Due to a high number of recurring questions in the face of the ever increasing popularity of Nebula, I thought it a good idea to throw together a quick and dirty FAQ to get you all started. What is Nebula? There is a whole deal of technical hoodoo going on under the hood, but for the layman Nebula would be best described as an advanced convolution reverb processor. That is, with one catch. It is able to capture harmonic content and time-based modulation such as chorusing, phasing etc. This makes it in effect very different to your average convolution reverb processor, and gives it a great deal more power to effectively sample certain hardware units with currently unparalleled precision. How is Nebula useful to me? (cue: sales blurb) Do you find yourself tired of saturation plug-ins that break up in a harsh, aliased & muddy way? Are you perhaps sick of EQ plug-ins that cause your tracks to get more brittle, the more you boost? Are you finding you can't get the same glue as your favourite mixers, despite how hard you've tried with regular in-the-box techniques? Then chances are you could benefit from using Nebula. At present, Nebula arguably offers the most authentic way to get true hardware sounds in an entirely digital environment. Many of us like and use Nebula because of its very high quality saturation and equalization libraries. At present it offers a great way to get the sounds of tape and analogue mixing desks printed onto digital tracks, as well as the authentic flavor of certain hardware EQs, which algorithmic plug-ins just haven't managed to nail the same way. How do I get started? Go here: http://www.acustica-audio.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=23&Itemid=99 Purchase the 'Nebula 3 Pro Bundle'. Follow the instructions you receive to authenticate and install it. The lowdown is that on PCs, Nebula will generally install itself to C:\nebulatemprepository. Here you will be able to find your config files, skins, and the various program libraries you install. You will find in your DAW that there are two possible instances of Nebula you can run. Nebula (plain) and Nebula Reverb (high latency). Most 3rd party program libraries suggest using the Reverb instance for highest sound quality. After you have Nebula up and running it's important to open up an instance and go to to the MAST page. Once there what you want to do is set the 'Rate CNV' parameter to 3500ms or above. This will ensure compliance with many of the 3rd party libraries currently in play. Secondly what you want to do is adjust the DSP Buffer to a size that will make Nebula's latency manageable to your workflow, and computer. Make sure to hit the 'Save' button after you're done, so all instances will load with these settings by default. After this is done you're basically ready to get some 3rd party libraries and get started! Which 3rd party libraries are the best? At present the most widely acclaimed creators can be found here: http://www.alessandroboschi.eu/html/en/alexbprograms.htm http://cdsoundmaster.com/ http://www.analoginthebox.com/ My own personal favourite libraries are: AlexB's CLC and CLQ Pro AlexB's GMC CDSoundMaster's R2R and TB+ AnalogIntheBox's Mammoth Bear in mind I have not tried every Nebula program ever created, nor am I a self-professed oracle of all that's good. Feel free to experiment, try programs that look good, and you will build your own collection of favourites over time. Most 3rd party libraries come with installers that will install the files to the appropriate directory. If not then all you simply have to do is move all the .n2v files to the 'Vectors' folder in nebulatemprepository and all the .n2p files to the 'Programs' folder in nebulatemprepository. The plug-in will scan those folders automatically upon boot and should read the programs. How do I use these programs? After you boot Nebula up, go to the 'List' page. This will list all your installed programs in a column on the right side. Simply browse to whichever program you want to start using. Once it has been loaded up, you will find the sliders will associate themselves with relevant parameters to the program. Note that many saturation programs are intended to be used without any alteration to those parameters. Saturation programs like the CLC, R2R and TB+ packs I find are best printed directly to tracks off-line. This allows you to conserve precious CPU power and memory for other tasks in the mix. The bus programs you more or less have to run in real-time, obviously. How do I gain-stage with these programs? This is an area where you will find disparity and inconsistency between how different library developers decide to implement their product. Personally I find AlexB's method the most intuitive. It is modeled on the workflow and headroom of working in the analogue domain, on a professional mixing console. This means that 0VU, the nominal operating level for your signals should be resting around -18dBFS, and the headroom above is reserved for peaks. This means that the hotter you track, the more aggressively the saturation programs work, much as you would expect when hitting a desk harder in real life. Bear that in mind as you proceed. If you have not kept up with the general gain-staging in the digital domain discussions going around as of late, you will have missed that most professionals now suggest tracking in such a manner where your average RMS level rests at -18dBFS and your peaks shoot up into the headroom above. Provided your converters are calibrated for this standard, you will find that the greater headroom and lack of fighting clip lights will lead to a more open and decongested mix. CDSoundMaster's R2R and TB+ libraries are different. They are calibrated to operate most effectively when the signal is peaking near 0dBFS. This is far from ideal for those of us in the working world, but it is what it is. In order to use these programs effectively, after having tracked at -18dBFS, I'd recommend maxing out the Input level on Nebula and then decreasing the Output to compensate, to allow these programs to work closer to their operational sweet spots. This is it for now. If any more questions come up I'll try to create more entries to cover them.