In a recent post, we talked about what a leveling amplifier is and how it can improve the outcome of your mixing. While there are certainly a number of excellent leveling amplifiers on the market that you could do well to own, there is one particular model that stands out among the rest as one of the most sought-after leveling amplifier on the planet: the LA-2A.
Originally released in the early 1960’s, the LA-2A was produced by Teletronix and was quickly loved for its internal, multi-stage release, which performed especially well with vocals. The release time is both frequency and program dependent, which means that sections of the track that are much higher than the threshold may have a longer release time.
The other feature that gave the LA-2A its distinct sound was the internal T4 optical attenuator. With most compressors, there is an attack parameter that can be tweaked to reduce the time it takes for the sound to be compressed. The T4 optical attenuator has fast gain reduction at 10 milliseconds.
The LA-2A was very popular, but was replaced by less bulky, non-tube models and became discontinued in 1969. When Universal Audio was reformed in 1999 the LA-2A was soon back in production due to popular demand. In recognition of its overwhelming and consistent popularity, the LA-2A was inducted into the 2004 TECnology Hall of Fame. It remains to be the most sought after mono optical tube compressor available.
In terms of sound, the LA-2A has been described as having a smoothing effect while still giving the fullness you’d want from compression. It's present, but not overly aggressive. For this reason, many music production developers have released plugins after the LA-2A’s sound. Also some manufacturers have created new models to be exact replicas of the original LA-2A design, like the Anthony Demaria Labs ADL 1500.
Whether you prefer hardware, or plugins, the LA-2A sound is one of the most-trusted in the industry as leveling amplifiers and compressors go. If you’re in the market for something to add a little richness to you sound, look no further.