New Toys: Black Rooster Audio VLA-2A Mark II Plug-in

Black Rooster Audio has added some modern touches to their popular VLA-2A vintage opto compressor emulation. Modern updates include a Wet/Dry control, Make up gain, and a big Gain control knob for pushing more level into saturation. There is a switchable external side-chain input, and the ability to switch between three different T4A opto-electric cells. Each of the three cells has different attack and release time characteristics plus they differ in compression ratios and knees—just like real T4A opto cells.

I found the Cell A position good to compress bass with its soft knee and low ratio with Cell B the same except with a higher ratio if you need it. Cell B also sounded good for taking care of a weak-sounding lead vocal track. Cell C is more like a limiter with a harder knee and higher ratio.

I liked the Emphasis control that works like a Tilt EQ in the side-chain. Turning the Emphasis knob CW push more treble and less bass into the side-chain and somewhat reminds me of the screwdriver adjustment Pre-Emphasis control on the back of the old Teletronix LA-2A leveling amp. Also new is the Gain control that, when cranked up starts to add colorful saturation. I used Cell C, Emphasis at 55, and also turned up Gain to 55 for a big improvement in sound of a bass guitar that played mostly up the octave.

Compared to the original VLA, the Black Rooster VLA-2A Mark II greatly broadens out the ways this emulation of a vintage opto-based compressor/limiter can be utilized. I did not have to use another compressor in series to get where I wanted to go! Always a good thing!

Black Rooster VLA-2A Mark II sells $129 as a download with a 14-day demo available.