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So, vote your opinion if takes too much to write a post:

Get it, you can't live without it
Good but limited
Avoid at all costs
Total votes : 77
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1233 posts since 29 Dec, 2008, from Lithuania

Postby sorohanro; Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:01 pm What's Your Opinion On Nebula VST?

So, many years ago I've heard of this Nebula VST but whenever I actually get the free version and try it, my computer could not put up with it. I see t praised on many audio forums for the wonderful analog emulations, brilliant ….whatever, so, I decided yesterday to try it again.
Got the free version and installed it. My impressions are not really positive.
- crashes whenever I run it in same project with T-Raks or plugins from Nomad Factory
- all amp, preamp, tape and tube emulations don't really do anything to the sound
- compressors don't really act like compressors
- reverbs are a bad joke
- the "liquid" slider doesn't do anything, maybe some bad artifacts in one reverb program
- when I run together with plugins that use same engine I have bursts of high pitched noise and my mixer channels go on red and stay there even after the sound stopped

Now, I see so many people being amazed by it that it makes me wonder, am I getting the bad results only?
What's your experience with it?[/url]
57 posts since 27 Jan, 2006

Postby BLUE-S-MAN; Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:57 pm

Now, I see so many people being amazed by it

Cause they know what to do :D
527 posts since 7 Apr, 2010

Postby Lenticular; Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:12 pm

You have to learn what it does & how to use it first.
You're results show severe user error & understanding, especially your 'pre-amp, reverb, tape emu & moving liquidity slider' comments.
Last edited by Lenticular on Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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1233 posts since 29 Dec, 2008, from Lithuania

Postby sorohanro; Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:15 pm

Anyone to share the recipe then?
Beside the loud bursts of noise, I don't really see anything that can't be done by VOS plugins or other freebies (JB bundle, LiquidSonics Reverberate or Vintager Toy).
527 posts since 7 Apr, 2010

Postby Lenticular; Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:18 pm

sorohanro wrote:Anyone to share the recipe then?
Beside the loud bursts of noise, I don't really see anything that can't be done by VOS plugins or other freebies (JB bundle, LiquidSonics Reverberate or Vintager Toy).

No secret, maybe you're system can't handle it.
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1233 posts since 29 Dec, 2008, from Lithuania

Postby sorohanro; Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:33 pm

Thanks for replies.
Well, my system is not really the most powerful, but can run at least 8-9 instances of Kontakt or Play engine with pretty heavy libraries.

I have just the free version of Nebula and for now the only thing I like is a compressor found on some forum (some community...something), an amp simulator and some skins that look good :lol: but on the rest... the preamps are a bit too subtle to hear (or even see in a wav editor), regardless of how hard I push the gain or saturation or whatever slider is available.
The attack and release on the default compressors don't react like a compressor, I can't really hear a change in the transients, just in the gain.
The 3 reverbs there are quite bad.
Tape simulator... well, maybe good, but FerricTDS or TB ReelBus make more dramatic changes and the knobs and sliders actually change a lot of sound when you turn them around.
492 posts since 27 Apr, 2002, from Canada

Postby toby; Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:07 pm

I've got Nebula and my experiences are mainly positive (although it is a bit clunky to use)

I think the strengths as most people mentioned are mainly in the 3rd party library developers.

The R2R & TapeBooster from CD Soundmaster is great.
I've been using an AlexB Eq which is quite nice (although you need to load each band of eq in a seperate plugin - very unfortunate)
The VVXT plate reverb is excellent.

Rayflex compressor is excellent I found.

Again though loading a new program for each preset is a clunky way of doing things
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2498 posts since 1 Dec, 2004, from Sydney, Australia

Postby dalor; Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:36 pm

I sold it a while back. When it works - it's great! But - sometimes you pick a preset - nothing, no change, you check the library paths, close and restart host again, then it shows up unregistered, you download new version, send an email for new regcode, wait 1-48 hours, enter registration and it's not working (or sometimes it does), load library again - nothing working, no change in sound and you have no idea what's going on. He was very helpful throughout this but at the end I just gave up due to frustration.
517 posts since 31 Aug, 2012

Postby lacandon; Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:49 pm

Sounds a bit metallic to me and doesn't sound so catchy as i expected to be , or i heard for it . Just tested Vary Mu library of this guy Alex B and is not good very harsh ! Liquid mix Vary Mu is much better ! Also good programs for it eat too much cpu ! Great pre amps i can say on it !
1801 posts since 20 Dec, 2002, from The Benighted States of Trumpistan

Postby Jafo; Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:28 pm

I love Nebula, but it can be very temperamental and contrary. It works great for AeternusEternaus' cab sims (my main use), EQs, and reverbs, but I've had it do all sorts of weird things -- maybe its Heisenbugs make it moody. :? Still, if it likes you, it makes magic. (But so do many other plugs, and much more reliably.)

Not exactly the most glowing (or rational) endorsement, alas. :oops: But I don't know any other way to explain why competent users have such disparate experiences. A lot of it could also be due to the gear -- maybe people chose very well-behaved high-end gear that interacts in subtle yet complex ways, and the results aren't as obvious as many plugs. Or maybe hardware is more linear that you think.

More importantly, maybe your tastes are different, and you might prefer what other plugs do. That's a perfectly valid and respectable response. In fact, I'd argue that the only opinion that really counts is your own (well, once you know what you're doing and have considered the alternatives). To paraphrase Dave Pensado, you're hired more for your taste than your skills.
Joy and kindness are acts of resistance -- fight the power!
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617 posts since 14 Jun, 2006, from Espoo / Finland

Postby filter303; Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:34 pm

I usually avoid participating topics where my opinion can fuel any unnecessary flame wars. Sometimes you got to rock the boat, but it's not always necessary when people are just discussing tools that they use to make music. I wanted to start a similar thread to this some time ago, and now I just felt the urge to reply here.

To put it short, I agree with the original poster.
I have the version 3 pro with many 3rd party libraries, of many which people seem to be recommending in various forums, including here at kvr. I have to say that besides EQ's or vnxt plate, nebula isn't doing much for me either. There is so much hype surrounding this product, it's ridiculous. It's almost getting into a religion. Some people are so passionate and fanatic about Nebula, that it starts to become really annoying after a while. I have kept my mouth shut because I am not looking to hurt anyone's feelings with my opinions.

I find it very strange that anytime someone criticizes this product in a respectful manner (I am not necessarily talking about this thread), there is a wave of nebula zealots who come out and say:

- you don't have the ears to hear the difference, the effect is so subtle, but it's there
- you need to get some 3rd party libraries.. those are the shit
- your computer can't handle it
- you don't understand what you are doing
- you need to read the manual and try different settings
- you haven't used it long enough to know the difference
- you need pro version
- you need to be more patient
- you don't have proper gain staging

People generally get very offensive when they notice that someone has the nerve to dislike their favorite little toy. It's always the user who gets the blame if he does not like Nebula. It's his fault of doing something wrong or maybe missing experience, taste or golden ears.
If you have nerve to disagree with the Nebula zealots you will automatically become an amateur in their eyes, and they will let you know it. Nebula (among many other plugins) is becoming like a religion for many. I generally don't understand why these kind of discussions get heated so often when people are only not in agreement of what is good and what is not.

After using nebula for a while I can honestly say that Nebula overdrive/distortion/saturation is a big let down for me (I don't even want to talk about the compressors). I can't hear it doing anything in this aspect.
I compared some of the 3rd library tapes to Reelbus and I didn't have to spend lot of time listening in order to realize which one I preferred. I also have tons of "pre-amp" programs for nebula, and let me just say this. With a real analog preamp you can hear what it does even if you don't have much experience with it. If you adjust the gain knob in Nebula, you don't get any of that tasty overdrive that you could get from an analog gear.
With analog units you can shape the signal in very radical ways if you choose to do so. Having nebula in the signal path does nothing I can hear. Even my 90€ audio interface mic preamp does a better job giving some vibe to my synths. It's speaks for itself that many people who use Nebula use a technique of lining multiple Nebula instances to get some effect which you can notice.

I also bought this distortion pedal program from a respected nebula 3rd party developer.
The product original products, which this program was sampled from was something I happened to be very familiar with, after all I had owned it for years.
I bought the program because I was tired of hearing stuff like "well.. preamp emus are so subtle that you need the ear to hear it". So I wanted to try an emulation of something that should be emulating the extreme ways of shaping audio. I know the sound of the original "sampled" gear, and I could honestly say that nebula didn't sound anything like it. I wanted to like it, but it didn't do anything I wanted to do to my sound.
In fact I could get better distortions of any freeware plugins I have tried.

An emulation of a tube preamp should not be so subtle that even experienced people can't hear any difference. If I process my synths with even cheap analog gear, I can hear what it's doing. And that was 15 years ago when I didn't have much experience and my ears were far more untrained than what it is now.
I have never heard an example of Nebula doing anything like this. Even my 10€ behringer pedals do better job providing overdrive than nebula, which is not doing good distortion. Nebula is claiming to be emulating analog distortion, but the way it is sounds very unnatural. Someone can say that maybe there is something wrong with your computer? Hehehe... Maybe I should have added it to my list.

When it came to chorus, phaser, flanger and filter programs, it was so easy to get better sounding results with stuff like Cytomic, D16, TAL, ArtsAcoustic products. And needless to say they also used less cpu while doing so and there is no risk of horrible artifacts either. I am not talking about the workflow, as I don't mind how cumbersome Nebula can be, if it just sounded as good as promised.

I don't even want to start speak about the compressors, because there is nothing to tell except that they don't work that well either.

I often hear that some nebula users call regular plugins as plastic sounding. It's one of those phrases you get to hear a lot. In my opinion it's the exact opposite. Same thing with words like "game changer" (oh how I hate that expression with a passion). Only thing Nebula has changed for me is the amount of money I have in my account. In all of my (non scientific, just relying on my taste and hearing) harmonic distortion tests nebula was the one which sounded worse than the plugins I owned. And I don't even own and of those fancy UA, Waves, Softube, Soundtoys, Slate etc (insert brand here) products.

I had read so much praise about it for many years so eventually I just had to buy it and see if it was true. Nebula was one of my biggest plugin investments in 2012. Now that I think about it, I really wish that I didn't listen to the hype surrounding it. I could have saved myself a lot of money, which I had better spent on some other products.

Whenever I think about Nebula, the word placebo comes into my mind. It's an effect we shouldn't be underestimating. People say that Nebula is magic, but if that is the case, I seem to have missed it.

I know what is being claimed about the technology behind Nebula. And I also know that many respected audio engineers use it and praise it too. But the only thing I will trust in this one are my own ears.

I agree with the previous poster also about the EQ's, cabs and some reverbs (like VNXT plate's). These are the exception for me when it comes to nebula. I was initially impressed with the EQ's. But I have to spend more time trying to match them with my other tools before I make my judgement. If the EQ's are as good as they seem to be. Then it's worth having a Nebula in the toolbox just so you can have some very tasty EQ's ITB. For anything other than this, it seems to me that I have lost the faith in Nebula.
Last edited by filter303 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:47 am, edited 2 times in total.
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3399 posts since 28 Jun, 2009, from Wherever I lay my hat

Postby ariston; Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:28 pm

@filter303: thanks so much for your detailed, critical but very fair and balanced statement on Nebula. It could have come from me, every single word of it.
175 posts since 3 Feb, 2005

Postby gavriloP; Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:58 am

I also think that Nebula is a mixed bag. I've been using it for quite some time, but little by little other algorithmic plugins have took it's place in the FX chain. For starters, I don't even have those basic programs installed anymore, I'm using 3rd party programs completely.

For my personal use, I much prefer my own tube preamps (Peavey VMP2, GT the Brick, Ampeg SVT-MP and even EH12ay7) so I have no need for that "subtle coloring". And even though I don't have tape machine I prefer TB Reelbus plugin over Nebula. Same goes with console emu's and coloring altogether. I prefer plugins that let you dial in the sound and not just go through presets trying to choose what sounds "better".

All in all, the best way to color is to get it right with the source (instrument, room, mic and placement and preamp and then at least decent converter).

Nebula EQs do sound good but there the practicality also wins. Sonimus Sweetone and DDMF stuff is just so much more usable, and still very cheap. I sometimes do use Nebula Germanos EQs from Analog in the Box, especially for boosting higs, but most of the time it is just DDMF stuff. Also it is nuisance to be so rigor about gain staging with nebula. I have to use VU metering plugins before it to get proper level in and if it goes even one dB too high, sound can crap out completely. That was one thing that drove me nuts with tape programs especially. Also the GUI in itself is atrocious. Tiny fonts and aesthetics from 90s hardware are irritating. I'm not talking about slider, knobs or bitmaps, those are just candy but the "led display" is just stupid. Also the metering should be much better, considering what I just wrote before.

I've only used free amp cab programs for nebula but those were somewhat bizarre. Basic IRs are perhaps more flat and 2D than those but they simply work without surprises. Anyway, that department is something I believe could work very well with nebula.

The only thing that I really use Nebula nowadays are reverbs. And especially special vintage reverbs like springs. With Valhalla DSP reverbs my "digital" reverb needs are fully covered but AITB's Tank verb springs are in everyday use here with guitars. Actually I don't even use VNXT's EMT140 programs much because I prefer SKnote's Verbtone for tweakability.

So there you have it, AITB's spring reverb and little german EQs. That's the Nebula for me.

Also, once someone makes good spring verb plugin (or I buy the real thing), it is hasta la vista, baby for Nebula.

Unless of course those amp cab programs win me over :)

Oh and one other thing: the size of programs is ridiculous! My Tank Verb programs from AITB are 12GB! Yep, you read that correctly. In fact I removed most of the different tube variations just to get usable user interface with the menus and also because that much choice just becomes limiting (to compare which of the different tube versions sounds suitable for which). It is cool that AITB has those options but because of Nebula's archaic menu system I just got lost with the choices.

Each program taking hundreds of megs of my RAM is just something I can live without.

EDIT: also, compressors, modulation FX and distortion are simply not working for me in Nebula. I see no point to use Nebula to those over any plugin.
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4609 posts since 17 Aug, 2004, from Berlin, Germany

Postby 4damind; Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:18 am

I own the Pro version with some 3rd party libraries. In the past it was IMO the only option to have some good sounding tapes or vintage EQs like the D.W. Fearn. But I never liked the GUI or the handling with EQs, the library browser etc.
Newer algorithmic emulations are on a very high level so I never installed Nebula again after a OS update. For me the time with Nebula is over.
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1233 posts since 29 Dec, 2008, from Lithuania

Postby sorohanro; Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:45 am

WOW !!! just WOW !
Thanks @filter303 and @gavriloP for the HUGE detailed posts, and thanks everybody for sharing their opinions.
So, bye Nebula and instead I'll be just fine with Reel Bus/FerricTDS for tape, Recabinet/Amplitube/Guitar Rig for cabinets, Reverberate/Origami/Reflektor for impulses.

I'm a little sad for this, I really wanted a "new toy" to fool around with (and, don't laugh, I really some of the skins there).
My music is highly influenced by the environment (not mixing, I just find a good GUI inspiring and put me in the mood for doing new stuff).

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