Tonal differences between DR504 and DR103?

DR103, DR103OL, DR504, DR504OL, DR103S (Gilmour), CP103 (Townshend), Lead 30, Lead 50, Lead 100, DR201, DR405, SA112, SA212, SA412, SE4121, SE4122, SE4123

Tonal differences between DR504 and DR103?

Postby vintagecharlie on Sat Feb 18, 2017 7:25 pm

Hi folks,

i have a DR504 that is a monster next to almost any other amp i own. When a JTM 45/100 sounds like a truck on full speed, the DR504 sounds like a freight train - incredibly dynamic and punchy, bright and dry.
I am wondering of the DR103 is brighter and drier sounding than the DR504? The DR504 sounds in some regard almost tranistor-like - it is extremely fast and responsive, dry and bright. The bass isn't that overpowering, but extremely punchy.

Would a DR103 be bassier, punchier, even more dynamic and EVEN MORE BRIGHT? I think the brightness is the aspect that interests me the most. I would prefer the least bright amp of the two.

The clips from the Musicground Hiwatt reissue 100w and 50w versions left me thinking the 50w is brighter - can that really be the case?

Thanks in advance for any input!


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Re: Tonal differences between DR504 and DR103?

Postby OldSchoolDave on Sun Feb 19, 2017 2:50 am

vintagecharlie wrote:Would a DR103 be bassier, punchier, even more dynamic and EVEN MORE BRIGHT? I think the brightness is the aspect that interests me the most. I would prefer the least bright amp of the two.


If of the same era, the preamps would be identical. The only difference would be in the output section. A DR103, thanks to its 4 EL34's, can sound a bit more multi-dimensional than a DR504. Not brighter, not darker. Just bigger.

vintagecharlie wrote:The clips from the Musicground Hiwatt reissue 100w and 50w versions left me thinking the 50w is brighter - can that really be the case?


I wouldn't put much credence in those clips.....or in those particular reissues :2cents: ...

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Re: Tonal differences between DR504 and DR103?

Postby tWreCK on Sun Feb 19, 2017 12:38 pm

I agree with Dave - the Hiwatt UK reissues aren't really representative of how a good DR103/504 can sound. There are plenty of clips of vintage Hiwatts on youtube you can peruse. The closest to a vintage Hiwatt soundwise & constructionwise are Hi-Tone amps (Hiwatt founder Dave Reeves son is a co-owner).

https://hi-tone-amps.com/

There are also differences between the early 4-input amps and the later 70's 2-input amps. It depends on what you're looking for tonewise?
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Re: Tonal differences between DR504 and DR103?

Postby Callaway_1 on Sun Feb 19, 2017 9:27 pm

what they said.

With vintage HIWATTs and HI-TONEs, you will find the 50's to be slightly warmer tonally than the 100's, but overall they are very similar.
HI-TONE, when only the best Dave Reeves HIWATT amplifiers and speaker cabs will do.
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Re: Tonal differences between DR504 and DR103?

Postby vintagecharlie on Sat Feb 25, 2017 8:41 am

Thanks for the input guys!

As mentioned, i have a 75 DR504 (4 holer) and i was just wondering, if i am missing out on anything by not having the DR103. One thing that really surprized me was the brightness of the amp - it is my brightest amo, brighter than a JTM 45/100 and of course brighter than an OR120. I was asking because i thought this might be a thing with the 50w version and the 100w might be darker, but according to your replies it looks like the DR504 might even be the warmer/less bright one of the two, so i think i'm good.

Also i wonder why the DR504 is so rare compared to the DR103 - were they not popular in the 70's?

Thanks!
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Re: Tonal differences between DR504 and DR103?

Postby Callaway_1 on Sat Feb 25, 2017 1:12 pm

Back in those days bands wanted bigger and louder amps as PA systems were mainly for vocals.
There was a lot more demand for DR103's than DR504's.
HI-TONE, when only the best Dave Reeves HIWATT amplifiers and speaker cabs will do.
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Re: Tonal differences between DR504 and DR103?

Postby Traktop on Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:18 am

vintagecharlie wrote:according to your replies it looks like the DR504 might even be the warmer/less bright one of the two, so i think i'm good.

The only comparison I can make is when I run my dr103 with just two output tubes. It sounds warmer for sure in the sense that it seemed to lose some highs and lows, (less full range), but I always go back to the 4 tubes configurations fast , cause that way you can dial out some highs without loosing lows.
Of course I´m missing the rectifier tube sag thing, what should be an important difference as well. The dr-103 smacks back fast and hard with the "hand palm" mercyless.
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Re: Tonal differences between DR504 and DR103?

Postby Progrocker111 on Sun May 07, 2017 8:46 pm

I have had one of the last 77 DR504 4-holers, then 76 DR103 (both with mid 70s preamp) and nowadays i own 71/72 DR103. All amps were in all original condition. 77 DR103 and 76 DR103 were very similar in tone, only difference was that DR103 naturally had bigger headroom and distorted significantly later. DR504 was a bit loosier or softer sounding, with a bit slower attack, but it really wasnt a night and day difference.

71/72 DR103 is a different animal - its noticably cleaner even in comparison to 76 DR103, perhaps even a bit louder and distorts even later cranked. I like this one most, cause the tone is more aggresive, punchy and gritty with very strong and full bass and mids. Its really brutal and absolutely unforgiving amp.
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Re: Tonal differences between DR504 and DR103?

Postby Sloclone100 on Fri Sep 22, 2017 6:53 pm

Traktop wrote:
vintagecharlie wrote:according to your replies it looks like the DR504 might even be the warmer/less bright one of the two, so i think i'm good.

The only comparison I can make is when I run my dr103 with just two output tubes. It sounds warmer for sure in the sense that it seemed to lose some highs and lows, (less full range), but I always go back to the 4 tubes configurations fast , cause that way you can dial out some highs without loosing lows.
Of course I´m missing the rectifier tube sag thing, what should be an important difference as well. The dr-103 smacks back fast and hard with the "hand palm" mercyless.


I was reading down the posts and was waiting to find someone mention this very important fact. The output tubes. You can even experiment with the preamp tubes but that tonality comes from the power tubes, all else being equal.

Good call Charlie.
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JCM800 2203 100W (2010), Metro FX loop, EL77s
Hiwatt DR103 (2016), Ceriatone kit, F&T filter caps
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Re: Tonal differences between DR504 and DR103?

Postby Traktop on Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:29 am

I barely hear significant differences between power tubes when I run the amp clean. That´s where v1 preamp tube makes the difference in my opinion. When I crank the amp is a difference story. I had 4 jj6ca7 power tubes that played beautifully clean, but had a horrible break up. Recently I got a quad of nos el34 rft, and man, those tubes just shine when pushed! V4 preamp tube, (PI), had an impact on sound as well, (12ax7 vs 12at7).
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Re: Tonal differences between DR504 and DR103?

Postby Sloclone100 on Sat Oct 14, 2017 1:33 pm

Traktop wrote:I barely hear significant differences between power tubes when I run the amp clean. That´s where v1 preamp tube makes the difference in my opinion. When I crank the amp is a difference story. I had 4 jj6ca7 power tubes that played beautifully clean, but had a horrible break up. Recently I got a quad of nos el34 rft, and man, those tubes just shine when pushed! V4 preamp tube, (PI), had an impact on sound as well, (12ax7 vs 12at7).


Very true, I did not word that correctly. I am modding a fender Blues Junior III for lap steel and I played around with V1, finally putting in a 12AT7 which, although less gain, actually draws more power. I increased the first filter cap from 47uF to 100uF and lowered two power dropping resistors for more headroom. It sounds really good. Slash would hate it though. With the volume dimed and the master at 3 or 4 it still sounds clean. I have to kick in that stupid 'Fat' switch to get any kind of breakup. My client loves it!

Keep me posted, Dave
All Hand Made:
SLO 100 (2005), FX loop, Slave Out
SLO 100 (2007)
JCM800 2203 100W (2010), Metro FX loop, EL77s
Hiwatt DR103 (2016), Ceriatone kit, F&T filter caps
Fender Deluxe 5E3 Proluxe (2015), 6L6s, Adjustable Fixed Bias

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