#1
Hy everybody,
I need a new amp. It should be an Halfstack. But I can´t decide between a Carvin X100B or a Hiwatt DR103... Has anybody tried out one of these amps, or generally something to say about these? If it would be the Carvin, i´d take a new one, because it costs the same as a 30-40 year old Hiwatt. I want a really nice clean sound with as much headroom as possible, and the overdrive shouldn´t come to short. And I know that a Hiwatt needs to be cranked up to get a nice drive...

>>So whats your opinions?
#2
I have been really un-impressed with all the Carvin amps I have tried. They were not bad, but mediocre.

Hiwatt are great amps and if it really is a 30/40 yr old one, it can be worth a lot of money besides having a killer clean ch and lots of headroom
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#3
My suggestion is to find a used late '80's Carvin X100B if that's what you're going with . I much prefer the transformers in the old version. I've got one in combo form that's awesome, and I've had it since the late '80's (89?). The new version has a solid state reverb, however, that might just be better than the standard spring tank reverb.

I've had pretty much one each of everything, and there are exactly four Carvin amps that remain in my stable (and yes, there are probably a dozen other tube amps as well).

One is the XV112B ( the 1x12 combo version of the X100B) -- active controls, assignable five-band EQ, great clean channel, very serious gain channel.

Another is the old '71 275W solid state head with the 2x15 (plus tweeter) ported cabinet. The cabinet alone is worth the price of admission on that one; makes a 4x12 sound like a beginner rig with 8" speakers. Beast Mode.

Another is the Hasserl-modified 50W Belair (2x12 open back, EL84s). And the last is a TS-100 tube power amp, mated to a four-channel Carvin Quad-X preamp *and* a Mesa Triaxis preamp. The Quad-X has it all -- noise gate, four separate channels with four different levels of cascading preamp gain (there are NINE 12AX7s in that thing), active controls, assignable five-band EQ and much more.

I've rarely had anyone sit down with these four amps and come away unimpressed with at least one of them.
Last edited by dspellman at Jan 21, 2014,
#4
Hiwatt sort of "lost its way" for a while back in the late 1970s, but the ones being made today are first-rate in every respect. They are also very, very expensive. Old Hiwatts are still in great demand by musicians and amp collectors, and most of the time, the price reflects this. You won't go wrong with a new Hiwatt, but you may go broke!

Carvin amps have always been favorites of mine (some of them, anyway). They are well made and some of them - the V3, for example - are pretty versatile. Some tech heads who know their way around the inside of an amplifier have told me that Carvin amps come from the factory with a bias that is too cold. I have heard a few A/B comparisons of Carvins that were stock and those that had undergone a bias tweak and the improvement in tone was considerable. This is something to consider.
"Maybe this world is another planet's hell?" - Aldous Huxley
#5
Those amps should not be the same price. You should be able to find a used X100B for a few hundred bucks (last one I saw was 250, I'm sure they go up and down from there), where a DR103 is going to run you probably closer to 1000? Haven't seen prices for a while but I really do not think those two amps are in the same price range.

I'd pick the Hiwatt any day of the week anyway, even if price wasn't a part of it. The X100B is a cool amp to be sure but if you can handle the Hiwatt's volume it's one of the best sounding amps out there, no caveats.
#6
Ok, i´m tending to the Hiwatt... But I have a really serious question: Is it possible to get a nice Overdrive out of a DR103? Or do I need a booster? Thats the thing I´m not sure about.. I really like the sound of the Hiwatts. Jimmy Page and Lindsey Buckingham are the best examples for the sound i´m looking for.
#8
I ´ve found a Hiwatt DR103 with Serial Number 15379 and a Highlite Electronics Sign. Can anybody tell me wether this is one of the good ones and wich price you would pay. Its everything original and well looking.
#9
That's a transition model, you'll want to check if it has a Partridge transformer and a turret board. It probably does, but if it has a Drake or a circuit board instead that would lower the value somewhat.

Assuming it has the more desirable specs, I'd put it roughly between $1100 and 1600 depending on condition. If you're getting it anywhere near the cost of a new X100B ($700) you're a lucky person indeed.
#10
That one was made in 1981, when Biacrown took over and continued to use the remaining Hylight marked manufacturing plates. Assuming it is not beaten to death or otherwise damaged, I think that Roc's estimate is correct - you could get more if the wiring was done by the Harry Joyce Electronics company (the name "Harry Joyce" will be hand-written somewhere inside the chassis, but beware: this has been forged on occasion).
"Maybe this world is another planet's hell?" - Aldous Huxley