I have continually wrestled with Photomatix (and Pro) since I fell under the spell of HDR. I just cannot get the results that so many of the other members get using Photomatix. I find it very difficult to control the haloing and the "haziness", especially in foliage. The details of foliage often transform into smudges or smears, liken a Van Gogh or Cezanne painting...I see many members get beautiful results, but they elude me. I prefer very sharp detail (in most scenes, but certainly not all), vivid color, and generally I like brightness.
My work flow has evolved to this:
1) RAW image into LR5, expose as much detail as possible in the highlights and shadows (while trying to maintain reasonable contrast; VERY gentle S curve).
2) Boost sharpness, clarity, radiance, color saturation, but VERY modestly.
3) IN PS Elements, use NIK Collection Dfine2 to limit noise,
4) and use various modified filters and presets in NIK Collection Color Efex4 to apply HDR "flavor"....
Re: Aurora, I have used it a few times, and been happy with the result, but I just seem to get faster and better results with my processes described above.