Klark Teknik 2A-KT, or how to use an LA-2A clone

bottlenecker

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Does anyone here have a 2A-KT, or even other LA2A clones?
I just received one I ordered in May, and tried a vocal through it.
It doesn't sound the way I imagined. I'm not sure I'm going to keep it. But it's got something, so... maybe.
I'd love to hear about how more experienced people use their LA-2A style compressors. At this point I imagine a real LA-2A sounds very different from this thing, but some of the same questions may apply.

Such as;
Since there's no threshold control, do people effectively control it with the preamp in front of it, and just hit it with a higher or lower level? For instance, if you want a lower ratio, but also a lower threshold.

Also, what does the limiting setting typically work well for?

If anyone has this KT model specifically, do you like it on vocals?


IMG_20221126_180819_801-01.jpeg
 
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Geoff738

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Well, I have one, but I’m probably not gonna be much help.

I haven’t done much recording since I got it, and I have better compressors that I tend to put on vocals instead.

My understanding was that it is a decent opto compressor, but one that doesnt necessarily sound much like an actual LA2A. Not having the real deal myself, I can neither confirm or deny.

Have you tried it on bass?

Cheers,
Geoff
 

Geoff738

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If I were going for a clone I’d have a look at Audioscape. Have their Var I-mu comp. It or the Daking or both get vocal duties here but there hasn’t much of that, or recording at all here, lately.

Cheers,
Geoff
 

bottlenecker

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Well, I have one, but I’m probably not gonna be much help.

I haven’t done much recording since I got it, and I have better compressors that I tend to put on vocals instead.

My understanding was that it is a decent opto compressor, but one that doesnt necessarily sound much like an actual LA2A. Not having the real deal myself, I can neither confirm or deny.

Have you tried it on bass?

Cheers,
Geoff

No, not yet. I feel like saying a compressor is good on bass is kind of like saying a guitar is good for slide. Aren't they all? Unless it does something magic on acoustic double bass, I wouldn't keep it just for bass.
Do you have another tube/optical compressor?
 

Geoff738

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Yeah, the Audioscape Var I-mu has something like 7 tubes or something. Can do gobs of gain reduction without getting artifacts, but it is not transparent. Gooey and thick in the low mids for lack of better terms.

Cheers,
Geoff

Edit It’s called the V comp and is a Gates StaLevel clone.
 

matman14

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I'm down to one of the UA reissues of the LA2A. I used to also have a couple of GAP Comp2A clones as well, but recently downsized and relocated my studio.

Typically I just turn the peak reduction knob until I like what I'm hearing.

For vocals I quite often run mine after an 1176 with the 1176 cutting peaks and the LA2A smoothing. But the LA2A is very good on its own too.

I can't say I ever use the limiting mode.

It's hard to go wrong or get a bad sound with an LA2A and with just a peak reduction and output gain control, there's not a whole lot to figure out.

For preamps ahead of the compressor I have a couple of 1073 clones, API clones and a grace M101. A decent clone should be able to handle a hot input from a pushed pre, if that's the sound you want.
 
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bottlenecker

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I'm down to one of the UA reissues of the LA2A. I used to also have a couple of GAP Comp2A clones as well, but recently downsized and relocated my studio.

Typically I just turn the peak reduction knob until I like what I'm hearing.

For vocals I quite often run mine after an 1176 with the 1176 cutting peaks and the LA2A smoothing. But the LA2A is very good on its own too.

I can't say I ever use the limiting mode.

It's hard to go wrong or get a bad sound with an LA2A and with just a peak reduction and output gain control, there's not a whole lot to figure out.

For preamps ahead of the compressor I have a couple of 1073 clones, API clones and a grace M101. A decent clone should be able to handle a hit input from a pushed pre, if that's the sound you want.

How were the GAP Comp2A compared to the UA?
 

Ben Harmless

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I do not own one. I did record in a studio with a couple in the rack that the engineer was really excited about, yet I wasn't impressed with the output. That's obviously not the same as this specific compressor being bad.

The real reason for my response here is just to point out that Behringer has bought some legendary names over the last few years, and this is one of them. That doesn't make it bad, but considering the context, I wouldn't assume that if you don't like the output, it's your fault. That said, if we're talking context, it's also worth mentioning that I like faster compressors overall - even on vocals. I know the LA-2A is legendary, but that style of comp isn't my go-to.

As far as input levels, I would normally assume you'd get what it has to offer with a line-level input, but I sure would be interested to see what happens if you set it to limit and cranked a signal into it with that GAP pre.
 

bottlenecker

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I do not own one. I did record in a studio with a couple in the rack that the engineer was really excited about, yet I wasn't impressed with the output. That's obviously not the same as this specific compressor being bad.

The real reason for my response here is just to point out that Behringer has bought some legendary names over the last few years, and this is one of them. That doesn't make it bad, but considering the context, I wouldn't assume that if you don't like the output, it's your fault. That said, if we're talking context, it's also worth mentioning that I like faster compressors overall - even on vocals. I know the LA-2A is legendary, but that style of comp isn't my go-to.

As far as input levels, I would normally assume you'd get what it has to offer with a line-level input, but I sure would be interested to see what happens if you set it to limit and cranked a signal into it with that GAP pre.

I think I need to try that before I send it back, but really, it's just too midrangey. It EQs my voice too much, and it's kind of lo fi. Its not the compression, it's just the tone of the thing. I think I bought this with very little info, and it was off the strength of reviews for their pultec clone. So a bad choice. I should follow my own advice and not try to get hi fi from tubes on a budget. Part of me wants to mod it out and see what I get, but I don't have a big budget. I'm planning to send it back and try either the GAP Comp2A, or Comp3A. Both seem to have more fans than the KT.
 

bottlenecker

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That's solid advice. I do have a couple of low-dollar tube gadgets that I love, but their role couldn't exactly be described as "hi fi."

Yeah, this would be cool grit box, or "vintagizer", but it's not a sweetener. I'm not sure I'd like a real la2a, but it has a rep for smooth and sweet, and it's on records I like. I'm leaning towards Comp3A pending more research.
 

matman14

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I still have a Comp3A. It's a decent LA3A clone. The compression on loud transients is faster than the LA2A and there is a more pronounced low mid push that definitely pushes those sounds more forward than the 2A does. Overall, to me, the 3A just feels slightly more aggressive but still a smooth optical compressor.

Can't speak to the quality of the 2A-KT or accuracy of the circuit and components. The onl Behringer gear I've ever owned is a cable tester (which is great), but I am aware of their reputation.
 

Jakeboy

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I have the KT 76 and the KT Pultec clone. I use the 76 on everything for great subtle results. The Pultec works great but I need to upgrade to good old USA or Euro tubes.
You should swap out the cheap tubes for some good old ones before you pass judgment. I believe it will make a tremendous difference.
I swapped emails with a KT engineer who told me changing to good old tubes would make a difference in the Pultec clone. So I imagine the difference will be a big deal in the 2A as well. I know that old tubes always sound better than current production, at least in my experience they certainly do. YMMV.
 

bottlenecker

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I have the KT 76 and the KT Pultec clone. I use the 76 on everything for great subtle results. The Pultec works great but I need to upgrade to good old USA or Euro tubes.
You should swap out the cheap tubes for some good old ones before you pass judgment. I believe it will make a tremendous difference.
I swapped emails with a KT engineer who told me changing to good old tubes would make a difference in the Pultec clone. So I imagine the difference will be a big deal in the 2A as well. I know that old tubes always sound better than current production, at least in my experience they certainly do. YMMV.

They probably would, but I already pulled it from my rack and boxed it back up. There's too much EQ change. It pushes the mid too forward, and the low end sounds thin (on my voice). I tried some takes today with my symetrix in it's place (which I'd never even tried on a vocal), and it was instantly better just for not changing the tone so much, and sounding more hi fi. I'm not sure I even want to track vocals with compression, but that's what I bought the 2A for primarily, so it's going back. I still might try one of those pultec clones.
 

klasaine

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If you can't get a real hardware UA LA2A or a boutique clone, there are software versions that are far superior to the really cheap KT/Behringer knockoffs.

Plugin Alliance 'Acme Opticom XL3' or 'Purple Audio MC77' (currently $19.99).
Or, if you can spend a bit more cash, $20 a month for the UAd 'Spark' subscription. It includes the LA2A and 1176 collections. *Spark is on sale currently for 99 cents for 3 months of the sub. You don't need an Apollo to run the Spark (UADx) plugins. If you have a relatively modern and spec'd out computer, they should run in real-time w/o much noticeable latency.
 

Ben Harmless

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I tried some takes today with my symetrix in it's place (which I'd never even tried on a vocal), and it was instantly better just for not changing the tone so much, and sounding more hi fi.
That's funny - I actually wrote a compliment on that Symetrix in my first response to you, but edited it out. I have a 525 that I don't use since I downsized my go-to rig, but I've kept it because it definitely has excellent transparency for first-step compression duties like tracking. Not special for color, but a sleeper for general, non-smashed stuff.
 

bottlenecker

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That's funny - I actually wrote a compliment on that Symetrix in my first response to you, but edited it out. I have a 525 that I don't use since I downsized my go-to rig, but I've kept it because it definitely has excellent transparency for first-step compression duties like tracking. Not special for color, but a sleeper for general, non-smashed stuff.

I've got a 522 I grabbed really cheap on CL. So far I prefer the sound of my uncompressed vocal, but the 522 doesn't seem to detract if set to be subtle.
I'm trying to learn to use compression because I think I'm supposed to, like a kid trying to eat vegetables. I have used software to squash problem tracks when I've needed to, but I really don't like compression most of the time. I'm hoping if I use subtle compression at each stage I can end up with a vocal that's easier to mix that still sounds real and dynamic.
In hindsight, a cheap LA2A clone is probably the last thing I want.

I'm trying to get the most realistic presentation, like I'm in the room with the instruments (as opposed to "sounding like a record"), but I also recognize that if there's more than about three sources, they need some help squeezing into the speakers. Thanks for the input.
 




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