Desert is the first release in the Acustica Audio Boutique Collection series. It’s a suite of four plug-ins capturing a very rare recording and mixing desk, alongside other vintage equipment from the early 1960s. The units were sourced from a recording studio in Lagos, Nigeria, owned by a big British record label. The desk was subjected to a very careful and involved restoration process. This involved sourcing long out-of-production components from hobbyists and collectors. Ultimately, of course, it’s the sound that really matters. While your curiosity is understandable, whether the equipment vibes with you is completely personal.
Acustica Audio Desert
According to Acustica Audio, the harmonic content generated by the desk’s germanium diode-based input and output stages is ‘astonishing’. The developer stands by its words, introducing the possibility to mix and match input and output amplifiers for each of the console’s 8 channels, alongside a Drive control. If you dig germanium circuit distortion, you will be pleased with Desert. The suite contains the following plug-ins:
This includes two switchable passive EQs plus eight different preamp emulations. EQ Model A is a two-band (Bass & Treble) passive equalizer with a low-shelf filter which significantly increases (or decreases) the amplitude around 50 Hz, while the High-shelf filter does the same around 20 KHz. EQ Model B is another two-band (Bass & Treble) passive equalizer with different frequency choices and a filter section. While the original unit is stereo, the emulation is dual-mono.
This is an Opto compressor/limiter unit within the console. Its main purpose was to ensure the dynamics excess would not pierce the matrix while cutting vinyl records. Acustica has kept its spirit and introduced some improvements for a total of 3 different emulations (modes):
– COMP1: A faithful ‘digital’ copy of the original compressor.
– COMP2: An improved version with additional attack-release times and ratios not present in the original unit.
– LIMITER: A faithful ‘digital’ copy of the original limiter.
The Desert Pre plugin includes 8 Line-in and 8 Line-out preamp emulations which can be used to obtain various ‘colours’ depending on how hard you drive the preamps. The plug-in benefits from a Drive control which increases the harmonic distortion of the output preamps for extra saturation. All channels exhibit a slightly different response which lets you simulate an authentic analog desk experience in your DAW.
DESERT CHANNEL STRIP
Channel strip plug-in containing two switchable Passive Equalizers, an Opto Compressor/limiter with 3 different switchable modes, and a complete preamp section with Drive control.
Price and availability
Until November 9, 2021, you can get Acustica Audio Desert at an introductory price of EUR 103, down from EUR 159. The plug-ins work under macOS 10.14 or later and Windows 10 or later in VST, AU and AAX formats. You can also download a demo version and a PDF user manual from the product page. The developer’s Aquarius software handles installation and licensing.