Published by baskervils on 3rd December 2011
La-610 mk ii
The LA-610 is a re-designed vintage pre-amp / opto-compressor combination. I especially love it on bass and guitars. It adds plenty of tube flavored butter.
vintage vibe that is wonderful on instruments
eq section is fairly drastic / not super useful
not my first choice for a vocal pre
By Preme Diesel on 3rd December 2011
Great way to add tube & opto to your rack.
I recently added a LA610 MkII to my rack because I was lacking both a tube preamp, and an opto style compressor. I am very glad I have both, and happy to note that the strip has won in several shootouts vs my existing go to combinations. It is certainly not always the winner, but a great addition to my tool palette none the less.
I like the flexibility of the gain staging. Picking the input impedance, input gain and preamp level for my source isn't hard - the sweet spot is generally pretty apparent and a blast to dial in.
The LA2 style compression is easy to use - find a spot where it floats nicely on the source without dulling things, or sounding too grabby and you're good to go. The compression is fairly forgiving, so it's great in a situation where you need to "set it and forget it"
The EQ is very useful and musical, even though it's just shelving. +6dB @ 10k is very smooth on pop/r&b vocals, for example. Cutting with the 70hz band instantly removes most "mud" I have inevitably encountered with a darker pre like the 610.
True compressor bypass allows me to accurately compare compression in and compression out. Extremely useful.
Fantastic VU meter with LED light.
I bought during the "Free UAD2 Duo Card" promotion. Can't go wrong.
The fact that you can not use the preamp and compressor as separate units with independent I/O really bothers me - it was almost a deal breaker for me. This is why I docked "feature" points.
Input saturation isn't always super pleasant. The first thing I patch in when tracking vocals is almost always a Vintech x73. I love pushing the input gain right to the edge of breaking up, on almost anything, because even when it starts clipping, it often is still very musical and pleasant. The saturation on the input gain of the 610 is, in some cases, less musical than some other preamps I have used.
By DR Music on 4th January 2012
What I LOVE about it!:
PRE-Section - I set the Input to -10 with higher gain and its a cleaner sound still transparent, which to me is very very useful. Higher Input settings (starting at 0) brings the warmth monster out! Great on Vocals, Guitars, and Bass, Kick and Snare too!!! Wish I could afford 4-5 of these's!
COMPRESSOR - Very LA-2A like! They did a great job! A couple of UA big knobs, classic.
EQ - The EQ section while simple is very musical and in the sense that it's easy to dial a sound your looking for.
BUILD QUALITY - UA baby!!
Looking at the 6176 soon.
What I DISLIKE about it!:
By foge on 8th January 2012
Love the fact that you get a fully feature channel of mic pre/EQ/Comp to track with definitely allows me to get the sound I want to tape saving a ton of cash spent later on. Investing in this as my front end for vocals has dramatically decreased the amount of plugins I use to get a decent vocal sound. The UAD definetly thickens the sound in a subjectively pleasing way.
The input distortion is pleasing and a great creative option and definitely thickens the vocal sound and saves buying a plugin to do the job later.
The compressor section is transparent and the metering slow to respond so I think you are often applying more compression the the VU meter displays. A little bit of compression sounds great on vocals and guitar, doesn't comfortably do hurricane force compression but if combined with a 1176 style comp you would have the best of both worlds.
Criticism's - Not the quietest preamp in terms of noise added, the high shelf sound unduly harsh to me. I wish it had two mirrored outputs so I could send one to my soundcard and one to my mixer for monitoring. The VU meter is very slow, but hey use your ears
Overall though for the price this is an absolutely incredible front end to track through and your vocalist will appreciate a little added thickness and comp from this at the tracking stage. There is nothing at this price that competes, I bought this with the free UAD card for £1250 sold the UAD card for £500 so it cost me 750 which is an absolute bargin!
By Bill Hambone on 3rd March 2012
I recently took advantage of Universal Audio's "buy an LA-610 and get a free UAD-2 DUO card!" promotion. I've used their plugins for years and absolutely love them. I had also recently rented a 6176 for a session, and I decided my next purchase would be a 610 channel strip. I figured the promotion was too good to pass up.
1. GAIN! This pre can handle any mic, no matter how low the output. I use the LA-610 with my Cascade Fathead II ribbon, and it is a match made in heaven. I can switch between +5 and +10 and get plenty of output from the ribbon with very little noise. In addition, the compressor section can be used as a secondary gain stage with the threshold set to zero. The LA-610 has also complemented every other mic I've plugged into it.
2. The EQ section. It is nice to be able to boost or cut 6 different frequencies, especially the muddy zone around 200hz. The EQ is not surgical, but it adds some nice color to sources.
3. The look. I love how simple and elegant this thing is! I also love the big knobs.
Like others, I wish that the compressor section could be used independent of the preamp section. I imagine this would jack up the cost. It also seems to kick in a bit too heavy at a low threshold, around 2. Although I generally prefer really light, transparent compression, so maybe I just need to get used to it. It sounds similar to the LA-2A, in any case.
If you like tubes, and want a little color in your sound, the LA-610 is great. I like that it sounds somewhere between a modern and vintage preamp, and it's very versatile for the price. I wish I could have bought two!
By bryzaguy on 5th March 2012
Sweet Tube sound.
I purchased and have used the LA-610 MKII for a little over a year now. This has been my first quality channel strip which was a fairly easy decision after being a proud UAD owner for many years and being a fan of the LA2A style compression. I use this mainly on guitars to get my 57's to really shine. Also works tremendously well with low output mics like ribbon mics and the Shure SM7B mic.
Not to parrot the other reviews but it's true that the compressor is very sensitive. The kind of compression I get from the LA610 at a 4 reduction setting is similar to what I get on the LA2A plugin at like a 7 reduction setting. I would play around with the impedance settings but did not hear much of a difference until running the preamp hot with a low output mic.
When I compare the sound of this to something like the GR neve clone I would say the tube warmth is more balanced with the LA610 where the GR is more upper mid-range-y. The EQ is nice especially with mics that can take being eq'd quite a bit. I also noticed there is much more dynamic range in the 610 while the GR squashed. Some may see this as a negative but I like it. Even if it's not your bag you can throw some compression on and get exactly the sound you want.
The DI is sweet. I use it for my bass tracking. Period.
By method1 on 15th March 2012
La-610 mk ii
The 610 MK2 is a great channel strip that has become one of my workhorse favourites. The DI sounds great on basses and guitars, and I often find I can get the bass sounds I want without miking when using this box. The EQ section is very useful and musical and gives pleasing results once you get to know it.
Aa a pre it's super quiet even when pushed hard and the input gain all the way up, with a great silky tone. It plays well with all types of mics and is often my preferred preamp for my Neumann u67.
The compressor is simple to use and yields great results on most sources I've tried, mostly guitars, dobro, banjo bass and vocal. It's gone a long way towards changing my attitude about "tweaking in the box" I get a good sound out of the 610 and and happy to print saving me time with later tweaks.
It’s also a great looking unit with clear metering and the large knobs feel very good to use. Build quality is very solid and I haven’t had a moment’s trouble with it.
All in all a very useful tool for recording and one I find myself coming back to for it's dependability and great sound.
By J.S.Vega III on 15th March 2012
I bought this channel strip as my first high end unit when it was first released.
As other reviewers have noted it's a tube unit with a 610 pre and an opto compressor, and a basic shelving EQ section.
The 610 pre has useful impedence options to work with different mics and instrument sources, and you can hear which one sounds better for a particular source quite easily. It's also switchable to line input which is great for putting the compressor to use after tracking is over (the signal is passed through the pre as well but the more character the better as far as I'm concerned, and you get to use the EQ).
These are all handily switched by a rotary knob on the left of the unit. Above that is another five position rotary switch marked Gain, enabling -10, -5, 0, +5, +10dB selections. These are useful for driving the unit or cleaning it up.
Three utility switches are present for a -15dB pad, polarity reverse and +48v phantom power. Below these is a very useful instrument input which is my go-to for bass.
The EQ section is basic but useful for broad tone shaping with selectable high and low settings (4.5K, 7K and 10K for high, 70, 100 and 200 for low). There's no bypass but it doesn't seem to matter in terms of excess noise or clarity of signal.
The T4 optical compressor section is a beautifully simple, essentially two-knob affair with peak reduction and make up gain just like an LA-2A.
The attack and release are fixed at what I would describe as a medium rate which seems to work well on a variety of sources although I have never tried it on drums.
It's possible to switch in a higher ratio by switching the mode to Limit and again although this is something that sees little use (as on my UAD LA-2A), that's not to say it is not worth having there. The Mode switch will also switch the compressor in and out of the signal path.
Above the Mode switch is the meter selection which selects between preamp input, compressor and the unit output. As I almost always have the compressor in use, even if to only tame peaks, this is usually set to "Comp".
The meter itself is a decent size, well lit and works as expected. All the knobs and switches feel very high quality and smooth. The detented/switched knobs (the small ones) have a nice firm action.
Sonically the unit performs excellently and in a shootout with an Avedis MA-5 and API 512c on acoustic guitar the LA-610 MkII won for it's smoothed transient response which was overbearingly harsh and "digital" with the other pres, on this occasion. Mic was an AKG 414 XLII.
I have also noticed that the unit imparts a very euphonic sheen to electric guitars and is super on vocals although the compressor is not always the right tool.
Recently I have considered consolidating my preamps to 500 series only, but trying the unit again where nothing else would work on acoustic guitar reminded me just how good it is, and it will be staying. Truly a professional product with useful features, high build quality, UA heritage and a great sound.
By haifai on 15th March 2012
I really love this machine!
A very flexible preamp with impendance switching for mic and instrument input, pad switch, phase reverse and phantom power.
It has alot of gain available, so even for ribbon mics ore vrey soft sources it does a good job.
There is a simple eq section as well - more like a tone blend for high and low end, but with a smooth sound.
for each of the two bands you can dial 3 frequencies and boost or cut them by 9 db with a shelving filter.
Good for adding some sparkle or take out some mud or add some nice low end to a bass or a bass drum.
The preamp gives a very warm fat brown tone and its easy to dial.
The preamp/eq is followed by a optical compressor that i find very easy to use.
just turn the knob until the compressor rides the peaks and forget about it!
It is possible to switch between limiter and compressor setting, so it can behave a little bit faster when its needed - of course not like a 1176 but i still find this option very usefull!
I really like this channel stripe on bass, vocal and guitar, often in combination with a fast limiter, and its doing a very good job.
i often use it as a luxury di box for bass or guitar recording at home.
I wish i could effort more of these channel stripes to use them on different source when i do drum recording.
I think this machine will stay a long time in my rig - the build quality seems very good - big knobs, a solid case - made like a tank!
By kvnlnt on 16th March 2012
LA-610 MkII Classic Tube Recording Channel
From the day I decided to start doing preproduction myself I realized it was a big world out there. I'm no gear slut at heart, I'm a minimalist. There are a million voices out there and an equal number of directions to take.
When it comes to gear, just want one "go to" solution for each function I perform in the studio. One that I can master and depend on. Because I take this approach, I look for gear that is diverse, simple and I can afford. I spend a signifcant amount of time reading and reviewing each item, spending time proportional to how big of a purchase it is. This attitude has served me well thus far.
Concerning the LA-610 MKII, I had spent a significant amount of time reading online reviews and articles comparing mic pres and various channel strips. I had no real way to A/B anything so I had to rely on these reviews. Although I had used a number of great pres in studio settings my personal home studio had nothing to speak of. I took a leap of faith and purchased the LA-610 MKII.
From the moment I turned it on, you could immediately hear the difference. It was in a class of it's own. In fact, at the time, I had at my disposal some vocals I had just recorded through some APIs at a pro studio. I immediately started tracking another song. When comparing my new home recorded vocals with the "studio" vocals, again, I was blown away. I showed some of these recordings to my producer and he stated that I do better recording vocals on my own. I think he was hinting at my "comfort level" when in reality I believe the difference was flexibility of having such an impressive piece of gear sitting right next to me. Not only can I spend the time at home to make a knock out vocal, I could bring out those nuances and characteristics that were absolutely absent in my previous home recordings.
As far as specific features, the MKII is very versatile. The controls are easy to read and make sense. The limiter is transparent and the compressor is smooth. It almost takes one to view the transients to even realize that compression has taken place, even when used aggressively. The Hi-z input on the front is a very nice to have, as well as the straight forward, Gain, Pad, and Mic Impedence switches. I've used it flawlessly to track, acousitc guitar, bass, vocals, snare and piano.
At this point, for my home studio, there's one thing that is lacking. A second MKII so I can record in stereo.
By grooveminister on 17th March 2012
Transparent but smooth.
I first heard the SOLO-610 reincarnation of the 610 preamp, when a bass player brought this to the studio some years ago - and I absolutely liked the lush and smooth sound of it.
So I decided to try the LA-610 mk II and fell in love with the sound of this unit on vocals, bass, acoustic guitar or horns.
First of all, the preamp is very transparent and open - but the top end is easier on the ears as it would be with a superclean transistor preamp.
Even if you don´t hit it hard (with low gain and high level settings of 7 or above), the low end sounds more relaxed what I absolutely love on bass, acoustic guitar and vocals.
The EQ section is more useful as it seems at first glance:
The original console only had +/- 6dB shelves @ 100 Hz & 10 kHz but the LA 610 features +/- 9dB @ 70/100/200 & 4.5/7/10 kHz.
I found perfect settings to compensate for the basic "too open" character of my brauner microphone -and the funniest thing:
The hi-shelf can help semi-fresh bass strings to sound better than most EQs can.
I even tried the LA-610 as a bass preamp with just a poweramp and a vanderkley 2x12" box - and surprisingly I was able to dial in a much better sound compared to a dedicated Eden-Top and Glockenklang-Preamp.
The lower midrange was more defined than the Eden, and the hi-end of the Glockenklang sounded a bit harsh when switching from the 610.
It´s absolutely worth experimenting with the impendance settings:
When using the Hi-Z input I found the 2.2M setting sounding better on my active Yamaha bass although this would be the setting intended for passive sources.
I don´t always use the T4 compressor, because I like the flexibility of doing it in the mix and have some of the best ITB compressors at hand.
But when perfectly set, the compressor or limiter setting on the T4 compressor sound great on various sources.
E.g. on slap bass the limiter setting with small gain reductions creates a tight but easy in-your-face sound.
By jasunn on 17th March 2012
Universal Audio la-610 MKII
Here is a personal review for what I think is the best value on the market today for a channelstrip, the Universal Audio LA-610 MKII (Black Face). This is, simply put, the best recording piece of gear there is for the price. I mainly use this on vocals but it sounds great with bass as well. I used it on my last 3 albums with a Neumann u87 and with a Rode NTV (when I needed a even more of a thick vocal sound). I also had the original LA-610 (Silver Face) but for some reason this is a bit "louder" than that, without noise. Overall, I highly recommend it. The only thing I like slightly better is a Manley Voxbox and that is 2 to 3 times the cost and very comparable to this...but some may argue this is better in a blind shootout. Go out and get it if you are on the fence, you won't be disappointed. HIGHLY recommended if you are trying to get a "pro" sound. Step it up and buy one now.I am usually over critical of music gear but this is one I can honestly say has been the single best investment I have ever made for recording.
By vlad8 on 21st March 2012
this is my front end mic pre in my studio
i usually record classical and contemporary music, live jazz and classical concerts, and of course budget demo projects for my friends
i have used this channel strip on almost all recordings i´ve made since i have it.
its a very good looking housing with confortable and big knobs, and the vu
meter is very easy to read.
the sound is very clean, open and natural, the tubes adds the warm needed to rich the digital enviroment and it can be used on every source you can imagine, i´ve tried on horns, saxophones, snares, percussion, marimbas, violin, cello, male and female singers, ac gtrs, gtr cabinets, room reverb etc.
also can be a good di for bass gtr and synths
the eq section is very usefull and easy to use, helps to cut undesired noises or boost the hidden bright (with ribbons specially)
the optical compressor its very usefull too, with drums to limiting, or ac gtr and voice to put their characteristic sound
the pros: quality, always sound the tubes
versatile, it can be adjusted to be what you want to hear
the price is affordable
the cons: always sound the tubes, and sometimes i need a solid state preamp
By Sumpumpro on 22nd March 2012
I use my UA LA-610 on just about everything. It's delivery is very clean and smooth but my favorite part is pushing the gain. Often, I'll run my minikorg through it, boost the gain and slam the compressor. What comes out is crunchy goodness and tasteful top-end distortion.
I would definitely recommend pairing this with a SM57 on the Snare set the level and gain to about 6 and compression around 2. You get a good "THWAP" and still retain the body of the snare.
Recording Vocals is a breeze the settings are simple and I love the big dials. I use alot of plug-ins and it comes as a nice relief to twist and turn some dials. I really believe you get truer sense of what ever tweaking you are doing if you can close your eyes and get the instant reaction of turning knobs. Alright, back to vocals. Again, I just love to slam the gain on this thing. It sounds really gritty. The EQ's are super basic but I usually never eq vocals on the way in.
I use the LA-610 as an insert on many mix-down tracks even though its mono. I'll split a track into mono and run one through LA-610.
I've had this piece for 5 years and never plan on selling it. It's built tough!
By joelfarr on 22nd March 2012
LA-610 MkII Review
I really can't say enough about this channel strip. It was my first step into the professional realm of pre-amps and compressors. It instantly took my mixes to another level. I was looking for a smooth compressor for vocals and acoustic guitar and this baby fulfilled every need.
There are a lot of people out there that are searching for a clean transparent sound. I am NOT one of those people. I firmly believe that when you buy a certain pre-amp or compressor it should be for that particular units unique sound and/or coloration. The LA-610 MkII definitely has a warm and fat unique sound. It brings so many instruments to life and wipes that digital edginess out your tracks.
I don't claim to know a whole lot about electronics or compression, but that's another great thing about this unit. You don't have to. It's so straight forward that a monkey could dial in a good sound with this unit. A lot of gear seems to overcomplicate compression with all the different settings. I personally don't want to spend 3 hours in a session trying to dial in a sound. With this unit you can't really go wrong with the two easy to use knobs for the optical compression. I love it.
I'm also a big fan of the different impedance settings you can choose from. It can really bring out some different flavors in different mics.
I was worried at first about the price and didn't know if it was worth the bang for the buck, but it has far exceeded my expectations and has changed the way I think about recording and hardware compressors. I am completely sold on Universal Audio. They just make high quality gear that lasts.
By analog men on 23rd March 2012
Universal Audio LA-610 SE
So here wa have a one channel tube microphone preamp with EQ and optical compression. Everything you should expect in a channel strip. But this not a one trick pony! There is SOOO much combination possibilities with this preamp!
First of all, the preamp section. Very colorful.
Even the cleanest setting give you this little tube vibe that can only be found on real good tube preamps. No distortion there, but a silky, flattering tone. Having the choice of input impedence, it adds a lot of different possibilities to get the right frequency response from your mic.
Pushing the gain let you enter a pure world of tube saturation and harmonic distortion. But be careful. It can get crunchy very fast. One thing for shure, the tubes works.
So sometimes, I find just the right setting for, let's say, a clean signal, and then, a louder peak produces a bit of saturation that I not necessarely want... But, that's the deal with tube preamps.
Next, the EQ section. SOOO musical... High and low shelving, with each the choice of 3 freq points. The highs are not arsh, and it gives air and "space" to the signal. It's like if it was "opening" the sound. Cutting the high reduces the clarity in a way that it doesn't sound choked or muffed. Very gentle...
For the low EQ, not myddy at all. It can give a solid bass response, again in a very musical way, without sounding boomy. Can be very impressive on cellos, bass and kicks. Beautiful, round, and can accentuate subs to be larger than life. When you cut it, like for the high shelf but inverse, it gets rid of the the low end in a very musical way, without making the signal sound "canny" or "one-inch-radio-shack-vrac-in-a-box-cheap-tweeter"ish.
Finally, the optical compressor.
No attack, release or ratio function. Just a peak reduction like in the good old days. Unlike a solid state compressor, the optical kind have a very different behavior with the signal. This one works VERY well, but like every optical comps, not on everything. If the match is good (with the source), this comp/limiter reduces peaks very smoothly without squashing the tone. Yet, sometimes, you have to look at the vu to see if it works. It can be so musical and subtle, that it can work without being heard. You have to be gentle though. If you push it hard and it reduces gain by a couple of extra dB's, you'll "hear the photocell glowing brighter".
In addition to all that, the "SE" version makes it a one kind of a preamp, with a very known sound, but with extra quality, and handpicked NOS tubes.
Beautiful on many things, but I prefer to use it on acoustic guitars, voices (especially female), wind instruments (like flute, clarinets), cellos, and basses.
One channel of happiness.
...Oh!... And it's beautiful.
By WesleyMorgan on 23rd March 2012
Sounds great, what more can you ask for
I've had this Pre for almost 4 years now. It was the first piece of gear I got to upgrade my signal chain, and I could tell the difference right away. Throw a cheap dynamic mic through this thing and it sounds 100x better. Put a quality mic through it and watch out.
The Hi-z input is also great for electric bass and guitar. Turn up the gain, throw on some compression, play softly, and you can get a consistent bass sound that would make Daniel Lanois or Tony Levin proud.
The compression on this unit can help bring up the low level details of a part in a very beautiful way. I once recorded a guitar straight into the HI-Z input. I played the G note on the 5th string and let the open 3rd string ring out. By cranking up the compression to bring up the sympathetic ring, I made that guitar sound like it had been recorded in a lush room.
Three big knobs makes this thing easy to use, and there are enough options to get a good sound down on tape or HD. You won't be using this thing for it's surgical precision, but if you are in the market for a piece of gear that just makes things sound better, then look no further
Last edited by WesleyMorgan; 23rd March 2012 at 10:33 PM.. Reason: More to say
By Kcatthedog on 25th March 2012
UA LA-610 mkii Channel Strip
There is recording with the LA-610 and without: you have heard this difference many times but most likely didn't know. Ever heard of rolling the deep, the 610 preamp in another UA product was a big part of that tone?
When it is time to make the next worthwhile investment in your recording dreams. This is a go to piece of gear !
The la-610 mkii is part of the UA pedigree for excellence in audio manufacturing . If you are looking for classic tone and features that enable you to sculpt and nail that vocal tone: this will help get you there. If you want to learn the art of mike pres and how compressors can help you make significantly better recordings :the LA- 610 mkii will get you there.
A hi-end professional quality mike pre, and optical compressor for gentle levelling effect with loads of tone that you can couple or uncouple and enlarged metre and a well thought out product defines the LA- 610 mkii.
Check out the video's on the UA website above and for more detail. A number of the videos act as tutorials to explain how the unit works and specifically how to best use it on vocals, acoustic instrument and di ing electric instruments (bass and guitar).
There is art to recording consider the LA-610 mkii as a key new range of colours in your palette !
By owen_vallis on 28th March 2012
The LA-610 is perfect for recording vocals with just the right amount of tube warmth, and smooth compression. In fact, the LA-610 is great for recording anything that I want to have a round even sound. Acoustic guitars, bass, or strings. Unlike some other pres I've used, the transition from linear to nonlinear characteristics is very smooth.
Features like the multiple input impedances, and shelf equalization allow for extra tone shaping and creative use, or misuse of the preamp. There is a big difference in tone between the 500 and 2.0k settings on the microphone input impedance. Additionally, the LA-2A style compression is perfect for smoothing out vocals, bass, or guitars. Not too aggressive, but also not completely transparent. The compression adds a nice warm character to the audio.
Come mix time, I often find myself running my tracks back through the compressor, and dialing in just the right amount of tube warmth. The fixed gain setting allows for sounds to come in clean, in a way I associate with solid state gear, or dirty, the way you would expect from an over driven tube circuit. Additionally, the noise floor on this pre is sweet, allowing me to hook up even my ribbon microphones.
From clean to tube, this is a great piece of gear.
By Freeloader on 30th March 2012
LA-610 Mk II
This preamp/compressor is my most recent upgrade to my home studio set up. I primarily track drums and do vocal/instrument overdubs.
The preamp section of the unit is the classic 610 Preamp that has been used on countless classic recordings.
I've recorded through these several times in the past, and it is my favorite bass DI.
The compressor is very smooth and while I've only used a Plug-in version of the LA-2A, this sounds close.
For a Vocal microphone, it took some tweaking to get a sound that I liked. The EQ is quite useful and very musical. Why not get the sound you want going IN rather than messing around after the fact??
So far, I've used an SM7b on some vocals and been very happy with the results. I also mic'd an acoustic guitar with an Advanced Audio CM12se and got a beautiful acoustic guitar sound that ended up on a mix without any post eq/compression. You also have the option of completely bypassing the compressor's circuitry, which is a big change from the previous LA-610 that didn't allow you to do this.
Oh, and with synth bass, this thing KILLS. My MS2000 sounds absolutely monstrous through this. I'm never plugging it into anything else.
This unit has tube warmth, but it isn't hard to get a really clean and natural sound out of it as well, so it's nice that this covers quite a bit of sonic territory. For the price, there aren't many products out there that can compete. Let's also not forget that it's made in the USA, and the build quality is excellent. Oh, and it looks pretty sexy too.
By Pale Pyramid on 30th March 2012
Universal Audio - La 610 mk II
I purchased an LA 610 MK II about a year and half ago . It hasn't seen daily use as I'm not a studio for hire . I have a home studio and am a songwriter and musician . I record when I can . I'm saying this to let you , the reader know that I haven't had the opportunity to try it on a plethora of sources . What I have used it on is running bass direct and amplified , guitar direct and amplified , guitar acoustic , synths direct and vocals .
Lets dig in shall we ?
PURCHASE, PACKAGING -
I ordered this from JRR music shop which is in Los Angeles and I live in Brooklyn New York . The fellow I ordered from was super helpful and I feel they gave me a nice deal as I traded in a few UAD 1 cards just collecting dust which I wasn't using . JRR took them and I was able to apply them as credit to the final price . Pretty sweet huh ? I thought so . There was a promotion going on at the time and I also received a UAD 2 duo card for with my purchase . The UAD 2 was shipped separately . I see that UA has been running this very promotion from time to time of late . You can of course order from any one you'd like but if your state side JJR shop are decent in my book . Well , the LA 610 MKII came packaged in a brown cardboard box with another white UA box inside . All the way across the country and not a scratch or ding on either box . Inside the UA box the LA 610 MKII was insulated in a cocoon of foam and wrapped in protective plastic . I wouldn't worry about UA getting you anything but a brand new straight from the unit ready for use .
Man , this thing is solid and sturdy . It also has an old 1960's look to it which is very cool . The knobs have weight to them and those which are stepped turn tightly which i sign of a good build .
The pre amp section has a HI-Z jack on the front and MIC and LINE inputs and output are on the back of the unit . There is a 15 db pad , a phase switch , and phantom power switch . There is a stepped gain knob that goes in 5 db increments from -10 to + 10 db . This is great for adding a bit of grit or a lot of grit to the source i find . You select mic , line and HI-Z via a stepped knob . You select the amount of color by increasing or decreasing a large knob labeled "LEVEL" . I find that anything over 3 and a half is no longer cleanish sounding . The sweet spot for color is between 4 and 8 depending on the desired effect . That's also mic dependent of course . Then a simple eq follows . I skip it and EQ in the mix if need be . I could see this being great for kick , bass and vocals given the specified limited frequency choices .
The compression is an opto with controls not unlike the LA2A . I don't imagine it sounds very close to an LA2A given the difference in price . I personally don't like to use it in conjunction with the pre amp . I feel it sounds like it's squeezing the body of the source to much . Thinning it out somewhat . I'd like to try it for acoustics , bass or vocals during mix down though I'm not sure you can bypass the pre and I have been to lazy to bother . At the twist of a knob you can bypass the compressor . I don't think this was the case on the first revision .
It will either sound great or it won't ! This isn't a "use on everything" pre amp . I like it on bass , acoustic guitars , vocals and half the time on synths . This is where it's color comes into play and you can really punish your source to your liking like on bass guitar for example or tone it down for acoustics . It gives a tube like almost purple-sh tone to my ears . A bit vintage sounding which can be suited well to digital recording . I find that the pre amp takes well to dynamics of all kinds and you can drive them harder as well . It sounds wonderful with ribbon mics , now there's some old school vintage tone right there ! You know how a good pre amp can sometimes make a cheap condenser sound good ? I don't find that the case with this pre amp . I paired it with several condensers when I first bought it . I hated it at first . I had to mix and match with this pre amp . What I ended up with was a Michael Joly modded U87 type mic in the end and the LA 610 sounds stellar with this mic . I feel like little or no EQ needs to be applied after words . The color and tone are immediately there .
All and all, this is a good and colorful pre with a good but not great compressor . I don't like to use the two together - yet . Maybe my mind would change if I was using it on a source I've not yet tried . If you have or will have a stable of pre's for different sources this would be a complimentary piece . You may want to pass on the comp (who knows , you may have a different opinion on the compressor then me though ) and just purchase the pre amp on it's own .
Last edited by Grahamdwc; 2nd April 2014 at 01:54 PM..
By monoman76 on 31st March 2012
Universal Audio LA 610 MK 2
This universal audio channel strip is one of the coolest i know. It sounds warm, cool and all together. On bass together with the compressor is absolut amazing. Vocals too. It is very easy to use. You do not need a manual ;-) I bought this amp to have one for the warm sounds and that is exactly what it does. Realy nice. Go for it.
By bbensoy on 31st March 2012
Universal Audio LA610
The unit's two tube gain stages let you achieve a wide variety of tube coloration and harmonic distortion. There is a lot of headroom at the input stage which I like. That property widens the pallette.There is not a meaning of having this If you have a stable fuzzy, hairy sound always on top but here it is not the case. You can crank it or not depending on what you want.
I mainly use this pre on guitars, vocals,bass, snare and kick and acoustic guitar.
I feel the focus is at the mid range having the lower fundamentals there. That gave a thick sound. This is what the tubes does. Additionally, there still have nice transients in the upper range what most tube press don't have. So vocal is on my face. But I would record a voice like Alison Krauss, this is not my first choice then. The compressor has very nice LA-2A sound which is often on vocals. The preamp and compressor together works great for distorted voices. I couple the conderser mike with sm57 or sometimes just sm7. That seems the perfect combination for the situation.
This is a bass player's dream so don't have to add on that. Comparing with the Great River pre, this has the punch and feel of playing with a nice bass amp which is very important for most bass players and eases to take the performance out. But the GR has the low end. I like the active pickups giving mid punch but here that might not be my first choice to play better with the pre input level.
Don't have to compress on the amp very much to get a thick sound. The preamp does it while the player is still can show more of his playing with a dynamic amp sound. The sm57 or/and AKG414 on the cabinet with this pre does great job. I use EQ section to tame the highs of AKG and boost where it is needed. The EQ does the job for this.
Kick and Snare:
Snare goes very nice If the snare sounds nice because of the harmonic distortions. The crack of the top skin sticks on face having the low mid fundamental very defined. On kick If you need the punch then this is the pre. Not a lot low end focus but If the bass resonance is captured well then the puzzle is done.
By negativO on 31st March 2012
You won't believe how much I paid for LA-610
I was planning on buying a UAD card anyway when I saw the promo offer from UA to get a free Satellite Duo with the purchase of an LA-610 channel strip. This was a no brainer... Then I found an online retailer offering an extra 15% off the LA-610. The timing was perfect. Considering I was already going to spend $900 on the UAD card, my final price for the UAD was under $400!!!!! Probably the best bang for buck I've ever gotten....
As for the sound: it's amazing on some things but definitely not for everything. The tube sound is ever present and likes to be noticed. Using compression magnifies that sound. This could be a blessing or a curse depending on your source.
I would caution against using this unit as a main vocal strip if you record a lot of different voices. The room I put it in also has a Focusrite ISA One. They are excellent complements to each other and the combination offers a huge range of sound because they both have variable impedance. Getting familiar with how the changes in impedance affect different mics and sources is a worthwhile investment of time!
I think the best features are the impedance and the EQ. The EQ is very subtle in the lower steps and more present in the higher steps. How it's supposed to be! I found it more useful for boosting than attenuating. I rarely EQ when recording, but with this unit I found myself saying "why not? it sound GOOD" alot.
My main complaint for LA-610 was the setting of the threshold on the compressor. It seemed a bit low to me. With some sources I was compression almost 10dB with the knob set to 1 or 2. It's a great sounding compressor but it's so aggressive that I found myself bypassing it a lot. The knob has probably never been past 3. I will say this, though, if you're tracking a lot of bass you will love the compressor.
I gave it 7's for the sound quality and the ease of use because of the limitations on the sound and the trickiness of the compressor. That said, the LA-610 with the right mic/source is OFFICIAL!!
By Genre Mogul on 1st April 2012
LA610 MK2 Review
It was a last minute/last day Dec. 30 2011 decision to purchase the LA610 mk2
& receive the uad 2 duo free. It was a toss up between the la610 mk2 & the BAE1073mp. So I convinced myself to go with the free offer lol. Before this purchase I was using the mic pre on my avid omni going to hd2 converters.
Good sound quality but definitely doesn't have the all tube preamp tone I wanted to record. So, the addition of the la610mk2 gave me some pretty high expectations. And I must say, it did not disappoint.
First I tried it out on a male/female vocal duet (a song similar to jason mraz/Colbie Caillet "Lucky") using a Neumann TLM103 mic. After a little work finding the sweet spot for both vocalist individually, the warm tone sounded Great! Didnt have to use the front end comp on this one & when i used the plugins to Eq/comp the smooth tone quality remained natural.
Now some vocal sessions with more dynamic range where the compression is needed took a little bit of getting used to. But once I found out how to effectively use it, my vocals are consistently smooth and it doesn't take away the characteristics of the tone.
On bass/electric guitar recordings is where I mostly tested out the impedance & eq. It pretty much did the job of adding some sheen to the guitar and taking out just enough of the low mud on the bass. No need to get in to specs. It sounded good.
For the price and especially the free uad 2 duo, this was a no brainer...
My studio buddy purchased the BAE 1073mp and we A/B them...
1. Bae1073mp vs La610 mk2 (w/o compression) both sound really good.
2. Bae1073mp chained to Tubetech CL1B vs la610 w compression. Still pretty close lol....
Pros: just about everything it says it does....
Cons: nothing really negative to say about it...because it serves it's purpose.
Genre Mogul Music
Last edited by Genre Mogul; 1st April 2012 at 06:05 AM.. Reason: Correction on product mentioned
By MasterCrab on 8th April 2012
I'll just write what I think about it since the features are well covered / known.
I use mostly on bass and vocals. On bass it is really great. It gives the bass
a thick and warm sound, while still retaining presence and "life". The compressor
also works well on bass. I usually record the bass DI.
On vocals it works well as long as you use the right mic. The LA610 doesn't IMO
work with all mics. It works better with bright mics than with dark, as some
combinations become too dark and lose their presence.
I really like the EQ although it is quite restricted and some say that it's useless.
It cuts really well out mud and adds air and clarity, by boosting the high band.
A good preamp to have. Not great on everything, but what is..