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Question about preamp/mic simulation

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Question about preamp/mic simulation

Postby manuel.soruco » Fri Dec 04, 2015 5:32 pm

So I´m having a couple of questions regarding Nebula emulations.

- PREAMPS: Correct me if I´m wrong, but I think most budget-mid priced preamps (i.e. the ones inside most interfaces) are quite transparent actually, at least when talking about frequency response. Since most colored hardware is over 1k becouse it costs a lot of money and circuits to make a nice coloration/saturation, so the cheap alternative is just to boost the signal. Obviously I´m not talking Millenia clean, but as good as you can expect for the price point.
In this case, if you apply the frequency response curve of a colored preamp over a cleanish preamp, you could reasonably get the character of the colored preamp. However, it´s not like recording through a 1073 preamp (for example). It´s more like recording through my interface and then "reamping" the signal through the mic pre, creating a cummulative effect.
Also, if the real preamp lacks frequency response in the high end, there is no way to make frequencies appear that weren´t there in the first place...

- MICROPHONES: Same as above, except there are no clean (flat) microphones. The closest ones are used for measurements, most of them have their own color.
So for example, I record a voice with my Nady ribbon mike, which will give it the ribbon character we all love (great mids, controlled highs...etc). However, if I apply a Royer 122 emulation over that signal, it´s going to exagerate the effect, probably taking it to an exaggerated level that is no longer usable...

So how do you guys cope with this?

Two interesting options I have found (don´t kill me please!) :P are Slate´s virtual mike system, and UAD´s unison preamps.
I know Nebula technology blows both companies of the window, however both seem like interesting approaches, since they are eliminating the X-factor of the client using any mike or preamp. I also read that UAD´s Apollo preamps are built so they have variable impedance and the plugin can control it.
You can even insert the preamp so the signal is processed before being recorded (seems to be built to be used that way).

So any thoughts on the matter? Do you think those advancements will make them sound better, the same, or still worse than Nebula? Do you care at all about this, or you just slap an U87 over any track?

Pd: Just in case, I´m not trying to diminish the developers efforts at all. I just want to understand the limitations of the system so I can manage my expectations and use it them in the best possible way. Also both options are over the 1k$ range, so not really fair to compare.
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Re: Question about preamp/mic simulation

Postby beingmf3 » Fri Dec 04, 2015 5:44 pm

If you have the chance to try Henry's free "MIL PRE" preset, you'll see what it's capable of. As I pointed out in another thread - it rendered a nastily recorded and ringing glockenspiel miraculously clean!

I don't know exactly how the Nebula engine deals with the harmonics but there must be something else than a cumulative effect. Maybe GC can comment on this?

I also have the feeling that printing a microphone program onto an existing track often (not always) kinda overrides the original characteristics. The singer in one of my bands sometimes records at home (smallish room) with an MK012 - which he likes but I don't. So I tend to use either an ELAM, a C12 or a U87 which aren't too far off in terms of brightness, but the whole body and the harmonics are much more convincing than the recorded source.
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Re: Question about preamp/mic simulation

Postby RJHollins » Fri Dec 04, 2015 8:31 pm

Also, if the real preamp lacks frequency response in the high end, there is no way to make frequencies appear that weren´t there in the first place...

Unless the original preamp had some kind of cut-off filter, or an internal null, the frequencies in the curve are not gone. They may be rolled off or boosted at points.

Inserting a 'mic simulator' is similar to overlaying a new eq-curve, albeit, minus any added phase changes [transparent].

To other points, I'd say that there are some physics limitation. A 39 cent microphone won't be turned into a $10k N*****n. The overall 'curve' can be reshaped, but the dynamics and noise/distortion won't transform, nor will the pattern response. [a cardiode wont become OMNI].

Nonetheless, the effect of these 'simulators' can still be apparent.

Other points. Built in preamps of cheaper sound cards may be perceived as clean or transparent [that could be a subjective observation, and difficult to compare/test if using the same device to a/b changes through]. However, they can tend to be, what's described as 'sterile' or lifeless. Preamp simulation can have a noticeable impact.

Nebula technology differs from so many other plugins, which usually sound like some kind of 'sound effects'. I hear this in many tape/console simulators. With Neb/Acqua, the sonic character is coherent or innate to the source [organic], not like an 'add-on'.

Maybe not the best words to describe ... but, hey ... I'm on my first cup of coffee :|
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Re: Question about preamp/mic simulation

Postby manuel.soruco » Fri Dec 04, 2015 9:14 pm

RJHollins wrote:Built in preamps of cheaper sound cards may be perceived as clean or transparent [that could be a subjective observation, and difficult to compare/test if using the same device to a/b changes through]. However, they can tend to be, what's described as 'sterile' or lifeless. Preamp simulation can have a noticeable impact.


Absolutely! Internal preamps are what I would call "Meh". They don´t contribute anything to the signal, neither positive nor negative, which in this case works in our advantage, becouse you could record tracks through a lot of different budget Preamps, do a NebulaMan batch apply of a N**e 1073 preamp to all of them, and you are going to get a much more consistent result than if you record with a lot of different budget mikes and slap a U87 mojo to all of them, becouse of much bigger differences between mikes.

I haven´t tried any mike sim yet (will try the Henry Olonga soon), but logic tells me that it´s more of a hit and miss situation, where there might be situations where there result isn´t as great as in some other circumstances.
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Re: Question about preamp/mic simulation

Postby jfjer379@gmail.com » Fri Dec 04, 2015 9:46 pm

the HO`s microphone and preamps are fantastic

im using an old rme fireface 400 with stock preamps and a sm57 with great results :D

i have better pres and mics but this setup is so easy to use when recording demos, i hesitated pretty long before i tried on a 57 because it can't match my Miktec CV4 in reality picking up details and it newer will

but if it sounds good who care :)

dynamic mics are very underrated by many especially when it comes to vocals
i believe Steven Tyler use sm57 in studio,
AC/DC, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Michael Jackson Thriller Shure SM7

it seems that sm57 and my voice really get along especially if i use HO bae as a preamp through a very basic pre with a cheap mic hehe but sm57 is a legend for a reason

but it's gonna be very exciting trying out much better mics and preamps too with these amazing tools :D

personally i don't care if the sound is not as the intended original neb mics should sound like, i just scroll through the presets until i find one i like with the mic depending on song and performance, i always seems to find one hehe

i sort of seeing it as having hybrid mics that only nebula users have hehe :)

when it comes to uad unison, to me nebula is much much more closer to the real sound than that, i don't have an apollo but have uad cards and i have heard quite a few shootouts between ua unison and the real deal the HW vins easy to my ears, the ua73 unison reminds me of my gap 73 preamp and that is not bad it certainly have some mojo but the tightness of for example bae when driven is a completely another story to me, i say go for nebula a very cheap way to incredible sound, i don't feel i have to have a N+E+V+E any more :)

i don't know how good the slate system is though, so i will not speculate because i know very little about it
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