Behind the Kernel (#1 - January 2012)

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Behind the Kernel (#1 - January 2012)

Postby enriquesilveti » Tue Dec 27, 2011 12:22 pm

Eric Beam from Signal to Noize interviewed

Acustica Audio: How did you know about Acustica Audio and Nebula?
Eric Beam: Being the audio engineer & tech geek that I am, I tend to keep up with the current tools of our industry. When I first read up on the technology I
was intrigued by the potential Nebula had to offer.

Acustica Audio: Which feature you look into gear before get sampled?
Eric Beam: I choose devices to sample that I want to use myself. I'm drawn to many unique analog processors and interesting effects. Many of these boutique & or vintage devices offer desirable qualities that are truly one of a kind. In our world of limitless production Nebula allows you to imprint these qualities on countless sources without the physical or economic limitations.

Acustica Audio: Which studio configuration do you use. ITB, OTB or Hybrid?
Eric Beam: I use a rather complex Hybrid setup. I would say it's 50/50. My philosophy is simple, use the best available tool for the task at hand. I have no bias towards hardware or plug-ins. I do find many of the "best" tools to be in my outboard collection, but I use more than my share of plugins obviously. I've gone full circle, in the early 2000's I set aside just about all external devices & mixed completely ITB. I enjoyed being able to say (Hey look everything I need is in my Workstation/laptop!). After a few years I started to question a few aspects of this. What really sounds better? Is ITB convenience and speed worth sacrificing tools that can do a better job? What do I find creatively more inspiring? Fast forward to today and I'm using more outboard than ever before. This, in turn, makes analog mixing and summing a more logical solution as well. My average project has 24 channels or so being processed and summed OTB.

Acustica Audio: About processing audio modeling. Which are the advantages and disadvantages between signal modeling vs physical modeling?
Eric Beam: Both have advantages, It's an extremely complex topic. It is very dependent on the type of processing desired. Mathematical algorithms (physical modeling) can radically change and adjust to the incoming signal. This has advantages with effects processing, verbs & dynamic modulations for example. But when it comes to recreating the qualities of voltage flowing thru a signal path it has a long way to go. Expecting code to accurately recreate all of the unexpected (technically flawed) aspects of analog signal paths is unrealistic. Modeling something as simple as a single capacitor is a large undertaking. The non linear & physical aspects are mind-boggling. Signal modeling (sampling) has the advantage in this area.

Acustica Audio: Do you think that audio engineering is better today?
Eric Beam: Not at all! Well that's not exactly true. Audio technology is better today, in both the analog & digital worlds. But I miss the hard division between audio engineers and mix engineers. More people today think the term is interchangeable then ver before. I deal with a lot of guys that have never lived in a non DAW or 24 bit world. Understanding the fundamentals of analog & digital audio has long been lost for most. Many mix engineers would be lost without the advancements of technology. There is less of a need to understand or practice correct audio engineering. As a result the quality is sub par but "acceptable". When a problem does appear they don't understand why or know where to look. OK rant over. It's not all bad, when the rare someone takes advantage of the technology to its full potential it can be pure innovation. Both creatively and technically.

Acustica Audio: Which gear was the more complicated to be sampled with NAT and why?
Eric Beam: It's all about doing your homework. Dynamic & harmonic devices need a lot of pre production testing before sampling. You need to do many tests
beforehand & analyze the result via nebula before you take on the final sampling. EQ's and filters are more straight forward but can require extensive sampling durations & template mods.

Acustica Audio: Comparing impulse responses and Nebula technology what are the advantages and disadvantages between both?
Eric Beam: Advantages of impulse responses versus Nebula? Can't think of any, drive space maybe!

Acustica Audio: Do you use external DSP processing?
Eric Beam: Yes, as I said earlier I use a fair amount of outboard & have somewhat of a verb addiction. Tools like the TC 6000 are great for mastering tasks, I love my H3500, and I also often deal with DFC consoles. I do have a Duende that's now collecting dust. It was nice pre Intel i7 when I needed the DSP.

Acustica Audio: Did you have formal study in audio engineering?
Eric Beam: Yes, but honestly that piece of paper is near worthless. Most of what I know has been from hands on experience. I come from a family of engineers and have been in and out of studios for most of my life. I've been a staff engineer at the same facility since 2000. Learning from the veteran engineers, pioneering techs of digital audio, and console
manufactures has been a priceless education.

Thank you Eric Beam!
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