2-channel Leveling Amplifier/Compressor with Optical Compression, Tube Gain Stage, and Mastering-quality Audio Path
ART Pro-VLA II image 1
ART Pro-VLA II image 1
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An Effective, Affordable Compressor/Leveling Amp from ART!

The ART Pro-VLA II is a tube driven Vactrol-based compressor/leveling amplifier designed for tracking, mixing, mastering, live sound, or broadcast situations. By using an opto-electronic design, (as opposed to a more typical VCA driven level detection circuit) the Pro-VLA II allows more compression to be added to an audio source with a more natural, musical sounding output and virtually transparent dynamic leveling. This VCA-less design coupled with a 12AT7 vacuum tube in the gain stage makes the Pro-VLA II an ideal dynamic control device!

ART Pro-VLA II Compressor/Leveling Amplifier at a Glance:
  • Great in the studio or live
  • Tube compression circuitry
  • Vactrol

Great in the studio or live
ART's Tube Compressor/Leveling Amplifier deliver analog leveling/compression designed to work seamlessly with any recording, sound-reinforcement, and electronic instrument application. It excels at making tracks sound rich and full for both live audio engineering and studio recording applications.

Tube compression circuitry
ART's tube compression circuitry is a hybrid design utilizing advanced analog and tube technology, and has exceptional signal integrity with extremely low noise.

This unit utilizes optical electronics (a device known as a Vactrol), coupled with a 12AT7 vacuum tube gain stage for superior musical performance. Unlike typical compressors which use VCAs to control level detection, ART tube compressors are very musical, expressive and natural-sounding.

ART Pro-VLA IICompressor/Leveling Amplifier Features:
  • Vactrol Opto-Compression Design (no VCA)
  • Mastering-Quality Audio Signal Path with Tube Gain Stage
  • Enhanced Link Mode - While in stereo link mode, channel 1 level control acts as a master output level and channel 2 becomes a balance control between them, - optimizing the Pro-VLA II for use as a mastering tool
  • Variable Threshold, Ratio & Output Controls
  • LED Backlit VU Input/Output Level Metering
  • LED Metering Indicates Both Average Level And Peak Hold
  • Accurate Ten Segment LED Gain Reduction Metering
  • +4dBu/-10dBV Mode Switch Optimizes Pro-VLA II For Interface With Professional OR Consumer Grade Components
  • Active Balanced XLR And 1/4-inch Inputs and Outputs
  • Toroidal Transformer Reduces Mechanical and Electrical Hum
The ART Pro-VLA II is an incredibly effective compressor/leveling amp that sounds fantastic!

Additional Media

Pro-VLA II User Manual
Signal Processing Buying Guide
New In Stock At Sweetwater

Tech Specs

Type Optical
Number of Channels 2
Controls Input Threshold, Ratio, Attack, Release, Output
Threshold -30 dB to 20 dB
Ratio 2:1 to 20:1
Frequency Response 10Hz-100kHz
Inputs 2 x XLR, 2 x 1/4"
Outputs 2 x XLR, 2 x 1/4"
Rack Spaces 2U
Height 3.5"
Depth 9.2"
Width 19"
Weight 10.5 lbs.
Manufacturer Part Number PROVLAII

Customer Reviews

Based on 38 reviews
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Yes, you need this.

Alright, I usually never write reviews...but...HOLY SMOKES! Talk about a great sounding compressor! Don't let the price fool you or make you feel like you need to shell out serious cash for the UA gear (not that I'm bashing them though, they make great stuff!) This compressor is flat out amazing for the price. I've had it for a few years already.Now, my brand new unit wasn't without problems at first, but I'm sure the quality control department at ART has since cleared things up. First off, the stock 12AT7 tubes that ship with this unit blow. Get a matched and balanced pair of NOS JAN Phillips 12AT7WC's and pop those in. Second, the TL072BCP op-amp in position A6 had smashed pins and was just kinda jankily soldered in place, so I had to replace that too. (Left channel kept going out after it warmed up halfway through a movie.)After that though it has been nothing but smooth sailing. Like another reviewer, I too use this for watching movies. When you live in an apartment you really can't have the thundering volume spikes that movies love to toss in at you. Pop this baby in the chain before your speakers, set things up with your ears, and sit back and relax. The top end is retained, the lows are tamed and the stereo image is still clear. Don't go out and buy a stereo pair of 1176's and LA-2A's, just buy this.My biggest tip for this unit; let it run for a few hours and make it work. Once it warms up, as long as neither channel goes out on you, you'll have no problems. I'm really impressed by this thing and literally nothing can touch it for the price. It's built like a tank, and it's not too expensive to fix if on the off chance you have problems with it. Sure, go ahead and buy that $ compressor; I have no doubts that it will perform exceptionally. But if you don't have an endless supply of cash give this thing a shot. Other guys might bash you for it, but all that matters is how it performs; how it sounds...which is just as well as the big boy units.Even with it's quirks, I still give this thing 5 stars!
Music background: Hobbyist

Amazing for the price

I just bought this compressor (from elsewhere, cost a tiny bit more but I was about to split the cost into 3 payments so it was a lot more convenient) and hooked it up last night. I live in an apartment and love watching movies and have a really nice audio system. But I find that many movies these days have a few sections of very quiet dialog where I cant even really hear it without turning up the volume and then there are some action sequences that jump 3-4x in volume and I have to jump to turn the volume down so the neighbors don't complain about me blasting movies at 3am. My first thought was the set some dynamic range compression in my receiver, but it seems this newer model I have doesn't have that option. Not sure if receivers have been taking it out with some of the newer models or if Onkyo simply has never included an option. Either way, no option meant I had to find a new solution. Better this way anyway because receivers have never had good sounding DRC.I have my computer running to the receiver via HDMI, and using pre-out's from the receiver to go into this, then into a pair of power amps. This compressor really works quite amazing for compressing the whole system audio (basically in the pro world it would be like I placed this at the outputs of the console before going into a DSP or amps). I put the device through it's paces and it really works extremely well no matter what settings I used. It even makes the audio still sound the same (just, quieter) when compressing the audio by 20db. Not that I am going to keep it that way, but it was nice to see that this doesnt get over stressed and sound like crap at a certain point like many compressors around this price and lower. I was really debating whether to buy this or not, because LDR's like this uses to do the compression are extremely hard to match together and generally cost a lot of money to implement correctly. I felt that for the price of this unit there was no way ART could have possibly designed the compressor in the best sounding way and matches everything. Whether they did or not, I cant really tell a difference between channel balance and feeling and it sure does sound nice so congrats to ART for pulling it off.Even with how good this sounds, I do plan on upgrading the unit myself over the next couple months. First off is the easiest thing, replacing the tubs. Many people like to use 12AX7 tubes in this, but I don't want to because that will throw off the output gain controls too much and could change quite a few other specifications for how the unit sounds. I will keep the 12AT7's in it but just use much better quality tubes.Next up I will be replacing some of the capacitors to better sounding models and maybe some of the resistors as well. By the time I am done I am sure I will have spent well over $500 on this compressor, but it sure will be one amazing sounding unit :)

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.
Music background: Home recordist.

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.
Music background: Audio / Visual, Home Studio

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.
Music background: Recording, live, broadcasting.

Sweetwater Advice

Tyler Berggren

The ART Pro-VLA II can go from subtly smooth to super trashy and can be used for tracking, mixing, or even mastering. It's also perfect for anyone looking to get into outboard analog gear instead using the same old plug-ins. As an added bonus, it's one of the most easily upgraded pieces of gear on the market. Its stock 12AX7 tubes can be quickly swapped for higher-end ones with just the removal of a few screws (I put Mullards in mine). PRO USER TIP: The VLA can be used for MORE than just compression. By pushing the output level to the max and feeding the input heavily, you can get some pretty radical tube saturation and distortion out of this box, which gets even jucier after a tube upgrade.

Rob Parker

The ART Pro VLA II is a stunning compressor. It's warm and musical, and can compress while sounding natural. It can also pump and squash if you push it enough. After many tracking and mixing sessions with mine, I eventually started to master with it as well. It sounds great, even compared to masters that I used much more boutique compressors on. Add tons of metering options, the stepped knobs, and the sturdy metal construction,  and it's one of the best values in compression out there.
See also: Compressors, ART, ART Compressors / Limiters, ART Compressors / Limiters