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Product of the Week: Acustica Audio Lace

Suite of limiters modeled from a selection of hardware and software units, with Zero Latency option.

Lace, the latest plug-in from Italy-based developer Acustica Audio (not to be confused with the California-based Acoustica, makers of Mixcraft), is a suite of limiters modeled from a selection of hardware and software units, which the company can’t identify directly for legal reasons. However, a little digging around online reveals that Lace features models of limiters from companies like Weiss, Manley and Neve. 

The models are only part of the story, however. Lace also offers much more adjustability than most limiters.

When you install Lace (VST/VST3/AAX/AU), you get several different versions to choose from. You can load either a Standard or ZL (Zero Latency) instance. The ZL versions are designed for tracking and use more CPU. The Standard versions are best for mixing. For either type, you also choose the look of the GUI between Acustica’s silver 3D mode or the more dark and modern Flat mode.

Lace uses a multistage limiting approach, which offers soft clipping, soft compression, hard compression (“true limiting”), and peak stop limiting (“clipping”). You can control which processes are applied and apply specific ones to different parts of the signal. 

The plug-in features four basic limiting modes, each with different behaviors. In Disto Mode, the signal passes through a limiter and a clipper. Acustica says it emulates analog limiters and adds loudness while keeping the material sounding natural.

Smooth Mode adds a soft compressor at the beginning of the chain, followed by the limiter and peak stop. According to Acustica, this mode, based on “Brick Wall 2” technology, “protects delicate sound details from excessive compression but also emphasizes the presence and clarity of transients, resulting in a balanced sound with rich dynamics and detailed presence.”

Natural Mode also utilizes Brick Wall 2 technology, but it includes attack times from specific hardware limiters and is designed to meticulously control transients. You can also manually adjust Attack and Release times with control knobs. 

The final mode, Clean, offers transparent processing and a high level of transient control. Users can choose between Stereo and Mid-Side processing, and switch in the Sidechain Filter to control the frequency range going to the detector. 

Several options can be individually switched in and out of the circuit, including a True Peak limiter, Dithering, Lookahead, and 2x, 4x, 8x and 16x Oversampling.

Lace features a large color-coded display and separate Gain Reduction, Peak and RMS meters. Also included are numerical readouts showing the activity of the separate Peak Stop, Hard and Soft limiters. You can easily switch the metering between RMS and LUFS.

Other key features include:

  • Four listening modes, Delta, Left-Right, Mid and Side
  • Resizable GUI
  • Five Preamp emulations for adding saturation.
  • Attack and Release Hold controls
  • Model selection menu for choosing specific emulations
  • Adjustable Knee 
  • Dry/Wet Mix control

Lace is available from the Acustica Audio site for an introductory price of $96, which will rise to its regular price of $205 on March 25.