Acustica Audio Silk EQ2
As with the Acustica Audio Trinity plugin before it, there's no official word on exactly which hardware EQ was sampled in the creation of Acustica Audio's Silk EQ2 VST plugin (you probably never heard of v1, since it was only around for a matter of weeks before the sequel dropped), only that it stems from Germany and the 60s.
The tiny 'W695b' legending strongly suggests that it's sampled from the Telefunken/ Siemens EQ of the same model number, but the important thing is that it's built to impart a bit of characterful vintage quality to your tracks.
The Mac and Windows Silk EQ2 packages are rather different in how they're installed. While the Windows version comes in two installers - 32-bit and 64-bit, including around 300MB of impulse responses each - the Mac installer gives you no option but to install the full 653MB of data files that the software uses to recreate the sonic characteristics of the real thing. That's quite a footprint, particularly considering you'll probably only ever use half of it.
"Silk EQ2 adds just the right amount of sizzle and splash to the highs, while bass frequencies are given palpable muscle without introducing muddiness"
The interface is as simple as they get: a couple of switches to activate Shelving and Mid Band EQ, gain knobs for Low (fixed at 40Hz) and High Shelf (15kHz), plus a six-position switch for selecting the mid-range band (0.7kHz, 1.0kHz, 1.5kHz, 2.3kHz, 3.5kHz, and 5.6kHz) and a Mid Gain knob.
A Bypass switch and an overload indicator lamp complete the set. It might not seem like a lot to play with, but that's a large part of the appeal of vintage equalisers: they're easy and simple to use, enabling you to focus on the sound rather than the controls.
As for that sound, there isn't enough space on this page for the number of superlatives we could use. Silk EQ2 adds just the right amount of sizzle and splash to the highs, while bass frequencies are given palpable muscle without introducing muddiness. And the mids! This is truly where the plugin shines. The bands are perfectly positioned to scoop out any audio muck or add presence without bringing on ear fatigue.
It isn't all roses, though. We suffered crashes when using the 32-bit Mac version in some hosts - it's a no-go on OS X Mavericks, apparently, though we've been assured by the developer that this is being rectified. And happily, no such issues plagued the 64-bit version.
Smooth as silk
Minor grievance aside, Silk EQ2 is the best Acqua plugin yet. The interface is sleek and simple and the sound is simply gorgeous. This is the sound of a superb hardware EQ in software form - you can almost feel the heat rising off the chassis.
Oh, and latency is less of an issue this time around - there's still a bit of a delay, and we still probably wouldn't want to play drums through it in real time, but the improvement over previous Acqua plugs is noticeable.
Ultimately, Silk EQ2 is a fabulous character EQ, perfectly recreated, that even the most cynical of classic hardware connoisseurs couldn't fail to be impressed by.
Authentic hardware character. Marvellous mids. Reduced latency vs previous Acqua plugs. Simple is, in this case, better!
Still some bugs. Huge Mac installer.
This recreation of a popular 60s EQ gets the sound and interface spot on, but it eats drive space and has a few Mac issues.