SWR SM400

Rig talk.

SWR SM400

Postby Sloom » Sat Jul 25, 2009 11:22 pm

I'm presently trying to run it into an Avatar 212 ceramic cab, 8 ohms. Not a real friendly combo so far. Any recommendations for a suitable cab to match with this head? It's an older model, pre-Fender with no fan or "Transparency Control". Just the very low freq-centered Bass knob and requisite Aural Enhancer.

I'm on TB with it, getting a lot of advice which sounds pretty good. Just thought I'd ask here for an angle. Thanks for whatever might seem useful info to post here!
"Whatever we do, it is what it is, and we do it".
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Re: SWR SM400

Postby aussiemark » Sun Jul 26, 2009 3:53 pm

When I owned an SM400 I ran it initially into a no-name 4x10 cab with Eminence speakers, and it sounded really good. Then I bought a pair of SWR Goliath Jr 2x10 which sounded excellent. Nice amp, but underpowered and prone to overheating. I ended up adding a fan to the back of the rack case, which improved it's reliability somewhat.
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Re: SWR SM400

Postby Flash » Mon Jul 27, 2009 9:11 pm

aussiemark wrote:Nice amp, but underpowered and prone to overheating. I ended up adding a fan to the back of the rack case, which improved it's reliability somewhat.


Actually, they aren't exactly underpowered. Most bass amps have a low cut filter that cuts frequencies below something like 30 Hz (which, I think, is low B whereas 20 Hz is the low limit of human hearing - I may be a little off but I'm probably close). SWR (at least Pre-Fender - don't know about the current ones) do not have that filter and so are using all their power to push all this low end that we can't hear (though you can feel it to some degree). So the result is the SM400 and Bass 350 were maybe as loud as a 150-200 watt amp, the Studio 220 was not loud at all and the SM-900 was the one that put out some volume. But there is something you can do to get some volume from the SM_400 - bi amp it. The drawback is you have to use 2 cabinets but the bottom cab will put out the real lows while all your volume will come from the top cabinet. These amps sound great this way and this is coming from someone who hates most SWR amps.
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Re: SWR SM400

Postby Sloom » Tue Jul 28, 2009 3:27 am

I've recently learned that a hi-pass filter at around 30Hz in the fx loop will pull out those lows, relieving the power amp section of the chore of pushing them out and wasting all that power on stuff you can't really use. So I'm in process of picking up a little unit from a guy who makes them (fDeck on TB). When it arrives I'll post a note on it's effectiveness.
"Whatever we do, it is what it is, and we do it".
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Re: SWR SM400

Postby Flash » Tue Jul 28, 2009 7:56 am

The other thing I forgot to mention is those lows are what caused SWR ams to blow Hartke speakers like crazy. The aluminum comes can't handle those lows. Hartke went as far as printing all that info in their manuals as a warning not to use SWR heads with their cabinets. If you asked SWR about it, though, they would claim Hartke cabinets were "made wrong."
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Re: SWR SM400

Postby Sloom » Fri Jul 31, 2009 9:31 am

I just left the guy who fixes my amps and re-cones my speakers (RI Music Service). He's been in the business of all this a good long time and has been able to handle anything I've thrown at him (including modding a Trace-Elliot head to send hotter signal to a power amp) reliably with no fuss at all. I asked him about the hi-pass thing, and he told me straight-up that it's just a matter of turning down the bass knob on the amp. Introducing a hi-pass will just bring in potential phasing issues, among other things. Better to move the pickup, re-tune the cab, whatever that represents a simpler approach.

Upon this advice I'm leaving off spending any more time a Geekville, where I don't belong anyway. Fine if you do that stuff, but I just don't- I'm no gear-head. But hey, anyone with something to add, by all means do! For my own part, I'm done with it. I'm staying with the simple approach if I continue to have a problem. [smilie=grinning-smiley-003.gif]

Thanks for your interest.
"Whatever we do, it is what it is, and we do it".
-The Grubs.


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Re: SWR SM400

Postby Flash » Fri Jul 31, 2009 1:49 pm

Sloom wrote:I just left the guy who fixes my amps and re-cones my speakers (RI Music Service). He's been in the business of all this a good long time and has been able to handle anything I've thrown at him (including modding a Trace-Elliot head to send hotter signal to a power amp) reliably with no fuss at all. I asked him about the hi-pass thing, and he told me straight-up that it's just a matter of turning down the bass knob on the amp. Introducing a hi-pass will just bring in potential phasing issues, among other things. Better to move the pickup, re-tune the cab, whatever that represents a simpler approach.

Upon this advice I'm leaving off spending any more time a Geekville, where I don't belong anyway. Fine if you do that stuff, but I just don't- I'm no gear-head. But hey, anyone with something to add, by all means do! For my own part, I'm done with it. I'm staying with the simple approach if I continue to have a problem. [smilie=grinning-smiley-003.gif]

Thanks for your interest.


I may be wrong here but that sounds like a little too simple a solution. I'm not sure the bass knob will be turning down those real low frequencies - it depends how big a bandwidth it has. Plus you will also be turning down bass frequencies that you probably want. The aural enhancer would also have to be left all the way down if lowering the bass knob works - it boosts bass and treble as it's turned up.
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Re: SWR SM400

Postby Sloom » Fri Jul 31, 2009 8:14 pm

I hear you, and may well be back. But for now I'm going to march, get my cabs together and deal with it. I am playing reggae besides, so the heft isn't so bad as long as my speakers can handle it, and I have enough of them.

I don't mind being wrong either, so hey, if you see me back here it won't be with a red face! But I'll be a little more sure of what I'm doing. Thanks for the advice man. Taken and in-hat.

EDIT: The bass knob is a shelving-type I have found, by going to the SWR site and looking up the archives. So there must be some effect in the right direction there by using it to turn down the very-lows...
"Whatever we do, it is what it is, and we do it".
-The Grubs.


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Re: SWR SM400

Postby Sloom » Sat Aug 01, 2009 7:30 pm

Well I've got the re-coned EV DL15X speaker installed in the Joe's TL-606 box now, and the SM400 chained into the Joe's 115 and on to the Avatar 212 (ceramic...). A little fussing with eq stuff, and I've got that booger sounding pretty good. The EV 15 does do a little dancing, but I don't perceive any complaint. It also appears to be pretty loud and convincingly deep.

Going with it... so far it appears to be a case of working with it 'till you get 'er dialed in. I'm going to remain stubborn about this until I incur disaster. The idea being, of course, to avoid it by a hair's-breadth. [smilie=cool-smiley-031.gif]
"Whatever we do, it is what it is, and we do it".
-The Grubs.


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Re: SWR SM400

Postby Sloom » Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:30 pm

Annnnnd... the jury's still out. However there is now an input issue, where I'm getting way severe drops in level. I ran the H&K pre into the effects return on the SM400, and all was well. It's at the shop now, and when it gets back we'll re-commence the trial.

At this point it's the H&K with the Crest FA901 power amp. Solid sound. Sort of a dumb post and mostly pointless, but it's late. Okay? [smilie=cool-smiley-031.gif]
"Whatever we do, it is what it is, and we do it".
-The Grubs.


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Re: SWR SM400, Cont'd

Postby Sloom » Sat Oct 03, 2009 10:13 am

I just got hold of a used Bag End S15-D, and gave the newly serviced SM400 a go with it. Sounds pretty good!

I do think that turning down the Bass knob all the way "off" is a good idea, since it's a shelving filter at 31 Hz. There are still very-lows up from there though- and I don't know the dB-per-octave slope on the SM400's filter. But It's still a project I'm keeping around to re-visit, and when I find a suitable EQ box with a brick-wall shelf at 40 - 50 Hz I'm going to grab it and give it a try.

Tomorrow I'm playing outside at a festival and will bring the SWR to run into the Bag End and the Avatar B-212 (ceramic); I'll chain the speakers from the head in mono. There will be PA support, and I'll bring along the Crest power amp just in case... I will post again on this lonely thread...
"Whatever we do, it is what it is, and we do it".
-The Grubs.


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Re: SWR SM400

Postby siamezedream » Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:39 pm

I had bought a 1985 swr sm400 in really good shape for a really good price. I had previously bought a mid 70's early 80's Traynor 2150 2x15" cab with new Eminence speakers installed. The cab is wired at 4ohms and rated at 600 watts. The cab was in need of repair, so I refinished it. Then I got my hands on the SWR SM400. I tried it out using the Traynor 2x15 cab and it was amazing sounding. I decided that I wanted to build a custom head to house the SWR SM400 in, so I started building. I ended up with a great looking head, and ended up customizing the 2x15 cab to match. The amp can be seen in my profile pic, or if you want to see a larger pic or 2 , go to my profile where I uploaded a few more pics. Tell me what you think. [smilie=music-smiley-005.gif]
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