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Thanks Tommixx -- Demeter / Avalon useful info +

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by lo-freq, Aug 20, 2004.

  1. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    I noticed that Tommixx is using a Demeter HBP-1 and an Avalon U5.
    I use a Dem 201S and have interest in the U5.
    So I PM'd Tom to get his experiences with these two units.
    He gave me a lot of useful info and agreed to me sharing it with the rest of you in TB-Land.

    [I didn't copy my original query, but I think you'll get the gist of it by reading his responses.]

    It's in the form of two PMs and here they are:
    ----------------Post #1----------------

    Happy to help! Hmmm....The U5 is the ULTIMATE DI box....what goes in is pretty much EXACTLY what comes out PLUS a little bit of Avalon magic that is impossible to describe...Words I would use to describe it are Accurate, Full, Even, Articulate, Clean, PRISTINE Audio!!! With the option to add some decent preemphasis by way of the various EQ settings (typically I don't use them on my own basses because I use my onboard on my Sadowsky Bass and my hand position and pickup selection to get the tones I want) depending on the Bassist I am recording (experience levels vary from first call pro monster players to first timers in the studio with minimal chops and poor attitudes!) and their gear will determine whether or not I need to use any of the EQ or not. Fortunately, I have access to great outboard gear as well from Neve, SSL, Manley, API, Focusrite (you get the point) so I have a LOT of options and don't necessarily need to rely on the EQ in the Avalon but I find that it is better to use it when necessary because it does not cause the phase problems you usually get when going to an outboard source. I have owned or used every DI box out there in my work and I promise you anybody who does studio or live work at the top level of the game uses the U5 (I do also use the 737 and the Demeter tube DI to be fair (Randy Jackson is a HUGE Demi fan)for that nice warm fat tubey sound for some things and I know a couple of big name engineers who use them as their "secret weapon" on keys and accoustics! I know 1 guy who will run the 2 out of a drum machine through them!) Anyway, I live and die by the U5 and can not recommend it enough!

    As far as my Demi goes, all can say is I am very lucky to have picked up a few new old stock 12ax7 tubes from my mentor Tom Dowd before he passed away (do a search sometime if you don't know him) I have no idea where he got them from but I can only imagine in my mind it must have been someplace special! They are definitely the shizzle! I used the original for a while and thought the HBP-1 sounded great but then on a whim I thought I would stick 1 of Tommy's tubes in there just to see what kind of difference there would be......JEEESSSSUUUUS like flipping a switch...almost like removing a "veil" from the sound. The bottom got fatter, the mids came alive and the top end opened up and the "air" was "there". I wish I knew the supplier I would buy as many as I could, add $10 bucks to the price and guarantee the results!! Retubing DEFINITELY makes a BIG difference in my expreience. I don't use the parametric (except for the occasional room smoothing which is very rare) I probably could have gotten the 201 and been happy but though I would be better off with the flexibility of the HBP-1. So far I have not really needed it as much as I thought I would.

    As far as comparing the AD2022 and the U5 - the U5 is a dedicated DI BOX/PRE and the AD 2022 is a Mic pre and a GREAT one at that, completely transparent with a lot of bite, punch, attack, and transient response. A REALLY hip mic pre right now and a HOT must have item in the big league studios. Most of the rooms I work in have at least 1 of them at this point. It will set you back about $2,500-$2700 for 2 channels of mic pre (also a great instrument DI X 2 as well)

    HERE comes the Curve -

    BUT if you want A SERIOUS BASS PRE/DI/COMPRESSOR/EQ check out the

    Avalon VT-737 SP -

    The Avalon VT-737SP features a combination of TUBE preamplifiers, opto-compressor, sweep equalizer, output level and VU metering in a 2U space all for only - $1,750 or so at GC, a relative bargain when you think about it (this is the unit that Nathan East, Leland Sklar, Abe Laboriel, TM Stevens and a LOT of the Serious Studio cats use including, on occasion yours truly)

    Hope this LONG response helps!

    ----------------Post #2----------------

    Just realized that I don't know if I gave a direct comparison of the U5 and the HBP-1 or not so here goes:

    the U5 is more HIFI obviously where the Demi is more tubey obviously - duh you already knew that...

    that is the answer anyone is going to give you - but that is the simple truth and the essence of the difference between the 2!

    The U5 will very accurately reproduce exactly what you play through it and send it back out to both the amp and cabinets that you are feeding and the console (be it house/monitors or recording) the quality of the sound that you get out of the U5 will be DIRECTLY proportional to the quality of the playback capabilty of the playback source (ie the bass rig or monitor rig/console) With my rig I can hear every nuance of my instruments and minute changes in pickup selection, hand position, boost, cut etc. The better the quality of the rig the more you will get the benefit of the U5.

    With the Demeter it is a lot more about the vibe of the tube - it is more of a feel - the sound just envelopes you - I get more into the groove of the moment and don't really worry about specific tones but more about the sound as a whole. Like this warm, fat bass of doom thing that just happens no matter what bass I play or what song or what style. Its like some kind of syrup forms on you and won't come off!!

    The net effect I think is that the Demeter fattens up a band situation live a little better BUT the U5 lets me dial in SPECIFIC TONES and is just VERY clean and CUTS through a PA like a Samurai Sword.

    The Real comparison - I tape EVERY show I do from the 2 buss record out with great results (bad habit - I still say tape LOL!) through an Alesis Masterlink 9600 (VERY happening unit!!!) Every show I tape using my Sadowsky through the U5 the Bass tracks like a million bucks - cuts like a knife - Same Sadowsky through the Demeter rig sounds "better" live (warmer, fatter, juicier, meatier, ballsier) on stage, but on playback seems muddier and not as clean and crisp from tape. Its like "damn that shizzle was happenin on stage but I don't remember it bein that muddy!" Again, great vibe during the gig but did not track as clean or as "great". The compromise....Run the Demi as the front end live (but do not use the direct out) and use the U5 as the DI. That is normally what I do for money shows and when it is on the line. Unfortunately, this adds about 12lbs to your rack by the time you add the rack ears and 2 spaces to your rack, the solution, I use 2 racks! 1 is a Live Rack and 1 is predominantly a record rack and I put the U5 in the record rack! Let me know if you need anything else!

    Peace and Chicken Grease,


    Very interesting stuff -- Thanks again, Tommixx!
  2. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    By the way, if anyone has experience with any Demeter pre's or DI's or any Avalon equipment, your input would be heartily encouraged.

  3. Thanks for sharing lo-freq. Very good info :) And thanks to Tommixx too!
  4. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    I sort of skimmed all that great feedback, but I do use a Dem 201S and have had great success with it, especially using the Jensen equipped DI it has built into it. I have alway gotten raves from the soundman about the tones. I also use a Radial JDI (also with Jensen) when I use my Walter Woods Ultra. Same comments from audience and soundman. I would love to own a Avalon but don't really do any recording so I don't think I would need it. I agree about the tubes because a I installed a pair of NOS Telefunken Smooth Black Plates in my 201S. The JJ's and EV that preceeded the Tele's were nice but it was worth the $130.00 for the change. I do have a new Sadowsky and have to admit it sounds fabulous with the 201S/Crest CA9/Berg NV610, using the bass as all the tweaking goes on live stage which is my biggest concern.

    Now, weird thing happened last night on live outside gig. I brought my usual standard (USA Lakland Jo Passive) and I couldn't really get a clean powerful sound all night. Now I've just been raving about the new CA9/BergNV for weeks but was so suprised when this happened. (I'm going to check out the signal chain today) Anyway, the only change I made due to the new Sadowsky's active electronics was to lower the internal gain setting on the 201S because I could barely crack the volumn on the front of the 201. I had the internal set at about 3/4 (3'oclock) because although the Lindy Fralins Passive Pups in my Joe are hot, they need the extra gain structure I mentioned above at least that sounded the best to me before I got the Sadowsky. I decide to bring the Joe because I didn't like set up for this gig and was unsure if my new 3K bass would be safe all night (rain predicted, crummy tent and stage near the beer tent etc....)
    I don't feel this should have changed the whole sound of my rig just by lowering and compensating on the front of the 201S ????

    Low, sorry to hijack with my problem.
  5. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    Big, just curious, were you using the active input on the 201S?
    If the only thing that changed was the internal gain setting and that is what caused the problem, sounds like you need to contact Demeter and ask them what's up.
  6. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    sup guys,

    first off, Tommy's "mentor" was TOM DOWD?!!?!? :eek:

    ok, now that we got that outta the way...

    its been a while since i've used my Demeter, but i remember the deep switch making things a bit muddy onstage for me, especially thru my old Acme B-2 or my old Aguilar GS112. just never used it. and the EQ controls were useless to me, except for the presence, which was good for dialing in certain basses. but overall, it did sound great. sweet, luscious tubey flava that was especially killer thru Bergantino cabs. the extra hifi sense of the Dem mated well with the smooth, gooey tube like tone of the Bergs.

    but my U5 will NEVER leave my rig. i use it primarily as a preamp into my Acme & Epifani cabs. other preamps i've used with my sadowsky seem to mask the punch and authority of my bass tone, especially when i use its active onboard tone controls. but the U5 seems to translate that sadowsky punch straight thru my speakers! after using the U5, i'm realizing that no matter how high end a preamp is said to be, its all about translating that dynamic feel. sure, you can "EQ" in that punch with many preamps, but its one of the reasons i've sold many killer sounding, yet not as *dynamic* preamps i've owned.

    and its amazing the great things the U5 does to your tone. even with my Aguilar DB680, i've send the unbalanced out into the Avalon, then to the board for some sweeeeet tones. just bathes it with mojo.

    FWIW, i've owned a Demeter Tube DI, and it also has a great translation of punch. and while stellar, it seems a tad darker than the U5. not that noticible, but there. and, you cant use it as a preamp like the U5, but it does its job. just another flavor to use in the studio.

    and Biggie,

    congrats on the sad! would be interested to hear your impressions on how the sad's onboard EQ responds to the Dem.

    but for your problem, i can only think it might be bad power.

    happened to me a few times, and especially, this past week on a few outdoor gigs. rain put outta comission a few of the generators, and the whole stage was plugged into only 2 rather than the usual 4. and immediately, i could tell something was up with my bass tone. brought it all home to suss out the problem, and wouldnt you know, it sounded fine. one of the reasons i had been looking into a power regulator. was gonna just get a conditioner, but figured i go safe.
  7. Joker, do you think the Aguilar is as dynamic as the Avalon? And vice versa, can the Avalon sound warm? (yes, I know about basstasters (great site!) but personal experience is unvaluable I think). Any other differences or similarities you can think of are appreciated too. Thanks :)
  8. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    Hey Gents thanks for getting back.
    Lo, had it in the passive but I've actually done that before that is putting the Passive bass in the Active input...thanks though.
    Joker, my Dem does not have a deep switch. Maybe you're referring to the 'normal' (button out) bright (button in) which does make quite a diff, and I do remember you commenting on how you liked it in/bright when you had one. It's very useful I agree. You know that "bad power" thing may just be it. It really looks like an amature ran all the power to the stage and the lights went out once for the whole beer and food tent and stage. It was out for at least 10 min. One of the band guys even stated maybe we were staving for some volts. Anyway I hooked every thing up today and it sounds fine.... I'd forgot to mention I even bridged the CA9 briefly but it sounded even worse...???... so I figured I did something wrong (didn't have the manual with). Turns out the Crest operates a little different than say my old PLX. Only diff is you must use both antenuators at the same level, which I did.... but like I said it sounded even worse which may even prove further that there was a power shortage... I really don't know enough to make that claim. I finally kept fiddling with the gain structure at the gig and got petty good sound. I Cut back the amp and increased the pre/vol on the Dem and some bass eq. Got through the night. :meh:
  9. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    JJ, the Sad PJ/4 sounds stellar through my Dem AND the WWU. I'm still getting used to it, but I really really really like the Sadowsky acitves much better than my Bartolini actives. I love the tones of my Lakland USA Passive Joe too, but the Sad is really starting to take me over with all the versatility when playing live. I'm not much of a tweaker and don't use any effects that's why the Woods and the Dem work so well for me. You do have me interested in the U5 (Dang You5)

    Also, back on the bad power thing, there were no generators. I refuse to plug any of my gear in when there is one of those POS set ups. We specify in our contacts NO Generators and must have ample power (guess they screwed us on that one last night.)
  10. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    yea, i'd say the Aguilar has a nice dynamic feel, but the U5 is still tops. again, the U5's main goal is transparency for both sound and feel, so you get everything your fingers do on your bass, just amplified for the mixing desk, or your bass rig. so, when i dig in for extra umph, i get just that.

    and, maybe, i should explain a bit...

    with other preamps/amps, as i turn up my sad's bass knob, i get more of a bassy sound that sounds like its hitting a wall. its like there's a built in compressor or limiter on the preamp/amp that holds back the attack. and yes, on the heads/amps that have a built in limiter, i have turned them off. with the Avalon, that doesnt happen. play lightly, i get a softer sound. dig in harder, and it just barks, attacks and punches right in the chest!

    again, the DB680 doesnt suffer as badly, and does a good job. but, any preamp or amp with as versatile an EQ, such as the DB680 or even my iAMP800, lets you dial in all the low mid punch for whatever bass or speaker cabs you're using. so, when their EQ's are set flat, they do translate that punch nicely. with the iAMP's EQ disengaged, maybe a bit moreso.

    btw, one amp that i'm really excited about is Epifani's new 902UL coming out this october. the prototypes i've tried has a really great dynamic transparent feel that IMHO, is destined to be a new classic. like i said in a few previous posts, it's like an Avalon U5 w/ a far more versatile EQ!

    as for the avalon,

    there's a "bass" setting, that does sound warm and big. also gives everything a deeeep tubey like flare. but honestly, its more a hifi box that gives you your bass but louder, and with a little magic. a Mesa 400+ it is not.

    but glad you found the culprit, biggie. sounds like good times with your new rig! :cool:
  11. Thanks Guys...

    Yeah Tommy Dowd was one of the Greatest guys I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and was one of the most important and influential people in this crazy business we are all nuts enough to be caught up in!! May he rest in Peace...

    I forgot to mention in my PM that I also use the mini Bergies as well! an HT112 and an EX112 Driven by a CA9. I was also using a dbx 160 compressor at one point but I have found since I am primarily using my Sadowsky now, I don't need to use compression at all anymore...go figure...

    Anyway...Joker I think the phenomenon you are describing is caused by the input on some pres. The Sadowsky pre is capable of +13 db @ 40Hz and +13 db @ 4KHz PLUS the gain of the Active output itself (I am not sure of the FLAT measured output of the PRE but it is HOT as H^&L realtive to most instruments I can tell you that!) The net effect of increasing the bass output of the onboard pre feels like it is being "compressed" at a certain point is because in a manner of speaking it is. The Avalon has such a high degree of dynamic headroom that this not an issue for the U5. It will pretty much take whatever you throw at it.

    Big String...

    I definitely concur...I would almost bet my pinky toe you had some power problems on your gig. You should pick up a power conditioner that displays the voltage (like a Furman PL-8 got 1 in my bass rig) and a line tester/meter that reads voltage/current/resistance to do line checks before every gig. We check current before we even plug in a power cable or hook up an amp and have our own dedicated 220 breakout box that we can run straight into the 220 mains box when necessary that will gives us 100 amps of clean power stepped down to 110 AC . Of course you should never do this without someone who knows what the heck they are doing!!!

    I REALLLY hate to add more fuel to the fire but as I mentioned in my PM you will definitely find that if you want tonal versatility you will definitely get a LOT more of it out of the U5 than out of the Demi - BUT you will get that ooey, goooey, tubey, vibe o love thang out of the Demi if you just have that 1 great tone that you love and don't want anything else! The Sadowsky (I own #4045 a V4) BEGS for a U5 to get all those tones out of it that you can get get...BUT the DEMI gives it that OLD school vibe that just begs you to hang on and groove away so it is a tough call! Like I said, on the money gigs, I use both!!!

    I also forgot to mention this!!! AND THIS IS IMPORTANT!! When I record Bass: (On MOST sessions if budget and track count allow!!!)

    1. I take 1 DI Track from a U5 (ALWAYS)
    2. I take 1 DI Track from a Demi Tube DI (or from my HBP-1 DI out) this is optional but some producers insist on the tube DI
    or an Avalon 737 as mentined
    3. I will usually mic a cab using a Sennheiser 421 (Most of the time), AKG D112, EV RE20, and occasionally, depending on the player and the room I might use an AKG 414 or a Neumann to mic the room the cabinet is in on another track as well
    4. If the player is consistent, I will also mic the bass itself (yes even an electric bass gives off enough accoustic energy to be picked up by a GOOD mic and print to tape (digital or otherwise, I still like analog believe it or not) I try to mic it right about where the neck and body join at the heel in front and a little on the high side with the mic pointed almost straight on so that I don't get too much foot stompin and toe shuffling!

    You may wind up with as many as 5 or 6 tracks or you can do like me when necessary and blend them down and just track them to a pair. When I am limited on tracks I will usually print the U5 direct to 1 track and then a blend of everything else to 1 track. Try it on your next project, you will be surprised when you mix these elements correctly you probably won't need any EQ (cuts only) or compression and if you blend these tracks in the right proportions you will have the warmest, tighest, in your face, hey how'd they get that sound bass tracks you've ever heard!

    I think I will change my Signature from now on - Tom once told me "Knowledge is power son, but who the hell wants to know everything if you can't share it with somebody else!" - Tom Dowd

  12. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    cant argue with that... :smug:

    who says guitar players should have all the fun? :p

    truer words havent been spoken. ;)
  13. OK...so I did the Horn band gig this weekend...Great musicians playing old school Funk, R&B, Motown, Soul, 60's and 70's stuff.... me on Bass, Great Drummer,(Tastefull and very talented, playing a Roland Studio V kit with a real snare, light, dynamic touch, great foot, and unbelievable right hand technique on the hat, can't you tell I LOVE playing with this guy?) Dynamite guitarist (playing a Strat and an Original Fender Mustang through a Vetta 2 at low volumes) Keys, Sax, Bone, Trumpet, Lead Vocalist that looks like Ron Isley and sounds like a cross between Sam Cook and Marvin Gaye! This guy is Fabulous!...Anyway...Great gig to have....

    Mainly used my Sadowsky V4 into the U5/CA9 - Bergie Mini Stack (HT112/EX112) Used the onboard Sadowsky Pre/EQ/PUP Pan and Hand technique to get my sounds all night...was out of session today so I spent some time critical listening back to the 2 tracks and comparing them to a nearly identical gig with the same band and nearly identical set list in the same venue with the same rig EXCEPT I used the Demeter HBP-1 a few weeks back (these cats can really play!!) What I found was that even though the Demi seems like it SHOULD be warmer, the Avalon is surprisingly warm itself...could be the Saddy, my technique, my hands, manipulation of the pre....I don't know...but there was a depth and a clarity to the U5 that was not there on the Demeter...

    It was a REAL eye opener for me because I had never done an AB like this before...here's how I did it for you enquiring minds....

    1. The Masterlink 9600 creates playlists for its songs so I had 2 different playlists, 1 for each gig.
    2. I took those playlists and matched the playlists by song so that I was doing a direct comparison on a by song basis.
    3. I rendered a 24 bit 96K playlist to 2 CD's (1 per playlist, 1 for each set 4 CD's total) as a backup for each playlist, then shortened the playlist to 16 songs. 1 CD for each night. (Dithered down to redbook)
    4. I set up 2 identical CD players (I own a studio) and took the 2 outs of each into a LR pair on the console, set everything up at unity and used the mute buttons to go back and forth and compare. With the EQ's flat (I typically pink the room and set up our all JBL SR-X system and make the soundguy who is VERY good but knows me well enough and knows what I do leave my bass channels flat and trust me to self EQ)

    There was an immediate noticeable difference in the bass sound...interestingly enough, for the most part, almost everything else was close to the same....Compression was not as tight on the snare...kick EQ a little different, vocal balance a little off on the backups in a couple of spots, horns a litttle lighter than I would have mixed them....but tonally speaking, not that great a disparity between the given nights.

    The BIGGEST difference I noticed was in the Clarity! The Bass CUT through a lot better with the U5. It was deeper and heavier with the Demeter but nowhere near as crisp and clean. The Demeter had that tubey, thick vibe that sounds so good live on a stage but when I listened to the playback I wonder how clear I am coming throught the PA (the VERMIN don't know the difference! LOL!) I plan on doing this another way on my next gig that will really be more of a "true" test. I am going to go from the Sadowsky into the U5 to the Snake to 1 channel out of the U5 into the HBP-1 out of the HBP-1 DI into the snake and into a second channel and "blend the 2" for the live mix. I also have an Alesis HD24 that I use for live Multitrack work so I will be able to make a simultaneous multitrack recording and go back and do a mix later to get the results!

    Now...heres the curve...for kicks and grins I played my Marcus Miller 4 and one of my Warwicks (SS1 PJ) this weekend as well...guess what? The Sadowsky kicked the S&^t out them!!!I was embarassed to listen to the playback (I added it to a separate CD to see what it would sound like, not part of this test) I am thinking about selling all of my basses and buying more Sadowskys! :D NOT! I don't really sell stuff anymore that much because I usually regret it!

    As always I will keep you posted....


  14. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    Very interesting!

    Wow! Wish I could have been there to hear the gig.
    Do you sell any of those CDs?

    And you're not helping my gas...Sadowsky and Avalon...
  15. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    A BIG Ditto.....I'm in a horn band too. I can tell you we are not as polished as you described though.

    What kind of strings on your Sad. I've got TI Power Bass on right now and they are kind of "zingy", I can hear every little 'release of the string buzz' and it's a little annoying. The Sad picks up every detail good or bad. I guess my technique needs to improve more than changing strings. Speaking of I'm going to post about some flats on the string site.
  16. metron

    metron Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    Thanks for the great review tommixx! This is definitely re-fueling my gas for a U5. :D
  17. Really interesting stuff, particularly the A/B of shows. Ever since that Avalon sample showed up over at basstasters I've been gassing a bit.

    A couple of the venues I play regularly record direct to CD and over the past 2-3 years I've been able to track the changes in my sound as I've added or changed equipment. However, I've often wished for a recording done with mics about 30-50 feet in front of the stage to see if the $$$s I've invested in getting a better sound to the board made a nickel's difference to audience.

    off topic ps to BS
    Man, I'm telling you, you've got to try those TI Jazz Rounds. Once you get used to the lower tension they are sweet!
  18. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    Thanks Joe I just might if the Sadowsky Nickels don't do what I want.
    See my post on Strings at the String site. It's Tommixx's thread about flats etc. I am gassin' for a U5 too I don't know if I can justify it with my current playing situations though... Ah what the heck.
  19. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    good stuff, tommy,

    any chance of posting up those clips? would love to hear the difference.

    and i love the Sadowsky strings! i use both roger's bass and guitar nickels, and think they're the best out there. smooth, fat, yet articulate, and never muddy.