When this set was first released it had the distinction with many Nebula users as being the first Nebula compressor that ‘works’. Before this release, Nebula had a reputation with many as not being very good for actual compression, and compressor programs were commonly used just for their tone, in combination with VST plug-ins to do the actual gain reduction. I think it’s more than fair to say that this release helped change that.
The hardware has a great reputation for transparency, while still sounding like analog compression. They have lots of controls and features, which made them very tricky to sample, but that’s part of what drew me to them. They have amazing specs as far as noise/distortion goes, and who knows, they may one day be considered a classic. Some people seem to think of them as such already.
Here’s what’s in this part of the set:
- 1 hard knee compressor, sampled from 2 units (with sequential serial numbers) in a stereo configuration. Fully variable attack, release, threshold, and ratio controls. As much control as you would expect from a vst compressor.
- 1 hard knee comp, same as above but sampled with additional controls that allow you to leave some of the high frequency content un-compressed. You have one control that adjusts a cutoff point for a high frequency band, then another that sets the amount by which that band will be ‘expanded’. Combine this ability with the high-pass control for an internal side-chain and you can almost surgically compress different elements within a mix. These programs are decked out with controls.
- 1 ‘soft II’ knee compressor. This one was sampled with the units in auto mode, where they automatically adjust their attack/release times depending on the audio coming in. This mode also uses a special knee that is ‘softer’ than the soft knee you get by switching the unit into soft knee mode. This ‘softer’ knee is the main feature of this program, since the automatic behavior can’t really be recreated in Nebula. This program is a lot more simple than the other compressors, because in auto mode the ratio control has no function, so here you only use the threshold control to decide how much compression you get. The attack and release controls are also not fully variable here. Instead you get a simple fast/slow selection like with the actual units when they are in this mode. This program also has an additional control that switches on a bass phase enhancer that is explained next.
- 1 no-comp program where the units were sampled without compression. The main attraction of this program is the b-phase control, which switches on a bass phase enhancer. It’s a ‘bells and whistles’ type of feature of the hardware comps, and in some cases it actually does what it’s supposed to- focuses/tightens up the image by subtly shifting the low bass’ phase. You can use this program and feature in conjunction with any of the Rayphlex compressor programs, or you can use it by itself on anything, any time, any where.
- 1, 5, and 10k programs for everything, except the no-comp one which only has 1 and 5k because of how clean it is (there just wasn’t much/any harmonics above that point). Further, all of the compressor programs have a a few different duplicate sets of programs/presets in addition to the basic set. The basic set is works as close to the actual hardware as possible, while the duplicates offer different variations, such as RMS and EVF modes (basic uses peak), and different amounts of feedback in the detection chain. These other options can give you fairly different behaviors out of the compressors. Then there is another dupe set which is set up to accept a 2nd input for an external side-chain.