Hands-On Review:SWR WorkingPro Series Combos
Serious sound priced for working-class bassists
By Dan Delano
SWR has accomplished a major feat in its WorkingPro Series bass combos. They have created a moderately priced, extensively equipped line with all the features bassists need on the job, built them to be rugged and portable, and they have done it without compromising the sound that made SWR the choice of professionals in the first place.
The series includes a 100-watt 10" for lighter volume needs, a 200-watt 12" and 15", and a 260-watt 2x10". Except for power, speaker size, and some cabinet differences, all share the same basic features. I gave the two largest combos in the series—the WorkingPro 15 and WorkingPro 2x10C—lengthy test drives and found both to be quite impressive. For the serious gigging bassist who has high standards but not a lot of money, the WorkingPro amps are a perfect fit.
Good and loud
The main requirement of a bass amp is to sound good at volume. It must be clear, clean, and balanced—a sound that is musical and shapable through a wide range of tonal colorings. The WorkingPro 15 and 2x10C have great fundamental sound quality and exceptionally wide tonal range. I personally prefered the 2x10C because of its tight focus and punchy sound. Both of these WorkingPro combos are capable of producing a massive low-end sound beyond their size.
This big-bottom capability results from many factors, but the primary one is SWR’s proprietary Bass Intensifier preamp circuitry. It cuts and boosts specific bottom frequencies and adds smooth compression. When I first turned on the 15, centered the EQ knobs, and brought up master volume, I was greeted by a clean, very usable basic sound. When I switched on the Intensifier, the sound instantly became a fat, powerful, floor-shaking tone that seemed impossibly big. The Bass Intensifier is a great feature and footswitchable so you can kick it on and off as desired onstage.
Dialing and smiling
The WorkingPro amps are extremely tweakable even without the dramatic effect of the Bass Intensifier. A 3-band EQ (with dialable mids on the 15 and 2x10C) gives you excellent basic control of your tone. Another effective and interesting switch is a Wedge EQ. It is a shape switch designed for use when the cab is in a tilted back position to replace the lows lost through less floor contact. It can be used anytime, however, as another quick way to boost the bottom.
A Transparency knob (only on the 15 and 2x10C) is yet another tone-shaping tool. It raises the very highest highs to give the tone a glassiness that is very tube-like.
Perhaps the most important sound-shaping tool of all is the Aural Enhancer. This knob has been a mainstay on SWR amps since the ’80s and is often credited with creating the SWR sound. As you dial it up, it brings out the fundamental and suppresses frequencies that mask it, making the low-end richer and clearer. It only impacts frequencies that are untouched by the primary tone controls, so it doesn’t duplicate or cancel their effect. From about 2 o’clock on it functions as a mid-scoop, accentuating highest transients and lowering mids to give a sound that is particularly effective for slapping.
Even the cabinet itself gets into the sound-shaping game. It is horn-loaded and has a switch on the side that turns the horn off or on or on with a -6dB pad. This is an important control option as you know if you’ve ever used an amp that doesn’t let you defeat the horn or vary its level. The WorkingPro 10, 12, and 15 have an internal speaker jack, so you can substitute an extension speaker for the internal. The 2x10C has a second speaker jack so you can add the extension.
Built to play big
If you are playing gigs, you need a bass amp that is strong and durable, but more importantly you need one with the structural integrity it takes to play loud. Lightweight speakers and thin-walled cabinets don’t cut it. They get overwhelmed by unruly bass-frequency vibrations. The WorkingPro combos are solid and substantial enough to handle big volume effortlessly.
This substantial construction and big bass-capable speakers mean added heft. While the two largest WorkingPro combos aren’t light, they still are fairly portable. Hinged side handles make them easy for two to lift and carry, and a top handle allows one stout person to do it alone. They also come with removable casters so you can roll them from street to stage.
Gig situations vary and connectivity needs change. The WorkingPro combos cover all the bases. Connections include a balanced XLR line out that is switchable between line and instrument levels, has a level pad of -10dB, and is equipped with a ground lift. Additionally there is a rear-panel unbalanced line level 1/4" output, a side-mounted 1/4" line input, effects in/out with blend knob, an extension speaker jack, tuner out with a footswitchable mute, and a headphone out. Everything about the WorkingPro Series combo is geared to the needs of gigging bassists, from the sound to the look. I can’t think of any important feature they lack, and they’re way easy on the savings account.
Features & Specs:
WorkingPro Combo Features
- 200W power (WorkingPro 12 and 15)
- 100W power (WorkingPro 10)
- 260W power (WorkingPro 2x10C)
- Eminence speakers (10", 12", 15", and 2 - 10" configurations)
- Le Son horn tweeter (with on/-6dB/off switch)
- Switchable input (passive/active)
- SWR preamp with Aural Enhancer, Bass Intensifier, and Wedge EQ
- Footswitchable Bass Intensifier
- 3-band active EQ on WorkingPro 10 and 12
- 4-band active EQ on WorkingPro 15 and 2x10C with sweepable mids
- Footswitchable mute button
- Power amp clip LED
- Switchable limiter
- Effects loop with front-panel blend knob
- Gain and master volume (volume only WorkingPro 10)
- Stamped powder coat grille
- Balanced XLR direct out with line/direct, ground lift, 0dB/-10dB switches
- Unbalanced 1/4" line out