Bloatfield wrote:I don't mean any disrespect, but I think this is what confuses me most with Nebula. In many respects people are discussing Nebula from an almost mathematical perspective rather than a musical.
Nebula is a digital tool, so it can only be mathematical before musical. But this is true for all plug-ins, so the Nebula confusion arises for two reasons:
1) Nebula can be many things (eq, reverb, console, etc.), in a very open-ended (but not unlimited) and non-intuitive way. Most other plug-ins are the opposite; they are closed, dedicated to specific tasks, with a restricted, intuitive, and aesthetically pleasing user interface. So they seem more concrete.
2) Nebula's results compete with what you get from UAD, Waves, etc., but Nebula is from a small team, so the source of detailed information about what Nebula can do and how to use it is mainly this forum: a chaotic dialogue between the developers, advanced users, and new/basic users, sometimes all in the same thread. One post may address a highly technical concept, but it's worded equivocally or opaquely due to the generally sloppy nature of most internet forum communication, perhaps casually referring to additional technical details discussed in a similar way in various past threads. Then the next post may be an OMG Nebula type that is mostly just subjective banter, but it slips in some of the same or closely related words as the technical post.
I must underline that my post is not to throw dirt on Nebula or saying that it's bad because it cannot do this or that. When I bought it I got the impression it could take snapshots or practically anything. Now I know that this is not possible. This doesn't make the tool bad in any way. I can gladly use it for what it's good at.
But all that is again besides my question. How can I know what effects are possible to capture with Nebula?
I am a logical person. A person with one leg cannot ride a normal bicylce. A blind person cannot tell me what the nuance the sky has. As with every person with abilities - so does software.
I am trying to understand what is possible with Nebula. Why can you make a chorus effect but not a pitch stopper? Why can you capture distortion from a preamp but not from a guitar pedal? Why can some developers create good compression - while the general opinion is that Nebula is not good for compression.
To put it simply, Nebula uses multiple "snapshots" of the hardware it samples, like a movie. Unlike in a visual movie though, each "snapshot" is itself a "mini-movie" (kernel). Nebula has to transition between those different "mini-movies" depending on the character of the music you feed into it and how much that input signal changes over time dynamically.
The accuracy of Nebula's sound is therefore a constant tradeoff between staying with a certain snapshot/mini-movie (high accuracy in representation of the hardware) versus transitioning to the next snapshot (high dynamic responsiveness to the input signal).
What this means practically is that Nebula can't handle very fast transitions well. Very fast transitions include things like the changes in sound that a fast compressor causes (transient taming), or the changes in amplitude and character that hard distortion or limiting cause (transient truncating).
These types of processes involve "quick acceleration" if you will: fast-changing changes. The quicker Nebula switches from mini-movie to mini-movie, the less it sounds like the hardware it sampled. So, as a compromise, it lets the very fastest stuff slide in order to maintain a sound that has truer hardware character in the slow stuff, which is what our ears mostly pick up when we think of "character."
So the bottom line is: for everything EXCEPT limiters, fast compressors, and hard distortion, Nebula is among the best ITB solutions that exist. For these things though, you will want to have other plugins to use.