I've been using an Avalon U5 as a DI for a few months and like it a lot for it's "depth" and "dimensionality" (sorry for the lame descriptors ). But, I've decided I don't care much for the passive tone control, and I miss having a bit of compression available. I pulled out an old ART Levelar (I prefer leveling amp type compressors), but I really would like a better quality compressor (quieter), and prefer a one-box solution. The other thing I miss is some source of a bit of "tube drive" sound. The U5 is a really clean pre (IMO)-- doesn't do distortion. So, I've been looking at a few preamps, channel strips, whatever you call them, and have really homed in on Unversal Audio's LA-610. It's tube based, and has preamp/eq/and compression all in one box. The compressor section is probably great, the pre is neat because you can drive the tube with input gain and control the gain to board with the Level knob (can't do with U5). I've also considered the Millenia TD-1 and the Avalon VT737SP. The Avalon's got a lot knobs (I like *really* simple controls 'cause I tend to "fiddle" with the knobs and not conctrate on playing well ). The Millenia has no compressor, so I'd still need an outboard one. The UA seems like the what the Dr. ordered. I don't hear of them used as a live rig front end/di for bass much though. Could be because it's not bass centric, pretty new product, maybe percieved as fragile (5 tubes inside). I dunno... I've considered getting a portable rack to put the U5 in, and then adding a LA type compressor to replace the Levelar (Summit TLA-50 topping my list right now). Trouble is that the "tube drive" sound would then have to come from some other device (a distortion box of some sort I guess). Add all that up and I'll have about the same $'s in the rig as the UA costs but with more knobs, complexity, and bulk. I would sincerely value any thoughts/impressions/experiences/ or suggestions!