Hot Watt II HW-02 Headphone Amp review by Arion

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  • Ease of Use: 7
  • Sound: 6
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Overall Impression: 5
  • Reviewer's score: 6.3 Neat
  • Users' score: 7.3 (3 votes)
Arion: Hot Watt II HW-02 Headphone Amp

Purchased from: Daddy's Used Junky Store

Ease of Use — 7
I bought this in Massachusetts, the guy at the counter told me, "We don't have any Rockmans, but we got a something that costs less," so I got it. There is nothing complex about this unit, it only came with a pamphlet about it's minimal features. I'm currently looking to find the schematics and dropping in some new caps to quite it down (minor hiss and hum) and to boost the distortion, just to make it more relevant for my uses today. I never see these in any stores any more, but at one point they were everywhere.

Sound — 6
I bought this in December of 1987 (still have the receipt), I needed something to noodle around with while gigging on the road. This unit is no Rockman, but it helped me pass time while touring around the U.S. and Canada. This distortion / over drive is weak, but you can remedy this with a good pedal going into the input. It only has a chorus (not bad either) and echo, but it's really more like a super short reverb. You can only use only one effect. There is no noise gate either. I've tried this unit through a tube amp and it was not bad at all on a distorted channel. It's kind of like a lighter version of tube screamer with on a medium gain amp (I've tried it on the Carvin X-100, JCM-800, Mesa Boogie Mark 3).

Reliability & Durability — 7
I've had it since 1987, so it's not built like a tank, but it lasted this long. On the top of the Hot Watt 2 are: two inputs, a volume control, off/regular tone/treble boost, a light indicator, push button chorus, echo, overdrive/distortion selector. Alone the distortion is not made for hard rock or metal. With a Strat (single coil guitar), you can get some killer Mark Knopfler tones. It gives some great dynamics for such a cheap unit. With a good heavy distortion pedal up front, you can get a good Rockman type sound out of this unit. Put an EQ after the distortion pedal and you can start getting some decent sounds out of this device.

Overall Impression — 5
I play many forms of metal, blues, classic rock for over 30 years, taught guitar since 1986 and was a touring musician. I own Jackson, Kramer, Gibson, Fender, Ovation, Applause, Squire, Epiphone and various home assembled guitars with Wilkinson, Floyd Rose tremolos. DiMarzio, Bare Knuckle, Seymour Duncan, Bill Lawrence, GFS, DragonFire and Schaller pickups. I also have various Marshall, Carvin, VHT, Soldano, Mesa Boogie, Engl, Peavey, Fender (now retired/home safe) and/or a DigiTech 2112. This was a "poor man's" Rockman, back in the 1980's, but it did the job and it still works great after all these years. I just wish it had more stronger distortion. The cheap unit has great dynamics for what it does.

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