Warm Audio WA-2A tube opto compressor music gear review

Music Gear Review: Warm Audio WA-2A Tube Opto Compressor

The Warm Audio WA-2A is a modern rendition of the ‘60s era venerable Teletronix LA-2A Leveling Amp considered the ultimate opto-compressor. The WA-2A uses the same circuit as the original and is built with custom large-core Cinemag input and output transformers, four premium tubes and a Kenetek opto-cell. In keeping with Warm Audio’s mantra of affordable professional audio gear, the WA-2A sells for $899 MSRP.

The WA-2A has a fully discrete, class-A signal path, center-mounted lighted VU meter, toggle switches for on/off and either Limiting or Compression plus Output Gain, Peak Reduction and Meter control knobs.

The rear panel has control knobs for variable stereo linking, VU meter zeroing and for adding pre-emphasis to the sidechain signal—a way to make the compressor more sensitive to high frequencies. High frequencies, when boosted in the sidechain only, the WA-2A gently controls excessively bright recordings.

I’m currently using the Warm Audio WA-2A for bass guitar, vocals and acoustic guitars that require “leveling out” their dynamics. For this application, the WA-2A is in constant gain reduction causing a smoothing action. It has a natural sound and the euphonic transformer/tube combination is not obtainable in any other way.


BARRY RUDOLPH is a recording engineer/mixer who has worked on over 30 gold and platinum records. He has recorded and/or mixed Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hall & Oates, Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, the Corrs and more. Barry has his own futuristic music mixing facility and loves teaching audio engineering at Musician’s Institute, Hollywood, CA. He is a lifetime Grammy-voting member of NARAS and a contributing editor for Mix Magazine. barryrudolph.com