Ampeg's venerable SVT-4PRO is one of bassdom’s most called-upon workhorses. In my humble experience, I’d say 80 percent of backline gigs I’ve done have paired an SVT-4 with some combination of Ampeg cabs. The reason? The stuff just works. It’s loud, authoritative, and capable of a diverse array of good tones that sit well in a mix. With the new SVT-7PRO, Ampeg has taken much of the SVT-4’s essential nature, stripped it down, and mated it to a Class D power amp and switchmode power supply. The resulting head is featureladen, but the 4PRO weighs less than half as much. Accompanying Ampeg’s latest foray into lightweight amp design is a new line of PRO NEO cabs, of which we received the 2x10. Each is loaded with Eminence neodymium drivers and a 50- watt Eminence high-frequency horn. Power handling is excellent: our test 2x10 is spec’d to handle up to 550 watts.
The 7PRO, though light, still has a bit of heft and footprint to it. Ampeg thoughtfully includes rack ears for mounting; a shoulder bag would also make a good carrying solution. Its feature set is robust. A 12AX7 tube handles input buffering and gain and helps to drive the balanced XLR output. The variable COMPRESSION circuit offers up to a 10:1 ratio and threshold is indicated with a yellow LED. The familiar Ampeg PRO-series tone controls remain on the 7PRO. Switches for ULTRA HI and ULTRA LO add boosts at preset frequency locations at the spectrum’s extreme ends. A semi-parameteric circuit handles midrange duties. As on other Ampeg heads, midrange frequency selection is courtesy of a five-position switch, not a continuously variable control. While the five center frequencies are well chosen, a tweakier player might prefer a more versatile option. Shelving BASS and TREBLE controls perform as expected. Other front-panel goodies include a MUTE switch and PHONES jack.
Out back, the feature party continues. Because of the switchmode power supply, the 7PRO is easily switched between U.S. and European voltage standards. The two Neutrik Speakon jacks are the better option with a highpowered head like the 7PRO, and the TUBE DIRECT OUTPUT is full-featured, with PRE and POST-EQ switching, a ground lift, and a sensitivity switch. There are also RCA jacks for blending with an external audio source.
The 7PRO’s construction was rugged and well thought out, with one exception: I found the front-panel lettering tricky to see on a dark stage from a standing position. Otherwise I appreciate the heavy-duty chassis, neat-and-tidy surface-mounted circuit board interior, and back-panel feet for standing it up. The always-on fan is silent enough for most settings, although it might be a problem in an extremely delicate context.
The Pro Neo PN-210HLF cab is an excellent complement to the lightweight 7PRO, although with 550-watts power handling and a 600-watt @ 8Ω, it’s advisable not to max out the head with the cab. Regardless, the well-built cab is loaded with Eminence drivers and a wellbraced Baltic-birch cabinet. It is not extraordinarily lightweight for the category, due in part to the extra bracing required for the tilt-back design. But, it’s a worthy trade-off, as a tilt-back 2x10 can be the perfect thing for a small gig with a packed stage. The Pro Neo proved to be a loud and punchy head with a bit of a low-end rolloff. As such, it’s better voiced for fingerstyle and pickstyle techniques played on its own—more bountiful booty could come courtesy of an extension.
I tested the SVT-7PRO with the Pro Neo 2x10 as well as an Ampeg SVT 8x10 and a variety of cabinets from other manufacturers. The 7PRO was loud, proud, and aggressive and not afraid of getting a bit furry. It proved capable of propelling a significant low-end push without seeming overtaxed. It’s not the most transparent and hi-fi amp; there’s an appreciable color and texture to it, but it’s an immediately identifiable and useable one: Ampeg. The head, despite its more modern power amp and supply, sounded distinctly fat, thick, and warm, as one would hope. The COMPRESSION is of special note: it was transparent and effective, and especially useful with hot instruments or with gainboosting effects in front of the input. The EQ was effective and offered no surprises, although I did find myself trying to recall where the frequency points on the midrange were set exactly (perhaps some labels in the future?).
Regardless, the SVT-7PRO, paired with the Pro Neo 2x10 or with something bigger, is an extremely effective workingman’s head with all the features one would need for nearly every gig. I noticed no flaws in workmanship or performance, and happily recommend it highly.
Pros Versatile and loud with excellent feature set
Cons Front-panel lettering tough to read onstage
Ampeg Pro Neo PN-210HLF
Pros Light with handy tilt-back design and punchy voice
Cons Wants an extension cab for major low-end response
Power output 600 watts @ 8Ω; 1,000 watts @ 4Ω
Tone controls ULTRA HI, +9dB @ 8kHz; ULTRA LO, +2dB @ 40Hz, –10dB @ 500Hz; BASS, ±12dB @ 40Hz; MIDRANGE, +10dB or –20dB @ 220Hz, 450Hz, 800Hz, 1.6kHz, or 3kHz
Power amp topology Class D
Power supply Switchmode
Weight 15 lbs
Drivers 2x10" custom-designed neodymium Eminence
Tweeter 50-watt Eminence
Power handling 550 watts RMS
Frequency response 70Hz–10kHz
Weight 44 lbs
Made in China
Warranty Five years on electronics, two years on speakers