ART Pro VLA II Tube Leveling Amplifier
The ART Pro VLA II Tube Leveling Amplifier was developed for studio and live sound engineers, and possesses a sound that is not available from any other compressor on the market - at any price! The Pro VLA II was designed and constructed with the absolute best components, assuring a lifetime of quiet, reliable performance.
The ART Pro VLA II Tube Leveling Amplifier is a multi-purpose compressor/limiter for audio engineering and recording. Enclosed in a 2U rack-mountable chassis are two independent channels of analog compression/leveling designed to work seamlessly with any recording, sound-reinforcement, or electronic instrument setup.
The circuitry is a hybrid design utilizing the latest and most advanced analog and tube technology. Using a transformerless design throughout, the Pro VLA II maintains exceptional signal integrity and extremely low noise. Its VCA-less design utilizes optical electronics (Vactrol) coupled with a 12AX7 vacuum tube gain stage for superior musical performance.
The ART Pro VLA II Tube Leveling Amplifier is a soft knee leveling amplifier by design. Although it is capable of providing a thoughougly "squashed" signal, the PRO VLA II was designed to excel in areas where transparent, expressively musical dynamics control is desired. In addition to making signal levels more manageable, it is common practice to apply compression or limiting to a signal to make it louder or more "in-your-face". The benefit of using the Pro VLA II for these applications is in its design. By utilizing opto-electronics, the Pro VLA II allows you to add more compression without sounding like you're squashing the daylights out of the signal. Unlike typical compressors which use VCA's to control level detection, the Pro VLA II is very musical. The nature of its operation is much like the way your eye adjusts to light. Just as your eye transparently adjusts to changes in light, the Pro VLA II adjusts to changes in signal level.
ART Pro VLA II Tube Leveling Amplifier Features
- VCA-less Design Provides Unrivaled Musical Performance
- Provides Superior Dynamics Control For Every Compression Application
- Variable Threshold, Ratio and Output Controls
- Smooth, Silky and Transparent Sound Quality
- Variable Input and Output Gain Controls
- Professional Backlit VU
- Input/Output Level Metering
- Ten Segment Gain Reduction LED Array
- XLR and 1/4" Inputs and Outputs
- Mastering Quality Audio Processing
- Five Year Warranty
What We Think
The ART Pro VLA II is a great bang for the buck limiter. The pots are smooth, the metering is clear (you can even calibrate the VU meters to match the LEDs), it can be used for mono, dual mono, or stereo (with the channel linking function), and looks good while doing it. It can be subtle and light, or punchy and thick with good breathing. I personally like it on vocals and drum buss. The tubes give it an extra bit of character that nicely smooths things out and adds a touch of presence. The VLA II is definitely a great buy for those on a budget that need a quality two channel comp to add so character and control to their tracks.
11 Reviews Hide Reviews Show Reviews
Ok so When I first got this unit Id say I was less than stocked. I was like what the heck, its a tube comp and it sounds kind of sterile... that being said I got a recommendation on a popular gear forum that suggested I order a pair of NOS mallard tubes to swap the cheap stock Ruby tubes out.... Holy crap when I did it opened the unit right up. I would say the units top brightened up and the bottom got tighter. After that swap the unit had a present character. There is a reason you see these "cheap" units in a lot of studios, even high end ones.
... you have 220V just remove the fuse box, turn it and then reinsert. Your amplififier now 220V device!
I have no idea about that on other ART products...
Along with the RNC, RNLA, and DBX 160 I think this is the other bang-for-the-buck classic dynamics box. This one sets apart from the others with a largeness and beefiness of sound thanks to the tube/optical design. It has great clarity or fidelity at the same time. I used it on things that I wanted to thicken up like bass and vocals, most of the time. It also worked really well on drum rooms for some pumpy action. If you drive it too hard it will act a bit crazy, but, that can be good for pumpy drums, and, in other cases I never wanted to drive it that hard anway. Two sides for the price of one is another great feature. I don't think you need to swap the tubes in this I think they are JJ which are high quality tubes. If you're going to throw money around like that just go higher on the ladder, something like the FMR PBC-6A.
I like this. I use it. It's colored but not nearly to the level that I would say it has "mojo". Most signals will get rounder, fatter through this box. Beefs: The bypass switches are horribly crackly which really damages A/B analysis, and I don't entirely trust the meters, and the stereo link function does something weird to the signal (sounds better with both channels separate and matched). But I am overall happy with it.
If you're just gearing up, try to remain honest with yourself and remember that when a signal gets louder 9/10 times the listener/ear is going to say that it just got better.
Also, I put an expensive "matched" set of mullard tubes in the unit, and while I do believe there was clarity improvement, it was verry, very slight. For the bang for buck factor, I would not recommend the tube upgrade. If you have them try em out. If not , don't bother...unless you need mental placebo.
this is my 2nd one. i bought the earlier version back in the mid 90s and have used it on every recording i have done since then. so now i use both versions for tracking vocals and instruments. this thing is ir-replace-able. it defines my sound. i use one channel for limiting and one channel for leveling. either parallel or series i get perfect predictable recordings every time. Vocals sit in the mix like "breasts in a bra"; direct bass sounds like "McCartney's sound in "Come Together"; electric or acoustic guitars are given new life. and for the price... it's a no brainer. wish i could take these with me on the road, but in my situation that would be quite impractical. but if i could. you know i would.
Very classy look and performs above the standards it is truely a great buy for you buck.
This is a great entry level compressor for the home studio owners. I very much like it on vocals and acoustic guitars so far. I did swap out the tubes for NOS Mullard 12AT7 tubes and found that it gave the compressed signal a smoother midrange and an overall more polished sound. I'd definitely recommend the upgrade to get the most out of the unit. The unit does cut a little high frequency and I hear that the NOS Telefunken 12AT7's are recommended for this unit as it restores some of those highs.
This was the first time I've purchased from Front End Audio, and overall I've been impressed with their range of product, packing shipping and followup. I'll buy more audio equipment through them for sure.
The ART Pro VLA II compressor is excellent value for money and I can highly recommend it for home studio owners on a budget.
This an excellent compressor for starters. big VU meters and easy to use. I used it on vocals, kick, and snare. I find it to be pretty transparent to. Even with the input all the down and no compression the VLA warms up anything running through it. Its very easy to recall setting on this compressor as well. I lot of people switch the tubes in them but I'm fine with the stock tubes for now.
Really easy to get usable sounds from. Haven't found it to add bunches of great flavors, but it gives me the pre-interface compression I want without adding garbage to the signal.
The multiple I/O sets make it easy to integrate into just about any setup, and the detented pots make it easy to recall settings.
It was cool to be able to route the output of one channel into the other to bear down hard on a hip-hop vocal. Looking forward to trying it on a good bass; tried it on a mediocre one, and wasn't really happy. Also gave me fullness without muck on acoustic guitar.
Physically, it's pretty stout, but it's nice that they built it big so it doesn't get too hot and cook things next to it in the rack.