HiWatt DR201 - Starlite's heavyweight baby

HiWatt DR201

Starlite's heavyweight baby

Posted in Amplifiers & Combos

When Starlite started to play bass, she asked what was the best amp to use. Knowing the style of music we create, it had to be a tube amp. I mentioned the vintage Ampeg Portaflex B-15-N, Orange/Matamp 200 and Ampeg SVT. I totally forgot about the HiWatt but when we saw that master amp guru Roland Lumby had one in for repair, she made an offer and the rest is history. Needless to say it is perfect, and now used daily with a Bergantino NV610.

"Dave Reeves started HIWATT and Hylight Electronics in 1966. In order to raise capital for his young company, Reeves accepted a contract to build a line of amplifiers for Ivor Arbiter's store Sound City. By mid-1968 and the contract with Sound City fulfilled, Reeves focused on his own brand, HIWATT.

By 1969, The Who and Pink Floyd were the most well known users of HIWATTs. Later that year, Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) had HIWATTs custom made for him. Jethro Tull and Manfred Mann were other famous users at that time.

By 1970, Hiwatt produced PA amps as well as 50-watt (DR504), 100-watt (DR103), and 200-watt (DR201) all-purpose amplifiers. Until that time, Reeves had been building all of the amps in his garage with the help of his wife Daphne and Doug Fentiman. In early 1970, Reeves accepted that he could not keep up with demand and began looking for well qualified electrical technicians to be contracted.

Harry Joyce Electronics was selected and by mid-1970 was wiring chassis that were then sent to Reeves for final assembly and testing. This arrangement lasted until Reeves's death in 1981 and Harry Joyce Electronics continued to wire chassis for the short lived Biacrown Electronics (1981–1984)"

The 1973 HiWatt DR201 #3255

This amplifier has been serviced, all filter capacitors and output tubes replaced plus a modern IEC connector fitted for safety.

As mentioned above, Starlite (my wife) is using it with a Bergantino NV610 (an early model without the tweeter - WTF why do you need a tweeter on a cabinet like this - but that's another story), a Mike Lull M4V and Gretsch ThunderJet, both fitted with Thomastik flatwounds.

I have honestly never heard a bass amp to sound so good. It's huge, rich and punchy when required; soft and thoughtful when caressed. It seems a little over the top for small gigs, but there is no denying the clean headroom is fantastic, which you wouldn't achieve with a 100W model.

It also records like a dream. We have been using a Sennheiser MD421 on the cabinet, an Avalon U5 DI straight from the bass and a DAV Electronics P48v DI from the 'slave' output on the rear of the amp to capture the pre-amp tone. No compression required!

You will hear it on the studio recordings that are underway very shortly :)

HiWatt DR201 - Starlite's heavyweight baby


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