Manufacturer SWR Model SM-500
Reviewer Matt Calu
Experience 12 years Item owned 2-5 years
Review Date 2004-12-23 Price paid $1,399
Dimensions2 Rack Spaces
WeightNot too heavy
Power500W @ 4ohms / 400W @ 8ohms
OtherSolid State w/ Tube Pre-Amp, Limiter, Aural Enhancer, etc ...
Where to begin ... ?

Let me just say to anyone considering this amp, that if you are in a "rock" band (or any genre for that matter) where you will be competing with a drummer and a guitarist (possibly 2?) DO NOT EXPECT TO BE ABLE TO CUT THROUGH WITH THIS AMP.

This amp has caused me more heartache over the last couple of years than I care to remember. First of all, it has absolutely NO LOW END. This thing is all mids and, in fairness, some pretty nice highs. At an extremely low volume (like for instance ... in a store showroom) the overall tone is nice. You can't notice the fact that once you turn up above 3 or 4 that the lows strain and turn to "bluh" and that achieving a decent tone for the stage isnext to impossible.

Another thing ... This amp runs extremely hot (b/c of the aluminum casing) it also has an automatic shut-off feature that will cut the amplifier off if you run too hot or experience excessive clipping. This has happened countless times to me in practice and twice ON STAGE! Very embarrassing. i contacted someone from SWR and he told me I could roll back on the bass eq on my bass to prevent the amp from pushing so hard and boost the mid to compensate for my inability to cut through. Granted ... the advice helped, but the tone sucked! Why should you have to sacrifice your tone b/c your amplifier can't handle your eq???

I could literally go on forever about this amp, but let me just say in parting that:

1.) This amp (as are most of the amps in the SWR line) is EXTREMELY overpriced.

2.) I believe this amp to be overrated power-wise. It's the weakest 500 watts I've ever heard.

3.) Don't waste your time if you play in a band setting. Go Boogie, or Eden, or Ampeg.

4.) This amp would probably be good in acoustic settings ... but certainly not powerfl enough to measure up to your guitarist's Marshall or MESA stack.

5.) SWR on the other hand, does make very good cabinets. Their Goliath III is an excellent 4x10 with a tight-focused, punchy sound.

Avoid this over-priced headache at all cost.

construction (75%)
clarity (50%)
Keep it low ... you can't take it above 5
versatility (50%)
Probably good for an acoustic group
volume (25%)
Ughh ...!
service (75%)
The guy I talked to was helpful enough ... HE didn't make this crap.
value (0%)
More expensive than a lot of their competitors ... the same ones who blow them away!
overall (50%)
If you are in your first band (like a bunch of kids in high school) you'll be very happy. If you're
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