Acustica Audio creates faithful software emulations of rare vintage or modern hardware gear, and new hybrids impossible in the analogue domain. Acustica's development approach is unique for the market and it is based on dynamic sampling and a proprietary non-linear Vectorial Volterra Kernels engine. The company also builds dedicated analogue circuits in order to sample and include these in their software. This model delivers very similar to analog gear sound with hardware like transient response and sonic quality that overcomes the limitations of other software emulations.
INTRO Navy by Acustica-Audio is an excellent EQ, preamp, console channel strip plugin that is inspired by famous British hardware.
This virtual unit comes with several switchable in/out preamp emulation options. The inputs include: B73, B81, B73+B81. For those who are unfamiliar with these preamps, the B73 (Neve 1073) has a vintage vibe and works really well to gently ease tracks to the front of a mix without becoming harsh. The B73 favors vocals, guitars, and synths. The B81 (Neve 1081) has a more modern sound. It's pristine and transparent and provides remarkable sensitivity and response. The B81 favors drums, bass, and percussion. Yet, they both add a variety of ear-pleasing overtones to the signal and can be mixed with the output preamp options to further enrich the tonal harmonics and overall timbre. The output amps are also inspired by legendary British hardware.
This virtual unit also has four EQ bands, cutoff filters, meters, etc. There are two modes, one regular and one zero latency, which is more CPU intensive and offers better performance. I use the regular mode to sketch out basic settings and then switch to zero latency mode. I have been using Navy on an assortment of tracks; yet, it really shines on vocals, but I may be partial to the B73 preamp. I have no problem adding resonance, welcome harmonics, depth, presence, etc.
Overall, the EQ and preamps sound fabulous. It wasn't that long ago that I was using high-end hardware, and Navy seems close, if not better in some ways. There's a good chance a blind audio test comparison would baffle me. .. and maybe you, too. ;-). And, the knobs on the interface do a good job of "faking" physical controls. They are very responsive.
FAVORITE FEATURES • Sleek, user-friendly interface. • Innovative and quite possibly revolutionary. • Navy standard version and NAVY ZL version (zero latency). • Smooth filters. • Stable performance. • Fairly priced. • Cutting edge developer.
OTHER THOUGHTS • Some excellent presets, but with there were more. • As with most pro gear (hardware and software), especially anything with EQ and/or filters, users need some general knowledge, experience, and overcome a product learning curve — Navy is no exception. It's powerful, and if used wisely can help create lovely tracks; however, if used haphazardly tracks could become an ugly mess.
SUMMARY Navy is an extraordinary professional virtual channel strip plugin that provides excellent control via EQ, preamp harmonics, and filters. This is indeed a "powerful mix tool." After a few days of intense demoing, I cannot say for sure whether this plugin "can replace a standard console EQ and filter," but from what I've heard so far — why not? I highly recommend this plugin to any eMusician, producer, or sound designer looking for a pro channel strip for shaping their tracks. Tommy Zai gives Navy two seaworthy thumbs up. Thank you, Acustica-Audio, for developing such an amazing plugin.