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ADL’s new up-mixing plug-in is a must-have for those working in post, writes Mike Aiton.


ife in Pro Tools HD TDM was simple – if you had stereo and

needed a 5.1 mix, then you mortgaged your granny and ponied up for TC Electronic’s TDM Unwrap. Time and technology have thankfully moved on at a joyous pace since and with the advent of Pro Tools 11 and AAX plug-ins there is a new kid on the block that is causing a stir, especially as the Native (i.e. non-DSP) boys are fi nally able to come to the party. ADL’s Penteo 4 Pro is available on both Mac (10.5 upwards), and Windows (XP upwards), as native AAX 64 bit, RTAS VST2.4, or AU – all on one installer. It uses iLOK2 authorisation (so it is portable).


I ran one instance and got a 10% CPU usage on my Pro Tools PC (3.5GHz i7x8) running OSX 10.8.5. Just for fun I duplicated the track nine times, and for 10 up-mixers (a totally impossible task in the TDM days). I got a very respectable 32% CPU usage. Penteo 4 Pro AAX uses 52% less CPU than Penteo Pro 3 – great effi ciency saving there chaps.


Penteo 4 Pro doesn’t use any phasing, matrixing, steering, reverb, delay, or any artifi cial means to generate its 5.1 mix. T is gives it the unique ability to be folded back with the ITU down-mix parameters back to its original stereo mix, all but indistinguishably. T e Penteo algorithm works by dividing stereo signals

42 June 2014

into three categories: Mono Components (where L=R); Diff erential Components (where L does not equal R) i.e hard-panned elements; and Intermediate Components – signals that are partially similar. Mono signals are sent to the centre speaker, intermediate are sent to the L & R, and diff erential ones are sent to the surrounds. Artistic control of the sound distribution is given by varying three controls: the Mode Selector and the two balance adjustment faders; the C Fader; and Ls-Rs Fader (where relevant). Irrespective of the settings, the down- mix compatibility to the original stereo fi le is always maintained.


Penteo 4 Pro supports multi- touch, so I am able to control multiple faders and adjust multiple plug-in parameters simultaneously with my Slate Raven MTi (it will work with any multitouch interface and is optimised for Raven MTX). T e plug-in layout has been thoughtfully designed and is very clean and uncluttered. Mutes and Solos are available for each of the L C R Ls Rs Sw channels, just above the metering. Plug-in bypass routes the audio to the stereo L & R channels, as you would expect. Input gains vary from -20dB to +10dB and should be used to fi nely adjust the channel balance so that the centre channel is accurately extracted. T e six modes are: 1. Hard Center: A 5.1 setting that creates a totally discrete C. If C fader is at zero then there is no phantom C. Conversely if C

fader is pushed above zero then some anti phase C is added for a narrowing eff ect. 2. Penteo Music: General- purpose setting. Partly creates a discrete C channel. 3. Stereo Plus: T e set and forget option. If the Ls & Rs are “lost” the foldown is still perfect. 4. Quadrophonic: T e C content is removed and fed to the L & R. 5. LCR: A diverged stereo mode with no Ls or Rs. 6. Triangle: Discrete C, no L and R. Ls & Rs as normal. T e LF Section (in grey)

controls the LF energy. T e LF eff ect has three modes: Off – the LF controls have no eff ect; Boost – LFE content is added without removing LF from the main channels; and Split – total LF content is the same as input, but LFE shares workload. Frequency is the crossover point below which the LF controls act. LFE – allows attenuation of the LFE to nothing. Diverge – redirects the LF content from the C to the L & R outputs.


Penteo 4 Pro requires a delay of fi ve frames (@25fps) to enable it to look ahead and work out its magic, all within Avid’s delay compensation remedy zone. A hardware buff er of 256 samples is recommended for your Avid playback engine. ADL has also thoughtfully included a low latency mode that reduces the latency (for those that worry or have no delay compensation) to two frames (@25fps).

IN USE I have spent a long time with

this plug-in and really like it – a lot! It sounds great, folds down perfectly – which is absolutely vital in my broadcast post work as the stereo HD listeners usually listen to set top box fold down of the 5.1 mix. I have tried it on a great

variety of material, from the easy (well recorded classical and choral) to the potentially troublesome (short, very dry pop music) – it copes very well and with the fl ick of the mode or a duck or boost in the Ls Rs fader, suited my ears and brought a smile to my face, much like TC’s Unwrap Dry preset used to. I always like to follow my up-mixes with an instance of Maggot Software’s spanner, so that I am able to collapse the 5.1 should the mix

require it, or ‘whoosh the up-mix from mono to 5.1’.


T ere is no totally set and forget ‘one knob’ with up-mixing work, or one plug- in that will always sound better than any other. If your original recording has problems, your 5.1 up-mix will have problems and you will need to do additional work. One thing I can say with confi dence though, is that this is as good as it gets for broadcast, as you will not have to be worrying about your fold-downs or spending time fi ghting the interface. Penteo 4 Pro is great sounding, and a highly eff ective and effi cient plug-in. It is defi nitely my weapon of choice.

The Reviewer

Mike Aiton was weaned at the BBC. But after breaking free nearly 20 years ago and becoming one of London’s busiest freelance dubbing mixers, he can mostly be found in his Twickenham dubbing suite, mikerophonics. In his spare time he takes therapy for his poor jazz guitar playing and his addiction to skiing and Nikon lenses.


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