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what can I expect from an emulation?

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what can I expect from an emulation?

Postby audioanal » Mon Jul 18, 2011 4:42 pm

hi guys.
I own a lot of 3d libraries and love them all. I have a lot of Eqs, comps and one console.
I was listening to a test here with some consoles, and this let me think about what really expect from an emulation.
I love to test the programs with the vst plugin analyzer to watch how they response.
So, please...
I know that an emulation recreates:
- harmonic distortion
- frequency response
of the original hardware.
In fact, some developers like AlexB shows only these 2 characteristics in the manuals to the costumers. Nothing more is mentioned.

So, when using a console emulation I get the color (probably a bump in some freq range)and the dirt (harmonics) that gives to my mix:
- the harmonic distortion causes some compression to the transients that will make my mix louder
- loss of clarity that makes the sound sweeter and smoother
- reinforcements in some frequencies that will make my mix fatter, brighter, punchy, etc.

ok.
So my question is...
¿am I loosing something?
¿there is more than freq response and harmonic distortion?
¿nebula emulations have more characteristics than those explained?

If yes, please teach me a little to know the emulations better
If no, ¿this is what an emulation gives to us? ¿distortion and a small change in some frequencies?

Thanks in advance and sorry for my english
Last edited by audioanal on Mon Jul 18, 2011 5:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: what can I expect from an emulation?

Postby yr » Mon Jul 18, 2011 5:05 pm

I think there is always some kind of trade-off. Purists could argue that any audio processed with Nebula (or any other effect) is "damaged" in one way or another. The vst analyzer can help to understand how presets work, but it's sometimes impossible to deduct how a preset could effect sound from looking at a graph. At times, the sonic effects are completely the opposite of what you would expect if you were only watching the analyzer.

Anyways, you could add phase shift to your list. I think it's difficult to generalize and say that Nebula presets necessarily "sweeten" or "fatten" or whatever- it really depends. I also think that the effect that Nebula has on transients is not consistent from one preset to another and is somewhat unpredictable. Some presets actually enhance transients (at least subjectively) while others have a more "rounding" effect.
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Re: what can I expect from an emulation?

Postby biomuse » Mon Jul 18, 2011 5:34 pm

Both of the characteristics you name (frequency curve changes and harmonic distortion) could be achieved by standard (static) convolution.

But the other important thing to remember about Nebula is that it also models way those effects act in the amplitude and time domains - depending on how loud the input signal at any given frequency is, as well as how long ago it was, Nebula processing will result in different changes to the frequency and harmonic profile. The influence of adding those domains is huge, because our perception of music depends upon changes in all of those parameters (loudness, frequency profile, harmonics content) interacting, over time. So the dynamic window that Nebula captures adds more than the sum of its parts, so to speak: not just the momentary changes in sound, but the changes in the changes over time that characterizes the behavior of a piece of hardware.
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Re: what can I expect from an emulation?

Postby yr » Mon Jul 18, 2011 5:56 pm

biomuse wrote:But the other important thing to remember about Nebula is that it also models way those effects act in the amplitude and time domains - depending on how loud the input signal at any given frequency is, as well as how long ago it was, Nebula processing will result in different changes to the frequency and harmonic profile.


True, but I think that depends on whether you are using a dynamic preset or not.
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Re: what can I expect from an emulation?

Postby biomuse » Mon Jul 18, 2011 8:34 pm

yr wrote:True, but I think that depends on whether you are using a dynamic preset or not.


I don't believe it does. Certainly, an effect that is traditionally "time dependent," like a reverb, delay or flanger depends more critically on the time domain than something like an EQ, but I can't think of any piece of hardware that wouldn't exhibit changes in behavior based on level of input (amplitude dependence) while also having some time-dependency (phase shifting in EQs, etc.). I think that's the reason that G & E caution against setting PROG RATE too low in all cases; the "character" of the kernel content gets lost if recalculation is too quick. So whereas static convolution can't see these effects, Nebula does.
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Re: what can I expect from an emulation?

Postby TranscendingMusic » Mon Jul 18, 2011 9:36 pm

That's right... the term "dynamic preset" or program may be confusing. A dynamic processor is such that it geared to work on the amplitude/envelope of the signal; its "ups and downs". In the analog realm any type of processor, even EQ's, have dynamic inner workings. That is, frequency response, distortion, etc respond differently or dynamically at different amplitudes and situations. Nebula has this upper hand in realism where as traditional static stuff conveys an overall tone of its analog counterpart.
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Re: what can I expect from an emulation?

Postby yr » Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:46 pm

Yes it can be confusing, but dynamic presets or dynamic programs are terms that have been used often by Giancarlo to describe how most (but not all) Nebula presets work. You can have "static" EQ's and reverbs for instance, depending on how they were sampled I think (not the nature of the hardware). I'm not a NAT specialist so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong...

I think the more I use Nebula the more I realize dynamic behavior is both it's strength and weakness: I think Nebula/NAT is capable of capturing frequency response and harmonic distortion quite accurately (at least in moderate levels) , but the dynamic behavior remains a bit unpredictable. I think whenever a Nebula preset is compared to the actual hardware it's often the micro-dynamic changes that make the biggest difference.
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Re: what can I expect from an emulation?

Postby dpclarkson » Tue Jul 19, 2011 2:13 am

But still, it's a huge difference when you
compare, for instance, Alex B's SSL4000
library with Waves S*L.
The comparison is laughable to my ears.
So if you try to find out what to expect,
compare Nebula's emulations with any other
emulation on the market.
It's fair; they're all digital, and if people should
argue otherwise, like: "Apples and oranges, UAD is
DSP-based, whine-whine", then certain developers
should have come up with the idea of VVKT first,
and customers are pulling their hair out now,
because of their big investments in a HD-rig, with
obsolete 100MHz chips.
Please excuse the rant, but it feels so good
that I sold my HD3 rig a couple of years ago, knowing that they would become
obsolete, because of all the native power nowadays,
and invested in hi-end mics and pre's, with Nebula
as the perfect complimentary.
Life is good, LOL!
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Re: what can I expect from an emulation?

Postby TranscendingMusic » Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:28 am

yr wrote:Yes it can be confusing, but dynamic presets or dynamic programs are terms that have been used often by Giancarlo to describe how most (but not all) Nebula presets work. You can have "static" EQ's and reverbs for instance, depending on how they were sampled I think (not the nature of the hardware). I'm not a NAT specialist so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong...

I think the more I use Nebula the more I realize dynamic behavior is both it's strength and weakness: I think Nebula/NAT is capable of capturing frequency response and harmonic distortion quite accurately (at least in moderate levels) , but the dynamic behavior remains a bit unpredictable. I think whenever a Nebula preset is compared to the actual hardware it's often the micro-dynamic changes that make the biggest difference.


Just focusing on the meaning of dynamic, that is all saying what "dynamic" signifies for a given processor. Even NAT aside, I'm just trying to point out the meaning[s] of dynamic depending on what a person may be referring to. Now I think the dynamic control i.e compression, Nebula and actual dynamic processing, is where Nebula still has some room to grow. I think, again, regarding inner dynamics that refers to how frequency, phase, distortion - nonlinearities, all behave with amplitude, Nebula is incomparable. That is, that's where Nebula shines...
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Re: what can I expect from an emulation?

Postby yr » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:10 am

I understand. For me some examples of dynamic nebula eq's which were compared to the hardware and my own experience with many preamp/console programs tell me Nebula is close, certainly the closest I've heard in plugin land, but not quite there. Especially noticeable on dynamic material with extreme sudden changes and transients. I do agree with you completely when you say Nebula remains the best software processor in many ways.
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