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Cakewalk – CA-2A Leveling Amplifier Review

Wazzuup!!
Compression, After EQ it is the most common used effect in the music production.
Earlier this year Cakewalk released the CA-2A Leveling Amplifier that we are going to have a look at today.

Before we start, I would like to thank Cakewalk for letting me do this review.

Cakewalk_2c_DIC

CA-2A Leveling Amplifier

Since the 1960s, professional engineers have relied on the unique characteristics of this electro-optical tube-based compressor to work its magic on all kinds of sources, including guitars, bass, pads, and especially vocals.  Previously only available to big studios that could afford these all tube units, the CA-2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier lets you wield this legendary sonic weapon in your own studio, on your own tracks. With only a few simple controls, it’s easy to use and provides instant gratification with professional results. It features native x64 operation, zero latency performance, and 64-bit double precision audio fidelity. Get the kind of smooth, warm sound heard on so many classic recordings, at a fraction of the cost and with modern convenience.

Source

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Highlights

  • Meticulously modeled
  • Zero latency for real-time tracking and mixing
  • Up to 40dB of smooth, transparent gain reduction
  • Frequency dependent compression
  • Program dependent attack/release
  • Fully modeled “R37” HF Pre-emphasis control
  • Dual photocell reset modes (Classic & Fast Reset)
  • Use side-chain compression for ducking, pumping, and more
  • Windows:ProChannel, VST2.4, VST3 / OS X: AU, VST3

The control elements
The CA-2A Leveling Amplifier comes a clean gray GUI and a basic set of control elements, and in the center we find a nice looking VU Meter.

  • Limit / Compress: Toggles between compression and limiting (ratio).
  • R37: Lets us adjust the adjusts the gain reduction frequency response.
  • Gain: makeup gain adjustment knob.
  • Peak reduction: Adjusts the threshold and gain reduction
  • VU Meter Mode: Lets us change the different VU meter to display modes.

In use

When testing the CA-2A Leveling Amplifier i ran it as a 64bit VST inside PreSonus Studio One, and the first thing i wanted to do was try to get a feel for its CPU usage.
I have the I5 3570K on my new review system and just a small amount of windows tweaks.

When the buffer size on my interface was set to 128 one instance of the CA-2A Leveling Amplifier used 6% CPU according the the Studio One performance meter, At 512 buffer it showed 5% and at 1024 buffer 3-4%, This shows that the CA-2A Leveling Amplifier uses a bit of recourses to process the audio.

As i start messing around with the CA-2A Leveling Amplifier i realized that there is no presets to be found in either Studio One or Cubase!?

To get a feel of the CA-2A Leveling Amplifier behavior and sound i used it as a buss compression and parallel compressor on a Steven slate drums kit.

Here is the drum kit without any processing.

Here is the same kit with the CA-2A Leveling Amplifier squeezing the drums.

Here is the same kit with the CA-2A Leveling Amplifier in parallel compression.

 

After some Further testing i found the CA-2A Leveling Amplifier to work best on Drums, guitars, bass, and as you saw above i can be used for parallel compression.The sweet spot for the CA-2A Leveling Amplifier is to use it on the master buss, it can really make a difference to the mix if used right.

Conclusion

The CA-2A Leveling Amplifier is a pretty interesting compressor with a very smooth character with that warm tube feeling that i found after some further testing is well suited for Drums, Bass guitars and vocals.

Tweaking the CA-2A Leveling Amplifier is pretty straight forward and you can easily achieve a sweet sound.

The downsides is that there is no presets and its CPU use, but comparing this to some other VST compressors it still is on the lower side of CPU usage.

All in all the CA-2A Leveling Amplifier is a nice sounding compressor that comes with a price tag of €99.00, go try it out and se if it fits your needs.

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