LA-2 or 1176


Well-Known Member
May 14, 2001
Mogadore, OH
OK, I decided to wait and get something that I will not outgrow (damn the peer pressure). For all around (but particularly vocals), would I be better off going in the LA-2 (ex. Universal Audio) type or the 1176 type (ex. Purple Audio)? If money were no object. The only other compressors I have are the RNC and I will probably get the Avalon 737. For rock music, not heavy metal.


Well-Known Member
Feb 17, 2001
Tampa Bay, FL
If I had to choose one, I would get the UA 1176 first, then a Distressor, then an La-2a. I say an 1176 first because It is my "deserted island" compressor of choice with the Distressor following close behind. IMO the distressor is not a replacement for the 1176 or La-2a (it is really its own beast in so many ways), regardless of popular opinion. I personally utilize Optos (ie LA-2a) best in series (ie 1176 into La-2a), sometimes before, sometimes after a VCA or J-FET compressor/limiter. Also, another thing to think about if you want a J-FET unit with more "all in one" features is the 1969 Drawmer. It is more $$$ than a 1176, but it is a lot of bang for the buck in comparison...check it out here:

Good luck, feel free to call if you have any questions.

Nathan Eldred
Atlas Pro Audio, Inc.


Well-Known Member
Feb 10, 2001
If I had to choose one, it would be the Crane Song "Trakker". It does a nice 'air optical' as well as a fairly aggresive 'hard knee' compressor.

The LA-2A is nice if you really feel the spiritual need to eat up 3 rack spaces or need it for client "shwing" factor. Other than that it's a good 'two trick pony'. The current reissues sounded like a refurbished original last I heard one (it ought to, they borrowed mine to do the final setup for theirs).

If I were to get an 1176 today it would be the Purple Audio. I find the bottom to be thicker, richer sounding...without losing any of the "aggression" for which those units are known.

My drop dead favorite thing on bass in an 1176 LN, doesn't matter if it's black or cheap as you can find a used one, then send it to Alactronics for their 1176 modification. Absolutely the clearest, largest (without getting fuzzy) thing I've ever used on a bass. They don't suck for other things too...but they really excel for bass.

As for the Avalon VT 737sm, the compressor is kind of 'hit or miss'. When it works for a sound, it works really really well, when it doesn't work for a sound you'll know in about 45 seconds or less. The attack is often too slow for some material and it sometimes seems to 'grab' funny. The Equalizer, the Mic-Pre, the DI input are all really nice [the Equalizer alone is worth the price of admission!]

For vocal work, I really have found the 'Trakker' to be like a 'Swiss Army Knife' of compression. I have done some pretty sick amounts of gain reduction with the thing [like 14 db of GR!], and it still came out clear as a bell. The link features will come in exceptionally handy if you decide to add more units [it's even good enough for 2-bus work, you can link up to 8 of them if you happen to be doing some 7.1 work :roll: ] Check it out here:

Nathan Eldred wrote: "I personally utilize Optos (ie LA-2a) best in series (ie 1176 into La-2a), sometimes before, sometimes after a VCA or J-FET compressor/limiter."

Nathan, you've pretty much just described the new Manley [good lord I hate this name] "SLAM". It'll be out around September...right around the AES show...go figure.

Good luck, feel free to call or e-mail if you have any questions...


"Nathan, you've pretty much just described the new Manley [good lord I hate this name] "SLAM"." -Fletcher

yeah i think that name sucks too. i voted for "elop II electric boogaloo" but that didn't even garner me a coffee mug much less a 500 dollar gift certificate-daniel


Mar 27, 2001
Originally posted by thedmc:
"Nathan, you've pretty much just described the new Manley [good lord I hate this name] "SLAM"." -Fletcher

yeah i think that name sucks too. i voted for "elop II electric boogaloo" but that didn't even garner me a coffee mug much less a 500 dollar gift certificate-daniel

Hey, I came up with the Manley SINK, As in kitchen sink. <g>
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Well-Known Member
Feb 10, 2001
Originally posted by coldsnow:
Any difference between the Purple and the Universal 1176 models?

I'm lazy...I took this from the 'Wave Distribution' website ...but I'm sure it's probably on the 'Purple Audio' website too.

MC76 Improvements

Over the years, we have seen well over a hundred 1176 and 1176LN limiting amplifiers come across our benches for repair and we have gotten to know all about what goes wrong with them. When we set out to make our own version we wanted to keep the sound of the original but improve the build quality and reliability so we could offer a longer warranty and provide a superior value. Re-engineering this classic limiter to make it more solid and reliable while keeping sonic character identical certainly did not make our job simpler and definitely increased the build costs but we felt it was worth it.

Improvements we made include

Stronger build for road-worthiness
Yes - we have been known to throw MC-76's or rack them in road cases and drop them off loading docks to test how much abuse they can take and we have bent some front panels and destroyed some meters doing this but the units always worked post- throw or almost always one of the girls had a really bad day and got a little carried away on one of the test pieces ­ she eventually wrapped it around a pipe there are limits if you bend your unit up trying to reproduce these tests we will NOT replace the bent parts and busted meter for free

Heavy Gauge Stainless Steel Case We went with the new material mostly for strength but quite commonly we see rusted chassis in the original units and the stainless won't do that

Torroidal Power Transformer for lower field emission and induced noise

XLR I/O Connects for easy signal interface ­ we have always hated barrier strips and have added XLR's to plenty of the original units, they're even pin 2 hot.

IEC Power Inlet for easy power interface make changing cable length and type much easier

Built in Stereo Adapter ­ we saw no reason to make users pay extra for the stereo adapter and since it is built in to every MC-76 you can gang multiple units together for multi-channel bus limiting

Sealed Multi-Turn Internal Calibration Pots were changed from open single turn types to sealed multi turn types so

FET Bias, Meter Null and Distortion Null calibrations are easier to set and tend not to drift

Audio & Chassis Grounds are on separate lugs for easy integration no matter what your system ground scheme is

Relocation of Output Transformer from main circuit board to case. We've seen many vintage 1176/1176LN's come in that fell or were dropped - many of these had cracked or broken circuit boards from an output transformer that kept going when the box and circuit board ceased moving

Improved Heat Sinks on the stud mounted zener diode shunt voltage regulator and T0-5 2N3053 output transistor. We've seen quite a number of units with burn marks around this part so we added a 1/4" thick 1/2" wide steel heat sink so the zener runs cooler and is more stable and the single element Class A output gets hot and expires in older units without this heat sink

Double Sided Printed Circuit Board with Ground Plane for lower noise

Circuit Board Stiffener to reduce board flex and consequent damage 1% Metal Film Resistors for tighter tolerances and consistent sound

Panasonic HFS Low-Impedance 105°C Capacitors in the audio path between amplifiers are far superior electrolytic capacitors for audio than those originally used in the vintage units

Panasonic Snap Mount TSNH Long Life 105°C Capacitors for power supply filtering have a great mechanical connection to the PCB and have a lower impedance than those originally used in the vintage units

Bridge Rectifier RF Filter Caps for improved noise performance

Local power supply decoupling around every amplifier for improved damping and overshoot reduction

True ANSI Specification VU Meter is better damped and gives much more information about what is going on in level and gain reduction monitoring ­ this meter is also more robust than those used in the original units so it was well worth the added cost

Improved VU Meter Illumination made standard on MC-76's after serial number 350, the original "#1819" lamp needed to be replaced too often so we went over to using LED clusters... so if you have an MC-76 with a lower serial number the upgrade is free, just contact us (We would also be happy to make someone a deal on a large quantity of #1819 3000-hour incandescent lamps)

Hope this adequately outlines the "improvements/differences" for you.
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