avalon-- u5 vs vt737

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by dunamis, Dec 19, 2005.

  1. dunamis


    Aug 2, 2004
    I did a search on this but didn't find a thread that compares the U5 with the VT 737.

    I own a U5 (and love it!) and lately have been pining for parametric mids and a bit of compression. I have some outboard gear I can use for this, but it occurs to me that the Avalon VT737SP has all of the features I want, and seems to be well regarded.

    Avalon's site says the U5 and the VT737SP are very different pre's. Technical explanations aside, how do they differ? Does the VT737SP exhibit the same tonal qualities as the U5, or will I be disappointed in some ways trading the U5 for it?

    I realize that the VT737SP has a lot more controls and that there's a pretty big price difference, so that's not what I'm asking about. The U5 is really excellent sounding pre/DI but is very limited in terms of flexibility. If there's much difference with the pre/DI in the VT737, I rather just use my outboard gear with the U5. If the VT is the same or better, I'll probably opt for having all the fuctions I want in one box.

    Hope this makes sense, and thanks for any advice or input comparing these two.


  2. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I have pretty limited experience on the VT, but I would characterize it as sounding "softer" than the U5. While with a certain amount of adjustment to the correct knobs on the VT (which I won't bother to try and name as this thing comes off as the "Swiss Army Knife" of preamps) you can get some very U5'ish sounds out of the VT. Keep in mind that there are some very noticeable differences that will likely account for that. The main thing being tubes. The VT's got 'em, the U5 doesn't. Very different preamps. For a live situation (for me) it doesn't get any better than the U5. Come in, plug in and go, no messing around. In a studio setting however, I have to imagine the VT would win the prize. Also, the VT costs nearly as much as the first car I ever bought :p
  3. dunamis


    Aug 2, 2004
    SS- Thanks for your reply. I have had tubes, and generally find that I like the tone. In fact, I was surprised that I like the U5 as much as I do given that it's solid state.

    One downside of the tube equip that I've owned is the higher noise floor. Do you think the VT would have a noticeably higher floor than the U5?


  4. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    It potentially might, which could be dependant on the age and condition of the tubes inside the unit. However, that being said, the VT was pretty much silent to my ears. Then again, so is my U5. I don't have the most discriminating ear when it comes to noise, but I definitely know when there's enough there to bother me, and the VT didn't even come close.
  5. kringle77

    kringle77 Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2004
    Massena NY
    I have owned the U5 and now own the 737. I love it. It can sound like the U5. The eq is so powerful and useful. It really sounds like nothing else on the market. On the other hand, it is rather heavy and expensive. I havn't gigged out with it yet because my band is on break until the 3rd week of january. I have a demeter hbp-1 coming soon and will compare the two. I sold my trusty aguilar Ag500 to buy the avalon and as far as tone goes, the avalon kills it. That is saying alot since the aguilar sounded better at live gigs than any piece of gear I have ever owned, even in the worst rooms. But, since it hasn't been gig tested I am not holding my breath on anything being as good as the aguilar. In a studio, nothing will beat the avalon. If you don't like tubes, you may like the millenuim better but, I have never tried one. Buy a 737 used from Mario on this forum and you will not be dissapointed. You can always sell it quickley on E-bay later if you decide that it is not for you. This is honestly the best sounding preamp I have ever heard. I can't say it's the best piece of gear ever since I havn't gigged with it yet.
  6. dunamis


    Aug 2, 2004

    Thanks for your reply and the direct comparison. I've heard so many comments like yours about the VT 737, and *that's* what makes me want order one up!

    Thanks again and Merry Christmas,


    PS: looking forward to you post comparing it to the Demeter!
  7. Mario Lewis

    Mario Lewis

    Jul 6, 2001
    Clinton, MD
    I too have owned a U5 and I now have a 737. The U5 was incredibly accurate and fast and a great all around "gimme what you got and I'll throw it back at cha" kind of box. However, I really wanted to get over the lack of eq options. EQ curve 2 will only take you so far and the bass I had at the time, while it was a Smith 6 BSR Bolt On, wasn't really all that versatile. I went from the U5 to an Eden Nav and felt like I'd fallen into a pot of gold... One could argue the logic behind that because I found myself putting all the dials on the Nav at 12:00 and never moving them, BUT I COULD IF I WANTED TO!! that was the thing. I had the tools to do some shaping. Not so with the U5.

    Enter 737 stage left.... First difference is that the tone is softer than the U5.... maybe not the best way to describe it, but the 737 has tubes and the U5 didn't. The Soilid State-ness of the U5 was very clear and the tube-ness of the 737 is the first thing that I noticed.

    The 737 has a High Pass filter that is really effective at opening up the low end. On a 5 or 6 string with the Low B, this is very handy. The semi parametric (I think) EQ section on the 737 and the lack of EQ on the U5 is THE other major difference. It's very powerful and very precise.

    The Compressor is considered "slow" by studio standards... it's fine for me... I don't do studio stuff, so I can't say that I'm really concerned.

    The tonal options with this thing are endless... Because it is not a bass specific device, I've found my settings to be a little extreme to tweak the tone like I like it. It would do well on vocals, guitar, horns, Piano, ANYTHING.... but I'm just interested in what it can do for bass... and for that, the knobs are closer to the 3:00 setting than I normaly like to dial in EQ... but hey, that demonstrates the capability of such a device. It can handle the full spectrum of tonal inputs. Again... we're the bass players... that's what we're interestd in.

    One setting I really like, believe it or not, is bypassing the EQ section and just using the active EQ on my Smith 6 Elite G. Now, the quality of the instrument probably has something to do with it, but I really REALLY like that tone. Still using the mic pre in the 737, but there is a really nice mellow sound that it give me.... However, if I like it too much, then this will really HAVE to go because it's waaaayyy too much moo-lah to have in one piece of gear and be by-passin' the EQ section. Just my opinion, but we'll see.

    However, like kringle77, I am waiting to try it on stage or in a rehearsal. I've only heard it in my carpeted, small living room. Sounds phoenominal.... Don't have any live tests to compare....

    FYI, I'm using the Crest CA-9 in the pic....

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