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Aguilar DB680 vs. Avalon U5 - What to run in front of my AG500

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Poon, Jun 7, 2007.

  1. Poon


    May 20, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    What would you run before the clean channel of your AG500?
    I'm in love with Channel 2 (the dirty one). It nees no tone modification at all. However as of late, I've been wanting to modify the tone of the clean channel on the AG500 to give it a little more "tubeyness" and "girth" to the sound.

    I've been running the Avalon U5 with the Active Thru on into the AG500. It works wonders for the 2nd channel giving the overdrive circuit a beautiful warmth. However with the limited EQ capabilities on the Avalon, channel 1 feels like it lacks something at times (at least in comparison to channel 2).

    Shoudl I continue with the Avalon or try sticking in the DB680 in it's place to see if that changes things around.

    Avalon U5 Pro's:
    • Sound Guys Love Them
    • Light @ 8.5 lbs
    • Has defeatable options of using the tone circuit/eq or not
    • Sounds Good
    • Front Mounted Unbalanced Out
    Avalon U5 Con's
    • Relatively limited EQ
    • May not be the tone I want for the clean channel
    • DI isn't muted when tuning, so the audience can hear me.
    Aguilar DB680 Pro's:
    • Has a great sound that I've always loved
    • Parametric EQ
    • Tubes & Therefore Tube Warmth
    • Has multiple inputs on the front and back.
    Aguialr DB680 Con's:
    • Weighs a little bit more @ 17lbs (minor)
    • Has Tubes and Therefore can spring relatively more problems
    • Rear mounted unbalanced outs (minor)
    • Sound guys aren't as familiar or comfortable using the DB680 as a DI/Pre in the live setting.
    • Not as convienent as the avalon to do an input thru

    They are both 2 spaces and won't take up much more room.

    Any thoughts?
  2. i recon it would sound great. from what most people say its the clean channel on the AG that lets the head down so a nice ahem... cheap tube pre should sort that out.
  3. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    SWR IOD (unless you really *need* that parametric EQ).
  4. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    My call would be to replace the AG500 with an AGRO, and a head or pre/power that you love the clean sound of.
  5. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd

    • The weights I've seen quoted for the U5 in the 12-13lbs region are the shipping weight. The actual weight of a naked U5 is ~7lbs.

  6. Poon


    May 20, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Good call. i never noticed that. it's probably around 8-9lbs with the rack ears though.
  7. joelb79


    Mar 22, 2006
    Lansing, Michigan
    8 1/2 lbs with rack ears. I really like my U5. Sometimes i wonder if I could do better, but for a Preamp/DI and what i'm using it for, it works well.
  8. Poon


    May 20, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    So I tried out the DB680 infront of the AG500. It sounded sweet, but it was just too overwhelming with all the controls. I'm going to stick with the Avalon.
  9. I'm not a fan of the Avalon as a preamp (although it's a great DI). Interestingly enough, from what you are describing, the outboard Sadowsky or Aguilar pre (the stomp box) might be just the ticket, especially if you are using a passive bass.

    These units just slightly fatten the sound with a small amount of bass boost, and tend to warm up the signal a touch. They are small and inexpensive, and are actually designed as bass guitar preamps, with an output level designed to be fed into another pre, like the front end of your 500.
  10. Poon


    May 20, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    It's funny that you say that. I am using passive basses and I own a Sadowsky Stompbox Pre and I love it. Coincidentally, I haven't tried using it with the AG500 yet. Perhaps I should. Although one of the appeals of the AG500 setup I have now is to keep my pedals limited to just the AG500 pedal (i.e. mute and channel select). I'm pretty minimalist when it comes to gear now. The exact opposite of the way I used to be.
  11. Hey there Poon, I have both the U5 and the DB680 and lemme start by saying that they're both amazing pieces of gear. I personally have made the switch from the U5 to the DB680 as a front end to my AG500. Since I don't have a switching system and I could only pick one, I liked the DB680 a lot more especially since it gave me more flexibility to my signal chain and the sounds that you could get from the DB680, in my oppinion are a lot more customizable and bass friendly compared to the presets on the U5, personally I only found 3 1/2 of them to be all that usefull for bass. Don't get me wrong the U5 is great that's why I still have it, I would just have to suggest the DB680 to you over the U5, unless of course you wanna get a switching system and go back and forth between the two, that would be TOTALLY BAD-@$$ and the best of both worlds. That's crossed my mind a number of times absolutely. As far as a sound engineer's familiarity with the DB680, any good sound engineer would deal just fine with the DB680, Think of all the studios you see them in. There's a reason for that. I used to do sound for a number of years and from an engineering standpoint I can say that the DB680 has more flexible and just the sound alone makes mixing very easy. It's good stuff in that respect dude no worries.
    What's funny is that I noticed that you had/have a DB750 and I was actually thinking of simplifying my rig to just the DB750 alone, I never had the pleasure of trying one.. since it looks that we've had similar gear amp and preamp wise maybe you could tell me what are your thoughts with the 750? I'll check back here if you have any questions.. hope that helps your decision.
  12. Poon


    May 20, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA

    Hey Joe. I loved the DB750 and I love the DB680 as well. Probably the 2 finest pieces of Aguilar Gear out there. They have the same "Aggie" tone, but different. I think what people say here in the boards when describing the differences between the two are dead on. I think I've even chimed in on a few threads here and there to describe the differences between the two. I think it really depends on what power section you end up using. The power section of the DB750 really is "all that". It's an incredible power section...similar to the Crest CA9 power section (to my ears). The thing you may miss is the flexibility in the mids. The blue lights are pretty sweet too. :D

    If you are wondering why I sold the 750 over the 680 or the Ag500. Oddly enough I've gotten the most compliments on my tone with the AG500 in my music genre. Everyone is literally jealous of my tone and the fact that my rig is pretty light. One thing I do miss about using the DB750 or the 680/CA9 Combo is the Girth of sound each of the power sections has. The AG500 drives my S810 or GS412 very very well, but there is a "girthy-ness" that isn't as present as when you use the 750 or CA9. Why get rid of any of thise beautiful gear? I wish i didn't have to. I accumulated a fine collection of botique gear like when i was working. Since I'm not working, I had to sell the 750 and now I'm trying to sell the 680 as well all for the same reason. Bills suck. Car Problems Suck. Girlfriends Rock, but are expensive. Bottom line.
  13. Thanx for the insight pal, I'll keep your wisdom in mind. Getting a switching system and augmenting my rig is where I'm heading soon, but for now I'll hang onto the AG500; I like how it drives my GS412 too.

    Though it sounds a bit unconventional, for now I run the DB680 right into it the AG500 from the 680's unbalanced output, I use an emperical labs distressor in the 680's FX loop set at 100% ( series ) to control the dynamics a bit more. I play with all 10 fingers, a lot in the upper register then slam it back down, works for me for now.

    I'm reading that you're not supposed to run a preamp such as the DB680 into the preamp section of a bass head such as the AG500, but are instead supposed to run the signal into a designated power amp like the CA9 you'd mentioned. Since I don't quite have a designated power amp right at the moment, I ended up using the AG500 experimentally: Gain staged right, my signal sounds a million times better and thicker with the DB680 and the Distressor than the AG500 + distressor alone. Unconventional as it may seem, not having a designated power amp has bread some definate tonal possibilites. Maybe you or someone else more knowledgeable than I could tell me why preamp into normal bass amp is not such a hot idea. I see that there's different means of transforming the signal a bit like a reamp box or something of the like, but I haven't gotten that far in my reading just yet.

    I didn't mean to change the subject so drastically, but you look like the fella to talk to since we have, spot on, the same stuff.

    Either case it's workin for me for now, we'll see about the future.

    to quote poon: "I had to sell the 750 and now I'm trying to sell the 680 as well all for the same reason. Bills suck. Car Problems Suck. Girlfriends Rock, but are expensive. Bottom line."
    you're a funny guy!!

    and if anyone's fishing through this check out poon's band, they're DEFINATELY worth a listen http://www.myspace.com/impel my wife and I are listening right now. We really like it
    See ya bro, mutual exchange has been a blast.
    you're a funny guy
  14. Poon


    May 20, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA

    Ummmm...Wow...you run an EL Distressor with this too. That is my favorite compressor ever, but I can't afford one. But I love using them in the studio. Envious to say the least.

    Yeah. I think that is the case. I found that the gain/master volume was somewhat difficult to deal with on the 680 with the gain/master on the ag500. I think it would be easier with the Distressor.

    Thanks so much man. I agree we should keep chattin and thanks again for the compliments. Cheers Bud.
  15. afroman


    Aug 31, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Great music and a lot of great gear bieing discused.

    thumbs up!
  16. i really cant wait till ive got enough money to get me a U5. all this talk of aggie gear is amking me Gas so hard:(
  17. slapagroov


    Apr 24, 2007
    Fort Myers, FL
    hey poon, impel sounds great man! I really like your tone on the tunes you've got on myspace. Very cool. Did you use the Lakland/Aggy rig?
  18. Poon


    May 20, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Thanks man. The more recent tracks are with the Lakland/Aggy Rig. However most of the song were recorded with the Spector I just sold with a variety of amps. Whatever they wanted to use in the studio. Always with the U5 though.
  19. hey poon i got a random question for ya i saw your rig pic in your sig and i was wonderin what make rack case do you use???
  20. I've been watching this thread as I'm planning to get an AG500 (looking forward to it :hyper: ) soon.
    How do you connect the U5 or 680 to the AG500? Do you go through the effects return or just jack it into the input?
    Also, what are you hearing (or not hearing :D ) that makes you want to change the clean channel's sound?
    thanks in advance. :D
  21. Primary

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    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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