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The Nebula FAQ (sticky me plz)

Discussion in 'Backline' started by Ermz, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. Ermz

    Ermz ¯\(°_o)/¯

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    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.
     
  2. digitaldeath

    digitaldeath Member

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    Cheers for the info Ermin. Sticky!
     
  3. Behind

    Behind Member

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    It's been really useful! Thankyou!
     
  4. colonel_claypoo

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    much appreciated, thanks!
     
  5. B36arin

    B36arin Member

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    I have one question for you Ermin. I was under the impression that Nebula "impulses" are sampled dynamically, meaning that not only can Nebula emulate the things that you mentioned(harmonics, modulation etc.), Nebula can emulate the dynamics of a hardware unit/cab/whatever. Have I misunderstood something or did you fail to mention it? I've always thought that the dynamic sampling was the reason to get Nebula, but I might have misunderstood it.
     
  6. Audiosprite

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    there's a free version of nebula 3 as well, about to use it
     
  7. Zombietakeover

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    Yeh thats what i was gonna ask is there anything worth checking out in the free bundle ?
     
  8. Pedro Teixeira

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    I believe that is correct as there are compressors that were captured!
     
  9. drew_drummer

    drew_drummer Dancefap

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    Nebula Free doesn't really sell it that well in my opinion. But I took the leap anyway based on Ermz's recommendation, and I'm glad I did. It's a bit finnicky to use sometimes, but the sounds are very good.

    I don't think the compressors are particularly good. But the mic's and the EQ's and the preamps are very good!
     
  10. theRev

    theRev Member

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    Just a question for Ermz, regarding "workflow"...

    Do you "commit" all your tracks, after inserting the nebula programs on various channel/busses, to be able to remove nebula and free cpu power, or you just insert all various nebula instances and start mixing?

    I'm particularly interesented in the AlexB's console programs, btw... So, which bundle would you recommend to mix metal stuff? CLC, CLQ Pro? Any other?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  11. Ermz

    Ermz ¯\(°_o)/¯

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    ^ Did you read the OP? It answers every one of your questions.

    @B36arin: Yes, Nebula can capture dynamic behavior as well. This is partly what makes it work well for saturation.
     
  12. Superdatasatan

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    Thanks for great info. Can Ermz or someone open this a bit.. Can you save some CPU by putting higher value to this parameter? And what type of values are you guys using?
     
  13. Ermz

    Ermz ¯\(°_o)/¯

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    Yes you can ease the CPU usage by doing that.

    I'm running a DSP Buffer of 512.
     
  14. Superdatasatan

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    Cheers.

    And by printing console + tape stuff to tracks before mixing you're emulating the situation where tracks are recorded to tape and then mixed thru console etc, right?

    I bought the CLC pro and I've been pretty stunned about the whole concept and quality. NRGUI works nicely for this printing beforehand matter..

    I've been thinking of getting the R2R but I've had some doubts, cause when I mixed dense vocals I felt that the CLC line program was just enough and even running them thru vocal buss after that with CLC bvoc program on it, seemed like it smeared the transients and articulation too much..

    Pretty much same with many instruments.. Seems like the buss stuff may have been too much on many cases.. (except the 2buss stuff ofcourse)..

    Maybe the R2R stuff thou will give some different / interesting results saturation wise.

    Are you using anything on 2buss tape wise - emulating the final stage of mixing back to tape ala CLA etc..?
     
  15. Ermz

    Ermz ¯\(°_o)/¯

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    These days? I am actually. Not always the actual tape programs, but sometimes just the tape saturation ones. A really transparent way to get glue and control transients on the mix bus.

    On rock, ballads and softer stuff in general I'm using the tape programs all over the place. The depth and professionalism they add is unreal.

    I share your trepidation about using too much saturation on metal though. It's easy to go overboard and lose all transient clarity. Simply putting ILC on all the individual tracks and running MBC on the master bus is usually enough to get you away from that 'ITB' sound without compromising too much. If you do find yourself losing a bit of top-end this way, just boost it back in with one of the sexy Nebula EQ programs like the Cooltec, Mammoth or whatever.

    As Plec kept saying to me, half the magic here is only heard AFTER you do processing to get your tracks to a similar point they were at before you added the saturation programs. Because they'll alter the frequency response... usually things will get a little darker and muddier, but once you crank the highs back in, there's just no comparison to how the tracks sound at the start most times.
     
  16. tempe

    tempe Captain Midnight

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    Posted this in the other Nebula thread in the main part of the forum, but I really need an answer as my searching is getting me nowhere.

    Ok, so I'm not sure whether to post this in the Nebula FAQ or here, but I'm hoping someone will get back to me. I really want to start using nebula in some capacity. I've done some searching on wrapping it to RTAS and that seems like a terrible idea. I've also looked at NRGUI and could not find a lot of info on it, from my understanding you can print Nebula presets to tracks, so I'm assuming that once I've consolidated my tracks, I run what I want through what program I desire and it bakes it to the track. Although I only said that it can do "Nebula Presets," does that mean I can't play with controls on say an EQ? I don't know if its worth dropping $200 on something that I can only use presets on. I apologise for my ignorance, I haven't done a lot of research into Nebula simply because I never thought I was able to use it.

    Think its worth it? I'm using Decapitator at the moment to do the same sort of thing but sometimes even on the most subtle of settings its to much for some things and I wouldn't feel comfortable putting it across the 2-bus...

    I'm going to thank you for your reply in advance Ermz, thanks for being the local nebula authority!

    Not to mention that the Mac version of Nebula AND NRGUI seems quite unstable
     
  17. DigitalMetal

    DigitalMetal Building a Mini SSL

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    Im finally getting good stability wrapped in Protools with the latest nebula build, and its not too CPU hungry, at last !
     
  18. Sodhats

    Sodhats New Metal Member

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    Has anyone made any decent cab programs with this yet? I've found a few of them and was incredibly impressed by the realism, but not with the tone of the programs themselves.

    Also, tempe, yes you can play with controls. Unfortunately EQs are a pain in the hole, all the programs I've used are just a single band, but you are able to set the frequency and Q and whatnot.
     
  19. subvertallchris

    subvertallchris I See No Civilization

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  20. MIAnn

    MIAnn Juniors Member

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    massive thanks to botus99 for this golden nugget :

    Try Nebula with timed kernals around 50ms instead of the freqd algorithm too. You have to edit the XML file first, but it brings much better transient response and overall everything just sounds better within Nebula that way, at the expense of CPU power. This link explains the process pretty well...
    http://www.learndigitalaudio.com/blog/nebula-vst-plug-in-tips-switching-to-timed-kernels

    anyone curious about nebula for cab simulation, try the Kalthallen cabs after doin this mod... they sound fuckin great

    my £0.02

    peace
     

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