I've used this compressor on guitars, basses, vocals, drums and synths, and have always been pleased with the results. The TLA-50 adds an immediacy and warmth that cuts through the mix and allows your signal to sit up front and center.
Makes Everything Sound a Little More Real
I picked up a used pair for a steal, and I've been extremely pleased. My only other outboard compressor at the moment is an Elysia Xpressor 500 (also a gem, but very different in its usefulness). Besides that, I'm comparing the sound of these guys to years of using UAD plugins (Fairchild, LA-2A, 1176). As much as I love UAD, none of their emulations can touch the smoothness of the volume leveling I get from my Summits. I'm playing a very dynamic vocal track through them right now with medium and attack and slow release, catching about 3dB on average with peaks almost pegging the meter. The vocal is sitting perfectly now with no other processing and still sounds natural and dynamic enough for the sparse mix its in. With my UAD compressors I can always hear the gain reduction; usually I can make it work, but with the Summits I don't have to make that compromise.
As for the tone of the compressor, I find it adds a nice weight and roundness (to use the accepted jargon) to low-end content like kick drums and bass guitar. I use it all the time as a tracking compressor for finger-style acoustic guitar and find that it gives me the size and warmth that my mics never seem to get on their own from my favorite acoustic. On vocals the warmth is a little more subtle, at least on the female vocal I'm using it on right now. The track was recorded with a nice tube condenser mic, but the combination doesn't sound too "tubey." Past 5 on the gain meter there's a little more grit, but the lower half of dial is usually where you'll be for matching, and it's plenty clean.
Getting back to the title of my review, what I love most about these is that they seem to handle audio the same way my ears do. My microphones always seem to "hear" more dynamic range than I do, and these Summit TLA-50s are the best I've used for restoring that natural balance of transients and ambience that I hear in the live rooms of my studio. I definitely recommend it.
Super simple to use. Adds some nice warmth without it being over the top. It sounds great on vocals but I have especially loved it on male vocals. I was surprised at how well it leveled the dynamics with out sucking the life out of them. It has been a very popular item on my vocal chains. The first session I used it on was a really cool indie rock single for an artist I had never worked with before. After I gave him the first draft he commented that he has never had his vocals sound so good. This unit played an important role in getting "that" sound.
It has also worked well on bass and drums although I haven't used it on these items enough to give it a fair review.
CREATE A SONIC MASTER PIECE !!!!!!
I PURCHASED THIS UNIT AFTER TELLING ~JEFF LAW~ MY SALES REP. AT SWEETWATER. THAT I NEEDED SOMETHING TO FIT IN WITH MY MOJAVE AUDIO MA-200 AND THE FOCUSRITE ISA-1 ALSO PURCHASED LAST MONTH. I WILL BE KEEPING THIS UNIT EVEN WHEN I UPGRADE TO A STEREO COMPRESSOR, AND IT WILL BE ANOTHER SUMMIT AUDIO PRODUCT. SO THERE YOU GO, WON'T SAY HOW THIS UNIT SOUNDS, REMEMBER I BROUGHT IT WITHOUT HEARING IT FIRST. JEFF I ALWAYS BELIEVE IN YOU NOW. WILL BE BUYING THE FEQ-50 TO FINISH THE FRONT END IN MY SIGNAL CHAIN FROM SWEETWATER. P.S. I LIFE LONG CUSTOMER
I bought these units and waited a month faithfully for them to ship. When i got them i took them home and fired them up. One of the capacitors had blown out so that left me with one unit when put in bypass mode to still control the gain knob. However after talking to summit audios Product Chief he was a big help and took the untils back and fixed them both and turned them right around within a week. Summit Audio has great customer service
Now on use these things to me are noisey a lot more than i would expect from a unit at this cost i have some other stuff that produce far less noise. But after a few test i was able to get the floor noise down substantially something i can bare with. BUT THE WARM out of these THings and Compression is Nice, NO pumping effect even when driven fairly hard on a full mix i heardly heard the compression. They added a nice effect the vocals and other instruments seemed to sit nicely together. Whoever said that big things can't come in small packages, Yes these are no TLA 100 or Vari-mu but its a nice start for someone trying to add a nice tube sound on a budget. Outside of the them being a little noisey I am satisfied with the investment and these have a home in my Studio for a while to come. Of course They will take backseat to my Manley Vari-mu.
Great Limiter with a warm, round tone
The TLA-50 is a great little limiter for the money, and while it doesn't work on all sources it does sound great on guitars, kick, male vox, bass, and synth leads. Use it where you need to control dynamics while adding a little tube character.
Love this compressor!
I'm very happy to add this unit to my home studio. I use this for vocals and acoustic guitar. The tone is smooth, creamy and warm! I really don't know why I didn't buy this sooner, but it's part of the chain now! I'm very happy with it as well as how it's crafted! In a world where we are moving closer and closer to "in the box" recording, there's still nothing like a hands on piece of analog gear!