Acustica Audio Water 3 Makes a Splash

Acustica Audio Water 3 Review


4/20/20236 min read

Are you looking for an audio plugin suite that can transform your tracks into a vintage masterpiece? Look no further than Acustica Audio's Water 3 plugin suite. This suite boasts vintage Austrian hardware from the 1960s built around germanium transistor topology and a plethora of audio transformers improved with their Hyper 2 technology. But, does this suite live up to its hype? In this article, we will take a deep dive into the Water 3 plugin suite, explore its features, and analyze whether it is worth its weight in water or not.

About Acustica Audio

Acustica Audio is well-known for its proprietary sampling technology and analog-sounding equalizers that can push sound to the limits without sounding harsh. However, the CPU load of these plugins has made them less popular for larger projects. That's where Acustica Audio's Hyper 2 technology comes in - offering improved sound quality with a lighter CPU load.

The Water 3 suite is a unique offering from Acustica Audio, comprising of the Water EQ, Water Comp, and Channel Strip. These plugins are built to emulate the vintage hardware from the 1960s, giving your tracks that warm analog sound. But, what sets the Water 3 suite apart is its Hyper 2 technology, which promises to improve the sound quality without bogging down your CPU.

So, whether you are a producer or a sound engineer, this article is a must-read. We will explore each of the plugins in the Water 3 suite in detail, discussing their features and capabilities, to help you determine whether this suite is worth the investment. Get ready to dive into the world of vintage audio and discover the magic of Acustica Audio's Water 3 plugin suite!

About Water 3
Water 3 EQ
Water 3 EQ
Water 3 Compressor
Water 3 Compressor
Water 3 Channel Strip
Water 3 Channel Strip

Now that we have a solid understanding of the background and reputation of Acustica Audio and their new Water 3 suite, it's time to dive into the details and explore what this suite has to offer. The Water 3 suite comprises three unique plugins, each with its own set of features and capabilities.

First up, we have the Water EQ. This vintage semi-parametric stereo equalizer features three fixed bands and a high-pass filter, making it an ideal tool for shaping the tone of your audio. The Water EQ's vintage hardware is hand-built around germanium transistor topology, which delivers a warm, analogue sound that's full of character. Additionally, the Water EQ benefits from Acustica Audio's Hyper 2 technology, which reduces CPU load while improving the sound quality.

Next, we have the Water Comp. This vintage compressor/limiter boasts unique features that other manufacturers simply can't replicate. The Water Comp's vintage hardware is hand-built around germanium transistor topology, which produces a rich, analogue sound that's perfect for adding warmth and character to your tracks. With features like adjustable release time and adjustable compression ratio, the Water Comp is a versatile tool that's well-suited for a wide range of applications.

Finally, we have the Channel Strip, which combines both EQ and compressor/limiter functionality in a single plugin. The Channel Strip's vintage hardware is hand-built around germanium transistor topology, just like the other plugins in the Water 3 suite. This makes it an ideal tool for adding warmth and character to your tracks, while also providing precise control over the tonal balance and dynamics of your audio.

As a user of Acustica Audio products myself, I find that these plugins are ideal for adding character and warmth to my tracks. However, it's important to note that too much of an "analogue vibe" can sometimes be overwhelming, particularly in modern genres. That being said, when used in the right way, these plugins can add a certain feeling that really hits the spot.

The Compressor

When it comes to the Water 3 plugin suite, one of the standout components is undoubtedly the compressor. Acustica Audio claims that no other software company offers an emulation of this specific compressor unit, which is quite the statement. If you know of any other company that offers something similar, be sure to let us know.

According to the manual, Acustica Audio sampled a rare vintage germanium compressor from 1968 to create their emulation. The original hardware unit was built with fully discrete technology, and features three audio transformers in the audio path and two in the sidechain. Acustica Audio claims that this device delivers an overwhelming sound that is reminiscent of old legendary tube devices from the '60s. Unfortunately, these vintage compressors are very rare to find on the used market and can cost upward of $1500.

The compressor in the Water 3 suite is modeled after a WSW (division of Siemens) Compressor/Limiter model 601430S with mods, according to the Unofficial Acustica Master List. These units are known for their transparency, which means they can handle any kind of source material while still providing a unique sound. In the past, the compressor was one of the least colored sampled units, making it perfect for subtle compression during mastering. However, thanks to the Hyper 2 technology, the compressor has become even more versatile and can now be used for sound mangling.

In my personal experience, I have found that the compressor is the component of the Water 3 suite that I use the most. It's great for mastering, but the added versatility of the new knobs thanks to the Hyper 2 technology make it a very versatile unit indeed. In fact, it surpasses the possibilities of Water 2 and the original hardware unit in terms of sound mangling. If you're looking for a compressor that can handle any source material and provide a unique sound, the Water 3 compressor is definitely worth checking out.

The EQ

The Acustica Audio Water3 EQ is a unique and highly sought-after piece of software that has been sampled and emulated to bring its classic sound to modern productions. According to the manual, this passive stereo Germanium topology EQ unit dates back to 1961, but has been updated with additional hand-built hardware circuits to make it more versatile and flexible for today's demanding productions.

This particular unit is very rare and expensive, and is not emulated by other manufacturers, making it a highly coveted tool for audio engineers and producers. While it may have a reputation for being transparent and clean, it can be pushed hard without adding harshness to the sound.

Although the Water3 EQ is often used for acoustic instruments like guitars, it can also be used as a character EQ to add a subtle analog feel to any source material. However, if you're looking for a more pronounced analog feel, the Eminence channel strip plugin from Acustica Audio is a great free option to consider.

Overall, the Acustica Audio Water3 EQ is a unique and versatile piece of software that has been carefully sampled and emulated to bring its classic sound to modern productions. Whether you're looking for transparency or character, this unit is a valuable addition to any producer or engineer's toolbox.

The Channel Strip

The Acustica Audio channel strip is a plugin that combines the EQ and compressor modules of Water3, with fewer features from both. While it may seem like a compromise, it can be a valuable tool in certain use cases.

The compressor module in the channel strip does not have the advanced Hyper 2 controls that make it so versatile in the Water3 plugin, and the EQ module loses its stereo capabilities. However, if you know that you want to use the specific compressor settings with the EQ together, the channel strip can be a convenient option. Additionally, if you want to switch between the preamps of both units, the channel strip allows you to select them both.

Despite its potential usefulness, the channel strip is the least used of the three Acustica Audio plugins for the author. However, it may still be worth considering in specific scenarios where its features align with your needs.


In conclusion, the Water 3 suite from Acustica Audio is a powerful set of plugins that can add analog character and versatility to your productions. While the EQ is nice, it may not be the most essential plugin in the suite, and the channel strip may only be useful in specific use-cases. However, the centerpiece of the suite, the buss mastering compressor, is a must-have for anyone looking for a versatile and great-sounding compressor.

While these plugins can be CPU-intensive, there are other ways to add character to your sounds using less resource-intensive saturators, distortion, and modulation effects. Check out a variety of great plugin deals here.

If you want to try out the Water 3 suite for yourself, Acustica Audio offers a free trial option through their Aquarius installer software. And if you're on a tight budget, their TAN compressor is a fantastic free option to try out.