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Universal Audio LA-6176 — A Mix Product of the Week

Universal Audio LA-6176 plug-in is based on its vintage 6176 tube channel strip, which featured both the 610 mic preamp/EQ and the 1176.

Universal Audio LA-6176

New York, NY (June 3, 2024)—Universal Audio’s latest plug-in is based on its vintage 6176 tube channel strip, which featured both the 610 mic preamp/EQ and the 1176, a classic, aggressive-sounding FET compressor. The plug-in version ups the ante by including a model of a second iconic compressor, the tube-based, opto-driven LA-2A, and gives users the ability to switch between the two.

The LA-6176 is available in UADx (Native) and UAD-2/Apollo formats. The UAD-2 version of the plug-in is “Unison Enabled,” meaning when you use it with an Apollo interface, the hardware adjusts the mic input impedance and gain staging to match the original hardware.

The preamp section of the LA-6176 contains a five-position stepped Gain knob that provides plus-minus 10 dB of gain. The impedance can be switched from Line to Mic level, with the latter offering impedance choices of 500 Ohms or 2K Ohms. Switching to one of the Mic-level settings on a line-level source makes it possible to overdrive the input.

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When using the UAD2 version with an Apollo interface, you can access the Hi-Z input setting, which gives you a choice of 47K Ohms or 2.2M Ohms impedance. A 75 Hz high-pass filter, polarity reverse and a -15 dB pad are all available via switches.

At the end of the preamp’s signal chain is a large knob controlling the Output level. How you set the knob is critical because it impacts the level going into the compressor section and thus governs how hard you hit either the 1176 or LA-2A.

Universal Audio LA-6176
Universal Audio LA-6176.

Before the compressor section is the two-band EQ, with the High and Low bands providing boosts or cuts of up to 9 dB, and each offering three frequency choices. The high band settings are 4.5 kHz, 7 kHz or 10 kHz, and the Low band 70 Hz, 100 Hz or 200 Hz.

Despite it having only two bands, the EQ’s frequencies are well-chosen and provide significant control for sound sculpting. The EQ and Compressor sections each have their own Bypass switch, which is handy for comparing settings with and without processing. A global bypass switch resides in the middle of the GUI.

Next in the signal chain is the compressor section. A small switch under the VU-style meter (switchable between showing Input, Output or Gain Reduction) toggles the plug-in between the 1176 and LA-2A modes. The faceplate’s color changes depending on the mode: silver for the 1176 and black for the LA-2A.

Each compressor provides a control set similar to the original unit. The 1176 offers knobs for Attack, Release, Ratio, Input and Output. Supplementing what’s in the hardware version, it also sports a Mix knob, allowing for parallel compression. The LA-2A mode features Peak Reduction and Gain knobs and a switch to toggle from Comp to Limit.

The LA-6176 is on sale for $99 through June 30, after which it rises to its regular price of $299. The native version of the plug-in is also included in the UAD Spark subscription program. Find out more at the UAD website.