Universal Audio LA610

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by ManicMonkey3, Aug 23, 2009.

  1. ManicMonkey3

    ManicMonkey3 Guest

    I started recording songs for fun in high school in the 80s on a 4 track. I took a decade off and got back into it a few years ago and made a CD and now I'm doing my second. I did it all cheap in my basement. My friends, who know nothing about recording, think it sounds great, but I always think it could sound better. I have an opportunity to buy an UA LA610 for $800. I want to know if such an acquisition will really up my sound quality or be a subtle improvement.

    On my recordings I play electric and acoustic guitar, bass, and I sing. I use software for drums. Obviously knowledge of recording and mixing are a major element, but I'm speaking purely gear here.

    Here's what I currently use to record: a Presonus tube pre, a Joe Meek VC3 pre/compressor, a Presonus Firebox, a Groove Tubes GT55 condenser mic, Shure mics: beta58a, PG58 and an SM86 condenser; a PIV 2.6ghz computer; Cubase sx3, Waves plug-ins; Sansamp GT2, PodXT; Fender, Marshall, and Mesa Boogie tube amps.

    I know this pre is supposedly good for vocals, guitars and bass and it has a nice sounding compressor. I use no hardware compression most of the time now and use the Waves plug-ins for compression. They are a big improvement over the Alesis 3630 I used for a short time. I need to try the Meek again. I was overcompressing. The Joe Meek manual recommends a 7:1 ratio. I now find this more than I want. I have been so happy with the Waves plug-ins though that I haven't even gone back to experiment.

    OK, after all this rambling you probably forgot the initial question. Is this UA LA610 a real steal or should I focus on recording skills or another piece of gear. Remember, I've been doing this a few years already and reading a bit on the subject online- which means i'm still a big amateur, but I have made a lot of improvement. I have yet to take a class on the subject although I read an online class and heard audio samples.

    I've basically been operating in a vacuum here and have only one friend who records and he uses Behringer stuff, so there hasn't been a big knowledge exchange here.

    Also, is the lifespan on this type of high end gear usually decades long? I mean, I expect to keep this thing for the rest of my life if I can. I'm 37 now.
  2. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Nov 30, 2008
    Lake Ki-Chi-Saga, Minnesota USA
    The only way your going to know is to try it. I don't own the LA610 but I have heard great things about it. I would say its certainly worth $800 on the market. I would not hesitate to buy it to try it. If you do not like it you should easily get the money back by selling it later.
  3. ManicMonkey3

    ManicMonkey3 Guest

    LA 610

    That was my idea. Sell it if it doesn't work for me. Of course, there is always a little risk that a guy is trying to unload a piece of gear he dumped a cup of coffee into and now it works intermittently. I have bought almost all used guitars and amps with the same philosophy. The problem is that I almost keep everything- at least everything high end. The one exception is the two Gibson SGs I got rid of. Both were dumped by friends at such a low price, I could't pass it up, but they just weren't for me. I had no trouble getting rid of them though.

    I'd still love to hear from someone who has really used one though. Also, if buying this means I still need to upgrade my mics, DAW, and take recording classes before I see any improvement, then I guess it really isn't worth it. I mean, if this thing is so great that I can give up my Sansamp for bass, stop using as much EQ on vocals, obviates the need for a lot of my plug-ins, and I still get a fuller sound, I'm totally into it.

    I've had a few bad experiences on eBay though where I got some guitar gear that worked at first, then intermittently, then crapped out. My theory is the guy dumped it while it still worked. Overall, my luck has been good though. Still, a $50 guitar pedal is one thing while an $800 pre is another. This is Craigslist, not eBay, by the way, so I fully intend to have the guy do a demonstration before I buy. If he wants to hand off at the door for an envelope full of cash, I'll walk.

    I have read nothing but good reviews online, but I sometimes wonder about these sources because they would never slam a company with a high reputation that spends lots of money advertising on their site.

    Anyway, I know it is a nice pre, I sort of wonder if I'd be better off focusing on a good mic or better soundcard. They say it makes a cheap mic sound better, so maybe my GT55 will do for now. That would certainly make me happy.

    OK, can I tell you every other thought process going through my head? I think I'm not getting enough fiber. I see wrinkles forming around the corners of my eyes. I need to talk more with my sister. Blah, blah, blah. I guess I should go to sleep and stop obsessing on material things. It will be there in the morning if it's meant to be.
  4. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    I say go for it. Just be sure that you are able to audition it well, both "cold" and well-warmed up. Crank up the gain and check for microphonics, thump the box to check for intermittencies (real high tech, eh?) as well.
    UA gear is, IMHO, much better in build quality than the Meek, it should outlast anything that you have now.
    And ,on another note, I've noticed that there is an increasing number of users out there that are discovering that compression is not the "be all, end all" of processing. It is easily over-used, and the UA box will let you dial in a bit more "nuance", without hitting you over the head with too much of a good thing.
  5. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    Dec 25, 2007
    Atlanta, Ga
    I have one and use it a lot, on vox, guitar (mic'd and DI, electric and acoustic) and bass.
    For that much, you can't go wrong. It's a good, solid piece with a nice sound...I'd definitely go for it, you won't be sorry.
  6. arlongz

    arlongz Guest

    I use no accouterments compression a lot of of the time now and use the Waves plug-ins for compression. I accept been so blessed with the Waves plug-ins admitting that I haven't even gone aback to experiment.

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  7. ManicMonkey3

    ManicMonkey3 Guest

    Thanks for your comments. I bought it. The guy actually sold it on eBay for $950 but backed out and sold it to me for $800 because we'd already met and hit it off. I like it so far. Now I feel like I should get better converters than my Firebox provides to really get a pro sound. This pre really is nice and smooth sounding. Definitely a step up from my Presonus TubePre- which is really good sounding for the price.

    Funny side story, I have this Joe Meek VC3 that I have grown to absolutely hate. I used the vocal settings that they recommend in the manual and the drive and compression are set so high that it turned to absolute mud. After listening to the LA610, by lowering the drive and comp and tweaking the Q a bit I was able to get a very similar tone out of the Joe Meek. I'm not saying that it is as good, but it is definitely an acceptable tone. I had put the VC3 up on Craigslist and had an interested buyer, but I backed out. I got it for $90 on eBay and I figure it is nice to have as a backup since it is so cheap. If I ever sell the LA610 I will use the Joe Meek on the rare occasions I record.

    I mean, I am recording now, but it's a hobby and if I find my gear collecting dust because of time constraints down the road, I'll sell some stuff off. No sense in collecting stuff you don't use. The LA610 needs to run wild and let the wind blow through its hair. I'm losing mine in the mean time.
  8. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    Dec 25, 2007
    Atlanta, Ga
    Good for you man...enjoy!

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