Review: Black Rooster Audio VLA-3A

Compression is a core part of any mixer's toolbox but sometimes you need to go that extra mile. Sara Simms checks out the Black Rooster Audio VLA-3A.  

After reviewing Black Rooster's VLA-2A I was curious to try their latest compressor, the Vintage Levelling Amplifier VLA-3A. Their latest offering is an emulation of a classic compressor from the 70s. With so many other vintage compressors on the market, would the VLA-3A be able to offer circuit emulation that would be good enough to compete against the rest? I tried it out in several of my sessions to put it to the test.


The VLA-3A can be easily downloaded from the Black Rooster Audio website and installed within minutes. It has a sleek black modern looking GUI that instantly appealed to me. The controls on the compressor are simple and straightforward, with an on/off switch on the left hand side, a large Gain knob, Peak Reduction knob, limit/compressor switch and an in/out/gain reduction switch on the right hand side. Its layout is slick and straightforward and the Black Rooster Audio logo in the middle is a nice touch. The Gain and Peak Reduction knobs are eye catching and make this compressor fun to use. The font used for the design looks modern and compliments the compressor's appearance. The layout looks great and makes this compressor a pleasure to use during studio sessions. 

In the Studio

I tested out the VLA-3A on bass, vocals and percussive lines and found that the compressor sounds smooth and thick. On bass, the VLA-3A was able to thicken up the tones without overly colouring the sound. When used on vocals, the mid-range sounded present and clear and the compressor helped to smooth out vocal lines. On percussion and drum lines, the VLA-3A added character and substance to the sound.


The VLA-3A has been carefully modelled after the LA-3A and authentically captures the sound of the analog unit. All of the sounds of the original compressor have been carefully recreated and modelled using authentic circuit emulation. Its design ensures the best performance when carrying out computations and the oversampling rate is auto adjusted to the session's sample rate to save CPU while offering transparent sound. There's also HighDPI / Retina support; the user interfaces supports high pixel density on both Windows and Mac OS systems to give users a good experience on high DPI displays.


The VLA-3A is a functional and easy to use compressor. It performs quickly and includes everything that producers and engineers would want in a compressor. It's an affordable, cost effective compressor with sound quality that's comparable to higher priced plugins. A great tool for studios on a budget, as the VLA-3A is priced at an affordable $79.00. There's also a two week trial that can be downloaded from the Black Rooster Audio site, which is a good option for those who want to try out the plugin without any commitment.  

Wrap Up

Overall I was very impressed with the quality of this compresssor. The VLA-3A is another solid offering from Black Rooster Audio. It offers authentic circuit emulation and adds character to audio tracks. Its minimal design makes it easy to use in sessions and its parameter controls allow engineers to quickly achieve the results they want to hear. I would recommend this compressor to anyone who's looking for a good quality, affordably priced compressor to use in their DAW. The VLA-3A offers great sound and minimal design at price that's hard to beat. It's definitely worth trying out in your next session! 

Price: $79.00 USD

Pros: Sleek look. Sounds smooth and thick. Affordably priced. Two week trial version is available.

Cons: No real disadvantage to this compressor; it does everything engineers would want for a fraction of the price of its competitors.


Sara Simms captivates the world as an innovative musician, DJ, turntablist and electronic music producer. She's a multi-instrumentalist who's known for her love of music technology. Sara makes her mark in the music community by crafting diverse sets with styles ranging from pulsating techno to house. She balances technical skills wi... Read More


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