Ode to the Avalon - Why We Love Ours!

When looking for a pre-amp to record, there are several questions you need to ask yourself. What functionality do I need? What kind of sound am I after? How much change do I have to pilfer to get this thing? Pre-amps are the magical and mysterious link in the chain often overlooked by those first exploring recording, and often over obsessed by studio veterans. Lets talk about one of the ones we have at Edge Studio: The Avalon 737sp.

As far as tone, here at the studio, we're aiming for squeaky clean. The Avalon is an unlikely choice, because it is tube based, and tubes are often associated with sweet sweet distortion. But in this case, its more of an "old school hi fi" tube approach, than a Marshall stack. Its very clean. It minimally alters the sound, leaving the signal as uncolored as possible (with the option to color it if necessary with added functionality as we'll get into now).

Functionality. Often, a pre amp is more than a pre amp. Sometimes its called a “channel strip” meaning it can do a few things in one, like a printer that also faxes, or a horse that is also a microwave. This here thingy accomplishes 3 tasks. First and foremost It is a pre amp - powering and amplifying the signal from a microphone. Second, it has a compressor. This reduces dynamic range - basically lowering the louds and making the quiets louder - to even out the signal. It’s main function while recording is to prevent peaks going to the hard drive. Finally, it is also an EQ. EQ boosts and cuts frequency levels, to make things sound “equal” or can also be used for effects. We tend to lean towards the former. This is rarely used while tracking, except if someone has a very boomy voice (we cut some lows) or is incredibly sibilant (we cut some highs).

So is the Avalon for you? Perhaps. It's certainly an expensive piece of gear, but it is incredibly well made. You could probably drop it down a flight of stairs and it would still work perfectly. Unlike many inexpensive pre-amps, it will likely not burn out randomly, and if it does, components are readily available to fix it (such as tubes) A good philosophy is, if you're going to buy some gear, buy the better gear. So a few years down the road, you don't need to sink more money into something new when you realize the cheap gear isn't really that great. Words to live by.

by edgeadmin

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