Wakefield, UK (May 18, 2009)–UK-based stereo and surround mic manufacturer SoundField has begun shipping the first quantities of the UPM-1 stereo-to-5.1 converter to satisfy international pre-orders.
Aimed at the broadcast market, the UPM-1 is a 19-inch rack processor designed to create 5.1 material from old program material which only has a stereo soundtrack. Such legacy programming is a problem for companies broadcasting in high definition with 5.1 surround audio, because listeners find it distracting when modern HD shows are broadcast in 5.1 surround and then the audio narrows to a very ‘flat-sounding’ two channels for older material. This kind of distracting switch can occur even within one show; all the modern content in an HD sports show will be in 5.1, but older clips of past sporting events usually have only a stereo soundtrack. To modern HD broadcasters, this kind of repeated expansion and contraction of the audio soundscape is unacceptable.
The UPM-1 works not by adding reverb or using phase shifts to generate new material for the rear channels in a 5.1 soundscape; rather, the UPM-1 adds nothing new to the audio at all. All of the material in the 5.1 mix that appears at the processor’s outputs is derived from spatial information present in the original stereo signal. The UPM-1’s processing is adaptive, changing with the input signal, rather than remaining constant irrespective of input.
The UPM-1 generates 5.1 from two channels by analyzing the original stereo audio using a patented algorithm that separates the audio into its so-called Direct and Ambient components. These elements can then be processed separately and routed in different proportions to the 5.1 mix if required, using the UPM-1’s front-panel rotary controls.