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LA3A shootout: dual Urei hardware vs UAD / Waves / Black Rooster plugins - null tests Dynamics Plugins
Old 16th June 2017
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
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LA3A shootout: dual Urei hardware vs UAD / Waves / Black Rooster plugins - null tests

In this shootout I compare a pair of Urei LA-3A compressors on compress mode to a variety of plugin emulations. The Ureis are NOT stereo linked.

TL;DR:
1) It was very easy to make two hardware units nearly null completely
2) The plugins do not attack and release like the real thing, especially from 0 to extreme gain reduction levels
3) The harmonic overtones that the plugins produce are not correct

I began with a uncompressed.wav test file with a variety of signals at a variety of levels.

The shootout is performed by sending this test file out through a Liquid Saffire 56, via ADAT to SSL converters at 44.1khz to a patch bay and to the Ureis and then back in reverse. To understand how much error occurs via this round trip, I ran the test signal through this signal path and through a new API 550B on bypass and did a null test with the original file, which demonstrates the magnitude of error incurred by the AD/DA signal path. (converters_null_test.wav) This is much quieter than the subsequent plugin null tests which incur no signal path loss.

To avoid the conclusion that each HW unit is different and therefore how accurate could a plugin be to any particular HW unit, I ran the test signal through both of my LA-3As (no stereo link) and subtracted the two signals: dual_LA-3A_nulltest.wav. It was very easy to bring the two so close - the gain reduction knobs were set to 7 vs 6.3 or so. The gain knobs were very similar, at 3.4 each. The GR meters were looking similar when matched at these settings.

dual_LA3A.wav has left/right signals of the two units
dual_LA3A-nulltest.wav is the mono difference of those two signals

plugin tests next...
Attached Files

uncompressed.mp3 (2.72 MB, 1055 views)

converters_null_test.mp3 (2.23 MB, 1013 views)

dual_LA3A.mp3 (2.75 MB, 1049 views)

dual_LA-3A-nulltest.mp3 (2.75 MB, 1018 views)

Old 16th June 2017
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
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I then compared to Waves CLA3A, UAD LA3A and black rooster VLA-3A plugin emulations. mono results and null tests vs the left Urei compressor are attached. Settings were found manually by listening in null mode and trying to make the quietest signal. Much easier with the two real HW units.

Listen closely to the harmonics of the sine-wave signals at the end of the test - the harmonic overtones of the plugins are way different than the real thing. Finally, attached is an image showing a single sine wave going through the HW and the 3 plugins. The real HW shows four distinct overtones being produced (the note is held constant here, the gain reduction has stabilized and the GR is down around -10db).

The UAD has too much 3rd harmonic, no 2nd, and too much 4th it seems. The CLA and rooster only seem to add the 3rd harmonic, and not nearly enough.
Attached Thumbnails
LA3A shootout: dual Urei hardware vs UAD / Waves / Black Rooster plugins - null tests-harmonics_spectra.png  
Attached Files

CLA3A.mp3 (2.75 MB, 1079 views)

UAD.mp3 (2.75 MB, 1055 views)

rooster.mp3 (2.75 MB, 1058 views)

CLA_null_test.mp3 (2.75 MB, 1002 views)

UAD_null_test.mp3 (2.75 MB, 1001 views)

rooster_null_test.mp3 (2.75 MB, 1013 views)

Old 16th June 2017
  #3
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Old 16th June 2017
  #4
Gear Maniac
 
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Anyone out there still have a working Liquid Mix?

I haven't gotten mine going with Win 10. Would love to know if the LA-3A liquid mix model has the right harmonics or not. If you could run my test file and share I'd really appreciate it.
Old 19th June 2017
  #5
Lives for gear
 
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Null tests aside, I find it interesting that none of the plugin emulations tested replicate the harmonic series of the (tested) hardware.
Would be cool to see some more tests/measurements of this type (different sine frequencies, maybe a sweep, frequency response, etc)
Old 19th June 2017
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
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short harmonics comparisons

You can really hear it here with Massive with a pure sin wave patch playing chords and the beating harmonics. Each LA3A on comp mode again, and sustaining just over 7dB reduction after the transients settle.
Attached Files

Urei.mp3 (722.8 KB, 890 views)

UAD.mp3 (722.8 KB, 848 views)

CLA.mp3 (722.8 KB, 840 views)

rooster.mp3 (722.8 KB, 838 views)

Old 25th June 2017
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
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It's interesting to compare the behaviour on a loud kick drum signal. The plugins seem to choke/hard-limit even on 'compress' mode relative to the real thing. The real LA-3A is all over the place after the initial hit - doesn't look like the input signal at all. Really changing the character of the sound.

Attached Thumbnails
LA3A shootout: dual Urei hardware vs UAD / Waves / Black Rooster plugins - null tests-la3a_kik_attacks.jpg  
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
Gear Nut
Now that is a serious test. Nice.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
Engagement Manager
 
Sniperschool's Avatar
Thanks for posting such a detailed shoot out
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
Great insight! Makes me wonder how they even approach making those emulations? Looks like they didn't even tested it on sine waves. I guess making the perfect emulation is entirely possible, but for lazy developers it's just too much as people are buying those plugins anyway.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
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Thanks! I'd be curious to know what harmonics real Fairchilds introduce. And 33609. If someone out there has those units, I'd appreciate similar sin wave / organ tests just to know.
Old 5 days ago
  #12
Gear Nut
Are you in any position to add this one to the line up to make it the mother of all and end all LA-3A tests?


Old 5 days ago
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
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Thread Starter
Sorry, I don't have that plugin or Nebula. I can share my .wav unprocessed inputs if anyone wants to run more tests like these.
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