Universal Audio 1176LN

Limiting Class A Line-level Amplifier with All-transistor Circuitry
Universal Audio 1176LN image 1
Universal Audio 1176LN image 1
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Universal Audio 1176LN
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Own the Legendary 1176

The Stones, Zeppelin, Michael Jackson — you've heard it on countless classic recordings. It's the legendary 1176LN. In 1967, Bill Putnam released the solid-state redesign of his venerable 176 tube compressor, ushering in the modern era of dynamics processing. The Universal Audio 1176LN Limiting Amplifier was an instant classic. It featured ultra-fast attack and release times and a broad palette of sonic malleability ranging from inconspicuous compression to flamboyant distortion. Its Class A output stage, which incorporated a custom overwound transformer, always delivered sweetly musical results that quickly earned the 1176 a home in pro studios worldwide. Today, the Universal Audio 1176LN is crafted to original specifications in Scotts Valley, California, handwired point to point, with every component carefully selected for authenticity. It's a toneful beast that works wonders on every signal you pass through it. Basses sound gargantuan. It imparts a definitive thwack to lackluster snare drums. It has no equal for grabbing a vocal and pushing it to the front of your mix. Your studio simply isn't complete without it.

Responsive, colorful dynamics control

In their 1970s literature, UA billed the 1176LN as a "true peak limiter with all transistor circuitry and superior performance on all types of program material." The superior performance part almost seems like an understatement. Sporting lightning-fast attack times as low as 20 microseconds, the '76 is certainly one of the most competent dynamics controllers ever designed, but it also has an iconic signature sound that is quite addictive. In fact, many engineers run signal through it with compression off, just for the tone. All by themselves, the unit's amplifiers and transformers bestow a seductive "hot" quality upon any signal that passes through. If you're seeking instant vibe, attitude, and character, you need an 1176 in your rack.

Push-button-selectable ratios and Nuke Mode

Individually, the 1176's famed push-button-selectable ratios of 4:1 and 8:1 (compression), and 12:1 and 20:1 (limiting) give you generous dynamics-control leeway, but they pack a sonic surprise when all four are pressed in simultaneously. Deployed on the right source — drum room mics, for instance — the so-called "Nuke Mode" can trigger warped, explosive results akin to a seismic event in your control room. Symptoms may include increased distortion, a plateaued slope on initial transients, and extended lag time — kind of like a fun house mirror for audio. At Sweetwater, we know of no other processor that can brutalize your signal quite so delightfully.

A legend returns

Bill Putnam, Jr. relaunched Universal Audio in 1999, and the company's first order of business was a faithful reproduction of the classic Blackface 1176LN. The discovery of extensive design notes enabled Bill Jr. to re-create and improve on his father's original creation. Based on the FET circuitry of the C, D, and E revisions of the classic 1176LN, the reissue includes a component that was critical to re-creating the sound of the original hardware: the original output transformer, complete with additional custom windings that deliver the feedback signal to the line output amplifier circuit. UA's obsessive attention to detail captures all the sonic character and nuance of the original 1176LN. The reissue takes its place alongside the countless vintage units still in daily service in top audio facilities around the world. Put it to work in your studio.

Universal Audio 1176LN Limiting Amplifier Features:

  • Enhance your music with the legendary FET compressor/limiter
  • Custom Class A output transformers
  • Record your tracks through legendary vintage-spec solid-state circuitry
  • Ultra-fast attack time as low as 20 microseconds
  • Ideal for shaping dynamics on guitars, bass, drums, vocals, and more
  • Impart vibe, color, and character to signals without using compression
  • Faithful to the original in design, manufacturing, and performance
  • Handcrafted in UA's Scotts Valley, California, labs

Additional Media

Signal Processing Buying Guide
Plug-ins vs. Hardware -- Which Should You Choose?
Spirit of the '76
"1" 2-1176 Ratio?
Buy a Classic, Get Money Back
UA Rebates
Analog Rebates
Universal Audio Launches a Worldwide Promotion

Tech Specs

Type FET
Number of Channels 1
Controls Input, Output, Attack, Release, Ratio (Buttons)
Ratio 4:1, 8:1, 12:1, 20:1
Frequency Response 20Hz-20kHz
Inputs 1 x XLR
Outputs 1 x XLR
Rack Spaces 2U
Height 3.5"
Depth 12.25"
Width 19"
Weight 11 lbs.
Manufacturer Part Number 1176D

Customer Reviews

Based on 7 reviews
Write your review

The best of the best!

We've used these units in our main studio for many years. We have some of the older Urei units along side these newer reissued units. They all sound great. Maybe a little different in some ways but none of them sound bad. Personally I prefer the reissue units. Nothing that goes into these units ever comes out sounding bad. They are a studio standard for a reason. They kick major butt and add a weight to any signal in a way that is very unique to them. At our main studio and in my home studio we've tried many different versions of the 1176. Most sound pretty good. No two units sound exactly alike (especially true with vintage gear) but most of them will give you the classic 1176(ish) vibe. However none of the clones sound as much like a true 1176 as the Universal Audio units do. If you want the sound of the real deal, buy the real deal. Sure it's more money but is it worth the extra money? I think so. it's best to demo one for your self and test it along side the clones and judge for yourself. It's been said by some that the reissue UA1176LN units are a bit " Vanilla" or bland sounding when compared to the original Ueri units. My take on it is I don't agree with that observation. However I will say the Ueri units do sound a bit different but not necessarily better. Both sound great but as another professional says all the time, "Horses for courses." In other words match the tool to the task. Not every preamp sounds great on every source. The same for microphones, compressors, ect. I'm yet to be unhappy with ANY UA 1176 reissue. I use then one I purchased in my home studio since I do a lot of session work from home these days. it saves me time from having to go our main facility and use our UA's or the older Ueri's. Currently I'm using mine mainly for bass and vocals and let me tell you. There are many great sounding compressors/limiting amplifiers on the market but there is a very special mojo that this box imparts on the signal and nothing else can touch it. Do you ever wonder how the big time guys get that "Finished and polished" sound? Well it's not just with a 1176 but many times it's one of their secret and main weapons to get there. It works very well. As for the details of the unit itself: 1. It's very well built just as you would expect from Universal Audio. 2. It' weighs a ton thanks to the massive transformers inside. 3. All the knobs and switches feel great and won't fail any time soon. 4. It sounds as massive as you would expect something of this caliber to. 5. It's darn expensive but well worth it. 6. Did I mention that it kicks major butt on bass, and everything for that matter? All in all I would urge anyone looking at 1176 style dynamics to look no further than this unit. Try one for yourself and if your not impressed with it then I don't think any other unit on the market will do anything for you. If you can spare the cash grab one of these. You won't be sorry. Buy once and cry once. I'm glad I have mine and would love to have the cash right now to get another one! I highly recommend this! Anybody that is somebody has one of these and for good reason. THEY JUST WORK!
Music background: Assistant Engineer Wall of Shadows Studio and Session Bass Player.

Pro Quality Audio

If you struggling to make your vocals, guitar, bass, ect in a mix this will get you where you need to be. No plug in can actually do what this does and its simply amazing I set the settings and everything just sits in the mix how I want it to. I have a home recording studio and my clients are blown away by the quality it's like I'm making record label quality in a bedroom studio! The one thing I really dislike about this compressor is that it's not build like a tank like an LA-2A with a hard metal chassis if your going to pay 2 grand for something it should be but other than that I love what it does for my audio!
Music background: Recording/Mix Engineer

Pro status

I've been trying for years to get my client's vocals to sound competitive with big budget studios. Well this compressor was definitely the tipping point. Now I run every single vocal I track through the 1176 on the way in. It's not even worth working without it.
Music background: Producer

great item, that is if you care about great audio.

Music background: producer-engineer-musician-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist

Excellent Reissue Piece

After using 1176 in other studios over the years, I finally picked one up. This is a must-have for any true audio professional. If someone sees an 1176 in your rack, they will know their compression needs are covered. The 1176 can do whatever you need it to, squash, definitely. Smoother, of course. Make you breakfast, yup. You need this piece!!!
Music background: Producer, Songwriter, Guitarist

Sweetwater Advice

Stuart Niven

The Universal Audio 1176LN is a "must-have" piece of studio equipment for your rack.

Jeffrey Green

The 1176LN inspired the phrase "pump-and-breathe" in terms of compression. It is an indispensable studio tool and sounds like you've put a big, expensive fur coat on that particular instrument. Amazing on everything!

Tommy Patzius

I use my Universal Audio 1176LN to add sparkle to the top end of my tracks. It keeps everything tight and crisp, which is why I use it every time I track vocals. It’s also my go to for when I need to get guitars or pianos to cut through the mix, and I love crushing drums and creating fuzz bass tones by using its famous all-buttons-in mode.

Jason Koons

The 1176LN is one of the most recognized pieces of rack equipment in the world. You'll find one or more of these in just about every pro-studio because of the sonic hug that it puts around your audio, in any application!
See also: Compressors, Universal Audio, Universal Audio Compressors / Limiters, Universal Audio Compressors / Limiters