Some Background On The Teletronix LA2A Compressor/Limiter.

The Teletronix LA-2A is an iconic analog compressor/limiter known for its warm and transparent sound. Its history dates back to the mid-20th century and includes several important milestones:

Late 1950s – Birth of the LA-2A: The LA-2A was originally designed by Jim Lawrence, who later co-founded Teletronix Inc. with his partner, Bob Ross. The LA-2A, which stands for Leveling Amplifier, was introduced in the late 1950s as a studio tool to manage dynamic range and provide smooth compression and limiting. Its electro-optical design, employing an optical attenuator and vacuum tubes, set it apart from other compressors of the time.

Versatility and Warmth: The LA-2A quickly gained popularity due to its unique and musical compression characteristics. Its opto-cell technology, involving an optical attenuator (a light-dependent resistor) and a photocell, was responsible for its signature sound. The LA-2A’s smooth and transparent compression, along with its natural harmonic distortion, made it an ideal choice for leveling vocals, instruments, and mastering applications.

Early Ownership Changes: Teletronix was later acquired by Bill Putnam Sr., a renowned recording engineer and founder of Universal Audio. Under UA’s ownership, the LA-2A continued to be manufactured and became part of a family of classic audio equipment, alongside other Teletronix and Universal Audio gear.

Multiple Revisions and Reissues: Over the years, several variations of the LA-2A were produced. The original LA-2A models included the LA-2 and LA-2A. The LA-2A underwent changes and improvements, leading to various versions such as the LA-2A Gray, LA-2A Silver, and LA-2A Blackface. These models often had slight circuitry and cosmetic differences.

Enduring Legacy: The LA-2A’s timeless design and audio quality have kept it in high demand among recording engineers and producers. Its reputation for bringing out the best in vocals and acoustic instruments has made it a studio staple. While vintage LA-2A units are considered prized possessions, Universal Audio continues to manufacture LA-2A reissues, ensuring that the classic sound is accessible to modern recording professionals.

Further Innovations by Universal Audio: Universal Audio, under Bill Putnam Jr.’s leadership, has continued to innovate by creating plug-in versions of classic studio gear, including the LA-2A. These plug-ins provide the iconic LA-2A sound in digital audio workstations, preserving the rich legacy of this remarkable compressor.

The Teletronix LA-2A remains an enduring symbol of classic studio equipment. Its history is a testament to its timeless design, musicality, and its continued relevance in the world of audio production. Whether vintage or reissued, the LA-2A is a beloved tool for those who appreciate the warmth and character it imparts to recordings.


A Timeless Classic: My Experience with the Teletronix LA-2A


From the moment I laid my hands on the Teletronix LA-2A, I knew I was in for a truly exceptional audio experience. As an audio enthusiast and recording engineer, I’ve had the privilege of working with a variety of compressors and signal processors, but the LA-2A has always held a special place in my heart.

The first thing that strikes you about the LA-2A is its vintage, timeless aesthetic. Its iconic, eye-catching T4 electro-optical attenuator and large VU meter exude a sense of classic sophistication. This unit seems to whisper stories of legendary recording sessions from the past, and it’s no wonder it’s often referred to as the “desert island” compressor.

Sonically, the LA-2A lives up to its reputation. The moment you run audio through it, you’re greeted with a warmth and musicality that’s hard to find in other compressors. It has this unique ability to add a gentle, yet authoritative touch to the signal, without ever feeling harsh or intrusive. Whether I’m tracking vocals, guitars, or any other instrument, the LA-2A imparts a beautiful, almost magical character to the sound.

One of the standout features of the LA-2A is its simplicity. With only two knobs for Peak Reduction and Gain, it’s incredibly easy to use. The Peak Reduction control smoothly dials in the amount of compression, and the Gain knob allows you to make up the gain lost during compression. There’s no need to fuss with attack and release times or ratios, making it perfect for those moments when you need to capture a performance quickly and effortlessly.

What’s more, the LA-2A is incredibly forgiving. It’s nearly impossible to over-compress with this unit, making it ideal for beginners and seasoned professionals alike. The electro-optical circuitry reacts dynamically to the incoming signal, ensuring that it adapts to the performance, preserving transients while controlling peaks.

The LA-2A also has an incredible way of gluing a mix together. Whether I’m using it on a lead vocal or the mix bus, it has this remarkable ability to make all the elements in the mix feel like they belong together. This unit is a master of leveling out dynamic inconsistencies while retaining the character and nuance of the source material.

In terms of build quality, the LA-2A is built like a tank. It feels robust and reliable, and the knobs turn with a reassuring precision. The VU meter adds a touch of vintage charm and is not just for aesthetics – it’s an invaluable tool for keeping an eye on gain reduction.

To sum it up, the Teletronix LA-2A is a timeless classic that continues to deliver impeccable audio quality and character. Its simplicity, musicality, and overall sonic magic make it a must-have in any recording or mixing environment. Whether you’re a seasoned engineer or just starting out, the LA-2A is a true gem that will undoubtedly elevate your audio game. It’s no wonder it has been a studio staple for decades, and I can’t imagine my own studio without it.


The Teletronix LA-2A is a classic and iconic compressor/limiter that has been a staple in recording studios for many years. Here are the key features and specifications of the LA-2A:


  1. T4 Electro-Optical Attenuator: The LA-2A features a T4 electro-optical attenuator, which is a crucial component responsible for its smooth and musical compression characteristics. It’s this component that gives the LA-2A its unique sound.
  2. Optical Gain Reduction: The LA-2A uses an optical attenuator to control gain reduction, which reacts to the incoming audio signal’s level, resulting in a natural and musical compression that preserves transients.
  3. Dual Knob Interface: The LA-2A features a straightforward control interface with only two knobs:
    • Peak Reduction: This knob controls the amount of compression applied to the signal. Turning it clockwise increases the compression level.
    • Gain: The Gain knob allows you to make up for any volume loss that occurs during compression.
  4. VU Meter: The unit includes a large VU (Volume Unit) meter that displays gain reduction and output levels, providing visual feedback for the compression process.
  5. Class A Design: The LA-2A employs a Class A, all-tube design, contributing to its warm and rich analog sound.
  6. Simple Operation: The LA-2A is known for its simplicity and ease of use. You don’t need to worry about setting complex parameters like attack and release times; the unit adapts dynamically to the audio signal.
  7. Legendary Sound: This compressor is highly regarded for its musical, warm, and transparent compression, making it suitable for a wide range of instruments and vocal recordings.
  8. Handmade in the USA: Many LA-2A units are handmade in the United States, maintaining a commitment to quality and craftsmanship.


  1. Input Impedance: 50 kΩ
  2. Output Impedance: 50 Ω
  3. Maximum Gain: Typically 40 dB
  4. Maximum Peak Reduction: Approximately 40 dB
  5. Frequency Response: ±0.1 dB, 30 Hz to 15 kHz
  6. Signal-to-Noise Ratio: Better than 70 dB
  7. Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 0.5% at 10 dB gain reduction
  8. Tube Complement: One 12AX7, one 12BH7
  9. Dimensions: Standard 2U rackmount size (approx. 19″ x 3.5″ x 6″)
  10. Weight: Varies depending on the specific model, but they are generally sturdy and substantial units.

It’s important to note that there are several different models and versions of the Teletronix LA-2A, and some variations may have slightly different specifications. The LA-2A remains a highly sought-after and revered piece of audio equipment for its exceptional sound and simplicity, making it a go-to choice for recording engineers and producers worldwide.

In Use.

In the dimly lit studio, I was in the midst of a recording session with a talented but quirky indie band. We were tracking their latest single, and the vibe in the studio was both creative and a bit offbeat. Little did I know that the Teletronix LA-2A, our trusted piece of vintage gear, was about to become an unexpected star in this comical musical tale.

The lead vocalist, an energetic young woman with a penchant for spontaneity, was belting out her lines with fervor. The LA-2A, in its classic spot in the rack, was quietly doing its job, applying its magic to smooth out the vocal dynamics.

As she was nearing the climax of the song, she unleashed a high note that shattered the tranquility of the studio. The note was so piercing that it literally seemed to startle the LA-2A itself. The unit’s VU meter suddenly jumped to life, swinging wildly and knocking against the front panel with each screeching note. It was as if the LA-2A was dancing to the vocalist’s eccentric melody.

The rest of us in the control room were caught off guard, and we couldn’t help but burst into laughter. The LA-2A’s rhythmic swaying back and forth with the music looked like it had developed a personality of its own, complete with a sense of humor. It was the most animated we had ever seen a piece of audio equipment.

Amidst the laughter, the band decided to keep the take, even with the LA-2A’s unexpected dance moves. We affectionately dubbed it “the groove machine” for the remainder of the session. And as if on cue, every time the vocalist hit those high notes, the LA-2A’s VU meter would swing back and forth with enthusiasm.

In the end, that track became one of the band’s quirkier hits, thanks in part to the LA-2A’s unintentional contribution. We decided to leave the LA-2A exactly as it was during that fateful session, complete with its unrestrained enthusiasm.

So, there you have it – the day the Teletronix LA-2A turned into a dancing machine in the studio, adding a new dimension to the term “musical compression.” It just goes to show that even in the world of audio gear, a bit of humor and spontaneity can make for unforgettable studio moments.


Where To Buy, New Or Used?.

When considering whether to buy a used Teletronix LA-2A or a new one, your decision might depend on your budget, preferences, and the availability of the unit. Here are some considerations for both options:

Buying a Used Teletronix LA-2A:

  1. Price: Used LA-2A units can often be more affordable than new ones, which is a significant advantage if you’re working within a budget.
  2. Vintage Character: Vintage LA-2A units may have unique sonic characteristics or cosmetic features that some users prefer, such as original analog components or a particular “vintage mojo.”
  3. Availability: You may have the opportunity to purchase a vintage LA-2A from a reputable dealer or through a private sale. This can be an excellent way to acquire a classic piece of audio gear.

Considerations for Buying Used:

  • Condition: Ensure that the used unit is in good working condition and has been well-maintained. Ask for a detailed description of the unit’s condition and history.
  • Warranty: Used units may not come with a manufacturer’s warranty. Inquire about any warranties provided by the seller or dealer.
  • Vintage Units: Be aware that vintage units may require periodic maintenance or servicing to keep them in optimal condition.

Buying a New Teletronix LA-2A:

  1. Warranty: New LA-2A units typically come with a manufacturer’s warranty, offering peace of mind regarding reliability and performance.
  2. Out-of-the-Box Performance: New units are ready to use immediately and are expected to perform up to factory specifications without the need for refurbishment or repairs.
  3. Modern Features: New LA-2A units may include updated components or modern conveniences that improve their performance and longevity.

Considerations for Buying New:

  • Price: New LA-2A units are typically more expensive than used ones, so you may need to factor this into your budget.
  • Availability: The availability of new units may vary depending on the manufacturer and dealer, so check with authorized dealers for current stock.
  • Vintage Sound: If you’re seeking a specific vintage sound or character, be aware that new units may have slight sonic differences compared to vintage models.

Ultimately, the best place to buy either a used or a new Teletronix LA-2A depends on your preferences, budget, and specific requirements. Reputable audio equipment dealers, both physical and online, are good places to start your search. Be sure to research the seller’s reputation, inquire about the condition and history of used units, and consider the warranty and customer support offered for new units to make an informed decision.

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