What is the most iconic compressor of all time? Surely it has to be the legendary Teletronix LA-2A tube based optical “levelling amplifier” compressor. Whether it be the original Teletronix 60’s outboard unit, the Universal Audio version or any of the many excellent plug-in recreations/emulations modelled on the hardware which followed, the LA-2A is loved and trusted throughout the entire music mixing industry for its abilities to level dynamics in transparent, smooth and musical ways with warmth and character without causing source material to sound over squished or processed. The LA-2A’s party piece is in it’s super simple design by way of using two dials: Peak Reduction and Gain (makeup). With fixed attack and release times, compressors don’t come any easier to use than the LA-2A, much like playing with a water gun, point and squirt.
In this article we list a number of what we consider to be the best LA-2A plug-in recreations and emulations that are well worth checking out.
Truth be told, there really isn’t that much that separates these plug-ins in terms of sound, features or design. The results of original LA-2A is so legendary, distinctive and well known that it appears many plug-in developers didn’t want to mess around too much with that perfect formular which gave the LA-2A it’s signature sound.
Avid Classic Compressors - BF-2A
The Avid BF-2A is available as part of Avid’s Classic Compressor Bundle. The UI design may look a bit dated in comparison to more modern releases of LA-2A style plug-ins by other developers but don’t let that put you off, the BF-2A, like the BF-76, is a great sounding tools, faithful to the original. Avid BF-2A is only available for Pro Tools AAX, Audiosuite, RTAS and, luckily for HDX users, AAX DSP.
Visit Avid for more information.
Cakewalk - CA-2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier
Cakewalk’s take on the LA-2A, named the CA-2A, was available two years ago for a short time as a free plug-in download. Sadly, since the demise of Cakewalk the CA-2A isn’t available to purchase from the Cakewalk website. Still, this was freely downloaded by many so earns a place in this list.
Visit Cakewalk for more information.
IK Multimedia - White 2A
IK Multimedia are well known for developing some great sounding plug-in emulations, one of those being the White 2A. Available in both IK Multimedia’s T-RackS 5 Deluxe and Studio MAX 2 plug-in bundles, the White 2A offers a cool M/S mode not found in the original hardware… of course because the original hardware was only ever a single channel device.
Visit IK Multimedia for more information.
Softube/Native Instruments - VC 2A
Softube are also another one of those plug-in developers that know how to model hardware to exacting standards. Instead of Softube developing their own LA-2A badged product they partnered with Native Instruments to produce the VC 2A which provides a parallel compression mix blend control not originally featured on the hardware.
Visit Native Instruments for more information.
Universal Audio - UAD LA-2A Plug-in
Is there any other plug-in developer better equipped to model the LA-2A other than Universal Audio? That’s not for us to decide. Two flavour of LA-2A are available for the UAD2 platform, both sound great, both are probably the closest things you’ll get to the real hardware.
Visit Universal Audio for more information.
Waves partnered with legendary mix engineer Chris Lord-Alge to produce a suite of plug-in emulations based on three well known studio compressors. One of those being the LA-2A which was named The CLA-2A. Chris has a reputation for knowing a thing or two about compression, couple that experience with Waves’ deep knowledge of hardware modelling and you end up with another one of those LA-2A emulations that feels and sounds as good as the original hardware. But why take our word for it when you can listen to the CLA-2A plug-in against a real outboard UA LA-2A in the video below…
Visit Waves for more information.