Universal Audio LA-2A

Electro-Optical Compressor / Limiter with Tube Circuitry
Universal Audio LA-2A image 1
Universal Audio LA-2A image 1
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Universal Audio LA-2A
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Timeless Studio Standard!

You've never worked with a compressor that comes close to the LA-2A! Highly acclaimed by audio pros for its natural compression, the LA-2A brings a special, timeless quality to your recordings that you can't get with any other compressor. A unique electro-optical attenuator system allows instantaneous gain reduction with no increase in harmonic distortion.

Universal Audio Features:
  • GAIN REDUCTION: Up to 40dB
  • DISTORTION: Less than 0.5% THD (0.25% typical) at +/-10 dBm
  • RESPONSE: +/-0,1dB 30 cycles to 15 Kcycles
  • NOISE: 70dB below +10 dBm output level
  • GAIN: 40dB +/- 1dB
  • OUTPUT LEVEL: +10dB nominal, + 16dB maximum
  • INPUT LEVEL: + 16dB maximum
  • ATTACK TIME: @ 10 microseconds
  • RELEASE TIME: 0.06 seconds for 50% release; 0.5 to 5 seconds for complete release
  • INPUT IMPEDANCE: 50, 150, 250, 600 ohms
  • OUTPUT IMPEDANCE: 50, 150, 250, 600 ohms
  • CONTROLS: Gain, Peak Reduction and Meter selector
  • METER:dB gain reduction anddB output
  • DIMENSIONS: 19" standard rackmount chassis
  • POWER REQUIREMENTS: 35 watts, 120/240 volts, 50/60 cps

Additional Media

Signal Processing Buying Guide

Tech Specs

Type Optical
Number of Channels 1
Controls Gain, Peak Reduction
Inputs 1 x XLR
Outputs 1 x XLR
Rack Spaces 3U
Height 5.25"
Depth 7.25"
Width 19"
Manufacturer Part Number LA2AD

Customer Reviews

Based on 5 reviews
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A classic for good reason.

The LA2A rocks. It's amazing on vocals. Amazing on bass. 2 of them on the mix bus sounds heavenly. This is probably the single greatest compressor ever designed. No serious studio should be without one. It is one of the few "makes everything better" boxes out there. Just running tracks through it with no compression adds vibe. I'm in love with this compressor.
Music background: Producer/Engineer

A big Hug

One good way to describe this compressor is quality!!!! So easy to control and tenderly loves' everything you apply it to; almost as though it's giving your tracks a nice warm hug. I am still in the process of finishing my studio and I couldn't stand it if this nice baby wasn't part of my collection. It wasn't easy making the decision, even though it should have been. I can't believe how many times I kept going back and forth between saying "No, I can't justify the leap" and "yes, I'll regret it if I don't." Turns out the little dude on my right shoulder won. What a winner. I love this Compressor. My tracks are thanking me for it in a big way. If you're thinking of recording in some kind of big way, either now or in the future, there will be no doubt you will gain a lot from buying this compressor. It won't make your tracks sound amazing without the other pro stuff too though so if you're not that serious about recording, perhaps thinking it over a little more might not be such a bad thing.
Music background: Recording (Mixing) Engineer, Singer-Songwriter, Student


Awesome compressor! Warm and transparent sound... Especially on vocals and bass - guitars! From 2003 when I bought it, I never make the record without LA-2A!
Music background: Recording and Mixing Engineer


The UA LA-2A is the real deal. It does something special to vocals the moment you plug into it. Its so simple and easy to find the sweet spot. Out of all the pieces I have in my hybrid studio, the LA2A is the king of vocal magic. Get your vocals right and everything else just fits the way you expect. I highly recommend it!
Music background: President of RECORDING.ORG


This is hands down the best Comp for vocals hands down! Gonna buy a 2nd one...
Music background: Producer, Pro musician

Sweetwater Advice

Steve Stoll

The Universal Audio LA2A is one of those "holy grails" of recording equipment that all audiophiles know about but until recently were next to impossible to get a hold of. The LA2A limiting amplifier was originally produced in the 60's by Teletronix. The name and rights to the design were purchased in 1967 by recording legend and designer Bill Putnam and these new units are now being produced by the company Bill founded, Universal Audio. These "new vintage" units are exact in every detail and component to the original 60's design right down to the fact that they are lovingly hand-wired. The LA2A was originally designed for radio broadcast applications. FM radio boosts the signal at 15 KHz and the LA2A is used to reign in these peaky signals while providing a very natural compression. Engineers quickly found that the LA2A's imparted a very warm and earthy tone to any audio processed though them (after all it does have tubes!), and they have been used on hundreds of albums from everyone from Led Zeppelin to Bowie to Enrique Iglesias and beyond. The LA2A is unique in that it uses a very simple but elegant design. The user controls nothing more than peak reduction and gain. But when you understand how this design works, no further controls are necessary to achieve an amazing sonic result. Utilizing an electroluminescent light panel which shines on a photo cell to control gain, the result of is an amazingly fast attack time and a two stage release that can actually take place over several seconds. The result? Very natural-sounding compression. I remember seeing a couple of these babies at The Master Cutting Room in New York City, the studio that would do all my vinyl mastering cuts and acetates. My mastering engineer explained that with the advent of digital audio the LA2A makes more sense than ever as a way of warming up a mix and helping it pop while giving it more depth and feeling, real studio standbys indeed! Theses classics have been used on everything from vocals, to drums, to guitar and bass, and even entire mixes. There is no audio that cannot benefit from the LA2A treatment. The LA2A is one of those pieces that real engineers and producers will call on all the time to take their sound to the next level, a wonderful tool to raise the level of your productions and a lifetime studio partner.
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See also: Compressors, Universal Audio, Universal Audio Compressors / Limiters, Universal Audio Compressors / Limiters