Greetings! I´m a new proud owner of Nebula 3 Pro. Like most of you, I started in the DAW world and to this day I haven´t worked on a S*L, N**e or A*I (nor I don´t think I will anytime soon). I chose the gear for my studio based on a 15k budget, I did a LOT of homework and came up with a very decent setup for the money. However, now I have Nebula and it´s like building a studio with a 1 millon dollar budget! Which is awesome, but I´m not used to that world or that kind of gear! (I know... first world problems... hahaha)
So I have been making my homework on how to use it better (and what programs to use where), so I thought I should share it here to get some feedback and ideas.
PRE-MIXING: I´m going to use NebulaMan to process some instances on the wav files, based on what the workflow should be on a High End studio. First would be preamp. I was thinking AlexB´s A*I for drums, a UA 610 for bass D.I., and N**e for everything else, although I don´t know yet which N**e, probably AlexB´s VBC which I already have. I was also considering an A****n 737 for guitars and vocals. Then goes the tape instances (A Struder from R2R, TapeBooster+ and maybe VTM). Then I go back to the mixer, where I use a line input.
MIXING: My main contenders for the mixing board are my AlexB´s N**e 8014 or the S*L 4k. I´m probably a little biased by Dave Grohl´s Sound City But for what I´ve read both are awesome machines (and libraries), but the S*L seems to be a bit more modern sounding, and seems to have the record for most hit albums made with it. I´ll probably buy the 4K too to have both options... I have also read great stuff about the MFC (88RS), but I think I´d rather have a N**e and a S*L to have a broader pallete, than to have 2 Neves. So apart from using the line input in the NebulaMan stage, I will also use it´s Bus and Master instances in realtime in the mixing session in my DAW. Then in my master track, I also insert tape simulation, although from all the R2R options, I don´t know which machines/tapes are used for stereo bouncing Any tips would be appreciated! I might also add the in and out instances of the German Mastering Console for adding colour to the master bus. Also since I record my bass through D.I. and the electric guitar through both D.I. and amp, I´m going to use some cab simulations on the DI tracks as well.
One thing I was considering is adding a little compression in the NebulaMan stage, although it would be blind compression since it´s a batch conversion, but I haven´t ruled it out yet. Obviously I would use very gentle compression (max 2:1 with a loose threshold) and I will use NebulaMan´s option to normalize at -18dBFS. I´ll also have 3 different setups for the batch conversion for different tracks, so I could compress different my first group (with the A*I preamps for drums), also the bass (with the 610 preamp) and everything else, mainly guitars and vocals. The idea would be to even the tracks a little bit before going to mixing, so I have to use less compression, or even none at all in some tracks. But then again I will process them with Tape Saturation which also compresses gently the signal, so I´m not sure yet...
I also have been using Waves S*L in the master to add a little punch, but since I just set it and leave it, I guess I could use Nebula for that aswell (I bought Nebula for it´s sound, not its GUI)
One more thing I´ll use is my LiquidMix for my 8 stems during mixing (it´s dynamic convolution aswell so should complement well with Nebula). It also has a nice hardware interface for using EQ and compression, so I would try to work most of my mixes from the Stems, although obviously I will have to work a lot on the individual tracks aswell.
As you can see, I´m not going to do much of the mixing itself with Nebula, but instead I will have a LOT of instances adding analog mojo and mix with LiquidMix and other plugins. I may use Nebula compressors for some individual tracks, but the EQs seem like too much of a hassle to work with. I have read that Mammoth EQ is awesome, but I´d rather use a NI Passive EQ since I have all the controls there. (Also Analoginthebox webshop has been down since forever).
I´m finishing an album these and since I bough Nebula recently I didn´t get a chance to use it properly in all stages. However I did use the bus and master instances of the console as well as a Struder and Tape+ intance on the master, and it DOES make a lot of difference!
When I read people talking about how Nebula makes things sound 3D, it left me stratching my head. It sounded like false marketing, since I know about 3D sound (binaural and transaural). I though Nebula seems awesome, but it´s an EQ, Compressor and Console emulation, not a binaural processor, so where is the 3d thingy coming from??
HOWEVER I opened a session and added the instances in my busses and master and hit play and it sounded nice. However when I bypassed them... Boy oh boy! My mix became flat, unidimentional and tiny! I guess I just wasn´t hearing it since that was the best sound I could get ITB and probably accepted that as my ceiling.
I must say that even if it takes a lot of time to get your head around it, and the GUI can be a pain in the butt, I love the little extra "it" this thing adds to the mixes.
Nebula may be new in my studio, but it´s here to stay!
A good rule of thumb is 'if it sounds right, it is right'
As for the question about r2r - CD Soundmaster library Apex Tape Collection has in it the most legendary mastering tape deck of all time, the Ampex ATR-102, which has a character similar to the real thing (!).. chocolatey