It’s getting harder and harder to find classic outboard gear in excellent condition for an affordable price. As your friendly neighborhood vintage-slinging retailer, Vintage King can always track down anything you need. However, sometimes the best option is to find a reproduction that will get you in the same ballpark for less.

The world of 500 Series has led to an explosion of new gear for the recording studio. These pint-size microphone preamps, compressors, EQs, and more, have made building an all-analog rig extremely achievable, even with the most modest budget. Many manufacturers have even recreated outboard favorites and condensed them to lunchbox size.

In today’s blog, we’ll be breaking down ten historic pieces of gear and talking about 500 Series reproductions that recreate the same mojo. Continue reading to learn more about how manufacturers like Acme Audio, BAE, and Retro Instruments have revived these beloved designs for a new era of engineers.  

Universal Audio 1176 LN Limiting Amplifier

What can you say about the 1176 that no one has said before? In 1968, Bill Putnam turned his tube-based 176 into a FET-powered beast with attack times of 20 microseconds to 800 microseconds and up to 45dB of gain. The simple four-knob design and four-button ratio control (don't forget "All-In" mode) guaranteed this limiter would be a favorite for decades to come. 

500 Series Favorite: IGS Audio 576 Blue Stripe Limiter

IGS Audio makes a few different 500 Series modules inspired by Universal Audio classics, but perhaps none better than the 576 Blue Stripe Limiter. The 576 follows the standard set by the original 1176 Revision A and comes equipped with a Class A output stage, ultra-fast attack times, and a slick ratio control knob featuring the original ratios. The knob also features the all-important SLAM setting, simplifying the “All-In” In trick.

Honorable Mentions: Purple Audio Action, Pete’s Place Audio BAC-500, Serpent Audio Splice SA76 MKII, Wesaudio Mimas 

Universal Audio LA-2A Electro-Optical Classic Compressor

You can’t talk about the 1176 without mentioning the LA-2A. The two compressors are often thought of in tandem as they are both currently produced by Universal Audio. Teletronix owner Jim Lawrence created the LA-2A in the early 1960s, and Bill Putnam eventually bought the company in 1967.  

Lawrence designed the LA-2A to level audio signals for radio broadcasts. The compressor employs the T-4 opto-attenuator, which features a luminescent panel with photo resistors sealed in a metal canister. The result is ultra-smooth compression controlled by just two knobs, Gain and Peak Reduction.

500 Series Favorite: Acme Audio Opticom XLA-500

Acme Audio’s Opticom XLA-500 is a multi-faceted appropriation of the LA-2A design that delivers the feel of several units in one. You see, depending on which unit you have, the compression time can vary. Acme remedies this by offering a selectable switch with three compression settings. At Slow, the Opticom XLA-500 resembles a vintage broadcast limiter. Medium speed offers the closest settings to an original Teletronix LA-2A. Set it to Fast, and you get something akin to the “All-In” mode of the 1176.  

Honorable Mentions: IGS Audio One LA, Retro Instruments Doublewide II, Serpent Audio Chimera, Tegeler Audio Vocal Leveler

Solid State Logic Bus Compressor 

For over four decades, the Solid State Logic Bus Compressor has been doing more gluing than Elmers, Gorilla, and Loctite combined. The classic bus comp debuted in the SSL 4000B console and has remained a staple of the brand’s desks ever since. Recently, SSL unleashed The Bus+, a 19” rackmount version of the Bus Compressor with some new frills, including stepped pots and digital control. But let’s talk 500 Series Bus Comps. 

500 Series Favorite: SSL G-Comp MK2

Leave it to the experts at SSL to create the definitive 500 Series version of the Bus Compressor. The SSL G-Comp MK2 delivers the sound of the original and will help make your mixes more cohesive. This version of the Bus Comp features the basic ratio settings (2:1, 4:1, and 10:1), in addition to three new ratios, including 1.5:1, 3:1, and 5:1. Another new feature is the sidechain High Pass Filter. So now you can take care of bass frequencies and reduce “pumping” if that’s what you desire.    

Honorable Mentions: TK Audio 501, WesAudio _Dione

ADR Compex F760-N

Sometimes all it takes for a piece of gear to become legendary is one song. The ADR Compex F760-N appears on plenty of major records, but the drum sound of Led Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks” secures the compressor its iconic status. It’s a versatile piece that can be somewhat complicated to control, but once you dial in “that” sound, there is nothing quite like it. It can be as heavy and brutal as you need it to be. 

500 Series Favorite: Q2 Audio Compex F765

Under the banner of Q2 Audio, Detroit-based gearhead Tim Mead launched an ADR Compex reissue in the 2010s. Tim's attention to detail was second to none, as he collaborated on the 19” rackmount reproduction with the original manufacturer, Audio & Design. The F765 downsizes the compressor/limiter to lunchbox size while still incorporating the original discrete analog circuit design and FET technology of the F760-N. Slap two of these modules into your rack and you’re ready to go. 

Neve 1073 CV Microphone Preamp/EQ 

Warmth. You see the word thrown around quite a bit these days, but there is nothing that defines the phrase quite like the Neve 1073. The classic microphone preamp designed by Rupert Neve features a thick, mid-forward presence, smooth top end, and gigantic sound. Neve currently makes several versions of the 1073, including the best-selling 1073LB 500 Series module. They’ve added some modern frills, but this is undeniably the same mic pre that has played a significant role in the recording world for 50+ years. 

500 Series Favorite: BAE 1073MPL

You can’t talk Neve reproductions without mentioning BAE. Founded by Brent Averill in the 1980s and currently run by Mark Loughman, the pro audio brand creates every possible variation of the 1073 you can imagine. For 500 Series lovers, the BAE 1073MPL is a killer option for your rack. This design features the same Class A components as the 1073, including the legendary Carnhill St. Ives transformer.  

Honorable Mentions: AML ez1073-500, Golden Age Project Pre573, Heritage Audio 73JR II, Heritage Audio 73EQJRVintech 573

API 312 Microphone Preamp

The world of microphone preamps was indeed evolving 50 years ago. Rupert Neve was designing the 1073 in England, and stateside API founder Saul Walker was busy building the 312. Walker’s design was straightforward with an input transformer, 2520 discrete op-amp, and output transformer, but the results were stunning. 

500 Series Favorite: API 312 500 Series Microphone Preamp 

API makes several 312-inspired 500 Series modules (API 512C and 512V), but for the mic pre’s 50th anniversary, the brand launched an exact reproduction. The new 312 is a fully discrete circuit that utilizes API’s 2520 op-amps and AP2516 input transformers. They’ve also added a vintage-style VU meter which makes monitoring levels more effortless, and we have to say, it just looks pretty damn cool.

Honorable Mentions: AML ez1073-500, Golden Age Project Pre573, Heritage Audio 73JR II, Heritage Audio 73EQJRVintech 573

EMI TG12428 Microphone Preamp

As the 1960s drew to a close, Abbey Road Studios' REDD.37 and REDD.51 were slightly behind the technological times. The studio's staff teamed with Central Research Laboratories to create a new custom console. The TG12345 desk and TG12428 preamp would become legendary after being used on recording sessions for The Beatles' Abbey Road, Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, and countless other classic releases.

500 Series Favorite: Chandler Limited TG2-500 Microphone Preamp

Thanks to an exclusive partnership with Abbey Road and the design prowess of owner Wake Goeke, Chandler Limited has been knocking its EMI reproductions out of the park. The 19" TG2 was a massive hit for the brand and had folks pleading for a 500 Series version. Wade obliged with the TG2-500. This highly accurate preamp features the same components as its bigger brethren, switchable impedance (300 / 1200 Ohm), and control over both Coarse Gain and Fine Gain.

Pultec EQP-1A Program Equalizer 

The story of Pultec, or Pulse Techniques, is the tale of the partnership of Eugene Shenk and Ollie Summerland. The duo started building equalizers by hand in a New Jersey workshop in the early 1950s. Their first hit was the EQP-1, but they wanted to continue to perfect their design. The second version, dubbed the EQP-1A, would allow engineers to boost and cut frequencies at the same time. While many have tried to copy the EQP-1A's sound, none have been able to capture the warmth the original is capable of adding to a track.

500 Series Favorite: Pultec EQP-500X

Something you'll notice about a lot of the gear on this list is that there is usually a highly dedicated individual behind the creation of each design. In the case of the revived Pultec line, that person is Dr. Steven Jackson. After spending a decade researching Pultec and working directly with Eugene Shenk, Jackson reintroduced the brand's EQs in 2015. 

As far as 500 Series modules go, Pultec's offerings are currently limited to solid state designs. That shouldn't be a surprise, as the original units take up three rack spaces. While the tube feel of the original EQ was a large part of its sound, vintage solid state Pultecs are also beloved. The EQP-500X delivers an impressive two-band approximation of the EQP-1A3-SS and EQP-153-SS.

Honorable Mentions: A Designs Audio EM-PEQ, IGS Audio RB 500, Phoenix Audio Gyrator EQ 500, WesAudio Prometheus

Trident 80B Series Equalizer

To stay at the top of the studio game in London, the staff at Trident Studios was constantly evolving its gear selection. In-house engineers Malcolm Toft and Barry Porter delivered a stunning custom console in the early 1970s called the A Range. The duo continued to tinker with their creation, eventually introducing the 80 Series and 80B EQ. 

500 Series Favorite: Trident 80B EQ 

The modern incarnation of Trident is manufacturing fantastic consoles and recreations of their storied outboard gear. Inspired by the EQ of the 80 Series, the 80B EQ offers up power and punch via two bands. The low band offers ±15 dB at 60 or 120 Hz, while the high band offers ±15 dB at 8 kHz or 12 kHz. As a result, it’s the perfect option for any source, from thundering bass to splashy cymbals.

API 550 Equalizer

Let’s end this list with another favorite from Saul Walker. API’s main man gave the world a timeless treasure when he first unleashed the 550A in the late 1960s. When API began manufacturing its consoles in 1971, the 550A became the started EQ module for each desk design. This bright and open-sounding equalizer features a simple three-band design with five selectable frequency centers on each band. 

500 Series Favorite: API 550A

With six decades of inspiration to pull from, API Audio continues to build on its legacy in a highly authentic fashion. The brand brought back the highly coveted 550A module in 2004, and the EQ has been a best-seller ever since. 

Engineers will benefit from the same 15 points in 5 steps of boost (max 12 dB gain at each point) as the original. In addition, with the Proportional Q circuitry, you can widen the filter bandwidth at minimal settings and narrow it at higher settings.

Honorable Mentions: Avedis Audio E27,


With so many amazing recreations of classic gear available, it’s easier than ever to build an affordable rig with analog flavor. And if you need help, Vintage King is at your service. Our vast experience with vintage gear makes us equally adept at conversing about LA-2As and 1176s as their modern 500 Series counterparts.

Brett FlahertyIf you have questions about any of the classic gear mentioned in this blog or their 500 Series counterparts, we're here to help! Please contact a Vintage King Audio Consultant via email or by phone at 866.644.0160.