Acustica Audio: How did you know about Acustica Audio and Nebula?
Tim Wisecup: I think I first saw it mentioned at KVR. I grabbed the free version (at that time it was Nebula 2), and was blown away by... I believe it was the ‘Angel’ EQ. I did a high boost with it and instantly decided it was better sounding than Waves EQs. This was several years back.
Acustica Audio: Which feature you look into gear before get sampled?
Tim Wisecup: I have different criteria. Probably the most important has been that it be something unusual. Obviously with the tube radios, they weren’t intended to be used the way I was using them. You have old pro audio tube amplifiers that were made even back in the 60’s that could give you a somewhat flat frequency response. A lot of care and expense was put into them to be as "hi-fi" as possible. Old junky tabletop tube radios that distort and filter the sound more obviously, that’s a whole other world. You get a much more drastic and unique effect. The other thing that attracts me to something, is if I see some kind of difficulty with sampling it that has kept it from being done. If I think I can come up with a solution, I’ll decide if it’s worth doing, then maybe go for it. I might not be the only person who can figure out a solution, but maybe the other developers don’t think it’s worth their time or it just doesn’t interest them enough. That’s one thing I like about the community- different people can specialize in different things.
Acustica Audio: Which gear was the more complicated to be sampled with NAT and why?
Tim Wisecup: For me it has probably been my Tube FM 4 set, which used the same radios I used for 1 and 2, but for TbFM4 I was hitting them with hotter signals, adding other distortion sources, and trying to create more extreme effects. The main issue was that I was doing them as ‘compressor’ style programs, which involved sampling attack/release behavior. Nebula can’t do instant compression/limiting, so to make up for that I did some trickery to get different behaviors with those controls. The end goal was that they could be used as compressors with variable attack/release controls, while imparting the junky old tube radio tone qualities, and lots of distortion. I had to learn how to do compressor style stuff, and the final editing was the biggest part. That set took FOREVER to get the end programs to work like I wanted.
Acustica Audio: One of the drawback of physical modelling and gear sampling is that your are sampling the entire system, including converters and cables. But in FM libraries this seems to be a advantage. You were aware of this?
Tim Wisecup: Well, with those sets I knew I was sampling lo-fi gear, and at times I took on a very lo-fi aesthetic. I was always very aware of every part of the signal path, and used different setups to get different results. There were some cases where I used the cables to help sculpt the effect in junky ways, like once I split an RCA cable to make a ‘Y’ and sent one side back into a radio to create some feedback. I also liked the fact that some of those used FM transmission as part of the sampled chain, but that was also a HUGE pain sometimes (tweaking the receiver to get the clearest signal).
Acustica Audio: Both Cassette Deck I (Tascam 112 mkIII) Cassette Deck II (ADS C3) need the restoration and wow and flutter correction before be processed with NAT?
Tim Wisecup: Yes, both used it. I kind of forgot to mention it with Cassette Deck 2, but I also didn’t really feel the need. Cassette Deck 2 didn’t need as much of it, and some of the effects didn’t use it at all. I feel that it’s a really transparent process, and I usually only process the high frequency side of the signal, because the lower frequencies don’t need it.
Acustica Audio: About FM releases where did you get those radio? Did you collect them especially for make the libraries?
Tim Wisecup: Yes. I just went on a little buying spree on ebay. I still have another 6 that I haven’t touched yet (I bought 12 altogether). Then I had to buy lots of electrolytic capacitors to replace all the old ones. I’ll probably use the other radios at some point but I think the excitement over those effects has already kind of died down, so I’ll have to get some ideas on different ways to present them. You can get a lot of those tube radios for cheap, but anyone who does should know that they can be dangerous because most don’t have power transformers.
Acustica Audio: Which studio configuration do you use. ITB, OTB or Hybrid?
Tim Wisecup: Well, the only music I work with is my own, and I use hybrid techniques with it. Most original sound sources are ITB stuff, but I try to sequence and automate it in ways to give it as much organic quality as possible. Then, I use careful analog processing on individual tracks or groups, to help nudge it further in that direction. I also use Nebula a lot for that, which is why I got into it.
Acustica Audio: Did you have formal study in audio engineering?
Tim Wisecup: No.
Acustica Audio: Do you think that audio engineering is better today?