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SM2 vs SPECWeb vs PENTEO 16 Pro

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J. PUPSTER

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So, looks like it can go through Reaper, and is "not" just a trial time limit... is that right Garry?

Edit* - I'm not seeing a "sign up" page, just more sales info...???
Ah, the problem is- it doesn't work with Microsoft Internet Explorer, once I tried Chrome the sign up page showed up!
Hard to believe MS IE is so far behind the curve for so many sites.
 

HomerJAU

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Keep us informed!
I had a quick play with the Izotope Ozone Imager and it definitely moves more into the surrounds.

I did the same stereo file to 5.1 upmix with Imager and Penteo 3 times:
  • Without any Imaging (0)
  • with Imaging set to 50
  • with Imaging set to max (100)

The Imaging graphic showed more hard L and R in its stereo output the higher the setting

During the Penteo UM each file had higher levels in the two surround channels and less across the fronts as the Imaging increased.

I could hear more in the surrounds for each setting increase

I didn’t change the Penteo surround levels, so of course, when listening it wasn’t a true comparison, so I’ll so proper testing over the weekend. Playing each UM file in turn and flicking between it would have been very easy to tell which was which in a blind test, not just because the surrounds were louder but because it moved more from fronts to rear speakers (ear close to fronts then rears). Anyway, too early to say if it’s a ‘better’ mix. But promising results.

There were no artefacts adding Imaging to the upmix process.

I‘m using Reaper but still can’t get it to play 5.1 in real time. I can only ever get stereo out in real time. I need to get in touch with their support team. Much easier to hear changes when I change settings, instant feedback.

All the conversions I’m doing are. with Reaper‘s batch process. Select all the song files for an album, or several albums and it does them in one batch.
 

humprof

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I'm going to need DeCrakle for old albums like this one in my collection (It was never released in a digital form AFAIK)
Way off-topic, but I'm catching up on periodical reading today, and the November Jazz Times has both an interview with and an appreciation of Cobham:


 

Sonik Wiz

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I had a quick play with the Izotope Ozone Imager and it definitely moves more into the surrounds.

I did the same stereo file to 5.1 upmix with Imager and Penteo 3 times:
  • Without any Imaging (0)
  • with Imaging set to 50
  • with Imaging set to max (100)

The Imaging graphic showed more hard L and R in its stereo output the higher the setting

During the Penteo UM each file had higher levels in the two surround channels and less across the fronts as the Imaging increased.

I could hear more in the surrounds for each setting increase

I didn’t change the Penteo surround levels, so of course, when listening it wasn’t a true comparison, so I’ll so proper testing over the weekend. Playing each UM file in turn and flicking between it would have been very easy to tell which was which in a blind test, not just because the surrounds were louder but because it moved more from fronts to rear speakers (ear close to fronts then rears). Anyway, too early to say if it’s a ‘better’ mix. But promising results.

There were no artefacts adding Imaging to the upmix process.

I‘m using Reaper but still can’t get it to play 5.1 in real time. I can only ever get stereo out in real time. I need to get in touch with their support team. Much easier to hear changes when I change settings, instant feedback.

All the conversions I’m doing are. with Reaper‘s batch process. Select all the song files for an album, or several albums and it does them in one batch.
That's a good description & pretty much what I anticipated would happen. I bet with a little experience you'll be able to adjust, check the display, & have good idea how it will output on the penteo.

As you said, you can hear more in the surrounds for each setting increase. This is not the same as simply raising the rear ch levels. In that case all your doing is taking whatever your decoder/upmixer is already making & changing the level. Doing some out of phase pre-synth fundamentally changes the decoded output which is quite different. Once you feel you've got the soundfield opened up then it might be appropriate to reduce the rear chs a bit to bring it all together. As The Moodies might say, it's all question of balance.
 

J. PUPSTER

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I had a quick play with the Izotope Ozone Imager and it definitely moves more into the surrounds.

I did the same stereo file to 5.1 upmix with Imager and Penteo 3 times:
  • Without any Imaging (0)
  • with Imaging set to 50
  • with Imaging set to max (100)

The Imaging graphic showed more hard L and R in its stereo output the higher the setting

During the Penteo UM each file had higher levels in the two surround channels and less across the fronts as the Imaging increased.

I could hear more in the surrounds for each setting increase

I didn’t change the Penteo surround levels, so of course, when listening it wasn’t a true comparison, so I’ll so proper testing over the weekend. Playing each UM file in turn and flicking between it would have been very easy to tell which was which in a blind test, not just because the surrounds were louder but because it moved more from fronts to rear speakers (ear close to fronts then rears). Anyway, too early to say if it’s a ‘better’ mix. But promising results.

There were no artefacts adding Imaging to the upmix process.

I‘m using Reaper but still can’t get it to play 5.1 in real time. I can only ever get stereo out in real time. I need to get in touch with their support team. Much easier to hear changes when I change settings, instant feedback.

All the conversions I’m doing are. with Reaper‘s batch process. Select all the song files for an album, or several albums and it does them in one batch.
Any progress on this Garry?
 

HomerJAU

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I’ve been on holiday over on the west coast (AU) for last few days back next week, so nothing to report.

I’m down the south west coast in Margaret River. Amazing coast line and native forests. Staying with my brother n law. He says this area has the largest diversified animal and bird life anywhere in the world. Much of them endangered. I’ll post some photos when I get back home.
 

J. PUPSTER

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I finally got my new NUC setup about a week ago, and with the kind help of Glenn- @zeerround - I was able to get Specweb 2.0 loaded and going and also loaded Penteo and Reaper (although still evaluation for Reaper.) I'm also going to be checking out iZotope RX-7, but not sure how deep I'll get on that as my plate's pretty full of stuff here already.

I've done some UM with both Penteo and Specweb and like both, but thought I'd relay my work I'm doing on one of my all time favorite albums -
The Notting Hillbillies - Missing... Presumed Having A Good Time.

This is an all digital DDD recording; and is mostly a country/folk sounding album with Mark Knopfler, Guy Fletcher and others.
I'll be going over some of my findings for the song "Railroad Worksong" (should have been the song played on the end credits for the show "Hell On Wheels" IMO.) I love to play this on headphones for a nice relaxing listen.

First up - Penteo at 4.0 (my preferred listening for UM.)
I'd like to mention, that for me if the Reaper/Penteo programs get closed, I found out some of the configuration had changed (I highlighted with the yellow marker below.) So when you go back in, make sure all your settings are correct, as I got caught a little off guard by that.

Penteo-SS.jpg


On first listen to the Penteo UM it was evident it didn't handle things that well AFAIC. With the basic setup it just didn't put much into the rears at all. Here's the wave forms for that -
Railroad Worksong-Penteo-UM-orig.jpg


So next I tried the Stereo Pre-Synth in Adobe Audition 3 at 200 (-6db Amplitude prior and -2db Normalization post), which helped considerably, and here's the wave forms of that one:
Penteo-Post-PS-UM.jpg


The Pre-Synth really brought the rear channels to life by putting stuff like the sound of hammer strikes on steel (represents railroad spike driving) and a banjo in the Rear-left; and a pedal steel guitar in the Right-rear. The main vocals, bass, drums and electric guitar stayed mostly front. Overall pretty satisfied with this. I'm also very curious about the work Garry's doing in iZotope Ozone Imager for this sort of thing.

Next, the Specweb UM to 4.0.
This sounded great with the placement of the instruments similar to the Post Pre-Synth Penteo UM, but had a much brighter and more defined sound than the Penteo. Here's the wave forms after I adjusted the Front/left channel up +6dbs in Audacity as I've noticed a lot of my Specweb UMes are unbalanced in the fronts that way. So I'll need some kind of command line adjustment seems like to get a more balanced result. the options I'm using are -m4 -0-110 -3-110 -c0 (I tried -f90 at the end but it didn't seem to help?)
WF-SW-post+6db to F-L.jpg


I have played this through the Surround Master v2 and thought it lands somewhere in between both Penteo (non Pre-synth.) & Specweb.
Overall for this album I believe the Specweb does a better job of a more detailed and discrete UM. Once I get some more experience on these programs, I believe things will progress much faster and I'll be able to dial in just what I'm looking for from an album and let fly. All this is just a primer for getting a vast amount of my stereo music UM into the way I believe they should have been to begin with - from a Quad enthusiast's point of view anyway. ;)
 

zeerround

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+6dB in fronts would be:

-16 -26

(gains for channels one and two +6 instead of 0)

However with the VST in there you may not get the same results at adding 6dB after spec.web You can turn the VST off with -v0 (zero not Oh).

The VST may be one reason why you (in most cases) prefer SpecWeb, over Penteo however.
 

HomerJAU

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With my latest Penteo UMs I’ve set the LFE crossover to 63Hz since my fronts and rears are full range in my main system, and fronts in my smaller system can do under 63Hz too.

I did mix the same song 4 times using Izotope Ozone standard Imager (pre synth). This version has 4 user definable frequency bands to allow a different level of stereo expansion for each band. Imager had about 10 preset band settings and so I choose 4, but I never got to listen and compare on my main system, only a quick listen to each on my PC speakers. With those there was no discernible difference on A quick 30 sec passage on same song, flicking between them.

I ended up buying Ozone Standard upgrade while on holiday when it came up on a Christmas special. $129 I think it was. So I’ve got plenty of time to have a play now (the demo version was 10 days only).
 

J. PUPSTER

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+6dB in fronts would be:

-16 -26

(gains for channels one and two +6 instead of 0)

However with the VST in there you may not get the same results at adding 6dB after spec.web You can turn the VST off with -v0 (zero not Oh).

The VST may be one reason why you (in most cases) prefer SpecWeb, over Penteo however.
Since I'm new at this, I'm a little confused as to what I need to do here. I'm satisfied with everything except I want to raise the gain in the Left Front channel by 6dbs, so given that how would that change this line?:
-m4 -0-110 -3-110 -c0
 

Sonik Wiz

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Since I'm new at this, I'm a little confused as to what I need to do here. I'm satisfied with everything except I want to raise the gain in the Left Front channel by 6dbs, so given that how would that change this line?:
-m4 -0-110 -3-110 -c0
Have you tried opening the mch FLAC file in Audition or Audacity?
 

J. PUPSTER

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With my latest Penteo UMs I’ve set the LFE crossover to 63Hz since my fronts and rears are full range in my main system, and fronts in my smaller system can do under 63Hz too.

I did mix the same song 4 times using Izotope Ozone standard Imager (pre synth). This version has 4 user definable frequency bands to allow a different level of stereo expansion for each band. Imager had about 10 preset band settings and so I choose 4, but I never got to listen and compare on my main system, only a quick listen to each on my PC speakers. With those there was no discernible difference on A quick 30 sec passage on same song, flicking between them.

I ended up buying Ozone Standard upgrade while on holiday when it came up on a Christmas special. $129 I think it was. So I’ve got plenty of time to have a play now (the demo version was 10 days only).
Uhg - looks like that Ozone software isn't any part of the RX-7 packages as far I can tell, is that right Garry?
 

zeerround

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Well a couple of comments and tips I guess. I'm not sure what you are thinking "right" should be, especially with the quad only output. SpecWeb is designed to correctly represent the stereo spread over 5.1 speakers, with the default settings (but we are still discussing new vs. old widths as defaults). Also the levels are designed so that the final loudness of the track is +/- 0.5 dB of the loudness of the stereo, and again the volume of individual channels designed to match the original stereo mix.

As you know specweb prints the RMS and Peak values (at each stage) so those can be used to judge some level relationship between channels, and also there is a "ebur128_levels.exe" utility in the bin folder that you can drag and drop a stereo or 5.1 track onto and get the True Peak and LUFS loudness per channel and for the entire track. That's the EU standard way of measuring loudness, ebur128 referring to the name of the spec.

Adding -V1 (upercase V this time) will Have SpecWeb measure and display more TP and LUFS measurements, at the cost of some processing speed.

If you add gain to individual channels, you are "coloring outside the lines" ;0) which you should do if that's how you like it, but from a purest approach you are changing the mix (unless your quad system fronts are down 6 dB for some reason). Changing the front widths would be the "in the lines" approach to getting more sound in the fronts, but if you like what's in front vs. what's in back with your current widths but still want the fronts louder you should do what works for you.

Back in the day we had the spreadsheet which was used to set levels during upmixing, which became automated in the ZAG part of Spec/SpecWeb, but I've since taken more of the purist approach, where representing the mix and loudness of the original stereo (in 5.1) is of more importance.

These days, with the unlimited VST giving us most or all of the level/loudness control, zag is almost not needed, and is dumbed down in SpecWeb. Certainly in the Plogue Bidule version of Spec you can set your final levels in ZAG, and I guess it might make more sense to have control at that point, in SpecWeb, vs. adjusting the gains which will drive the VST inputs.
 

zeerround

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He looking at the ini file and command line summary I am reminded that the zag knobs are still there.

-zx = Use 'z' Automatic Gain if x=1 don't use if x=0 (default is use Zag).​
-Z = Set 'Z' Automatic Gain (if -z flag) to 'normonly gains' (default is normonly).​
-Lx = Max Output Level in dB or 'M' to match input loudness (default 'M').​
-Cx = Center Level, Relative to Fronts (default +3.0).​
-Ex = LFE Level, Relative to Fronts (default -9.0).​
-Rx = Rears Level, Relative to Fronts (default -3.0).​

Hmm, not really clear on how to turn "normonly gains" off, is it. Let me check on that.
 

zeerround

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Yeah that's a bug. No way to turn off normonly gains in Zag on the command line.

Here's an ini file set as follows:

Do quad
center off, LFE off, centerwidth = 0 (I don't know what your front width is. This has the new default for 5.1 36).​
Set speaker locations to the corners of a square​
Use Zag to set the front speakers 6 dB louder than the rears (I still have it set so that the max peak in the surround matches the max peak in the stereo, you can also specify a level, like 0dB or -0.9dB, but then if you have a quiet stereo song the surround will be louder).

How to use the attached as an ini file.

Rename it to SpecWeb.ini then do one of the following

Place it in the SpecWeb bin folder (making a copy of the existing SpecWeb.ini file first!) if you want to globally affect every track you upmix​
Place it in a directory of stereo song files, if you want to effect only songs in that directory with these settings​

Rename it so it exactly matches the filename of a song file, except with .ini as the extension, to have it affect only that one song.​
You can edit the file with a text editor, and hopefully the settings are documented enough that you can tell what's going on. Also you can compare this one to the default SpecWeb.ini in the bin folder.

FYI Notepad++ is an excellent text editor and will automagically color code text in the file, so help you keep to the ini file format.

PS I didn't listen to this, just ran it and looked at the levels. My audio interfaces are all torn down at the moment.
 

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