Differences Of The 3 Classics?

Mar 4, 2001
So in an attempt for trying to find the right "color" of compression for a certain type of vocal "sound", I thought I might ask: Would anyone care and try to attempt explaining the basic character differences between the LA-2A, LA-3A, and 1176LN and what type of instrumentsvocalistsmusic you'd usually think to try each one on first during a mix?

Thank You for your time in advance.


The 1176 is best for practically any vocalist. It is very transparent even when worked hard. Really comes in handy for awful singers with no microphone technique (the ones that belt out and whisper from the same distance to the mic on the same take) because you can really crank it. It just has a transparent quality that really brings vocals out in front of a mix. Great for tracking and mixing vocals, also decent on bass and snares. The LA2A is best for live bass,and guitars because of the way it handles the low end. It adds that tube imprint to the low end which just rounds it out nicely. For vocalists, it will add more colour than the 1176 and will be more useful on vocalists with a harsh midrange (usually certain female vocalists) as it rounds out the mids nicer. Hopefully this is of some help


First off....... you will struggle to get a bad result out of either unit.. they are Modern classics and studio staples.

....beware death rant following...lol

Here is my take on both of these compressor/limiters that i have used. I peronally own a mint condition Silver face 1176, which i believe was one of the last ones ever made. I picked it up from a post place so it was no in regular rock pig studio and is in mind condition soniucally and cosmetically. It does have discernable different tone from a blackface, which IMHO is nicer and more musical (insert favourite pro audio adjective). The characteristic of an 1176 is extrmely unique. Once you have used one you will be able to pick it from a mile away. You just hear them on SO many songs. They are usualy the bark in snare drums (common application). They definately are not transparent for that reason. They are great for nearly everything current uses for me include:

Room mics (4 button trick a must in this applciation)
Guitar for smooth solos and a bit of push
Snares for added bark(insert adjective)
Bass ---Tres` Bien bass compressor/limiter
anything...they are so damn good !!!

Many of the 'Gods' have been quoted as saying they would be the desert island compressor. They would go down a treat if i was stranded and it has saved me heaps on low budget jobs where i have had to work in places where they mainly have other low brow compressors etc

The LA2A is another beast completely. Being all tube and OPTO coupled by the TB4 opto coupler, is a more gentle and melliflous beast. Adds a bit of air and sparkles to vocals, sounds great on bass. It is true what what goes into an LA2A does come out sounding a bit bigger. That is the nature of the circuit etc and the great UTC transformers.

A favourite trick of mine and many others is to track a vocal using both of these great compressors. I use the 1176 to tame the singer and thier dynamics( or lack of) and then use the LA2A to raise the level a bit and control any excessive peaks. Great and expensive signal chain that guarantees 1st class vocals (assuming talent can sing!!! lol.....can anyone sing w/o antares auto tune these days?)

Things to watch with these compressors. Heaps of them were made and there were many different batches/mod of them. They all have different sonic signatures etc....the differences in 1176's is well documented on many sites and forums and i think on the UA site. Also they may have been sitting around unused for ages so get a tech to check them out. They may need to be recapped. Recapping them makes big difference like it does with any other piece of gear.If they came from a smoking studio they may have emyphsemia??? so get them to the tech DR for a checkout.

But most of all use your ears to work out if they really do give you a big woody!... don't just buy one becuase the crey on these forums say so!

...SO Believe the Hype check them out and buy one if you dig it... they are a piece of kit you will never regret buying and will be used for ages to come.

Hope it has helped

Cheers Wiggy
Mar 4, 2001
Wow!!! Thanks guys... Sounds like any serious commercial studio ought to have all 3 of these!

Anyone have anything to say for the LA-3A?

It sounds like I need to go check-out the 1176 first! But the question is which one. I've pretty much decided I'd rather go for a reissue rather than all the hassle with an original. So, the question is the Purple Audio MC76 or UA 1176LN Reissue?



Try them all and make your mind up and let us know what you think

The LA3A is kinda similar to the LA2A but with out tubes... have not has as good success with them as LA2A's. Also alot of them had a bad noise problem like some of the arleir 1176's

Have not had any direct experience with eh Purple ones either. THey do not have a distribution here in Australia so can only go by what i read in forums and in mags... and i have learnt to take what i read in glossy mags with a grain of salt!

... Either way they (1176) truly are great

Hope it helps

Peace Wiggy


Well-Known Member
Apr 22, 2001
I think Fletcher on his mercenary website has an article that might give you some idea. Normally when I hear a vocal in a track I'm mixing, I have a general idea what kinda compressor its going to be. Also I have certain chains hardwired that I just send the vocals through(EQ-compressor-EQ,EQ-compressor, Compressor-EQ-compressor,limiter/compressor-EQ-EQ). The LA2A would be in the third chain, where the compressor is more for color(if the vocal is thin and it needs some thickness to it or if its too bright and I want to dull it a little. Neve compressors also work great for this purpose, sometimes better than the LA2A). The LA3A would be in the last chain where you need a more in your face vocal sound, fast and hard. I usually limit really hard on the LA3A and when it starts peaking I throw something else behind it. I then EQ the sound back into the vocal. The 1176's are in the first catagory(even though I normally don't use 1176's on vocals anymore, I much prefer the LA22). The 1176's are flashier and make the voice stick out in your mix. They make the vocals easier to EQ, because they usualy bring them out. I normally throw this sound on a vocal which sounds pretty good already and it just needs a new jacket to command some attention. They come in different varieties. I'ne owned at certain times all three(blue,black and silver). The blue's are chunkier, the black's are warm and flashy, the silver's are thin and bright). It all depends on the condition of course. Of the three I kept a black one and brought one of the new ones. The purple to me is closer to the silver 1176, with a touch of black. I know this all highly subjective and to put it into words is a little nuts. My suggestion is to rent the three yourself(or six), and find out how it sounds to you. Hope this helps a some.


Well-Known Member
Feb 10, 2001
Wow! I had to pinch myself when I realised this was a thread somewhere I moderated! Great writing guys!




Well-Known Member
Mar 16, 2001
So are we saying that of the '76 reissues, the "new UA" sounds closer to a blackface and the "Purple" sounds closer to a silver?

Thanks for a very informative thread BTW!


Well-Known Member
May 14, 2001
Mogadore, OH
NO the Purple is a direct copy of the black face as is the UA. I've talked to a couple of people who either own or sell both and they reported they sound exactly the same.


Well-Known Member
Apr 22, 2001
Hi Coldsnow, I meant as in "sound" color. To my ears the purples are closer to the Silver 1176's, than the UA which is a little closer to some of the black 1176's. Is this a bad thing, no not really. In my experience there were some instances where the purple was better than UA, and vice versa. The ideal is to own a pair of each. I say give the UA's a couple of more years and they will start sounding like the older blacks. The purple's are built real solid. They are both excellent in their own right. Remember this is just an opinion.


Well-Known Member
Jan 28, 2001
Originally posted by Han:
Originally posted by wiggy neve freak:

2" tape till I die!

I have a feeling there must be quite a story behind this remark, please explain :)
Story? you need an explanation?
do you know what a 2" is?
do you know what tape is?
hmmm...I'm starting to wonder about you Han... :w:


Hey Mike:) I'm just (very) curious why he puts it under his posts.

I simply have the feeling he's a member of our club, the stubbern analog die hards :) :)


YES!!!!! we are few and far betweenthese days with all the Alishah's and thier cracz and plugins.

Yes i am avid and die hard tape slut. I have an ancient Ampex MM1200 thats sounds freakin' awesome, full, round and punchy with all the discrete circuits etc. This beast is one hell of a 'Rock'.. or anything else tape machine. Soncically it eats up Otari's, Mci' and most Studers for lunch and shits them out before dinner!
Whilst eh transport is slow and a bit clunky, i andmy clients are mroe than willing to put up with it for the superior sonic advantages that it returns to my project. It cannot shuttle like an A800 or punch in like MCI-jh-24(pretty close becuase i found a heap PURC fast punch cards) it is still my workhorse an dwill beuntil it dies.... ^#$% it's nearly 25 years old now and the bitch still keeps going?....MOA hardware will never be able to last that long.

Although recently I have been using 'Alishad' a fair bit.. and granted it does have some really cool things going for it... SONICS Aint one of them. I have heard the demo of the new 192 HD system.. but it was in a demo studios where MOA (mother of Alishad)was boasting, brainwashing and preenig it's ausience for an upgrade. If the demo is anything to go by, it is slowly getting there but as it stands now I still like the hear the bottom octave of drums and bass which digital is not curently able to reproduce to my liking.

That having been said... the IZ (AKA Otari) RADAR is THE best digital format hat i ahve used. Operates like a 2" and sounds REALLY good for digital...yeah it actually does sound good if you can believe it.

But sadly here in Australia stingy muso's cant tell the difference between a fantastic production done on 2" between a Alsishad production.. let alone jsutifiy the costs of 2" tape which will be getting more expensive as time goes by. So i like everyone else, sooner or later will beforced to join the darkside of MOA. But so long as the music is cool is should not matter right???????


QUOTE: "But sadly here in Australia stingy muso's cant tell the difference between a fantastic production done on 2" between a Alsishad production."

Neve freak, perhaps you should be hanging with some better muso's.