does the head need a good dusting out?
    Without a fan and good airflow the head can overheat and shutdown.
  3. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Assuming it's not worth fixing your SWR900, and assuming you are keeping your cabs, you might want to try the Carvin B1500, the Genz Benz Shuttle Max12, or the Mesa M6 Carbine.

    The Carvin is 3 rack space, but not much heavier than the 900. It puts out MASSIVE power at 2ohms, and has the low end wump to really widen out those Schroeders. It has that 'clean precise' SWR900 tone to my ears. (I used a 900 for quite a while).

    The Shuttle Max12 is a non-bridgeable 'stereo' amp that is VERY lightweight and puts out 600 watts each side at 4ohms. It has a LOT of EQ options, and I assume can be made to get somewhat 'SWR-ish' with the right blend of SS and tube preamp. I haven't played it, but the Shuttle 6 is quite nice... punchy and bright. I assume the 12 is more of the same.

    Finally, the new Mesa M6 is two space and has a bit of that SWR 'suggestion of a tube in an otherwise very clean tone'. It's another brutally powerful amp, and is designed to run at 2ohms with no problem. It's REALLY nice!

  4. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    IMO only SWRs sound like SWRs, so unless you're looking for a change -- get another :) But I'd recommend the mesa carbine as a possible "improvement" while still retaining what I like about the SWR.

    You could also get a grand prix and a QSC PLX.
  5. I have an old SM900 too, mine needed a new transformer. Yours may just need some minor repairs, I wouldn't give up too easily.
    Regarding the M6 Carbine: hate to rain on the parade but if you really like the sound of your SWR you may really hate the M6, as I did, and sell it later, as I did. Very, very different animal. Wanted to love it but could not.
  6. Red Planet

    Red Planet

    May 29, 2005
    I have seen a lot of guys right here on TB have a compitent Tech work on their 900 and give it new life. The key word being Compitent. If you do not know one I can suggest one that can take care of it.

    Also if your looking for that SWR sound, they have a number of new Rigs out there that are IMO very nice.

    Naturally since I own one I'm partial to it but I'm getting great results from the new SWR M2 Preamp and running it into a QSC PLX2 1804.

    Think twice the juice of the 900 at 4 ohms stereo and the Poweramp weighs 13 pounds.

    If you end up trying a Mesa Carbine I would recomend the M9 version if your used to that kind of power. The M6 though attractive, at 600 watts IIRC just would not do it for me.

  7. To be honest, M6 has PLENTY of power, enough to seriously, really rock 8 10's. It's waaaay underrated in that dept, and will crush an SM900 in a loudness contest. Think 'Crown' watts.
    I'm a sled guy too, M6 had more than enough for me. Just couldn't get happy with the sound. But certainly no issues with power. If I could have used it as just a power amp, I would have.
  8. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Per the above, the M6 will totally, completely CRUSH an SWR900 bridged into 4ohms. Whether you dig the tone or not is of course a personal issue. I actually find the sparkle in the high end and the deep low end reminiscent of my old SWR900, but MUCH louder. However, they obviously don't sound the same.
  9. Red Planet

    Red Planet

    May 29, 2005
    My power amp is bigger than yours, na na na boo boo.:p:D

    Point taken. I'm sure the M6 packs a punch and sounds great.

    For me 600 watts have never been enough.

    In 79 I was using an SVT Rig on one side of the stage and a Super Showman/2x15 on the other side.
  10. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    The recent Bass Gear Magazing bench testing showed pretty clearly what most of us knew or suspected... that 'published wattage specs' are almost as much fantasy as published speaker SPL.

    The key to the M6 is that it puts out its full published wattage specs across the entire bass guitar frequency range, and also has a ton of 'current reserve' or whatever that's called.

    As a great example of this, the Genz Shuttle and Mesa M6 have the same published power rating:eek: The Shuttle 'sounds like 300 watts and the M6 sounds like 900.

    So, I agree with you, some amps with relatively high power ratings are quite disappointing, others are shocking. The M6 is shocking. I would be very careful either purchasing or eliminating an amp from purchase consideration due to published specs.

    IMO and IME!:)
  11. SWRnut

    SWRnut Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2008
    Columbia, SC
    I hate to admit, but the few times it has crapped out have been outdoor gigs and moderately warm days. After the first occassion, I took it to a shop to check out the fan and it is working fine. I am thinking about placing a small fan blowing directly on it at our outdoor gigs in the future.
    But yes, it has been "dusted" and the fan checked.
  12. RedLeg

    RedLeg Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2009
    Kaiserslautern, Germany
    Nov Shmoz Ka Pop?
    I'd send it to SWR for a refurbishing. It is not performing like it used to, and your tech checked it out. What else can you lose? besides the amp as a whole.
  13. CosmicRay

    CosmicRay Supporting Member

    I still carry a SWR Stereo 800 with an Alembic F-1X as a back up
    to my gigs.
    I've been using an Eden WT800 for a while with no complaints. Even set flat, it kicks...sometimes I run 4 ohms, sometimes 8 ohms - still
    can move some air.

    Attached Files:

  14. Red Planet

    Red Planet

    May 29, 2005
    Did the Tech check the Bias of the Power Section? Sometimes if the Bias is a little off they will overheat.
  15. Red Planet

    Red Planet

    May 29, 2005

    Agreed though I doubt it can keep up with 1800 QSC watts\SPL's more or less.:p:D
  16. andysvec

    andysvec Supporting Member

    SWR won't do repairs anymore, I was having problems with my SM900 after about 10 years of reliable use. I contacted them and they have someone in LA that they will refer you to, I sent mine to them and when it came back from their repair it was still having the same problems (periodically just start squealing like a mic feeding back). And the kicker is they didn't pack it well and it got the rack ear bent in shipping (you can check my post history and there's a pic of it somewhere) and they only insured it for $500 so I decided to just keep it and will someday look for someone else to repair it.
  17. Red Planet

    Red Planet

    May 29, 2005
    Guys if you need your SWR SM-900 repaired the place to send it to is Logical Audio.

    Bill Euric (one of the owners IIRC) grew up with and played in a band (in High School) with Greg Curbow and Donald Jones.

    Those folks really know what they are doing when it comes to working on Solid State Amps. Cant remeber her name but the Head Tech is a nice Blonde Headed Lady that really knows her stuff. I have been using those folks for years and they are Top Notch.

    Send an SM-900 to them and it will come back repaired. They also warranty their work and offer Factory Warranty Service for a number of Leading MI Manufacturers.

    They do not have much of a Website but their contac info can be found here.


    Hope this helps.
  18. +1 for proper biasing. Mine was off, runs much, much cooler now that it's been adjusted.

    SWRnut, what case do you have it in? If it's a two space it may overheat easily. I found this to be the case with mine. Since it pulls air from the top and discharges it to the side, it tends to recycle hot air unless it's got some additional room. I ended up using a 3 space SKB with a perforated blanking plate in the empty top space, much better.
  19. Bassmec


    May 9, 2008
    Ipswich UK
    Proprietor Springvale Studios
    Then the chances are it just needs re-biasing, transistor amps need biasing properly just as much as tube amps.:ninja:
  20. g4string

    g4string Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Melissa, TX
    I would have to say start from scratch. Once an amp starts acting weird on me, I cant trust it perform at 100%. For me, it would be time for a new amp. Plus, there are so many great amps out today.......why not try one. Why not get a new amp and use that while you are waiting for 900 to get repaired. If you like the new amp, keep the 900 as a back up or sell it. Vise-versa, if you prefer the 900 keep it as your main amp and your new purchase as a back up. I can name four amps that I think would be noteworthy - these are the most 'buzzed' about amps on TB:

    1) Markbass LMII - This head has single-handedly changed the bass amplification industry. If you need info, you have been in a cave the last couple of years. If need be, do a TB search to catch yourself up to speed. I would bet that the 500 LMII watts are going to be perceivably louder than the 900 SWR watts:eyebrow: Cost - $400-500 used or $600 new

    2) Thunderfunk TFB-550B - The 550B and LMII have a good deal of similarities in regards to 'tone'. I have a feeling that this amp will one day be a collectors piece. Cost - $800-900 used

    3) Carvin B1500 - This amp has been compared to the DB750 and Glock HR. In some cases, and many cases, many prefer the 1500 over the DB750 or Glock HR:eek: This amp is all about deep, clean power, and lots of it - 1250 watts at 4 ohms and 1900 at 2 ohms. Again, do a search to catch your self up to speed. The only down side is the Carvin badge.........To me, I could care less - others might care. The best part is the price, it out performs amps 4x's it price Cost - $650 new or around $400 used

    4) Mesa M6 Carbine - Out of all 4 amps, this is the amp I know the least amount about and is the most expensive out of the 4. From what I can gather, it is one that should be researched. Cost - $1000 new

    My vote would be the LMII or B1500.

    The LMII can not drive a 2 ohm load. However, it is super load, sounds great, and weighs only 5 lbs!!

    The Carvin is about 35lbs - which is about 10 lbs more than the SWR, that's not too bad! Plus, it can drive a 2 ohm load. NTM, Carvin has a 10 day return policy....plus it is only $650 new. Seriously, do a search on this guy.......you might be surprised.

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