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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 instruments vocalists music you'd usually think to try each one on first during a mix?

Thank You for your time in advance.


anonymous Thu, 02/28/2002 - 23:49

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

anonymous Fri, 03/01/2002 - 01:11

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

....beware death rant

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

Recording Engineer Fri, 03/01/2002 - 01:53

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?


anonymous Fri, 03/01/2002 - 02:01

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

mixfactory Fri, 03/01/2002 - 08:23

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.

mixfactory Sat, 03/02/2002 - 22:40

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.

miketholen Sun, 03/03/2002 - 04:49

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:

anonymous Sun, 03/03/2002 - 13:58

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.... fuck 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???????

anonymous Sun, 03/03/2002 - 22:14

There's a lot of Aussies here isn't there :D

Okay Off topic I cannot compare with 2" and actually send off work to you guys when clients want it.
I run a PT(cough cough) system and we all loose work to small ADAT/Cubase/Mackie Studios. Not that they are better, its because they around only US$10-$15/hour.
Remember that bands are cheap.
The older and better bands should know better.
The younger bands do not and a lot of them are the ones that pay the bills.

I actually left tape a long time ago as clients would not pay for it when Adats were so cheap. Now I backup the whole thing on a data tape for US$50.

anonymous Sun, 03/03/2002 - 23:23

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

Well this is rampant generalisation on my behalf having worked in both spectrums.. top flight studios and being forced to use 'budget 'mackie/adat type stuidos. I

I will use tape more often than not because of the sonic advantages etc, which were described in an earlier post.

Generally i am able to pick my projects these days and was speaking from past perspective and that of other friends, coleagues who still work with lower paying cleints. When i get an offer to work for a band or artist i will nearly always use tape or use 'Alsihad' for more differnt artists/electro/dance etc and then mix from 'Alishad' or print to 2" for finalmix.

I hear where you are coming from PTPerson.. the correlation between better musos and better technology runs true because they generally have 'been round the traps' and have seen, expereinced and can hear the difference.

Peace Wiggy

coldsnow Tue, 03/05/2002 - 06:59

Actually I missed your comments and was referring to Julian's. Anyways, I do respectfully disagree. In fact I was just talking to a guy who has a studio out in Phonix the other day. He has both as well as some originals and much prefers the Purple to the UA. His comment was the oposite if fact. He suggested that the Purple was warmer and fatter and the UA tended to sound thin. Also The Purple tends to have a lot more gain like the originals. Anyways it is subjective and I'm not trying to point out that you are wrong, only that others opinions are different. It could be that you have a bad Purple and good UA and he has a good Purple and bad UA. Who knows. Also if you are buying an original try to find the D and E or F revisions of the black face. The others do not sound as good.

mixfactory Tue, 03/05/2002 - 08:11

Hey Coldsnow, As you said we agree to disagree. The Purple I had was a brand new one, it was given to me to try out and see what I thought and would I buy or reccommend. Also the same with the UA. I tried them on the three things I would normally use a 1176 on when mixing, Kick,Bass or vocals. Like I said earlier they each brought out different freq's, which I have learned to expect from an 1176. I just felt that the Purple sounded better where you would want to thin something out or make it a touch brighter. I actually thought it would work great on an acoustic guitar(maybe a pair of purple's in stereo with diferent ratios on each side), but I didn't get to try it out. I liked the UA better on kick and bass. On a vocal I think each showed their strengths and weaknesses. I think an older 1176 is actually better on vocals, but you have to find the right one for that particular vocal. With the "fatter"thing, I don't normally use an 1176 to thicken things up, its normally the opposite, to make things stay solid and command attention in the mix. The blue stripe are probably the "fatter" ones, but they suck on certain things. When it comes to the different revs and stuff, my answer is always what ever sounds good to you. I have gear that hasn't seen a recap in its life, but I am used to the sound and it works in my mixes. If I recap it I know it will change the way it sounds, and then can i use it the way I used it before?

anonymous Tue, 03/05/2002 - 14:10

When I was deciding on which one to get, I was impressed with the improvements that Purple had instituted (prior to the "re-release" of the UA 1176) -- see -- and checked around to see what the consensus was about the sonics. I have been very happy with my MC76, on just about everything. I have not A/B'd it directly, but it seems to work/sound very much like at least some of the original (i.e., old) 1176's I've used elsewhere.I think the Purple people put a lot of thought/care in "recreating" their version. Of course, I've never found two Marshall heads or two Pro Reverbs or two 1960 Les Paul Junior Non-SG Double Cutaways that sounded and responded identically, and I'm sure that people who don't live in Manhattan have stories about the variation among "identical" Rambler American Station Wagons or Studebaker Hawks or whatever.

Guest Tue, 03/05/2002 - 15:09

Any one see that review Dave Martin (a chum) did of the two? Purple / UA?

I was spitting feathers at the end, he said both were good for DIFFERENT THINGS!!!! AAGGGAGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Frustrating! He was just as on the fence about them in person!!!

I bought the UA on the grounds of fashion..

coldsnow Wed, 03/06/2002 - 10:46

Hi again,
Actually, I was referring to someone elses comments. To me thay are both very good and sound very similar. I chose Purple because of the 3 year warrenty and it seemed people who had both either were neutral or prefered the Purple. Anyways, I was really responding to what someone else had said:
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?

Trying to make the point that this was not a consensous (spelling?).
Anyways, I agree with you totally on the aspect that you use a 1176 to make something stand out in the mix and give it a certain edge. I don't believe it thin's out the source like the silver does however. But if I want to make something sound warm and fuzzy I turn to a tube el op comp. I've never had the fortune of trying a Blue stripe but in reading interviews with Lord Alge, it appears he thinks it is the ultimate vocal comp. It would be nice to have about 15 different 1176's to choose from at any one time like he does.

mixfactory Wed, 03/06/2002 - 13:44

Hi Coldsnow, that's fine no problem!! I think we both are saying the same thing. Its up to the person, and how he/she hears things and uses it. By the way, I rarely use an 1176 when mixing vocals anymore, when I want the Urei sound I much prefer the Urei LA22. The one I have is hot rodded and I use it only for vocals. I had a Blue Stripe for a while and it worked sometimes, other times it sucked. It was just a show piece in my rig, so I got rid of it. As a mixer you have to have the tools you need at your disposal. I know I have my "one of kind"type stuff, my "noah's ark" stuff, my "this thing just does one thing well, but when its right its right"stuff, and the "felt but not heard"stuff. Plus all the other fillers. After a while it feels ridiculous, buying a piece of gear for that"one time I needed this sound", but I guess its what you are doing at the time.

MadMoose Wed, 03/06/2002 - 19:58

Originally posted by THETHRILLFACTOR:
I know I have my "one of kind"type stuff, my "noah's ark" stuff, my "this thing just does one thing well, but when its right its right"stuff, and the "felt but not heard"stuff. Plus all the other fillers. After a while it feels ridiculous, buying a piece of gear for that"one time I needed this sound", but I guess its what you are doing at the time.

I know what that feels like. Most of the things in my effects rack are like that. I wish I could sell half of em and free up the space and the patch points.

mixfactory Thu, 03/07/2002 - 11:50

Hi Coldsnow,

It has to be!! I have the issue right here on my lap. It has Terry Date on the cover and the TC System 6000. 2000 volume 11 issue 9. I also saw the article in the Pro Sound News,http://. This is actually a cool issue(EQ#9), it has intterviews with Terry Date,Chuck Ainlay,Dexter Simmons and Joe Barresi. Also our old mastering friend Bob Ohlsson is interviewed. If you want I can send you the mag or I can scan the article and email it to you. You can also contact Dave if you like. I hope this helps.

erockerboy Thu, 03/07/2002 - 12:13

Hiya Thrill,

Question about your "hotrodded" LA-22. (We're talking about the same unit, right? The 2-channel, solid state, single rack space job?) I've got one of those in my rack from back in the day and actually find it quite useful, though it's normally not my "go-to" compressor for critical apps like lead vox or feature instruments etc. I'm curious about how yours is modded, and what uses you've found for it. Any details greatly appreciated!

mixfactory Thu, 03/07/2002 - 14:29

Hi EJolson,

Sure. The LA22 is one of those secret weapons that people don't know much about. I actually learned about it from Mick G. It was actually the original Distressor, before there was a Distressor. It was built as Urei's last hurrah, but it has some design flaws as you know. First of all, because of all the electronics it tends to overheat, and there are no holes on the unit. I had a series of holes drilled on the top cover(something easy, but neccessary). Also it has many options for connections, but in some studios they tend to induce a nasty ground hum. I had all of the the extra posts taken off(which improved the sound dramatically). I had some of the gain staging changed to better improve the signal to noise ratio. The one I own has a happy accident when these mods were being done, for some reason the output jumped by 2-4db. The guy asked if I wanted it changed, I told him let me try it first and I would let him know. In the studio, when I passed audio through it, it was like wow!!! The sound just jumps through the speakers, i called him back and said forget it!! This baby stays the way it is!! Like the Distressor, it sounds better when you have a nice front end before it. I usually have an EQ before it when mixing vocals(Massive Passive or GML 8200). It also works well on kicks. I never track through it though(I don't track music that much anyway anymore). Like I said, in my rack its one of my "colors" when mixing vocals. Hope this helps some.

mixfactory Fri, 03/08/2002 - 10:38

Hey E,

The guy that did mine(2 years ago I think), I haven't seen him around. He was a russian tech(maybe the russian mob got to him?). There are guys though who could do it for you(Audio upgrades probably). By the way, I didn't mention in the earlier posts about the side chain. Its what makes it real powerful, you can determine which portion of your vocal needs compression. Sometimes I feed one side into the other(Channel 1 into Channel 2), and have one do some light compression, the other does the side stuff. Works really well. Also I think I mostly use avg. not peak as much. I usually have one setting for everybody and I never touch it. It works on almost every vocal I pop through it. If its not happening, I just switch to another combo(EQ/compressor), until I hear something that's right to my ears. Like I said earlier, the LA22 works for some vocals and not for others. But when it works, stand back.