The beauty of sheer simplicity. (And on the LA-3A as well.) Set the gain to unity, adjust the peak reduction to where you want it. Ta-da! I’m pretty sure these are the compressors that are used “visually” the most. What I mean is that you set the gain, then adjust the reduction until the needle is just touching 2dB on the loud parts. You have now conjured up the perfect leveler, and you didn’t even have to listen. Am I saying to do this? Well, uh, no, uh.
It’s kind of fun seeing how UAD modeled these. Check out the differences. I’m sure if you had a dozen LA-2s of the same model they would all show up with varied responses in these charts.
Note: Notice in the last chart how the THD changes when using a slight (less than 1dB) gain reduction. This is typical for compressors, because the waveform is being distorted (in order to “compress” it). It is interesting to see how this is handled in emulations.
A kind of cool trick is to mix the same hardware emulations from different companies. For example, use UAD’s LA2A on one track and the Waves CL2A on another. It’s like you have 2 different pieces of hardware! (Well, sort of.)
Slight gain reduction: