This is one of the most popular preamps here at Sweetwater. The LA-610 combines tweakability with consistant reliability for the engineer that really knows what he is doing. The secret to this legendary box is pairing it with the right mic and the right settings. The longer you spend with the LA-610 the more you will fall in love.
Excellent Channel Strip!
After spending a month with this preamp/compressor combo from UA, I felt it was time to give a reasonably well-informed review. Before purchasing the LA-610 Mk II, I spent a lot of time researching it. For months I talked myself into buying it, and into not buying it, based on other's opinions and comments. In the end, I went a head with my original-gut instinct to order from my friend Jon at Sweetwater. This channel strip is a great addition to my home/project studio!
I wanted some of that UA analog magic in a rack mountable hardware unit. The LA-610 Mk II is an excellent preamp/compressor all in one channel strip! No news to the pros out there (I'm not one of them by the way), but the trick to making this thing shine is to spend some time experimenting with all of the settings while you are pairing it with different microphones and other music instruments. Also, understand your signal chain and gain staging. After that, don't be afraid to experiment with a few plug ins while A/B testing a sound you like in your headphones and monitors. This preamp and a good mic will help take your recordings to the next level. No interface preamp/plug in combination is going to quite recreate the sound this unit can with algorithms alone. Something magical happens with the physics of analog hardware gear that still does not quite translate to digital 1s and 0s; however, plugins have become amazingly tools that can be an integral aspect of the entire music creation and production process. Using a hybrid approach seems to be best way to explore all of the sonic possibilities with recording unless you are a dyed in the wool analog purist. I love the idea of tape machines and awesome consoles, but for most of us recording folks, some blend of the past and the present makes the most practical sense.
The LA-610 Mk II can create that warm, smooth, vintage sound on vocals and bass that so many others have commented about. With a Mohave MA300, an AEA N22 active Ribbon Mic, a Shure beta 58, a Shure 87, a Telefunken M80, and a Blue Baby Bottle, I was able to get a range of microphone recordings from vocals to acoustic instruments that I liked. The MA 300 was the clear winner for vocals. Instantly I got a good sound. After some time spent adjusting things - I was really able to get the type of impressive results I was hoping for. It has plenty of tube color and saturation to tame sibilant vocals and envelope the vocal recording with a pleasant warmth and depth. For certain styles of music, you can get some nice gritty distortion as well. As for bass...the other people in the comments were not kidding. The LA-610 Mk II is an amazing bass channel! The tube preamp and compressor work in tandem so well once the settings are dialed in. I also liked acoustic guitar and electric guitars line in. I tried the 1/4" jack in the front as well as a few DI boxes. I prefer other preamps for acoustic guitar and electric line in, but this one held its own in a general sense.
I bought this mainly thinking of vocals, but the biggest surprise to me was how much I was going to smile once I plugged in a Moog synth. The tonal palette of a Moog synth run through this unit elevates the all analog path of the synth to a new level! You can get an awesome analog sheen on leads and bass lines as well as some gritty tones that will make the square waves jump right out the speakers! I also tried Arturia's new DrumBrute analog drum machine. Wow! It is worth it just to isolate the kick drum for quantized sampling. Deep bass for hip hop styles - check. Thumping bass for Electronic music - check. I also was able to craft an almost acoustic sounding kick drum that would match up well with a folk rock vibe.
If things are not as loud as you want and/or sound a little noisy, try reducing the gain on the input, cutting out some lower frequencies, and adjusting the compression threshold and output levels. If you still have issues, then look at the rest of what is going on with your signal path and DAW settings. The problem is likely something else. I recommend getting a good noise gate plugin like Waves NS-1. I prefer it to Izotope's version. Perhaps others who commented about this unit never gave it a fair chance? I'm glad I wasn't influenced by those comments. The UA LA-610 Mk II has added some serious analog mojo to the front end of my recording studio at a competitive price point relative to similar gear.
UA La610 gave me the sound I've searched for.
I have a great mic locker, my favorites for all around were my Rode K2s, until I got a U87. I'm running into a Allen &a Heath qu24 and everything was great. I knew my board interface had a great channel strip section, then my wife surprised me with the UA LA610. Soooo warm sooooo gooooey and sweet... It honestly gave me the sound I have hunted for for 20 years.. I should have gotten it a long time ago. Not only is there a reason a U87 into this is so revered it also made my ride k2s sound like $3000 mics.. I don't care how good of a front end you have and all etc... putting tubes and a optical compressor before your interface allows for much stronger signals much warmer signals and the shelving eq is awesome.. I believe this is now the most important piece of equipment I have. For mics for di bass and acoustic guitar..
I am now going to get another one in a couple months.... Don't hesitate as I did buy this if you want pro studio sound..
On down side I am now building a double floating ISO room because d**n it could hear a pin drop a block away with the U87 into this... So another grand for that.. lol
UA 610 REVIEW
Truly great pre-amp. In my honest opinion if you want a lovely big round sound and musical sounding preamp, this really does have To be in your list. I use mine mainly for vocals paired with my trusty valve Telefunken mic. The vocal sound I get from the LA-610 just seems to have a nice smooth top end without sounding harsh. But what makes it a winner for me, is in the lower frequencies that this unit excels over a lot of others. It's just like cream, especially when used with a gentle amount of the onboard compressor.. . I can say this is being more frequently used for Vocals than my Manley voxbox, just purely because of the colour this thing gives.
LA610 IS EXCELLENT!!!
Why I didn't buy it 10 years ago? Amazing with dynamic mic's as well as condenser's.
Vintage Tone Monster
I've used many other top of the line preamps, Neve, SSL, Trident, Great River, Shadow Hills, etc but this is the first channel strip that gives me the sound I hear in my head. I do a lot of acoustic music, and a lot of music inspired by the music of the 40s, 50s, and 60s and I can finally achieve the lush, organic and classic sound of some of those recordings. Like others have said, the gain staging allows for a wide range of textures, although the impedance choice is probably the biggest factor. The shelving EQ is better than most, and cuts especially sound natural. The compressor can sound really natural if you barely touch it, but can go pretty extreme. The only thing I would change is to put the EQ post compressor. Because with lets say Bass, the more low end you try to add the more it just collapses into the compressor, so just be aware of that.
Finally l find the profesional sound than looking for !!!
With my universal audio la 610 now my recording are totally profesional, this tube mic preamp is the best buy to an right price.
What else can i say about the LA-610
Nothing really left to say about this awesome unit! love the LA-610!
BEYOND THE START
!!WOW!! awesome preamp more than expected!!
Awesomeness in a Box
I've a couple of A-Designs Pacificas for a while now- one that I bought from Sweetwater. Those have been my 'go-to' mic pre's. While browsing Craigslist I saw someone had an LA-610 they wanted to sell. I found the money and bought it. I'd done some research on these in the past and new it was a world-class mic pre but frankly, I didn't know what to expect from it. I AM blown away (thus the five-star rating). It's a full-featured channel strip and does an awesome job on everything I've thrown at it! Sonically, it's right up there with the Pacifica. The EQ AND compressor make it a bit more attractive at times than the Pacifica- although I'll NEVER give those things up. If you can't get pro-sounding recording from this peice of gear, then sell it and get out of the recording business!
Perfect channel strip
All bass instruments sound amazing through this thing. The eq is musical and very useful and the two gain stages allow for anything from really clean sounds to a more colored sound if desired. The compressor/limiter is such a blessing for vocals and bass instruments. What's not to love about this unit? It makes every thing I record through it sound amazing and I wish I had another!
No Brainer. You want pro recordings? Get this box!!
There are certain staples to each and every aspect of music. When it comes to recording the LA-610 Mk II is one of those staples that you can build an entire studio around. Not a jack of all trades but a master of a few. If you need vox, bass, or kick to sit in your mix like a "radio ready" recording then this box is a no brainer. Simple to use and a timeless tone. You WILL be amazed. No plugs required whenever I record with this beauty
What is NOT to love about the LA-610? This is my go-to channel for recording the "slammin" bass tracks. Active P Bass? No Problem. Passive classic Gretsch Hollowbody? No Problem. I use this on kick, snare, vocals..... but this is THE channel for bass. Absolutely worth every dollar. I'm planning on purchasing another in the future.
Universal Audio LA-610 rules!
I use this on just about everything in my recordings and it gives me that great warm tube awesomeness that I need. What is also great about this is, you can dial in some great EQ before you enter the console or interface. See, one thing I learned from some great producers is, ALWAYS get the sound you want BEFORE you hit the console. This Mic Pre has a nice EQ that you can use to carve your sound before you record so that you don't need to do much EQ afterwards. The compressor/limiter in this unit - same thing. Dial in what you want ahead of the game, then you won't need to mess with frequencies so much afterwards. Great channel strip! Worth every penny!
Bread and Butter
I'm very satisfied with the quality and tone I get out of this amp. The compressor is perfectly paired. I've used it on vocals, guitars, and many other instruments. It is my go to for lead vox. This is the bread and butter of most professional studios - it is the hammer in the toolbox. A must have - UA's LA610 has stood the test of time and will continue to be used for professional projects for years to come. I highly suggest this amp.
adds creamy milkiness to the voice (live).
my bass fell in love with how this lays to track.
There is way too much to say about this little black gem. Great sounding pre with an unlimited amount of adjustability. Nice to have the built in analog compressor. Fantastic performance enhancer. Don't be scared of it. It won't bite you if you play nice with it. I really feel like you could make anything sound great through this box. Amazing bass DI. When it comes to vocals there isn't anything you can't do with this. I wish it had a second XLR channel for stereo option. I almost bought an Avalon 737 which I've used in several studios. Glad that my sales engineer talked me into this box. Its a thoroughbred.
Universal Audio LA-610 Mk II
Excellent sound - worth every penny. I use it for vocals and it gives me a big fat clean sound (Sputnik mic). It can get really warm or have a nice sheen. I use the compressor on mixdown only as I prefer not to print compressor.
This thing is great! It's my first real preamp and I use it all the time, especially on vocals (U87ai) and bass. I'm able to really fatten up the sound and have it sit better in the mix. I always wondered how "they" got that big bass sound - this is how I do it. The compressor/limiter is great for working with the color of the preamp and for controlling a very dynamic singer or bass player. I've even done quick demo's with liberal compression to tape on a vocal and bass and it's ready to go. Sounds big, warm and upfront.
Universal Audio LA-610 MK11
This baby is awesome; it is clean and very warm. Thanks to David at sweet water, he recommended it and it fit in perfectly. Thanks again!
UA...Can I say more?
I had been looking at the piece of gear for a long time and finally decided to pull the trigger.
Glad I did. I have not run anything through this so far that I have not liked. It was surprisingly useful for drums, especially the snare. But with the EQ and adjustable impedance and of course the T4 circuitry you really can't go wrong.
If your looking for a warm sound, along with any other sound you can imagine, this box will not disappoint!
LA-610 Mk II
Preamp can warm things up nicely. Compressor is fantastic and smooth...I've used it on vocals and acoustic guitar with very nice results. Provides a certain "glue" that I've been unable to get with pure digital.
My favorite low freq preamp
I run everything LF through this thing and love it. Bass, Kick Drum, etc. Sounds amazing. Big, fat, lush, beefy, etc. Compressor works perfect 99% of the time too for my stuff. (Once in a while the attack is a tad slow for me but I just turn it down and finish it off with a plug-in instead.) I have tried vocals and saxes through this also and was quite impressed there too. Bottom line, for the price, you can't go wrong with the sound and features of this unit. I love mine so much I bought a second one!
That's about all I need to say! UA is the classic sound I was looking for. in my studio. It isa bit pricey but gets me the signal I want going in. I am still learning different applications for this channel strip but it is a keeper for sure.
You need this!
My bass threw this thing sounds amazing .
if you are looking at this ..you should buy it!
great center piece to any studio..
BANANAS IN A BARREL OF MONKEYS!!
I just received my LA610 in the mail 3 days ago and i quickly replaced my tubepre with it and let me tell you..(read the title)... The quality and warmth of the vocals were OHH SOOO sexxy...In the words of Forest Gump, "That's all i gotta say about that"..
This product literally saved our lives. We recently borrowed a VERY EXPENSIVE GERMAN mic and were having problems getting it to sound anywhere close to right with the Female Vocalist with who we intended to use said expensive German mic. In desperation we ordered the LA 610 MK II having read countless great reviews and figuring maybe it would help even things out and get things sounding better. WOW! What a difference. The combination of the 610 Mic pre and the LA compressor is absolutely astounding. It took a thin sounding, mid heavy, screechy mic and basically "covered it in silk". This box is a miracle worker. I will never record without it again. We plugged that mic into 6 different mic pre/channel strip combos. Nothing came close to the UA. You MUST get one of these if your are recording vocals. It's amazing.
Worth all the Marbles!!!
I originally did not want to buy this preamp but the preamp I wanted was sold out and Sweetwater wasnt gonna get another shipment until a week. My salesrep suggested it and after figuring out in I was indeed surprised. Vox sound incredible. I recorded a lead vox and didnt realize that I was compressing. It sounds so clean. Plus the UAD2 is an added bonus and once I get that, this amp would have 2 times what I expected of it!!! You wont be disappointed.
You can't record without this...
I have been using this unit for just under a year. I love it - it has that warm robust sound that you would expect from a Universal Audio. If you are having problems with digital recordings...you must have a preamp - such as this one - on the front end. Problem solved...
The Possibilities are Endless!!
I've had my LA-610 Mk II for a few years now and it's still my go to preamp for almost everything I record. I can always depend on it to get the sound I'm looking for. It is especially great for vocals and acoustic instruments. I guess the thing I like about it the most is that you can get a crisp, perfect, clean sound or the dirtiest, saturated, colorful sound in one box. There are so many ways to use this unit to find the sound you're looking for. If you only need one channel strip for your studio this is the one to buy!!
Smooth and Solid
This thing sounds great, and has a lot more features than most folks will ever use.
Two things I really like about it.
The EQ is not harsh, at all. When I first plugged it in I was not sure if the EQ was even working because it does not induce the kind of nastiness I am used to hearing in even some good EQs.
The mic pre is no joke. It's very warm and smooth but still captures a lot of detail.
The only thing I do not like is that I can't get it to really destroy a bass guitar the way an 1176 does. And it does not have that 1176 midrange sound. But I suppose I'd have to get the pricier model to get the 1176 version. Still this is pure magic on guitar, bass, vocal, synths etc. I'd love to have 10 more.
I just checked voltage on tubes. Yes, it operates high voltage !!! ( my voltmeter shows 161 to 189 V). Sound is sweet, rich, wide. EQ section is useful considering that it has just two knobs. I'm impressed how my Godin guitar sounds with. Compression effect on vocal is very intuitive and creative. Any home/project studio must have one pure-tube-pass channel IMO.
Perfect Multi-Purpose Unit for any Budget or Professional Studio
A few years ago now, I was interested in getting some recordings with more analog mojo. So, with all of the hype surrounding 'out-of-the-box- recording and mixing, I bought an outboard mixer. Due to the mediocre quality of this unit's components, my tone actually was sacrificed compared to the solid-state Apogee Duet I was using. I decided to take another approach. Let's work 'in-the-box', and upgrade the front end.
I purchased an Apogee Ensemble to increase my I/O count, to maintain the good A/D and D/A conversion I've come to expect from my Duet. I also purchased two UA LA-610's. Why two? After only renting one for a week, I was delighted to hear the sonic signature only a well-built tube channel strip could provide. Very clean and warm, with a very functional compressor, despite being a stripped down version of the unit it was designed after. So with two units, I was able to increase my recording inputs to 6 (2 LA-610's and 4 Ensemble preamps), with the additional advantage of actually sending stereo audio out of the DAW into the LA-610 and back to make use of the EQ and compressor, and even the gain controls. Send a stereo drum track through this thing with light compression, and some slight (or even dramatic) EQ boost, and a little tube crunch, you get a very convincing drum sound. Mix to taste.
Very pleased with this purchase. My recordings and mixes have benefited greatly from this unit. You can record with anything from an SM58 to a Neumann condenser, and it will sound good. And all of this at what I would consider to be an attainable price for outboard gear.
Definitely recommend. Try using two!
Best pre amp ever made
The ease of use is unbelievable, no confusing knobs and buttons, just what you need, pair with a good mic and your releases will rival the big budget studios
After many, many hours reading about this pre amp and saving up, I finally decided to go for this pre amp. I spent numerous hours on the phone with my Sweetwater Rep. and I can't thank Chris Lewis enough for it! I have been using the 6176 for over 2 years now and I really liked the flexibility. When I compared the compressor side of things, I must say, the LA-MKII worked better for me with bass, kick, vocals, and a select set of mics better than the 6167. Yes, they have the same pre amp, but the compressor musically sounded better in these categories to me. It is one of those pieces of gear to have on hand for any recording session. I wish I had a couple more. Thanks again Chris for all of your time, and expertise! You sent exactly what I was looking for!
Got two of these back in March. Not quite as detailed and not as much headroom as most of your high end pres (neve, api, raindirk) BUT it is very comprehensive for the price and is extremely flexible with basic but musical eq and a dynamite compressor/limiter. Has done some sick things as a bass DI for sure! Just tracked some vocals with it and went with the La610 over a Neve 1073 with 8803 and Manley Compression. Again not as detailed but there is just a real nice smoothness and rich 3d quality with this unit that just does the trick. Real buttery. Don't think anyone would regret having this unit in their bag of tricks and it is a great choice for those on a budget looking for a great channel strip.
The Universal Audio LA610 MKII has not only exceptional sound quality, but its ease of use and rock solid constuction will put you into a whole new sonic stratosphere.There is nothing in this price range for quality channel strips and this unit, regardless of price point, will put you in league with the pros. Discerning ears know that the warmth and character of tube amps and pres have a sound signature that is uncomparable and the UA LA610 mkII certainly delivers. Highly recommended.
Did anyone sssssay sssssibalance? Sounds great on bass and smooths things out in general. SSSSo ssssibalant, however. Better have a dresser and pay VERY close attention to mic placement, unless you want to spend not until the cows come home editing out "essex." My primary vocal mic is the Neumann TLM 103. Sibilant on other miss too.
A Bass Wonder!
This channel strip sounds amazing when using as a bass DI. My bass recordings were instantly taken up a notch. I've actually used this on the front end of my bass rig as well. It never sounded so good! The sound man at every venue generally drooled over it too.
Great hardware - promos painful
Absolutely one of the best channel strips you can get for the money. Unfortunately, for my situation, I bought this about 5 weeks before their free Satellite DSP promotion. Very frustrating because I was about to consider their plug-in side during Waves WUP renewal. I asked Universal Audio for possible amnesty but it was a firm "nope" in return, which is ok as I was outside the purchase window. At least they apparently considered it. Despite the painful buy-experience, the usage-experience has been great. The sound I get with this when I paired it with a Groovetubes MD1b and AT4050 sounded amazing. As far as dynamics go, I had an SM7B that never sounded quite as good until I went through this. LA-610 is a "no-brainer" with or without any gimmicky rebate promotions. Go for it!
It even handles ribbons...
I borrowed several ribbon mics for a shoot-out of sorts. It handled all but one fantastically! (...and I think that one was a dud anyway.)
You will need to set the gain at +10.
I settled on the Sure KSM 313 and everyone who comes through Rough Wood Recording Studio loves the sound of this great mic/pre combination.
But, grab your crustiest old Sure 57 and you'll be impressed with how good it sounds through the LA-610.
The more you use the LA-610, the more you'll like it.
I was really impressed with this unit; I've had it for about a year (and still grudgingly purchased it about 2 weeks before the UA core card deal) =p but that's not important.
What IS important, is that this "channel strip" sounds killer. I've used it on practically everything from a single room mic, *ALL Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Snare, Kick....
Build quality is solid, knobs are solid, Metering is accurate (as far as I can tell) and is adjustable to see Preamp Level, Gain Reduction, or the compressors output, which is sweet. It's heavy enough to be sturdy, but it wont bend your racks. The on/off switch is SOLID too, and I REALLY appreciate that. The TRUE BYPASS from the Preamp to the Compressor, too, is a gift. The T4 Optical isn't for Everything...(but in my case, pretty much!) But I have used the bypass a few times, with great satisfaction.
I'd say this thing is GREAT at MOST applications. I think the price is pretty fair. You're getting a good deal for what you're paying for. The only thing better than this unit with a similar sound (other than the 1176) is if you got a 610 preamp, solo, and linked it with a true LA-2A....
however the 610 in THIS unit is a TRUE 610 preamp, which is definitely cool.
LOVE LOVE THIS GEAR
Best quality Compressor I ever invested my money into NO BUYERS REMORSE HERE (I THOUGHT I WAS ). Love the warm Clean vocals that run threw the UA6102 WAITING ON MY UAD2 PCI CARD
This is one awesome piece of gear. Sounds great on vocals, guitar, bass, and banjo. And this thing looks pro. Wish I had another for a stereo pair. This thing has warmth and great presence to it.
Surprised that I was let down.
Ok truth be told I bought this to get the deal on the UAD-2 DUO card (which I love). I figured based on rep and friends really liking the 610 pre (a pre with lineage to say the least) how could this be not right. In the interest of the whole story it sat in the box for a year. I had no real reason to use it, until, male jazz vocal session here I come. Mics used Neumann UM 57 and U87i, both vintage well known classics and mics I use all the time. I put up U87 because I thought my venerable UM-57 had died somehow. I put this unit back in the box and went with another channel strip. Vocals sounded midrangey and pinched. Worst of all vocalist hated the way they sounded. Almost a session killer. No matter what I did with the settings options it did not change the lack of musicality. This box will probably work for guitars, bass DI and snares but as a vocal strip look elsewhere. I own many pieces of UA gear both vintage and new so please keep in mind this is one voice in the crowd.