Threecircles Recording Studio is now the proud owner of a stereo LA-3A compressor clone – the Serpent Audio SA-3A. This is a unit based on the revered levelling amplifiers originally made by UREI and now released by Universal Audio. We have various plugin versions of this famous compressor, most notably the Waves CLA-3A from Chris Lord-Alge and also Universal Audio’s own emulation on our UAD 2 DSP processor card.
“So why build a hardware version then?” I hear you ask…….
Well, first and foremost, it allows me to track instruments through the unit, adding tone and vibe on the way in. Secondly the LA-3A tends to be one of the plugins I use more than any other – it does wonderful things to guitars – so now I can save lots of time getting the sound I want on the way in!
The build itself was fairly straight forward – two PCBs, the majority of the components and the faceplate all came from Serpent Audio in the USA. The hardest part was waiting for everything to turn up: the rest of the chassis came from Collective Cases, as well as a matched stereo pair of T4B optical attenuators from Kenetek Audio. I also needed to get some decent 22 guage hookup wire, 14 switches, an LED and the pots and VU meters from the guys at Hairball Audio.
Once everything arrived and import taxes were paid – the only real annoyance of not being able to easily source some of the parts in the UK – I went about stuffing the PCBs with the components:
The above pictures shows all the components that came with the kit, including the input transformer on the left, intermediary transformer on the right and output transformer at the back. The 8-socket ring to the right in the socket for the T4Bs.
Here you can see the completed PCBs with the newly arrived T4Bs safely housed in their sockets. The T4B is an optical attenuator that Read More →