First Universal Audio required you to buy dedicated hardware to run its plugins. Then it made them run natively and put them in a subscription-only bundle, before taking the decision to sell them outright as well. Now, after all that, the company is giving one of them - the LA-2A Tube Compressor - away for free.
It’s a turn of events that would have seemed highly unlikely just a few years ago, but the plugin landscape, and UA’s strategy, have changed.
One of the most famous compressors in history, the LA-2A is known for its warm, vintage sound which, thanks to a super-simple control set, is incredibly easy to dial in. In fact, it’s often said that it’s impossible to make the LA-2A sound ‘bad’: Peak Reduction and Gain knobs are used to dial in the amount of processing and signal level, and a switch toggles between compression and limiting. Other than an output Gain Reduction knob, that’s about it.
There were various versions of the LA-2A, each of which sounded slightly different. In fact, Universal Audio’s paid-for LA-2A Collection actually includes three different emulations to reflect this.
Slightly confusingly, the free LA-2A isn’t the same as any of these. Instead, it takes the algorithms behind the ‘Silver’ version - arguably the most flexible of the three - and packs them into the interface of UA’s original LA-2A.
This was confirmed by a Universal Audio representative on the company’s forum, who said: “It's the silver algo [sic] with the legacy GUI. We've tuned it to sound good right out of the gate on all sources.”
So, even if you own all of UA’s other LA-2A plugins you might as well give this one a go. It runs on PC and Mac in VST/AU/AAX formats, and can be downloaded for free via the UA Connect software once you’ve signed up to receive it via the Universal Audio website.
Don’t delay, though, because this offer ends on 31 October.