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redEL34

Who here has used an LA-2A?

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Ha, now that I have your attention, how important are the tubes? I’m asking because, I can’t remember if I mentioned this yesterday, I was coming out of anesthesia and on strong drugs. Anyways, probably not THIS paycheck(medical bills) but NEXT one(getting paid once a month like faculty kinda sucks) I think I’m going to get a Klark Teknik KT-2A but I’m sure it comes with crappy tubes. I have NOS if 3 of the 4 already, but that’s a hit to the amp stash because it’s 1-EL84(ouch) 2-12AX7(double ouch) and a 1-12HB7 which I do not own yet but are pretty pricey. I have 1 lonely preamp left that I think this compressor would just 🔥. All the rest of the external preamps have various compressors attached to them for a light analog compression going in. But the tubes have got to go, right?

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I've used them countless times. I'm sure Anton has too. 

Tubes are pretty darned important in any tube audio device, although one of the original LA-2A tubes can be substituted (if you rewire the socket pin configuration) without significant sonic changes with a very similar tube that only really differs in the pinout configuration. That's what Warm Audio did with their WA-2A, but they also put in a second socket wired in parallel in case you wanted to use the original tube type (6AQ5 / EL90) instead of the 6P1 they provide. It sounds like Klark-Teknik used an EL84 instead of a 6AQ5, which is an interesting choice... but you might not be able to easily modify their leveling amp to use the original 6AQ5 - I have never dug around inside of one of theirs, so I don't know for certain either way, although I do know that the two tubes use completely different pin counts (7 for the 6AQ5 vs 9 for the EL84, as well as the 6P1) and configurations. 

The quality of the T4 electro-opto attenuator unit that combines the electro-luminescent panel and photocells is as least as crucial as the tubes in an LA-2A IMHO. I'm not sure what Klark-Teknik uses for the T4 in theirs. 

I purchased the Warm Audio clone (WA-2A) that I reviewed. It comes with Tung-Sol tubes stock. If you'd like to check out my review, you can find it right here. It's not exactly the same as a "real" LA-2A from UA (PCB instead of point to point wiring, etc.), but it's pretty darned close from a circuit POV, and it wasn't $3,800 either - it was roughly $3k less. I've been very happy with it. It's great on vocals and on bass guitar. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Phil O'Keefe said:

I've used them countless times. I'm sure Anton has too. 

Tubes are pretty darned important in any tube audio device, although one of the original LA-2A tubes can be substituted (if you rewire the socket pin configuration) without significant sonic changes with a very similar tube that only really differs in the pinout configuration. That's what Warm Audio did with their WA-2A, but they also put in a second socket wired in parallel in case you wanted to use the original tube type (6AQ5 / EL90) instead of the 6P1 they provide. It sounds like Klark-Teknik used an EL84 instead of a 6AQ5, which is an interesting choice... but you might not be able to easily modify their leveling amp to use the original 6AQ5 - I have never dug around inside of one of theirs, so I don't know for certain either way, although I do know that the two tubes use completely different pin counts (7 for the 6AQ5 vs 9 for the EL84, as well as the 6P1) and configurations. 

The quality of the T4 electro-opto attenuator unit that combines the electro-luminescent panel and photocells is as least as crucial as the tubes in an LA-2A IMHO. I'm not sure what Klark-Teknik uses for the T4 in theirs. 

I purchased the Warm Audio clone (WA-2A) that I reviewed. It comes with Tung-Sol tubes stock. If you'd like to check out my review, you can find it right here. It's not exactly the same as a "real" LA-2A from UA (PCB instead of point to point wiring, etc.), but it's pretty darned close from a circuit POV, and it wasn't $3,800 either - it was roughly $3k less. I've been very happy with it. It's great on vocals and on bass guitar. 

 

 

Dang, thanks Phil. I asked and received.

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I have a ton of NOS tubes my dad gave me when he was cleaning out his garage. I plan on selling them when I retire. He owned a radio store in the mid-60's, mostly repairing TV's and supporting the two way radios used by farmers in eastern Washington state. 

Although it's taking longer than I expected, I honestly see tubes as going the way of vinyl records. I say that as a huge collector of vinyl (I have several turntables and over 3,000 records), and I know that vinyl is growing, but it is still a fraction of the population that is really into it. And because computers get better and better at emulating tube sounds, the need/want for tubes will just continue shrinking. Using tube equipment is a serious commitment.

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On 2/25/2020 at 5:31 PM, redEL34 said:

Ha, now that I have your attention, how important are the tubes?

I have an LA-2A in the studio, owned by my studio partner. It has never occurred to me to even open it to look - it sounds great, so I use it :lol:

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No doubt about it - the LA-2A is a classic for a reason. They're easy to use and they just work - and sound fantastic. :philthumb: 

 

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1 hour ago, Phil O'Keefe said:

No doubt about it - the LA-2A is a classic for a reason. They're easy to use and they just work - and sound fantastic. :philthumb: 

 

Two knobs and the truth :lol:

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On 2/27/2020 at 7:26 PM, Red Ant said:

I have an LA-2A in the studio, owned by my studio partner. It has never occurred to me to even open it to look - it sounds great, so I use it :lol:

I’m preparing myself for a sub-par experience so I already have good tubes(signal path) and a VERY nice output capacitor if need be. By all accounts, the “optics” seem to be fine vs upgrading the T4B. If I can get this for $400 and already have the upgrades that seems pretty good. I can barely justify having one of these period, I’m good on compressors, just not THIS kind.

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14 hours ago, redEL34 said:

I’m preparing myself for a sub-par experience so I already have good tubes(signal path) and a VERY nice output capacitor if need be. By all accounts, the “optics” seem to be fine vs upgrading the T4B. If I can get this for $400 and already have the upgrades that seems pretty good. I can barely justify having one of these period, I’m good on compressors, just not THIS kind.

I can’t speak to the Klark Teknik specifically, but “this type” of compressor is pretty unique and quite useful. It is a whole ‘nother thing vs a VCA based compressor. 

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On 3/3/2020 at 7:37 AM, Phil O'Keefe said:

I can’t speak to the Klark Teknik specifically, but “this type” of compressor is pretty unique and quite useful. It is a whole ‘nother thing vs a VCA based compressor. 

That’s what I was hoping for. I’m looking forward to the ..2a experience. Maybe even a WA-2A, I need to see the inside of it. I have at least one vintage 12bh7 up for grabs if anyone needs one. 

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On 3/3/2020 at 9:05 AM, moogerfooger said:

I always used the 1176. Had 2 of them.   They’re re like magic sauce. 

Good to know.

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On 3/3/2020 at 7:05 AM, moogerfooger said:

I always used the 1176. Had 2 of them.   They’re re like magic sauce. 

Another one of my all-time favorites. They're great on drums, or anything else where you need an ultra-fast attack time. Whatever the LA-2A isn't perfect for, the 1176 usually will be, and vise-versa. 

 

 

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15 hours ago, Phil O'Keefe said:

Another one of my all-time favorites. They're great on drums, or anything else where you need an ultra-fast attack time. Whatever the LA-2A isn't perfect for, the 1176 usually will be, and vise-versa. 

 

 

In 30 years of use, I've never really made friends with the 1176. I think it's a great "effect" compressor, meaning that it imparts its character to any source you send through it, and no matter how gently you use it it still imparts a particular color. Unfortunately I don't much care for the color it imparts - I find the whole "mids forward" thing it does more trouble than it's worth - except maybe on aggressive, "rock" bass guitar, especially when a pick is used <shudder> :lol:

When I need a compressor that is faster than the LA-2A, my go to is the Tubetech CL-1B. Pretty much my favorite hardware compressor ever made - It can give you color if you want it, or it can remain virtually transparent while taming transient peaks, depending on settings. 

And when I want huge color and audible compression artifacts, NOTHING beats the Fairchild.

I sadly do not have a Fairchild available, but the UAD emulation does a stellar job of it 

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3 hours ago, Red Ant said:

And when I want huge color and audible compression artifacts, NOTHING beats the Fairchild.

It's the all-time heavyweight champ... literally. Nothing outweighs it either! ;) :D

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Posted (edited)
On 3/3/2020 at 7:37 AM, Phil O'Keefe said:

I can’t speak to the Klark Teknik specifically, but “this type” of compressor is pretty unique and quite useful. It is a whole ‘nother thing vs a VCA based compressor. 

I’m excited, I’ve done exhaustive research deciding between this and the WA-2A. It seems really close and I’m not 100% decided on one or the other, other than I’m buying ONE of them. They have their own strengths/weaknesses. The Klark gets points for vocals IMO(probably the only use) but bass and drums the WA-2A sounds more heft. Yes, I went out and bought more tubes than I can ever use for it to roll in the signal chain...Lets see some more showed up today..(50s/60s)..2 Raytheon black plate 12ax7s from Baldwin organ pull..1- Browning(?) 12ax7...2- GE 12ax7 long gray plate..1- Westinghouse 12bh7(very odd looking gray plates)..2- GE 12bh7. Why so many tubes? A lot are sold in pairs. I’ll be switching these out on either unit in a fit of madness first. My prediction- Raytheon 12ax7 black and GE 12bh7 gray. 

Edited by redEL34
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23 hours ago, Phil O'Keefe said:

Please let me know which tubes you like in it the best... :snax: 

 

Oh I will. Probably will do a tear down so the 2 people here mildly interested can see. I’m still thinking of getting an RCA 12ax7 to roll in there as well since I’ve read they were the original tube, but the original unit is probably a different beast. I imagine it’s like anything old that’s been re-capped/tubed that 2 originals may not sound alike.

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Ok, you’ve convinced me to go with the WA-2A with your review, Phil. No SMD I can see, already has the upgraded optics, Cinemags, Texas company, etc..The KT, the more I listen, sounds more like a “modern take” on the unit considering the WA is for sure IMO more aggressive. I’m invested in this already as I know even the WA the tubes are probably going to go and the selections I bought weren’t exactly cheap knowing I’ll probably only use 2 out of many. NOS tube market isn’t exactly reliable and only getting worse, so if available I’ll buy 2. There are definitely noise sensitivity differences depending on purpose. Microphones are the worst. The tube has to be flawless sound wise, and have some of that 1950s magic, but I have some really noisy ones that work great as phase inverters. I spend way too much time on this minutia, but yeah Warm Audio for sure. 

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Please let us know how you like it once it arrives and you get a chance to run some of your custom-built DIY mics through it! :snax: 

 

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