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SWR SM-900 Review!

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Tunaman, Apr 4, 2005.

  1. Tunaman


    Dec 26, 2004
    Sort of a parallel with my Eden Navigator post.
    Went to GC for a full hour, tried the SM-900 through 2 8 ohm Goliath III Stereo mode THUS 240Watts per side = 480 total.
    Power seemed on par with my 540W GK 1001RB as they are obviously close. Its refreshing to know that I'll get double (900 W) bridge mono to my 1000W sucking Goliath Senior, even better to know that I can put a serious 4 ohm low end sub next to it if I wish (400 W per side)
    Tone was great initially until I pushed the amp to the limit (480 W for 2 Goliath Seniors is not even close to what you could use, 1400 watts total, 700 for each). Which begs the question why are they 8 ohm cabs? I dunno. Definetely Hi-Fi, no question about it. Has that, for lack of a better term, Farting out when pushed sound. A few changes with the EQ & you're fine. Love the extensive EQ but I could never learn it in one hour. Switchable EQ is EXTREMELY valuble to me for pick vs finger tone.
    Value is Ehh. 1600 at GC is steep. Needs a Tuner mute, Headphone jack, Aux In to name a few. To be honest with you if my Navigator would work right, I'd rather have that plus the poweramp of your choice, PLX for around the same cost with more power. More to lug though :crying:
    A good head altogether though
  2. So, you played with it in a store?

    With stuff that's not yours?

    I'm definately not saying there's not more to dislike about that head, but an hour of playing in a store isn't enough for a magazine review, and playing with it for an hour through stuff that you don't really know the capabilities of in a setting that's not condusive to a "real life situation" isn't giving anything a fair shake.

    I'm not going to say you're wrong, but until you bridge that sucka with both eq's tweaked, you really don't get a feel for what that head can do.

    I love the way my SM-900 sounds, but it's got reliability issues, specifically running 4 ohms bridged.
  3. Tunaman


    Dec 26, 2004
    Interesting you mention about the reliablility issues. Your right, this wasn't meant to be a true all out review, I'd have to own it for a while & post it here & BGRA. Actually reviewed my GK 1001 RB after 8 years on BGRA today.
    This was just to ignite some talk about the SM-900 before I go ahead a grab either that, a new Navigator or a WT-800.
    So what reliability issues do you have? Anybody else own a SM-900 & have or not have these problems?
  4. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    I've never heard of reliability issues with any SWR gear, let alone the SM900. I bridged an SM-400S into 4 ohms for years, no problems, good sound.

    In my experience, the SWR amps actually even *sound* quite a bit better when bridged.
  5. The SWR SM-900 does have an AUX in if you use the FX return. I use a cable with a 1/8 inch stereo plug on one end and two 1/4 inch mono plugs to hook up my CD player to the amp and blend in the sound.

    I've never had any reliability issues,... and I've been using it for most of my rehearsals and all of my gigs for over 5-6 years. I always bridge it and half the time it's going into an 8ohm Yorkville 2x10, and thew other half of the time I run it at 4ohms by adding my Yorkville 8ohm 1x15 along with the 2x10.

    Hope that helps.
  6. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    I'm a SM500 user and one thing that I can say about the farting is that the amp seems to have an upper limit where the power output kinda goes through the roof. I've tried to run mine a little too hot and had that happen. If you are going to run it wide open then I think that the limiter is mandatory. The power section in mine seems really linear, so much so that when you hit it with a big transient, you get a monster one at the output.

    Another issue is that underpowering those cabs is more likely to generate distortion than overpowering them. Assuming that the SM900 would just stay clean while you push it full bore into those cabs is not the way to go.

    I play mine through an Epifani T112 and it sounds fantastic, never had a reliability issue with the SM500, and I used it as a power amp for my Read Purity for a while before I matched the amp up with the Epifani. Great amps, and I think that they are seriously under-rated. But like anything else it has to be matched with the right cabs and used in the right way. If you want to get a better feel for the EQ section then ask for the manual, which I believe has some base settings that you can work from. They are a great place to start.
  7. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    South Shore MA
    The SM900 is my main amp and my take is as follows:

    Regarding the perceived power/lack thereof issue: SWR's run clean, as in really clean, and incase you don't get it the they run CLEAN. What that means is that they will sound quiet compared to another amp of the same rating simply beacsue there isn't as much harmonic distortion to tickle the sensitive mid range of our hearing. Want the thing to sound farkin' loud? Put the limiter at noon, and run the bass through an overdrive and run to the hills. Thing is, I've never had to turn the thing up past 3 on the master to get more than suffiecient volume from a 410 for my typical venue (generally 150 people). Also, don't overdo the Aural Enhancer.

    Running the thing in stereo into two 8 ohm cabs causes you to fart out becasue you are in essence running 2 240W amps off of one power supply, not 1 480 watt amp. Furthermore, as Ampeg Insider once noted, in bridge mode there is less stress put on power supplies (it got technical with talk of waveforms and peaks and how it has to split the work between two amps in stereo...) so that running it in bridge mode gives you more headroom on the backend. SWR's do sound better bridged as someone else noted.

    It is not a plug and play amp that's for sure. But once you figure out the eq it is incredibly versatile. Right now I've got one channel set to a grindy tone and the other has a Fender-y mid cut thing going. I've gone through phases where I just run it flat and like that too. The tube in the preamp makes a huge difference in the tone of SWR's, the stock tube is poop IMO.

    I have played 4 hour sets with the amp bridged into 4 ohms, no thermal issues. I've had 6 hour practices, loud, where the amp was plugged into a cab of questionable 4 ohm integrity. The amp got very hot but the fan ran and the thing didn't quit. The amp definitely needs room to breath, I keep mine in a 3 space Anvil type case with nothing above it. I paid $800 incl. shipping for a mint, non-chrome version on Ebay and honestly I wouldn't pay more (for any amp mind you).

    For me, the SM900 is the ultimate amp. I get warm tones out of it as needed, hi-fi as needed, and it has been a workhorse. That said, I can totally see why someone may not like it. Compared to my Musicman HD130 it does sound blah flat soloed (although it has way more definition in the mix) and it has a lot of knobs, some useless. The design has some quirks(tuner out with no mute?). No distortion characteristics to speak of. If you like it, great, if you don't, why should I care?
  8. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Just buy it. I don't want you playing Eden.
  9. Tunaman


    Dec 26, 2004
    Didn't mention Eden in this post, relax. Funny thing is I never acutally said Eden wasn't quality stuff, just the mistreated unit I got pawned off on me stinks. Since I have store credit & cannot get a new Navigator through the store I had to consider other options the SM-900. No need to fight on this forum, I don't know you, I don't dislike you, I've valued your opinions & taken each as a piece of the puzzle... don't attack me please, I wont do it to you man, I wish more people would just read, share & enjoy... life is too short
  10. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    A used Bass 750 without the effects or hey you wanted some so try a 750x I saw Carlos Vega use one on two Goliaths w/Tower of Power. Pre of the Redhead and big oh 750 watt head. Some one said that SWRs volume controls aren't linear, that you start getting more after a little. Hey that's like dating.
  11. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Let's see. Someone you don't know says, "I don't want you playing Eden," and you take it seriously? I guess it's just that I don't use smilies (except that once). It was a joke. I knew that you'd find the SM-900 to be the sUxOrs, so no worries.
  12. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA


  13. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
  14. ADHD


    Jul 22, 2015
    "Life is too short" : Dam true, specially concerning Jaco...