SWR baby blue vs spellbinder

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by shwan81, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. shwan81


    Feb 19, 2004
    Hey everyone,
    I used to have a spellbinder blue, which I loved so much. The tone was amazing, the super portability was a huge plus. I was thinking about buying another SWR Spellbinder, but I've heard most people who played through both prefer previous versions, especially the 2x8 version. What about the 2x8 version is preferable? Better tone? In what way? I like the super light weight of the spellbinder blue. One thing that I don't like about the spellbinder is that using the extension cab defeat the internal speaker (which I believe is not true for the previous Baby Blues). I don't need anything that loud. I play rock, R+B, blues, funk and on occasion, fusion/jazz. Thanks!
  2. I can't speak to the 2X8 version but I have the 110 combo of the Baby Blue II.

    I have been getting quite a bit of use out of it for the past 8 years and it has undergone some upgrades to suit some of the extreme situations I've exposed it to. Here is a thread I did on it:


    I've added some of the features found on the Spellbinder such as a Neo Speaker, and Aural Enhancer Bypass. When these come up for sale used they seem to be had cheap...really cheap given their original cost. I think the last one sat on here at $300 without any interest.

    The sound of the old class AB amp in these are great!! Really great for live gigs. I think the older 2X8 versions had a much more refined sound with a box tuned more like a studio monitor. This played into the likes of the upright crowd. I've never had the chance to hear one myself but have read various things on them over the years. I think, the old style 110 combo, called the Baby Baby Blue is a great amp. The speaker upgrade to a Eminence Deltalite 2510 is a must though IMO. The nice thing about the Baby Baby Blue combo over the Spellbinder is the versatile power amp. You can connect a external cab and choose via switch on the back of the combo to engage the internal speaker or not. I've used mine with a SWR Big Ben 18" and it works great. All that cone area plus the on board 110 and tweeter really worked for me and took full advantage of the BBII's power.

    I know this isn't the exact answer you are looking for but I hope it was of some help. Hopefully someone who has had experience with both the 2X8 combo and the Spellbinder will chime in with some real world experience.
  3. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    BBIIis one of the best bass amps of all time

    Not real loud but whoa! Like playing through a studio monitor. More me function which allowed you to pipe as loud a level of you with a recording mix is fabulous. The 8"s in each iteration were sweet. I've been through the Bag Ends, the Celestions, and now the LDS long throw Eminence @ 160 w each power handling.

    Perfect combo for coffee house to jazz gigs.
    Tone controls so everything. Back panel hookup possibilities are complete.
    Designed with guidance by pro bassists.

    The cab design with time aligned (recessed) tweeter complements the head.

    I've gigged this thing more than all my serious big gear by far far!!
  4. SJan3

    SJan3 Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2010
    I'm not too sure about previous generation baby blues but it is ridiculous of SWR to not offer an extension cab for the Spellbinder. That alone makes it an overpriced underperforming unit. Geez, my Workingman's 10 combo can use an external speaker along with the self contained unit. The extra 10" really opens up this amp's volume and presence even at only 100 watts.
    I like SWR and looked at the Spellbinder but this unit is very limited for live performance.
  5. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    I owned the original Baby Blue 2x8 and a matching extension cabinet. I thought the cabinet and head sounded just great with Electric Bass, but that head just wasn't ideal for Double Bass. There is a modification you can have done to modify the Aural Enhancer so that it can be bypassed. If that had been around years ago, I would probably still own the Baby Blue. I heard Stanley Clarke play upright through the Spellbinder at a Return to Forever Reunion Concert. Based on that one time comparison I much preferred the Baby Blue 2x8, but that's not real gigging experience. If you're going for a 2X8 I'd take a look at the Crazy 88 that Mike Arnopol builds, speaker technology has come a long way since SWR built the original Baby Blue.

  6. thejumpcat

    thejumpcat thejumpcat

    Sep 30, 2007
    I had a 2x8 and loved it for slab n upright. Sometimes i added a cab. If i did jazz gigs id get another. Not loud enuff for most of my blues gigs so i sold it. Killer preamp.
  7. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    The LDS long throw 8"s removed any sense of fragility from the cab. You can crank that thing and get really full spectrum. It smiles at 5-string and Ashbory. It isn't a 4x10 of course but it really is something for the right use.
  8. artfahie


    Dec 14, 2007
    Bar Mills, Maine
    I borrowed a new "Spellbinder", brought it into GC to compare it to a MarkBass 121PJ (???) and kept the MarkBass.... the MarkBass will handle an extension... it just depends on which sound you're looking for. Mine is primary to be used with a DB.
  9. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
  10. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
  11. shwan81


    Feb 19, 2004
    Thanks everyone for your input. That article in Bass Gear mag was definitely helpful too, thanks Tom. I think I may wait around for a baby blue to show up. MuthaFunk, the mods you did look pretty cool, but something I would never feel comfortable doing myself.
  12. I'm really impressed with this amp!!! I don't really need it but it looks like it's jam packed with useful features. I'm really curious as to how it sounds... Too bad even with Fenders distribution system no one stocks SWR stuff around here in the Toronto area.
  13. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Both the original Bag End 8" Drivers and the Celsetion' were not nearly as robust as the newer Fatial's, B&C's, and the other driver that Don Oatman uses. So, you're going to get the most out of the amp. IME you also need that Aural Enhancer Bypass Mod. That way you're getting the best sound possible from the amp.

  14. mb94952

    mb94952 Endorsing Artist : SFARZO STRINGS Supporting Member

    It seems like the Baby Blue II with 10" speaker is the way to go vs the Spellbinder.

    I have the Workingman's 10 combo and it's been my go to small amp for years now. At home I set it on top of my Workingman's 110t ext cab and it's perfect.

    I've played the SWR Baby Blue II and it's amazing. I describe it as "very musical". The semi parametric EQ really makes the fundamental notes pop in 3D.

    The Spellbinder's handicap of internal speaker defeat with using an ext speaker is a deal breaker for me. So is the Class D power section. I like the performance and tone of a real transformer.

    So, for me it's the Workingman 10 (cult like status amp), Baby Blue, and my Mesa Walkabout head with my SWR 110 ext cab. It's compact magic !!
  15. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    Home from amazing gig last night.

    BBII was just fabulous. There is something to be said for getting a good roaring sound out of a small amp. Grit grind boom all at just above club talking levels. Patrons can really enjoy this!

    Trust me I know there are other rigs for readjusting your heartbeat.

    An in depth spec review said the BBII could deliver 200w on the bench. I love these LDS long throw 8"s. Each has a 160w rating. They handle low Bs with ease. It still has the original cone tweet.
  16. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
  17. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000

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