Acustica Audio / Acqua Freebies - Sampled/Convolution-Based Hardware Emulations

Below are a few freebies from Acustica Audio. (And Prime Studio who uses their technology)

(Tube-Tech SMC 2B Summing Amp.)

(Manley Labs Vox-Box Tube Preamp)
EDIT: So it appears this isn’t available from Acustica anymore… That said if enough people are interested I can zip up the Audio Unit since it doesn’t require authorization. (Don’t have the windows version unfortunately.)

Tan Compressor
(IGS Audio Multistage Multiband Compressor. (Single band, full bandwidth. Original unit is 3 bands.)

Red EQ
(Joemeek Meekqualizer VC5. Mid band fixed around 1k.)

(Acustica Audio DIY equalizer based on Scientific Audio Electronics (SAE) 2800 equalizer.

There’s also a free version of their API EQ and Pre (Pink) by Computer Music Magazine. ““PinkCM””… Computer Music’s a hassle, you get a bunch of garbgey freeware, but there’s a few gems like this, the Lindell Preamp and a solid oscilloscope by Vengeance…

… Inexpensive Acustica Audio / Acqua Plugins …

Prime Studio Curve EQ
(Chandler Curve Bender ((Most Likely)). Fixed Low band, Variable Presence. ((Eco Disables saturation for reduced CPU.)

Prime Studio Caribou Filter
(Neve 1073 Preamp and filters. ((Low Cut at 45 adds some nice fatness, Saturation adds top end.))

Blue EQ
(Chandler Germanium Tone Control)

Amethyst Channel Strip (plus individual modules)
(Amek M2500 console equalizer + Amek 9098 compressor. ((Neve Designed))

…Acustica Audios Unique, Convolution-Based Emulation Technology…

Acquas Are just skinned versions of the same technology in Neubla.

"Nebula (and “Acqua”) uses a ‘brute force’ approach to emulation, so takes a lot of CPU power to run. It samples hardware rather than attempting to emulate it using algorithms. The technology used is called Vectorial Volterra Kernels, current types of hardware that can be sampled, with varying degrees of accuracy, include:


The most similar technology you may have experienced is convolution reverb. Programs like Altiverb work by sampling a snapshot of a real acoustic space, they use an impulse sound like a popping balloon. This impulse response is then loaded into your player software and you can use it to emulate the room you sampled.

Nebula (and Acqua) is not limited to reverbs, and it is far more advanced. Instead it takes multiple snapshots using its own test tones from its sampling software N.A.T.

The major technical advance in Nebula is that it takes many snapshots at different volumes, and can also sample and re-create distortion. This creates a dynamic model of the hardware including its distortion characteristics. The results are the closest software emulation of the original hardware available on the market today."


"Before we get to what is great about Nebula, lets talk about a few things that might put you off.

Other than the plug-in itself, Acustica Audio the company creates some controversy in the way it operates.
On initial use of the software and browsing their web forum, it would appear that the entire experience is designed to be confusing, annoying and counter productive. Its more like dealing with a group of cool underground hackers than a business. Developers are friendly and dedicated, but their focus is on the software, not on customer service.

There is no official documentation for half the features, no automatic email notifications of updates, it just seems a gigantic mess. It has been like this for years, and judging from the developers replies to forum posts, there seems no desire to change. (This is definitely true… The site and authorization is confusing enough to drive you nuts.)

On the plus side to the lack of official information, there is a very active, helpful and enthusiastic membership of the forum that are always keen to help you out.

High CPU use. This is due to the technology used, so it won’t be going down until you get a new computer.
The GUI is outdated and cumbersome.
At this point in its development, it can only emulate subtle saturation, so full on distortion effects are not yet possible.
Compression emulation is in its infancy, not recommended for now. (<-- This is no longer true. The last 3 years Acustica have gone to serious lengths to improve dynamics. Even psychos from gearslutz agree that they finally got dynamics right…)

I’ll be posting more below, including a list of sampled hardware…


Acustica Emulation Hardware List:
(Brought to you by a bunch of psychos over at Gearslutz…)

Amethyst - Amek M2500 console equalizer + Amek 9098 compressor. Rupert Neve designed gear. 9098 has a 33609 flavor.

Amber - Avalon AD2055 equalizer

Aquamarine - Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor (formerly the Murano)

Blue - Chandler Germanium Tone Control

Coral - A hybrid mastering strip featuring an elliptical filter, transparent equalizer and a soft clipping compressor inspired by SPL Iron Compressor and PQ

Green - George Massenburg Labs Model 8200 equalizer

Emerald - Custom built hardware, loosely inspired by the Klein & Hummel UE 1000 equalizer. The curves practically have the same unique slope as the UE-1000, but the center frequencies are different and the active part of the circuit is more modern/cleaner

Ivory IAE-2 - Maselec MEA-2 equalizer

Honey - 1970s era Harrison 32C equalizer + Harrison console preamp

Lime - A combination of modern AMS Neve gear. A = VR B = 88RS. C/D = 8051 5.1 Surround Compressor/Limiter E = FJ V Series Channel Strip

Magenta - Manley Labs Massive Passive equalizer

Navy - Neve console line input/1081 EQ circuit. Neve 1081 equalizer and unknown (probably Neve 80 series) console line outputs.

Ochre - Acustica Audio homebrew equalizer, inspired by the Scientific Audio Electronics (SAE) 2800 equalizer.

Orange - Orban 672A

Pearl - Siemens ELA 75-15 Universal Equalizer. Limited edition, only 100 Pearl software copies were sold so it’s no longer for sale. Less than 20 physical hardware units were sold. The closest plugin to this that is still for sale is the Emerald, as this was Siemens’ response to the UE100/UE1000 mastering equalizers. (Plugin discontinued?)

Pink - API 512c preamp. modified API 550A/550B equalizers with API 2500 compressor (no Thrust [pink female gender button] variables)

Pink2412 - API 2500 compressor with modifications

Purple P-1 - Pultec EQP-1A

Purple M-5 - Pultec MEQ-5

Red - Joemeek VC5 Meequalizer

Sand - Solid State Logic 4000 (Ea, black knob)/5000 (Eb, brown knob) equalizer + SSL G-Master Buss compressors (2 flavors)

Scarlet MHE-400 - DIY Sontec 432 inspired (close to the original, even cleaner sounding)

Tan - IGS Audio Multicore Compressor (one band)

Titanium - Tube-Tech SMC 2B Multiband Compressor

Ultramarine - Fairchild 670

White - White Sound Mastering WSM PEQ-2.0 (solid state equalizer inspired by the Pultec EQP-1A)

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FYI Acustica officially accepted my enrollment letter… I won’t say it was a breeze. For whatever reason I kept getting a reply asking me to re-submit documentation after already submitting… (The short answer is for whatever reason the site wasn’t attaching the PDF file and sent them pngs…) That said, once I emailed support they sorted everything out quickly and the sound made it worth the hassle…

I bought the following plugins:

Diamond - Color EQ
Scarlett3 MHE-400
N4 (aka Nebula 4)

if anyone’s curious post up with questions or anything else…

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A little run through by Luca and his assistant on Diamond… Interesting analysis section where you can see the dual bell boost that the mid band adds… Very cool plugin that’s found it’s way into almost anything I work on lately…

3:00 onward…

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Analysis results coming this weekend…

Sneak preview:

Raw 100 Hz Test tone for reference (144dB Dynamic range)

UAD SSL Channel, 0VU, 6dB drive

Slate VMR 4K Console only, 6dB Drive. (Note the noise)

Slate VMR 4K Console + VCC 4K Mixbuss, 6dB Drive.

Acustica N4 (Nebula), SSL “State of Logic II” (SSL Line Drive), 6dB. (Note the Low End Bump and dense harmonics).

Acustica N4 (Nebula), SSL “State of Logic II” 6dB drive + "4KG to Heaven (Mixbuss). (Note the bigger Low End Bump and denser harmonics).

TEMPORAL BEHAVIOR - (Spectrogram):

Slate VMR 4 second Spectrogram. (Note the noise)

Acustica N4 (Nebula) 4 second Spectrogram. (Note the fractal-like harmonic behavior over time. Not static.)


UAD 4K (E-Channel), 20 second Sweep. (Clean. No harmonics reflected back into the audible range.)

Slate VMR, 20 second Sweep. (Note the harmonics being reflected back down into the audible range).

Acustica N4 (Nebula) "State of Logic II, 20 second Sweep. (Low saturation tails off around 500. No Harmonics reflected back into the audible range.)


Thanks for the info @justinc, very interesting and helpful. Think you and Paul are stars for sharing stuff like this! :slight_smile: Cheers!

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I really need to check these plugins out, thanks for analysis @justinc

Acustica keeps coming up on my radar. Especially in the past month or so. I have yet to demo one but the sentiment I’ve been picking up on is that they are a competitor to UAD in terms of analog feel. I’m very curious to hear what people here think about that? UAD still dominant king or is Acustica catching up? any thoughts? @Paul @justinc @thesheep @Danny

Hi @SmoothSailing,
Hope you’re well. I’ve not tried this thing yet, but I’m going to give it a test drive and get back to you. I believe @justinc uses Acustica a lot and I’m sure he swears by them. I’ve used a couple of the free ones/demos and I can confirm they sound great. The only thing I found is some are very CPU hungry. I don’t think this Blue EQ is though.
I think Justin will be able to advise you better than I can, but do give some of the demos a go, I think you’ll find them as good as UAD (UAD fanboys may disagree lol). Cheers Sean.

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Hey man thanks for the quick reply! See I’m a UAD fanboy as well ahhaha thats why I’m so interested in whether acustica brings a comparable quality because I’m 6 months into Octo Satellite life and I can’t trade off quality. I"ve heard the Acustica plugs can be super CPU hungry, which also makes me think even more that they must sounds good. If we didnt have UAD chips, I’m sure UAD plugs would be just as hungry. I see a company like Acustica being a good thing either way because even if they arent as good but close, that will keep the pressure on UAD to not get complacent.