I translated an interview with Dimitar Nalbantov, modeling guru

There’s a great musician named Dimitar Nalbantov who has put out two albums, now, and gets all his guitar tones from amp modelers (and mostly from free ones, at that.) His web site and forums can be found here, and an interview in a magazine published in Spain was recently put up on the site’s front page. I can “sort of” speak Spanish (haven’t had much practice in the last four years, but before that I studied it for four years) so I decided to take a shot at translating it for an English speaking audience. I’ll be interviewing him (in English) later this month, so check back if you’re interested in more Dimi-related news.

Anyway, make sure to head over to his site and listen to his stuff! You might find yourself going over to CDbaby to buy an album or two, like I did 🙂 Anywhere I couldn’t really make out what was said and tried to figure out as best as I could from context clues, I’ve made a note. I have tried to transliterate this rather than literally translate it, as a literal “babelfish”-style translation can render (especially technical jargon, of which there is enough to be problematic) nonsensical. Sometimes that has required changing a word or turn of phrase but except where noted I have adhered to the interview as I understand it. It certainly isn’t perfect but hopefully it gets the gist across.


Dimitar Nalbantov, born in Bulgaria in the year 1976, is a virtuoso guitarist who just finished producing his last album in a fully software environment, using some freeware components to obtain his guitar tones.

The quality of his results leaves no doubt, you can check for yourself on the net, Dimitar is a clear example of how the mind of the artist is much more important than their particular mode of expression or the gear they use [this last part is extremely rough and might in fact be incorrect, I welcome a better translation from more knowledgeable speakers].

Hello, Dimitar, we’re glad to be able to ask you some questions that we think will be very interesting to our readers.
R: Hello, before we continue, thank you for the invitation, and I’m glad to answer all of your questions.

When did you start using software in your projects and what were the first programs that you used?
R: I started using them in 1996 with my 486DX PC with four megs of RAM and a 100MB hard drive, during that time I discovered FastTracker 2 and I started to program drum patterns using that program in MS-DOS. A few months later, I encountered Cakewalk 3. MIDI was unknown territory for me. With Cakewalk 3 I took my first steps towards using primarily MIDI drums and programmed my first song. The operating system I was using at that time was Windows 3.11

What commercial software do you use?
R: I’ve used Cubase for four years. I started with Cubase SX and now I use Cubase 4. I believe it is a complete system with enough gear to completely arrange and mix an entire album from the beginning to the final master. My last album was composed, recorded, mixed and mastered in Cubase 4. The most powerful thing in Cubase 4, for me, is the MIDI drum editor. With it I programmed all of the drum tracks using the big VSTi drum sequencers, like EZ Drummer and Addictive Drums.

I have plans to switch to Samplitude 10 Pro because it comes with CD mastering utilities as well as recording tools. It’s all that is needed to get professional results without needing any other software.

What free software do you use?
R: I use the audio editor Audacity to quickly cut and edit audio. But lately I’ve discovered the audio editor Wavosaur which offers VST plugin support and works well for the final mastering of the audio. I highly recommend it!

Do you believe that free software can offer professional results?
R:Yes, I firmly believe it. The majority of my guitar tracks were made with freeware guitar amplifier plugins like Aradaz amps, Juicy77, and Nick Crow Wagner. Your readers can visit my web site to get presets and screen shots of how I use those plugins.

Do you think it’s really possible to get the same recording quality in a home studio as in a professional studio?
R: Yes, I think so. You only need the experience that professionals in big studios have, the ability to hear the frequencies correctly, and the ability to create good arrangements. Everything else is just gear. That isn’t to say you’ll be able to imitate the sound of an expensive microphone like the Neumann M-150, but (jokingly) with love everything is possible.

(Here the editor makes a note that the Neumann M-150 is a very expensive microphone well respected by professionals for its acoustic properties, costing around 5500 Euros).

Recommend for our readers a combination of plug-ins to get a good guitar sound.
R: Try the following effects chain: Tbt TGR-18 preamp, Aradaz Crunch amp into the Tbt ToW Compressor and finally end the chain with the Bionic Delay freeware VST delay. You’ll be surprised! Further, all of those VST effects are completely free and impressively realistic.

Talk about your last work, “Mother Earth.
The idea of the album and the songs comes from the problems of gobal warming and the destruction of the planet which we all let go on. I don’t intend to preach the ideas of Green Peace, but my passion for these problems is not new. I decided to connect my art to the theme that that should be the most important to our society. That’s also how I came up with the name for the album.

All of the composition, recording, and mixing on the album I did myself. It has 11 songs organized thematically. If I were asked to label the sound, it is the characteristic sound of my music. I place great importance on the details in my music; I simply haven’t reached my objectives due to technical limitations. The album is totally recorded in a software environment, and the only “real” instruments are the guitar and banjo. The rest are samplers and synthesizer software. For the drums I used Ezdrummer, XLN Audio and Addictive Drums.

All of the guitars are recorded with amp simulating software, for example: ReValver MkII, ReValver MkIII, Aradaz Green, Crunch freeware VST amps, Nick Crow Simple Guitar Combo and Juicy 77 Hi Gain Amp. The rest of the effects used for mixing are from Cubase 4, some plug-ins from Voxengo, Schawa Plug-ins and a mountain of freeware plug-ins.

To make the master I used Cubase and the plug-in Nebula 3 which includes some great samples of mastering equalizers. I used Glip clipper to maximize the levels and Voxengo Elephant 2 for limiting. There are probably better ways that I don’t know about, but that was my situation when working on the album and that was how I did it. Your readers can listen to some clips on my web site, and there are also two complete songs. I hope that they enjoy the album as much as I do.

Thank you for everything, Dimitar.


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