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Will 200 more watts make a difference?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Dave Siff, Dec 15, 2004.

  1. Dave Siff

    Dave Siff Supporting Member

    Here's the situation: I recently scored a killer deal on a SWR 550-X and Goliath Sr. 6x10. I haven't played through it in a band setting yet, but in fiddling around with it in my basement, I've found that to get a real loud, cutting sound, I have to turn the amp up almost to its acceptable limit (gain at around 7, master about 6 1/2, no clipping). Obviously, I'm underpowering the cabinet a bit -- it's rated for 1,000 watts.
    So, I found a great deal on a used SWR Bass 750, which would give me a little more headroom. How much of a difference will it make? Is it worth it to go from 550 to 750, or would I be wasting my time? I want to be able to be loud enough without pushing the amp to the limit. (I really wish I hadn't sold my SM-900, but that's water under the bridge.)
  2. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    No, 200 watts will not make much of a difference. In fact you will only gain 1.3 dB in max volume, just barely noticeable.

    If you need it to sound louder, try boosting the mids.

    If that rig really isn't loud enough you must be going deaf :bag:
  3. Master at 6.5 is not full volume, at 10 i would get worried, i also agree 200w not enough .

    I had the Ashdown ABM300 307w and in my band it was loud enough but i was running master volume at about 7 to 8.

    I upgraded to the ABM500 which is 565w so not quite double and now same band same room i need 4 to 5 on my master to be really loud.

    In comparison my Ampeg SVTCL all tube 300w head was as loud at number 4 on master volume, so tube watts do sound alot louder.

    Trust me 500w is loads to be heard unless you have too much bass boosted and no mids or treble. The smiley face shape will not be loud !!
  4. Dave Siff

    Dave Siff Supporting Member

    Thanks, guys. I figured 200 more watts wouldn't really do much, just wanted some professional opinions. Right now, I've got the bass on about half, and the mids at 7 or so. As far as the gain and volume levels, I'm trying not to max them out.. I set them at the standard "just before clipping" point.
  5. You can't really base a volume comparison from one amp to another based on where the gain/master knobs are. Loud is pretty subjective anyway, but the pot may be a different value, or the circuit set up in a different way.

    If you feel you really need the extra power, I would go with a pre/power setup. There are lots of good preamps you can get for around $300, and $200-300 should buy you 1500 or more watts, depending on the brand. That's likely all you'll ever need. If you sell your 550 that should more than cover the cost of the component setup.
  6. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    a few questions. when you say you have the bass on half do you mean at 12 o'clock? (flat). also, you say you have the mids at 7 which i assume is about 2 o'clock, but where do you have the mid frequency set at? Last but not least, where do you have the aural enhancer set at? the aural enhancer is "off" when it is completly to the left. most guys use it from "off" to about the 10 o clock position. Anywhere over the 12 o clock position is way too much. The AE boosts bass and treble and cuts the low mids, which can sound neat, but can compromise you cuttign thru in a band. Also, i'm not sure if that amp has the new ultra bass/subharmonic boost/or whatever it's called. I woudl leave that off in a full band setting until you are sure you can be loud enough with it on. Bass frequencies eat up a ton of watts and cause amps to clip at much lower volumes. I'd really start out with everything set flat, and the AE and xbass off. That setup should be loud enough for all but the most extreme bands.
  7. Dave Siff

    Dave Siff Supporting Member

    Yep.. bass is at 12 o'clock and mid level at 2 o'clock. I've got the mid frequency at around 10pm and the aural enhancer at 1pm or so. Those are the same settings I have them at on my Workingman's 15 combo, which I use at band practice, and it cuts through pretty well. I haven't played the 550X/6x10 rig with the band yet. I've read your advice previously on the aural enhancer setting and that did prompt me to mess around with it. In dialing the knob around, 1pm seemed to sound the best, but I get what you're saying about the low-mid cut.

    Yeah, I have the subwave off. I might use it for a brief solo, but that's about it. Thanks for the tips!
  8. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    Hi Dave
    I'm going to agree with basstrader on this one, but add some.
    I think the preamp/power amp might be your answer. Many players get along just fine with combos etc. but I've gone through a lot of gear trying to accomplish what you want. Even when I did finally switch over to a pre/pwr rig I still was chokin' on power with the lightweight switching amps when I really needed it. My fix... was a heavy type power amp with a transformer with plenty of "dynamic headroom", that was the key for me. When it came to crusing at 110 mph with plenty of peddle left this type of amp shines. Of course there are other factors like how effecient your cabs are, what kind of bass active or passive, you knew that... :)

    I do however have a combo amp that I usually use. It's a Walter Woods Ultra and dishes out 1200 watts at 4ohms. It's not at powerful as my Demeter/Crest CA9 rig but usually does the job for me until I get into an outside gig situation and break out the big gun.
  9. Dave Siff

    Dave Siff Supporting Member

    Yeah, I think I may eventually go pre/power. I've been trying to keep things as simple as possible, but a 1,000+ watt power amp with a good preamp would be the perfect solution. I got such a smokin' deal on the 550-X that I bought it even though I knew I needed more watts for that cabinet. It's probably gonna work out OK, but I'd like some more headroom just for peace of mind.
  10. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    South Shore MA
    I was just rereading the first post and I got to wondering....

    When you run your WM15, are you pushing it pretty hard? If so, you're probably getting some distortion in the mids, which make it cut through more. The new rig, with more headroom and greater frequency response may be just as loud in terms of SPL just not as perceptually loud, due to the lack of said distortion.

    I mean, my crusty old SM400 can get stupid loud pushing my Aguilar 410, a Goliath Sr. would be quite nuts IMO.

    Just thinking out loud.
  11. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Let's point out one more thing. Where the knobs are says nothing about how hard you are pushing the amp. If you have a signal source that is low, then you might have to crank everything to 10 and still not push the amp to its limit. If you aren't clipping, then you aren't pushing your amp.
  12. Dave Siff

    Dave Siff Supporting Member

    On the WM 15 combo, I set the gain and master to be as loud as I can get, just before clipping sets in -- usually between 6 and 7 on the gain and 5 or 5 1/2 on the master. I play passive basses, but they all have pretty hot output.
    It's funny you mention that, because when I got the new rig home, I set it up next to the WM 15 combo and was surprised to find that there wasn't a huge difference in apparent volume with all the knobs set the same. I mean, there's no way that's possible, right? 550 watts and 6x10 vs. 160 watts and 1x15. The reason I got the new rig is because I had discovered the night before that the WM 15 combo wasn't enough for a gig. (Of course, if I hadn't ditched my SM-900 and Aguilar stack, we wouldn't be having this discussion.. :meh: )
  13. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    Ive never seen a head that you can really push to 10 without clipping.
  14. Amps are designed to run at full volume be it 10 or what ever is max volume as long as the signal isnt clipping which can be caused by the input gain level not the master volume level.

    You can run a decent amp flat out with the correct input gain and it will handle it because its designed to do so.

    However too much input gain and you can fry your speakers at less master volume due to clipping etc
  15. SoyBase


    Jul 1, 2001
    Atlanta, Ga
    Hey Dave,
    I had that exact setup a couple of years back, except I had the older 400S head (the 500 watt version).

    I never had a problem with volume on that thing. I usually ran my Stingrays through it and set the gain at 12-1 o'clock, and the master nearly 3/4 of the way up and it was plenty loud for any situation. Even with the gains set hight, it never soudned overdriven.

    I'd say rock what you got. If you can get an Aural Exciter or something like that cheap, it would help big time as well.

  16. I just wanted to clarify the Aural Enhancer on SWR amps.

    According to the manual:

    "As you raise the control from 0 or the fully counterclockwise position, you are elevating the whole range of sound (lows, mids & highs) at frequency points different than those selected for the individual tone controls. This remains true up to about the "2 o'clock" position, at which point the mids start to drop off. The curves involved here are gentle, as opposed to the very extreme curves you can create with the Tone Controls. Most significantly, the Aural Enhancer will raise the low end at a point lower than the Bass control itself."

    So you are not loosing mids until the 2 o'clock position but you are boosting extreme lows with this control and eating up valuable headroom in your power amp.

    I tend to set my amps flat with the AE at 12 o'clock. I realize that the AE in this position is not flat and that it is boosting lows, mids & highs, but it sounds sooooo good and with that sound I don't feel the need to boost the BASS control (especially the louder I go).

    Just some thoughts.

    Why did you sell your SM900?
  17. Dave Siff

    Dave Siff Supporting Member

    I sold the SM-900, along with my Aguilar 2x10 and 2x12, because I needed to fund an impulse bass purchase. I wasn't playing any gigs at the time, figured I didn't need this huge rig sitting around, and maybe I could get by with my WM 15 combo. Well, you know the rest of the story.. I sold the bass a few months later. The funny thing is, the sale of the cabinets more than covered the bass purchase. But with no cabs left, I thought I didn't need the SM-900 anymore. It'd be the perfect amp for the 6x10, but it's long gone. :meh:
    Thanks for the input on the Aural Enhancer, very helpful!
  18. i agree about the aural enhancer knob, i can't stand those things. usually i just turn it off. sometimes if i need to mellow out my tone i MIGHT bring it up to 9 o'clock.

    also, try setting the mid freq at 9 - 8 o'clock. that's really where the oomph seems to live.