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Product Reviews

Review: Waves CLA-3A Modeled Compressor Plug-In

By Rich Tozzoli. Here, Tozzoli discusses one of the plug-ins he turns to on a fast-moving session, and offers audio examples of the plug-in at work.

For his Pro Sound News reviews this month, TV composer Rich Tozzoli decided to discuss hardware and software products that that he turns to time and time again. These are pieces of gear, he says, that have, after repeated use on fast-moving sessions, made a difference in the workflow.

While the Waves CLA-3A, based on Chris Lord-Alge’s favorite unit, has been around for years, I actually never used this software version until recently.

While the original LA-3A was a solid state compressor dating back to 1969, this carefully modeled software version reproduces that unique sound that can be found on countless hit records. Easy to use, it features nothing but a few main controls for compression. Peak Reduction controls the amount of desired compression, while Gain adjusts the makeup level after compression. The VU can display Input, Output and Gain Reduction levels. It uses an optical attenuator for gain reduction and features program dependent, meaning you almost don’t know what you’re going to get out of it, which is part of the fun of this unit.

I’ve noticed over the years that hardware versions of the LA-3A are hit or miss, so having one, albeit in software form, that had a consistent sound, allows me to turn to it quite a bit. I tend to use it on guitars and bass mostly, as I don’t do a lot of vocal work in TV world. It works equally as well both directly on a track, or on an Aux send via bus.

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I provided some recorded examples for the online version of this review, and you can hear that the plug-in immediately adds a sense of punch and tightness to the guitars. In the example with the bus, I sent both the slide guitar (mono) and the rhythm guitar (stereo) to the same instance, which helped create, simply put, a nastier, more controlled sound. Overall, I’m glad to have the CLA-3A in my daily lineup.

$49.00; VST/AU/AAX

Waves •