Nebula Signal Chain

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schismatic
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Nebula Signal Chain

Post by schismatic » Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:44 pm

All,

I have wondered for a while about the "correct" order to be using different types of nebula programs on my work and I'm keen to understand more about the signal chain order that people use at each point in their production.

Could you please help me by listing what signal chain order you might use at each of the following production stages?:

Tracking Itself

Individual Tracks

Groups/Busses

Master/2 Buss

so e.g.:

Individual Tracks
1. Preamp
2. Console Line-In
3. EQ
4. Tape

etc etc

I realise that there it's possible to have different orders, but I'm generally looking to try to emulate the analog process that would have been taken in the past using hardware-only systems. I need to know how to use these tools properly!

Thanks in advance! :D

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botus99
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Re: Nebula Signal Chain

Post by botus99 » Fri Oct 05, 2012 7:56 pm

Hopefully I get this "right"...


TRACKING
1 - Console MIC input
2 - Preamp (Don't do both 1&2 unless you're going for a highly colored sound. Make your first insert #1 OR #2, but ignore the other. Hope that made sense :mrgreen: )
3 - Tape
4 - Tapebooster +
5 - VTM-M2
6 - Equalizer
7 - Compressor
8 - Console LINE input

Now, this order is MY preference, but even then I mix it up if I think the track calls for it. Not all tracks need tape saturation (3, 4, 5 are out the window in that case).

Also, you don't need to EQ and compress every track. Although, consider yourself working in the analog domain and imagine how you would want to work. Would you EQ or compress to tape? If so, then put them before the tape saturation, there's nothing wrong with that approach. To me it would make sense to put tracks to tape in their original form, but even still that is NEVER a given for every track.

You can probably figure out with a little common sense how this chain could apply to you. Also experiment with the order to see how things affect each other. I'm sure others will chime in with some different and worthwhile ideas as well!

I would detail more about busses and the master fader, but I've been procrastinating getting some car work done.
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Re: Nebula Signal Chain

Post by schismatic » Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:27 pm

botus99 wrote:Hopefully I get this "right"...


TRACKING
1 - Console MIC input
2 - Preamp (Don't do both 1&2 unless you're going for a highly colored sound. Make your first insert #1 OR #2, but ignore the other. Hope that made sense :mrgreen: )
3 - Tape
4 - Tapebooster +
5 - VTM-M2
6 - Equalizer
7 - Compressor
8 - Console LINE input

Now, this order is MY preference, but even then I mix it up if I think the track calls for it. Not all tracks need tape saturation (3, 4, 5 are out the window in that case).

Also, you don't need to EQ and compress every track. Although, consider yourself working in the analog domain and imagine how you would want to work. Would you EQ or compress to tape? If so, then put them before the tape saturation, there's nothing wrong with that approach. To me it would make sense to put tracks to tape in their original form, but even still that is NEVER a given for every track.

You can probably figure out with a little common sense how this chain could apply to you. Also experiment with the order to see how things affect each other. I'm sure others will chime in with some different and worthwhile ideas as well!

I would detail more about busses and the master fader, but I've been procrastinating getting some car work done.
SERIOUSLY useful! Thanks for taking the time to write this for me. I will try to have a think about busses with your comments in mind.

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botus99
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Re: Nebula Signal Chain

Post by botus99 » Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:26 pm

Ok got my new catalytic converter, oxygen sensor, and brake pads in :mrgreen:

Back OT! I wanted to lay out my workflow for busses for you. First: GAIN-STAGING IS KEY! If you are using a library calibrated for 0VU/-18dbfs (the AlexB libraries for example), then make sure your busses are also calibrated in that fashion. PSP's Vintage Meter plugin (http://www.pspaudioware.com/plugins/too ... tagemeter/) is free and is a BIG help in setting your levels. Ideally, it's best to use the input knob in Nebula for this, however, if you need more control, then I would recommend the Sonalksis Free-G plugin (http://www.sonalksis.com/freeg.htm).

Once your levels for each buss are properly set, the fun begins...

BUSS

1 - Console BUSS program
2 - ???

Honestly, as long as you set the first insert as your console buss program then you have the buss area of console emulation complete. The "???" on number 2 is up to you. I've heard of people putting tape programs on each buss, which I don't do, but just a thought of something to try out. Other than that, do whatever you feel like haha.

Lastly...
MASTER FADER

Very similar ideology here compared to the busses. Calibrate your level accordingly with which library you are using. Then...

1 - Console Mixbuss Program
2 - Tape
3 - Tapebooster+ (optional)
4 - VTM-M2
5 - ???

I've found that driving the Mixbuss Programs can have an enormous effect on the mix's transients, glue factor, etc. So ESPECIALLY with the Mixbuss Program, it is great to get in the practice of "stretching it out" and finding the desired amount of glue and transient handling that will best serve your mix. I personally LOVE the sound of tape saturation over the entire mix! It adds another layer of glue to thicken things up when done correctly, along with other subtle nice-itys :D BUT, it's not everyone's cup of tea. It's absolutely worth a shot IMO, so if it doesn't work well for you and what you're striving for... then don't use it

Just some final notes

- Make sure to not overload each program (which if everything is gain-staged correctly then you should be golden).
- Aux sends are a different story than buss programs, but not by much. Simply replace a BUSS program with a SEND/RETURN program. Shizam!
- As with anything else audio: if it sounds good, it is good. Don't be afraid to swap around the orders, use 4 instances of console inputs to get more color, drop out programs that may "compromise authenticity", etc.

This is merely MY workflow. I may be wrong about the orders of the chains in relation to the real world. Regardless if that is the case or not, I have found this order to work best for ME. I'm glad to share my ideas, but I'll close my comment in saying "Your mileage may vary" :lol:
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Re: Nebula Signal Chain

Post by SWAN » Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:40 pm

do many people use chains that long in realtime?
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Re: Nebula Signal Chain

Post by botus99 » Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:43 pm

I can :mrgreen:

... on 5 or 6 channels maybe :cry:
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Re: Nebula Signal Chain

Post by ngarjuna » Sat Oct 06, 2012 8:19 am

SWAN: I'm a compulsive bouncer/freezer so no, not real time.

To the OP:
Tracking:
I don't use any Nebula due to the latency and generally try not to use effects. I'd prefer to never track through effects; I'd rather have something uncompressed/un-EQ'd that I can adjust in the context of the mix. Of course in the real world things aren't always so tidy.

Tracks
1. If I'm looking for a particular preamp color that would go here.
2. Console Mic/Line/DI. Many of the console manuals have recommended using the console programs first in the chain so I usually have. In my fake little Nebula console the signal goes from the mic to the "preamp" into my "board".
3. Whatever effects. I don't have rules about filter/EQ/compression order, different sounds call for different orders though it's often beneficial to EQ/filter for the compression. Occasionally I'll swap #1 and #2 when it sounds better. Modulation effects might go in the middle here although they might go before the console so as to feed the effect into the console program.
4. Sometimes I'll put an additional console line input here "going to tape".
5. Tape/Tapebooster/VTM-M2. The last thing I do on every track is print to "tape".

Busses pretty much the same:
Console
Filter/EQ/Compression
Tape/VTM

2-buss for me is usually just:
Console
Compressor
Tape/VTM

I don't really think there's a right or wrong way to do it. This particular order makes sense to me because I'm gradually passing my signal through this imaginary chain one step at a time, knowing that my final step is to tape.

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Re: Nebula Signal Chain

Post by schismatic » Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:34 am

Both of you guys, thanks again for the input. It's really valuable as somebody who has never set foot amongst hardware - really helps the bedroom warriors learn how to get the best from the ITB experiences!

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Re: Nebula Signal Chain

Post by RJHollins » Sat Oct 06, 2012 11:10 am

of course ...

After printing to tape ... you then have the return from 'tape' BACK into a console, eq's, compressors, efx, that go out to your busses and your master buss.

AND ... you can always reprint onto 1/4" or 1/2" tape master.

.... the long and winding 'chain' that, hopefully leads to sonic bliss 8-)
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Re: Nebula Signal Chain

Post by SWANG » Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:36 pm

from michael's (cd soundmaster) "tride-n-tru" console manual (my fave console at the moment):
For those looking for the maximum in analog authenticity and using maximum resources, we recommend operating the console in full emulated analog mode, turning the DAW into a virtual studio as originally inspired in the "RASS" library. We highly recommend placing an instance like the "TRD-EQIN-ALL-K11" on your channel, followed by an instance of R2R (and TB+ if extra tape volume/saturation is desired) followed by a second instance of "TRD-EQIN-ALL-K11". This gives you the entire effect of sending your sound through the console channel direct out, to the tape for recording, and back to the console for mixing. You can group mix sections together in a group buss using the "TRG" as a single instance. Place a single instance of a "TRM" program on your master out section of your DAW. For the best analog effect, place the "TRM" program of choice in your chain ahead of your final limiting and other choices. If you use an R2R machine for mastering, place it just after the "TRM".

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Re: Nebula Signal Chain

Post by SWANG » Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:38 pm

additionally, i tend to put a preamp program or even a program from cds's tube booster library as my first program in the chain and then proceed with michael's chain from there.

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Re: Nebula Signal Chain

Post by ngarjuna » Sat Oct 06, 2012 10:13 pm

SWANG wrote:from michael's (cd soundmaster) "tride-n-tru" console manual (my fave console at the moment):
For those looking for the maximum in analog authenticity and using maximum resources, we recommend operating the console in full emulated analog mode, turning the DAW into a virtual studio as originally inspired in the "RASS" library. We highly recommend placing an instance like the "TRD-EQIN-ALL-K11" on your channel, followed by an instance of R2R (and TB+ if extra tape volume/saturation is desired) followed by a second instance of "TRD-EQIN-ALL-K11". This gives you the entire effect of sending your sound through the console channel direct out, to the tape for recording, and back to the console for mixing. You can group mix sections together in a group buss using the "TRG" as a single instance. Place a single instance of a "TRM" program on your master out section of your DAW. For the best analog effect, place the "TRM" program of choice in your chain ahead of your final limiting and other choices. If you use an R2R machine for mastering, place it just after the "TRM".
While this is indeed closer to the actual signal chain as it would exist in the real world I find many consoles to be a bit too heavy in terms of coloration to accommodate this strategy, the TriedNTrue in particular (it's one of the most colorful consoles I own which is both a plus and minus).

Also some of Michael's consoles are a bit different than Alex's as they don't tend to come with programs specifically designed for busses (it seems to me one or two of CDSM's consoles do have busses but most do not). So that line back out (after the tape and leading to the master buss) to some degree replaces the buss programs. But if you're bussing/sub-mixing and using console programs on the busses/sub-mixes it seems to me you might find doubling up all of your line inputs really heavy. But in cases where you're looking for heavier color from the console programs that is an effective way to do it.

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Re: Nebula Signal Chain

Post by MegaDude » Sun Oct 07, 2012 3:16 am

Not sure how faithful this is to actual analogue chains, but I often use the following chains.

On tracks:

freeG
satsun channel
cdsoundmaster tube BB_LP_C 3K
cdsoundmaster tubebooster low
freeG
MBC line/mic in
freeG
R2R tape, Otari-15-ATR-0 is a frequent pick. (or a studer)
tapebooster low (only sometimes)

on the master buss:

freeG
MBC MBM
some sort of linear phase EQ (usually non-nebula)
cdsoundermaster tube BB_LP-C 3K
freeG
MBC MGC
freeG
R2R tape, usuallly Otari-30 AtR 0 or something similar
freeG
alexbs GMC IL Stereo
alexbs eqs from GMC. (Even if not needed for EQ, I run one of the programs static. I'm not sure if that adds anything.)
GMC ST-OUT
the Glue for compression. (usually two instances)
some sort of limter. (I'm using the t-racks one often)

the end. I don't know if that's optimal use, and i'd welcome suggestions for mixing things up. But i've been pretty happy with the sound i get this way.

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Re: Nebula Signal Chain

Post by alpsessays » Sat Mar 09, 2013 11:02 pm

I’m interested in trying to replicate the analogue chain as much as possible, so I’m going to try experimenting with

Mic/guitar emulation (You47/Big guitar etc.)
Mic Pre (a Telefuken or something if I want extra colour)
Console Mic
R2R
Tapebooster +
VTM – M2
Console Line (I might put the Console Line input in the next pass with the EQ etc. if I'm running out of juice)

Render

EQ/Compression
Console Grps
Console FX

Render

Console Master
Compression etc.
R2R
Tapebooster +
VTM – M2

Not using R2R or whatever on the grps/FX channels - that is entirely consistent with a real analogue desk isn’t it? Because, as with the master buss, you’re just summing the individual trks [which already have tape emu]…? I don’t get adding tape emu to grps etc. if you’re going for a ‘real world’ application so-to-speak. But obviously it’s not a rule, and if it sounds good doing that, it sounds good :)

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Re: Nebula Signal Chain

Post by Melon_Jack » Fri Mar 15, 2013 6:08 pm

I'd worked with real consoles and tape and recommend this settings. (Double numbered - not necessary options)

Tracking (on each track):
1. Preamp (Or Console Input-Mic)
1.1 - Console Line input (choose less colored strip)
OR
1.2 - Light comp (to control level)
2. Tape Preamp (or Tube)
3. Tape.
Render. Now you've tracked your tracks (taftooo =)) on Tape.

After that
- Mixing :
Each channel:
1. Console Input
2. FX (EQ, Comp, bla bla)
2.1 If u want more saturation and color - TAPE.
Not each channel i'll be printin. Drums, Bass and guitars - 100%. Voco and other - it depends on you and sound u want.
Group Bus:
1. Console Group Bus
2. Whatever you want
Master Bus:
1. Console MixBuss
2. TapeMachine preamp (or Tube)
3. Tape

Pity what no one console has Insert-Return impulse.. Then chain will be Input-insert-comp-return-tape

I'll go with this setting, because they fairly represent my real world setup. I've looked on CLA chain and it's close to this. He's grouping tracks, printing 48 channel on tape, and then mixing it. But with real SSL4000 and so on)))))
Sorry for my bad english =))

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