SAND by Acustica-Audio is a new Channel-Strip plugin, which recreates classic and well known British mixing consoles and studio hardware.
Basically, you get a preamp, a buss-compressor and an EQ, plus a channel-strip with lots of routing options.
But, before we get in deeper, I must say, Kudos for the user’s manual, probably, the coolest I ever seen!
On the other hand, I must admit that installation and authorisation process, should be easier and simpler.
So, now I’ve said that let’s get in deep with this review, shall we?
As I’ve mentioned, you basically get four plugins: a pre-amp, an EQ, a buss compressor and a channel strip.
So, first things first, everything is clearly inspired from classic British hardware, however, don’t expect these plugin to be “color boxes”, I mean, just by inserting any of these plugins in a track, won’t give you that classic British texture.
This might actually be something good because lots of other plugins work as “colour boxes”.
The pre-amp couldn’t be more straight forward, just a Trim knob with plus/minus 24 dB of Gain, next, there’s a Bypass button and several routing options like two mixes and three busses to route the audio signal.
One thing I find it quite annoying is that I hear lots of stepping and artifacts when changing the input trim level.
The Eq plugin, has some little more character than the pre-amp, which is good, but, again, this are not “colour boxes”, so, like a very well known classic British EQ there are four bands plus high cut and low cut filters.
Also, each band and the filters have two modes you can mix and match, they are slightly different and to my ears, the B model sounds a little warmer than the A model. Also, each model covers different frequencies and have different Q options, which is very nice!
Again, one thing that’s quite disappointing is the fact that every time you sweep frequencies, you get a lot of stepping (it might be something wrong with my computer or DAW or just bad luck, I don’t know, haven’t tested in other computers or DAWs). Anyway, the EQ sounds pretty good and very musical.
Based on the classic British buss-compressor is the Bus4, which sounds like what you’d expect (Yeah, I’m not a big fan of that particular British compressor), it has some cool additions too like a mix knob for dialling the compression amount (parallel compression), also there’s a knob labeled ShMod which let’s you fine tune the attack behaviour, and it works pretty amazing!
The last plugin is, of course, the channel strip which features the Filters (mode A and B), EQ (again modes A and B), the buss compressor (with two modes), and a Control section.
So, this control section, has quite a lot to offer, input trim (just like the Pre4), compression amount, output level, a power button to enable/disable the pre-amp section, and lots of routing options which are controlled by a stepped dial knob.
There are actually fourteen different routing options which are pretty easy to understand and also very well explained in the user’s manual. I mean, this is a very cool channel strip configuration which it will work perfectly in drums, basses, guitars, voices, synths, etc, even in the Master Buss, that’s for sure.
Both the EQ and Compressor sections are very musical and really easy and intuitive to use, and with all the routing options, I’d say this is a great tool. Again, don’t expect a “colour box”, it won’t do magic, it’s just a great tool and very versatile.
On the other hand, it’s quite heavy in terms of CPU usage, and I particularly found the stepping on the EQ and the Pre a little annoying, but, my guess they can probably fix that with an update.
So, I’d say this is a great tool to have in your arsenal. You can never have too many versatile and highly musical EQs and Compressors!
[author image=”https://www.producerspot.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/piggy-sounds-logo.jpg” ]Rafael Hofstadter is a recording and mixing engineer and sound designer with 10+ years experience in playing and programming synths, recording, mixing and producing pop/rock/folk albums. He also runs piggysounds.com.[/author]
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