So, I picked up these compressors recently. I had been really hesitant to actually get them as I usually don't buy into hype from people and internet, all of these know-it-alls saying "oh it is the best" or "it doesn't sound like the original at all." The point is, I was looking for good compressor plugins. If they happened to sound like the real thing, great. If not, then whatever. Are they usable to me? Do they move me? Do they help me mix? Do they make my job easier?
In a word, yes.
The truth put simply is that they are great plugins that are low latency, low CPU, sound amazing, cover so much ground, and they're simple. Sounds great, right? Well that's the point! You don't want to get too lost in turning knobs forever to get a sound. You want standard controls. Attack. Release. Ratio. Sometimes even simpler---the LA2 and LA3 have input and output with fixed attack/release/ratio just like the originals. They are versatile plugins and I find them to be quite enjoyable to mix with. I am always looking for solutions that make mixes more exciting and enticing. One of the least enjoyable parts of mixing ITB is staring a screen for 12 hours and tweaking with numbers and "knobs." Aside from looking great, these plugins work simply and effectively.
I've had the pleasure of working with real Urei 1176s and LA3s. Never an LA2 oddly enough, and never a blue stripe 1176. Regardless, my main goal as I said was to get plugins that I liked that worked for me. These plugins are very usable, very user friendly, and to my ear, sound very close to the hardware, the LA3 especially. They all sound really great. For me, I use them on the following:
1176 Black - Drums of ALL kinds, acoustic and elec Guitars, Bass, Piano, sometimes vocals
1176 Blue - Any time I want the Sources in the BLACK 1176 category to sound a bit warmer.
LA2 - Vox, Clean Guitars, Leads, Synths, Strings, sometimes Kick Drum
LA3 - Acoustic guitars (definitely), elec Guitars, some Vocals, some Basses, Toms
Notice anything? They can be used on almost the entire mix. These plugins cover a LOT of territory and can help you get your mix going quickly. They work great, they sound great, and in the long run, are DIRT CHEAP! $400 for these? You've got to be joking. A local studio where I work sometimes has an original LA3 that would go for $2000 on Ebay, and we have considered selling it because the plugin sounds just as good. Really.
I'm a picky guy, and I'm not endorsed by Waves to say any of this. I don't care "how close" it sounds to the original, and I don't care "how close" it compare to the UAD version or the blah blah blah version. The point is, they work for me in all the ways I want them to, and that's awesome! You should really invest in them if you want some improvement in your mixes. Kudos Waves.