Sometimes you think you know a company, but then through whatever reason, you get to view this company from a different perspective.
I’ve been writing about AudioControl for about 20 years and I’ve learned over time that the company offers a range of high-performance consumer and professional audio products that utilize AudioControl’s proprietary designs.
The company’s show demos have always been impressive, but they never spoke to me. Now that could be because I never connected to the choice of demo content, but after having the opportunity to try the company’s Avalon G4 four-channel amplifier in my own home, however, I’m singing a different tune.
AudioControl Avalon G4 Features and Setup
Considering the amp’s use of AudioControl’s Class H design topology, it may surprise some that the amp is heavy. The UPS shipping label states a shipping weight of 44 pounds and based on my usage of the amp I have no reason to question the UPS label.
Getting back to AudioControl’s Class H amp technology, the company says its Class H design helps to increase amplifier efficiency and its products’ reliability.
Internally, the amp also employs the company’s Light Drive Anti-Clipping Protection Circuitry to eliminate the amplifier from damaging speakers in the event the amplifier is turned up to a point where it is clipping and could damage speakers.
The amp’s rear panel provides a choice of XLR (balanced) and RCA (single-ended) inputs, along with four sets of multi-way binding posts; amp channel level trim controls, stereo, mono option buttons and 12-volt triggers.
Additionally, the four-channel, 2U-high Avalon G4 is rated to deliver 230 watts into 8 ohms; 300 watts into 4 ohms and 600 watts bridged into an 8-ohm load.
During my time with the amp I used it as a subwoofer amplifier to drive a pair of 10-inch, 4-ohm passive Triadsubwoofers, and in a stereo system with a NAD C 568 with a pair of Aerial Acoustics Model 6 speakers, and a pair of Sonus faber Sonetto III loudspeakers.
Setup in each usage situation took a matter of minutes.
As a subwoofer amp, I simply took an RCA subwoofer cable from my OnkyoAV receiver and split the LFE signal using a “Y” cable to channels one and two of the Avalon G4.
In both setups, I maximized the trim pots on the back of the amplifier and selected “RCA” or “XLR” on the channels’ RCA/XLR switches to match the input choice I was using for each configuration.
In the stereo system with the NAD C 568, I selected the XLR option and connected the amp to the NAD preamp using AudioQuest XLR cables.
Lastly, I selected the appropriate “mono” or “stereo” operation option on the amp’s rear panel in my two amp configurations.
AudioControl Avalon G4 Performance and Final Thoughts
The first configuration I used the amp in was in a home theater setup to power the subwoofers. Going to the movies section on my 4K Apple TV iTunes account, I checked out several movie trailers, including “Avengers: End Game.”
I was impressed right off bat with the amp. The Avalon G4’s power rating is the same as the amp I replaced to drive the subs and I immediately thought the Avalon G4 delivered more power, weight, and provided more control over the sub drivers to help the subs produce more defined low frequencies.
Watching movies such as “Geostrom” from HBO Now, my findings with the movie trailers were confirmed. I found the subs with the Avalon G4 were much livelier, and the amp’s control of the subs’ drivers helped the low frequencies to feel tight and impactful.
What I like about this setup is the AudioControl Avalon G4 is driving both subwoofer enclosures without sacrificing quality. It also emphasizes that amp ratings can be deceiving. For example, amplifier “A” may have the same rating as amplifier “B,” but rating methods aren’t standardized so you need to trust the manufacturer is specifying continuous power and not “peak” levels.
Moving on to the stereo setup with the NAD C 568, my initial setup did include the Aerials, but most of my listening was done with the Sonus faber speakers and the combination of the AudioControl amp, NAD preamp and Sonus faber Sonetto III speakers was magic.
Starting off my stereo listening, I wanted to compare the streaming version of AC/DC’s “Back in Black” from the Amazon streaming service to a vinyl version.
Using the NAD preamp’s built-in BluOS wireless audio operating system to stream the content, I thought the system helped delineate the differences between the formats nicely.
Listening to the streaming version, followed by the record, I thought AC/DC was presented with nice layers to allow me to hear the rhythm and lead guitar parts, bass lines, vocal melodies and drums within the sound stage. The vinyl version was warmer, fuller and “rounder” sounding.
Other content on vinyl such as Steely Dan’s “Greatest Hits (1972-1978)” with the amp driving the Sonetto IIIs really highlighted the amplifier’s clean, transparent power.
I never thought the amp was running out of gas, compressing or struggling to drive the 4-ohm Italian speakers. Every instrument on the song “Do it Again” sat well within the mix to allow me to hear a tremolo type of effect on the song’s keyboard/organ parts that helps to add to the hypnotic pace of song’s rhythm section.
The NAD preamp and AudioControl amp also captured the nuanced dynamics on songs that include “Reeling in the Years” and “Old School.” I loved the way the amp handled the dynamics of the kick drum on the opening of “Bodhisattva.” The drums had nice thump and I could hear how the use of what may have been plate reverb to help make the drums sound bigger within the entirety of the song.
Popping on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” the Avalon G4 completely rocked this classic pop record.
The amp, along with the rest of the system, nicely captured the sound of this early 1980s production techniques on this recording, which are highlighted by the vigorous use of digital reverb on the drums and Jackson’s voice.
At one point while I was listening my daughter ran into the room to sit next to me while I was playing “Billie Jean” at SPL levels that were probably over 95dB. She agreed with me how great the groove of the doubled bass line sounded, and how nicely the bassline locked in with Jeff Pocaro’s drums.
My daughter even remarked on the level of detail and clarity the system delivered when she said, “Dad I can hear the reverb on Michael Jackson’s voice.” She was having fun with me listening to that album and it was a unique moment I haven’t had with her in a long time.
I’ll add that, like any other teenager, her listening habits usually include her in her room listening to Apple Music via headphones. The fact that she heard the music and came down and sat through the record speaks of the quality of the amplifier and the other components to capture and retain her attention.
There’s not much more that I can say. It’s hard not to be impressed with the AudioControl Avalon G4 amplifier.
It sounds great with stereo music and it delivers decisive power as a subwoofer amp. As a multipurpose solution its ability to configure in a range of ways, it’s also important not to overlook how it can bring these qualities into other systems, including whole-house audio and home theater.
I think a case could be made that if a dealer were to carry one single amplifier, the AudioControl Avalon G4 should be that amplifier. If you don’t believe me, it’s highly advisable that integrators check the amp out for themselves in booth #1813 during the CEDIA Expo in Denver on Sept. 10-15.
CE Pro Verdict
- The amp excels in just about any usage scenario
- The Avalon G4 delivers plenty of power to drive a range of speakers
- As a subwoofer amplifier, the Avalon G4 provides a high level of value
- The amp could be deceiving to those that aren’t familiar with the AudioControl product line. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a lightweight switching type of amplifier, the Avalon G4 is heavy.
- Following up on the previous point, due to its weight, the Avalon G4 should be properly secured into a piece of furniture or equipment rack.