The Acqua engine – is it the future of digital audio processing?

Posted in ArticlesMasteringMixingProducingRecording

I’ve been using the products from Acustica Audio for several years now. Since the very beginning of the Nebula system and to me, it is the future of digital audio processing inside your DAW.

I love how it sounds (most of the time), their Dynamic Non-Linear convolution engine is just exactly what we were looking for. 

But it’s not the most practical system for sure. The whole: load a program (that is sample rate dependent) inside the Nebula plugin is slow and limited (although it has become much faster lately), and if you want different bands on a EQ (like we do every time) you have to load different instances of Nebula, etc, etc, etc. If you ever used it you know what I mean.
 
But we’re on this business to make things sound good, right? So we do whatever is needed to achieve that.
A few years ago, the guys from AA started developing the Acqua engine, which is basically, one or more Nebula programs running under one simple UI.
In the last year or so, the amount of plugins released that use the Acqua engine has grown A LOT and that is great news.
My plan with this post, is to try to create a list of all developers that are releasing plugins based on the Acqua engine.
Check them out, you won’t be disappointed!

Click on the developer’s name to go to their Acqua plugins page.

Below you’ll find a list of everything that is released (there is more coming, but I don’t have specific details, and I’m not sure if I can talk about the little I know)

  • CD Sound Master and Acustica Audio’s Pultec EQP-1 inspired.
  • Analog In The Box and Acustica Audio’s take on a Germanium Tone Control
  • Analog In The Box version of a W735/1 EQ.
  • Prime Studio* version of their EMI TG 12345 console EQ.
  • Prime Studio* version of their EMI TG 12345 console compressor/limiter.
  • Prime Studio* version of some of the channels in their EMI TG 12345 console.
  • Prime Studio* version of their Neve 8016’s 1064 EQ.
  • Prime Studio* version of their Neve 8016’s 2254 compressor.
  • Prime Studio* version of their Neve 8016’s 1064 hi pass filter.
  • Prime Studio* Hubbard Sqash EQ.
  • Prime Studio* Charly (it’s a freebie. You have to sign up for their mailing list to get it. It’s worth it)
  • CD Sound Master take on Quad Eight’s 444x console. Has EQ and the rest of the electronics. Too bad it has one different instance for each EQ band.
  • CD Sound Master take on tape. Again, a different instance for each tape machine.
  • CD Sound Master take on different Ampex tape machines. One instance per machine.
  • CD Sound Master take on tape saturation.
  • CD Sound Master take on vintage tape.
  • CD Sound Master vintage tube compression for mastering. The VTMC-M2
  • CD Sound Master vintage tube compression for mixing The BRTC-M2
  • CD Sound Master take on Neve’s 1084 EQ. Again, different instances for each band.
  • CD Sound Master take on a Pultec MEQ-5. Different instances for each band.
  • CD Sound Master take on Millenia’s NSEQ-2. Only one band but you can choose Solid State or Tube paths via different instances.
  • CD Sound Master take on TL Audio’s EQP-200B. One band per instance.
  • CD Sound Master take on different classic consoles. Including MCI and Neve and others.
  • CD Sound Master take on the old Blackface 1176.
  • CD Sound Master take on the electronics of the Blackface 1176. Should be used in conjuction with other 1176 emus to add color.
  • CD Sound Master take on VCA compression.
  • CD Sound Master take on Tube bus compression.
  • CD Sound Master take on Vintage tube tone
  • CD Sound Master take on Vintage tube saturation
  • Acustica Audio Orange EQ. Based on the GUI alone, I would say it’s based on Orban’s 672 EQ
  • Acustica Audio Magenta EQ. Since it’s a tube EQ, and looking at the controls and GUI, I would say it’s inspired by the Massive Passive.
  • Acustica Audio Titanium multi-band compressor.
  • Acustica Audio Green EQ. Sontec-ish?
  • Acustica Audio Amber EQ. Brewed from an AD2055? Never heard the AD2055 or Amber (yet) but I would love the 747’s graphic EQ sampled with it’s tube input some day.
  • Acustica Audio Murano mastering compressor. Shadow Hills?
  • Acustica Audio Ultramarine M/S compressor. Fairchild please!
  • Acustica Audio Honey channel strip. Based on Harrison’s consoles channel strip. EQ and pre-amp! Sounds GREAT!
  • Acustica Audio Ivory Mastering EQ. Maselec?
  • Acustica Audio White Mastering EQ. It’s based on WSM PEQ-2.0, which is a solid state Pultec style EQ.
  • Acustica Audio Scarlet Mastering EQ.
  • Acustica Audio Navy channel strip. Based on Neve’s 1073 and 1081. Were you have more bands than a 73 and can choose pre amp saturation from either of those models.
  • Acustica Audio Versatile EQ.
  • Acustica Audio Amethyst channel strip. Based on Amek’s 2500 consoles. So, 9098 EQs.
  • Acustica Audio Emerald EQ.
  • Acustica Audio Ochre EQ. Freebie! Sounds great!
  • Acustica Audio Red EQ. Based on TFPro P3 I guess… well, it’s free, go get it.
  • Acustica Audio Stratipad
  • Acustica Audio Acqua Vox