No "emulated" VST plugin comes anywhere close in terms of sound to what Nebula can do with the sampled real hardware of heaps of EQ's, compressors and other goodies. It's for the real audio-nerds out there.
As a long time Nebula owner, I'm not very happy with this plug-in. It was a nightmare to get all up and running, find the needed libraries, get the keyfile and such stuff. Ok, since some time they changed the website, so it's easier to find all downloads. But this is not the best solution for a commercial plug-in. Acustica should provide something like a better installer and maintaining tool to install the free libraries later. A idea of such a good tool is the Imageline library tool.
The GUI is average and for most things not very usable. This is the problem with such a GUI which should be usable for many different sampled devices. EQ, compressor, tapes... All have the same faders only with customized labels for the parameters. Better would be a GUI description "language" or a XML file where the libraries could load there optimized/own interface. The library and the short names are a bad idea. I had to ask the developer of the R2R libraries to get an idea about the meaning of the short names. This is a very big limitation not to have longer names and a description.
I bought Nebula in the past because of the Doc Fear EQ (D.W Fearn). But because of the limitations of Nebula3 it's not usable like a "Pultec clone". I wished it has a interface with all knobs like the D.W Fearn on one page and all settings there. So I must search in the library with the cryptic names and load a part (only the shelf EQ or a combo provided by the author).
CPU usage and latency is very high. I tested also to change the internal buffer size but this will not help. So it's more a plug-in I use for 1 or 2 instances.
The sound is ok but I prefer a good emulation instead of the sampled devices. The limitations of Nebula are for me a show stopper.
It's been a rocky road with me and Nebula. After years of passionate endorsement from other users, my jury is still out on this thing. I understand the developer is breaking new ground, but I have trouble regarding Nebula as anything other than an experiment in progress.
First off, the interface - despite its cool, retro look - is confusing, and worse, extremely sluggish, and tough to make precise settings. There is also a delay when changing banks and presets; just one of those things that ads up to a tedious experience. Lots of silly names don't help the user understand what model is what, but I understand this is a limitation in a world shackled with intellectual property, but most of them are simply indecipherable.
That being said, it's nice that the user has full control over the presets (programs), and can download and install programs at will. Although the sluggish, convoluted Nebula ethos is extended to the website, where it's very confusing to tell what section you're in, which one you should be in or where you get your standard presets from. Perhaps I haven't spent enough time on these sites, and the newer site is a vast improvement on the labyrinthian, punishing old site, so maybe it's just me. But I find it hard to tell what program or application is which, or which is an update. Oh well.
So sound-wise, this is where the big payoff should be, right? I personally think the user interface puts me off so much that maybe it colours my opinion, but I've never heard anything that blows me away. Some of the EQs definitely sound nice, if I can find a program that does what I want, but I've found the compressors to be very strange sounding; more like transient designers than the sacred equipment they're supposed to be exact clones of. Again, maybe I've just installed the wrong "programs", but I would point out that this doesn't really happen with any other effect I own, and is counterproductive to mixing.
Time-based effects don't fare much better, with choruses sounding like a single sine wave carving through your track. I just don't think this technology is ready, at this point.
And the latency is outrageous. I'm very used to high latencies, I'm not that picky, but adding a couple of these to a mix will make my DAW feel terribly unresponsive, and CPU builds up quickly. I just don't hear the crucial reward of stunning sound I'm supposed to hear for such a deadly performance hit.
Support is very good, the developer is a good guy and clearly believes in the product and wants to help, clearly doing his best. I always enjoy dealing with him.
I hate to be hard on a nice, independent developer, but this product just hasn't clicked with me. I've bought and stuck with it for the promise of the future, and we'll see where it goes. For now, it sits unused on my hard drive. Unfortunately, in the meantime, virtual analog technology is getting better and better, so I would like to see some serious optimizations in this product before I take another stab at it.
If you understand, use or know what Impulse Reverb do this is kind of similar. In essence loads impulses which emulate the vibe and sound of various consoles (yes the console wars are on at the time of this review), EQs, Tape sats,compressors, filters, Akai samplers, the list goes on. From very bespoke equipment to a simple sampler. You can find loads more on their website.
Fortunately Nebula is one of 'under the radar' plugins that shouldn't be. The great thing is they offer a FREE version with a ton of impulses. I say fortunately as it really is a best kept secret. The unfortunate is currently you will require a reasonably modern/powerful CPU to run many instances live.
Again read up on users experiences in their forums, here and GS.
First off this is can be a complex plugin and let's not forget what it is actually doing. That said it is also one of those plugins that can be as simple or complex as you want and some of that will be reflected in the end users knowledge, experience and expectations of what Nebula actually does. the general user interface is simple on the surface, dig and you will get lost. This is a plugin that you WILL be required to read the manual (if your a hobbiest like me), dig the forums or you will not get the best from it and probably make you tracks sound like violin concerto played on chainsaws (not a bad idea).
Down to the overall feedback as I believe it would be conceited and ignorant of me to comment on the technical specs and usage, I know my limits :)
Value for money, well, fantastic with what there is in the user library are fantastic. I jumped straight in with some 3rd party impulse as these are what drove me to Nebula in the first place. AnalogueInTheBox for their Mammoth Eq (I have about 80% of their impulses), CDSoundmaster, AlexB (Considered one of the best and has a great collection of Consoles and eqs I recommend the Black Consoles). I mention this as you will find yourself venturing onto 3rd party impulses, prove me wrong lol. Most are 96khz with lower rate options but some are 44.1 only. Not all sliders server as a function for the impulses. This is more about mojo and some sound treatment with minimal adjustment.
Sound wise I use Mammoth eq as my main masterbuss eq, it lifts and just makes things sound better...can't say anything better than that. Go listen to some demos. The consoles are another strong point and of course we now have alternatives (VCC, Satson, Juice). I find the compressors are not Nebulas strong point probably due to latency but that really doesn't bother me and again as CPUs and systems progress this will change. This also uses CUDA technology which (as far as I understand) utilises GPU processing power (graphics card) that are CUDA compatible (NVIDIA developments). Worth adding they now have a Server edition of Nebula so you could effectively have as many nebulas as you have computers. This is where it's worth pointing out that Nebula is something that should be used and applied towards the mixdown or mastering stage of your work. Like other plugins the best sound is on the higher rates which provoke latency, obviously rendring off line is the best course of action.
Hope I haven't spoken out of term for my lack of experties but I discovered Nebula a long time before I even heard of other similar products...demoed it, get the free version and soon you will be Nebulized...looking forward to future developments.
An update after reading a few of the other reviews. This is not for the faint hearted and will deliver superb results. It is not designed as a live effects plugin as it is high latency and will require a powerful machine to get the most from it and it will need some 'under the bonnet'tweaking to get the best from it. This is one of the reasons for the Server edition being released and should indicate the power of the plugin, it's complexity and it is ahead of it's time. I am sure as CPUs get more powerful and the coding more refined, usage will change. Do not let that deter you...for reference I can easily get half a dozen instance running alongside other plugin instruments and effects running. Worth noting the support is good and I have no complaints. This guy knows his DI's from is Don'ts... :)
Only criticism is remembering to manually check for updates as no email notification as yet.
System : Windows7x64•i7 2.66ghz•12GBRam @ 1600mhz•Vertex2 SSD drives•RMEFF800 @ 128 buffer
Latest 4 reviews from a total of 4
Comments & Discussion for Acustica Audio Nebula3 Pro Bundle