In my libraries preamps are one thing and input channels are other thing. Preamplifier is a preamplifier: i.e. pure preamp circuit (input, amp, output) and stop. Input channel is electronically more complex including the input stage, wirings, switch, premp section (line or mic) and output from this circuit (not from the mixbuss). All these components contribute at the console sound.
You can use the programs in two, or more, differents way:
- emulate a tracking : use as firts insert the console input program that you prefer (line or mic) and than the excellent R2R by CDSoundmaster to emulate a tracking on tape through a recording console.
- emulate a mix : use as first insert the R2R program and than the console input channel.
If your tracks are very sterile, i.e. with a lot of VST instruments, you can do this: - put as first insert the console mic input, than the R2R tape program and than the console line input. In this way you emulate the tracking to tape through the console and than mixing on the console in a single passage (or rendering).
About gain stage: -18dBfs = 0dBVU, if you go over you drive the stage. The levels during a mix is a matter of personal taste. Personally don't love the loud mix "in your face style" but a natural music with depth and dynamics, so I stay at 0dBVU on single unprocessed tracks, at -2/+2dBVU on group-busses (if I use) and not over 0/+3dBVU at the master buss.
AlexB wrote:About gain stage: -18dBfs = 0dBVU, if you go over you drive the stage. The levels during a mix is a matter of personal taste. Personally don't love the loud mix "in your face style" but a natural music with depth and dynamics, so I stay at 0dBVU on single unprocessed tracks, at -2/+2dBVU on group-busses (if I use) and not over 0/+3dBVU at the master buss.
Alex (or anyone else reading this), if I may ask: what is the best way to achieve this? Put Sonalksis Free G plug at -18db trim (and slightly higher gain on busses and master) at the beginning of each channel?
Until now I have merely put a Sonalksis Free G -18db trim as the first instance on my master bus, and a + 18 Free G boost as the last plugin on my master bus, with several Nebula plugs between them (Alexb console masterbus + Alexb/Cds EQ + R2R). I have not gain staged the channels or busses (although I also Nebulize those. I do make sure the levels are not too high). While gainstaging the masterbus as I described already makes a HUGE difference in depth and sound quality (biggest epiphany I've had since I started using Nebula), which I am very happy with, reading AlexB's previous post I understand I could achieve even better results with additional gain staging.
I am curious if I should treat each channel + bus the same way (i.e. Sonalksis Free G as first plugin on each channel and bus with the appropriate gain settings) or whether there is a better or more efficient way to do this.
Any help on this would be greatly appreciated. By the way, I've read the other threads on this topic, but I could not find a clear answer to the above question. Forgive me if I've missed it.
Great thread, by the way. And great work on the libraries, of course!
First of all. Every plugin you put in the chain will damage the sound. Always (even the more expensive, the oversampled and bla bla bla). Only Nebula seems to not damage the sound, even in flat mode. If you are not able to hear this 3D lack by plugin, I can assure you that it happens. For this reason it's better to record-tracking with the correct levels. If you use the relation: 0dBVU = -18dBfs you leave some headroom for converters (to avoid intersample peaks) and plugin process without loss in quality but improving it in general. Please refer at topics by Paul Frindle in GS forum.
Work digital but think analog. If you use the relation 0dBVU = -18dBfs you should record with peaks at -12dBfs, this give you a correct RMS of -18dBfs = 0dBVU on your analog VU meter. Try to think at your DAW as an analog gear where the 0dBfs is +18dBVU, so your 0dBVU is -18dBfs and from under this value you will be in the VU red zone. With Nebula you have and hardware in your DAW.
To set the gainstaging in the mix with nebula. If you take -18dBfs as 0dBVU as reference, this -18dBfs are RMS value, not peak value. Also, I don't suggest to use - if it is not strictly necessary - a plugin to lower the audio level, use the Nebula input control. Exsample: you have a kick drum track which sound at -6dBfs peaks. Put Nebula as first insert FX, load your preset and leave it flat (unity gain) than play the track. Lower the Nebula input control by -6dB, now you should read -12dBfs peaks on your DAW meter. That's all. Don't rise up the output level, it's not necessary. Now you can insert more Nebula or other plugin instance with the correct gain staging. Do the same at all your tracks.
The final level of the mix. Normally your mix should be at -18/-14dB RMS using the K-14 meter. Leave some headroom for the mastering process. If you master your project with Nebula, the way is the same as the single track: play your track and see the audio level it plays, insert Nebula and adjust the input control. you can stay a little more hot if you want add some warmth at the whole mix, use your ears listening for about 10 seconds making A/B comparison. I recommend to stay at -9/-6dBfs peaks when process with plugins, than rise the volume with a good transparent limiter as last process.
Yes you can use the trim track but it's better to do the whole process at Nebula, less digital process = better sound. The same if you need to rise the audio level, instead to use the channel faden in the daw, try to use the control in you last plugin. This will works as only one process inside the plugin.
One last question: when you say "lower the Nebula input control" do you mean lowering the input knob until the desired db leve is reached, or going into the MAST page and changing something there - and if so, what parameter should be changed at the MAST page and how? Is it the 'global pads' that should be edited?
Since the input knob can be used for more saturation, I assume we have to chance something in the MAST range, but I just wanted to make sure how to do it.
Thanks again for your valuable time!! You are really helping us using Nebula in the correct way, which is pretty awesome.