Lime - The Sweetest Citrus
LIME, refreshing and surprisingly (for this type of fruit) sweet channel strip is in fact a continuation of the design ideas previously launched in SAND, in which we get very wisely developed virtual hybrid created from several hardware devices, which has been very cleverly closed in an extremely complex plugin.
A plugin, which takes us straight to the musical heaven, where, as you will see in a moment, even acidic nature fruit tastes sweet...
Over the years the Italians have become synonymous with premium and high end products.
We all know the Italian cars, perfumes, clothes or dishes. Whatever the branch destination, their superior quality remains. It is no different in the case of Acustica Audio, which from the very beginning of its activity seem to successfully fight their way to the top. At this point it should be noted that the AA team do not follow according to established routines.
Thanks to the technology created and developed by themselves, the ingenuity and enormous diligence,
they managed to not only find a place, but also strengthen its position in a fairly airtight world of VST developers,
filling the gap between conventional algo plugins and the physical analog equipment creating as many consider the best possible hybrid combining both - the analog and digital environments.
About Acustica Audio I have written much more than once so I realize that some of you may accuse me too much promotion of this brand, but looking at the matter purely objectively... just tell me why did not write about them again? Especially since their last product proved that this company really deserve it. Beside of that, one of the main goals of this portal is to help you to find and indentify the best possible solutions that allow you to perform a complete mix only in a digital domain. In this category the plugins of Acustica Audio are really hard to beat and replace.
For a long time and with great interest I am looking at the AA activities and I can safely say that their latest plugins are not only unique, but in the best way "other" than all of the rest of plugins currently available on the market. They are not only intrigued and act on imagination, but most importantly they do everything that their creators promises to us...
THE HEART OF LIME
The heart of LIME (and all of the AQUA series plugins) is a very rich and complex technology named "Vectorial Volterra Kernels", as well as the sampling system called "N.A.T" (the same approach was used in NEBULA), through which it is possible to "sample and emulate the behaviour of an audio processor, by reproducing its harmonic response, harmonic distortion and dynamic response ". This science give us a truly astonishing, very dynamic and rich analog sound, impossible to achieve in any other way.
LIME is equipped with the latest ninth generation engine (Core 9) which allows for further optimization and according to its creators it is one of the best tools available today for those who decide to exercise their mixes in the digital environment. Is that true? In the course of this text I will try to answer this question...
In the moment at which this review is complete the full LIME channel strip is not yet available.
The whole thing however has to appear very soon, In case the plugin is available in pre-sales promotional offer (for details go to: www.acusticaaudio.com). Acustica Audio promises that after upgrading to a oficial, full regular channel strip we will have the opportunity to free routing of signal (14 settings). At this moment, after the purchase you get nice set of plugins temporary called CRAZY 88 consists of several modules which appears up later in full channel strip.
So, I'm looking forward to try routing options and silently count on something more, meanwhile...
The CRAZY 88 includes several preamps, two sections of filters, two parametric channel equalizers, and a powerful set of five compressors and limiters with the possibility of external sidechain.
Separate modules is a clear nod to all those who want to save some power of the computers while maintaining high quality sound with what Acustica Audio is known.
For the first time in history we have a choice of interface with which we want to work. Generic, three-dimensional look really amazing. Very realistic and convincing. Second, more flat two-dimensional version will probably do a small saving in resources of our computers. To change the interface, unfortunately you have to do a little mix in the main installation directory, but this is not especially difficult operation (all details can be found in the accompanying user manual). Personally, I did not feel the need to change anything. While working successfully using the default interface, available after the first install of the software...
LIME CRAZY 88 (just like SAND) were divided into three sections: PRE, EQ and BUS.
Each section is the software equivalent of the widely acclaimed and desired hardware, whose original names for legal reasons has been changed. All those, who are interested in studio equipment after the first contact with the interface of LIME should however not have any problems with deduce what hardware we get this time ( in the nickname CRAZY 88 there is a quite clear hint as to the equipment that has been sampled).
Yes, you guessed right! All elements of LIME revolve around famous and renowned British equipment, and more specifically about the recent more modern construction of this company...
Along with LIME, Acustica Audio gives us the opportunity to work on two world class high end consoles. The first one is commonly appreciated V Legend, used in the production of many famous albums (including the latest Adele album).
The second one is the current flagship model of this company, the one and only 88 series desk commonly called the Modern Flagship Console. This widely acclaimed elite studio desk has set the new standards in the field of audio engineering, gaining over the years as one of the best in the world. A synonym for elegance and class, irreplaceable not only in classical music and film scores... Thanks to its full, clear sound and truly amazing built in compressors, this remarkable console remains the first choice for many of the best engineers in the industry. 88 can be found only in the best studios in the world. If the ideal sound for you is the latest work of Radiohead, do not hesitate any longer and reach for LIME.
As it is a plugin, the fundamental importance is how the sound of this software carnations equivalents with these real huge analog machines?. Here there could be no mistake! I sincerely urge you to convinced about this by yourself, but for all impatient I can promise that you will get creme de la creme of the modern British sound.
Acustica Audio this time went for itself. LIME has the best features of a modern N sound in a nutshell.
Those of you who follow my articles know, that if I like something I'm not sparing with words, but this time to write too many, simply there's no need... at the first launch of LIME we just move in front of the face of the huge analog console...
Well, if I had to be extremely picky, and at this stage necessarily have to indicate a weak point...
I will probably put on absenteeism of valued by many silky white module, which is also very representative for the whole modern kind of British sound, and according to some, it represents the culmination of technological artistry of famous Mr. Rupert. These module would fit perfectly to the concept of LIME and really hard to believe that it is missing in the ranks of this plugin. His silkynes would be the perfect complement to the two existing consoles.
The great absent? Well, you can not have everything, but... (and here I put a smile to product managers of AA) to consider the update in the future could be a knock-step competition. Pierce the set really would not be easy...
However, we are coming back to LIME and to his actual content...
THE PREAMP SECTION
After installing of PRE we receive the access to more than enough collection of preamps based on a few universally valued hardware individuals. Preamps (along with equalizers and tapes emulations) almost always been the forte of AA and they accounted for the strength of its products. Together with LIME we get exactly what we should get.
These preamps are quite subtle and transparent, but you can not deny them the character.
They correspond to what we find in the physical desks. All available collection of preamps perfectly reflect the harmonic content of their physical archetypes. Phase circuits correlations and their frequency response to the input signal make tracks full of character. Everything become warmer, more vivid. The nuances and articulation are enhanced as well.
LIME PRE is a carefully selected tools with which the input signal already give it the proper character and color.
If you depend on a subtle analog vibe that always accompanies paths permeate the real console, try out this preamps, their behavior is always a plus...
PREAMP A gives us a subtle signal path tone of a V Legend series console.
PREAMP B is inspired by the flagship 88 desk.
PREAMP F is a nod to the classic sound of the 70s. Sound, which neither present nor to describe the broader of you probably do not need. However, if there is someone to whom the name of the British 73 says little or someone who does not know yet how is racial N73, to encourage reached the preamp. AA do something really special by giving us the opportunity to take advantage of the stereo version of N73, which is particularly well suited to on groups or the master bus of our mix.
The mysterious key codenamed SLATE is a kind of marriage of precisely sampled modern stereo preamp and a bandpass filter giving us a result of the talkback signal flow. It is worth noting that the PRE section allows us to obtain additional color to our chosen path and thus also for the further experiments with additional more saturation sound.
If our intention is to get stronger saturation processed track, we can use multiple instances of the preamp or even mix the signals of several different units of PRE. The tone that you will get in this way can be very much positively surprise to anyone, who have not used before any of the preamps based on "Vectorial Volterra Kernels Technology", after a few moments you will wonder how you could do anything without them in the past.
Acustica Audio has given us everything what's the best. Orthodox purists of vintage sound get a rare stereo version of the classic preamp. Fans of the more modern British sound got the two more present British consoles preamps.
Do I need to say more?
Let me now turn to the section, which for many is the heart of every channel strip...
Here things start to look really interesting (that does not mean that it will be easy to describe)
At the beginning the interface... so that, what in the past bothered the more fastidious users of Acustica Audio.
Yeah, "in the past" - because the interface of LIME looks really beautiful (see the pics above). The GUI is not only slim.
This time also behaves as it should. Potentiometers rotate flawlessly. Nothing jams. The animation is smooth and the image fits perfectly the sound reality. The only element that I think could be improved is to put additional markings to the frequencies within potentiometers. Along with that we could use a more precise frequency selection.
Latency is slightly perceptible however, being aware of the technology that exists "under the hood" of this plugin is really well optimized.
Finally the sound... As you know this is a very subjective matter. Everyone has different preferences and likes different things, anyway... Both equalizers not colorize the signal as tight as they are in the habit of older constructions such as N73 or N81. However, in any case this is not a complaint. Channel equalizers in both A and B mode is beautiful different, but still very characteristic. From the beginning, we have no doubt that this is "that kind of" desire British sound.
Except that more modern and more transparent, but in no case no less refined and no less useful.
They are full of upgrades and aspects, which was not available in older vintage British eqalizers.
To make things short... It's greasy, it is analog, it's warm, it's harmonically. Everything is as it should be.
Both eq are truly analog, very musical equalizers which sound like taken out of the console.
Sound simply breathing. Everything is correct. You need just a moment to sincerely love their sound. In the end, it is a modern British sound. LIME channel eqalizers falls perfectly in almost any genre of music.
Exceptionally well suited for classical music, film scoring, and also in the wider pop, soul, rock music and what's noteworthy in electronic music. It is a strip, which bring out to live almost every track created by using all kinds of artificial VST instruments and electronical samples. LIME (like the rest of the plugins from the AA) can be very addictive.
The technology behind this plugins makes all the competitive, conventional algorithms based plugins sound flat,
dry and almost always just worse. keep that in mind when you register on the website of Acustica Audio for the first time. In any case, Do not say I did not warn you...
For those who know and appreciate the modern British sound, LIME is undeniably one of the best (if not the best) option on the market. In the eq section I found not virtually any weak link. So, let me move on to the last section, which is...
For me personally the biggest surprise of LIME. First of, I must admit that the compression section was not something I particularly hoped. Of course I hope it will be correctly. Ok, I was counting on more. I was hoping it would be good, however the thing that we all expect from Acustica Audio above all is excellent equalizers and very good preamps.
Meanwhile, after testing the whole package of LIME I came to the conclusion that the section of compressors suddenly is a very bright spot of this release.
The appearance of the effective compression must undoubtedly enjoy all enthusiasts of AA products.
It's nice to see how each successive compressor offered by the Italians reaches a higher level of realism.
What a few years ago seemed to be the biggest weakness of the technology based on "Vectorial Volterra Kernels", of the appearance of the eighth generation of the engine becomes the past.
Of course, especially on weaker machines you can complain about the extremely fast attack and release, but if your computer has enough power to feed the compression of LIME, you will be really surprised.
These compressors are really very, very good and can otherwise... it just finally are compressors!
Responsible for this is the brand new technology named "ULTRAMATCH", and "It is a new technique for minimizing the errors: in practice, through the use of a dedicated NEBULA instance it’s able to examine and simulate the time variables of the original curve, ensuring a high precision level. In comparison, the previous technique just used to decompress the signal by calculating the envelope followers of the attack and release shapes".
For comparison, a technique used in previous engines served only to decompress the signal by measuring the signal and shape parameters of attack and release. Compressors included in LIME on paper promised to be very impressive...
After the tests I can safely say that they shall designate a new standard in the field of modeling of hardware dynamics processors. Acustica Audio never ceases to amaze so. Modern design, great sound values, and freedom of use. Unquestionably, this is one of the few items on the market that not only sound, but also behaves as it should the compressor do. Compressors in LIME have not only character, They also have this missing, mystic "factor x" that the hardware dynamic processors always add to the signal. This allows us to not only hear but also feel how the compressor behave. All those who can not afford the real hardware, can finally feel how it is like to have a hardware compressor.
I would add that in LIME we got a collection of five compressors! Acustica Audio ensures that the compressor section of LIME is a technological masterpiece, well... After the test I came to the conclusion that something is unquestionably on things...
Engineers at AA are extremely proud of the compressor marked with the letter C, which is a faithful, detailed reproduction of highly prized and rare buss compressor. The immortal British diode bridge 54 compressor/limiter (and I do not mean here the date of its creation), which, according to the AA team is worth the price of the whole LIME bundle and you know what? This compressor is so tasty! Truly a must have for everyone.
Perhaps in a few years we will see the moment in which unfounded able to use heavy and expensive to maintain analog blocks, who knows? Time will tell...
LIME is a set of well-designed, well thought-plugins characterized by great sound and a perfect representation of the character and behavior of classic analog hardware. Of course, it may not be the fastest and most smoothly running plugins available on the market. That's true. not on any computer we can reach their maximum capabilities, but it is how they sound, how wisely they are designed and what a powerful tool they are...
For Acustica Audio it could be a real milestone. Associating with LIME each time I have the impression that has been exceeded yet another turning point in the field of analog modeling.
P.s: Finally a bit of privatization, which in spite of everything, however, still is part of the review...
Well, I have to admit that so far this is probably the fastest purchased plugin in my collection.
This probably will be the best conclusion. After all, it is not easy to write something about what just no way to constructively find fault.
So I'm waiting for the channel strip, and a fairly long promised fourth version of Nebula, which seems to be closer and closer...
Upcoming year may belong to Acustica Audio...
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