REVIEWS: From RECORDING MAGAZINE December, 1997

GEARING UP

to High-End Equipment

It's time to bring your studio's sound to a new level, and you've budgeted for a couple of pieces that you hope will do that.

Now What

One other eq I had the honor of exploring was the new Avalon AD 2055 Class A parametric eq. This is a truly gorgeous piece of equipment that also carries an incredible price tag. It personifies the high-end. From the beautiful brushed aluminum/ steel faceplate to the custom knurled knobs to the glowing LEDs that signify power switch in/out status, the 2055 is a classic piece of craftsmanship.

What sets it apart from other eqs, besides its futuristic cosmetics, is the design of its circuitry, which delivers excellent transient response and incredibly low noise even with the gain up all the way (this was my first time using it, and it was ear opening). Balanced DC inputs and an incredible bandwidth from 1 Hz to 500 kHz (yes, that's correct-slightly out of our range of hearing) contribute to this unit's open, airy sound.

The low range eq had ten switch-able frequencies from 18 to 450 Hz and a whopping 24 dB boost/cut range. Both the high frequencies and the lows are selectable shelving/peak/dip curve, while the two mid bands are fully parametric.

Mid band one goes from 35 to 450 Hz to 4.5 kHz due to the x10 selectable switch. This is similar to the one on the Focusrite, providing an incredible amount of eq flexibility just in one channel. Mid band two covers from 160 Hz to 2 kHz, switch-able to 1.6 to 20kHz. Both mid bands have a Q knob to adjust the bandwidth from 0.3 to 3.0 octaves-skinny to fat. The high range with its selectable shelving/peak/dip shape covers from 1.5 up to 25 kHz. When companies like Avalon, Neve/AMEK, Manley, Empirical Labs and many others decide to let the music breathe by increasing the bandwidth of their circuitry, we all breath easier. There's a fullness that's missing when it's not there.

The sound of the AD2055's eq is incredible. I used it on the mix output with completely different results from the tube stuff. It's just a different sound, not necessarily better and certainly not worse. Just like a different mic has characteristics that are great for one vocalist yet rank on the next, the Avalon 2055 is so pristine, so quiet, and so transparent that the music breaths and floats above your senses.

On individual instruments like vocals, the 2055 is superb. I also strapped it across a drum sub, and the pure flexibility, overlapping frequencies, and control are amazing and limitless. This is a fine piece of gear, one of the best I've ever used.

In step with the Avalon, there are a few other manufacturers that believe in top audio quality. Once again the AMEK Neve comes to mind with not only the 9098 but the older Medici, as does Focusrite (anything in the Blue Range), to the Drawmer 1961, Malcom Toft Associates, and a few esoteric items that aren't household names. Beyond that, there are great eqs for less, but there is not much else that can compete with the mists of Avalon.




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