Ken Hahn, co-owner of New York's Sync Sound, is currently running the latest version of the Penteo 4 Pro stereo-to-5.1 up-mixer.
"We do the audio post-production for all of the Live from the Met series," he explains. "First the operas are broadcast live in HD into theatres across the world. Then those recordings are post-produced, and made available on DVD and Blu-ray, as well as broadcast on PBS. Almost all the music up-mixing that we do involves pre-mixed stereo, like what we do for the Metropolitan Opera here in New York, or for a TV show like FX's The Americans, which we also mix here, and which may use more pop recordings or specialised sound effects."
"I've had a number of classical artists, conductors, and producers hear the Penteo 5.1 surround version of their stereo mix, and they'll say, 'Oh my goodness, that's what I expected the stereo to sound like. It's got depth. It's got width. I can hear placement of instruments that I didn't across the stereo field that I wish I had.'"
In addition to the remixing of the new live Met Operas, Hahn also provides audio restoration services for the re-release of Met Opera archival recordings that are going to DVD. These are performances that only exist on videotape with a stereo mix. First Hahn restores the stereo mix and then generates a 5.1 mix. "Because of the historical nature of these recordings," he comments, "it is imperative that we not alter the sound when up-mixing, and that's why we use Penteo."
Speaking of stereo pop music that he up-mixes to 5.1, Hahn says, "Because of its familiarity and popularity, people don't want to hear it in any other way than the way they've always heard it. That is what I am most pleased with Penteo 4 Pro. I can take a stereo mix and up-mix it to get a very, very good-sounding 5.1, and then be assured that when it is brought back down to stereo it sounds as it did when it began."
Hahn sums up his findings with Penteo: "Simply stated, Penteo 4 Pro takes a stereo mix and make a 5.1 surround mix out of it. But here's what's most important: Penteo generates the 5.1 surround without adding any additional delays, equalisation, frequency shifting, dynamic change, alteration, or any of those tricks. It uses a new method to up-mix that doesn't alter the original stereo, so when folding back down to stereo, the stereo sounds just like the original."