So, this is the day I decide which up-mixer plugin to buy. I already had a good listening session earlier this morning, this time just quickly compared the results, no additional knob tweaking. And, of course, now I know what I want.
But first, a few words about the two candidates.
Thankfully Penteo has only so much knobs and switches what you really need. You won’t find any additional, hidden parameters under some extra menu. This is a good thing in my book, because all the necessary things are in front of me, so I can quickly dial the necessary things. While in reverbs for example I love to tweak things, with an up-mixer I want results quite fast.
It’s important to note that this plugin does NOT use any reverb, filter, delay or steering to achieve the surround sound, which means that the downmix of the up-mix (which is very important) is literally perfect. The process works by separating mono and differential components in the original material, and then let you adjust how loud/soft you would like to treat the surround channels. Additionally we have 6 discrete algorithms to choose from, varied from music specific through quad to hard centre.
I’ve found it pretty easy to achieve a great up-mix in no time, then a near perfect downmix. The different algorithms make sense to the user, so you won’t need to read thousands of pages to scratch the surface. If you know what you want to do, you can do it quickly with stellar sonic results. I love the LFE option, it gives us the option to really fine tune our up-mix.
One thing to note: Penteo is not a typical large mix session plugin, as it adds huge delay. True, Pro Tools HD/HDX can compensate this, but in a large mix it can be problematic, so in my opinion, first you need to prepare the material in a separate session, then use the 5.1 files in the mix session.
Auromatic Pro 2D
First thing to know, this plugin uses a completely different method to achieve the up-mixed surround sound. It uses a variety of early reflection patterns. There are several choices you can select under the Ambience menu. Small, medium, large and open, each has two versions. Sometimes the difference is very subtle, sometimes obvious. The point is, this up-mixer creates an instantly lovable sound, sometimes more full sounding than the Penteo. However you should be aware of that you cannot switch off the ambience, hence it’s always going to add something to the original signal, which can be tricky at the downmix part of the chain. With very minor tweaking, you can create a great surround up-mix from any mono or stereo material, however I couldn’t make it so centre, and L-C-R “aware” as the Penteo. And while it is easy to create a very convincing, full sounding surround, if you go just a bit over the top, you can hear that in your downmix. In most cases though the downmix of the up-mix is quite convincing.
I’ve found that this plugin is very efficient CPU wise, I could use many instance in one session.
To be honest, I’m absolutely amazed by these two up-mixers. As I wrote yesterday: If I were a rich man… I would buy both. And this is the truth. However, unfortunately I cannot afford that, so I have to choose one. For my applications, for the things I like and I have to work with, I choose ADL’s Penteo Pro. After so many tests, it can serve me better.