Summit Audio TLA-50 Tube Limiter - Opinions?

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Summit Audio TLA-50 Tube Limiter - Opinions?

Post by T-rex » Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:35 pm

I found a few old posts by Red Rockets Glare professing a love for it but I really don't hear much about this piece?

I know it's not going to sound like an LA-2A but I would be really interested to see if anyone has experience with it or if Red Rockets is still loving it?


Looking for a good compressor to use in tracking etc.
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Post by Kyle » Wed Jul 09, 2008 1:08 pm

I love this on electric gtr!

I find it to be bit too noisy for most of the voice over work that I do and I haven't been happy with it on on a musical vocal performance either, at least with the singers/songs that I've tried it on. I've been meaning to try this after a DBX160a (or any other comp) in a vocal chain. I think it might do the trick if it was sharing the load.
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Post by @?,*???&? » Wed Jul 09, 2008 1:24 pm

I've had mine for 5 years now and I love it. I have one of the two transformer units.

I've replaced the tube a few times. Best it sounded was with a Telefunken 12AX7.

Good, versatile unit. Ever so slightly noisy, not bad though.

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Post by T-rex » Thu Jul 10, 2008 5:17 am

Thanks for the comments. Everyone seems to say they are a bit noisy but they do add a nice character of their own.
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Post by DrummerMan » Thu Jul 10, 2008 10:51 am

I've had a pair for about 6 years as well. I got them thinking they would be nice as a stereo bus limiter, but rarely use them as such.

Agreed on the slightly noisy side.

I tend to use one as my squash-the-drum-"room"-mic device. For years, my stock Octava 319 stuck into and facing the upper corner of the drum room, into the pre on my old TAC Scorpion, then going through the tla-50, before going to tape, was SPECIFICALLY the drum sound that got clients coming back again and again. I would have everything else mic'd up. I'd have the client in the control room to listen to how the drums were sounding. I'd start with a balance of the OH's and close mics... the client would be like, "ok that sounds like drums". Then, as the track was going, I'd slowly fade in the room mic through the tla-50, keeping my eyes on the client as his/her eyes would widen, the head would start to bob, and things like, "yeah.... fuck YEAH!" would be heard. I mostly did this out of an egotistical need for approval, but after the first time I got that response, I decided that THAT particular setup had some serious mojo going on, so I didn't touch the mic, or the settings on the Summit, pretty much, until I moved out of that studio a few years later.... seriously.

I know that there are other factors in the sound I was getting, but because of it, I'll probably not ever get rid of my Summit.
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Post by T-rex » Thu Jul 10, 2008 2:11 pm

DrummerMan wrote:I mostly did this out of an egotistical need for approval, quote] - That line slayed me, I had to quote it.

Yeah, I was looking for something a little smoother with some character to use when tracking and maybe for mixing. I had gotten great results with microlimiters on the exploding room sound. I buy one, love it, don't use it, sell it, then buy another one. I need to just quit selling the damn things.

Can you use it for subtle things too or is the noise just too much for things like vocals, acoustics, etc.?
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Post by DrummerMan » Thu Jul 10, 2008 2:51 pm

T-rex wrote: Can you use it for subtle things too or is the noise just too much for things like vocals, acoustics, etc.?
I've only used it successfully on vocals that were really forceful, NOT the delicate type, and haven't felt like I could get it to a useful place on delicate sounding guitars and such. I don't, though, feel like I'm even close to being an expert when it comes to compression. I'm more of the *fiddles with knobs and switches until it sounds good* type. Luckily, the Summit doesn't have that many knobs and switches, which might have been what attracted me to it in the first place...

BTW, that same exact setup I used for the drum-room mic (same room, same mic/position, pre, everything) also got me the ABSOLUTE BEST tamborine sounds. I also once recorded a banjo with that setup (the banjo player was, I'd say, about 10 feet from the mic in the ceiling corner) and it was really cool. Totally *woof-y* and pretty noisy, but also very unique and vibe-ey.

In the end, I would say that the Summit is NOT an "all around" limiter, but I think the things that it works for, it does really nice. Unfortunately, I don't know what else in that price range would be as vibe-y/cool, but would have more flexibility. It falls into that weird middle-price range that I used to shop in, years ago, hoping I would get a higher-than-cheap-stuff quality of products where the difference in quality was at a comparable ratio to the difference in price. I found out that wasn't usually the case, and bought some things I regretted. The Summits might be the only things that were a good decision around that time.

These days, I try not to buy things in the $400 - $1000 range. Either really nice, or really cheap (there are some exceptions, of course). This philosophy has been treating me very well, I have to say.

Of course, if I had stuck to that philosophy back then, I wouldn't have these cool Summits now. Anywho....
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Post by calaverasgrandes » Thu Jul 10, 2008 4:10 pm

I'm looking at trying to pick one of those up to go with my 2ba221. I just assume that somehow teh two pieces would jine in a way that would be awesome. Right now I usually get pretty good tones putting a blue max or a microlimiter on the insert of the 2ba221. But every now and then it goes over the edge, from "fat" to "mud".
Besides I am sure they would look marvelous in a rack shelf together.
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Post by heylow » Thu Jul 10, 2008 4:30 pm

I just did a record where just about everything (ac/el guitars, vocals, mando, harmonica, whatever) went through the TLA50 in some way.

To me, the trick is using is very sparingly. I tended to let it really hit on some things....different things at different times, but most of the time I barely moved the needle and used it as sort of a subtle "color". Sometimes it just seems to "tighten" things up a bit.

They can get a bit noisy...I changed out the crap tube that came with it and the noise came down by a fair amount. I wouldn't try to get any of that "poor man's XX-XX" stuff out of it as it's really it's own thing. I might also add that it probably isn't best if you're looking for really aggressive limiting.

I love mine.....what can I say?



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Post by @?,*???&? » Sat Jul 12, 2008 9:33 am

T-rex wrote:Yeah, I was looking for something a little smoother with some character to use when tracking and maybe for mixing. I had gotten great results with microlimiters on the exploding room sound.
The best thing I have for that room sound is the Altec 1712. Not a real versatile box, but it does the room sound almost instantly well. I also use it in emergency scratch vocal compression context and occasionally buss bass out to it.

And of course mine has been re-chipped and re-capped!

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Post by T-rex » Sat Jul 12, 2008 1:20 pm

DrummerMan wrote:
These days, I try not to buy things in the $400 - $1000 range. Either really nice, or really cheap (there are some exceptions, of course). This philosophy has been treating me very well, I have to say.
I can totally be down with that, sounds like a solid philosophy at this point.
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