What Is The Comp LA?
The GEM Comp LA combines two amazing optical compressors, the LA-2A (Tube) and the LA-3A (Solid State) into one plugin. This plug-in immediately caught my attention because of its duality and the fact that there aren’t many LA-3A plugins on the market in comparison to a dynamic processor like the 1176.
Comp LA extends the features of original hardware combining the flexibility of the digital world with the sound character of Analog processing – Overloud
Do I Really Need Another Compressor?
Over the years, I’ve realized that software companies, like music creatives, have different skill sets and techniques for doing what they do. This results in different sounds and textures.
You could use the same styled compressor from five different companies and they won’t sound the same. They might be close in some areas, but not exactly the same. The one you choose will come down to preference and your ear.
Right now, we’re in a terrific era in the recording industry. Tools are far less expensive than purchasing the hardware, there’s lots of training, and technology is making things easier, thus putting everyone on a playing field where only creativity and innovation set you apart.
Well, before you dismiss the notion, at least try the demo.
What I Love About The Comp LA
Whenever I’m working with a plugin, there are a number of milestones that need to be hit for me to use and recommend them to others.
Sound quality: The plugin has to sound good and be true to its claim regardless if it’s emulating a piece of hardware or not. I’m especially hard on the emulations though.
Aesthetics: The overall look and feel of the GUI has to be appealing. You often hear that looks don’t matter, but to an extent they do.
CPU Load: Wtf is it doing to my CPU? I don’t mind plugins that push my CPU, but the lower the hit, the better imo.
Overloud excels in all 3 categories for me.
The Comp LA delivers everything I felt I was missing with other Optical compressors. It has a nice consistent compression, dense, good punch, and it’s warm sounding. This is not to say that other Opto compressors are bad, but Overloud is doing something I like, and there are only a handful of companies I can say that about.
I feel like it’s impossible to get a bad sound from the Comp LA. You don’t even have to know much about the compressor that it’s emulating to get good results.
LA-2A Character: Softer response to transients and has a two-stage release. There is slight distortion creating harmonics.
LA-3A Character: faster response to transients than the 2A, but with less harmonic distortion.
Let’s go over some of Comp LA’s features and what I like about them.
Harmonics & LF Sensitivity
The Harmonics function has a default value of 50%, which provides your sound sources with a little high-end lift and greater presence, allowing them to stand out in the mix. Even just adding the compressor to your channel without changing any parameters will give a slight boost in presence.
LF Sensitivity is ideal for controlling the amount of low-end/body you wish to retain. This feature is useful for bass, synths, drums, and percussion, as well as any elements that contain low-end information.
I appreciate having the ability to switch between the 2A & 3A on the fly, without losing my parameter settings. This allows for an efficient and helpful A/B comparison of the two units.
Input and Output Control
Dedicated in and output knobs so you can control the overall output without compromising your sound’s integrity. The output of the original LA-2A/3A compressors was governed by the Input Gain and Peak Reduction. If you found a good setting but wanted a louder output, you’d compromise those settings or use another device to push more volume.
You have to admire developers who take the time to consider the needs of contemporary music producers and mixing engineers. Hardware emulations are wonderful, especially when they reproduce the sound and feel of the hardware equipment, even with its imperfections.
However, having the flexibility of modern technology, such as MID/SIDE (M/S) processing, delta solo, and being able to toggle imperfections, to name a few, provides more control over the signal while maintaining that desired sonic vintage appeal.
I love the layout and handling of the M/S feature. When engaged, both the Mid and Side channels are in front of you vs toggling with a button or having to load two instances of the same plug-in to control M/S.
The top compressor controls the MID while the bottom controls the SIDE information.
I do wish there were left and right processing options. Hopefully, this is something that OverLoud will add in the future. Being able to process left and right channels independently makes it easy to manipulate the stereo field.
Optical Compressor Shoot Outs
Overall, I think the Comp LA, just has a much bigger sound in comparison to other Opto compressors that I’ve used. Being able to switch between the 3A and 2A is phenomenal. It handles transients well and gives a nice round tone to sound sources. It’s warm/smooth sounding with good color. It’s just a good combo compressor, Overloud has done an amazing job and I’m looking forward to working with many more of their plugins.
For more information on the Comp LA visit Overloud