Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ampeg SVT-810E Classic Series Bass Enclosure Review


Today we are looking at the mate to my Ampeg SVT-CL: a Classic Series SVT-810E bass enclosure. By the way, “bass enclosure” is a euphemism for “speaker cabinet.”

After finally adding an SVT to my collection, I tried a few different speaker combinations before I ended up with the dreaded 810. I tried an Ampeg 410E, but at 8 ohms it was horrible inefficient. I tried the 610HLF, but it was boomy and not as well-focused as the SVT-810E. So I finally bit the bullet and dragged one of these home. My wife had to help me unload it.

I was reluctant to go with the 810 as it is just a monster of a cabinet. It is not just a clever name, it is loaded up with eight 10-inch speakers and comes in at a whopping 140 pounds, which is more than I weighed when I graduated from high school.

The weight is worth it, as there is plenty of quality built into this enclosure. It Is constructed of Baltic birch plywood, which is some of the finest laminate wood I have ever worked with. The whole thing measures 48“ tall by 26” wide by 16” deep. The speakers are paired into four sealed enclosures (infinite baffle design) for a tighter response. Cups fit the feet of your SVT are embedded in the top of the cabinet to prevent the head from vibrating itself onto the floor.

To make it a bit more portable, Ampeg installed two recessed wheels on the back and a tilt-back grab handle, along with a couple of skid rails on the back. It still is not very pleasant to move, though.

The eight speakers each have 2-inch voice coils and 30 ounce magnets. The 810E can handle 800 watts at 4 ohms, with a frequency response of 58Hz to 5kHz. This is more than enough for my SVT-CL, and the color matches too. There are both ¼ inch and Neutrik Speakon jacks on the back, and you can run the cabinet in stereo if you want to, maybe you could stack two SVTs on top….

But, putting all of this aside, the main reason to pick up a SVT-810E is the tone. I bought this one new, and after the speakers broke in I have fallen in love the sound that thing puts out. There is a ton of volume, of course, but it also has very tight lows and mids. It has a very balanced sound and a super smooth response.

It is buttery smooth with enough power to knock down my garage. This is a tough combination to beat, and virtually unchanged since 1969.

For the past few years, these cabinets have been built overseas, but I have not noticed any difference in sound quality or build construction. In fact, I am pretty sure that the older ones did not use the Baltic plywood, as it has not been a popular building material until recently.

The Ampeg SVT-810E bass enclosure is a bit spendy, with a MSRP of $1399.99, and a street price of $999.99, but if you want the full SVT experience, you are going to have to pony up for one.


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