It has balanced 1/4" and XLR inputs and sounds great for the money. I have used it in my studio www.chrislieckstudios.com daily for a year. Sounds great and don't waste money putting any new tubes it. Simple controls on the front, look at the photo I have attached. Pretty self explanatory if you know compression. If you are looking for a great compressor for a great great price then this unit might really serve your needs. I think that it is a great compressor. The tubes sound fantastic and although it is a bit noisy on the output stage and at times it can be a bit erratic in that it makes some very strange sounds that I cannot describe but that is not constant and that could be just a bad tube but it does not stop me from recommending it nor does it stop me from using it. I like this unit a great deal. There is massive headroom on the input stage and the compression is really nice. The sound is really nice and the compression sounds really good. For really heavy hitting instrumentation it is a bit colored like kick drums. I first tried this on a room mic on the kick drum and it was a bit to colored but on vocals it shinned. I was pleasantly surprised that it sounded so good right out of the box. I was not expecting it to be so solid. The construction is very solid and the unit much to my surprise was very well made. The body is full metal and the knobs are metal as well. The large VU meters are great and remind me of an older unit. ART did a great job designing this unit. Most compressors in this price range don't even come close to the sturdy construction of this unit nor do they come close to the sound of this unit. I will say that there is a bit of coloring but only on extreme inputs of heavy levels and even then the sound is very clean and authentic.
Very easy to use and very nice looking and is an A Class pre amp. I use it on vocals and overhead drum mics. That is the best uses for me personally. The set up is really easy and most beginners will love this compressor in that it is simple to use and the sound is not like a DBX sound or even like a real over compressed cheap compressor. The compression is not that noticeable and is very smooth for a unit costing only this much.
I use it on vocals and overhead drum mics. That is the best uses for me personally. Does not color the sound on vocals which is surprising for a pre amp at the 250.00 range. I got mine on EBAY. Great deal, Great Pre.
I like it and would recommend it for anyone that wants a compressor under $300 then this is the best one out there. I like the construction and the large VU meters and the sound. I tried a great deal of these out and this one by far has the best all around sound for the money. We use it on vocals and overhead mics and it really shines.
The Art Pro VLA will give you a great natural compression to your music, and a great full and thick sound that you cant deny and that you probably wont be able to get anywhere else. When I first purchased this I wasn’t too sure about my decision. I have done a lot of research on it before I purchased it last year and everyone kept saying it was great, but I don’t think of my self as an amateur anymore and it seemed like most amateurs where the ones who where commenting on it. I wanted a real proffesional oppinion on it, so I called up musicians friend and a sales guy was really selling me this piece of gear and he was telling me how natural the compression sounded and worth it that it would be to purchase this piece of gear. So I decided to give it a go and see what happened, and I was in aw on how good it actually was and how well rounded and full it made everything sound. It is great in the studio and even better in a live situation which really surprised me that it would perform that well live.
It has pretty basic options like threshold, ration atack, release and output and the threshold range is -30 db to 20 db with a freq response of 10hz - 100 kHz. It will only take up 2 rack spaces and only weights around 10 pounds which is pretty light.
Sound is great, very full and rich. I couldn’t say how good it really is. You will have to give it a try and see if you like it, im sure you will and if you don’t you can always return it.
Overall, it’s a great piece of hardware. Most people arent using hardware compressers anymore but I am still all for them and they are worth the buy. Nothing will compress like hardware gear can, it has been doing it forever.
I purchased my first Pro VLA used from a local shop a couple of years ago for around 400 bucks.
Easy to get desired results. Auto attack and release times sound great on drums.This unit doesn't sound muddy when driven like alot of others I've used.Easy to work with. Spend more time tracking instead of dialing in for a day.Construction seems first rate. No fancy pink colors as opposed to ART's older units.
Definately pleasing to the eye.
I've compared the ART Pro VLA against a Bellari Tube Compressor which is in the same price range and other compressors (3630Beringer) and the ART unit took the prize every time. Clean and controlled sound easy to work with. A must have in your rack.
This review covers the older ProVLA, not to be confused with the newer ProVLA II.
The ART Pro VLA is a low-cost 2-channel, transformerless, soft-knee opto compressor with a vacuum tube output stage.
The power cord is hard wired, and there are parallel 1/4" TRS and XLR audio connection points for each channel. There are no addition connection points such as sidechains available.
Metering is provided by mechanical VUs as well as multi-segment LEDs.
The chassis is a standard 2U rack-mountable affair.
The ProVLA control interface is fairly simple and straightforward. Each channel has a smooth-feeling rotary pot each for Threshold, compression Ratio variable from 2:1 up to greater than 20:1 limiting, and finally, an Output level trim.
There are also a set of push-button switches that allow you to toggle Attack and Release times between two presets which are, apparently depending on the product run, either "Fast" and "Slow" or "Fast" and "Auto." Mine are the "Auto" variety.
There are also buttons for Bypassing each channel, and another for Stereo Linking the two channels which, when activated, makes Channel 1 a master and Channel 2 a slave for Ratio and Threshold control. Finally, there is a switch for VU i/o metering; however, I would caution that the mechanical VU meters are not calibrated in any way that makes sense to me when set to show input level. Applying a balanced +4dBu input signal will NOT show as 0VU on the mechanical meters and they tend to read a fair bit lower than they ought to be, so take what they tell you with a grain of salt and consider that the VUs are at best a bit eye of candy. There is no option for gain reduction metering with the VUs; instead, there are multi-segment LEDs on the unit for this which are, mercifully, more trustworthy.
The power switch is on the front face rather than on the back of the unit, which I appreciate.
These are sonically interesting, if somewhat limited. One thing I can say about the ProVLAs is that they're smooth operators. Their main job in the compression color spectrum is warm, slow, thickening of sources needing only modest dynamic control. Think of it as "sonic syrup." The ProVLA is capable of "gluing together" a stereo mix buss, and is also good for thickening up digital tracks or thin sounding sources, and for smoothing over harsh transients.
The ProVLA is happiest with smaller gain reductions and sensible ratios. I find that they're best at Ratios between 2: and 4:1; beyond that, the ProVLA can lose its composure pretty quickly and become mushy, pump-y and breath-y in a less than flattering way. Save the higher ratios and hard limiting for a more suitable, more aggressive unit than the ProVLA, but as long as you keep them in their comfort zone--and they're actually working properly--they're good at what they do, sonically speaking.
Purveyors of tube rolling can alter the output character somewhat, but will not change the actual compression characteristics with tubes. The biggest difference in tube rolling is in changing the output gain stage by going between different tube types (12AX7s and 12AT7s, for example) rather than playing around different brands of the same type. My units both came stock with Electro-Harmonix 12AT7s (despite these units being advertised at using 12AX7s) and after playing around with JJ Electronic ECC83Ss, ECC81s, JAN Philips, Sovtek and Ruby (Chinese) 12AX7s and even some old RCAs. I liked the JJ ECC81s, but the differences were too subtle to worry over it very much. I wound up back at the stock E-Hs.
I own two ProVLAs and unfortunately both have been plagued by reliability problems. They have always been racked up, run on quality conditioned power and treated well, so I have concluded that these units are simply poor quality.
One unit failed wholesale after only several months from new; it simply wouldn't power up. I thought perhaps it was a simple matter of an easily replaced fuse blowing, so decided not to bother paying to ship it for warranty repair...but to add insult to injury, the screws holding the top plate on the unit had been grossly overtightened at the factory and wouldn't budge. By this time, I was starting to experience problems with my other unit and decided not to bother dealing with ART, so I went ahead, cut the top off, ascertained that it was not a bad fuse but a more serious failure due to poor parts quality or manufacturing defect. Quite frankly, at this point, I washed my hands of it and ART, boxed it up and saved it to use a modding platform or parts unit so that it wouldn't be a total waste. Ouch. At least I'd gotten in on sale for a really cheap price.
My other unit never failed completely, but has suffered meter failure, all pots are always scratchy and need constant exercising, switches have gone dirty and noisy or failed, channels can experience noise problems, and the audio connections are prone to oxidation. The VU meter lighting, which, like old-school mechanical meters of yore, is provided by incandescent fuse style lamps which are prone to burning out relatively frequently. They have a warm, throwback look to them, but as this is a product of the 2000's rather than the 60's or 70's, I'd have preferred a reliable, low power LED lamp for each VU. On a side note, this would probably be a fairly simple mod to apply for those with a bit of technical skill who are tired of replacing VU lamps.
Of course, I've talked to other people who claim a more trouble-free experience with their units, but I would counter by saying that I bought my units about a year apart; they were NOT part of the same bad production run and were always well treated, so I really did strike out twice.
In the end, you might have a reliable ProVLA or you might not. Personally, I'm not going for "third time lucky" and will never consider another ART product again. Sometimes you do get you pay for. The ProVLAs are capable of dishing up some good sounds when they're happy, but undependable units are useless to me. I would never trust them to critical applications such as live use; they are ultimately cheaply made, cheaply sold, low quality units in my experience.