Review: Universal Audio LA610MKII Channel Strip
Positives:High quality Tube preamp with LA-2A style compression/limiter and EQ
Mic, Line and Hi-Z Inputs give you the flexibility to use it on multiple sources
Ability to bypass compressor section
Simply outstanding price to performance ratio
Negatives:Be aware its a mono unit
Cannot use compressor on its own – must go through preamp first
Sometimes tube color can become overwhelming on softer sources or mics that need more input
As a film score composer who dabbles in Prog/Symph rock, most of my music is created “in the box” with choice instrumentalists adding overdubs on top of existing material. Though I don’t record often, when I do I need it to sound great. I A-B’d a few different preamps, and this one blew me away! Not only did it add warmth through its tube pre which you can dial in from clean to crunchy and everything in between, but it also made the sources I tried (mainly Vocals & Saxophone) sound clear and present at the same time! When compared to other preamps, this one was like lifting a blanket off the sound, and the source material just sounded more real and alive. Vocals in particular seem to pop and sound really clear and warm; like you’re use to hearing on famous records, a sound that eluded me before this channel. Very nice! I also tried using the DI’s for Bass and Guitar, and though the difference is not as great when running it clean, the tubes were still able to impart a very tasty sound thats hard to match in the box.
Interestingly, I’m finding its getting the most use in my “ITB world” using it to color sample/ virtual instruments via its line input. I’ve been using this unit to add tube warmth and LA-2A style compression to sampled instruments in my DAW, and its been MAGIC! Though its only a mono input, and thus can take time adding it to multiple sources, I’ve been sending sampled instruments that could use a little extra mojo (like brass for example) though this channel and its been working GREAT! I also used it on sampled guitars & basses before my amp sims, and its really doing something noticeably special.
I highly recommend you check the LA-610 out. For the price-to-quality ratio, I don’t think this unit can be beat! Though a tube preamp is not always the best tool for the job, its worth trying on everything, and when it works, its something special!
p.s. Universal Audio occasionally offers promotions on this unit. For example, I got a UAD2 Duo for free when registering my LA610MKII. Wouldn’t be surprised if they offer the same or similar deal again in the future, so keep an eye out as that package is an absolute STEAL!
For more info, visit the products page at UA: http://www.uaudio.com/hardware/channel-strips/la-610-mkii.html