SWR SM-900

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by FarkusSWR, Sep 30, 2006.

  1. I have an opportunity to buy an approximately 1-year-old Sm-900 for $800. It is a factory-repaired unit that was traded in
    at a local music store. I used the search here and Googled it as well, but there seems to be some reliability issues.
    Normally, in light of those issues I would just keep looking.However, while I was trying out the amp today i caught myself saying" Oh yeah. That's what i was after."
    There is my problem. Any thoughts?
    Now be nice...it's my second post:D
  2. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I had an SM500 for a while with no reliability issues - can't say it was "my" tone, which is why its gone...
  3. kdogg


    Nov 13, 2005
    I have to say, I don't have any personal experience with the sm-900. I owned an sm-500 for a few months, running an swr goliath lll 4x10 and a son of bertha 1x15. The problem I ran into, was that the unit would over heat half way through a gig and shut down on me. Doing some research, I found this to be a common problem with the sm-500, especially if you racked it. I really loved the tone it produced, but I couldn't live with the periodic shut downs. In all fairness to the amplifier, I was playing in a four piece rock band at the time, and we often played in some pretty stuffy clubs, so it was a worst case scenario for keeping the unit cool.

    Hope this helps :)
  4. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    IMHO SWR is not more or less reliable than any other brand. You do catch your disappointed folks while like Consumer Reports the people who have had no issues don't weigh in. I had SWR SM-400s for 10 years with one loose connection to the power supply a quick easy cheap fix. One of the two of mine fell onto a 300 year old cobblestone street in calzone case from the back of a tall SUV and played well always.
    They do run hot to the touch and they are supposed to.
    Some folks are unclear about SWRs when it comes to ohm rating and will attempt to power an SVT cab with one side of a SM-400 and say it's underpowered. Yes between 160 and 220 watts SS is not enough for an SVT cab. Use your SM-900 with the proper ohm cab ratio and you will be quite happy.
    SM-900s can be wonderful. I find SWRs sound great flat first then with tasteful application of eq. They produce frequencies from 20 to 20 so you can use up some power amplifying bass you can't hear. Download the manual.
    To me if you are getting an "Ah hah" then enjoy it. They are well designed pro gear designed to give you years of service.
  5. Pako

    Pako Are we having fun yet?

    Jul 31, 2002
    USA, Montana
    I played an SM-900 Exclusively for 4 years or so and the only issue I had was the internal fan sensor. My tech just hardwired, no probs since. Great amp that I still miss at times. If I had the resources I would have kept it.

    Good luck!
  6. daveonbass

    daveonbass Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2001
    Waupun, WI
    I have had nothing but problems with SWR gear. They were terrible to deal with on warranty repairs. The 1st SM-900 I tried blew up during the 1st set brand new out of the box. I don't even consider them any more because of reliability and poor customer service issues.

    That's MY experience. Yours could be different as many players use and love SWR gear without a problem.

    Personally - Mesa, Ampeg, GK, Eden, Trace Elliott... all companies I've used with gear I liked better and better reliability and customer service than SWR. Mesa Boogie has been especially good to deal with (for me).

  7. I ve been using SWR for more than a decade with absolutly not even 1 problem! Sometimes though any product can have a problem, any brand. I would say get the SM-900 while you have the chance. The only thing that you have to think about is that the unit had a problem before and its been repaired to be sold. In my personal expirience when a unit has problem and you fix it anyway, in near future it will broke again. If you like the SWR sound though you can go with the same money and buy a cheaper NEW model, maybe the X series. Good luck.
  8. bugbass


    Apr 8, 2004
    I`ve had my SM900 since -96 and played it a lot. Never been any problems. Fantastick building quality, neutral sound that cuts through and great power. I run it bridged into 4 ohms. It gets hot yes, but it is designed that way.
    I don`t know the quality on the new ones, and I would check out what the problem was on the one you are looking at. I would probably rather go with a older amp than a new that`s already been a problem with.
  9. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    South Shore MA
    My 900 has been bomb proof over the past 5 or so years that I have owned it. It is a 10 year old model FWIW.

    If you like the tone, do it. $800 is a decent deal. Make sure you have some kind of warrantee (30 day money back for example) so that if there are indeed manufacture problems with that particular head, you're not left holding the bag.
  10. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    Used Bass 750. Real mono watts. Redhead eq. section. Great frequency response. Sounds great flat. Can sound hi fi and then growl on demand.
  11. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Those are great heads, and thats a WHOLE lot of head for 800 bucks.
  12. Thanks for the input,guys. I am going to see if the dealer will let me try it at rehearsal (since it's used) and if that works
    I am 90% certain I will buy it. Seems like a good deal for the money.
    Now I will have to get another 4-10:meh:
  13. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    One thing about the 900 ... it will always sound better bridged. If you're using an 8 ohm Goliath III ... then thats pretty much a perfect rig and I wouldn't even bother with a second unless you really find you need more power.

    Stereo into 8 ohms they are a little light on power. Stereo into 4 ohms is fine, bridged into 4 or 8 is ideal.
  14. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    Absolutely!! It's 240 watts into 8 ohms stereo.This is why people hook them up, don't know and then complain that they are quiet for a 900 watt amp. You get the big watts when it is bridged. One 8 ohm cab bridged you get 650w and two 8 ohm cabs you get your 900w as it is now at 4 Ohms.
  15. I have heard that some SWR stuff does have a tendency of overheating when pushed. But, if you love the tone this is easily worked around.

    You can:

    a) Make sure you leave an empty space above the unit in the rack, that'll help dispurse the heat.

    b) If you have more space, get some rack fans, something like this:


    c) Have the amp's internal fan set to blow all the time, instead of turning on and off, by a professional amp tech.

    EDIT: You don't need to do them all, lol, likely just one, a b or c...

    FWIW, my Bass 350 hasn't given me any real trouble in over 10 years.
  16. Cory

    Cory Supporting Member

    May 16, 2004
    I've been playing SWR stuff since the early 90's. I've had just about every product they produced while owned by Steve Rabe. I was always pleased with the products and after 10 hard years of eveyday gigging, I never had one problem.
    My favorite rig was the grandprix with a stereo 800 into a 1x15 and a 4x10. However, the 900 worked well for me as well.
    As you have read, they do tend to get a little hot. I had mine racked in a rack that had side vents cut in to it so air could flow throught the rack better. Worked great. Good luck!
  17. lowmid1


    Aug 16, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    Stay away from the older models, the ones with silver and purple silkscreening and leave at least one empty space above the amp and you should be fine. Good amps and not at all light on power as some people think. And yes, Fender has the worst customer service on the planet so that is the weakness of SWR.
  18. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    I have heard mixed reports of this. The other side of the coin is that the black with purple screened ones are awesome while the chrome/red ones are garbage.

    I had the black/purple one for a long time and loved it. It was totally "my tone" and I loved the dual switchable semi para EQ. I did some tube swapping at one point and it sounded even better as a result. I wouldn't have sold it except that I needed to move to a pre/power setup.

    I did have an issue at one point with it, and when I took it into the shop the guy said that it had been repaired before and the repair job was not so great. But it was a cheap fix so I didn't really sweat it.

    I will second the recommendation of running it bridged all the time. Obviously it benefits from the extra headroom regardless but that also simplifies cabling IMO.
  19. I had a Silver/Red 900 for a while and was very underwhelmed - undynamic would be the best way to describe it. It was traded out for an Ashdown which has way more "juice" (isn't it all subjective?) Great preamp EQ though, way more than you'll ever need.

    $800 would get you a used Thunderfunk 550 or Ashdown 900 which are both well worth a listen (and have actual customer service too...)
  20. lowmid1


    Aug 16, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    The issue with the older models is that there is inadequate ventilation. If you look at the top plate, there is vent directly above the heatsinks and fan....but almost all of it is blocked by the heatsinks and fan so it can't really suck in much cool air. The later ones have no vents in the top but a large vent in the back for air intake. As far as the "other side of the coin" goes....there isn't one! The red and black faced amp is the same amp just different colors and better ventilation. The ventilation issue with the older ones however must have been an issue or it wouldn't have been changed.
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