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SWR SM-900 Advice

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by BuckoSama, Apr 17, 2009.


  1. BuckoSama

    BuckoSama

    Jun 30, 2008
    Plattsburgh, NY
    There's a SM-900 for sale in the classifieds for $750...

    I assume that this would be an ideal match for my Goliath II - certainly better the the Peavey Tour 450 that I have now... I need to compete with my guitarist's 180 Watt Fender Super Twin Reverb. The Peavey tried, but it's not quite up to where I need it and I don't really dig its tone.

    We play sort of rock/electronicish dance music (think The Disco Biscuits, if you're familiar), and I use a Rickenbacker with a lot of effects. I don't really know much about how these amps sound, but I'm interested. Can you fill me in a little bit as to whether you think this would be a good choice for me? Does anybody have any sound clips or anything? It'd only be my second head unit, so I'm a little new to this, and I'd appreciate your help.

    Is there a difference in SWR amps pre/post fender as there is with the cabs?

    Thanks!
     
  2. BuckoSama

    BuckoSama

    Jun 30, 2008
    Plattsburgh, NY
    anybody?
     
  3. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Roselle, IL
    I am not a big fan of SWR's stuff for rock or D=disco. The sound is just too clean and has very little character to it. A lot of people seem to like that though, in the end it is what works for you.

    I don't know of the tone differences between pre/post fender heads and what not. The best piece of advice I can give you is to stay away from the Aural Enhancer knob. Turning this knob all the way to the left is the flat setting. All this knob does is kill your midrange and boost the highs and lows. It's a tone suck knob. You can engage this knob when you want your guitarist to be heard more than you.....LOL!

    If you set the head with the mids flat - you should be just fine with this head.
     
  4. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    It's a very flexible preamp and there's a lot you can do with 2 switchable channels of EQ if you take the time. However, the one thing you should be aware of is that many SM900 users have had reliability issues if they don't have adequate air flow for the amp. I recommend leaving an empty rack space above it for ventilation and maybe even a external fan for those summer gigs. I used an SM900 for several years and never had a single issue taking these precautions.
     
  5. BuckoSama

    BuckoSama

    Jun 30, 2008
    Plattsburgh, NY
    Thanks. Tone suck knob, eh? Sounds as useless as the sub octave generator on the Peavey. It generates floppy garbage.

    It would be nice if places let you take heads home for a test drive. I'd lie to see how they sound with the goliath II, but that's a big sucker to haul around, and you can't play very loudly in a store anyway.

    That's, of course, assuming you're near a store that sells heads, which I am not. Thanks for the feedback on the tone or lack thereof. I've got to say tough, that I don't really know if I'd prefer transparency or not. In theory, I think I'd like one with more character, but having not heard it for myself, I guess that's hard to justify.
     
  6. BuckoSama

    BuckoSama

    Jun 30, 2008
    Plattsburgh, NY
    I don't have a rack... I've just been putting my head on top of the cab - is this considered a bad idea?
     
  7. chadds

    chadds

    Mar 18, 2000
    Get a rack bag with one or two extra spaces above. You will mess that baby up just carrying it around. SWRs sound like what you put into them. Don't screw with all that eq either. If your bass sounds good you're good to go. If your bass is timid and you need a bunch of tube fatness or grit to sound good then the SWR might not be your puppy. Rock, any style. They can do it. It's sort of crazy when folks say that's a country amp that's a fusion amp. There are characteristics that some amps have that suit them to some genres of music but please these generalizations are best ignored.
    It's what you sound good playing through that matters to you.
     
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I think the SM-900 is a killer amp, but it does have a mid scoop to it. It's relatively easy to put the mids back in, but I'm more of a fan of amps that don't require extensive EQing to get what I want.
     
  9. StrungGutz

    StrungGutz Banned

    Apr 6, 2009
    The percieved 'transparency' of SWR that some speak of has always puzzled me a bit. I have never picked up on this. Perhaps folks are hearing these amps with the aural enhancer mostly engaged? The sm-900 is a great amp and the choice of many pro's. I would go for it.
     
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I don't think anyone speaks of SWR amps as transparent. At least not that I've heard.
     
  11. brianmharrison

    brianmharrison

    Oct 11, 2007
    Atlanta
    on my swr I don't really turn the aural enhancer knob up past a quarter of the way when playing fingerstyle however if your slapping, turn it all the way up and it generates a great slap tone
     
  12. BuckoSama

    BuckoSama

    Jun 30, 2008
    Plattsburgh, NY
    Thanks for the advice everybody!

    Another question... Is this too much power for the Goliath II? I certainly don't want to blow my cab. Since it's 2 channel, can I just hook to one of the channels instead of bridged, or can you not run the amp without hooking both the channels up to something?

    The response to this, I guess, is "why buy more power than you can use?" and my answer is that I'd like to have some headroom so that I can add in a second 4x10 or a 1x18 or 15 later on when I get the money. It makes sense to me to buy the amp first and the cab second so that I'm not stuck with a cab a can't power until I work up to a second purchase. It also seems like a pretty good deal at $750 and I don't really want to have to upgrade twice unless I don't like what I end up with.

    Sorry I'm such a n00b at this.
     
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You can run only one channel fine, no prob. If you like the sound, get it. Even if it does have more power than your cab can take, just be smart with the volume knob. Everybody's too damn loud these days anyway ;)

    BTW, when you run it bridged, make sure you buy a speakon cable built for bridged mode. I couldn't figure out why my old SM-500 wouldn't work in bridged mode for two years till someone told me it needed a special cable ;)
     
  14. BuckoSama

    BuckoSama

    Jun 30, 2008
    Plattsburgh, NY
    Thanks for the info, Jimmy! I had heard that you could blow an amp by running it without plugging it into a cab, and I wanted to make sure this wouldn't fall into that category and fry it!

    i also didn't know about special Speakon cable. I appreciate the help!
     
  15. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    The amp without a cab thing is only for all-tube amps and a couple very rare solid state amps like the Warwick Hellborg. They use output transformers to deliver the sound from the amp to the cab. Hybrids and SS amps almost never have them, though, so it's OK to run them without cabs.
     
  16. BuckoSama

    BuckoSama

    Jun 30, 2008
    Plattsburgh, NY
    Excellent! Always love to learn! Thanks!
     
  17. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    South Shore MA
    $750 is a decent price for it if it is in good shape.
     
  18. BuckoSama

    BuckoSama

    Jun 30, 2008
    Plattsburgh, NY
    So I found some potentially confusing conflicting information in two different versions of the instruction manual.

    The manual that the seller linked in his ad is the one linked on SWRSound.com , and copyright FMIC (fender) 2005, and lists the output as:
    900W @4 ohms and 400W @ 8 ohms in bridge mode
    and
    400W @ 4 ohms and 175W @ 8 ohms in stereo mode (per channel)

    But, if you search google for "swr sm 900 manual," the first result you get is also from SWRSound.com, is copyright 2003 SWR and lists the output as:
    Bridge/Mono Mode
    900 Watts @ 4 Ohms
    650 Watts @ 8 Ohms
    440 Watts @ 16 Ohms
    (minimum load = 4 Ohms)
    Stereo Mode (per side)
    400 watts @ 4 Ohms
    240 watts @ 8 Ohms
    144 watts @ 16 ohms
    (minimum load = 2 Ohms)

    So, this means that they changed the amp sometime after the fender buyout, correct?

    Now, obviously, either way, I won't be using just one side of the stereo amp, as 175W or 240W are both too low.

    So, since the Goliath II is rated at 540 W, it would be important to know whether I'm sending 650W at it or 400W. How do I figure out which version of the amp it is?

    The newer version, rated 400W @ 8 Ohms would be the safer buy. Should I take JimmyM's "Even if it does have more power than your cab can take, just be smart with the volume knob" at face value and not worry too much about this, or should it be a deal breaker if it's the old 650W version? :help:

    And one other thing - where in the hell do you buy mono bridged speakon cable? It's very hard to find on the intertron. :confused:

    Thanks for your help!
     
  19. BuckoSama

    BuckoSama

    Jun 30, 2008
    Plattsburgh, NY
    Here is a link to the classified page if that helps anyone identify it.

    Thanks again!

    EDIT: Seller says it is 10 years old, so I guess that's the 650 watt version if my interpretation of the 2 owner's manuals is correct. Is it safe to use?
     
  20. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    As far as I can tell from looking at the manuals, the older one doesn't have the stereo mode wattages listed on the back panel, only the bridged wattage. Also, the Xover out jacks are mounted horizontally in the new one and vertically in the old one.

    With 625w, I might be a little concerned about blowing your cab, especially since the volume difference between 400w and 625w is not very much at all. Sounds like you're totally intending to gun the heck out of it, too. I wouldn't let it be a deal breaker, but I'd be real careful about volume.
     

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