Acustica Audio Nebula by Everbeatz
WHAT IS IT?
The first experience with Nebula I had was at times it actually started developing. I was searching for good emulations of classic analog gear such as equalizers and stumbled across not so widely known company of Acustica Audio at that time.
Nebula has grown bigger over time and expanded its initial ideas. It is capable of sampling analog hardware with great precision (Vectorial Volterra Kernels), picking up all those elusive technical qualities that define a character of certain piece of gear - frequency response, phase response, distortion up to 9th harmonic, etc. I could use terms such as warmth, 3D, organic, focused, tight, etc, but I'd rather stick to technical ones since I've inspected everything about Nebula using software analyzer tools and believe me, I'm strongly convinced none of the existing software emulations are sounding alike. Nebula has its own character. Is it 100% replica of the gear it sampled? Not sure, but all comparable tests with real hardware I've heard, it sounds almost indistinguishable.
I purchased the license for the Nebula 3 Pro and have been enjoying it immensely over period of 3 years now. It became the crucial part of my workflow.
Why is it good to have Nebula in someone's own arsenal of digital toys? My own answer is because it'll bring some new flavors to the table in terms of having a unique sets of paintbrushes that would color your "in the box" mixes in very analog fashion. It bends sounds in pleasing ways.
The users of Nebula community have now a large palette of both free and premium libraries at their disposal - large collection of high end preamps, equalizers, tapes, guitar cabinets, flangers, reverbs, console channels, compressors, etc. All sampled very accurately and sounding great. Best of all it's still expanding on users requests.
Just various sampled eq libraries are worth the price of admission. Sampled equalizers captured all beauty and character of some high end gear. I'm definitely sure everyone would smile hearing how certain high shelves sound on their own material. For instance, you can use Nebula on all tracks emulating analog console, process your tracks with tape programs, add some famous sounding reverbs, reamp guitar parts and do master bus processing with some sweet sounding high end tube equalizers.
Adding multiple instances of Nebula preamp/console programs across your mix might accumulate into something that pretty much recalls mixing in analog domain. You can finally focus yourself and your mixing decisions choosing the right and suitable program that gives you coloration from the get go. Pretty important thing someone should be aware of is to do a proper gain staging, similar to analog gear calibration - finding sweet spot is crucial.
What you can't expect from Nebula is to give you a high gain distortion - we're talking about subtleties here. I've seen some examples of people being turned down from it because of that fact - it just sounds too subtle for them, but - keep in mind that there's a certain cumulative effect you get after processing your sounds over and over. The same thing that happens in a real world gear situation - you don't squeeze a lot instantly. A hint - put several preamp, eq and console channels in a row might lead you to some unexpected ear-pleasing results...you can expand that further making combinations only virtually possible.
Nebula might give an impression to come across as complex tool at first. I know people like simple looking and easy to operate tools, but it takes some time to get used to Nebula and it would be definitely rewarded.
Mixing "in the box" is a "blank slate" - you just have to add colors. I'd recommend AcusticaAudio Nebula as a must have tool for that kind of task. Use it in virtual tracking stage (preamps, cabinets, eqs, compressors), as a mixing tool (best tool for frequency shaping and adding weight to sounds) and as a complete mastering solution. It covers wide range of applications for a very affordable price.