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Avalon U5

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by MarkH, Apr 27, 2006.

  1. MarkH


    Apr 12, 2003
    London, U.K.
    Hi there,

    'Just about to buy an Avalon U5 for studio and live work.

    Does anyone have any tips or advice about them?

    Pros and cons....what gear do you use it in conjunction with?, experience with the pre sets, recording using it etc, etc.

  2. PB+J


    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    I'm a huge fan of the U5--I've use it all the time ove rthe last year and a half, for electric and upright; I use it for occassional jazz guitar gigs too. It's a great sounding preamp, especially good for deep, controlled bass. But the high end is equallly good, it's not harsh or gritty. It's a just a really pleasing, musical sound. I've used it into the PA many times and the soundmen always comment on the quality of the tone.

    With electric five string I most often have it set flat, with the treble cut button engaged, or set at three, which gives a very smooth and fat low mid emphasis. Sometimes I use setting two, a really sharp, deep mid cut, for slap style tones.

    With double bass when I used piezo pickups I used setting 4 a lot--it has a little notch in the high mids that cancels some piezo sound. When I was using a realist I sometimes thought it got a little boomy, and in some situations setting five, which has a lot of low end roll off, worked well. For a while I was trying a rev solo pickup, and that REALLY got boomy, so I used setting five a lot. With my guitar, a guild archtop, setting five was often good when I was playing with others, otherwsie flat with the treble cut button engaged worked well

    Now that I'm using a shertler dyn-b I like it set flat, or maybe on three, but really, flat seems to be the best. The Schertler is a contact mic, and I step it down from xlr to 1/4 with a shure 195uf line matching transformer. That part's a bit of a pain--I once came to a gig without it and was screwed. But the U5 works really well with the schertler, and a couple of times, as I'm playing live, I've switched from one of the settings to "flat" and it sounds better, and I say why were you overthinking it?

    The obvious shortcoming of the U5 would seem to be the limited eq options, but it never really bothers me. I generally run it flat, and if I need some adjustments one of the eq curves gets me close and my fingers do the rest.

    Recording (strictly small time home stuff) with it has been mixed--my house wiring is not the greatest and tends to pick up radio. I've had a couple amps pickup radio, and the Avalon does it a lot. I love the tone, but I've been frustrated swapping outlets till I found one that wasn't picking up spanish-speaking evangelists.

    By the way, the rest of my live rig is an acoustic image focus SA power amp, and with double bass, an epifani UL 110. With electric, same setup plus an aguilar gs112
  3. MarkH


    Apr 12, 2003
    London, U.K.
    Thanks for the info.

    I use a realist at the moment, but do also have a Dyn-B which i stick on road basses.
    What's the 'shure 195uf'...I couldn't find it in Google.
    I always found the realist a little dull and boomy with my Acoustic Image so I went and bought an Iamp from E.A, which is much more present and hi-fi.
    A major concern is giving front of house a good DI signal to blend with my mic.
    I often play with, shall we say 'loud' drummers and consequently the sound man has to use more DI than mic.

    Do you run the U5 straight into the power amp stage and if not which imput do you use and how do you find EQing the 'with U5' sound compared to 'without U5'?

    Sory for all the questions...

    All the best,
  4. MarkH


    Apr 12, 2003
    London, U.K.
    I see now that you just use a AI power amp.
    I promise to read the reply carefully next time.

  5. I've been using the U5 for the last four years. I use it live (the sound guys love to see me coming) and in the studio. I usually use it flat(tone knob not activated) and primarily with slab. I have used it with the double bass, in studio and live, and I can honestly say that I love it and it was worth every penny. The only advise really is to take good care of it, it is a piece of studio gear. I tend to baby it. When it's not in use it's in the box, it's not getting dusty or banged around. Don't let guitar players/singers put drinks next to it and it should have a long life. ;)
  6. PB+J


    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    I've taken mine on weekly bar gigs for a nearly two years now--very smoky, unfortunately. I've used it on cold outdoor stages and kept it in the back of my car on hot days and cold nights. So far no problems. it's designed for the studio, but it's also extremely heavy duty, very well constructed with a heavy metal chassis.

    PS I never let anyone's drinks near it!
  7. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    I like the U5 a lot, but if you will be using it for upright, I find that I somewhat prefer the Summit Audio TD-100. It offers similar functionality (can't accept a speaker level signal input, though), but adds variable impedance control on the input. I have found this to be very beneficial when working with piezo pickups, as you can "dial in" the right impedance for the best tone. Not that the U5 is any slouch, it's not (and again, I like it a lot). But I'd just suggest that you also consider the TD-100. This unit has not received the attention it deserves, IME/IMHO.

  8. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    Hey PB+J, if your U5 can survive regular gig travel on roads in Arlington like Glebe Rd., Wilson Blvd., or the dreaded 14th Street bridge into D.C., then I'd call that road tested and not pampered in the least.
  9. anyonefortennis

    anyonefortennis Supporting Member

    Jun 28, 2005
    Lincoln, NE
    Hopping onto the thread here.

    For those of you using the U5 direct into the house board, do you use the line level or mic level out?
  10. PB+J


    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    Whatever the sound guy wants--it seems to vary--or if it's up to me, line level
  11. MarkH


    Apr 12, 2003
    London, U.K.
    Finally got the U5 today.

    It's pretty big, that for sure!!
    It is, though, a lovely piece of equipment that has a real sense of quality about it.
    Much the best results have been achieved by plugging it into my iamp 500 via the effects return.

    The tone shapes are very well thought out and the unit delivers very strong, clear lows while smoothing out a lot of the unpleasant high frequencies associated with double bass pickups.

    I'm using it with a realist and an epifani cab.

    I've gigs over the weekend and studio sessions next week, so looking forward to hearing how it sounds in the studio and what the engineers think of it.

    I'll report back...

    p.s. Congrats to F.C. Barcelona on winning the European cup!! (VISCA BARCA!)
  12. PB+J


    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    I used it with a realist and an epifani cab too, although currently I'm using a dyn-b. I liked setting four to notch out some of the piezo sound

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