ART Pro-VLA II Reviews4.4/5.0 based on 21 customer reviews
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from Central Florida
May 15, 2013Music Background:
SatisfiedSo I'll give you an overall view on all thing things i got.
I love the way everything has worked out.
Great my sound overall has definitely improved.
I the people that come out to see me have noticed the difference.
The sound is warm and balanced .
from Atlanta, GA USA
May 13, 2013Music Background:
Live sound engineer
Fantastic!I could not afford a sixteen hundred UREI compressor. I have used that one and loved it. So I ordered this one and hoped it would work out. Wow! It worked like a charm and I really need it with the project I am working on. This man I am recording cannot be recorded without a compressor.
from NY, NY
April 19, 2013Music Background:
Pro drummer/percussionistcomposer, Home Studio
ART Pro VLA-II CompressorI'm a pro level musician, but an intermediate level home recordist and relatively new to using an outboard compressor as I've been using the plug ins mostly.
The ART Pro VLA-II is built very solid, looks great, and sounds great. Is easy to use and has all the pertinent parameters and you would want for basic compression/leveling. The VUs read both input and output levels as per switch, which is nice and are easy to visualize as are the LEDs.
The price is great for those of us more or less on a budget. I'm attracted to the 'tube warmth' thing that it delivers, so I'm not sure there is another another compressor out there is this price range that I would get over the ART.
I highly recommend this unit and also Sweetwater as their service is tops in the industry.
from United States
December 5, 2012Music Background:
Pro Musician, Recording Hobbyist, Hardware Engineer
Better than I expected!!! Way better!!I had read where people were calling it "transparent" and wow!! The only thing I'd change is putting the +4/-10db button on the front instead of the back... Sounds GREAT with electric bass. Real nice tight slap sounds, super clean... and it's quiet!! I was worried about it having a lot of noise because of my experience with a different ART compressor. Nice and clean... Am thinking of getting another one...
from Massillon, Ohio USA
August 15, 2012Music Background:
A Remarkable CompressorA truly remarkable compressor for the price! I run an internet radio station and have tried other compressors, but this one truly does the job. I finally found the sound I was looking for. With this compressor, the levels are constant, and the sound is natural. I still find myself tweaking the attack and release occasionally, but you should be able to dial in the sound you want, without the squashing like on so many other compressors. Go for this one, you won't be disappointed.
July 12, 2012
Mehh..not for meAll the reviews are raving about this, but I was not impressed, it makes things more "cluttered/muddy" sounding, so yes it will warm up your mix, but leave you with other problems as well (like smearing). I tend to lean on the side of clear and open, but if youre into clutter and mud this is what you want. Someone compared this to the Fatso, its not even close. It certainly didnt "beef up" the sound. Honestly I find it hard to believe its considered a mastering-quality unit. In the end you simply get what you paid for, in my opinion it may even be a hair overpriced. It is somewhat transparent compression which is something to be desired, but not worth the weight of the other audio cons.
from United States
June 8, 2012Music Background:
I have been in the business over 28 years and have worked with many well known artist in the industry. Just ask Vern!
Works like a charmIt took me about a week to adjust to the settings and then after that it was cake. I am using the Neumann 102 mic with it and its really amazing. The quality and the smooth roll off really surprised me. It also warmed the vocals. We're proud to use this product in our studio and we look forward to Art's new product line.
October 16, 2011Music Background:
As good as my Fatso!I also own a UBK Fatso, a Avalon 737 and a DBX. This compressor is really, really good. With the stock tubes it sounds very good. But I changed for a pair of 12ax7 Mullard (12ax7 give you more gain and let you reach the right amount of valve character, to warm any source). Even with no compression, the Pro VLA II will give you a wonderful roundness and the most natural compression that exist - tube (or tape) compression. Using 12ax7 tubes can polish very well the offending high frequencies of a digital recording. There is no input volume control, so it keeps the signal untouched before it hit the valves and compressor. Resuming - If you mix in the box, one Art Pro VLA II is enough. But if you, as me, mix OTB, buy one to test and then buy 1 or 2 more. One good trick - It gets its best results after 2 hours in use. Everyday I wake up, turn it on, check my email, go to break fast, etc..,before use it. While it will not give you an ultra fast attack as a SSL Master Bus or an 1176, the Pro VLA II has a respectable fast attack and, most of all, a natural sounding. One thing that I discovered only after 2 weeks of use - the attack and release knobs changes the ratio and vice-versa. So, if it is not exactly the sound you want, try very subtle tweaking the attack, release and ratio knobs. This compressor It is another kind of animal, a totally different way to achieve compression. If I only had Art Pro VLAs to mix, I would be capable of do a good job.
from home of the bave
September 15, 2011Music Background:
front end leveling for allI was going to get a pair of la2a's, but then I noticed the Art unit having a pan pot, so I got it instead..(ha,ha!). Here's the truth- this sounds so good it hurts me to criticize it at all, but you don't want to use the stereo link switch for the best sound. And with the excellent meters(input,output,gain reduction), you'll have no challenge matching the two sides with ease, anyway.
Now my conscience is clear disclosing the only fault, here's the deal- I choose between my AEA, UA, and Focusrite pres for an input and use it like a TRS patch bay in front of my Burl B2 ADC. If it didn't sound good, it would not stay in my rig. It not only sounds good(for any price), my front end gain-staging is now rock solid.
from Washington, DC
August 22, 2011Music Background:
Performing musician, studio engineer
Really lives up to the hype and beyond...I bought this item nervously. I don't always trust when people say that this or that budget piece of gear is a hidden gem of awesomeness. But in this case, wow, it's true. If you're looking for a versatile, musical compressor for under $500, jump on it and don't hesitate. It's become one of the central tools of my project studio, sweetens everything up. It really is quite musical, and I've been able to easily dial in just what I'm looking for for any particular track. I haven't been this pleased with a piece of gear in a long time if ever. Solid!
from Lexington, SC
August 10, 2011Music Background:
Recording, live, broadcasting.
Pro VLA is Awewsome!I own a radio station in Lexington, SC. The Art Pro VLA is one of the most usefull and versatile pieces of equipment I have in the studio. My unit is mostly used in the 'Dual' mode, using it as two independent mono units. One side is used to power and process the radio station's streaming audio, hear it ai LakeMurrayRadio, 107.9 WLXM. The other side/half is used for everything from mic processing to leveling commercial production. Delivers a smooth, rich, warm sound.
from Orange County, CA
June 8, 2011Music Background:
Recording Engineer, Musician
Good, usable unit.As a home recordist, I don't have access to high end studio gear. All compression was relegated to using software plugins until I ordered this piece. I have used hardware compressors, mostly of the dbx brand, and the wonderful SSL Buss compressor when I was lucky enough to work on an AWS 9000.
As delivered, the ART Pro-VLA II is a solid unit of quality construction. All controls are well marked using detented pots. There is also no shortage of metering, though I wish you could have the gain reduction displayed on the analogue VU meters, while having input and output on the LED meters; just a minor criticism though.
The only real drawback to this unit is the release time. The shortest release time is 150ms, which I believe is fine for applying on your 2 Buss, but doesn't give you a lot of room to move. I have used this compressor on vocals, bass, acoustic and electric guitar, and overall mixes so far, and it has sounded very nice on all, just keeping in mind not to apply compression with too heavy of hand, due to the long release time.
I would also recommend changing the output tubes of the unit as well, to a pair of brighter 12AT7's with more headroom. The tubes that it was supplied with were too dark, with too much coloration in my opinion. As stock, can be really cool if that's what you're looking for.
After learning how to use the Pro-VLA II and a tube swap, I was impressed by the sound of the unit. The compression is very smooth, and brings out depth and dimensionality. Overall, this is a very nice sounding compressor with a couple of things you have to work around, but for the price point, I would most certainly recommend this compressor.
from San Jose, CA
May 25, 2011Music Background:
Simple and SweetVery simple to use. Didn't even have to break into the manual. No more nasty sound spikes. Thinking seriously about getting another one.
Little Beach Records
from Seaside, Oregon
August 5, 2010Music Background:
Loud and ClearBefore I purchased this compressor, I read the forums about the original VLA, and read the forums about this newer model. Let me summarize my readings: It is well worth the price of admission.
For what it does, and how well it does it, the price is very reasonable.
And now that I've been actively using it over the last three months, I can add my two cents to these forums and reviews. The PRO VLA II is a great unit.
The displays are so handy. They let you know exactly what's happening. Some people have said that all the various meters and monitoring is overkill, but I love it. VU meter is easily readable and looks cool, but the LED meter catches those fast transients and makes them very obvious when my signal has peaked.
I've used the compressor for vocals, room mics, guitars, and bass. And I am very happy with the results. Also - as a limiter, it does its job. It gets you loud and clear, right up to the edge of peaking, but without stepping over. And these days, that's what a lot of clients are wanting. I can talk to them about dynamic range til I run out of breath, but in the end, most people just want it LOUDER.
The only cons: The ART people don't check their email very often. It takes a while to get responses. AND - the manual absolutely sucks. It is about four pages long and nearly useless. I guess I'm just spoiled by the people from MACKIE and how they write easy-to-read and enjoyable tech manuals. It is an ART-form.
Trial and error's the best way to learn how to use this gadget, but I still wish they would've put a little more thought into a good manual.
Overall: Works well, sounds good, looks great, and is affordable.
from chicago, il
March 18, 2010Music Background:
worth the 299.I really like this comp. It looks good to the client, it sounds good on drum bus, thats all i have used it for so far. . It makes the drums HUGE and brings the tracks together thats what i wanted for this comp. I find it very useful. it's not for everything but does good with drums and bass.
from Dallas, Texas
January 25, 2010Music Background:
Audio / Visual, Home Studio
FYI ...My Art Pro-VLA II is a beast!! I love it!This review revolves around that this is my first rack tube compressor. I have used plug-ins for years, but I needed a physical piece of gear, in a rack, with an analog mixer this time for live use. Using my audio interface and laptop was not an option for me.
For the price its great which is why I am giving it 5 stars. It is built psychically stout, and has been in my traveling rack for a few weeks now. It is not too terribly heavy being two rack spaces. Once I got the flow of how to operate the unit it is very simple to dial it in. It saturates nicely like it should and sounds clean going out.
I recommend this product, but since I can't compare it to anything else I have touched, other then AUs, I am kind of bias. If I ever get the opportunity to try out a 'better' tube compressor, I might one day get something else too. I am enjoying the ART Pro-VLA II and I am giddy with a new toy.
from Knoxville, TN
January 6, 2010Music Background:
Video Game Music Composer/Solo Artist
Just awesome.I was a little skeptical with this unit before I bought it, as I was on a "bang-for-the-buck" budget. Ive heard the DBX units before and thought they were good but this one really caught my attention with the VU's and control layout. When I got it, I was very impressed and pleased with it's tone and character. Absolutely perfect for my vocal and bass tracks as well as giving drums from my Yamaha Motif ES7 some added punch and tightness. 100% recommended.
from Knoxville, TN
November 11, 2009Music Background:
Engineer/Video Game Music/SFX Designer
100% SatisfiedI purchased this unit based on bang for the buck, and I certainly got my money's worth. From subtle compression to track-slamming mix-cutting compression, this unit really works. Sure it's no Empirical Labs Distressor, but if you want a great quality compressor that does it's job - buy it. Thanks to my Sales Engineer Nick Church for helping me make the right choice and even putting candy in the box it shipped in!
from Nashville. TN
June 11, 2009Music Background:
Its OkayAfter purchasing the MPA GOLD i was amazed how good the sound was i bought a VLA II to match. I have a few other compressors and the other one i have in the price range is the FMR RNC. The Pro VLA really changes the sound of w/e your putting into, and not really in a good way IMO. It seems like its cutting out frequencies and making it sound thin and tinny. Could possibly because I still have the cheap tubes in it? Either way i am going to sell it, i have no need for it in my studio.
December 5, 2008Music Background:
Decent Comp with some Cut CornersSound wise this unit does something strange which I was not able to pinpoint. I`m tempted to say it swallowed some frequencies in the 1k region. However, this unit is very transparent and can definitely help out on bass tracks. I returned this unit because getting levels with this unit daisy chained to my mic pre was really frustrating. There is no input knob in this unit and that really stumped me. For the price, this is probably one of the better pieces on the market. After returning it, I decided to just upgrade my Wave Gold Native Bundle. Much more bang for the same buck.
from Denver, CO.
November 1, 2008Music Background:
For the money it can't be beat.This is my second compressor and my comparison comes from an Alesis Nanocomp. I knew going in I wanted something with tubes to give my sound a little color, and when it was finally time to upgrade I went with the Pro-VLA II.
The unit is solid, well built and looks great. When I turn the knobs there is a feeling of quality. I took the cover off to install some Groove Tubes I noticed the attention to detail inside.
So how does it sound? In a word great. It does a great job of controlling levels. Maybe it's the Vactrol mechanism versus the nanocomp's VCA workings, but I can tell a difference between the two especially since I haven't upgraded any other gear.
ART has made a great compressor. Do yourself a favor and save up for this one. You'll be glad you did. Your acoustic-electric (or whatever else you plug into it) will thank you.