Some Background On The Universal Audio LA-610 Mic Pre Compressor .

The Universal Audio LA-610 is a classic studio signal processor that combines a microphone preamplifier and an opto-compressor in a single rack unit. This versatile piece of studio equipment has a rich history and has been used on countless hit records. Here’s a brief history of the Universal Audio LA-610:

Early Roots: The story of the LA-610 begins with its predecessor, the Universal Audio LA-2A. The LA-2A, introduced in the 1960s, is a legendary compressor known for its natural and musical compression. It was favored by recording engineers for its smooth sound and ease of use. Universal Audio’s founder, Bill Putnam Sr., was the mastermind behind the LA-2A, and his contributions to audio engineering are still celebrated today.

The LA-610: In the early 2000s, Universal Audio decided to create a new piece of studio gear that combined two classic components: the LA-2A’s opto-compressor and the 610 series’ microphone preamplifier. The 610 series of preamps, inspired by the vintage Bill Putnam Sr. designs, had been revered for their warmth and character.

The result of this innovation was the Universal Audio LA-610, which was officially introduced in 2002. It merged the sonic qualities of both the 610 preamp and the LA-2A compressor into a single unit, making it an attractive choice for engineers, producers, and musicians looking for a streamlined way to capture and process audio.

Success and Legacy: The LA-610 was an instant hit. It offered the classic analog warmth and compression of vintage studio gear in a modern, reliable package. Its tube-based preamplifier and opto-compressor provided a dynamic and musical touch to vocals, instruments, and more. The unit quickly found its way into studios around the world and became a go-to piece of gear for many recording professionals.

Continued Innovation: Over the years, Universal Audio continued to innovate and expand its product lineup. They introduced the LA-610 Mk II, an updated version of the original LA-610 with enhanced features, and later the LA-610 Mk II Classic, which brought a black faceplate reminiscent of classic studio gear. These models retained the classic sound and character while incorporating modern enhancements.

Today, the Universal Audio LA-610 and its variations are still sought after by audio professionals and are considered essential tools for achieving classic analog warmth and dynamics in modern recordings. Universal Audio’s dedication to preserving the legacy of Bill Putnam Sr.’s designs continues to make the LA-610 a valuable piece of equipment for musicians and engineers seeking that timeless studio sound.

The Universal Audio LA-610 Mic Pre Compressor In Review.

When it comes to capturing that elusive and timeless studio magic, the Universal Audio LA-610 is nothing short of a masterpiece. My journey with this piece of gear has been a revelation, and I can’t help but sing its praises.

Vintage Meets Modern: The LA-610, as a harmonious marriage of the classic 610 series preamp and the legendary LA-2A compressor, is the embodiment of vintage sound meets modern convenience. It’s a testament to Universal Audio’s dedication to preserving the audio heritage of Bill Putnam Sr., and it does so with impeccable grace.

A Match Made in Audio Heaven: The preamp section of the LA-610 is a sonic delight. Whether it’s capturing the raw, intimate nuances of an acoustic guitar or the rich timbre of a vocal performance, the 610 preamp imparts a warm, inviting character that’s simply addictive. It’s that elusive quality that makes the recording sound not just good but organic and alive.

The Compressor’s Embrace: The LA-2A’s opto-compressor, a darling of the studio world for decades, is the cherry on top. It’s gentle, musical, and oh-so-smooth. It gently hugs the audio, taming peaks and caressing transients, all while maintaining the integrity of the original sound. Whether you’re tracking vocals, bass, or just about anything, the LA-2A’s touch is pure gold.

Ease of Use: One of the most endearing qualities of the LA-610 is its simplicity. It’s a piece of studio gear that allows you to dive into the world of analog processing without a steep learning curve. With just a few knobs for Gain, Peak Reduction, and Level, it’s inviting for newcomers and a breeze for seasoned engineers.

Sonic Palette: The LA-610, in my experience, excels at adding color and character to audio. It’s the brush that paints vibrant sonic landscapes. Whether I’m aiming for a vintage vibe or a touch of that classic analog warmth, the LA-610 never disappoints.

Versatility and Timelessness: This unit transcends genres and time. It’s as at home in a rock session as it is in a jazz recording. It’s as relevant today as it was yesterday, and that timelessness is a testament to the enduring quality of Universal Audio’s designs.

The Final Note: In my world of audio engineering and music production, the Universal Audio LA-610 stands as an undeniable gem. It’s a work of art that elevates the sound of any recording, infusing it with vintage charm and that elusive analog warmth. If you’re in search of audio gear that’s a perfect blend of classic character and modern ease, the LA-610 is an absolute must-have. It’s a studio treasure, and my journey with it has been nothing short of extraordinary.

Features And Specifications Of The Universal Audio LA-610 Mic Pre Compressor.


  1. All-in-One Signal Processor: The LA-610 is a single-channel signal processor that combines a microphone preamplifier, a line amplifier, and an opto-compressor in one unit.
  2. 610 Microphone Preamplifier: It features the classic 610 preamp design inspired by Bill Putnam Sr., known for its warm and harmonically rich sound.
  3. LA-2A Opto-Compressor: The LA-610 incorporates the iconic LA-2A-style opto-compressor, delivering smooth, musical compression that is renowned for its transparent and natural character.
  4. VU Meter: A classic analog VU meter is provided on the front panel, offering visual feedback of input and output levels as well as gain reduction when using the compressor.
  5. Input and Output Controls: The unit features Gain and Level controls for setting the input gain and output level, allowing precise signal management.
  6. Phase Reverse and Low Cut Switches: It includes a Phase Reverse switch for inverting the phase of the signal and a Low Cut switch to reduce low-frequency content.
  7. Selectable Input Impedance: The LA-610 offers three selectable input impedance options (500 ohms, 2k ohms, and 10k ohms) to suit different microphones and sources.
  8. Balanced XLR and 1/4″ Line Inputs: The unit provides both XLR and 1/4″ TRS balanced inputs for flexible connectivity.
  9. High-Pass Filter: An 80Hz high-pass filter is available to reduce low-frequency rumble and interference.
  10. High and Low Shelving EQ: The LA-610 Mk II models include switchable high and low-frequency EQ for shaping the tonal characteristics of the signal.


  1. Microphone Preamp:
    • Gain Range: 34 dB to 65 dB
    • Input Impedance: Selectable (500 ohms, 2k ohms, 10k ohms)
    • Phantom Power: +48V
  2. Compressor:
    • Compression Ratio: Approximately 3:1
    • Attack Time: Typically 10ms for 10dB compression
    • Release Time: Typically 0.06s for 10dB compression to program material
    • Output Gain: 45 dB
  3. Frequency Response:
    • 20 Hz to 20 kHz, ±0.5 dB
  4. Total Harmonic Distortion (THD):
    • 0.1% at 1 kHz, +4 dBu
  5. Maximum Input Level:
    • Microphone (no pad): +8 dBu
    • Microphone (with pad): +14 dBu
    • Line (with pad): +18 dBu
  6. Maximum Output Level:
    • +16 dBu
  7. Dimensions:
    • 2U rack-mountable unit
    • Standard 19″ rack width
  8. Weight:
    • Approximately 12.2 kg (27 lbs)

Heads Up – The Universal Audio LA-610 Lizard Above!

Picture this: I’m in my quirky little recording studio, and I’ve got this Universal Audio LA-610. But this isn’t just any LA-610; it’s a bit of a character. You see, it had a secret—sometimes, it liked to turn into a lizard.

So, there we were, one sunny morning, with a bunch of musicians ready to lay down some tracks for their next big hit. The LA-610 was perched innocently in its rack, its classic VU meter blinking softly. Little did the musicians know that today was going to be a bit different.

As they got into their recording groove, something magical happened. The LA-610 decided to have a little fun. Right in the middle of a vocal take, it transformed into a tiny, green lizard, right there in the rack. You can imagine the astonishment on the singer’s face.

“Wait, is that the LA-610 or did it just turn into a lizard?” the singer exclaimed. We all burst into laughter, realizing that our gear was now a shape-shifting lizard.

Undeterred by the absurdity of the situation, the band decided to go with the flow. The LA-610 lizard didn’t miss a beat; it started scuttling along the recording console, basking in the warmth of the studio lights. So, we decided to make the most of it.

The band set up a tiny microphone in front of our little reptilian friend, and to our amazement, the LA-610 lizard started making these high-pitched chirps and clicks. It was like it was contributing to the song. We couldn’t stop laughing as we realized we had something special here.

As we finished our recording and moved on to mixing, we noticed that the lizard’s vocal performance added an unexpected layer of humor and creativity to the track. So, we decided to keep it in the final mix.

The song turned out to be a hit, not just because of its catchy tune but also because of the quirky backstory of the LA-610’s temporary transformation. And as the song climbed the charts, the LA-610 reverted to its regular form, its VU meter flashing proudly, as if to say, “I’m here to add a bit of fun to the music.”

The Universal Audio LA-610 Compressor In Popular Music.

  1. John Mayer:
    • Albums: “Continuum,” “Battle Studies,” and “Born and Raised”
  2. Norah Jones:
    • Albums: “Come Away with Me” and “Feels Like Home”
  3. Coldplay:
    • Albums: “Parachutes” and “A Rush of Blood to the Head”
  4. Adele:
    • Albums: “21” and “25”
  5. Jack White (The White Stripes):
    • Albums: Various works with The White Stripes
  6. The Black Keys:
    • Albums: “El Camino” and “Brothers”
  7. Kacey Musgraves:
    • Albums: “Golden Hour”
  8. Kendrick Lamar:
    • Albums: “DAMN.”
  9. Sia:
    • Albums: “1000 Forms of Fear”
  10. Sam Smith:
    • Albums: “In the Lonely Hour”
  11. Arctic Monkeys:
    • Albums: “AM” and “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino”
  12. Ed Sheeran:
    • Albums: “x” and “÷ (Divide)”

These artists have used Universal Audio gear in their recording and production processes. While it’s challenging to specify every track or album in which the LA-610 was used, Universal Audio’s preamps, compressors, and other studio equipment are valued for their sonic quality and are found in studios worldwide. The LA-610, in particular, is recognized for its warm and classic sound, making it a popular choice for recording various musical genres.

Where To Get Your Hands On A Universal Audio LA-610.

You can purchase the Universal Audio LA-610 from several sources, including authorized dealers, pro audio equipment retailers, and online marketplaces. Here are some common places where you can find the LA-610 for purchase:

  1. Authorized Universal Audio Dealers: Universal Audio has a network of authorized dealers and distributors around the world. Visiting the official Universal Audio website to find a list of authorized dealers in your region is a reliable way to ensure that you receive genuine products and support.
  2. Pro Audio Equipment Retailers: Many pro audio equipment retailers, both physical stores and online shops, carry the LA-610 and provide detailed product information and customer reviews.
  3. Online Music and Audio Equipment Retailers: Websites like Sweetwater, Vintage King, Thomann, Guitar Center, and others often stock the LA-610 and provide online purchasing options.
  4. eBay and Reverb: Online marketplaces like eBay and Reverb may have both new and used LA-610 units available from various sellers. Be sure to check the seller’s ratings and reviews for a trustworthy transaction.
  5. Universal Audio’s Official Website: You can explore the Universal Audio website for information on their products and inquire about direct ordering options.

Before making a purchase, it’s advisable to compare prices and check for any available deals or promotions from different retailers. Additionally, consider the warranty and return policy offered by the seller to ensure a smooth buying experience. Availability and pricing may vary, so it’s a good idea to confirm the product details with the seller before making a purchase.

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