Black Beauty
A. READ INSTRUCTIONS: All safety and operation instructions should be read before the product is operated.
B. RETAIN INSTRUCTIONS: The safety and operating instructions should be retained for future reference.
C. HEED WARNINGS: All of the warnings on this product and in the operating instructions should be adhered to.
D. FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS: All operating and use instructions should be followed.
E. CLEANING: Unplug this product from the wall outlet before cleaning. Do not use liquid cleaners or aerosol cleaners. Use a slightly damp cloth for cleaning.
F. WATER AND MOISTURE: Do not use this product near water; for example, near a swimming pool, wet basement, and the like.
G. ACCESSORIES: Do not place this product on an unstable cart, stand, tripod, bracket or table. The product may fall, causing serious injury to a child or
adult, and serious damage to the product.
H. VENTILATION: Slots and openings in the unit are provided for ventilation and to ensure reliable operation of the product, to protect it from overheating, thus
these openings must not be blocked or covered. This product should not be placed in a built-in installation such as a bookcase or rack unless proper ventilation is
provided or the manufacturer's instructions have been adhered to.
I. GROUNDING: This product is equipped with a three-wire grounding-type plug, a plug having a third (grounding) pin. This plug will only fit into a grounding-type
power outlet. This is a safety feature. If you are unable to insert the plug into the outlet, contact your electrician to replace your obsolete outlet. Do not defeat the
safety purpose of the grounding-type plug.
J. POWER CORD PROTECTION: Power supply cords should be routed so that they are not likely to be walked on or pinched by items placed upon them, paying particular attention to cords at plugs and the point where they exit the product.
K. LIGHTNING: For added protection of this product during a lightning storm or when it is left unattended and unused for long periods of time, unplug it from
the wall outlet. This will prevent damage to the product due to lightning and power-line surges.
L. OVERLOADING: Do not overload wall outlets or extension cords as this can result in a risk of fire or electric shock.
M. OBJECT AND LIQUID ENTRY: Never push objects of any kind into this product through the openings as they may touch dangerous voltage points or
short out parts that could result in a fire or electric shock. Never spill liquid of any kind on the product.
N. SERVICING: Do not attempt to service this product yourself as opening or removing covers may expose you to dangerous voltage or other hazards. Refer
all servicing to qualified service personnel.
O. DAMAGE REQUIRING SERVICE: Unplug this product from the wall outlet and refer servicing to qualified service personnel under the following conditions:
1) When the power supply cord has been damaged
2) If liquid has been spilled or objects have fallen into the product
3) If the product has been exposed to rain, water, or other conductive liquids
4) If the product does not operate normally by following the operating instructions
5) If the product has been dropped or damaged in any way
6) When the product exhibits a distinct change in performance.
P. REPLACEMENT PARTS: When replacement parts are required, be sure the service technician has used replacement parts specified by the manufacturer
or have the same characteristics as the original part. Unauthorized substitutions may result in fire, electric shock, or other hazards.
Q. SAFETY CHECK: Upon completion of any service or repairs to this product, ask the service technician to perform safety checks to determine that the product is in proper operating condition.
R. HEAT: The product should be situated away from heat sources such as radiators, heat registers, stoves or other products that produce heat.
Congratulations on your purchase of the SWR Black Beauty Bass Combo Amplifier! You now own the heaviest-duty, biggest-sounding
combo amp in SWR's world-renowned Professional Line of products for bassists.
A little history: The SWR Black Beauty is the successor to the Basic Black, a combo we offered throughout most of the 1990s as the
most affordable solution for bassists who wanted the “SWR Sound“ in the simplest all-in-one package possible. Our top-selling product
for several years running, the Basic Black featured a tube preamp (using a specially-selected 12AX7A vacuum tube), SWR’s patented
“Aural Enhancer,” an easy-to-use 3-band EQ section, a custom-specified 250-watt 15" driver, and a high-quality, discrete solid-state
160-watt power amp. After shipping thousands of units, we finally finished its run in 1999 for the purposes of a serious upgrade.
Ironically, the same year that the Basic Black went into retirement, we released a new series of 15" drivers: the Bertha series.
Featuring a new custom-designed 15" speaker with a solid 350 watts of power handling—and, of course, superior tone—the Big Bertha
2x15" and the Son Of Bertha 1x15" were released in 1999 to rave reviews, and we continue to ship both models today. After seeing
a sustained positive reaction to the Bertha 15" drivers from a highly satisfied group of customers, we knew we had the foundation for
a new 15" combo.
The new Black Beauty takes that foundation and builds a powerhouse, feature-packed combo upon it. The electronics section contains all of the popular tone circuitry from the Basic Black, but adds a variable midrange control, a new XLR (Balanced) output circuit
with greater flexibility in level and signal routing, a selectable horn tweeter, Speakon and 1/4" extension speaker output jacks, and a
rock-solid cabinet design that completely isolates the electronics from the speaker complement. We’ve integrated a new feature: our
SubWave™ circuit, which produces a tone an octave below the original signal and tracks as well or better than anything else on the
market today. (The effect is foot-switchable, and we’ve provided a footswitch for your convenience.) And, most importantly, it’s now
more than double the power of the original Basic Black: the upgraded power amplifier delivers 350 watts into its own speaker system, and more with an extension cabinet connected. Add in the sleek new cosmetics on the chassis, and the chrome grill and logo,
and you’ve got what we call the Black Beauty. And, of course, each Black Beauty is assembled by hand and individually sound-tested in
the U.S.A. at our factory in Southern California.
It’s all part of SWR’s commitment to continued improvement and refinement of even our most popular models, so that we can continue to assist today’s bassist in the pursuit of the ultimate goal: finding equipment that not only does the job, but actually enhances the
overall musical experience and contributes to the creative process. Everyone here at SWR sincerely hopes that the purchase of your
Black Beauty helps you get there from here…and beyond.
Please take the time to read your User Guide thoroughly and completely, so that you can realize the full potential of your new Black
Beauty Bass Combo Amplifier. Once again, thanks for your purchase, and for letting SWR help Amplify Your Future™.
NOTE: Please take a moment to verify that the following items were included in your SWR Black
Beauty packaging: AC Cable, SubWave Activator Footswitch, (4) Heavy-Duty Caster Wheels, this
owner’s manual, SWR Catalog.
• Dual independent input jacks compatible with both passive and active instruments
• Preamp Gain control with red LED clip indicator
• Aural Enhancer control
• SubWave™ Activator Switch (illuminated blue when engaged)
• SubWave™ Level control
• Bass control
• Midrange Level control
• Midrange Frequency control
• Treble control
• Effects Blend control (with pull-limiter-defeat option)
• Master Volume control
• Illuminated Neon Power On/Off switch
• XLR Pad (Level) control
• XLR Output jack
• XLR Mode switch (Direct, Direct + Sub, Line)
• Ground/Lift switch for XLR Output jack
• Tuner Out jack
• Side-Chain Effects Loop (Effects Send and Effects Return 1/4" jacks)
• SubWave™ Activator Footswitch jack
• Tweeter Mode Switch (Full Range, –6db, Off)
• Speaker Mode Switch (On, Off)
• Stereo Headphones Jack
• Speakon and 1/4" Extension Speaker Output jacks
• Speaker Fuse (3AG, 10-amp fast-blo)
• Line Fuse (3AG, 7-amp slo-blo)
• AC Power Cord Receptacle
NOTE : All measurements were taken with a line voltage of 120VAC. All noise specifications are
“unweighted.” All voltages and watts are “RMS.” All measurements are taken with tone controls
set flat, Aural Enhancer at minimum.
Power Ratings (minimum)
350 Watts @ 4 ohms (internal cabinet)
400 Watts @ 2.6 ohms (with 8 ohms extension cabinet)
450 Watts @ 2 ohms (with 4 ohm extension cabinet)
Frequency Response (power amplifier)
–3dB @ 20 Hz and 40 kHz
Sensitivity (full output under clipping, 8 ohms load, 100 Hz)
Passive Input Jack: 38 millivolts
Active Input Jack: 60 millivolts
Power Amplifier (Effects Return Jack “in”): 5 volts
Input Impedance
Passive/Active Input: 800k Ohms
Active Input: 60k Ohms
Effects Return: 27k Ohms
Output Impedance
Effects Send: 100 Ohms
Tuner Send: 100 Ohms
XLR (Balanced) Out: 750 Ohms
Signal To Noise Ratio
–72 dB (<10 millivolts typical)
Equivalent Input Noise
9 microvolts
23" W x 25-7/8" H x 18-3/8" D
95 lbs.
Remove the AC cable from the accessory pack and connect it from the amplifier to a standard wall outlet. Make sure that the “Gain”
and “Master Volume” controls are set to the minimum position (fully counter-clockwise). Locate the power switch on the right side of
the front of the unit and turn the amplifier on. Upon powering up, don’t be surprised if you hear a small pop. This is absolutely normal
and will not cause damage to your speaker system.
(Eliminating this “power on transient” would require a component called a relay. SWR chose not to incorporate this type of component
due to the fact that relays degrade signal quality and often fail, causing the unit to have no output and requiring a trip to a local service center. If you wish not to hear the pop upon power up, locate the “Speaker On/Off” switch on the rear panel and set it to “Off”
before you turn the unit on. Be sure to remember to set the switch back to “On” afterwards, or you may find yourself wondering why
you don’t hear anything.)
Plug your instrument into the desired input jack (refer to “Front Panel Features” for greater detail). Turn your instrument’s volume up
to at least 75% of maximum and slowly adjust the gain control. Once you begin to play your instrument and you see the red light
(marked “preamp clip”) over the gain control illuminate, back off the gain a bit. Now turn up the “Master Volume” and you should hear
the sound of your instrument amplified through the Black Beauty. For more detailed information, please read the entire manual carefully so that you can fully realize the potential of the your new Black Beauty.
For those who wish to use an extension speaker cabinet with the Black Beauty, please skip ahead to “Extension Speaker Output
Section” on page 12.
Both input jacks accept a standard 1/4" phone plug and both inputs can be used at the same time. Since the two inputs are totally
independent, no loss in volume or tone will occur by using two instruments simultaneously. However, the main applicational use for the
two separate input jacks is their difference in level, as the Passive/Active input has five times more gain than the Active input. In other
words, it’s not necessarily intended as a “submixer” for two instruments, but no harm will come from having two instruments plugged
in at once. Please read below for more details.
This input jack is designed to accommodate both “passive” instruments and most “active” instruments. A passive instrument has no
built-in preamp and does not use a battery, while an active bass utilizes a battery-operated preamp for gain, tone controls, or both.
The Passive/Active Input will work with all instruments having a maximum output of less than 1 volt RMS. Some active pickups such
as EMG, Bartolini, etc., use batteries for operation and will work perfectly using this input. Instruments made by MTD, Sadowsky,
Modulus, etc., have active electronics that are suited for use in the Passive/Active input.
Generally speaking, try this input first. If you hear a small amount of distortion and the preamp clip LED is not activated, try using the
Active input jack. If the Active input does not correct any audible distortion, check the battery in your bass.
NOTE: If you would like to overdrive the first TUBE stage, this can be accomplished by using an
external preamp between your instrument and the Passive/Active input. To obtain optimum sound
when trying this, make sure the preamp clip LED is not activated. If this occurs, turn down your
Gain control until the LED does not light. The first preamp tube stage is NOT monitored by the preamp clip circuit for this reason.
The Active input jack should be used with instruments having a built-in (on board) preamp or other sound sources that will produce
output levels greater than 1 volt RMS. The number of bass manufacturers has increased significantly over the years, and it’s impossible to try and keep track of them all. Generally, if you have very “hot” pickups and/or tone controls installed in your instrument, and
you use them to boost the level of your bass signal 10 dB or more, you may find the Active input more compatible. The best judge is
your own ears.
If you’re using a keyboard or bass pedal with the Black Beauty, we have found the best choice to be the Active input.
NOTE: Using the Active input with passive basses (active instruments will always employ a battery)
may result in a loss of high end transients. Players who roll off their high end starting at about
2kHz, or prefer a “darker” sound, may find this input more to their liking.
If you hear some distortion with your active bass and are using the Active Input, make sure the preamp clip LED indicator is not lighting. If the preamp stage is not being driven into clipping, replace the battery in your instrument.
The Gain control adjusts the volume of the preamp section. Since the Gain control is similar to a “pad,” a small amount of signal will be
heard even with the Gain control rotated fully counter-clockwise (“MIN”) if the Master Volume is up.
After all EQ settings and the Aural Enhancer are set, the Gain control should be raised until the preamp clip LED barely flashes when
your loudest note is struck. This will insure maximum signal to noise ratio and prevent unwanted clipping of the preamp section.
NOTE: The Gain can serve as an EFFECTS SEND LEVEL ADJUSTMENT. If your effect is being overdriven, turn down the Gain control and readjust your Master Volume for overall loudness.
The preamp clip LED will light whenever the preamp, tone section or output buffer reach clipping (run out of headroom). This function
does NOT monitor the first tube stage of the Passive input. See that section for more info.
In the event the clip indicator lights, turn down the Gain control. Since this circuit monitors the tone controls, boosting any one of
them can cause the clip LED to activate. Once again, you may leave the tone control at its desired level, but turn the Gain control
down further.
NOTE: Even though the Preamp Clip LED lighting indicates that at some point the preamp is clipping, no harm is being done to your amplifier. However, clipping of the power amp can cause dam4 • BLACK BEAUTY OWNER’S MANUAL
age to your speakers and is not recommended.
The Aural Enhancer is a feature that’s been on just about every SWR amplifier since the company’s inception in 1984, and is a trademark part of the “SWR Sound” people have come to know and love. It was developed to help bring out the fundamental low notes of
the bass guitar, enhance the high-end transients, and reduce certain frequencies that help “mask” the fundamentals. The ultimate
result is:
1. A more transparent sound, especially noticeable when slapping and popping.
2. It can make a passive bass take on an “active” type of quality when set at positions of “2 o’clock” or further clockwise.
Let’s take a second to learn how the Aural Enhancer works. Think of it as a variable tone curve that changes depending on where you
set the Aural Enhancer control knob. As you raise the control clockwise from the “MIN” position, you are elevating a whole range of
sound (lows, mids, and highs) at a variety of frequency points selected specifically because they’re different than those selected for
the individual Tone Controls.
This remains true up to about the “2 o’clock” position. This position—a favorite for many users—brings out both the low end fundamentals and crisp highs and, at the same time, adds a little lower midrange to help cut through the band. However, if you go further clockwise and past the 2:00 position, selected mids will start to drop off—specifically, a group of frequencies centered around 200 Hz. At this
point and after, the effect becomes much more pronounced. However, the curves involved here are gentle, as opposed to the very
extreme curves you can create by boosting or cutting the Active Tone Controls (EQ).
Most significantly for basses, the Aural Enhancer will help bring out the fundamentals of your lower registers without masking them
with overtones, as is possible when using the Bass control only. At the same time, it opens up the sibilance characteristics of all
instruments without being harsh.
Obviously, numbers and curves and circuits all mean nothing compared to what you hear with your own ears. Play a chord, a repeated
lick, or a harmonic, and turn the Aural Enhancer control to various points on the knob to hear the effect for yourself. As always, your
ears are the best judge when it comes to settings that affect the tone of your instrument.
Based on the circuit from SWR’s groundbreaking Mo’ Bass Soundstation, the SubWave™ on your Black Beauty is a lightning-quick
sub-octave wave engine with tracking superior to other models of sub-octave effects currently on the market. In plain terms, it hears
the note you play and immediately generates a signal one octave below it—all the way down to low “C#,” “C,” or even low “B” on some
Located directly above the SubWave™ Level Control, this is an illuminated push-button switch that activates the SubWave™
effect. When engaged, the switch cap will illuminate in blue. Push once to engage, then again to disengage. (The SubWave™
effect can also be switched on and off via footswitch; please see “SubWave™ Footswitch” in the “Rear Panel Features” section
later in this guide.)
Once the SubWave™ effect is engaged, you can use this control to determine the amount of effect to be blended in with your
original (“clean”) bass signal. Turning the control clockwise will increase the amount of effect, while turning the control counterclockwise will decrease the amount of effect. When the control is set fully counter-clockwise to “MIN,” no effect will be heard,
even though the effect is engaged and the Activator switch is illuminated in blue. This is normal. Also, when the control is set
fully clockwise to “MAX,” the “clean” bass signal will still be present…along with plenty of sub-octave effect. As always, your ears
and the desired musical application will be the best judge in setting this control.
(Keep in mind that the Bass Level control will have a significant impact on the perceived level of the SubWave™ effect as well,
as it follows immediately after the SubWave™ in the signal chain. Please read below.)
The Bass control employs a shelving-type circuit and boosts or cuts the bass response + /–15dB, from about 30Hz to 100Hz.
Starting at the control’s mid-position (“center-click”), turning the control counter-clockwise cuts the bass response, and turning the
control clockwise boosts the bass response.
You’ll find that the Bass Level control will boost or cut the SubWave™ effect along with the “clean” bass signal. That’s because of the
range of frequencies covered by this particular control. You can use both the Bass and SubWave™ Level controls to get a good balance between how much bass you want in your clean sound, and how much of a bass boost you want when engaging the
SubWave™. Some users will want a significant boost, while others may be striving for a more consistent level (or “unity gain”). Again,
let your ears and musical taste be the judge.
NOTE: Setting both the Bass and SubWave™ Level controls near or at maximum boost will increase
the overall amount of bass in your signal VERY SIGNIFICANTLY! We’re all in favor of that, just so
long as the peak levels don’t exceed the internal speaker’s excursion limit, which would be obvious
to your ear. Adjust the controls slowly, and use common sense.
Your Black Beauty comes equipped with two different controls for setting the amount of midrange present: one for boosting and cutting the level of midrange, and another for setting the specific midrange frequency that will be adjusted in level.
The Midrange Level control cuts or boosts the frequency set by the Midrange Frequency control. Starting at mid-position, turning the Level control counter-clockwise cuts the desired tone. Turning the Level control clockwise boosts the desired tone (set
by the Midrange Frequency control). When the level control is set at mid-position (“center-click”), turning the frequency control
will have no effect on the sound.
To find the midrange area you are looking for:
1. Adjust the Midrange Level control to the full boost or cut position.
2. Rotate the Midrange Frequency control until the desired area you wish to cut or boost is found.
3. Adjust the Midrange Level control to the desired amount of cut or boost.
The Midrange Frequency control sets the area that is to be cut or boosted by the Midrange Level control. If the Midrange Level
control is set at mid-position, turning the Frequency knob will have NO affect.
Some hints: If you need to “cut through” the band a little more, try boosting 200 to 400 Hz. If you like a more transparent or
“scooped” sound, try cutting at 800 Hz. The midrange controls are especially useful in controlling fretless basses and their
inherent qualities.
The Treble control employs a shelving-type circuit and boosts or cuts the high frequencies (and their subsequent octaves) +/–15dB
from about 2kHz to 14kHz. Starting at mid-position, turning the control counter-clockwise cuts the treble response, while turning the
control clockwise boosts the treble response.
The Effects Blend Control “blends” the signal sent from your instrument with the signal coming from your EXTERNAL effects unit. (In
other words, it has nothing to do with the SubWave™ effect onboard your Black Beauty.) With the Effects Blend fully counter-clockwise (“DRY”), no signal from your external effects unit will be heard. As you turn this control clockwise, more of the effect can be
heard in the overall sound. When the Effects Blend control is set fully clockwise (“WET”), no true or unaffected signal is heard other
than what your external effects unit provides. If your external effects unit has a similar control, adjust it to the fully clockwise (“WET”)
position. This will avoid any possible phasing problems.
The Effects Blend circuit is similar to that used on recording consoles with the effects loop on a “side chain” to the normal circuit.
Unless the control is set to the full “wet” position, you will always get the full sound of your instrument AND get the diversity an
effects unit offers. This circuit is also effective in reducing noise generated by effects units because it is located after the gain
stages in the preamp.
The Effects Blend control functions only when the Effects Loop is being used. It is activated when a 1/4" phone plug is inserted into
the Effects Receive jack. (For more information, please see “Effects Loop” in the “Rear Panel Features” section later in this guide.)
The Limiter found in the Black Beauty is a soft knee type limiter. The Limiter circuit is located after (post) the Master Volume and
before (pre) the power amplifier. Therefore, the Limiter is driven by the Master Volume control. Its threshold (starting point) is preset
by the factory so that the user can get maximum overall apparent volume without unduly overdriving (or “clipping”) the power amplifier, which can eventually damage the unit’s internal circuitry. This can also be helpful in preventing speaker damage when running your
system at high volumes.
You may either activate or defeat the Limiter circuit via the Effects Blend control, which doubles as an on/off switch for the Limiter.
The “In” position activates the Limiter Circuit, and is the default setting as shipped from the factory. To defeat the Limiter, simply pull
“out” on the knob of this control until you hear and feel a “click.” To re-engage the Limiter, push the control back in to its original position.
When the threshold (starting point) of the Limiter circuit is reached, the Limiter Active LED will light, indicating that the Limiter Circuit
is active and helping to protect your power amplifier from clipping. The Limiter LED will not illuminate when: a) The Limiter has been
defeated by pulling out on the Effects Blend control; b) When playing at levels not high enough to engage the circuit.
NOTE: If you have defeated the Limiter and you hear a loud, sharp distortion present in your sound—
and the Preamp Clip LED is not lighting up—re-engage the Limiter by pushing the Effects Blend
control back in. If the distortion goes away, you were probably clipping the power amp, which is
not a good thing. Remember, the Limiter circuit is there to protect your amplifier from such a state
of operation.
The Master (meaning “Master Volume”) control adjusts the level being sent to the power amplifier in your Black Beauty—it controls the
overall volume of the unit. Turning the control counter-clockwise reduces the overall level, while turning the control clockwise boosts
the overall level.
Two notes: The Master control never affects the level present at the various audio output jacks on the rear panel—it only affects
the level being sent to the power amplifier, and subsequently, your internal speaker and extension speaker outputs only. Also, losses
caused by external effects units can be recovered by increasing the Master control.
This switch turns the complete unit on or off. Setting the switch upwards to the “On” position turns on the unit, and the switch itself
will illuminate in red. Setting the switch downwards to the “Power” position will turn the unit off, and the red light inside the power
switch will turn off as well.
The Balanced XLR out is a true electronically balanced output, suitable for studio and “front-of-house” (live) mixing consoles. The level
present at this output can be adjusted by using the XLR Pad control (see the “XLR Pad Control” section below for more details). The
signal appearing at the Balanced Output is governed by the setting of the three-position XLR Mode switch located directly below it
(Line/Direct/Direct + Sub).
In the DIRECT position, the Balanced Output signal comes from directly after the first stage of the specially-selected 12AX7 preamp tube, giving you the sound of your instrument and some added warmth. In other words, it becomes an active TUBE direct box. In
this position, no front panel controls are functional and the SubWave™ is not present.
In the LINE position, all front panel controls—including the Aural Enhancer, SubWave™, and EQ controls—are functional except the
Master control, and the signal is essentially the same as that heard through your speaker system. If you are using an external effects
device in the effects loop, that signal will also be present when in the LINE position (dictated by the setting of the Effects Blend control on your Black Beauty). When in this position, the output level will be affected by the Gain control on the front panel as well as the
XLR Pad control. It’s worth noting that changing the level of the Gain control will affect the signal present at your speakers, the
Effects Send jack, and the Balanced Output, while the XLR Pad control affects the level present at the Balanced Output only. For this
reason, it’s usually better to set your Gain control in accordance with the directions in the “Gain Control” previously listed in the
“Front Panel Features” section of this manual, and to use the XLR Pad control to set the level specifically for the Balanced Output.
The third position for this switch is the DIRECT + SUB position. In this position, the signal present at the Balanced Output jack is
the same as when in the DIRECT position, with one important exception: the SubWave™ is present. What’s the benefit of this setting?
We’ve found that most people who use effects pedals prefer to use them in front of the amplifier. In other words, they run their bass
into the effect pedal’s input, then from the effect pedal’s output into the front of their amplifier. In live applications where sound reinforcement is required, often times the front-of-house engineer will take a direct signal from the bass itself (via either a direct box, or
the Balanced Output of your amp set to the DIRECT position) and use that signal as the main bass sound to the house P.A. This way,
if the bassist sets the amplifier’s EQ controls in a way to his liking, but in a manner not conducive to a good bass sound for the house
P.A., the front-of-house mixing engineer still has a nice, flat bass signal to work with, and then he can EQ the bass sound for what’s
best in the room. And, more relevantly, he would still get the sound of any effects pedal that was placed in front of the amplifier.
The DIRECT + SUB position provides this exact function for the Balanced Output. It always contains the sound of your bass signal
just after the first tube stage, and will also contain the SubWave™ effect when engaged without also sending EQ settings that may
not be right for the house P.A. (or a studio mixing console). You can always include all of your EQ settings (plus the SubWave) at the
Balanced Output by setting the three-position switch to the LINE position. But thanks to the DIRECT + SUB position of this
switch, it’s not a necessity that you do so just because you want the SubWave™ present at the Balanced Output.
NOTE: You can still use the SubWave™ Level control to set the amount of sub-octave effect present
at the Balanced Output when in the DIRECT + SUB mode; however, it will also affect the level present at the speaker outputs as well. Also, though the Gain control will not affect the level of the
“clean” bass signal present at the Balanced Output when in DIRECT + SUB mode, it WILL affect
the level of sub-octave present. This is normal, and occurs because the SubWave™ circuit is located after the first stage of the preamp tube and is blended back into the signal specifically for this
special mode of the three-position switch. We recommend that you set the Gain and SubWave™
Level controls in accordance with previously mentioned instructions, and the gain structure should
fall into place fairly automatically.
Wiring for the XLR jack at the Balanced Output is as follows:
Pin 1 = ground, Pin 2 = + (plus), Pin 3 = – (minus)
(American Standard)
NOTE: Turn off transients appear at the Balanced Output when the amplifier is shut down. We recommend that equipment being used in conjunction with the Balanced Output be turned down, off,
or disconnected BEFORE the Black Beauty is turned off.
This three-position switch determines the signal present at the Balanced (XLR) Output jack as described in the section directly above.
In simple terms:
1. Direct = pre-EQ and SubWave™, post-first tube stage
2. Line = post-EQ and SubWave™
3. Direct + Sub = pre-EQ/post-first tube stage blended with SubWave™
Make sure the switch is set either to full left, full right or center to avoid an intermittent condition.
This control sets the level present at the Balanced (XLR) Output. Turning the control counter-clockwise reduces the overall level, while
turning the control clockwise boosts the overall level. It should be noted that turning the control fully counter-clockwise to “Min” does
not fully defeat the signal. This is normal, as the XLR Pad is designed to provide a range of usable levels to be sent to a front-of-house
or studio mixing console.
Sometimes connecting to certain mixing boards or studio consoles with non-standard XLR wiring can cause a ground loop. Your
Black Beauty has a push-button switch for lifting the ground on the Balanced (XLR) Output. (It affects no other outputs.) Pushing on
the switch will change the mode of operation. When the switch is in the “out” position (default setting from the factory), ground is on
Pin 1 of the Balanced Output jack as normal. When the switch is in the "in” position, the ground is lifted from Pin 1 of this output. If a
persistent hum exists after trying both positions of the ground lift, there is probably:
1. A bad cable or connection somewhere between your Balanced Output jack and the snake leading to the mixing console
2. A dirty or miswired A/C socket
3. Mis-wired or poorly wired A/C in the building
4. Fluorescent lighting directly above you or in close proximity (especially when using single-coil pickups)
5. A cell phone in your right pocket that’s interacting with the electronics in your bass (don’t laugh, this actually happens!)
But, in the case of a true ground loop, this switch can often times solve the problem.
The Tuner Out function allows the user to plug their instrument tuner into this jack and “tune up” without having to unplug and go back
and forth from amp to tuner. This feature is totally isolated from the rest of the preamp and will function regardless of the settings on
the front panel. Being isolated on a side chain avoids loading down of the instrument, which can cause a loss in dynamic range.
To use this feature, connect a shielded patch cord from the Tuner Out jack on your Black Beauty to the input jack on your tuner. Turn
the amplifier on and you’re ready to go. If you do not wish to monitor your sound during the tuning process, you may turn down the
Master control.
As mentioned previously in the “Effects Blend Control” section of the manual, the Effects Blend circuit in your Black Beauty is similar
to that used on recording consoles, with the effects loop on a “side chain” to the normal circuit. Unless the Effects Blend control is
set to the full “wet” position, you will always get the full sound of your instrument AND get the diversity an external effects unit offers.
Use of the effects loop will reduce the noise generated by external effects units (as compared to using the effect between your
instrument and the input jack, though many people use it in this fashion anyway). This is because the loop is after the preamp gain
The Effects Loop is compatible with most individual or multi-effect external effects devices. Many effects devices on the market have
input level adjustments. For instance, some units have a switch that you can set for either –20 dB or +4 dB. In all cases, these should
be set for 0 dB (if available) or +4 dB. The level going to your effect is controlled by the Gain control on the front panel.
NOTE: The Effects Loop is used in conjunction with the Effects Blend control on the front panel.
When the Effects Blend Control is in the full counter-clockwise (“DRY”) position, no effects will be
heard. This is normal.
Obtain two high-quality shielded patch cables, preferably as short as possible. Route them in the most direct way possible. (Running
patch cables over the top of the Black Beauty—as with any amplifier—can induce hum in the cables and is not recommended.) Take
one cable and connect it from the Effects Send jack on the Black Beauty to the input of your external effects device. Take the second
cable and connect it from the output of your external effects device to the Effects Return jack on your Black Beauty. To set levels, follow the instructions as previously listed in the “Effects Blend Control” heading under “Front Panel Features.”
And, just so there isn’t any confusion, the Effects Loop has nothing to do with the SubWave™ effect onboard your Black Beauty. It
only is used in conjunction with an external effects device.
This jack’s primary function is to send a post-EQ-and-SubWave™ signal to an external effects device for use in the Black Beauty
Effects Loop. However, it can also be used as:
1. A line level output for use in conjunction with an additional (slave) power amp—such as SWR’s Power 750.
2. An unbalanced output suitable for recording or live mixing board purposes. The output impedance of the Effects Send jack is
100 Ohms.
This jack’s primary function is to complete the Effects Loop circuit by routing the post-external-effects device signal back into the
power amp of the Black Beauty, where it can be blended back in with the original signal by using the Effects Blend control on the
front panel. However, it can also be used as:
1. A power amp input jack. If, for some reason, you wished to bypass the entire front end and use the Black Beauty strictly as a
power amp, you could take the output of whatever line-level audio
source you wished and connect it to this jack. Then, set the Effects Blend control to the full clockwise (“WET”) position. Use the
Master control to set the overall level, and your Black Beauty is now a powered speaker cabinet.
2. An input for pre-recorded music, for playing along and practicing purposes. To accomplish this, insert a CD player or other
sound source into the Effects Receive jack. (It must be a MONO 1/4" plug that goes into this input, so you’ll have to use a stereoto-mono cable adapter of some kind.) You can adjust the level of recorded music versus the “live” sound of your instrument by
using both the Effects Blend control (the more clockwise the control, the more pre-recorded music signal you’ll hear) and the volume control of your CD (or other) audio source. The mixed sound will be heard through your speaker(s). Besides pre-recorded
music, this is also an excellent way to practice along with a drum machine.
Input impedance of the Receive jack is 27k Ohms minimum.
NOTE: Inserting a plug into the Effects Receive jack activates the Effects Blend control. The control receives this command through the ground created by the phone plug making contact with the
jack. The plug must be a mono plug (tip and ground). If you have a stereo plug only, it will be necessary to tie the ring and the ground together.
Your Black Beauty comes equipped with the capability for hands-free control of the SubWave™ effect. To achieve this function, locate
the footswitch included in your Black Beauty packaging. Connect the cable to the SubWave™ Footswitch jack on the rear of your
Black Beauty. Turn the effect on and off by stepping on the switch; the illuminated switch above the SubWave™ Level control on the
front panel should alternate on (blue) and off, and the effect should engage and disengage accordingly.
NOTE: The type of switch contained inside the footswitch chassis is momentary, normally open. If
you connect the footswitch to the unit while the unit is on, the SubWave effect may engage. This is
This three-position switch gives you the choice of three different options for operation of the horn tweeter. In the Full Range (top)
position, the tweeter will reproduce an unattenuated signal of every frequency it sees (roughly 2 kHz up to 15 kHz, within certain tolerances). The –6db (bottom) position reduces the level of the tweeter’s outputs by 6 decibels, which to the ear sounds roughly as if
cut in half compared to the Full Range position. The Off (middle) position will defeat the tweeter’s output entirely.
Try starting with the switch in the Full Range position. If this sounds too “treble-y” to your ear and you still want the touch of crispness
that a tweeter provides, you can: a) Set the Tweeter Mode Switch to –6db; b) Adjust the Treble tone control on the front panel; c) Try
a combination of both. Those users with a predisposition against a tweeter in general have the option to turn it off and leave it off, but
we recommend trying it out first.
This two-position switch controls the signal sent from the power amplifier to your speaker cabinet (and extension speaker if connected). When set to the On (top) position (default setting from the factory), the Black Beauty will operate normally and the sound of your
amplified bass will be heard from the speaker cabinet. When set to the Off (bottom) position, that signal will be defeated regardless
of the settings on the front panel. This can be useful for silent practicing (in conjunction with the Headphones Jack, listed below), or
for defeating the audio while you re-patch cables or plug and unplug your instrument. This switch will not affect the signal present at
the various audio outputs (XLR, Effects Send, Tuner Out) or the Headphones Jack.
NOTE: If the volume on your instrument is up, and your Gain and Master Volume controls are up,
and especially if you’re seeing the Preamp Clip and Limiter Active LED’s illuminate while you’re
playing…and you can’t understand why you’re not getting any audible output from the Black
Beauty, check the position of this switch!
By inserting a set of stereo headphones into this jack you can monitor your sound more closely in a studio situation, or practice
silently (when the Speaker On/Off Switch is set to “Off”) so as not to completely annoy your neighbors. The headphone volume level
is adjusted by the Master Volume. We suggest you begin with the Master Volume full off (counter-clockwise), then slowly bring up the
volume to the desired level. If you hear some distortion in your headphones that isn’t present through your speaker system, turn
down the Master Volume. You are probably overdriving your headphones and could ruin them, to say nothing of what you may be
doing to your ears.
Any impedance headphones will work. However, optimum impedance is 75 ohms.
The black cable/plug assembly that comes out of the cabinet and is connected to the rear panel (near the text marked “Combo
Cabinet”) is the means by which the power amp in your Black Beauty sends its signal to the speaker complement. Both the plug and
the jack it connects to are a special size, slightly less than the typical 1/4" found on instrument and speaker cables alike. SWR
strongly recommends that you not disconnect this cable, as it is not meant to be (nor can it be) used as an extension speaker output.
For proper connection of extension speakers to your Black Beauty, please read below.
This section of the manual will deal with the proper connection of extension speaker cabinets to the power amplifier in the Black
Beauty. We recommend that you read this section carefully, as power amplifiers, impedance and speaker cabinets are all crucial in
determining how best to operate your new Black Beauty with an extension speaker cabinet.
People often have questions about impedance. What is it? The root of the word “impedance” is the verb “impede,” which means to
block or resist. That’s what impedance is—resistance to power.
Power amps do not have a pre-determined impedance. They deliver power at whatever impedance the speaker cabinet tells it to.
That’s why you hear the term “slave amp”—amplifiers only do what they’re told. So if someone tells you that they have a “4 ohm power
amp,” their terminology and understanding of the concept is way off the mark.
Unlike power amps, every speaker cabinet has a pre-determined impedance rating measured in “ohms.” In most cases this rating is
either 4 or 8 ohms (though there may still be some old 2 ohm creakers out there). The higher the impedance of the speaker cabinet,
the more resistance to power it will offer. The lower the resistance of the speaker cabinet, the less resistance to power it will offer. In
You may be thinking that you’ve found the solution to the universe—just use speaker cabinets with really low impedances and you can
get skull-crushing power out of your amplifier, right? Wrong. There’s a catch. Power amps have limits as to how low an impedance
they can drive safely. This is what’s known as an amplifier’s “Minimum Impedance Rating.” If you try and operate a power amp below
its minimum impedance rating, it will give you lots and lots of power for about five minutes…and then overheat, short out and fail completely. In other words, THE LOWER THE OPERATING IMPEDANCE OF THE AMPLIFIER, THE HOTTER IT WILL GET.
Here’s what this means to the power amp in the Black Beauty. Like most combos, the Black Beauty contains a mono power amp,
which makes things fairly simple. The operating impedance of the internal speaker system in your Black Beauty is 4 ohms, so that’s
your starting point. When you add an extension cabinet to the Black Beauty, invariably the total operating impedance of the amplifier
will get lower. The Minimum Impedance Rating of the Black Beauty is 2 ohms. This means that you can safely connect to the extension speaker jacks:
• Two 16 ohm speaker enclosures (2.6 ohms total impedance)
• One 8 ohm speaker enclosures (2.6 ohms total impedance)
• One 4 ohm speaker enclosure (2 ohms, the minimum total impedance allowed)
These three hookups will provide between 400 and 450 watts of power, but as previously mentioned, the lower the operating impedance, the hotter the amplifier will run. (2 ohm operation in particular will run the amp quite hot.) An amp that runs at or near its minimum impedance all the time may wear the life of its components faster than normal. Furthermore, damage to the power amplifier
section of the Black Beauty may occur if speaker enclosures with total impedances less than the minimum loads listed above are
connected to the speaker output section. The owner’s manual that came with your speaker cabinet should state its total impedance.
On SWR speaker enclosures, the total impedance is generally indicated on the speaker’s input panel.
So how do you determine the total impedance of two cabinets hooked up to your Black Beauty? Here’s a quick key of the most common setups:
One 4 ohm enclosure (internal) + one 8 ohm enclosure (extension) = 2.6 ohms total impedance
One 4 ohm enclosure (internal) + one 4 ohm enclosure (extension) = 2 ohms total impedance
Here’s another formula: To figure out the total impedance of two or more cabinets of equal value hooked up in parallel, divide the
impedance of one cabinet by the number of cabinets:
Impedance of one cabinet / number of cabinets = total impedance
(For an even more in-depth discussion of impedance and power rating issues, go to the SWR Website at, click on
“Press,” then click on “Articles,” then click on “Plug and Play—Setup Tips for Amps and Speakers”—an article by SWR founder Steve
Rabe that ran in the August ’92 issue of Bass Player Magazine.)
After determining how the extension cabinet you wish to use affects the total operating impedance, you need to take into account the
power handling capabilities of that speaker cabinet as compared to what the Black Beauty can deliver at that operating impedance.
Those ratings are as follows:
450 Watts @ 2 ohms
400 Watts @ 2.6 ohms
So if you use an 4 ohm speaker cabinet, it will get up to 225 watts of power, and more during transient peaks. An 8 ohm extension
cabinet will allow the power amp to deliver 400 total watts of power (and again, more during peaks), but since it has a higher impedance (8 ohms) than the internal speaker (4 ohms), it will receive slightly less than half (200 watts) the total power delivered. Other
than this imbalance, there is no reason why you can’t connect an 8 ohm extension cabinet together with the 4 ohm internal speaker
in the Black Beauty. In any event, make sure your extension speaker cabinet can handle the power.
There is also the situation known as underpowering your speakers. This is caused when the power amp, in the process of trying to
drive one or more speaker cabinets, reaches its limit and goes into clipping. That “clipped” waveform (or “square wave”) will quickly
heat up the voice coils in speakers, and if operating continually while clipping, eventually will burn the voice coils and cause the
speakers to fail. (Remember, engaging the Limiter will not allow the power amp to clip, so we recommend that you not disengage the
Limiter when running at low total impedances in general.)
Also be aware that when running the amp at 2 ohms, you are operating at the maximum capacity of the power amplifier. With
extreme settings on the Gain and Master controls and the Limiter circuit disengaged, you may hear audible clipping of the power
amp. If so, you have exceeded the maximum capacity of the power amp. POWER AMP CLIPPING CAN CAUSE DAMAGE BOTH TO
ITSELF AND YOUR SPEAKER CABINETS. Either re-engage the Limiter (by pushing in on the Effects Blend control) to help smooth out
the peaks, or back off on the Gain and Master controls.
Remember, it’s always better to have a little too much power than just barely enough. If you find yourself constantly wanting more
power than the Black Beauty provides, either:
a) Tell your bandmates to turn down
b) Tell the monitor engineer to turn you up
c) (better option) Take the time to investigate getting an external power amp for the additional speaker cabinets to supplement your rig
d) (best option) Investigate getting a larger rig (perhaps something modular, with a large head and two speaker cabinets) for
those gigs where more power and volume is needed
NOTE: The frequency response of the Black Beauty is far greater than usually found in musical
instrument amplifiers (20 Hz to 40K Hz). This was engineered in order to give the bass player the
same punch and clarity on stage as found in the studio or concert P.A. systems. Therefore, it is
doubly important that you are aware of the impedance and power rating of the extension speakers
that you intend to use, and that they are compatible with the Black Beauty. Speakers that have
been overdriven are easy to detect and generally do not fall under a manufacturer’s warranty.
One Speakon Jack and one 1/4" phone jack (both wired in parallel) are provided for connection of an extension speaker to the Black
Beauty. Whenever possible, use of the Speakon jack is recommended. Speakon jacks and connectors offer the best possible connection and are far superior to banana or 1/4" phone jacks in that they not only lock in place (preventing accidental disconnection), but
also offer a greater and more stable connection surface. This solid connection provides a more effective transfer of power to your
Only SPEAKER CABLE of 18 gauge or heavier (the heavier the cable, the lower the gauge) should be used to connect an extension
speaker to your Black Beauty. Do not use shielded instrument cable in this application, as this can result in intermittent power loss,
cause your amp to oscillate and damage itself and/or your speakers, and render the cable useless for any purpose.
Recommended SWR Speaker enclosures for use as an extension cabinet with the Black Beauty include:
• Goliath III 4x10
• Goliath Junior III 2x10 (8 ohms)
• Son Of Bertha 1x15
• Big Ben 1x18 Subwoofer
• Bass Monitor 12"
The speaker fuse is provided to protect your speakers in the unlikely event of a power amp failure or to protect your power amplifier
from incorrect speaker impedances or hookups. Size and rating of the fuse is 3AG, 10 amp, fast-blo. Do not defeat the purpose of
this feature by using a higher rated fuse as it can damage your amplifier and void your warranty.
The fuse can open as a result of a fault in the speaker cable, the speakers themselves, or the power amp being sent well into clipping. With this in mind, it is wise to carry extra fuses at all times.
This fuse is provided to protect the internal electronics against power surges, etc. It also protects the unit against itself should one of
the internal components fail. If this fuse should open, replace it with the same type of fuse and rating. Do not defeat the purpose of
this feature by using a higher rated fuse as it can void your warranty.
Proper size of the AC fuse for all countries is 3AG. Proper rating of the fuse is as follows:
United States: 7 amp slo-blo
Japan: 8 amp slo-blo
Europe (230V-240V): 4 amp slo-blo
This receptacle accepts a standard A/C power cable (supplied with the Black Beauty in the United States) used with almost all current musical, professional and household electronic devices. We recommend great care when packing up. If your unit is not in a rack
case, put the cable in your instrument or accessory case or leave it attached and looped around one of the rack handles. If it does
become misplaced, a replacement cable can be purchased at almost any music or computer store.
NOTE: The rating for this cable is 3 conductor, 10 amperes minimum. Look for this rating on the
cable. Make sure the cable is plugged in all the way in both the amp and the wall socket.
Your Black Beauty comes with a set of four, heavy-duty, removable caster wheels. SWR uses only closed shaft sockets so as to prevent air leaks or unwanted noise when the enclosure is in use. To install the caster wheels on your Black Beauty, carefully turn the unit
upside down (or on its side) so that the caster base/sockets are visible. Insert the shaft of each caster wheel into a socket on the
underside of the Black Beauty. When all four wheels are firmly in place, return the Black Beauty to its upright position and you’re
ready to roll. You can leave the casters in place during performance, but it’s recommended that they be removed so as to allow the
Black Beauty’s speaker compartment to couple to the floor, which can be helpful in extending its bass response. Please note that the
ball bearing type caster wheels provided with your Black Beauty may require periodic replacement depending on usage and care.
Replacement caster wheels can be purchased from the SWR Service Department.
SWR installs a specially selected 12AX7A dual triode on the preamp circuitboard of every Black Beauty. If this tube needs replacing,
we recommend that you replace it with a similar high quality product. This tube will need replacing only if it becomes noisy or microphonic (which sounds like glass tinkling in the background of certain notes), or completely fails (causing no signal or signal at very
low levels). The tube in your Black Beauty should last one to three years, depending on usage.
The two preamp gain stages utilize a specially-selected 12AX7A. The tone controls incorporate I.C.’s, and the power amp is designed
with extremely high quality bi-polar devices. Each type of device was chosen for its performance and reliability in the application
used. All primary electrical components are U.L. approved, and SWR uses Beldon Cable for all shielded wire. All units are assembled
by hand and individually soundtested in the U.S.A. at our factory in Southern California.
The following page includes examples of tone control options for various styles of music. These settings are intended for use as a starting point for dialing in your own individual sound, so feel free to make adjustments based on your own playing style, instrument and
speaker cabinet configuration. After you find combinations you like, don’t forget to try adding in the SubWave™…as much as you feel is
The BLACK BEAUTY from SWR is warranted to the original consumer purchaser for TWO YEARS from
the date of purchase against defects in materials and workmanship, provided that it is purchased
from an Authorized SWR dealer. This warranty applies only to products purchased in the USA or
This warranty is VOID if the unit has been damaged due to accident, improper handling, installation or operation, shipping damage, abuse or misuse, unauthorized repair or attempted repair, or if
the serial number has been defaced or removed. FMIC reserves the right to make such determination on the basis of inspection by an Authorized FMIC Service Center.
All liability for any incidental or consequential damages for breach of any expressed or implied
warranties is disclaimed and excluded herefrom.
Some states do not allow limitations on how long an implied warranty lasts, or the exclusion or
limitation of incidental or consequential damages, so that the above exclusion may not apply to
you. This warranty gives you specific legal rights and you may also have other rights which vary
from state to state.
Locate your original receipt showing date of purchase, model and serial number.
Determine the closest Authorized FMIC Service Center to your location. The fastest way to get a complete list of Authorized FMIC Service
Centers is on the web at:
You can also get this information by calling FMIC Consumer Relations at (480) 596-7195
To receive warranty service, return the complete product to an Authorized FMIC Electronics Service Center, with proof of purchase, during
the applicable warranty period. Transportation costs are not included in this Limited Warranty.
Defective products that qualify for coverage under this warranty will be repaired or replaced, at FMIC’s discretion, with a like or comparable
product, without charge.
For a complete list of Authorized FMIC
Service Centers, and the latest SWR
news, interviews, and more, check out
our website:
8860 E Chaparral Rd, Suite 100,
Scottsdale, AZ 85250-2618 USA
PHONE: (480) 596-9690 FAX: (480) 367-5262
Copyright © 2004 SWR
Black Beauty • P/N 0066566000 • 09/04
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