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Rating and Reviews: Avalon U5 Class A Preamp

Experience the amazing Avalon sonic character and musical detail with the U5 Class A DI Preamp/EQ.

User Ratings
Overall
Sound
Features
Ease of Use
Quality
Value
Manufacturer Support
The Wow Factor
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"Magic Box" submitted November 21, 2005

Overall
Sound
Features
Quality
Value
Manufacturer Support
The Wow Factor
Musical Background: 20 year pro
Music Style: Whatever pays! Country right now.
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Sound: Without a doubt the best sounding direct box made! It has about 8 different settings voiced for specific instruments. Feature: It would be nice if they included the rack-mount kit instead of selling it for $80. If it had a mute switch it would be perfect. Quality: Well built & road worthy. Plus, it looks cool! Value: Expensive and worth it if you demand the best. You'll know where the extra $'s went as soon as you plug in! Manufacturer Support: Never had a problem so I never needed 'em. The Wow Factor: Showing up with a U5 instantly buys you credibility with engineers and other musicians. Having one in your studio impresses clients. This peice of gear lets people know you are SERIOUS about your tone! Overall: I'm a pro bass player and bought mine used a couple of years ago. I bought it for sessions (and it works great) but I got a touring gig this year so I put it in my live rack. I figure if I play a good guitar into my Avalon and send that signal to the engineer it will be hard for him to screw up my sound in the house! The U5 will be the last link in my signal chain for a long time.
7 of 7 people (100%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"Legendary DI" submitted December 26, 2006

By a customer from gmail.com
Overall
Sound
Features
Ease of Use
Quality
Value
The Wow Factor
Musical Background: semipro musician and recording engineer
Music Style: rock, jazz, drum&bass, reggae, funk
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Sound: As a guitarist friend told me when I was in his music store buying DIs, "The Countryman is like a Toyota. The Avalon is like a Benz." Several months of using this and a few other DIs in a variety of situations have definitely confirmed that statement. Turn off the "tone" circuit and you have a pure signal from your instrument that isn't colored at all, positively or negatively. All of the transients are there in detail and there is no flagging in the lower frequencies. Turn on the "tone" circuit and you're able to pick from some well thought out presets, all of which are useful in situations where you're plugging something in and need a quick setting. Feature: I gave this a nine on features because it's not necessarily a swiss army knife device. That said, DIs aren't supposed to be. Do you want something that gives you parametric EQ? Do you want thick, tubey tone to warm up your acoustic guitar's stock pickup? Do you want a mic preamp? Get something that isn't a DI. A DI is supposed to take the signal and boost it enough to get it down the line to the mixer before sending it to your amp. This thing does way more than that. Any rating of the features of a DI needs to take that into consideration. My only gripe is that it can't be phantom powered, but I'm guessing that they did that because you need more juice to get as accurate a signal as the Avalon will deliver. Ease of Use: My five year old daughter could be shown how run this thing in minutes. The only thing you might even need a manual for is an explaination of the tone curves. Quality: Built like a tank. This unit is widely used by professional touring companies. Value: When you're talking about close to $600 for a DI, you have to really need that quality level. At some point you encounter diminishing returns for your money and in a blind listening test I doubt that the uneducated listener is going to be able to tell the difference between an Avalon DI'd signal and a Countryman DI'd signal. But if you're doing an album or running sound in a really nice place, the Avalon is totally worth it. I gave it an eight just because it's a high end piece of gear, and pretty much no high end gear can be considered "value" priced. Manufacturer Support: I haven't needed to call them. I expect that they are quite bored at the Avalon service center. The Wow Factor: It looks sexy. It sounds great. It's practically legendary. My only gripe is the form factor: two rack spaces tall and half a rack wide is almost unusable. And $70 for rackmount gear is robbery. Overall: A few minor niggles will prevent this from being a home studio gem (and they're all price related) but the idea of not owning one on a serious project is laughable. I'll always have one around if money is on the line.
17 of 18 people (94.44%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"The best DI ever." submitted July 30, 2006

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Features
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SPOTLIGHT REVIEW
Sound: Tight, punchy, and extremely clean. Nothing I have yet heard sounds better for recording bass. Feature: Not feature-laden at all, but I was never really left wanting. It does what it does extremely well. Value: It's very expensive relative to other excellent DI boxes, but it is absolutely the top of the heap. Honestly, it's worth whatever you pay for it. Manufacturer Support: No experience here The Wow Factor: How "sexy" is a DI box? It's utilitarian, really, it just makes everything better. The person who finds that concept appealing, you will also enjoy this product
3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"not worth 600! what a hype! maybe 300" submitted September 14, 2008

By a customer from cox.net
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Sound
Features
Ease of Use
Quality
Value
The Wow Factor
Musical Background: pro
Music Style: rock country
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Sound: not that impressed! my digitech gsp1101 has just as good di built in actually im thinking of sending this back, doesnt really do anything for sound in my studio 600.00 hype i had to try, but trust me not worth it. also my countryman sounds just as good
6 of 9 people (66.67%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"Not what I hoped for, but still a fine product." submitted May 24, 2009

By a customer from yahoo.com
Overall
Sound
Features
Ease of Use
Quality
Manufacturer Support
The Wow Factor
Musical Background: hobbyist
Music Style: whatever comes out
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Sound: The U5 alone has not helped me achieve quality guitar sound. This is what I did expect to get from it. However, it certainly is a quality product, in my opinion probably best suited for bass players, and perhaps vocals but I have not attempted to use it for vocals at this point as I am still pursuing quality guitar sound. I will certainly keep it as when I start to record bass there is not doubt the sound it does push for bass is the best I have heard. Don't get me wrong, this is a worthwhile investment if your looking to get more then one use from it! Feature: I plugged a PRS Swamp Ash Special into it. I cannot get a quality signal into my yamaha recorder with it. The bass sound over rides any highs you may achieve. Ease of Use: It's easy to use. There is not manual. Just a 2 page fold out which is all you need as it's quite straight forward. Quality: The products is made well. However, if your overseas in a country that is on 220-240 power like I am, it's stated that it's multi-voltage, which it is, however the switch is actually inside of the unit which means you must find something to stick thru the air vent to switch it over to 240. This is the first I've seen this. A big plus is that before you'll blow the unit up, you'll simply blow the fuse which is quickly replaceable. If Avalon did this intentionally they cold teach many other companies a few things as I have seen many persons over here fry their stereo's and TV's. Value: The product is worth the money. Again, although I did not achieve what I wanted, it's still produces and bass tone like I have never been able to produce, or have even heard from the bands and musicians I have played with. Manufacturer Support: Have not had to deal with them. Overall: I am already searching for something to supplement the U5 in order to get treble tone. I tried two smaller pre-amps that I already own but, although getting acceptable sound, I still will try others.
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Avalon U5 Class A Preamp Customer Review submitted December 21, 2005

By a customer from fmtc.net
Overall
Sound
Features
Quality
Value
Musical Background: bass player
Music Style: contemporary Christian music
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SPOTLIGHT REVIEW
Sound: I use it as a preamp and DI for bass guitar in live situations. It produces a clear, deep tone with little coloration, allowing the true sound of the instrument to come through. Feature: This category is hard for me to rate. The U5 is intended to be used as a DI. Accordingly, the controls are minimal. Don't forget that many DI's offer no control at all. Using it as preamp, I find myself wishing for a parametric EQ and perhaps a compressor, but it's a little unfair to expect these on a DI. That said, there are advantages to a simple control layout, and the U5 manages to produce good tone in almost all situation eve without the EQ or compression that a true preamp unit might offer. Quality: The U5 is (like all Avalon products) a top quality unit. Tough as nails-- I don't hesitate to travel with it and have used (and abused!) mine extensively with no problems. Value: As Di's go, this a pretty pricey one, and not cheap even when compared with preamps. That said, sometimes you *do* get what you pay for. The Avalon delivers good sound, is tough enough for live work, and is very easy to use. Manufacturer Support: No experience on this.
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