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LA2A vs. Fairchild


I know this is a subjective topic. But I was curious if anybody on here could offer up some advice. What would you recommend using the fairchild on? Basses, guitars, Overheads? Vs. what would you use the LA 2A on? What styles of music? Male to Female vocals. etc. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.


I use both of them for all the sources, usually on busses. Really depends on signal-structure and style of music. Just feel free to try yourself, there can never be a static general rule.
The Fairchild does a pretty good job in lat-vert mode when it's up to narrowing overheads or wide spread vocals (very different from just setting the pans closer to the center), generating a certain kind of \"musical\" stereo image.
Both are nice on vocals, just experiment and decide by ear. Recently the 1176LN gave me the subjectively best vocal compression, that's where I usually try LA2A first.
It's good to get a vision in mind of what it should sound like and then try out which compressor fits best. There may be some sources (e.g. heavy rythm guitars) that sound better without?!?
Give it a try and have fun!



Can anybody on here give me any specific examples of a well known song where the Fairchild was used on the \"X\" instrument in this song? I'm trying to get an idea of characteristics of this compressor?


Active Member
yeah i'd be interested too in the strenght of the fairchild - it's the hardes to place of all imo


Active Member
Just hear the Beatles... they used Fairchild on pretty much everything on their records (no 1176 or LA2A)! You get a nice warm, compact sound of it.

Interview with Geoff Emerick
What's your favorite piece of gear? “My one favorite piece of gear if the Fairchild 660 limiter because it just adds a certain presence. It was great for guitars and it was great for John's voice, and any voice, really. It just puts a lot of presence on it. I sometime still record with them and use them on the mix, too. The drums, certainly on the ‘Revolver' stuff with the whole drum kit being mono went through one Fairchild limiter.”

What does pushing equipment like audio compressors do? “If you overdo it, like what I like to do, most compression devices, and especially the Fairchild limiter which was sort of a compression device, but faster, which actually chops peaks off, I used it for sound. And if you overload them slightly, like put more in than you should be putting in on the input, it sort of scrunches the sound up a bit. It makes it a little bit more forceful. It's more exciting. It controls the loud part, but also the soft part of the vocal comes up to the same volume as the loud part. It brings up the breath sometimes to make it more breathy, and it accents the breaths and mouth noises if you over do it and have fast releases.”

Fairchild is a lovely vari-mu, with different time constants. It can also be very
fast (strong compression). Totaly different from LA2A, which can´t.

With Input, you can first adjust harmonic content of the tube/transformer sound of 670. (at least in original units :wink: )
Until about 8 o´clock it´s very clean. I usually back up to 9 o´clock.

Take a vocal and adjust threshold until it´s working on the VU (3 to 4dB). Try Mode 1+2 for this.

Mode 1 is very fast in attack, Mode 2 is, well, just fast.
You can hear that Mode 1 is yielding a very robust \"in your face sound\",
while Mode 2 will let loud words thru.
(best test this in a dynamic passage of ca. 10 seconds in cycle to compare)

This is very soft&nice - compare at matched output level with and without
fairchild. If you get an idea try a deeper threshold, working at maybe 5-7 dB on VU.

Forget about the tiny screws until you know the reaction of INPUT / THRESH / TIME MODE. Always compare at same levels with and without.

-> Optical compressors like LA2A are good for smooth and natural compression, and usually too slow in attack to really limit. Their release
is very handsome because due non-linearity you can use it even
extremly strong without getting an overly unnatural or overcompressed
sound. That means around 50% of gainreduction may be held for seconds(!) after a long and loud passage - automatically. But you can´t get a very
strong compressed sound like F670 or 1176 out of it. I love to use LA2A
on material which is very different in dynamics, imagine a little man ríding
the fader for you :wink:

Hope this helps


Established Member
Forget about the small screws? ?? ?? ? ? ?
The DC Bias controls the RATIO and KNEE!!!

those are HUGELY important controls on a compressor! (assuming they're there)

As for comparing the two compressors, it's like looking at a red wall and saying it doesn't look like the blue wall in the other room.

The Fairchild is great on vocals, drums, and piano. The most useful settings I've found for the time release etc are 1 and 6.


Active Member
BTLG said:
Forget about the small screws? ?? ?? ? ? ?
The DC Bias controls the RATIO and KNEE!!!

those are HUGELY important controls on a compressor! (assuming they're there)
Of course, BTLG - but look:

they asked how to apply it in general, and I said "...until you know how IN / THRES / TIME reacts".

Stuart Stuart

Active Member
Lately, in my mega template that I start every song project with, I have an LA2A, LN 1176 and Fairchild all inserted on the bass channel, and lead vocal channel. I set them all up to put out approximately the same level, and with roughly the same amount of gain reduction. I bypass them all, then go through one at a time, comparing.

On the last ten songs, I've chosen the LN 1176 for bass every time, and the Fairchild for vox every time. I've wlays used the 1176 for bass, and up until recently, for vocals too. I haven't really listened properly to the Fairchild until now. It just sounds 'expensive' to me, whereas the 1176 sounds good, but kinda 'plain' by comparison. Hmmm, you really have to spend a good hour learning the sound of these plugs to get the most out of them.
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