Avalon U5 Class A DI Preamp/EQ

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Plug into Avalon's high-voltage Class A DI and hear just how good a DI box can sound! With variable gain up to +30 dB, the U5's preamp works with any source.

The Avalon U5 high-voltage DI-preamp combines a unique passive tone selector with a variable gain preamp and filter. The high input impedance accepts a wide variety of signal levels and instruments from acoustic guitars to high-output active bass guitars and keyboards. The U5 direct box is loaded with sonic character and user features professionals demand.

Sonic Excellence

The Avalon U5 Pure Class A instrument DI & preamplifier is the most powerful direct box available today. Designed to optimize absolute signal integrity and musical performance, the U5 includes many features and sonic excellence unequaled by lesser designs. The U5 is ideal for bass guitar and acoustic instruments, electric guitars, keyboards, synthesizers and low output pickups.

Features include state-of-the-art, high input impedance input stage for zero load effect on sensitive pickups and keyboards, 100% discrete, Pure Class A signal amplifiers, practical user features and rugged hardware designed to deliver true high performance audio for many years.

Deep and Controlled Bass

Avalon U5 DI-preamps have been in use around the world since 1995. They have found their way into the world's leading musicians rigs and recording sessions and been featured on thousands of the best selling (and sounding) albums and live performances.

Minimum Signal Path Design

The Avalon U5 includes a variable gain Class A preamplifier to boost low level pickup signals and a high level speaker input read more for capturing the live sound of the instruments amplifier. Six passive tone-EQ curves are also included to enhance a variety of acoustic and electric instruments. A high-cut switch eliminates unwanted acoustic pickup and high frequency noise, while a headphone monitor amp has been included for personal listening. Twin DC coupled Class A output amplifiers drive both low level microphone preamp inputs and high level +4dB inputs for direct to tape recording or processing. The active-to-thru switch selects either the instrument input directly or sends the boosted-equalized signal to the amplifier via the front panel jack. A ground isolation switch eliminates any possible earth loop or AC buzz problems with complete safety.


- Pure Class A, 100% discrete design
- Smooth musical detail and sonic excellence
- Variable gain preamp to +30dB
- Dual microphone and line outputs
- Hi-Z 3,000,000 ohm input impedance
- Very low noise -100dB
- High headroom +30dB
- Six tone bank selections.
- DC coupled Class A output for superior bass
- High cut switch eliminates noise
- LED active signal indicator
- Headphone monitor output jack
- Low distortion less than 0.5% THD and IMD
- High level 400 watt speaker input
- Active to thru selector - ground isolation switch
- 100% discrete power supplies for audio path
- Internal toroidal power supply for low noise
- Long lasting, stainless steel hardware
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- Circuit Topology: 100% discrete, high-voltage Class A
- Gain: Switched 3dB steps, maximum gain +30dB
- Input Impedance: 3,000,000 ohm unbalanced (single ended)
- Maximum Input Level +24dBu unbalanced, 400w speaker input
- Output Connectors (2): XLR type, pin 2 hot electronic balanced
- Maximum Output Level (Class A): +30dBu DC coupled, balanced 600 ohms (mic and line out)
- Headphone Output: 0.5w into 600 ohms
- Noise 20kHz Unweighted: -100dBu minimum gain position
- Distortion THD, IMD: 0.1% at +10dB
- Frequency Response, -/+0.5dB: 5Hz to 100kHz
- Frequency Response, -3dB: 1Hz to 500kHz (input band limited)
- High Cut Filter: -3dB at 8kHz minimum phase design
- Tone Selector: Six position rotary switch, all passive filters
- AC Power: Internal toroidal AC supply
- Dimensions: 8.5 x 3.5 x 12 in. (216 x 88 x 305mm)
- Weight-Packed: 12 lbs. (5.4kg)
- Rack mount kit (1) RM-1: Single U5 19 in. rack mount kit (holds one half rack unit)
- Rack mount kit (2) RM-2: Dual U5 19 in. rack mount kit (holds two half rack units)

For support or warranty questions, please contact the manufacturer:
Phone: 949-492-2000

Reviewers gave this product an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. (32 ratings)
Submitted December 26, 2006 by a customer from gmail.com
"Legendary DI"
Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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.

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.

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 read more 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.

Built like a tank. This unit is widely used by professional touring companies.

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.

Musical Background:
semipro musician and recording engineer

Musical Style:
rock, jazz, drum&bass, reggae, funk
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