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Avalon U5 question

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by KAOSBass, Oct 23, 2005.

  1. KAOSBass


    Mar 10, 2005
    Amarillo Texas
    I was wondering if the Avalon U5 would be good for a Preamp for my rig? ( I know it's AMAZING for direct, but I was curious about in front of a power amp and cab.)

    I'm trying to come up with a killer rig, This will all come together sometime around the middle of next summer, here is what I'm currently looking at.

    Sadowsky Metro 4 string.
    Avalon U5
    QSC RMX850
    Aguilar 2X12

    Along with a few pedals or something like the G-major.

    Any suggestions?
  2. bigbajo60


    Nov 7, 2003
    Laredo, Texas
    Works for me! :D I run my U5 into a Presonus ACP22 compressor and a Stewart World 1.6. That rack drives a pair of Acme Low B2's and does my Top 40/pop/rock gig justice.

    Just make sure that what you want going into your poweramp and speakers is a true and accurate reproduction of your bass' voice, 'cause that's what the U5's gonna give ya! You've got to be sure you like what your bass really sounds like, because the U5's 'Tone Bank' is a very subtle circuit and is not going to be a cure all eq solution for a sickly sounding bass.


    ...if what you're looking for is a preamp that adds a little grit and grind to the mix, the U5 ain't it.
  3. KAOSBass


    Mar 10, 2005
    Amarillo Texas
    I figured that, :) I was thinking something like a BDDI in front of it of I wanted some "grind". I'll be using the Sadowsky so I doubt that it will sound bad ;)

    Thanks for the advice, I think I may go this route.
  4. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Just my 2cents... I had the opportunity to play through a U5 a few weeks ago. While it's a great piece of gear, it seems that there are other high quality, reasonably transparent preamps more specifically designed for bass that you should at least check out. The lack of tone controls on the U5, combined with it's relatively large size and that it's not rack-mountable seem like possible negatives.

    Also, when running it into an amp as a test (happened to be a new Eden800(b) and A/Bing with it in-between my bass and the amp and not, I found that even with the presets off, it added a lot of its own sound to my bass.... it was good sound, but it was not that particularly transparent to me.

    As always, not baggin' on it... I know lot's of people use the U5 as their direct box... just seems very limited as a stand alone preamp for bass IMO.
  5. bigbajo60


    Nov 7, 2003
    Laredo, Texas
    For what it's worth, my U5 is (and all U5's can be) rack mounted with the optional RM-1 kit from Avalon.

    And hey KJung... don't sweat your perceptions being different from others'.

    One bassist's 'transparent tone' is another's 'load 'o shi+" :D

    That's why there's so many different "toys" out there to choose from! :hyper:
  6. KAOSBass


    Mar 10, 2005
    Amarillo Texas

    Care to name a few I should check out?
  7. jsbarber


    Jun 7, 2005
    San Diego
    Have a look at the Millennia TD-1 (or even the STT-1 possibly)


    You can rent this stuff from the guys at TheGrooveShoppe.com - but, renter beware, because before you know it you'll own it. (i.e. I don't think anyone has ever rented and not bought - it's really good gear.)


  8. KAOSBass


    Mar 10, 2005
    Amarillo Texas

    :) Nice, BUT now how about something for someone without Bill Gates' pocketbook. :bawl:
  9. Mario Lewis

    Mario Lewis Supporting Member

    Jul 6, 2001
    Clinton, MD
    I used a U5 as my Pre for about a year. Loved the tone, just didn't care for the limited EQ options. I used EQ curve 2 all the time. Had to.... IMO. THe EQ on the bass was my only option, so for that reason, I decided to move on to something that I was used to.

    For the same money, I'd look at the Aggie 1 space unit, and the Alembic F1X is like the KING of 1 space pre's. BBE makes a reputable one too. If you want to go 2 space the Ashdown pre is good and the Eden Nav is another great one. Just my favorite picks that are out there today.

    You can't go wrong with the U5, I just think that you can get more for the same $$ layout.
  10. bigbajo60


    Nov 7, 2003
    Laredo, Texas
    Yeah... bottom line is that the U5 is the way to go if you're into a minimalist setup like I am.
  11. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    when i was REALLY selfish onstage,

    i used to run my U5 into my peeve DPC power amp into my Acme B-4 for some literally awe-inspiring tones. just dispensed w/ the frivolous EQ'ing for the stage mix, or room mix. held my my fodera fretless and Sad's close to my chest like a petulant 2 yr old, and let fly whatever blasted from my speakers for what turned out to literally be the studio playback of my dreams....

    even now, if all the planets are aligned, i.e. great soundman i'm familiar, small trio format, "blast your guns" kinda music, i'll pull out that rig. :cool:

    and Kaos, do a search, we've slapped this topic silly.
  12. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Tom Bowlus is the man on that!
  13. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    Ken, In all fairness I do believe your U5 tryout was a very limited "test spin", as we kept getting distracted that day by white Sadowskys. Also their is a perceptible difference on the Eden's when you run them (U5's) thru the back end (pre amp in) verse running them in front. The Eden flat still adds it's own tone. I must admit I prefer the sound of My U5 as a pre to the 'front end" of my eden, but I do agree with Mario that the "package" is awkward. If you have a good bass and like a minimalist set up the U5 seems to make a good bass sound bigger and a great bass sound huge, even in it's flat position. It's almost like it lets more of your tone get thru. But I can see how you would run into trouble without EQ flexibility in some "awkward" rooms and even with the smallest power amp I can think of (Focus 2R) it's still a bigger, more awkward package to transfer then my Eden 550.
  14. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Demeter also makes a couple of nice preamps.
  15. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    +1 Surely didn't spend a ton of time with it, and it is a great sounding piece of gear. I was just surprised how much 'coloring' it gave to the bass, even without any of the presets. I was expecting that the bass right into the Eden vs. the bass into the U5 into the Eden would sound very similar... to me it sounded totally different... with a bigger low end and a drop in the mids..... not a good thing for me. So... I was just commenting on the (IMO) lack of transparency. Per the originator of the thread's question...... IMO, when you combine the inherent sound of the unit with the lack of traditional tone controls, it just seems that products by Demeter, Aguilar, Alembic, etc. would be a much better 'stand alone' solution for a bass preamp.

    That combined with other threads I've read where U5 users are searching for outboard EQ, etc. kind of reinforces that to me.
  16. KAOSBass


    Mar 10, 2005
    Amarillo Texas
    Thanks guys for the replies, I'm still looking around, Been checking out BassTasters, but not really to fond of the "riffs" they chose to use, doesnt really show the amps/pre's as well as they could have, I'm not sure yet, thinking more than likey finding a used Aguilar, somewhere, and maybe going ahead and picking up the U5 later just for fun..........
  17. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I use an Eden 550 instead of the Avalon I used to use. Just too much to haul around.
  18. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Okay, I'll shoot!

    Here are some "high quality, reasonably transparent preamps more specifically designed for bass that you should at least check out."

    Aguilar DB 659 (can be somewhat transparent at some settings, but very colored at other settings)
    Aguilar DB 680
    Alembic F-1X
    Alembic SF-2 (used with F-1X)
    Ashdown RPM-1 John Entwistle Signature Preamp
    Demeter HBP-1
    Demeter VTBP-201s
    Eden Navigator
    Epifani Quest II
    Fender TBP-1 (with some tweaking)
    Hughes & Kettner Fortress
    Kern IP-777 (with the right tubes, it's really special)
    Peavey VMP-2 (not designed for bass per se, but excellent)
    Peavey TMP-1 (single channel, little brother to VMP-2)
    Read Purity
    Stewart UDP-1a (not designed for bass per se, but excellent)
    Summit Audio TD-100 (not designed for bass per se, but excellent)
    The LowEnd True Voice
    Trace Elliot GP12 SMX

    I have not tried the higher end Avalon and Millennia preamps, but I do own a U5, and I like it a lot. But pretty much all of the above preamps have some, if not a lot, more flexibility.

  19. jock


    Jun 7, 2000
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Tom . Have you played through a Summit Audio TD-100? Please describe the sound to me. I´ve been really interested in trying one of those.
  20. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    I've used it as a bass preamp in my home only, but as a DI live. As a bass preamp, it is very neutral and uncolored. I like that it has adjustable input impedance, so you can dial in a great tone for either magnetic or piezo pickups. It has multiple gain settings, but it doesn't drive a super strong signal. Still, it works great with an amp like a CA9.

    On the whole, it's probably the closest thing to the U5 in my arsenal, and they go for a good bit less. I haven't spent a lot of time swapping tubes, but for the most part, it remains fairly consistant, even with different tubes.