AudioControl Avalon G4 Four-Channel Amplifier Review Page 2

Audyssey room EQ was not active on the Marantz, though on a few sources I did lightly apply bass and/or treble controls. I didn't use the Avalon G4 in bridged mode. The rated impedance of the Monitor Audio tower is 4 ohms, and a bridged amp should only be used with a load of less than 8 ohms if it's specified as capable of driving 2 ohms when not bridged. AudioControl's amp is only specified into 8 ohms when bridged, so it shouldn't be paired with a speaker having a rated impedance lower than that.

Listening to stereo music, the Avalon mimicked the performance of other good amplifiers I've used recently, with no surprises either pro or con. I wasn't expecting any: amplifiers can sound different, but apart from odd loads, power limitations, or significant differences in design (tube, conventional or digital solid-state) such differences are usually subtle. With the Avalon G4, female vocals were detailed, sweet, and just a little warm. Two favorite recent singers are Sinne Eeg and Josefine Cronholm (both from Denmark), and Eeg's "My Treasure," from her album Waiting for Dawn, and Josefine Cronholm's "In Your Wild Garden," from her album Wild Garden, both sounded irresistible.

Elvis Presley's cover of "Fever" (from Elvis is Back) displayed his rich, full-bodied voice. Perhaps a bit too full- bodied, but that's clearly a characteristic of my room/speaker combination. Apart from that, the sound was hard to fault.

Listening to something a bit more dynamic, the powerful opening bass run from Toto's "I Will Remember," from the album Tambu, hit hard, and the track's subtle reverb suggested a large but not dominant ambience in the recording space. I did hear some congestion as the sound reached a crescendo midway through the track, but overall it grabbed my attention.


I had no serious issues with the Avalon when I compared it with my resident Parasound Halo 52+ five-channel amp. When I A/B'd them as close as possible (given the time needed to switch connections), in two-channel mode, I heard no pronounced differences. The Parasound was tighter in the warmth region (but not lean), with a little more air and detail in the treble. But such differences were difficult to clearly call—even as I switched back and forth repeatedly, the amps ran about neck and neck.

With 5.1-channel material the Avalon and Parasound remained close, though the latter's slightly more prominent highs were occasionally more evident. Whether this was a plus or not depended on the source material. How to Train Your Dragon is one of my favorite soundtracks. In chapter 6, young Viking Hiccup's extended encounter with the dragon Toothless is accompanied by sweet, rich music. It had a bit more bite with the Parasound, but mostly in a good way. In chapter 9, there's a thrilling blare of brass as Toothless and Hiccup take their first flight together. That brass sounded slightly richer and weightier on the Avalon G4, which offered its own mix of excitement on this and other action scenes. The AudioControl also displayed a bit less edge than the Parasound with sibilant dialogue.

The differences between the two amps, however, remained small. Which one is "right" will depend primarily on your system, your speakers, the source material, your taste, and your budget. The Parasound is a more conventional amp, and a more expensive one given its five channels, while the Avalon G4 is more flexible within the limits of its four-channel design.

AudioControl's four-channel Avalon G4 is a superb amplifier, but whether it's for you or not will depend on how you plan to use it. While it's clearly designed for upgrading an existing 5.1- or 7.1-channel system for Dolby Atmos, this Avalon G4 is flexible enough to be employed in other applications as well.


noahavi's picture

Its unfortunate you didn't try this amplifier in bridged mode. Its a real powerhouse and sounds amazing.