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SWR Headlite and Amplite Bass Amp Reviews

Amplite: The Headlite As a One-Knob Wonder
SWR’s new Amplite delivers the Headlite’s power amp without all the additional controls and features. It has just one knob on the front that adjusts—you guessed it—the amp’s volume level. The only other action on the Amplite’s front panel is a set of power level indicators that show when you’re getting all the output the Amplite has to give. Poking around the back of the Amplite, I found a pair of Speakon connection jacks, a combo ¼"/XLR input jack and a pass-though output jack for sending the same signal to additional amps.

I tried an Aguilar Tone Hammer preamp pedal straight into the Amplite and its signal easily drove the Amplite. I also ran the Preamp Out from the Headlite into the Amplite, connected a 4-ohm speaker cab to each unit, and used the Headlite’s Master knob to adjust the volume of both devices. Whether slaving with the Headlite or powering a separate preamp, the Amplite is a handy amp to keep around for an extra bit of oomph.

The Final Mojo
The Headlite and Amplite came in one thickly padded, divided bag with plenty of room for speaker and power cables. I thought it ironic that these two tiny amps ship with a 6', 12-gauge speaker cable and a long, heavy power cord. Combined, they weigh nearly as much as the Amplite itself. For my own micro amps, I carry a 2', 16-gauge speaker cable that gets the job done just fine.

I do have a few quibbles. One is that the knob indicator dots are nearly invisible. Another is that these two amps have alwayson fans. Although they’re not loud, they are audible and might knock the Headlite out of contention for recording studio or home practice if you’re fussy. Neither of my tiny amps with similar power specs has a fan, and a buddy’s micro amp has a heat-sensitive fan that only comes on when it’s needed. SWR might consider changing the fan design to boost the Headlite’s versatility. Finally, the feet on these amps are made of a fairly hard material. As a result, the amp may slide while you’re making adjustments.

In all, the Headlite captures SWR’s signature tone and packs a lot of features into an incredibly small package. An optional footswitch includes muting, effects-loop switching, and a tuner to make the device even more convenient. So if you’re after a tiny amp that works well with electric bass, the Headlite (and its Amplite sibling) might be just the answer.
Buy if...
you need a versatile micro bass amp and you can get the job done with 400 watts at 4 ohms.
Skip if...
you play loud, loud, loud—or soft enough that you’d notice the internal fan—or you’re rough on your gear.

Street: Headlite $700, Amplite $550 - SWR Sound -
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