Avalon Design is well known in the industry for their top of the line, pure Class A recording equipment that feature the highest quality components available. The secret of Avalon’s appeal goes deeper than the obvious – it’s not just the superior tone that draws engineers, producers and musicians to their gear, it’s the additional little details that go into making equipment that look and feel as good as they sound. Among their lauded staple of gear, the VT-737SP stands as one of their more popular pieces. After taking the VT-737SP through its paces, it's safe to say that it's more than earned its lofty reputation!
While the 737 might seem a bit intimidating at first sight, it is essentially comprised of three main stages – a preamp, compressor and 4-band EQ, and once you break down what each individual section is comprised of, you’ll be pleasantly surprised just how easy it is to operate. The 737 also comes packed with four high-quality vacuum triode tubes that offer 100% pure Class A operation which ensures optimum sonic integrity through every single stage. Those familiar with high-end gear are probably already salivating at the thought of those four vacuum tubes but to the uninitiated, suffice it to say it’s a big deal! The 737 also comes equipped with XLR inputs designed for both mic and balanced line signals as well as a balanced XLR output and jack in order to link another 737 for stereo operation if you so desire.
Starting with the left-most side of the unit, we have the controls for the preamp stage consisting of a ¼” unbalanced instrument input along with high quality knobs for gain, input selection and low cut filter frequency. Next, we have button toggles for high gain, phase reverse, phantom power and high-pass filers which when engaged, glow a soft vibrant red. Just beyond that, we have the compressors threshold, ratio, attack and release knobs as well as buttons to select pre or post-EQ compression, input or compression level VU metering and compressor engage/disengage.
Directly in the middle you’ll find Avalon’s signature oval VU meter followed by the 4-band EQ section. The top part of this segment comprises of four knobs that control Bass, Low Mid, High Mid and Treble, along with an Output knob at the very right. On the bottom portion of the EQ section we have four more knobs for bass frequency shelving, frequency sweeping for both low and high mids and a treble shelving frequency selector. And in between all that, we have a row of four buttons: two that control ‘Q’ width and two that multiply the selected low and high mid-frequency ranges by a factor of ten. And finally, right below the Output knob we have a sidechain button – handy for de-essing applications – an EQ in/out button and the power switch.
Those familiar with gear containing vacuum tubes know how sensitive they can be so you’ll be glad to know that the 737 utilizes a “soft start” feature that gradually warms up the unit when turned on, making sure the electrical components get as little strain as possible. Powering of the 737 features a similar technique.
As soon as you hear the 737 in action you’ll know why it’s worth every penny: silky smooth, warm tone that doesn’t color your sound, but works with it. A high fidelity sonic coat that does an excellent job at bringing out a full, round sound that emphasizes all the right frequencies. The 737 also does a superb job at accurately capturing every signal that runs through it, be it vocals, guitar, horns or anything else, each resulting in superior sound. The compressor alone is surprisingly versatile when applied to the right situation, appropriately leveling the signals nicely. All in all, the 737 is up to any task you through at it and will most definitely deliver.
With its combination of tube preamps, compressor and sweep equalizer, the Avalon VT-737SP is a venerable jack of all trades for whatever you throw at it, taking care of every stage of sonic enhancement aside from special effects such as reverb and the like. From the sleek and intuitive front interface to its tough as a tank build – not to mention its luxurious tone – the Avalon VT-737SP just screams high quality and most definitely a superb addition to anyone’s sonic arsenal.