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Tag: penteo

Test result

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.

ADL Penteo

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.

adl penteo

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.

auromatic 2d

The decision

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.

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Test day #2

This is the end of day two. As I feel it, it was even more gruelling, or simply I’m just more tired now. The point is, I made so many tests I can’t even list them. I had a long list which I wanted to test, but during the different tests I came up with new ideas and of course I tried those too, so I’ve spent much more time with these experiments than what was planned.

As I felt that right now my brain is full, my ears are tired, I’m going to make the final decision tomorrow, however I think I already know the answer, but one more sleep over it to be sure.
With all that said, I honestly say this: both Auro and Audiotech Digital did an amazing job creating their up-mixer plugin. These plugins are pure magic.
Although they use different techniques to do their job, both can make your stereo material shine in a 5.1 environment. These two beasts are so magical that many times you cannot even spot the difference between a truly 5.1 mix and the up-mix.

Tomorrow I’ll have a final listening test, only after that I’m going to choose the winner. One more note though: the winner in this case means it’s better for me, because of my needs, it doesn’t mean that the other is inferior in any way. Honestly if I were a rich man… I would buy both.

sr rtw

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Test day #1

Today has been an extremely busy test day for me. As some of you might noticed from my twitter feed or from a previous post, right now I’m actively testing surround up-mixer plugins. A few words on the test process.

Versatile demo session

Before I even began asking for demos, I prepared a test session that contains lots of different material, almost everything one can possibly imagine:

  • Classical music (original stereo mix)
  • Classical music (stems created from original multitrack)
  • Pop/rock stereo and stems
  • Individual instruments (mono and stereo – from snare through guitars to grand piano)
  • Foley only (mono)
  • SFX only (mono and stereo)
  • Atmospheres (mainly stereo)
  • Dialogue
  • Snippets from complete stereo mixes (both drama, music, etc.)

Well, maybe some of my test material seem strange to you, namely dialogue for example, but I really want to hear and know what these plugins can or cannot do. And the only way to really judge them in my opinion is to force them to do weird things. Things you probably never want to do on real material, but it’s really nice to know the boundaries. With the insane deadlines I seldom have the luxury to experiment so I thought this is the perfect time to go wild.

Besides the up-mixers, I’ve set up the session with some cool surround tricks I usually use, just to check how these up-mixers behave, what they can really offer me what I can’t do otherwise. Note that I’ve done quite a lot of up-mixes without any special plugin. The reason I would like to have one is that this process is very laborious. One have to use many different tricks to up-mix a material and as every show/song is different, you can’t escape but test your methods on every occasion. As I don’t really have time for this, I decided I need a high-quality up-mixer plugin.

Lost sense of time

I thought I’m seriously organised, even made detailed notes on what to check, what to look for, but honestly I didn’t think that it’s going to take so unbelievably long. I always read the manual before start to use the software so I was familiar with all the functions, all the advanced settings and yet here I am after a good 10 hours of active test, and frankly I’m not finished yet…

My original plan was to quickly and very effectively test the two main candidate and then do a direct comparison, so at the end of the day I’m going to know which is the clear winner for me, ready to purchase it. Now, here I am, tired, writing this blog post, knowing that tomorrow is going to be the very same, with a different plugin. And still, I’m curious like a child.

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What to buy…

As the end of the year is nearly here, there’s so much advent calendar price drop and other discounts going on, that the first reaction for an in-the-box guy would be buy most of the stuff so I can have it all just in case. But to be honest, and it might sound stupid to you, I’d rather pay full price for a plugin, but I must test it before the purchase. I know these deals are spectacular, but frankly, we don’t need 300 different EQs and 600 slightly different dynamic processors. So,instead of spending my money, first I made a wish list, which comprise all the plugins I would like to try.

Manipulating the sound field

From mono to 5.1 and everything in between. This means stereo enhancers (which I tend to hate), various M/S processors, and surround up-mixer plugins. While obviously the sound is the most important thing, price is also important. Price can be an issue when we try to choose up-mixer plugins. Those are probably the most expensive plugins on Earth! Of course there’s a reason for that, it’s serious science and aesthetics carefully coded together by highly talented experts.

So, let’s see what I plan to test in a few weeks:

Why these? Because I’have already tested the competitors and these are the ones I’ve read good things about but never had the chance to test them. Early in 2015 it seems that I would need them for some serious sonic voodoo.

If you have any suggestion, please share it with me. Note that the plugin must be AAX Native and/or HDX compatible.

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