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UA LA-610...talk me down, man...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by dunamis, Jan 10, 2006.

  1. dunamis


    Aug 2, 2004

    I've been using an Avalon U5 as a DI for a few months and like it a lot for it's "depth" and "dimensionality" (sorry for the lame descriptors :p ). But, I've decided I don't care much for the passive tone control, and I miss having a bit of compression available. I pulled out an old ART Levelar (I prefer leveling amp type compressors), but I really would like a better quality compressor (quieter), and prefer a one-box solution. The other thing I miss is some source of a bit of "tube drive" sound. The U5 is a really clean pre (IMO)-- doesn't do distortion.

    So, I've been looking at a few preamps, channel strips, whatever you call them, and have really homed in on Unversal Audio's LA-610. It's tube based, and has preamp/eq/and compression all in one box. The compressor section is probably great, the pre is neat because you can drive the tube with input gain and control the gain to board with the Level knob (can't do with U5).

    I've also considered the Millenia TD-1 and the Avalon VT737SP. The Avalon's got a lot knobs (I like *really* simple controls 'cause I tend to "fiddle" with the knobs and not conctrate on playing well :p ). The Millenia has no compressor, so I'd still need an outboard one.

    The UA seems like the what the Dr. ordered. I don't hear of them used as a live rig front end/di for bass much though. Could be because it's not bass centric, pretty new product, maybe percieved as fragile (5 tubes inside). I dunno...

    I've considered getting a portable rack to put the U5 in, and then adding a LA type compressor to replace the Levelar (Summit TLA-50 topping my list right now). Trouble is that the "tube drive" sound would then have to come from some other device (a distortion box of some sort I guess). Add all that up and I'll have about the same $'s in the rig as the UA costs but with more knobs, complexity, and bulk.

    I would sincerely value any thoughts/impressions/experiences/ or suggestions!
  2. Mcrelly


    Jun 16, 2003
    Minnesota, USA
    save $500 and get an eden navigator.

    just trying to talk you down...in spending.
  3. cabcreaser

    cabcreaser Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    the la 610 sounds great, but is not perfectly suited to sit on top of a bass cabinet. unfortunately the type of tube that controls the compressor is vulnerable to vibrations (what happens is the signal is fully compressed regardless of the setting once it has been shaken around a bit).

    however, the sound is one of the best that I have ever heard (compares favorably imho to the aguilar, demeter, kern, and alembic pres and has far more tube mojo than the Avalon 737--not to mention what I found to be a superior compressor albeit one that can't withstand extreme vibrations)

    hope this helps

    ps - it sounds nothing like an Eden Navigator (which is a fine pre, but a totally different pre from the 610). As a more related alternative, I would recommend picking up a Kern IP-777 if you could find one and using a Demeter Compulator or, my personal favorite, the Menatone JAC (be sure to get one of the newer models with the cut knob added) pedal for the old school style compression
  4. dunamis


    Aug 2, 2004
    Yeah, the Eden I've tried and it's not for me.

    The UA sounds like a winner. It won't be sitting on top of a cab. I was thinking of installing it in a portable rack (possibly a ProTec rackbag). Does the 610 tend to run hot?
  5. cabcreaser

    cabcreaser Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    the heat is definitely what you would expect from a tube pre, but no more.

    it is made incredibly well and keeping it away from the cabinet should prevent you from experiencing the problems I had.

    hope it works for you
  6. i use an LA-610 as a mic pre. However, using the Hi-Z input on the front have used it as a bass front end also. It sounds absolutely fantastic for a smooth, poppy sound! With the cost of these units though, you should definetly be able to try it beforehand somewhere...
  7. I used a 610 the other day and it was great for basically anything I could throw at it (vocals, bass, acoustic, anything), but you're right, never heard it used live. I assume hooked up with the right power amp, the thing would crank. I recorded some bass with it just to see what it could do and if you can get that tone live, you'll have everyone in the crowd wanting to know what it is and where they can get it. Definitely.
  8. cabcreaser

    cabcreaser Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
  9. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    wow, what a gorgeous box!


    but, i feel your pain. SOOO many great things to get but at the expense of rent money. :meh:

    still, depending on how hard you gig, taking something like that on the road seems REALLY not-so-good-idear. awful to imagine, but dropping it from the top of your cab from an errant read of a stage ramp? not cool. something more readily road worthy is the way to go.

    also, doubtful your audience will really tell the diff. technique and note selection will ALWAYS hit them harder than whatever pimped out pre you maybe using. and while people say, "bandmates loved my tone!" in all honesty, i've been able to say that comment maybe 3x in the last year.

    (note: these next suggestions do not have a tube, but sound KILLER nonetheless)

    if studio hifi is what you like, w/ a great built in compressor, try Presonus' Eureka. i know i know.. not even in the same league as the other boxes you mention, but for live use, its an incredible pre that shines. and its CRAZY inexpensive. waaay better sounding than the ART crap, which i run away from like the plague.

    course, MF is having that ridiculous Epifani Quest II closeout. hifi like the stratosphere. and yet w/ the semi para EQ section, i can get do some creative EQ'ing for a deeeep pillowy tube like sound.
  10. dunamis


    Aug 2, 2004
    Thanks to cabcreaser and joker for the replys!

    Yeah, I looked at the SOLO boxes too. I have a U5 and it's sturdy and sounds great. I guess I was trying to get all that i really use in one box (clean gain, great DI, simple EQ, *and* get the ability to add some tube drive).

    I like the U5 but, short of adding another effect, there's no "drive" opportunity. It does clean very, very well, but dirty-- no.

    I have to admit that I've been jonesing for that LA-610, but the price tag's held me back.:p Lately, I'm kinda headed in a different direction but trying to arrive at the same destination. I'm having a loooper made with a expression pedal control that blends the wet and dry signals. I can use my SansAmp for the wet, and dial in the amount of drive I want using the pedal.

    I got the idea from reading about how Geddy Lee gets his sound. I read that he uses 3 DI signals and mixes them-- a U5, an RBI, and a Palmer speaker sim.

    On my setup, I'll use the bass pre for EQ (3 band w/ switchable mids), the U5's tone stack for "speaker sim", and the SansAmp BDDI for the "driven" wet sound. It'll be a 3 loooper so I can use one loop for a compressor (either my ART Levelar-- apologies to Joker!-- or my Demeter compulator) to get the compression.

    Sorry for the book, but you know how the tone quest is! Always searching...
  11. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    Why the #$%^ would I try to talk you out of a fantastic piece of gear?
    If this delivers the sound you want, go for it. I should point out, also, that UA builds their gear like a tank (unless it's a reissue and the original wasn't built very tough) and has an excellent service/repair department. Roadworthiness would be less of a concern for me than my wife castrating me when she found the reciept :)
  12. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    so screams your id.
  13. Blues Cat

    Blues Cat Payson Fanned Bass Strings Owner Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 28, 2005
    Katy, Tx
    Payson Fanned Bass Strings Owner
    I miked my snare drum w/one & it just came alive & perfectly slotted in the mix. Singing through one w/ Teletronix leveler is such a pleasant experience. Vocals were perfectly slotted.
    All I need is about $12,000 for a bank of them to get a broadcast quality drum sound from the crib. This preamp makes everything come alive & sound 3 dimensional.

    Talk you out of buying one? I'm trying to justify 8 eight of them!
  14. cabcreaser

    cabcreaser Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    well said!

    But I will restate, the compressor in the LA-610 is extremely vulnerable to massive live sound vibrations (though it sounds fantastic), however the 610 portion is not (it is just the tube that feeds the optical cell that does not like to be shaken).

    What would be cool is to get one of the solo 610 pres and rackmount it next to your U5 and use an a/b box to switch between them. Truly the best of both worlds.
  15. cabcreaser

    cabcreaser Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    that setup should work very well with very nice versatility to boot.
  16. cabcreaser

    cabcreaser Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
  17. Mario Lewis

    Mario Lewis Supporting Member

    Jul 6, 2001
    Clinton, MD
    Since it's your money we're talking about sepnding... how much are they?
  18. cabcreaser

    cabcreaser Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    Dunamis (whose money we were spending apparently has found an alternate setup using his Sansamp along with his Avalon U5 and his Demeter Compulator to achieve his own version), however while we are spending the imaginary money, the 6176 generally sells for around 2300 hundred dollars new, while the LA610 goes for right around 1500 dollars new.

    The big price difference lies in the compressor section. Both recording channels use the 610 preamp section, but the 6176 uses an actual 1176 for its compressor, while the LA610 utilizes an "LA-2A style" compressor (there would be no way to fit an actual LA-2A in that size box or remain anywhere near that pricepoint). However, the compressor in the LA610 does sound very, very close to the real deal (perhaps a slight bit more sparkle and less girth than an LA-2A).
  19. Someone talk me INTO selling everything else I own so that i can afford an LA610 to take on the road with me. I don't care if noone else notices the beautiful tone, as long as I, and my soundman, do!