Uncompromising Build Quality Before you even start warming up its five hand-selected tubes, the first thing you'll notice about the LA-610 MkII is its attention to design detail. For example, an internally switching power supply means it can be used in any part of the world, on voltages from 100 to 240 VAC. No wall-warts here, just the standard included IEC power cord -- the mark of a truly professional piece of gear. Standard XLR mic input and XLR line-level I/O complete the back panel. The front panel is just as simple and easy to use, with a larger, more stable VU meter lit by LEDs -- with no bulb to replace. Hand-assembled in the USA, it's evident that the LA-610 MkII is an investment-quality piece of hardware.
Versatile Range of Sweet Sonic Textures Some like it creamy, some like it crunchy. No, not peanut butter -- the sound of your LA-610 tube preamp. Inspired by the preamp section of Universal Audio's classic 610 console once used to record everyone from Sarah Vaughn to Van Halen, this pre is capable of a wide range of sonic textures to make the most out of your mic collection. The MkII version improves the accuracy of the stepped Gain knob's dB value. Crank it up to +10 for an edgy "bark," set it to a low -10 for clear, open, uncolored sound, or aim near the middle for signature rich, full warmth. The Level control brings the preamp's output up to a healthy level to hit your DAW (or the compressor section). Engage the musical EQ, adding presence and air with the high shelving filter, or cut unwanted rumble with the smooth 70, 100, or 200 Hz roll-off. Complete with +48V phantom power, switchable polarity inversion, switchable -15 dB pad, five impedance settings to match any mic or Hi-Z input, and a 1/4-inch instrument jack on the front panel, this preamp can handle any source -- whether you're plugging in a dime-a-dozen dynamic, a vintage condenser, or your favorite axe.
Teletronix T4 Optical Compressor The Teletronix LA-2A Leveling Amplifier is one of the world's most-loved classic tube compressors, developed in the early 1960s to smooth out the human voice's "peaks and valleys" to a consistent level ideal for broadcast radio. Fluctuations in the incoming audio signal illuminate an electro-luminescent panel to varying strengths: the louder the incoming signal, the brighter the light. A photosensitive cell picks up this light, and responds by lowering resistance on a gain-reduction circuit controlling the output signal. A quieter input signal produces only a dim light, causing a great deal of resistance in the gain-reduction circuit and resulting in no gain reduction at all. The amount of compression, therefore, varies constantly depending on the program material, resulting in a smooth, natural, musical sound -- perfect for recording dynamic sources. The famous LA-2A's electro-optical circuit is known as a T4, and it's this very same T4 that you'll find at the heart of the LA-610 mkII's optical compressor, built to the exacting specs found on the LA-2A.
To Compress Or Not To Compress? Back in the all-analog days, the reduced dynamic range of tape meant that serious compression "on the way in" was a necessity for recording dynamic sources like horns, drums or vocals without clipping. If you've not tried applying front-end compression, the T4 within the LA-610 is a great place to start -- it's capable of everything from gentle, nearly undetectable peak reduction to severe brick-wall limiting. For low-output sources like ribbon microphones, try turning peak reduction to 0 while you use the compressor section's gain knob to provide an additional 15 dB of microphone gain. Of course, today's digital systems can handle a much wider dynamic range than analog tape, allowing you to capture an uncompressed signal with the option of compressing later in mixing. That's why this second-generation version of the LA-610 has a true compressor bypass switch -- so you can capture the sweet, warm sound of the 610 preamp with zero compression applied.
Universal Audio LA-610 MkII Classic Tube Microphone Preamplifier Features - Updated version of Universal Audio's best-selling LA-610 tube preamp and compressor
- An ideal analog front-end for your DAW
- T4 optical compressor identical to the legendary Teletronix LA-2A
- True bypass of the compressor circuit
- Larger, more stable meter
- Auto-sensing power supply -- for use with voltages all over the world
- Suitable with any input -- instrument, mic, or line-level
- One great preamp channel to make the most of your mic collection
In today's recording studios, software plug-ins are such well-established tools for audio processing that even classic outboard-gear creators like Universal Audio have become big players in the plug-in game. But while well-designed plug-ins can model compressors, limiters and EQ, there's no piece of software that can faithfully model a classic tube microphone preamplifier. Think about it: once a microphone's signal shows up in your DAW to be processed by a plugin, it's already been preamped, whether by your console's preamp section, or your audio interface's built-in pre. You can't undo that first crucial step, or replace with a plug-in what you didn't capture in the first place. That's why it's so important to make the most out of your source by recording through a preamp like the LA-610 MkII.
The LA-610's benefits go beyond the recording process: its T4 compressor and smooth EQ section can be a secret weapon for your mixes. Just insert the LA-610 mkII's compressor on a line-level channel from your DAW to tame dynamics on prerecorded signals. Both on the front end of your system, and as an insert compressor/EQ, you're sure to get serious mileage out of the Universal Audio LA-610 MkII preamp.
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