Anthony DeMaria Labs Opus-3 Limiter
Anthony DeMaria is no stranger to the world of audio hardware design having originally made his name by repairing, and modifying Vintage Fairchild compressors and original Teletronix limiters. He later released what has become a very popular mono studio compressor, the ADL1000, as well as a stereo version called the ADL1500.
These are Opto based compressors, similar to the classic LA2A, and both designs found homes in high end studio racks worldwide, many years before Universal Audio re-issued their LA2A. Both units are still in production and available alongside the new excellent Liquid-Mu ADL1700, which is a nod towards the vintage UA 175-B and UA 177.
as well as Anthony's version of the classic Fairchild, the ADL 670...a beast!
Opus-3 - the new LA3A?
As Universal Audio have now discontinued their LA3A re-issue what's the choice if you want that sound in hardware?
Layout is very simple, and clear with Gain and Peak reduction dials, and then switches for changing compressor or limiter mode, Stereo or Mono (should you have two) with stereo linking by a jack cable on the rear, and the usual Gain Reduction meter or Output Meter switch.
A really nice touch is the addition of a PAD switch, which attenuates the input XLR by 14db to prevent clipping, which is handy for +4 sources or other gear that you may not want to drive through the input transformer so much.
The original LA3A was designed upon the LA2A opto compressor but without the valves. The Opus-3 is in the same guise, based upon their own ADL1000 opto compressor but solid state rather than valve based. It makes sense that Anthony made a "LA3A" type design, having already created a solid fanbase with his other units, and by creating the Opus-3 now 'completes the set'.
How does it sound?
Well just like an LA3A!
I also compared it to various plug-in versions I have, namely Waves CLA-3 and UAD-2 LA3A and I felt the ADL hardware had more weight than both of them, no matter what was thrown at it. As well as having more weight, it did the subtle thing very nicely either on it's own or paired with my ADL1000. I only had a single unit to demo but a pair would work wonders on layered guitar subs, and backing vocals.
One little trick I've always done is to run an LA3A into a LA2A, both in limiter mode with 2-3db of gain reduction, and the sound the two units create is unique on guitars and vocals. The same could be said for the Opus-3 into the ADL1000, the same character and control is there, it worked very well.
ADL Opus-3 Audio examples on Drums and Acoustic Guitar :
Those familiar with the LA3A really won't be disappointed with the Opus-3, it can work wonders when a Valve type compressor/limiter is not suitable - in either tracking or mix down stages.
Build quality is very good, controls feel smooth and the layout is simple and clear. Anthony DeMaria's Opus-3 is based upon a tried and tested classic design, and one that should be seriously listened to.