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SWR Underpowered? Is that new?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by agreatheight, May 2, 2006.

  1. I have been reading a number of threads here on TB about SWR amps being underpowered. Is this a new phenomenom? I have an older (early 90's) Bass 350 amp and it's plenty loud and punchy. I'm running her full range into a Hartke 410XL and an SWR Big Ben 18" which puts her running 350 watts @ 4 ohms (each cab runs at 8 ohms). I have never had the amp over 5 on the gain and 5 on the master! What's the deal? Did SWR suck out at some point, or do I just have a good one, or do I just have a good cab set up for the amp?

    Related question - the manual says the Bass 350 will run down at 2 ohms putting out 400 watts. Does that really mean I can two 4 ohms cabs, two 8 ohm cabs and one 4 ohm cab or run four 8 ohm cabs? I'm not saying I would - just curious...
  2. Perhaps you simply (a) are reasonable with your volume, (b) aren't playing with deaf guitarists and caveman drummers, (c) have efficient cabs, or (d) have chosen a rig that is highly suitable to your playing situation.

    As a rule, unless the amp can clearly be shown to be putting out significantly less than its rated power, being underpowered only means anything in the context of a particular job you're trying to do. The same amp can be way more than enough for somebody in one situation (= not underpowered) and hopelessly inadequate for somebody else in a very different situation (= underpowered). A Prius isn't underpowered for city commuting; it would be for quarter-mile drag racing.
  3. I too don't see how your rig would ever be underpowered - unless you're playing a 50,000 seat coliseum or playing with one of the aforementioned hearing challenged "musicians"...

    That said, there are a ton of us long-time SWR users who are more than a little worried about the Fender takeover... I haven't bought anything since, so I have no idea if those concerns are legit or not.
  4. This hits the nail on the head. My Ashdown MAG was more than enough for the funk project I was in for a while, because the drummer had finesse and the guitarist played through a Peavey 2x12 combo.
    Now, I'm up against a hard hitting double bass drummer, and a full stack of Marshalls. I couldn't keep up with only 300w.
  5. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    I'm sure the SWR's are honestly rated, and they sound fine. But having owned two of them (one of the first 400's and a 900), I too found that they are much less loud than most other heads of similar wattage.

    My interpretation of this is the wide voicing of the amps. I know the early 400's went very, very low... i.e., they delivered a lot of power below 30 hz I believe. You could tell this by the extreme amount of cone movement and pistoning versus other heads. That eats up a lot of watts.

    The SWR pre also always had a little bit of a 'scoop' sound inherent in it to my ear, which also tends to get lost in the mix... possibly giving the impression that the amp is 'underpowered'.

    I have A/B'd a Thunderfunk with the newer SWR550 (or 500.. the head that's slightly higher powered than the 350 but that looks just like it). The TF was WAY louder sounding than the SWR... but as stated above... it also sounded tighter and more mid punchy, which again will give the impression of 'higher power'.
  6. bugbass


    Apr 8, 2004
    I`ve played SWR since 1990 or -91, first a SM400 and the last 9 years a SM900. The SM400 sounded fine, but it was a huge step up with the 900. I find the 900 to be a neutral sounding amp with broad bandwith. Many other amps I`ve played is more thick sounding in the 150-250 Hz area, but I can just tweak the 900`s eq a bit to get that sound too. The building quality is super. AB- ing the 900 with a EBS TD650 and a Ashdown EVO500II into 4 ohms, the 900 was way louder in bridged mode. So it can`t be that underpowered.
    But after advice from TB- ers(KJUNG++), I now got a WT800B coming, and I hope I will be at least as happy with that one as with the SM900
  7. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Very cool on the 800(b). +1 on the 900 also... definately my favorite SWR head. I played one for a number of years, and liked it a lot. Also +1 on the EBS650 being underpowered into 4ohms... that head was a big disappointment to me, given its cost, size and weight.
  8. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    The 800B is a pretty different flavor from typical swr voicing, but it's a very very nice head...
  9. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    I had a Reeves Hiwatt and a Marshall Major played them through an SWR G3. In fifteen minutes I was deaf. Why? The mids. It seemed way loud. When I plugged in my Bass 750 it had huge lows and all the frequencies that the Reeves/Marshall didn't have.

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