Universal Audio

Universal Audio LA-610 Mk II

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The LA-610 defined the affordable, ultimate, vintage tone channel strip. So how can UA improve on the tonal perfection of a product that was already a hit? Enter the sequel: LA-610 MKII, a second-generation revamp of the original 2005 LA-610 design. Why would we do this? Because you asked us to, of course! And while we were at it, we threw in a few other humble changes to make the user experience that much better.

LA-610 Mk II Overview

If you’ve never used or owned an LA-610, here’s a little overview. Both the LA-610 and LA-610 Mk II pack tremendous sonic versatility. Any LA-610 is an ideal front end for tracking with modern DAWs, or for the serious project studio looking to get the UA sonic experience: real quality and character at an accessible price. The LA-610 is based on the legendary console modules developed by Bill Putnam in the '60s. Noted for their musical character and warmth, countless classics from Sinatra to Van Halen have been recorded using these preamps. After the preamp section, the LA-610 offers the T4 optical compressor. The simple operation and program-dependent nature of the LA-610’s T4 compressor provides the same extremely musical control that has made the LA-2A such a well-loved classic for over 40 years. The electro-optical detector, or "T4 cell" is the very heart and soul of the Teletronix LA-2A. The unique combination of electro-luminescent panel and photo resistors inside the T4 cell are the crucial circuit components that give both compressors their signature sound.

Does it Sound the Same?

The big question is: Does the LA-610 Mk II sound the same as the original? I reply with an unequivocal “Yes.” We've improved the functionality and user experience, while the elemental circuit and tone is identical--except for a 3dB increase in the maximum output level over the original. Yeah, we thought you’d like that!

New Features

While the preamp and compressor are identical to the original LA-610 you've come to know and love, we've added user-requested features such as true compressor bypass, larger metering, and a multi-voltage power supply to enhance and streamline your experience. The LA-610 Mk II also features the highly popular “black on black” cosmetics of the LA-610 Signature Edition.

The most significant change is the implementation of “True Bypass.” With the original, the Bypass switch simply disabled the gain reduction sidechain from the circuit which often caused a jump in output gain making “A/B” compressed/uncompressed comparisons difficult. The LA-610 Mk II bypasses the whole compressor, including the make-up gain amplifier, making A/B comparisons much easier. Another benefit to this feature is that the preamp can be 100% isolated from the compressor when you only want the 610, and no other circuit coloration.

Next, we employed a larger meter. We’ve taken some criticism from users and the press for our “diminutive” and sometimes hard-to-read meters. The larger meter is much easier to read from across the room, not only because of its size, but also because we improved the lighting of the meter. No less than 12 LEDs illuminate the new meter. This also means you’ll never have to replace a meter bulb! And speaking of bulbs, we’ve also done away with the somewhat hard-to-find incandescent bulb used in the power lamp-this is now LED-based as well, and should last a lifetime (and now glows true UA blue!)

Another improvement is an auto-sensing power supply. This means your LA-610 can travel the world without the need for various fuses! Plug it in anywhere you want. The voltage range is a full 100 to 240. We’ve also improved the Input Gain consistency-previously, the “-10,-5, 0,+5,+10” Input Gain values had a fairly high unit-to-unit variation tolerance (the extreme settings could be up to +/- 2 dB away from the silkscreen values, and still pass muster). Not anymore! Now the values are always exactly as advertised: -5 dB is -5 dB, +10 dB is + 10 dB, et cetera. Lastly, we improved the way feedback-style EQ is implemented with the EQ circuit. Don’t worry, this does not effect the EQ’s tone in any way. It simply means much-improved consistency at the test bench for Universal Audio, without the occasional “squealing EQ” that would crop up on a unit from time to time.

As someone who is intimately familiar with both the original and Mk II, I can tell you the LA-610 Mk II is a more-than-worthy successor to the original … We think you’ll love it!

Key Features

  • Based on Legendary Bill Putnam 610 Tube Mic Pre and EQ Used on Countless Classic Recordings
  • Authentic Teletronix LA-2A-style T4 Opto-Compressor
  • Complete Vintage Channel-Strip at Groundbreaking Price Within Project Studio Reach
  • Mic Pre with Gain and Level Controls, Variable Impedance and Instrument DI for Recording Tone “Color”
  • Mk II Features Such as True Bypass, Larger Metering and Improved Signal Output
  • UA Quality and Heritage, Audiophile Components, Hand-Assembled in the USA

Mk II Improvements

  • True Bypass of the Compressor Circuit
  • Larger and Better-Lit Metering
  • Improved Output Signal Performance
  • Auto-Sensing Universal Power Supply
  • Improved Stability With Feedback-Style Shelving EQ
  • Improved Consistency With Input Gain Values
  • LED Jewel Light Never Needs Replacing

— Will Shanks


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