Top Best 12 LA-2A Compressor Plug-ins (January 2021)

Top 12 Paid and FREE LA-2A Compressor Plug-in Emulations!

Top Best 12 LA-2A Compressor Plug-ins (January 2021)
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The Story of Teletronix LA-2A

For over 50 years the Teletronix LA-2A has been revered for its smooth, natural, musical compression. With its unique tube-driven electro-optical attenuator system that allows instantaneous gain reduction with no increase in harmonic distortion, the LA-2A massages signals like no other compressor ever made.

 

Teletronix founder Jim Lawrence first used photocells for controlling audio gain in the early 1960s. His ingenious optical compression design was a technological breakthrough, far surpassing the stability and transparency of earlier circuits. Universal Audio founder M.T. ”Bill Putnam” later purchased this patented technology, continuing to manufacture the LA-2A for years to come.

la-2a hardware compressor

Here Are The Top 12 LA-2A Compressor Plug-ins

The LA-2A was the first compressor to use a tube-driven optical attenuator to achieve gain reduction. The T4 optical attenuator is entirely program-dependent, allowing the compression ratio and release time to vary greatly based on the source material. The average attack time is fixed at 10 milliseconds, but the LA-2A’s signature sound comes from its unique release characteristic.

 

The initial release time is fixed at 60 milliseconds for 50% of the release, and anywhere from one to 15 seconds for the full release, depending on the program material. Due to the largely automatic nature of the LA-2A, it features very simple controls: Peak-Reduction knob, Gain Control for make-up gain, and a Limit/Compress switch to adjust the compression ratio.

 

There are many choices of the LA-2A emulation plugins out there. In this list, we are going to look at the best 12 Paid & FREE versions of the LA-2A plugins and go through them all one by one. 

1. Universal Audio - UAD LA-2A

UAD Teletronix LA-2A. Universal Audio offers one of the most accurate LA-2A emulations available, which makes sense since they own the patent. While it doesn’t offer any new features, it does an excellent job of capturing the LA-2A’s signature sound and analogue warmth.

 

The Teletronix LA-2A Leveler Collection puts three of the most coveted incarnations of the iconic Teletronix processor at your fingertips. Like the hardware, the LA-2A Silver, LA-2A Gray, and LA-2 models offer distinct variations in time constants, compression knee, headroom, distortion, program and frequency dependence, and more. Unfortunately, UA plugins are only run on the devices, their Audio Interfaces or the UAD units.

 

Click here to see their product.

Top Best 12 LA-2A Compressor Plug-ins (January 2021)

Download Universal Audio “UAD LA-2A”

Price: $299

FEATURES:

  • Superior plug-in emulations of revered Teletronix LA-2A Leveling Amplifiers.
  • Includes three historic versions — LA-2A Silver, LA-2A Gray, and original LA-2 — each with their own distinctive sonic attributes.
  • Models entire electronic path — including transformers, tube amplifiers, and T4 optical cell distortions — for unmistakable analogue colour and character.
  • Incredibly easy-to-use Peak Reduction and Gain controls.
  • Offers the ideal optical compression sound for vocals, bass, drums and more.
  • Includes plug-in presets from famous LA-2A users Ross Hogarth, Jeff Juliano, Carl Glanville, Darrell Thorp, and Vance Powell.
  • Requires a UAD-2 DSP Accelerator or Apollo Interface available from authorized dealers worldwide.
  • Support Mac|PC (64 bit) “VST, AU and AAX”

2. Brainworx - bx_opto

The bx_opto takes the best aspects and anomalies from legendary light-dependent Circuits to create a software compressor you wish you could buy in hardware!

Opto Compressors respond differently to different input signals, which is often referred to as being “program dependent”. For example, an Opto compressor will react differently to a longer loud part of a song than to a short loud hit in a quiet part, as the photocells will build up heat over time, which slows down the attack and release times significantly. With Opto compressors, everything is moving constantly, and in an ear-pleasing way!

 

And Brainworx takes the Opto-concept to the next level with this plugin. bx_opto not only delivers that musical quality but opens up new sonic possibilities with its variable speed knob, simulating changes in the speed at which the photocell in an optical compressor reacts to light. This gives you control over release times that shape transients in such a manner no hardware optical compressor can match.

Top Best 12 LA-2A Compressor Plug-ins (January 2021)

Download Brainworx  “bx_opto”

Price: $199

FEATURES:

  • Analog, optical compression colours with more control than hardware compressors can offer.
  • Truly Content-dependent peak reduction/compression.
  • ‘Speed’ knob controls the coefficient of Light Dependent Resistor, creating a unique transient response.
  • Fully sweepable sidechain filters.
  • Wet/Dry mix for parallel Opto-compression.
  • Support Mac|PC (64 bit) “AAX DSP, AAX Native, AU, AAX AudioSuite, VST2 and VST3″
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3. Avid - Classic Compressors - BF-2A

Digidesign’s Bomb Factory Classic Compressors Bundle packs quite a punch when it comes to vintage-tinged tone. These software reproductions of the classic hardware boxes that shaped the sound of popular music over the last 40 years look and behave just like their vintage counterparts, giving newcomers a glance at the past while letting seasoned engineers work with familiar tools in a software format. The Classic Compressor Bundle offers replications of the renowned LA-2A, an 1176-style FET compressor, Fairchild clones, and the BF-3A. go vintage with the Classic Compressors Bundle.

 

The Bomb Factory BF-2A is modelled after one of the most popular compressors in the industry – the renowned LA-2A. The Bomb Factory BF-2A tube compressor plug-in’s vintage sound delivers incredible warmth and classic compression with the convenience and flexibility that only a software plug-in can offer.

Top Best 12 LA-2A Compressor Plug-ins (January 2021)

FEATURES:

  • Modelled after the renowned LA-2A tube compressor.
  • BF-2A delivers incredible warmth and classic compression.
  • Support Mac|PC (64 bit) “AAX DSP and AAX Native
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4. PSP - MixPressor2

PSP MixPressor2 is a fully-featured, high precision compressor designed to process either whole mixes or single tracks. PSP MixPressor2 emulates the classic characteristics of compressors with valve and opto-electronic circuits as classic modern compression solutions. PSP MixPressor2 also offers a highly configurable side-chain feature. The side-chain filter has a significant effect on PSP MixPressor2’s sound and operation.

The filter also enables the user to operate the compressor as a de-esser or to lessen the pumping effects of heavy kick drums and the like, based on the side-chain settings.

Top Best 12 LA-2A Compressor Plug-ins (January 2021)

Download PSP “MixPressor2”

Price: $199

FEATURES:

  • A wide range of soft-knee characteristics.
  • Either peak or RMS level detection.
  • External or internal side chain signal with a smooth bell-type filter.
  • An output algorithm which can operate as either a brick wall limiter or soft saturation algorithm to preserve peaks above 0dBFS.
  • Support Mac|PC (64 bit) “VST, RTAS, AAX and AudioUnit
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5. Softube/Native Instruments - VC 2A

Produced in cooperation with Softube, the VC-2A also offers a host of additional features not available on the original. An added sidechain input not only allows for characteristic ducking and pumping effects but also provides possibilities for a wide range of creative compression techniques.

 

A dry control makes parallel compression with the VC-2A a reality and a Low-Cut dial effectively tells the compressor to ignore (i.e. not compress) anything below the set frequency. This essential enhancement helps to avoid over-compression caused by unruly bass frequencies.

The VC-2A from Native Instruments sounds silky-smooth and offers an array of updated features. It still utilizes the original automatic attack and releases controls, but it introduces a high-pass filter to avoid pegging the needle when compressing bass-heavy signals. It also features a dedicated sidechain gain control for sidechain compression and a wet/dry control for parallel compression

Top Best 12 LA-2A Compressor Plug-ins (January 2021)

Download Native Instruments “VC 2A”

Price: $119

FEATURES:

  • High-quality vintage electro-optical tube compressor emulation.
  • Easy to use, automatic attack and release.
  • Medium to slow response for natural sound.
  • Sidechain input and Low-Cut Detector.
  • Support Mac|PC (64 bit) “VST, AU and AAX”
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6. Waves CLA-2A

Waves CLA-2A is modelled on the legendary electro-optical tube compressor, the CLA-2A emulates the original’s smooth, frequency-dependent behaviours that have made it a favourite of engineers everywhere.

 

Like the mid-‘60s classic, the CLA-2A sounds great on guitars and bass and really shines on vocals. Top it all off with Chris Lord-Alge’s personal presets, and seemingly limitless instantiations, and you’ve got a model that surpasses its inspiration.

Top Best 12 LA-2A Compressor Plug-ins (January 2021)

Download Waves “CLA-2A”

Price: $249 ($39.99 on Sale)

FEATURES:

  • Modelled compressor plugin.
  • Based on the legendary electro-optical tube compressor.
  • Compressor and limiter modes.
  • Sidechain frequency filter.
  • Zero-latency.
  • Support Mac|PC (64 bit) “VST, AU, VST3 and AAX”
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7. IK Multimedia - White 2A

The White 2A Leveling Amplifier is based on a legendary vintage unit that is entirely tube-based. It’s a totally different device in terms of construction where all the compression magic happens inside an optically coupled element formed by a fluorescent panel and some photocells: the famed T4A element. There is no electronic circuitry involved with the compression itself. It’s just a tube amp with photo-resistors, lighted by a fluorescent panel driven by the output signal.

 

At the time of this invention, there were not many ways of making an audio compressor: only variable-mu and optical. Optical was the simplest one, and if proper elements for both the light-emitting panel and the photocells were matched, magic happened.

 

IK Multimedia’s While 2A Leveling Amplifier nails the unique program-dependent characteristic of the original LA-2A. However, it doesn’t emulate the analogue tube characteristics of the analogue units, making it an excellent choice for smoothing out dynamic performances with transparency.

Top Best 12 LA-2A Compressor Plug-ins (January 2021)

IK Multimedia White 2A is available as part of their “T-RackS 5 & “T-RackS 5 Deluxe”

Price: $149.99 (T-Racks 5)

Price: $299.99 (T-Racks 5 Deluxe)

FEATURES:

  • Works within the T-RackS CS Standalone application.
  • High-quality oversampling.
  • High-precision and high-transparency digital processors.
  • Accurately analogue-modelled vintage classic devices.
  • Full-latency compensation support.
  • Supports sampling rates up to 192 kHz.
  • DSM™ and SCC™ proprietary IK technologies for extremely accurate digital models of analogue hardware devices.
  • Support Mac|PC (64 bit) “AU, VST, VST3 and AAX”
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8. Cakewalk - CA-2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier

The CA-2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier lets you wield this legendary sonic weapon in your own studio, on your own tracks. With only a few simple controls, it’s easy to use and provides instant gratification with professional results. The characteristic sound of the original hardware unit is a result of both its tube design and the famous T4 circuitry – and the CA-2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier meticulously models both.

 

Unlike typical dynamics processors that have a fixed compression ratio across all frequencies, the CA-2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier’s gain reduction varies at different frequencies. This unique design only reduces gain to a certain point before “giving in” and allowing the output level to naturally increase again. These characteristics play a big part in its smooth and transparent sound and why it is so universally revered as a vocal compressor.

Top Best 12 LA-2A Compressor Plug-ins (January 2021)

Download Cakewalk “CA-2A”

Price: $99

FEATURES:

  • Meticulously modelled.
  • Zero-latency for real-time tracking and mixing.
  • Up to 40dB of smooth, transparent gain reduction.
  • Frequency-dependent compression.
  • Program dependent attack/release
  • Fully modelled “R37” HF Pre-emphasis control.
  • Dual photocell reset modes (Classic & Fast Reset).
  • Use side-chain compression for ducking, pumping, and more.
  • Support Mac|PC (64 bit) “AU, VST, VST3 and AAX”

You May Also Like

Now Let's Check The FREE LA-2A Plugins!

1. Analog Obsession - LALA

LALA is Analog Obsession’s first emulation of the LA-2A Classic Leveling Amplifier. The plugin delivers all the core features of the original hardware unit, along with some extras such as an external sidechain input, a 3-band sidechain filter, and a mix control knob for quick and easy parallel compression.

 

Analog Obsession moved all of their plugins to Patreon a few months ago. All plugins (including those that weren’t freeware originally) can now be downloaded for free, with optional donations if you want to support the developer.

Top Best 12 LA-2A Compressor Plug-ins (January 2021)

FEATURES:

  • Filter sidechain has 3 bands. 
  • HPF – Will cut low end.
  • MF / MG – Will set the sensitivity of compressor for mid freqs.
  • HF / FLAT – Will set the sensitivity of compressor for high freqs (Enhanced version of the original unit’s R37 setting).
  • MIX – Will mix compressed signal with the dry signal.
  • Support Mac|PC (64 bit) “AU, VST and VST3″

2. Tin Brook Tales - TLS 1295 LEA

Tin Brook Tales released an updated version of TLS 1295 LEA, a freeware LA-2A compressor effect in VST plugin format for Windows and Linux. So, the new year begins with a blast from the past. Tin Brook Tales released multiple freeware VST plugins in the early 2010s. These plugins weren’t really mainstream, but those in the know recommended them as some of the best freeware compressors and limiters on the market.

Top Best 12 LA-2A Compressor Plug-ins (January 2021)

FEATURES:

  • Filter sidechain has 3 bands. 
  • HPF – Will cut low end.
  • MF / MG – Will set the sensitivity of compressor for mid freqs.
  • HF / FLAT – Will set the sensitivity of compressor for high freqs (Enhanced version of the original unit’s R37 setting).
  • MIX – Will mix compressed signal with the dry signal.
  • Support PC|Linux (32/64 bit) “VST

3. AdHd - Leveling Tool

AdHd Leveling Tool is a Tube Leveling Amplifier inspired by the legends and carefully crafted to meet your compression needs.

 

It has fully variable ratio controls and the usefully fast attack and release controls are the right way round so it’s definitely not 1176. It’s also a tube emulation with a nice fuzzy character to it when driven hard. There is a side chain filter and dry wet control too so this can be anything from a tone box to a gentle leveller to a peak limiter.

Top Best 12 LA-2A Compressor Plug-ins (January 2021)

FEATURES:

  • 4x Oversampling.
  • 64-bit internal processing.
  • Attack, Release, Ratio and Mix Control.
  • Support Mac|PC (32/64 bit) “AU, VST, VST3 and AAX”

4. Sonic Anomaly - SLAX

SLAX is a vintage compressor loosely inspired by the famous Teletronix LA-2A. It has an aggressive and dark character, which suits well for vocals, drums and acoustic guitars.

Top Best 12 LA-2A Compressor Plug-ins (January 2021)

FEATURES:

  • Gain: The output level.
  • Peak: The amount of compression.
  • Emphasis: The amount of high-frequency influence in the sidechain. Smooths out sibilants.
  • Comp/Lim: Alters the speed, ratio and knee of compression.
  • Overflow: The output limiter indicator turns on when output exceeds -0.1dbfs. No signal can get past -0.1dbfs.
  • Support Mac|PC (32/64 bit) “VST

Maybe You Are Interested in These

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Stay Safe you all and have a wonderful time.

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2 Comments

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  1. there are lots of Opto compressor simulators in the market. free or not free. expensive or not expensive,
    I liked TRS White 2A much more! It’s something else! very very real analog! I have it in all of my projects. it just does the job! It’s straightforward, but it can do lots of things if you know how to work with it.
    VC-2A has a rich sound and a nice analog feel. but I feel like it has characters more than it is needed! so in my case, limited use only!
    but white 2a is everywhere! of course with EQF-100.
    I used some of the Compressors above. nice ones you picked.
    tnx for it

    • Glad you enjoyed this blog and thanks for your feedback!
      Yes, I also do like the characteristics of the TRS White 2A, in fact, I use their Black 76 in almost every project too.