Around NAB time, DTS released a new plug-in for ProTools called Neural UpMix, which it developed after acquiring the company Neural Audio about 18 months ago. If you’re remixing a film for 3D Blu-ray Disc that only has 5.1 channels of original sound, the Neural UpMix plug-in will translate those existing tracks into 7.1. It’s apparently the first tool that upmixes all the way to 7.1, and once the 7.1 surround standard migrates to 3DTV, one can imagine this tool in regular use at ESPN and Discovery’s new 3D channels.

I got a change to hear the results on Blu-ray recently, surrounded by sweetly calibrated Focal Studio Monitors, in a demo suite with DTS engineers here in New York. DTS-HD MA is now the de-facto format on Blu-ray, and 7.1 will likely follow. The booming effects in action films were more immediately telegraphed in the 7.1 mix. I could literally feel an approaching helicopter before the film’s main character saw it. But equally nuanced was a remastering of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. The mix was infinitely better than the canned drive-in movie sound that I heard when I first saw this film all those years ago.

The plug-in is only $449 and offers a surprising amount of user control for a plug-in of its type. You can control sound field width and depth, your channel layout, output controls and LFE filtering, among other things.

Minnetonka Audio Software has also released a DTS-HD Encoder plug-in, another great tool for mastering 3D sound. That plug-in, which works with Final Cut’s Compressor, is $249. A full Master Audio Suite from DTS, which includes DTS-HD Encoder, StreamPlayer and StreamTools, lists for $1,495.