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 Tape Booster Plus - Coming Soon!
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clubvst
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USA
169 Posts

Posted - 11/01/2009 :  17:04:39  Show Profile  Visit clubvst's Homepage Send clubvst a Private Message  Reply with Quote
After completing the R2R collection, I continued forward with what I'd learned hands on with a range of different tape machines.

I followed with a 3 week process of editing my favorite settings on my favorite machines to provide higher harmonic saturation, so the user could auto-load these programs with more gain without going beyond accuracy in Nebula.

The most important achievement that has resulted from the R2R process has been the accurate archiving of the true sound of these wonderful reel to reel machines "to spec". Their often subtle, often extreme non-linearity is now available directly within the DAW!

So, what else could be involved?

Well, regardless of the excitement over this collection, there continues to be a great deal of interest in pushing the threshold, so to speak, regarding Nebula, its distortion sampling engine, and pushing tape, tubes, and solid state devices 'into the red'.

The future may call for accurate distortion sampling all the way to the limit inside Nebula. Or, it may not be worth the cpu hit. It is hard to say right now.

What I do know is that I've made some valuable new discoveries that I think are worth mentioning.

First of all, regarding 'tape compression'.
Tape compression has been described as being a sort of 'instant compression'. Where a hardware compressor acts intentionally to offer control over attack, release, ratio, threshold, make-up, etc., tape machines are designed to avoid non-linearity and process sound with as high a fidelity as cost and research and proper materials allow for.

There are two things that intrigued me a great deal.

First, tape usually seems to have the effect of saturation and very light compression even at low record levels. Even if a machine is calibrated for +6dB analog, you might have a recording maxed at -10dB that sounds round, widened transients, and a few other characteristics that depict the sound of tape. When slammed, there is a noticeable increase in distortion and eventually the waves will appear to grow larger, but the peaks will not be chopped off. When going into extreme distortion, the sound gets very overdriven but transients only get chopped a tiny bit at the very highest setting, if at all.

Much of this is true with tube devices as well, although some characteristics are very different, but the overdrive, distortion, and compression tends to share many similarities.

With tape, I have found that harmonic structure has a great deal more to do with what we consider 'compression' than I had imagined, and more so than I believe has been represented in the past. There has been a great deal of discussion on the matter, but because it is no longer a necessary transfer medium, there is a great deal less testing and comparison being made.

It wouldn't be as amazing to me that harmonic non-linearity creates a large portion of tape's leveling-type 'instant' compression if it acted like typical plug-in forms of the same.

You see, most software plug-ins that approach tape saturation do so by applying huge amounts of distortion to the right measure to increase the perceived volume of sound. This approach has a nice affect and shares some similarities to tape. But, it will always fizzle out at a lower perceived volume and with more distortion than gain. Regardless of the compression that may accompany the generic saturator-type plug-in, more audible damage is done with less pleasant "real" dimensional character, because the real machines are creating something much more complex.

How is it that harmonic distortion can create a compression effect similar to several decibels of the finest outboard compressors? You would think it would be from very large amounts of perfectly sampled harmonic distortion. Well, if that were the case, then there would already be software doing this as well as the real machines. I'm certainly not the only person taking measurements of machine and tape stock and trying to figure this out!

But, here is where the mystery is found, and I believe this is truly important:
If you look at the specs of even consumer tape machines, even cheap cassette dual well machines, the harmonic content and even crosstalk and frequency response appear to be fairly impressive. Well, why do they sound like they are producing nice compression if they are low in distortion and they aren't changing the transient peaks? Is it just more compression? Not when the machine is used properly. There is actual compression occurring, but it only accounts for a small portion of more complex, higher gain settings, and a very small amount of the correct settings.

I've found that similarities to compression are occurring by as much as 1/2dB at very, very low distortion. Taking into account different frequency effects, wow, flutter, the pleasant sound of an elongated sounding signal, etc., I've found that somehow tape has an element of harmonic structure that gets more perceived volume out of less actual distortion than anything I've ever seen!

Vacuum tubes produce extremely pleasant sounding harmonics. They are musical, based upon the actual note structure of sound supplied. But, the bigger the sound of the signal, and the larger the increase in perceived volume, the more harmonic distortion is taking place... usually in a good way!

Where a tube may produce "big, warm, dimensional" sound at 13% distortion and even 35% distortion, tape seems to be able to produce similar results with as little as 2-5% harmonic distortion with similar 'bigness'.

One of the most wonderful things that has occurred in this process is how Nebula has helped to isolate some aspects of these discoveries.

When you create a program in Nebula, it will only apply the parameters that you are sampling as designed in a sample-session template. If you are sampling dynamics, frequency, and harmonics, it will provide you with options that only relate to this. If you are sampling compression, you can choose to do so with no distortion at all, and only then are you provided with sample tones that can be used to measure compression characteristics that Nebula will use within its engine.

So, when I was able to successfully create compression with an absence of any compression measurement or sampling in the process, I was able to isolate the proper alignment of timing and harmonics.

Tape will only react the way that produces the best, pleasing sonic results if matched by the absolutely perfect, precise, same volume as that which the harmonics were produced. That is to say, if you try to reproduce the harmonic structure of certain great sounding tape settings and do not align the gain structure exactly as it is, then you can play with harmonics all year long and never reproduce that magical combination of sound.

Once it is achieved, however, I'm very pleased to say that it uncovers two even more exciting discoveries in my opinion.

First, if you study the extreme overload settings of tape enough, you can learn something sample by sample. Once you understand what is happening, you can apply this knowledge to lower settings and it will continue to reproduce the right effect.

Second, if you have successfully sampled the eq, volume, and distortion of specific machine and tape combinations, and speeds, then you can use these at spec on every track and have a very realistic equivalent of tracking to tape. If you use this 'to spec', it sounds subtle with the best machines at the fastest settings. But, here is what is so great! This provides an absolutely stunning template for adding more gain once the complex nature of audible overdriven gain stages are put to work. With just a few dB's at a time, you can take your Studer, Otari, Revox, and your Akai, Sony, Lafayette, TEAC, Wollensak, and add more, real, harmonic drive at absolutely no cost to your peak volume. Because it is completely based upon the response of REAL machines and the traits that they share, this process renders additively with incredible smoothness, texture, dimension, and boldness. Only when extreme settings begin to occur do you hear break-up distortion, and if this is your aim, you can generate heavier distortion intentionally, although it requires several renderings.

I have finalized the way that I will present the wonderful world of elusive tape character, and it is the following:

1. R2R - providing the machines and tape "to spec", + higher gain presets edited for instant load for R2R customers.
2. Tape Booster Plus - A saturator created specifically to add on top of your R2R machines that will add single decibel and 1/2 decibel increments of absolutely accurate harmonic character to your tracks to increase the perceived volume without any fake 2-d elements.
3. Higher gain saturation and compression resolved. The true character of using the actual machines beyond spec 'into the red'. Still using R2R as the template, you can load your virtual console/studio set-ups in your DAW to place your gain stages precisely where you desire them. If you want to track every individual track to tape at a mild setting, and buss groups and/or effects to tape with heavier saturation but without doubling up the eq characteristics of your machines, you can do so! If you want to always use a Revox at 15 IPS and add 2dB saturation on each track, you can do that! If you want to go extreme and slam levels, you will be able to.

So, there is the process as I think it is best provided.

Three stages, each only providing the information and cpu that is desired.

Stage two is ready!
Are you ready for its release or should I wait a little while?

Let me know :) !

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Hannes_F
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1 Posts

Posted - 11/02/2009 :  18:22:18  Show Profile  Visit Hannes_F's Homepage Send Hannes_F a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well I am always ready to digest what is new in your kitchen but you know that already :)
Best Hannes
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clubvst
Forum Admin



USA
169 Posts

Posted - 11/02/2009 :  22:07:27  Show Profile  Visit clubvst's Homepage Send clubvst a Private Message  Reply with Quote
:) ! Thanks Hannes! You are an amazing talent :)

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himhui
Starting Member



Hong Kong
13 Posts

Posted - 11/03/2009 :  01:26:51  Show Profile Send himhui a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Mike,

Those who bought the R2R have been ready! And Don't forget there are some potential clients as well. :-)
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mim1050
Starting Member



1 Posts

Posted - 11/05/2009 :  07:17:27  Show Profile Send mim1050 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
We are up & ready for second stage !

But how Tape Booster Plus works ? Is is a gain of 2db applied to the main kernels of r2r ?

mim
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clubvst
Forum Admin



USA
169 Posts

Posted - 11/05/2009 :  14:53:41  Show Profile  Visit clubvst's Homepage Send clubvst a Private Message  Reply with Quote
OK, the new collection is complete!
It was one of the greatest audio editing challenges I have ever faced. To understand the concept of the relation of harmonics to frequency is one thing, to implement it at its truest response is quite an amazing challenge. I would imagine that 90% of the reason we have not been satisfied with emulator plug-ins is because it is too laborious to produce the best sounding results!

So, now we can finally listen and learn together!

My concept in getting "more" tape saturation right, is to approach sound in stages. If we get the most fundamental aspects accurate, we will be happy with sound "to spec". This means not using it at raging levels of ridiculous calibrations.

Then, with accurate sounding actual reel to reel machines, we can build on top of this sound with more harmonic content and it will not only sound better than fake emulation, it will reveal just how much non-eq, actual harmonic content is already sitting there in the 'subtle' R2R programs.

To exhibit this success in audio terms, please listen to the following:

Here, we have a successful audio example of a stereo acoustic guitar track, first dry, then one pass through the new saturation program, then a second pass, a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth time. Gradually, the volume, largeness, presence, all increase. At more apparent gain, we start to hear the first signs of noticeable distorting, but it takes several stages, which is good, as we want as much clean sounding signal with as much perceived volume before audible distortion. There is nothing quite as tricky as creating a harmonic structure that will truly accentuate and represent the natural sustaining overtones like tape does. Please listen below:

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But now, if I process this same file through the Akai from R2R, and saturate it by the exact same procedure, listen to how dramatic the saturation has built into a very true, very accurate, distorted signal! In 3 steps, our signal has gone from subtle to radical gain!

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If this were only subtle eq happening in the R2R program, the saturation could not build to this extent. And if I provide only a clean signal to an accurate tape saturation program, regardless of how hard I try to make it sound good, it will lack in the same areas that the best 'emulations' out there have suffered. This is truly exciting, and I think it addresses everything required in good gain-staging.

Let's listen to the same process on the wonderful old Lafayette tube mono reel to reel at 7.5 IPS.
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By the third render, we hear a lot more harmonic content and accentuation of overtones than the Akai, and slightly less distorted 'drive'. All volumes are the same at each stage and eq has a dynamic effect at a range of 10 decibels, each producing harmonic content that is unique to the machine. WooHoo!!!

OK, so that's great when showing the difference on the more 'lo-fi' and 'mid-fi' sounding machines.
But, something like the Studer and Otari machines... these are really subtle and very low in harmonic content, aren't they? Well, yes, but because the harmonic content is sampled very accurately, even amounts of THD as low as 3% can have a dramatic effect on higher gain.

Listen to the Studer, first by itself, then a single pass at a time. Compare this to the Dry sample we first listened to.
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The harmonic content is similar, because of the quality of the Studer at 15 IPS, but the resulting harmonic response is extremely unique to the machine, not just by eq, but in the character of the driven signal. It 'buzzes' differently. It 'hears' tones differently. Everything elusive that we have tried to describe in creative terms about these wonderful machines. Now we can push them a bit harder beyond their comfort zone. Yes, the saturation program works well on its own. But, it is specifically created to respond accurately in unison with these real R2R machines.

OK, if you are still with me, then let's continue!
If there is one thing that I have learned from fellow recordists and plug-in users, is that the measure of all things seems to come down to drum examples. I can understand why, as they will show every flaw and weakness in distortion, eq, and transients. Real tape has an effect on the shape of the wave transient the harder that it is hit. Some of these elements are more subtle, and will result from using R2R on every track individually and again at the buss. The subtle build will give you great sounding analog drums. For a second stage of more puffed up, louder levels, we now have the proper building blocks to accurately drive our levels heavier without changing the effect of compression artifacts. Let's listen to this affect on a dry mix where saturation is used only on the final stereo mixdown.

First, let's check out a drum track dry, then processed one rendering at a time through the new program:
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It scales up with almost perfect precision, appearing steadily louder and louder at the same peak volume without any effect on transient peaks. Distortion only appears when driven as far as it can go before break-up occurs. Wow, this is really working!

So, does this work in use on multiple tracks individually? Yes!
Here is the result of a single saturation instance on each track of my drum multi-track session:
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Now, listen to the same result with a second saturation to the mixdown:
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The result is very different from the same levels of harmonic drive in the first example where it was only applied to the entire mix. So, we have true variant dynamic, frequency dependent change happening here. This rocks! :)

Some people may be thinking, "yeah, but surely the subtle aspect of that Studer machine won't hold up in a drum example. I mean, maybe he can make overtones sound rich with an acoustic guitar, but drum peaks are the determining factor in whether subtle changes are really happening."

OK, let's take a listen!
First, the same drum session processed with the Studer a single time at mixdown, then processed with saturation one rendering at a time:
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So, if the theory holds true, processing exactly the same mix with the Studer on each track, matched levels to the dry version, if I get unique results from saturating this at mixdown, then the subtle character of the Studer is acting upon each independent element of the mix in a unique dynamic and eq manner, than handling it all at once at mixdown. And, the saturator is able to build upon this characteristic uniquely at each pass. Let's see if the results are unique:
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I would say they are very different! And, they both sound unique in the correct ways, from peaks to overtones to audible drive and distortion. I would assume that more build-up on individual tracks on the real machine would sound more ambient and different than a collective mix-pass. Again, this is really a breakthrough!

OK, that is all for now. I have even more in-depth examples for you to hear, but I don't want anyone rushing through this. I truly believe that this process will hold true over time as an extremely exciting approach to analog sound at its best, inside the box. Adding and changing character with authentic high end Neb eq's and preamps and console... oh man the possibilities. Truly, there will be people walking around with the equivalent of 20 different high end studios residing inside their laptops with virtually any imaginable combination... welcome to the future!
:)











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babiuk
Starting Member



Spain
15 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2009 :  02:48:17  Show Profile Send babiuk a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hello, Michael,

thanks a lot for this researching and development and for the hard work you do, it is incredible the sounding of the examples.
R2R is amazing, and now this new sat put us closer the analog sound, closet that ever, at least from I can hear from the demos.
I think itīs a very important step in the digital audio world, something great, you are acting like a real scientist, the results you find will be very important for understand and develop the "analog" into digital domain.

Thanks
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clubvst
Forum Admin



USA
169 Posts

Posted - 11/07/2009 :  04:58:51  Show Profile  Visit clubvst's Homepage Send clubvst a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks babiuk,

The encouraging words mean a lot! It has been a very interesting and exciting process!

quote:
Originally posted by babiuk

Hello, Michael,

thanks a lot for this researching and development and for the hard work you do, it is incredible the sounding of the examples.
R2R is amazing, and now this new sat put us closer the analog sound, closet that ever, at least from I can hear from the demos.
I think itīs a very important step in the digital audio world, something great, you are acting like a real scientist, the results you find will be very important for understand and develop the "analog" into digital domain.

Thanks



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himhui
Starting Member



Hong Kong
13 Posts

Posted - 11/09/2009 :  00:13:39  Show Profile Send himhui a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Bought it right away. Great Job!!
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clubvst
Forum Admin



USA
169 Posts

Posted - 11/10/2009 :  00:56:53  Show Profile  Visit clubvst's Homepage Send clubvst a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks! I'm so glad you like it!:)

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clubvst
Forum Admin



USA
169 Posts

Posted - 11/11/2009 :  03:28:34  Show Profile  Visit clubvst's Homepage Send clubvst a Private Message  Reply with Quote
CDSoundMaster is pleased to present our Newest Program Library for Nebula Commercial!

"Tape Booster +" Now Available!!!
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"Tape Booster +" allows the user to add several decibels of natural tape saturation to their recordings. It has been created to provide the User with the most authentic tape harmonic content allowing an increase in the perceived volume and dimension of audio. "Tape Booster +" represents Stage 2 of our original concept of accurate building blocks to create stunning results!

When used with "R2R-The Essential Analog Tape Collection" loaded, the authenticity from low to medium gain and distortion is unbeatable, and it also works well on its own!

For more information, visit the link above.

You can read the Manual, Listen to Audio Samples and Purchase!

Thanks and God Bless You.
Michael

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