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Nebula: is it any good? Equalizer Plugins
Old 14th March 2014
  #1
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Zep Dude's Avatar
 

Nebula: is it any good?

This software looks like either something incredibly cool, or a big pain in the butt. From checking their website I deduced the following:

- Confusing at first to even know what it is (needs better marketing)
- Just grasping what it does but still a little confusing
- Incredible possibilities if it delivers on what it claims
- Only recently Mac OS which could mean trouble
- Might not play well with Pro Tools 11 (no AAX)

So, does Nebula equal or exceed the likes of Altiverb, Softube FET, Sonnox, Brainworx etc?

Is it easy to use?

If you sample your own gear, does it really sound the same?

I wanted to get some opinions before attempting what I expect to be a time consuming trial (integrating with Pro Tools, OSX, sorting through all the 3rd party stuff etc).

Thanks
Old 14th March 2014
  #2
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zep Dude View Post
something incredibly cool, and a big pain in the butt.
Fixed for the best summary.

Workflow will take a hit. Latency will be an issue. Reverbs and EQs will sound much better than typical algos. Compressors sound good as well, within limitations that are hard to explain in a few words.

No way around lots of forum reading and/or experimenting to get up to speed.
Old 14th March 2014
  #3
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MusicJesus's Avatar
 

Anyone ever put a swept sine tone through Nebula stuff? They are full of artifacts, aliasing, and basically un-natural responses that appear no where in the so called "modeled hardware." Don't believe me - just give it a try.

In my (not so) humble opinion, Nebula might be doing something, but it is doing it so poorly that it borders on being a fraud.
Old 14th March 2014
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicJesus View Post
Anyone ever put a swept sine tone through Nebula stuff? They are full of artifacts, aliasing, and basically un-natural responses that appear no where in the so called "modeled hardware." Don't believe me - just give it a try.

In my (not so) humble opinion, Nebula might be doing something, but it is doing it so poorly that it borders on being a fraud.
Im not sure about this...in my experience Nebula does least aliasing than any other plugin I know. Of course - you have to be mindful about what program you are using and how it needs to be hit with levels and freq (bass freq very low and powerful can cause artifacts)...

Maybe someone who has done more analysis can confirm.

Nebula 4 will be arriving soon which should address some of the previous issues...

I like Nebula best for EQ and subtle saturation, and the occasional reverb. They are generally a cut above the rest and more realistic than most or all normal plugins - thats why people have stuck out the added cpu and complexity...

If I was on Mac I would wait until they have 64 bit AU if you need it. They do have a solid 32bit AU however.
Old 14th March 2014
  #5
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My point is more about it not even remotely modeling the devices it "samples."

Again, easy for anyone to check themselves.
Old 14th March 2014
  #6
Tui
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Tui's Avatar
It uses convolution, and it sounds like all convolution processes I've heard: Somewhat distant, hollow, simultaneously clear yet strangely clouded.

IME, convolution can be useful for certain reverb situations (I like EW Spaces on classical instruments, for example). However, convolution is not a remedy for all shortcomings of digital audio.
Old 14th March 2014
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicJesus View Post
My point is more about it not even remotely modeling the devices it "samples."

Again, easy for anyone to check themselves.
ok lets see if you can pass this test Alex B programs vs API 5500

AlexB Black Master Nebula EQ Vs Hardware Scientific Comparison
Old 14th March 2014
  #8
Gear Addict
I LOVE Nebula! It's probably because I don't make music comprised only with sine waves and I don't "listen" to music by watching an analyzer.

But hey that's just me. Music is subjective.
Old 14th March 2014
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tui View Post
It uses convolution, and it sounds like all convolution processes I've heard: Somewhat distant, hollow, simultaneously clear yet strangely clouded.
such knowledge ..insight
Old 14th March 2014
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SWAN808 View Post
ok lets see if you can pass this test Alex B programs vs API 5500

AlexB Black Master Nebula EQ Vs Hardware Scientific Comparison
Pass a swept sine through both.
Compare results.
Results differ.
Nebula does not model the hardware accurately.

I was not saying which sounds better or if people can pick one or the other out. This is a simple test I am proposing - that can be read on a graph.

Try it yourself.
Old 14th March 2014
  #11
Tui
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gussyg2007 View Post
such knowledge ..insight
Always glad to help.
Old 14th March 2014
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReckNC00 View Post
I LOVE Nebula! It's probably because I don't make music comprised only with sine waves and I don't "listen" to music by watching an analyzer.

But hey that's just me. Music is subjective.
Cool, make love to it every night if you wish. My point had nothing to do with whether people like it. But if you think it is even remotely modeling hardware, you are wrong. It's not.

Try it yourself.
Old 14th March 2014
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReckNC00 View Post
But hey that's just me. Music is subjective.
Its a simple fact but most don't understand it.

Last edited by Victorian Needle; 14th March 2014 at 10:56 PM.. Reason: Typi
Old 14th March 2014
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victorian Needle View Post
Its a simple fact but most don't understand it.
Music IS subjective.
The quality of gear is not.
Old 14th March 2014
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicJesus View Post
Music IS subjective.
The quality of gear is not.
Hang on so your saying that a sine sweep on the hw is different than that of a nebula program of the same hw with the same settings on both and the graphs look different. Is that your point? if so and you can call me captain obvious but no sh$t. If you took 2 1073s and did the same sweep they'd look different.
I don't really see your point or if in fact you even have a valid point.
Did you,take the Alex b test?
Old 14th March 2014
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicJesus View Post
Music IS subjective.
The quality of gear is not.
Some people have subjective preferences of quality. So I disagree.
Old 14th March 2014
  #17
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MusicJesus's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dogma View Post
Hang on so your saying that a sine sweep on the hw is different than that of a nebula program of the same hw with the same settings on both and the graphs look different. Is that your point? if so and you can call me captain obvious but no sh$t. If you took 2 1073s and did the same sweep they'd look different.
I don't really see your point or if in fact you even have a valid point.
Did you,take the Alex b test?
Try what I said.

They will not even be in the ball park. Period.
Completely non-trivial differences. Nothing like the differences between 2 same device.

Now listen carefully: The Nebula might sound great to some of you. Hey fine, cool with that. But it does not, I repeat, does not model hardware it pretends to "sample." Not even in the least. I don't know what process is used, but it definitely is both flawed and wildly inaccurate.

If you like it, fine. Just don't think it is modeling some piece of gear even if it says it is.

Might also be interesting to see what pro studios use Nebula. Just sayin.
Old 15th March 2014
  #18
Tui
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Tui's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicJesus View Post
Might also be interesting to see what pro studios use Nebula. Just sayin.
The elephant in the room.
Old 15th March 2014
  #19
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^^ Tui on safari.
Old 15th March 2014
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicJesus View Post
Pass a swept sine through both.
Compare results.
Results differ.
Nebula does not model the hardware accurately.

I was not saying which sounds better or if people can pick one or the other out. This is a simple test I am proposing - that can be read on a graph.

Try it yourself.
The developers of Nebula I think have done many many tests to verify how close their sampling processes are alongside a complex model of recording harmonics - and the limitations are known and understood - beyond a simple sine sweep.
Old 15th March 2014
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SWAN808 View Post
The developers of Nebula I think have done many many tests to verify how close their sampling processes are alongside a complex model of recording harmonics - and the limitations are known and understood - beyond a simple sine sweep.
And the limitation is obviously that it doesn't do what people think it does, namely, accurately model something else.
Old 15th March 2014
  #22
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I'd be more interested in hearing an A/B with the hardware? I have no idea if a sine wave as you are using really means anything.

I'd like to hear from a few of the experts like Alex or Michael who have produced some great sounding programs. Since I have not personally used the hardware they are emulating I can't speak to the accuracy. But you sound like you have a bone to pick and are basing it on a sine wave. Why not take the test and see if your theory is right?
Old 15th March 2014
  #23
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zaphod's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicJesus View Post
Anyone ever put a swept sine tone through Nebula stuff? They are full of artifacts, aliasing, and basically un-natural responses that appear no where in the so called "modeled hardware." Don't believe me - just give it a try.

In my (not so) humble opinion, Nebula might be doing something, but it is doing it so poorly that it borders on being a fraud.
In all your posts you are just saying: it does not model, without specifying:
1) type of models: eq? compressors? reverbs? consoles?
2) libraries you are using: commercial libraries? 3rd party libraries?
3) the version you are using: are you a customer? free? commercial?


Here facts.
Our free library for nebula3 free is really ancient.
Our commercial library is a sort of old demo too (better than free library, but not so much)
Our 3rd party library is awesome.

We have one of best reverbs, eq and console in the software realm: and this is not something subjective, it was magazines say, just to make an example. Just to go straight, nebula was reviewd A LOT on magazines and COMPARED with the real thing. VNXT reverb (18 eur) is maybe the best EMT reverb around. Just google it, or buy magazines or check magazines online. Or forums. Or whatever.
CM reviewd a (p)ultec emulation this month, and it said 8/10. And it could not be more just because our emulation requires 7 plugins (!!!) and latency, 2 things we are going to fix (we are going to release a SINGLE plugin).



@Tui
About who uses it, we are not used to endorse testimonials. If you think it could be better, so you are assured your boughts are correct, we could start collecting the usual marketing quotes: "hey, I'm Chuck Norris and my life changed completely after I started using mammoth eq! better punch ever!".
About facts: we have around 10.000 customers and 100.000 free users. In such large population it is easy to guess there are big names. General consensus is pretty high (the only complains are about latency or cpu load, or lacking of aax or au64 vesion, VERY RARELY ABOUT THE SOUND), so you could make a 2+2.
EDIT: if you have so many customers without tdm, aax, au64 and someone is going literally crazy using every possible wrapper around, you could guess how better it could be as soon as we add missing formats.
Old 15th March 2014
  #24
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MusicJesus's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zaphod View Post
In all your posts you are just saying: it does not model, without specifying:
1) type of models: eq? compressors? reverbs? consoles?
2) libraries you are using: commercial libraries? 3rd party libraries?
3) the version you are using: are you a customer? free? commercial?


Here facts.
Our free library for nebula3 free is really ancient.
Our commercial library is a sort of old demo too (better than free library, but not so much)
Our 3rd party library is awesome.

We have one of best reverbs, eq and console in the software realm: and this is not something subjective, it was magazines say, just to make an example. Just to go straight, nebula was reviewd A LOT on magazines and COMPARED with the real thing. VNXT reverb (18 eur) is maybe the best EMT reverb around. Just google it, or buy magazines or check magazines online. Or forums. Or whatever.
CM reviewd a (p)ultec emulation this month, and it said 8/10. And it could not be more just because our emulation requires 7 plugins (!!!) and latency, 2 things we are going to fix (we are going to release a SINGLE plugin).



@Tui
About who uses it, we are not used to endorse testimonials. If you think it could be better, so you are assured your boughts are correct, we could start collecting the usual marketing quotes: "hey, I'm Chuck Norris and my life changed completely after I started using mammoth eq! better punch ever!".
About facts: we have around 10.000 customers and 100.000 free users. In such large population it is easy to guess there are big names. General consensus is pretty high (the only complains are about latency or cpu load, or lacking of aax or au64 vesion, VERY RARELY ABOUT THE SOUND), so you could make a 2+2.
EDIT: if you have so many customers without tdm, aax, au64 and someone is going literally crazy using every possible wrapper around, you could guess how better it could be as soon as we add missing formats.
wow, an unbiased test by the people who make it.
No bone to pick - but you have obviously tested it the way I suggested - it is a standard equipment test. Just post the results.
Old 15th March 2014
  #25
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Zep Dude's Avatar
 

Thanks for all the responses and somewhat mixed opinions.

MusicJesus, I appreciate your input. You are adamant about the problems with Nebula regarding aliasing, sine sweeps etc and this is something that is not subjective. If you're going to argue the flaws based on empirical data, you should produce that data. Can you show us something to support your claim?

zaphod, thanks for posting here. It sounds like your upcoming version 4 will be something worth checking out if it will be AAX, OSX and have a smooth workflow. I hope the reduced CPU load won't compromise the sound quality. Maybe, like Guitar Rig, you can have a few levels of quality that eat different amounts of CPU? I'll keep an eye out for it and be sure to try the 3rd party library. I am also interested in sampling my vintage gear.

Also, zaphod, if I can be so bold as to provide some constructive criticism on your website, you might want to amend your introductory paragraph to say something like this:

"Nebula is a VST multi-effect plug-in that emulates several types of audio equipment, SUCH AS EQUALIZERS, COMPRESSORS AND REVERBS, eliminating the need for costly hardware, bringing you worlds of new options."

You might also want to go into a bit more detail on your main page about how it works. I'm still confused as to how Nebula stores and calls up presets, what parameters can be edited, can I have multiple devices in one plugin or is it one device per plugin, can I overlay one aspect of one device (say frequency response) over another device, what are all those faders for on the right -is this a mixer? And all the 3D pics keep confusing me as to whether this is a piece of hardware or a plugin. I remember visiting your site years ago and leaving in frustration after not being able to get enough clear information about the product.

P.S. I just found some of the information listed above... in your Store. C'mon man, the Store is where you put this?

Looking forward to trying you V4 when it arrives.
Old 15th March 2014
  #26
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zaphod's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zep Dude View Post
Thanks for all the responses and somewhat mixed opinions.

MusicJesus, I appreciate your input. You are adamant about the problems with Nebula regarding aliasing, sine sweeps etc and this is something that is not subjective. If you're going to argue the flaws based on empirical data, you should produce that data. Can you show us something to support your claim?

zaphod, thanks for posting here. It sounds like your upcoming version 4 will be something worth checking out if it will be AAX, OSX and have a smooth workflow. I hope the reduced CPU load won't compromise the sound quality. Maybe, like Guitar Rig, you can have a few levels of quality that eat different amounts of CPU? I'll keep an eye out for it and be sure to try the 3rd party library. I am also interested in sampling my vintage gear.

Also, zaphod, if I can be so bold as to provide some constructive criticism on your website, you might want to amend your introductory paragraph to say something like this:

"Nebula is a VST multi-effect plug-in that emulates several types of audio equipment, SUCH AS EQUALIZERS, COMPRESSORS AND REVERBS, eliminating the need for costly hardware, bringing you worlds of new options."

You might also want to go into a bit more detail on your main page about how it works. I'm still confused as to how Nebula stores and calls up presets, what parameters can be edited, can I have multiple devices in one plugin or is it one device per plugin, can I overlay one aspect of one device (say frequency response) over another device, what are all those faders for on the right -is this a mixer? And all the 3D pics keep confusing me as to whether this is a piece of hardware or a plugin. I remember visiting your site years ago and leaving in frustration after not being able to get enough clear information about the product.

P.S. I just found some of the information listed above... in your Store. C'mon man, the Store is where you put this?

Looking forward to trying you V4 when it arrives.
I appreciate your criticism about the website. I'll address your request immediatly, asking to richard a better description.
Most of descriptions and text were generated around 2 years ago, we improved something but maybe it is not enough.
Yes I agree 3d pics are confusing, we'll try to mix them in the future. Especially when real hardware units will be released, it could increase confusion (am I buying a real device or a software? where should I click?)
Old 15th March 2014
  #27
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zaphod's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicJesus View Post
wow, an unbiased test by the people who make it.
No bone to pick - but you have obviously tested it the way I suggested - it is a standard equipment test. Just post the results.
I'll report the answer of a 3rd party developer posted today on our website. If you think our libraries are not good you could contact directly them on our website or on their ones (they are many), instead of complaining generic issues elsewhere.

Here the answer:

Quote:
In most every 3rd party library are both manuals and VST Analyzer graphs posted. In those graphs included detailed harmonic/THD/noise data.

Go to any of the Developer sites and download ... it's all free to see.

You can also grab the actual program VSTAnalyzer and view the details in real-time. This is very useful to see how an eq actually responds.

Also ... follow some of the discussion from the library developers themselves. Many of them share their own personal observations, and testing. You may then begin to appreciate the efforts they put into these libraries to create accurate models directly compared to the hardware that's been 'Nebula-tized'.

A thought to consider [if new to the analogue world ... particularly the much sought 'vintage' gear, may enlighten the difference between actual tubes, resistors, coils, values, caps, and transformers ... compared to mathematical formulas and algorithms.

What is the difference between a synthesizer making the sound of a violin as compared to the sound emanating from the actual instrument ? To some ... they are both violins

Presets within a library usually come with several variations, or kernels ... at its simplest, we'd have full harmonic content of the entire hardware unit, and then a 'clean' preset. This allows combinations that can be used to our sonic advantage.

An example technique may be a typical 4 band equalizer, where each individual band is set to a 'clean' preset ... and the combination run serial into a 'full kerneled' Pre-Amp preset [many times included in the library]. The combinations are user defined to customize/tailor the sound beyond the curves.

Does that help ?
Let me add a thing. Nebula is a sort of opensource project.There are more than 100.000 sampling hours on it. The biggest sampling project in the fx world.

Literally thousand of users used nat for sampling their equipment, and dozens of them released commercial libraries. We have around 600 commercial libraries around, each one composed by several up to hundreds of presets. Do you think all this community is releasing "garbage" just for a bit of fun? When a magazine tells you we have a good emulation, do you think we are paying them in cash for advertising our products? Or are you better alone than all these people? would you suggest them to spend in a better way their time?

I think we were scrutinized a lot. The market scrutinized a lot. Magazines too. Schools. And it's easy to show you that: just google it.
Old 15th March 2014
  #28
Tui
Gear Guru
 
Tui's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by zaphod View Post
Do you think all this community is releasing "garbage" just for a bit of fun?
No, certainly not. But it goes to show how different perceptions can be. One man's "it sounds just like hardware" is another man's "it sounds nothing like it". I would say this is true not only for convolution, but all emulation software.
Old 15th March 2014
  #29
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zabukowski's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicJesus View Post
Cool, make love to it every night if you wish. My point had nothing to do with whether people like it. But if you think it is even remotely modeling hardware, you are wrong. It's not.

Try it yourself.
For god's sake - if you can't hear and understand Nebula after all debates, tests, comparisons, reviews etc., why bother with it at all ? What exactly is your point ?

Just use something else and enjoy feeding it with sine waves. I won't do it for sure, it was done a million times before, but i would expect you to provide results of your tests, instead of repeating "try it yourself" phrase.

Cheers, Franci
Old 15th March 2014
  #30
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barryfell's Avatar
Here's a handy video for understanding Nebula and good advice on gain staging, both in general and in relation to Nebula:



Full Nebula course here: Nebula Explained | Official Home
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