Nugen Audio are joining the Upmix plug-in group with their Halo Upmix plug-in. How will it fair against the established plug-ins in this sector? In this preview video Mike Thornton gets his hands on a pre-release copy of Halo to see if it delivers. Watch and find out how it performs.
Mike's Experiences Of Nugen Audio's Halo Upmix Plug-in
I have been playing with it now for a few days and it has really grown on me. I love the Surroundscope. It is so useful to get a visual indication of where the audio is in the surround sound field. It really helps to confirm what my ears are hearing.
To have a down mix option built into the plug-in to check down mix compatibility is an inspired move. Without resorting to the manual the controls are intuitive. You can click on the channel nodes and solo each one. Alternatively on the meters, clicking on the label, will mute that channel and these functions can be modified in the plug-in's settings page.
There is an HF shelving EQ on the rear channels which is great for dulling down the rear channels if you find too much HF detail is finding its way into the the rear channels.
There are a range of presets, which it would be fair to say are still a work in progress in this beta version, but they give a good sense of what is to come. As there is a lot of power and controllability in this upmix plug-in I would recommend you start with a preset that is as close as possible to what you need and then tweak from there.
For sound effects I tend to choose the 4.0 fill preset, and then adjust the front back ratio and the diffusion control, which can have a significant impact on the sound. Higher diffusion give a less focused sound, lower settings a more focused sound.
Moving onto music, using the Music 5.1 preset and pulling it round a bit more, gives space at the front for the dialog. It is very comforting to switch between the Source and the Downmix of the upmix and there not to be any nasty surprises. If you want an exact downmix then selecting the Exact option will make sure the down mix is faithful to the stereo source.
If you want to tweak the levels then you can flip over to the I/O window and adjust the gain of the different channels.
Nugen Audio have worked hard to make sure that their Halo Upmix plug-in will also give a convincing upmix of a full stereo mix with dialog. Selecting the Dialog /VO preset you can see how the colour coding helps. Looking at the Surroundscope, we can see where the speech is going.
Switching to the Centre page with the Dialog ISO setting enabled, which is designed to steer dialog into the centre channel, you can control how aggressive this algorithm functions and you can use automation to vary this throughout a mix, very neat.
There is so much more in the plug-in that I haven’t had time to cover in this short preview video. If you need upmixing, then do go over to the Nugen Audio web site and download the demo version and try it for yourself. Carve out some time and dig down into this, you won’t be disappointed.
What Is Nugen Audio Halo Upmix Plug-in?
Nugen Audio Halo is a stereo to 5.1 or 7.1 upmix plug-in suitable for use in Film, Television, Music and Game Audio production environments. The Halo upmix process has been designed to be highly downmix compatible, providing a natural extension of the existing stereo panorama into a surround context, whilst providing full control for all relative surround balances for those applications that require a more immersive cinematic dynamic.
Centre channel extraction and control is provided for in a separate 'advanced' panel for use when dealing with intricate mixes, where no access to the original stems is available, offering unparalleled control, including neural network based dialog extraction.
Other upmix formats are also supported, and Halo preserves down mix compatibility with those too, including LCR, 4.0, 4.1, 5.0, 6.0 and 6.1.