Wohler Makes its First US SoundField Stereo-to-5.1 Upmix Sales
AMV, which also owns New Jersey-based satellite uplink and downlink facility Gateway, covers large-scale outside broadcast events including the MTV music video awards, and international sports fixtures such as the US Open Golf and World Athletics Championships, as well as handling the OB and uplink requirements of the New York Metropolitan Opera's regular international simulcasts to cinemas in Europe and Asia.
Upmixing has been a requirement in many areas of AMV's business for a few years now, as All Mobile Video's head audio engineer and audio development specialist Ian Vysick explains. "We cover many live-to-theatre events, but if any parts of the transmission package have been recorded, or if a show is a re-run and is coming off tape, then the taped audio is always stereo. Most edit houses and production companies still can't handle 5.1. But nonetheless, these transmissions are usually played in cinemas with surround sound systems, so we've had a regular requirement for some means of generating surround from stereo. We've been using a variety of upmixers, including boxes from Dolby and TC Electronic.
"Although these older boxes work well on interview material and film soundtracks, I've felt for some time that there was room for improvement on musical content — we cover a lot of musical shows. I've tried tweaking things, but editing on those older processors is not fast; it involves accessing a lot of deep menus and repeated button-pressing. So when Wohler suggested I try the UPM-1, I asked them to bring one to a live musical event I was mixing.
"I couldn't have hoped for a better test, as the show was opened by a band mixed in stereo, then there was a movie with a stereo soundtrack, and then there was an interview. So that covered the three major types of content we always have to get into 5.1: music, film soundtracks and dialogue. I was also able to compare the UPM-1 with our existing processors.
"It took all of about 30 seconds to decide which was best — the UPM-1 was exactly what I'd been looking for. It was more natural-sounding, and also simple to set up, with just a few knobs on the front, and no button-pushing. It’s not just me, either. I’m just finishing some work with the Philadelphia Philharmonic, and the broadcast mix engineer there mistook the UPM-1’s 5.1-from-stereo upmix for a discrete-channel mix from his 5.1 stems. He said it was the only viable upmix he’d ever heard, and couldn’t believe how good it sounded.”
Following another successful test at the red carpet coverage of the MTV Video Music Awards, AMV have now ordered three UPM-1s. One will be used between the company's various OB vehicles to upmix VT and archive material for 5.1 transmission, one will be used in AMV's uplink truck, and the third will be installed at the Gateway teleport station in New Jersey to upmix audio for the opera simulcasts from the New York Metropolitan.
"Using the UPM-1 is just so easy," concludes Vysick. "You put the audio in, adjust a few controls, and an amazing-sounding 5.1 upmix comes out."