Zebra 2.9 released

Official support for: u-he.com
KVRAF
3638 posts since 17 Dec, 2009

Post Mon Mar 01, 2021 5:40 am

I'm generally not a dumb person, but the whole "analog modelling plugins calibrated to -18dB" bullshit pisses me off and i don't understand it at all.
"Hey we have unlimited resolution and freedom, lets put some dumbass technical constraints nobody like on it, just because".
Put a trim button on the damn plugin, it costs 0 CPU power and its much easier to do everything.

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Urs
u-he

Topic Starter

25635 posts since 8 Aug, 2002 from Berlin

Post Mon Mar 01, 2021 5:55 am

Zebra isn’t an analogue modelled compressor or anything. If you mix it at a fader position of 0dB, you get something close to 0dB. If you reference at -18dB, you need to set your fader to -18dB before the meter if you want to judge the balance of the factory library.

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Urs
u-he

Topic Starter

25635 posts since 8 Aug, 2002 from Berlin

Post Mon Mar 01, 2021 5:57 am

(Funny thing is, if you do the -18dB thing and mix down to 16 bit before normalization you actually get 13 bit. One less than CD quality.)

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KVRAF
21538 posts since 7 Jan, 2009 from Croatia

Post Mon Mar 01, 2021 6:00 am

Well, if all presets were 18 dB quieter then everyone would scream how they are not loud enough. :P

You can't win.

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Urs
u-he

Topic Starter

25635 posts since 8 Aug, 2002 from Berlin

Post Mon Mar 01, 2021 6:05 am

Sound quality is mostly perceived by loudness. Our synths sell pretty much in order of average preset loudness. Coincidence?

KVRAF
3638 posts since 17 Dec, 2009

Post Mon Mar 01, 2021 6:11 am

i wasn't referring to zebra here, but to other plugins

i don't like plugins with too quiet presets

KVRAF
1674 posts since 5 Oct, 2003

Post Mon Mar 01, 2021 6:54 am

Urs wrote:
Mon Mar 01, 2021 6:05 am
Sound quality is mostly perceived by loudness. Our synths sell pretty much in order of average preset loudness. Coincidence?
Ha, I was just comparing Repro side by side with a demo of bx_oberhausen and was thinking how incredible oberhausen sounded, then realized that the loudness was significantly higher per preset than the Repro presets, not to mention the Maag frequency compressor effect was often on. Once I took those things into account, I couldn't tell that one sounded better than the other :) Very useful realization!

After some time, I felt as good as bx_oberhausen sounds, it seems largely based on the great sound of the VCFs and the TMT thing and loudness! Whereas it seems like to me every one of Repro's components and integration is of that quality. Well all of u-he's for that matter. Each good synth technology has it's place but I'm so grateful for u-he's across the board quality integrity. Forgive me my naive comparisons. I have zero knowledge of the original instruments these are based on!

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KVRAF
18756 posts since 3 Feb, 2005 from in the wilds

Post Mon Mar 01, 2021 8:32 am

Urs wrote:
Mon Mar 01, 2021 6:05 am
Sound quality is mostly perceived by loudness. Our synths sell pretty much in order of average preset loudness. Coincidence?
:hihi: :lol: :hihi:

KVRAF
8387 posts since 16 Aug, 2006

Post Mon Mar 01, 2021 8:39 am

I personally prefer quieter presets just to leave some headroom. So I shoot for peaks around -12dbfs to -10dbfs when I create presets as a starting point, then adjust the output volume by ear to dial them in from there. I wish all developers targeted presets with more headroom, but I understand how newbies also equate quieter presets to "that synth gets lost in the mix" so there's a balancing act developers have to play. When factory presets are outright clipping though, then I get cranky (don't think this is the case with any U-he synths since the recent Zebra tagging).

Here's the "trick" I use for U-he presets to get more headroom:

1. Open the synth with your current default preset
2. Turn down the output volume to about 9 o'clock - wherever your happy with the output volume but it's gotta be on the lower end of the range for this to work
3. Right click the output knob and select "Lock"
4. Save as a default preset in your DAW

This will work to quiet down like 90% of the factory presets. It won't be 100% consistent, and in rare cases can make a preset louder, but using the 90/10 rule, this is a good workaround that U-he synths allow for due to their lock functionality. Works for Synapse plugins too, probably some others.

3ee
KVRAF
3816 posts since 8 Mar, 2006

Post Tue Mar 02, 2021 4:22 am

Ploki wrote:
Mon Mar 01, 2021 5:40 am
I'm generally not a dumb person, but the whole "analog modelling plugins calibrated to -18dB" bullshit pisses me off and i don't understand it at all.
"Hey we have unlimited resolution and freedom, lets put some dumbass technical constraints nobody like on it, just because".
Put a trim button on the damn plugin, it costs 0 CPU power and its much easier to do everything.
haha :lol: the '-18 dB' thing is no BS at all! ... you are pissed because you didn't understand it..

That is simply a 'reference level' so you can organize... and it's in regards to RMS (not peak) ... that means you can have the RMS level around -18 but still peak above 0 dBFS

It's just a reference level! :) When I mix for example after rough volume balance and panning I aim to be somewhere between -24 to -18 dB RMS to have good headroom to work.. and hit my processors and chains the way I expect..

Having a reference level is great if you ask me! Keeps things consistent .. I also had a reference level when I was building my patch banks for Zebra and others should as well... it depends on the instrument types

KVRAF
3638 posts since 17 Dec, 2009

Post Tue Mar 02, 2021 5:03 am

3ee wrote:
Tue Mar 02, 2021 4:22 am
Ploki wrote:
Mon Mar 01, 2021 5:40 am
I'm generally not a dumb person, but the whole "analog modelling plugins calibrated to -18dB" bullshit pisses me off and i don't understand it at all.
"Hey we have unlimited resolution and freedom, lets put some dumbass technical constraints nobody like on it, just because".
Put a trim button on the damn plugin, it costs 0 CPU power and its much easier to do everything.
haha :lol: the '-18 dB' thing is no BS at all! ... you are pissed because you didn't understand it..

That is simply a 'reference level' so you can organize... and it's in regards to RMS (not peak) ... that means you can have the RMS level around -18 but still peak above 0 dBFS

It's just a reference level! :) When I mix for example after rough volume balance and panning I aim to be somewhere between -24 to -18 dB RMS to have good headroom to work.. and hit my processors and chains the way I expect..

Having a reference level is great if you ask me! Keeps things consistent .. I also had a reference level when I was building my patch banks for Zebra and others should as well... it depends on the instrument types
Oh i understand it, i just find it silly.

My reference level is dB SPL, so every mix i make ends up within the same LUFS and peak anyway and i don't need to look at meters at all.

-18dBFS RMS is just an arbitrary level (from a digital perspective) set because a lot of analog consoles have equivalent of -18dBFS (on a +4dBu or 0.775V) at 0 VU.
It makes sense to pull it down to -18dB RMS if you go into an analog chain from your ITB rig, but releasing plugins without trim calibrated to -18dBFS is just dumb.

KVRist
405 posts since 18 May, 2007 from Berlin

Post Tue Mar 02, 2021 7:43 am

cantaloupe wrote:
Mon Mar 01, 2021 4:01 am
Most Factory presets are "clipping" here [...]
I find that sounds that appear quite ugly and abrasive can be usable if i just reduce the output. I am struggling to understand why a competent company like u-he wouldn't go through their presets with a VU meter and stop this madness.
Indeed we've gone through all presets to prevent them going "into the red" on our track meters, none have passed the 0dB mark in our DAWs with both hands playing full chords, and there was never any clipping during our tests. So yes, we have indeed invested many many hours into taking care of such a potential issue for this release. None of our beta testers have found any such clipping issues either (or they didn't report it, always a possibility).

Our reference isn't -18 dBfs, that's nothing but the default setting in the Hornet VU meter plugin, but there's no demand for our synth plugins to use that number. Our reference is the 0dBfs mark in your DAW track meter.
Hornet VU meter is calibrated for recording into your DAW via your audio interface, hence the -18dBfs default setting. Hornet explain this:
"Monitoring the signal level coming into your DAW is crucial for a correct mixing [...]
When recording your tracks it’s useful to have a loudness indicator like the VU meter [...]
(Hornet VU meter) has a calibration setting that will allow you to set the 0VU point to the best level for your A/D converters (by default is set to -18dBFS but you should read the spec of your A/D and set the calibration to the specified internal headroom). This is because every A/D converter has an analog front-end and if you record too hot (close to 0dBFS) you risk to overload that analog stage."

To sum up, the VU meter plugin (by default) isn't calibrated to tell you when your software synthesizers might be clipping or not.
So change the reference level in the VU meter to 0 dB and you'll have a more accurate picture of what our new releases are aiming for.

If you hear anything ugly and abrasive coming from a fresh installation of Zebra2.9 or ZebraHZ 2.9 (i.e. any clipping), then there must be a different problem somewhere else down the signal chain. Feel free to drop us an email at support[at]u-he.com with more details about your setup and the DAW you're using, maybe with screenshots showing your typical track setup.
(You don't have to, of course, but I could certainly take a look.)

Cheers!
Viktor
u-he team

KVRist
134 posts since 31 May, 2017

Post Wed Mar 03, 2021 6:22 am

Thanks for the educational explanation, Viktor!
Our differences makes sense then.

I'll simply adjust the output of the sounds that i'll use manually, as i find that -18dB still makes sense to me, both in terms of workflow with other plugins, but also on a perception level as sounds with tons of harmonics at 0dB can be really hard for my ears (but maybe thats only me.)

No need for support really, but appreciate your offering.
Cheers.

KVRAF
8387 posts since 16 Aug, 2006

Post Wed Mar 03, 2021 8:03 am

cantaloupe wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 6:22 am
Thanks for the educational explanation, Viktor!
Our differences makes sense then.

I'll simply adjust the output of the sounds that i'll use manually, as i find that -18dB still makes sense to me, both in terms of workflow with other plugins, but also on a perception level as sounds with tons of harmonics at 0dB can be really hard for my ears (but maybe thats only me.)

No need for support really, but appreciate your offering.
Cheers.
Try my trick out with dialing back the output gain quite a bit and locking it on your default preset in your DAW. Not perfect, but for the vast majority of presets, it works for well.

KVRist
134 posts since 31 May, 2017

Post Fri Mar 05, 2021 6:11 pm

Funkybot's Evil Twin wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 8:03 am
Try my trick out with dialing back the output gain quite a bit and locking it on your default preset in your DAW. Not perfect, but for the vast majority of presets, it works for well.
Thanks for the tip, bro. I'll try that.

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