Avalon U5 as Preamp "Precautions"???

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by jokerjkny, Jan 2, 2004.

  1. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    I'm seriously thinking about moving to an Avalon U5 as my main bass preamp, but i have some questions:

    1. i normally use a good deal of bass boost with my Sadowsky. the onboard pre's bass knob is literally 3/4 of the way up. enough so to bring my old Clarus to near meltdown. :( would i be hurting the Avalon to the same degree? is there an "input pad"?

    2. how gig worthy is it? any problems with the fragility of the unit?

    3. any other tips i should know from all y'all that have gigged with it for a while?
  2. jobu3

    jobu3 Artist formerly known as Big Joe

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    I have been using mine as a dedicated preamp in the last few weeks and I have yet to do any damage (or sound any worse than I usually do). I bypass the tone controls and run my SKB-3006's Bart pre's bass knob 90-100% and my new Elrick's up about 75% or so without any destruction (so far, *knocks on wood*). There is an active button that is dedicated to the "through" output but I am not sure of what it does (bought the unit used, no manual) be it a dB reducer/buffer for the output to another preamp or an active conversion of the DI circuit, I don't know. There is no other pad on it. I think that the U5 will just spit out what you put into it and is built to last... So as long as you are not overdriving your bass's preamp you should sound fine. In other words, I think that using a boost of bass would damage your speakers long before it would the U5 and as long as you have adequate headroom in your power section, that shouldn't be too much of an issue... I know your boxes can handle the lowend. Happy new year, BTW!
  3. bben


    Feb 28, 2002
    Santa Fe, NM
    I just stopped using mine a month or two back, when I went to a passive bass. I needed a little more boost in the deep bass. I bought a Focusrite Trakmaster and like that.

    Before that, I was using a bass with a Sadowsky preamp in it. For my sound, with the Avalon, I usually bypassed the tone controls and cranked the Sadowsky 1/4 turn or less. Sometimes I used position 4, and once outdoors I used position 1.

    I think the Avalon is a first-rate unit, and you can't do much to hurt it, either electronically or physically. All the hardware is first rate, and the circuits are all discrete transistors. It doesn't have any pots in it to get scratchy or wear out, either, the volume and tone controls are stepped switches, a real high-end approach.

    With a Sadowsky preamp, I think it's a good match. But, like I said, with a passive bass I didn't think I had enough options.
  4. BillyB_from_LZ

    BillyB_from_LZ Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2000
    I haven't personally used a U5 (although I've heard so many good things that I'm thinking about trying one out), I think the part of the signal chain that you really need to worry about is the last one...your speakers.

    I'm going to email this thread to Nightbass because I know that he messed around with Vansaleus' (sp?) U5. He mentioned that the headroom is incredible so massive signal that hits the U5 will go straight through to your power amp and cabinets.
  5. vanselus


    Sep 20, 2000
    Boulder, CO
    it's Vanselus - no worries. The U5 seems much MUCH more robust than the Clarus. Like Nightbass says, the headroom is beyond incredible - he knows all the figures and stuff, but it's much higher than most bass gear. I can't imagine you'd have any reliability problems with the U5 - the only thing that's twitched at all with mine is the plastic power cord plug jack comes loose every once in a while. I could fix it, but i'm lazy and busy (not a great combination for productivity). The only warning I would have (and i'm sure somebody's gonna disagree) is that the U5 has even less tone-shaping capacity than the Clarus. I know some like the presets, but I dislike all of them. Your Sadowsky onboard and Elrick (bart) preamps should be able to fill the bill though. The main thing that amazed me about the U5 is how warm it sounds compared to most ss OR tube preamps. It's just SMOOOOOTH, like Joker.
  6. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I'm confused:confused:

    I know you can push an amp to the point of meltdown, but can the same thing happen to a preamp?
  7. Nightbass


    May 1, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    That's right. The U5 runs on extremely high-voltage rails and will accept up to 11 volts on the input, and put out up to 24.5 volts on the output. I don't think an active bass will bother it at all, even one of those 18V jobbies.

    The internal and external construction are first-rate and mil-spec all the way through, and it looks a lot more rugged than a lot of bass amps I've seen.

    I used it with my Crown K1 and Epi 112's, and have never heard anything like it. The Avalon really impressed me as being open and airy, three-dimensional, and what I'd call warm (?!) I suspect the "warmth" is actually the true sound of my basses, that is normally masked by most bass preamps!

  8. todd 4ta

    todd 4ta

    Apr 3, 2003
    I just got a U5 a few weeks ago with the idea of using it as a preamp. So far, I've just been using it as a DI with my amp head. When I play live, I'm always going through a PA. So I determined for me it was more important to have an incredible DI, and I wouldn't be as picky for the preamp tone (mostly just for my ears as a backline).

    One limitation of the U5 as a preamp is that it doesn't have an effects loop, if that's important to you.

    I believe the 'active to thru' switch is used if you want to send the boosted/tone-shaped signal to the thru (1/4" output). If it's not engaged, I believe the signal coming out of the thru is just a pass-through of the input (the signal coming out is the same as the input signal, no boost or tone shaping). You also have the option of whether the tone shaping is engaged (for the entire preamp) with the TONE switch. This is my best guess on the function of the 'active to thru' switch, the manual doesn't clarify what it does.
  9. That reminds me of a question I was gonna ask,

    What's the typical voltage for a musical instrument line level? Supposed to be like 1.5V or so? What about home audio equipment? Like MD recoder/player? I was thinking it was under 1.0V..maybe down to 0.15V for some applications?

    If the avalon can handle 11V, then you are obviously okay. And the 24.5V output will obviously drive any poweramp. Especially if they are looking for something in the range of 1.5V.

    This is a good idea, I'm growing to love a very stripped down setup.
  10. bben


    Feb 28, 2002
    Santa Fe, NM
    I agree about the big tone and headroom and all that. The U5 is a class act. As a DI, nothing I have used comes close. (The first test for the Focusrite was to see if it had the big easy headroom that the U5 does. And with my Stewart 1.2 and Epi 112s (small world, Nightbass!), it does.)
  11. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    awww yea... :cool:

    and thx for all the info guys. especially, Nightbass. i was gonna just email you, but thought a few more opinions wouldnt hurt.

    btw, outta curiousity, i'm thinkin' about using my 60 watt Alessandro Basset Hound into the "speaker" option on the U5, so i can run the BH into my Stewart 1.2 & my Acme or Epi cabs for some seriously LOUD tubey love.