SWR Grand Prix - thoughts needed

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by kgantzer, Aug 21, 2005.

  1. kgantzer


    Mar 6, 2004
    I will soon be looking at an old SWR Grand Prix pre-amp. I found the specs an SWR's web site, but I was hoping to get some opinions of it here. What are some of the positives and negatives you may have experienced with this pre-amp?
  2. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000

    I wanted one for several years and never ended up with one until a couple of weeks ago. Recently, I bought one of the older ones and racked it up with my Crest CA-6. I just finished two outdoor gigs with it this weekend and here's what I think:

    This is a GREAT preamp if you value clarity and the upper registers. It's not in the least bit "warm" and could certainly be deemed "modern" in its overall tonal signature. The EQ is very flexible and powerful. Small adjustments are the key.

    I used it with a Bergantino HT322 and the slap tone from my recently aquired MTD 535 was to die for! Upper register snap that was sharp as a razor but not harsh or rough sounding.

    Some have called the SWR sound brittle or sterile. I've never felt that to be the case at all.

    I've been through a lot of the high-end stuff such as Demeter, Kern, Aguilar, etc. and I like this Grand Prix better than any of them. It's very quiet, too...and light.

    Count me as a Grand Prix fan! :D

    BTW, these are discontinued so used is the only way to snag one. Conventional wisdom has it that the older ones are better. Don't know to what degree that's true or false.
  3. Another tube might add a touch of warmth. A NOS GE 5751 sounds very good in my SWR 750, which I believe uses pretty much the same preamp layout.

    Just a thought.
  4. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000

    I imagine that's true. Not sure I'd want a different sound, however. I like it as is! ;)
  5. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    gee i want one and if i had the $$$ i'd go find an old one.

    to my ears, (and i've heard a lot of 'em) all of the original swr preamps (meaning the grand prix and the preamp sections of the sm-220, sm-400, bassic 350, sm-900, bassic black, redhead, and baby blue/electric blue) all sound the same. Some differences in EQ, some have compressor/limiters and some don't, but that's about it. Boogiebass was right on the $$ as far as the tone is concerned. Right now i use an electric blue head as my preamp. a bit chilly if you're playing by yourself, but cuts like a knife live, yet still gets full sounding with a bit of bass bump. Once again, that "full" sound will happen live with a band, but not so much when playing solo.
  6. Anyone ever compared the GP to the Bmax?
  7. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    It IS a great preamp. Studio quiet. One of the nicest featurs is two balanced outs so you can run your rack balanced and still DI.

    The tube you use WILL make an audible difference.
  8. A new tube doesn't alter the sound, just enhances or downplays or opens up nuances that are already there. But of course, if you like the sound excactly as it is, there's no need to look further :)
  9. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    Yes! In fact, I'm using the balanced out into the Crest. Nice.
  10. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    I haven't tried any other preamp since I bought mine (when to my ears it bettered an EBS something, Eden Navigator, Bertude Bunnage, Trace GP12, and a few others), nor do I really want to.

    However, I'd like to point out that the sound clips on basstasters really sell it short. Admittedly mine has a NOS 5751 in it but I don't remember the sound being that massively different before.

    Goes beautifully with an old Warwick with EMGs and OBP-3, wearing old S/S rounds (Bootzillas), into Acmes via PLX 3002, for my own brand of finger slap strum funk reggae rock thang.

    What goes in must come out...

  11. I have the IOD, which is the Grand Prix with an additional amp section built in for grind.

    Other SWR comments apply, same as above.

    I use my direct out (balanced) into Rane signal processing for biamping, and QSC power amps.
  12. Soulfinger


    Sep 20, 2004
    Houston, TX
    A nice, warm, tubey sound on stage while turn to complete sludge by the time it gets out to the audience. What I like about SWR gear is that if it sounds to tight on stage, by the time it makes it out into the crowd, it's loosened up just enough to sound perfect.

    I highly recommend using an SWR Studio 220 as a preamp--it's got all the bells and whistles of a great preamp, plus a modest poweramp that's great for small gigs, or if your big power amp blows up--it's like carrying a spare without having anything extra. And the best part is that they can be had for 2 bills on ebay.
  13. seansbrew

    seansbrew Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2000
    Mesa AZ.
    Anyone know why SWR stopped making the Grand Prix? I know they make the IOD, but it is not the same. How long ago did they stop making them?
  14. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I used to own one, it's the same preamp as the Baby Blue combo but with only 2 sweepable bands of EQ rather than 3. It has a very useful high pass filter that gets rid of the real low end stuff so you don't blow your speakers when running at very high volumes; it can be byapssed for recording use.

    Why did they stop making them? They weren't selling well enough! Rack systems are falling out of favor (again).

    SWR stopped making them about 3-4 years ago. I see their revamped website no longer gives vintage product info (although manuals are still available).