Review: Nembrini Audio Acoustic Voice

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Review: Nembrini Audio Acoustic Voice

Words By Liam Mcshane

Nembrini Audio | US$99

The recent surge in interest in home recording has been liberating, albeit mostly to those primarily concerned with recording instruments direct or in the box. For the electronically inclined, achieving professional(ish) sounding recordings in ramshackle DIY environments, are for the most part entirely achievable to the layperson with a basic laptop/interface setup and a fundamental understanding of audio.

However some instruments and techniques are still somewhat out of reach for mere mortals and for most, these exist almost overwhelmingly in the open air, where room treatment, mic selection and understanding of phase and mic position cannot be faked.

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It’s in these techniques and engineering practices that the mystique of the professional recording studio still remains, with engineers still earning their stripes by capturing beautiful, pristine recordings of acoustic instruments (particularly guitars), with a depth and clarity that is unmistakably pro.

For those new to audio engineering (and for those with limited access to microphones or good sounding acoustic spaces) it often feels like an uphill battle and many will often forego using a mic altogether, turning to the inbuilt pickup on their instrument or piezo-electric add-on, in an attempt to nullify the electro/acoustic influence of their unideal recording situation, attempting to capture something workable amongst the chaos of room modes and flutter echo. Naturally, they soon discover that acoustic pickups sound anaemic and lifeless at best (and harsh and clicky at worst) and so continues the cycle until madness ensues.

So, what can the home recording engineer do to capture the lush, warming sounds of an acoustic guitar at home, or at the very least, capture something tasteful and useful?

This is the question to which Nembrini Audio have provided a definitive answer with their new Acoustic Voice plugin. Nembrini Audio’s Acoustic Voice sets its sights on remedying the woes of recording engineers stuck with lifeless acoustic guitar tones, providing a complete package to not only bring dull acoustic guitars back to life, but also craft a heartfelt sound that will soar above any mix.

Nembrini Audio came about in 2019, when Igor Nembrini, the brains behind some of the most popular guitar amp simulation plugins on the market, decided to part ways with the big players in the plugin world and start his own company. You may be familiar with Nembrini Audio from prior releases (including the awesome Nembrini Shimmer Delay which we reviewed in our Mixdown’s Picks Special earlier this year), Acoustic Voice continues Nembrini Audio’s trend of keeping a keen eye on the needs of working audio engineers in order to deliver groundbreaking, creative tools that find their way into your workflow and never leave.

Acoustic Voice is Nembrini Audio’s novel plugin designed to breathe life into acoustic guitars that have been recorded with an inbuilt pickup or a piezo-electric/contact microphone, mimicking the sound of an acoustic guitar in a real room, with numerous choices of microphone and acoustic guitar bodies to select in order to achieve your desired sound. Acoustic Voice includes an array of additional features to help craft a beautiful acoustic tone, allowing the user to add modulation, delay, reverb, equalization, compression and distortion as they see fit, all packed into a verbose yet easy-to-use user interface, the tried and true style by which Nembrini Audio plugins are easily recognised.

The most immediate feature of Acoustic Voice is the ability to select between distinct acoustic guitar emulations, with a picture of each guitar to visualise your choice. Acoustic Voice models six different acoustic guitars, from Martin to Taylor, even a classic Landola hailing from Finland (personally we hope to see a Maton included in future updates). Switching between these models adds a different distinct resonance to a dry acoustic pickup sound, allowing you to craft a more gentle acoustic sound or a more biting, aggressive sound according to your needs.

Beside this, the Mic section allows you to switch between three different microphone emulations, consisting of two dynamic microphones and a condenser microphone, the classic Shure SM-57, a Beyerdynamic M201, and an Audix ADX51 respectively. Two knobs that control Position and Distance allow you to position these virtual microphones along the body of the guitar to achieve your desired sound.

The Preamp section is a little more complex, an EQ section offering control over lows, mids, highs and ultra-high frequencies, with the frequency at which the mid control boosts and cuts controlled by the knob directly below it. High and low cut filters are also included, along with a notch EQ control to deal with any feedback issues in a surgical fashion.

A Grit knob allows you to give your sound some of Nembrini Audio’s famous creamy distortion, and a single knob for compression takes away the hassle of dialling in a compressor properly, allowing you to set and forget what sounds good to your ears. An input mode control allows you to switch between magnetic and piezo-electric pickup types, letting you choose what sounds best, regardless of what type of pickup you’re running on your acoustic guitar.

The modulation section gives you the option of either a tremolo or a lovely sounding chorus (as expected of Nembrini), along with delay and reverb sections which contain all the necessary controls to expertly craft your sound. Acoustic Voice comes loaded with numerous presets to inspire you and show you what it can do.

Whether you’re recording from a guitar’s inbuilt pickup, or putting a contact microphone on the body of your resonant body string instrument of choice, it’s obvious that something special is going on from the moment that you load the Acoustic Voice plugin.

Nembrini Audio, despite being primarily known for their amp simulations, have shown that their mastery of space emulation ought not to be confined to the realm of electric guitar amplification. Acoustic Voice is a must for anyone looking for the magical sound of a well recorded acoustic guitar without the painstaking labour that normally comes as a result of trying to achieve it.

Head to Nembrini Audio to check out the Acoustic Voice plugin.