audiofile speaks to Freddy Vinehill-Cliffe who is a Solutions Specialist at NUGEN Audio.
He talks about teaming up with Netflix and working with mix engineers at the BBC and Fox.
He also tells us about the Halo Downmix update which features new ranges for downmix coefficients and a Netflix preset.

Hi, thanks for taking the time to speak to audiofile.
My pleasure!

NUGEN Audio manufactures professional audio tools. Can you tell me more about the firm?
NUGEN Audio is based in Leeds in the UK. We mainly specialise in audio plug-ins, and our tools are used for both music and post applications. A lot of our products deal with loudness and surround processing.

NUGEN Audio’s tools are used by some of the world’s top names in broadcast, post-production and music production. Who are the most recent firms the company has teamed up with?
We worked closely alongside Netflix in the implementation of their new loudness standard, and we have a good relationship with them. On top of that, mix engineers at the BBC, Fox, Skywalker Sound and The Farm Group have all recently incorporated our tools into their workflow, to name just a few.

At NAB 2019 NUGEN Audio displayed its latest updates to its Loudness Toolkit and Halo Downmix. Can you tell me what improvements have been made and how this will help content creators working on audio that is being delivered to Netflix?
Our VisLM loudness meter, which is included in the Loudness Toolkit, now includes Dialog LRA measurement. This is a measurement which was not included in any other loudness standards prior to the Netflix standard. To my knowledge, other loudness meters have not yet incorporated Dialog LRA. VisLM is specifically mentioned in Netflix’s best practice document for engineers.

We have also updated VisLM’s GUI so that users can now view measurements from multiple loudness standards simultaneously. The interface can be made as simple or as complex as required, depending on the task, and this is great for mix engineers who might be delivering a project for multiple specifications.

The latest Halo Downmix update features new ranges for downmix coefficients, and we also added a Netflix preset. This should give the user peace of mind, ensuring that their downmix is compliant with Netflix’s standards.

You mentioned that loudness and surround processing are two areas NUGEN specialises in. Halo Downmix is one of those surround tools, can you tell me about the others?
With the prevalence of surround audio, it’s important that engineers can take advantage of the same kinds of tools they used when working primarily in stereo. So we have a surround EQ and a surround limiter, SEQ-S and ISL. We also have Halo Upmix, which allows users to create a coherent surround upmix from a stereo source. When movies use popular songs on their soundtrack, for example, Halo Upmix can be used to create a spatial upmix from a stereo master, rather than simply panning to the front left and right channels within an otherwise surround mix. All of these tools are included in our Surround Suite bundle.

Halo Upmix and Halo Downmix both have optional 3D extensions, giving the user scope to work on the vertical axis as well as the horizontal plane. Halo Upmix currently goes up to 7.1.4, and Halo Downmix goes up to 7.1.2. ISL also works in 7.1.2, which is suitable for creating a Dolby ATMOS bed.

What does the future hold for the firm?
Our development team is always working on new products, as well as adapting and improving our existing tools. We are continuing to add new codecs for our MasterCheck plug-in, for example, and SigMod is another product which we are still tweaking and improving.

I can’t go into specifics about brand new products, but there is a new plug-in in the pipeline fairly imminently, and it is significantly different from anything we’ve done before! We have taken a fairly common audio process and implemented a whole new way of doing it. Unfortunately I can’t be any less vague than that, but it’s very exciting.