Avalon Design AD2022 Microphone Preamplifier

I have long respected Avalon Design's product line. The company's no-compromise design approach, as well as its commitment to discrete, Class A circuits, is admirable. I could not resist the chance to put the new Avalon AD2022 Dual Mono, Pure Class A Preamplifier to work.
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I have long respected Avalon Design's product line. The company's no-compromise design approach, as well as its commitment to discrete, Class A circuits, is admirable. I could not resist the chance to put the new Avalon AD2022 Dual Mono, Pure Class A Preamplifier to work.
Product PointsApplications: Studio, broadcast, remote recording

Key Features: Dual mono, Class A mic preamp; external toroidal power supply; five-position variable input impedance

Price: $3,000

Contact: Avalon Design at 949-492-2000 Web Site

Plus

+ Works well with ribbon microphones

+ Sound quality

+ Well made

Minus

- Expensive

The Score: If you can afford it, you can't go wrong with the Avalon AD2022.
Features

The AD2022 ($3,000) is a fully discrete, symmetrical, Class A microphone preamplifier that includes all the sonic strengths of the renowned M2, M22 and M5 preamplifiers. It also has several additional features, including an improved high-voltage Class A regulated power supply, selectable impedance, Hi-Z instrument inputs, Teflon-insulated silver wiring, double-plated circuit boards and a variable-passive high-pass filter - all packed into a 15-pound, 12-inch deep, 2 RU box - designed to provide the utmost in audio quality.

The rear panel of the AD2022 features a female XLR connector for each channel's microphone input. Each channel is equipped with two male XLR connectors for audio output. The first is balanced, pin-2 hot; the second is unbalanced, pin-2 hot, pin-3 ground. A 4-pin male power input connector allows the 8-foot power cable to deliver the 90V AC that is needed to power the box. The front panel of the unit has identical controls for both channels.

The 7-pound remote toroidal power supply is built into an external 5-inch, by 7-inch, by 3.25-inch box. The supply is powered via a standard IEC connector and is 100V to 240V, 50-60 Hz selectable.

The 12-position stepped input knob allows the input gain to be adjusted from +18 dB to +62 dB in 4 dB increments. An identical knob provides output control allowing the signal to be trimmed +/-3 dB. The maximum output level is +36 dBu.

A small rotary switch provides the 2022's input impedance selection. The ability to tailor the preamp's impedance to a given microphone is a unique feature that makes it possible to achieve the utmost in performance from the microphone. This five-position switch selects input impedance as 50, 150, 600 or 1,500 ohms. The fifth position selects the front panel's 100 kilohm 1/4-inch jack for Hi-Z instrument input.

Each channel features four switches that light when activated. The +48V switch activates 48V phantom power. The input attenuator switch activates a -20 dB passive attenuator. The Polarity switch reverses the phase of the signal. The Filter switch activates the variable high-pass filter. This 6 dB/octave passive filter is variable from 30 Hz to 185 Hz via a second small rotary switch. The 2022 features the same visually striking oval VU meters found on other Avalon boxes.

In use

I put the AD2022 to work in a variety of circumstances. It always yielded fantastic results. The box is built like a tank and it sounds outstanding.

I used the preamplifiers on a wide variety of acoustic instruments, including mandolin, violin, banjo and acoustic guitar. In each circumstance, I was more than pleased. The selectable impedance is a godsend considering my love for ribbon microphones. I found the new Royer SF-1 ribbon mic the perfect match for the 2022.

I also had great results using the AD2022 on vocals. I recorded vocals through the preamp using a Sony C-800G, an AKG 414 and an Audio-Technica 4033 - always achieving killer tracks. The microphone preamplifier performed equally well with male and female vocals.

The high-pass filter sounded fantastic. I was amazed at how little, if any, equalization was required when it was adjusted properly. The filter leaves none of the phasey characteristics associated with cheap HP filters and even when used drastically, the sound retains its smooth, tight, well-defined characteristics.

I also had good results recording keyboards and bass directly through the front of the machine. These instruments' inputs always had a full, punchy sound. I used the box extensively for several days and I never encountered a situation where it didn't perform tremendously.

Summary

The Avalon AD2022 is a no-compromise microphone preamplifier with many unique features and excellent sound quality.