Last week, we got in a reissue LA-2A. I had never seen one in person until then. I'll be honest, I never understood all the hype. I had heard lots of plugin models and a few videos and samples online, but nothing compares to hearing the real thing. When I first plugged it in and cranked up the gain reduction, I was blown away. That's the sound you hear on the most famous records. Sure, you don't need to spend a couple thousand dollars on a one-channel compressor, but it can take your recordings to the next level.
Another famous piece that I have never had the opportunity to use until recently is a Tube-Tech PE 1C. Any of my studio friends will be able to tell you the one brand I can't stop talking about is Tube-Tech. This is a Pultec-style EQ, similar to the Warm Audio EQP-WA. I have the plug-in version of this piece by Softube and I love it. But like I said before, you can't beat the real deal.
We also have a used Manley Force in stock. This is one of my favorite 4-channel preamps. They are very clear, but also give a saturated sheen to anything passing through. I honestly think it is a great preamp for anything. Drums, vocals, bass DI, guitar cab, acoustic guitar and so on. Check out this article to see some of the Manley gear we stock.
Let's get to the part everyone wants to hear. For this recording, we recorded a Guild CO-2 (American made) with a stereo pair of Earthworks SR77. We did not compress the guitar at all. We ran an ESP LTB D-4 bass into the Manley Force DI input, then into the LA-2A and added a bit of EQ afterward. For bass compression we took out between 3 and 7 dB. The picture at the very top shows the exact settings we used for bass EQ. As you can see, we used a little bit of the "Pultec Trick." One the vocal track, we used a Neumann M-147. For compression, the meter was anywhere between 5 and 20dB of gain reduction. I love the LA-2A because even when it is pushed to it's limits, it still sounds great. On the EQ side, We did a small boost at 5kHz and with a bit of the Pultec trick as well. There are no other effects other than the compression and EQ used while tracking. Check it out!
After using this gear and hearing it in person, I don't want to go back to plugins. Don't get me wrong, plugins are great for convenience and they still sound pretty good. But nothing comes close to the real gear.
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