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Manchester Based Audio Studio. Sound Design | Voice Over/ADR | Foley | 5.1 Mixing | Pro Tools | Education | Sound Effects Libraries

REVIEW: Penteo - Pro+

Thanks to huge technological leaps in recent years, the list of tedious and time consuming tasks are seemingly getting smaller by the day. However, reversioning can still send a shiver down the most experienced mixers spine. Enter: Penteo. Today on the 344 Audio blog, we’ll take look at the upmixing/downmixing plug in, Penteo Pro+.


Penteo Pro+, Pro and 360 are cutting-edge, reversioning software used to translate stereo tracks to a variety of immersive formats.


Company: Penteo

Product: Penteo Pro+

Price: £799

Our Rating: 4.95/5


Overview:


Penteo is a reversioning tool that has been making waves in the industry in recent years. Aiming to make the process of upmixing and downmixing as simple as possible, the software uses 'PerfectSurround' technology which allows users to convert stereo tracks to/from a variety of multichannel formats without adding or subtracting content, or introducing phasing issues.


In their own words:


”Penteo version 6 plug-ins simplifies the complex process of upmixing and downmixing, ensuring that reversioning between formats retain the highest fidelity and spatial accuracy. We’ve introduced the highest order Ambisonics support, accommodating up to 64 channels. This, combined with the Direct Binaural Renderer, empowers audio professionals to seamlessly convert between an extensive range of formats, ensuring optimal listening experiences across all platforms.”






Key Features & Benefits


Penteo is available in 3 versions, with some features varying between each; Pro+ (62 Audio Formats), Pro (43 Audio Formats) & 360 (13 Audio Formats). We’ll be looking at the Pro+ offering. Highlights from the latest update include a huge expansion to its Ambisonics functionality for use in 360 degree social media audio, gaming and VR/AR, plus an incredibly useful 'Direct Binaural Renderer' feature from all 62 Audio Formats. Meaning you can now preview an upmix before rendering to Binaural, ensuring the render sounds as expected. Alongside giving remote clients the ability to hear immersive mixes whilst monitoring through headphones.


From a purely aesthetic point of view, the interface looks a little dated compared to other recent plug ins. This could simply be down to visual elements being square/utilizing sharp edges as opposed to and the smooth, curved shapes used by others. However, the inclusion of 3 UI settings (Default, Minimal and Output Visualizer) allow for customization depending on personal preference is nice. The simplicity of all 3 layouts, including minimal UI (Which drastically reduces the plugin window size) make identifying essential controls really easy, with the added bonus of colour coding to know at a glance which channels you’re looking at/modifying.



What It's Useful For


We tested Penteos upmixing capabilities on 3 different music tracks. And both the upmixing and downmixing capabilities on a feature film we mixed in Stereo and 5.1.


When we used the plug-in to upmix a stereo music track containing mostly instruments, the default settings gave clear, high fidelity results. The only audible difference before dialling in any changes was too much signal being distributed to the LFE channel. After turning that down (by around -11db) there were only a few small adjustments to the rear channels needed before we were happy with the results. The surround spread feels very natural, and we were particularly impressed with how much of a great job Penteo does at isolating, and spreading different elements of the tracks. For example, one track we tested on separated some choir vocals from orchestral instruments and spread them the rear speakers further enhancing the songs building intensity.


Moving on to our feature film test, we had both our stereo and 5.1 mixes on separate tracks. We then compared the upmixed stereo version to our original 5.1 mix, and vice versa for downmixing. In both cases the results were flawless. At various points throughout the test we were switching between Penteos results and the original mixes we heard no artefacts, missing content from the audio and true to PerfectSurrounds word...no phasing issues.



The Bottom Line

After years of using Waves UM225/226, spending time with Penteo Pro+ is a welcome upgrade. It comes as no surprise that it's been named 'Upmixer of the Year' twice. Whilst there could be some improvements made to modernize the U.I, Penteo more than makes up for this in functionality. The ease of use and ability to get incredible results with such minimal changes out the box will save you so much time it would be worth the price tag alone. Paired with the fact that Pro+ supports all audio formats, and its cutting-edge PerfectSurround technology delivers on its promises, having this tool in your arsenal a no brainer. Penteo Pro+, Pro & 360 are available as VST3, Audio Units or AAX plug-in on both PC and Mac.


For more from Penteo and the purchase information for Penteo Pro+, follow these links:

 

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