I stumbled across a method for greatly improving the frequency response of these older programs I made several years ago. Any recording medium that uses a motor for playback will suffer from some level of wow and flutter. This is fluctuations in the playback speed of the motor, which result in a ‘wobble’ of the audio’s pitch and speed. The problem is that this throws off the program used to sample things for Nebula- NAT.
When it tries to ‘deconvolve’ a tone sweep down into an impulse, the fluctuations caused by the wow/flutter are recognized as phase shifts in the frequency response by NAT. This leads to the tell-tale ‘jaggy’ response seen in any program sampled from a recording medium with a motor. With a good Reel to Reel deck the jaggyness can be very subtle, but if you zoom in with a good analyzer you should still see it. When it’s that subtle, it’s not a problem! Cassette decks usually have worse wow/flutter due to the motor speed being slower, so with these programs the jaggyness was actually audible in some cases, manifesting itself as a subtle ‘brightness’ added to the character, which wasn’t supposed to be there.
I’ve found a way to fix it, and the responses look and sound sooo much nicer now! There were *many* other improvements to the programs in the library, with an over-all result being, in my opinion, that this is basically a new thing. I think the potential for use has been greatly opened up.
Below are some before and after comparisons of some of the programs in the library, so you can see how the frequency response has been improved. These graphs don’t show how the dynamic behavior is also greatly improved in this library!
Old responses on left, new ones on right!
This is tape #3, Maxell UR. It’s a type 1 tape.
Here’s program #5A, a Maxell XL II which is a type 2 tape.
This is program #5B. It’s the same Maxell XL II tape, but this one was played/recorded at a slower speed while sampling.
Program #11A, a Maxell MX-S which is a type 4 metal tape. This one is great for a more subtle effect due to having the least high freq roll-off up to 20khz out of the set. The best program for that purpose. Still gives some of that tape crunch in the dynamics.
So I’ve just finished an update for both sets. Same thing is added to both. Each set has a stereo and a mono plate. The stereo plate in each set got additional variations such as a stereo swap version, a mono version that uses the sampled left channel impulses for both channels, one that does the same but using the right channel impulses, and another that uses a mono mix of both left and right sampled impulses mixed together for both channels which is a bit thicker than the other mono versions.
These aren’t something that can be obtained easily in your daw with channel routing. It might seem like it would be easy but it’s not, especially for the mono mix version. These are also more practical and convenient than using complicated mixing. They provide you with more, slightly different sounding (from the main stereo programs they are based off of) options for using in your mixes, and you may find that you prefer one of these alternate versions in some cases, if you try them out!
So, after a pretty long hiatus I’m back! Kicking off, let’s call it ‘phase 3’, with the Bee X-20 reverb, and I know I say this every time but this is definitely THE ONE. My best (released) reverb yet. Of course a lot of that is due to the hardware itself, but to recreate something as complex as that in Nebula, including the sampled damper control, is no easy task. But you can read more about that on the product page (just check it out under the reverbs category)!
Hopefully this is just the start of another string of cool Cupwise Nebula products and I can get at least a few of the things that have been sitting unfinished (or partly finished like this release, serving as my own personal super secret cool reverb for a little over a year now!) on my hard drives for up to years now, “out the door”, before fading back into the mist….
Incidentally, this also happens to be the first new release put out on my website since the site got updated!
Back about mid-way through 2014 I had a pretty extensive guide to sampling for Nebula (using the NAT sampling program) published in Sound on Sound. It’s aimed at beginners and I tried to de-mystify a lot of the notions about sampling in it. At a glance the guides might look pretty complicated but I think they break it down into pretty solid step-by-step instructions which should help anyone get something useful. It covers 3 types of programs- Preamps, Reverbs, and non-dynamic Multis. Multis are what anything that’s sampled with an adjustable control which is sampled in multiple positions is called, which includes equalizers for example.
I think I also gave a pretty good idea of some of the major limitations to the platform. There are also some example programs and custom NAT sampling templates which are from my own personal set, which you can download at Sound on Sound, as supplemental material for the article. The programs are from the examples I made while doing the guide, as a walk through.