CLA-2A and CLA-3A are very special and one of my favorite compressors. They are not suitable for every sound, but proof their strength when its about to make something more clear (CLA-2A) or thick (CLA-3A), where a standard compressor simply isn't enough.
CLA-2A brings a muddy vocal immediately in front of the mix. Anything you feed into it, in an instant becomes clear and present. But be aware, don't feed already clear sound or sound material with a tendency to having a certain kind of harshyness (for example by hard S's or T's) into it or it will ruin the sound. Tip: Gain-stage/Lower the volume clean before this plugin; the input parameter of CLA-2A could alter the sound in a non-linear way.
CLA-3A is less aggressive and "thickens" more the sound than its sibling the CLA-2A. I use it in cases CLA-2A would be too harsh. Very good and characterful compressor on its own.
Now for my own honest opinion and as fascinated as I am about the CLA-2A and CLA-3A, as double-minded I am about the CLA-76. Despite being the most feature sibling and probably the most popular one of the bundle, the sound of it simply does not convince me 100%.
For generic appliance, I always want to use it more often and every once in a while I give it a try, but the sound isn't there for me and I choose a different compressor of my collection because of better flexibility or sound.
Bluey mode is the way I prefer, clear and present. Blacky mode makes the sounds too muddy and dark for my taste.
If you need the super-fast attack time of down to 50 microseconds(!) and you might want to use some kind of transient shaping, it can be very useful. Other compressors might produce clicks by compressing that fast, but CLA-76 is known to handle it. I like Bluey mode, with ALL or 4:1 Ratio and fast attack times for that purpose. Apply it on some drums and it really excite the sound and make it more punchy.
Also keep in mind that the input gain control can be important for the harmonic distortion and the tone you will get. It usually works best to feed the signal in rather harshly and compensate the output thereafter.
You don't have to share the same opinion about that, but that is just my feeling for it.
I highly recommend you getting them on sale (or even free with the 'purchase 1, get 1 free' sale), if you are interested to acquire a few or all of them, by the way.
Real awesome. Sounds like most radio hits that have that big deep sound. I suggest you go demo them. It's easy to setup and install with Waves.com.
Add these on the master track. The La-2a and La-3a that is. ANd you have what the pro's have been using for decades.
These sound, probably better than the authentic analog versions people have. I heard it from the top producer Chris Lord and Nick Alge too. I saw it on an interview.
I hope you can enjoy the quality culmination of many authentic la-2a amp compressors la-2a being wrapped up into one single vst. The La2a is a tube model. And the la3a is a solid state model. They work well in conjunction with one another but they do not need to be.
The La2a gives your vocals that Frank Sinatra sound if your a man, and a woman would sound equally as amazing as that too. The la2a has a slightly rough presence in the mids and lows but is very rough in the highs. It rather goes from slightly rough in the lows, to increasingly girttier as the frequency increases to the higher ranges.
The La3a has a smooth sound; much less distorted. It can easily give a big and tall, wide sound payne but so can the La2a when done right.
Widely usable and totally accepted among professionals are these models. These Waves plugins La2a and La3a are certainly widely accepted by me. Anthony. ALso so certainly easily used. The knobs so afr I have found only moves at small to medium amounts. Perhaps those are the sweet spot zones. It certainly seems decently cooperative to find the right setting. CHeers! hahahahaha
No I haven't tried McDSP, but I have heard some of it. I don't like it's smoothness. Sounds more macintoshy. I like the Waves la2a, to me its everything I heard on the radio with the la3a prior to the mid 90's. Sounds radio and authenticly genuine. Chris Lord "LORD of the mix" uses them I believe. He the best! HE say's all the best of the best analog la2a's hes used have been combined to make one awesome VST. To me it was worth my 100 dollars to say the least. I feel I have a precious diamond. Like Jesus.