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upmix plug ins
Old 30th March 2010
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

upmix plug ins

Hi,

I would like to know the opinion of some of you regarding stereo to 5.1 upmix plug ins like wave's um 226 or tc unwrap. I work on a post television studio that's about to change for 5.1 mixing. Due to the fact that we're not likely to receive multichannel material to mix (music, ambiances will continue to be delivered in stereo, if so) and all the time constraints that would interfere with the creation of multi-layer 5.1 ambiences, this solution seems adequate. Nevertheless, i don't know much of the basic principles of these plug ins, how they really work and how they would differ from pannig and divergence controls in pro toools for example.

Hi, recently saw a post asking about the same. Sorry.

Last edited by cinetj; 31st March 2010 at 12:27 AM.. Reason: Hi, recently saw a post asking about the same. Sorry.
Old 1st April 2010
  #2
Gear Nut
 
Front End Audio's Avatar
 

Maybe this might help

I contacted my friend Todd Stevens over at Waves and this is what he had to say
"These plugs are definitely different than panning and divergence controls in ProTools. They take mono or stereo source and convert to true surround format (you end up with stems).
If I'm correct, ProTools doesn't include any tools that will give you the LFE content. UM generates the LFE channel. UM226 gives true control over LFE information (where the crossovers are etc). They both use a sensor algorithm to delineate what goes to center, what stays in L/R, and pushes verb from L/R to surrounds, etc."
This is the most basic explanation of how this works without getting into a whole lot mathematical formulas.


Cheers,
Nicholas
Old 1st April 2010
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks for the effort, Nicholas! For some time I thought I asked an obvious, stupid question, well at least it's not that simple. Nevertheless you can feed the lfe channel in pro tools but there's nothing like the lfeair function as in waves or other lfe functions that i might have skipped... Algorithmically (nice adverb by the way, should use it more...), these plugs may fight the problems of ordinary panning and divergence... besides integrating other stuff that you could do other way like the reverbs in the surround. Tc unwrap's manual says: "Unwrap mesures phase, delay and spectral differences between a pair of stereo channels to create a 5.1 result". Real simple, real complicate. Even Holman's book about 5.1 recommends a dolby upmix hardware from dolby but doesn't explain how it functions...
Old 1st April 2010
  #4
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cinetj View Post
Hi,

I would like to know the opinion of some of you regarding stereo to 5.1 upmix plug ins like wave's um 226 or tc unwrap. I work on a post television studio that's about to change for 5.1 mixing. Due to the fact that we're not likely to receive multichannel material to mix (music, ambiances will continue to be delivered in stereo, if so) and all the time constraints that would interfere with the creation of multi-layer 5.1 ambiences, this solution seems adequate. Nevertheless, i don't know much of the basic principles of these plug ins, how they really work and how they would differ from pannig and divergence controls in pro toools for example.

Hi, recently saw a post asking about the same. Sorry.
There are a number of different options including some new ones.
Hardware, there is the TC Unwrap and my personal favorite Penteo Surround. Yes, I am a convert who became a Los Angeles sales rep for Penteo, but it works and in my opinion is far superior in sound quality to Unwrap and I hear no artifacting on downmixing to stereo or mono.

Plugin wise, you have more selections. T.C. Unwrap is now available as a plugin as is the Waves version. DTS also has a new ProTools plugin (Neural Surround Upmix) available that looks interesting, but I have not had a chance to thoroughly evaluate it. It will do stereo to 5.1 or 7.1 and 5.1 to 7.1 if you are upmixing for Blu-Ray. It is also automatable which could be helpful.

The biggest problem I have with both T.C. and Waves are the heavy artifacting and problems with downmixing. If you are working in a high end facility, I'd suggest giving a listen to Penteo. If you are budget constrained and are on an Intel Mac with ProTools, you might want to look at DTS. Not sure if they have a demo version yet.
Old 1st April 2010
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

Hi Rick,

Thanks for the input!

Regarding budget I didn't find the average price for penteo in the internet, then I don't know how much (literally) this could be a problem. But at first I'm inclined to a plug in solution. For the sake of workflow. The things sometimes have to go really fast here. Convert each stereo track trough a hardware device seems maybe too laborious. Plug ins would permit to work over a greater number of tracks, one aux bus for ambience and another for music and, voilà, your problem solved. Till...

What really had a impact on me was your remark about downmix compatibility issues with both tc unwrap and wave's plug in. Downmix compatibility will be a must in our work environment. It's a no solution case or we would just have to work harder, tweaking things around? Does anyone else had this problem? Any solutions also?

For the neural plug, did anyone really use it?
Old 1st April 2010
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cinetj View Post
"Unwrap mesures phase, delay and spectral differences between a pair of stereo channels to create a 5.1 result". Real simple, real complicate.
And real screwed if you're trying to return to stereo at some point, I might ad after what Rick said. How naive, could I be?
Old 2nd April 2010
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cinetj View Post
I'm inclined to a plug in solution. For the sake of workflow. The things sometimes have to go really fast here. Convert each stereo track trough a hardware device seems maybe too laborious. Plug ins would permit to work over a greater number of tracks, one aux bus for ambience and another for music and, voilà, your problem solved.
My solution with Penteo has been to use an aux send to an AES output into Penteo and then return the Penteo to 6 mono audio inputs. I re-record the stem and it's done. Then I can adjust panning, level, or other signal processing individually if needed.

Granted, it is a bit more time consuming than a plug-in and does used up some I/O capabilities. If you are doing both ambiance and music, you either need two boxes or do two passes. That's the biggest drawback. The plus side is the fidelity. I can't speak for the DTS Neural Audio upmix as I have not had an opportunity to A/B it with Penteo, but if you need a Plugin, that may be the way to go. I would call DTS directly and see if they have a demo download.

Apparently Robert Fripp chose Penteo as his preferred upmixer for the King Crimson 5.1 mixes on the material where the original sources were not available.
Old 2nd April 2010
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks, Rick.

I've emailed penteo surround in England for price info. We'll contact dts for that demo version also (there's nothing in the website).
Old 25th May 2010
  #9
Here for the gear
 

Neural UpMix by DTS Free Demo

Hi all -

We are offering free 7-day demos of Neural UpMix by DTS.
Just go to our Contact page to send a request:
DTS | Pro Audio Products | Contact DTS Pro Audio

Please be sure to include an iLok username where we can send the demo authorization.

Neural UpMix currently supports both Pro Tools® RTAS and AudioSuite formats. VST support is coming soon.
Visit our Tech Specs page for full system requirements: DTS | Pro Audio Products | Neural

Cheers,
Tom McAndrew
Professional Audio Manager - North America
DTS, Inc.
Old 25th May 2010
  #10
Lives for gear
Hardware wise it's also worth considering the SoundField UPM-1 SoundField: UPM-1 Stereo To 5.1 Converter

very good down mixing and I'm sure they'll let you try one out. Really nice guys there.
Old 9th December 2011
  #11
Here for the gear
 

I'm late to this post but I wanted to let people know about another solution I developed over at Surround By Us - A Stereo-to-Surround Community.

It currently is a Plogue Bidule native plugin, so you need Plogue Bidule (PLOGUE | Versatile Audio Software) as well, then you can use as a VST, AU, or via rewire.

You can also process stereo to surround stand alone and then import the surround into Pro Tools or whatever as a 5.1 track.

I have a "donationware" license for non commercial use and would be interested in what people thing relative to the other solutions mentioned in the thread, which would help me set a commercial license price.

I haven't tried TC Unwrap or Penteo, but I have a big pool of users that all prefer it to Neural Upmix (which claims to be the best in double blind tests).

Cheers,
Z
Old 9th December 2011
  #12
Gear Head
 
audionuma's Avatar
 

Although you mentioned that hardware might not be your prime choice, you could have a look at isostem, who try to deal wisely with the downmix issues.
Old 9th December 2011
  #13
Lives for gear
 
soundboy's Avatar
I used to use a template in PT to up mix. I switched to the Waves plug, and was pleasantly surprised. I haven't had any problems with my LtRts because of it either. I may do some A/B tests with the DTS to see if I can hear a difference.
Old 9th December 2011
  #14
Lives for gear
 

If you use waves and use a preset that seriously widened the existing stereo width you probably went a bit to far to be able to downmix back to stereo again.

Most plugs that create a artificial widening in stereo will fold back down less well
Old 9th December 2011
  #15
Lives for gear
 
huub's Avatar
Most (all?) upmix algorithms use early refections for the rear channels, so this will compromise your downmix in some way.. Doesn't have to be bad and for sure is not obvious..
Old 9th December 2011
  #16
Lives for gear
 
pethenis's Avatar
 

Does anybody do what I do? I put the waves upmix plugin on a copy of the music tracks and turn off the LR (and sometimes the C) on that. That way you keep the power/fidelity of the original music for LR and just blend in the upmix. I have less problems with the downmix as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ErikG View Post
If you use waves and use a preset that seriously widened the existing stereo width you probably went a bit to far to be able to downmix back to stereo again.

Most plugs that create a artificial widening in stereo will fold back down less well
Old 9th December 2011
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Sanchez View Post
Plugin wise, you have more selections. T.C. Unwrap is now available as a plugin as is the Waves version. DTS also has a new ProTools plugin (Neural Surround Upmix) available that looks interesting, but I have not had a chance to thoroughly evaluate it. It will do stereo to 5.1 or 7.1 and 5.1 to 7.1 if you are upmixing for Blu-Ray. It is also automatable which could be helpful.
I am a huge fan of DTS, but this plugin is crippled as it cannot process anything other than 44.1 or 48kHz, making it close to hopeless for BD music titles unless the result is upsampled, which means padding with zeroes. Don;t get me wrong, upsampling has it's uses but not after ypou have carried out the processing! Get it to 96kHz support & I would definitely buy it though as you get around the issues in the next quote below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Sanchez View Post
The biggest problem I have with both T.C. and Waves are the heavy artifacting and problems with downmixing. If you are working in a high end facility, I'd suggest giving a listen to Penteo.
I could not agree more, Rick.
At least the DTS algo is eliminating those issues....

@dts350z.
I have played a lot of these Bidule upmixes, and the ones I have (SPEC, I believe) are riddled with artefacts in the rear channels very similar to what Thomas Lund calls "Space Monkeys" and in the worst cases they sound "watery" is the best word I can think of.
Sorry, but the effect I am hearing can be reproduced by taking any ordinary track, running it to 128kbps MP3 then going from L-R to M-S and playing just the S component. This is almost identical to what I hear in LsRs with SPEC upmixes.

In general, upmixing is problematic because of this issue, and so far I have found just 2 software that will cope (artefact free) and the Penteo hardware.
There is a box based on the DTS Neural algo (where did this get bought in from? It sounds very similar to the old Cycling 74 Upmix algo to me) that also apparently outputs at 24/96, but this has to be padded as the algo itself cannot cope at that SR. You can find it here:Multimerge 2 and it even includes ITU-R BS.1770/1 so it is CALM compliant right out of the box. It's just a shame about the padded SR.

In software, the only 2 complete tools I know of are the DTS one, complete with it's limitations, and the IOSONO upmix algo in their SAW panner for Nuendo. So that makes it all very limited.
The TC Unwrap plugin version is hobbled, and the hardware is not that great sounding to me either. There are ways to do this manually, and manual upmixing is probably the best approach but there is still the biggest caveat & universal leveller of them all:
Whatever you use, you are completely at the mercy of the source material
Old 10th December 2011
  #18
Gear Head
Bah

I think the TC Unwrap works very well and down mixes much better than than you would expect

The Soundfield one works in a signal dominance way, but I haven't tried it myself as unwrap works well for me.

Sure it is not perfect, but for heavens sake, for most jobs it is nothing short of voodoo. How often do you listen to the Ls or Rs in isolation anyway?

For years we have been slapping delays and reverbs on stereo music and sitting back smugly and collecting the 5.1 cheques. Now we have a plug in that makes it all too easy and everyone's a critic!

The BBC (where I trained - when tape was tape) did a test on a live church broadcast (Songs Of Praise). The live stereo mix was up mixed to 5.1 and in blind listening tests, was indistinguishable from the discrete 5.1 mix. In the right hands, a blunt chisel can make a great sculpture.

Amen
Old 10th December 2011
  #19
Lives for gear
 

Another big up here for unwrap! I think voodoo is a great description of this plug in. The best part of this plug in is how it downmixes. Almost exactly like the original stereo.
Old 19th November 2014
  #20
Lives for gear
 

If I have some older stereo music tracks and want to convert to surround sound, will this tool provide me a good start from separation. I am aware that discreet sources may not show up as individual tracks but was wondering what would happen to the center mixed audio... that is, drum snare and kick, vocals, bass etc.

I don't have the original tracks anymore (they were done in the 70s) but I do have the mastered stereo mixes.... just a bit curious on how PENTEO might be a solution for this type of application?

Thanks in advance,
Jim
Old 22nd November 2014
  #21
Lives for gear
 
soundboy's Avatar
I have been up mixing some tracks from the 60's and 70's for a friend. I have the Waves, Anymix Pro, and the Penteo plug ins. My favorite of the 3, strictly for up mixing is the Penteo. It sounds really good. The Anymix Pro is a very close second. The Waves colors the sound a bit too much for my taste, but if it does it in a way you like, it's the least expensive of the 3.
Old 22nd November 2014
  #22
Gear Nut
 

I use the Auro 2D plugin from Auro Technologies as a replacement for TC Unwrap. I really like it. They have a great customer service too.
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