Summit Audio TLA-50: This is a line-level half-rack tube comp, from a company known for high-end studio processors. The price tag is quite high, and the build quality really shows it: the chassis, controls, and components are all top-grade and built in a very refined and solid way.
The tone is clear and articulate, with no rolloff of highs or lows, and the lows are nice and full-sounding. The compression has very useful controls- just enough to dial in the right setting, without being confusing or tricky.
Here's the thing: it is noisier than I expected for a piece at this price point. I tried using a few different preamps (including Summit's own TD-100) and various gain settings, with no real improvement. The noise isn't outrageous, but honestly the cheapo ART Levelar has lower noise. Also, while the tone and action are quite nice, there is nowhere near the "fatness" or character one might hope for from a fancy tube device. Instead it is smooth, level, and a bit boring. So it does work great, and is built to a very high standard of quality, but honestly I can get more exciting tone or lower noise from devices costing far, far less.
Footnote: this is an old review, I do intend to buy another TLA-50 and update the review with a more thorough and proper evaluation at some point.
Price in USD: $680 new, $350-$500 used
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