10: Great Fidelity, Great Performance, Great Content
1: Poor Fidelity, Poor Surround, Poor Content
Please post your thoughts and comments on this November 2013 Blu-Ray 5.1 Audio release of XTC's "nonsuch" album, remixed for 5.1 by Steven Wilson.
(Also available on DVD-Audio Disc. Please post comments on the DVD-A HERE )
(scans upon arrival)
This has been greatly anticipated by myself since we first heard that Steven was working on XTC's back catalogue. So, when this dropped through the letter box this morning I was excited as a kid in a sweet shop.
And boy, I have not been disappointed.
Firstly, the packaging is regular CD sized, not Blu Ray, so it will sit in nicely with regular albums. There is an out sleeve, closed on all but in of its six sides, out of which slides the gatefold inner sleeve, which in turn contains the discs and booklet.
Plonking the Blu Ray on the drive yields a beautiful menu, allowing you to choose, mix options and extra content. When selecting the audio, you are presented with a grid like song selection screen, with each song having its own graphic. A mournful looking chap on the right holds a placard that allows you to switch between audio options (Stereo, Instrumental, 5.1 LPCM and 5.1 DTS-HD) during playback (useful for comparisons).
As for the audio and mix quality, well, this was never going to be in doubt, was it? It's nothing short of awesome. Steven has managed to pull off the often failed trick of taking the original material and expanding out over the extra channels without it ruining the feel of the original. The music, and Andy's vocals, now simply have this larger space to breathe and blossom. Use of the rears is good, and everything sounds so incredibly fresh.
After this, I cannot wait for the rest of the XTC canon to be given the same treatment.
Giving this a 10 just doesn't do it justice. I'd go as far as to say this is a benchmark release on Blu Ray.
I wasn't expecting this to be a massive improvement over the original release, my old CD still sounds very nice. But this is astonishing. The clarity and sheer beauty of the sound is clearly of reference standard. I won't attempt to give a full review now, I need to listen a few more times. It's been a great year for 5.1...
Oh and I broke a self-imposed rule to never give a score of 10, after all is anything perfect? Nonsuch in 5.1 is very close to perfection.
I'm also in for a 10.
After hearing it three times, I can say it is a stellar production.
The sound is incredible and there is a lot of discrete things going on, without losing the musical context.
There is also so much content and extra features like comparison between the single mixes and instrumental tracks and a lot more. It is real fun.
Last month I voted for Scheiner being the best 5.1 mixing engineer, but now after hearing the XTC release I have to correct myself.
There are two 5.1 mixing kings.
Steven Scheiner...you did a perfect job .
One day at a time!
(331 DVD-Audios, 477 Multichannel-SACDs, 52 Stereo-SACDs, 28 Blu-Ray-Audio, 116 Audio-DVD/DTS-CDs)
I had a quick listen to some of the Blu Ray last night and started digging through the extras.
Not having had a proper listen I will not vote but teh mix seems pretty much complete and up to the usual or beyond standard that we have come to expect. The extras take this blu ray into a new standard though videos demos documetary. Now Universal why cant you do this this is Pure Audio plus. and a darn sight cheeper.
Great disc will vote once I have had teh chance to digest the whole album properly.
I'll vote as I hear this some more. Really outstanding sound and mix. Chock full of good songs too. I never realized the depth and subtlety to this. A lot of detail to work with in surround and of course SW did a lot with it.
I noticed at home I had to turn up the center channel more than usual to bring up the vocal, then it was well balanced. In the car I have an aftermarket JVC DVDA player with four stock speakers, Center set to "None" in the menu. Usually this spreads the center sound into L and R, but this is the first disc I've noticed a real lack of center. The backups and such sound great, and the lead is there, but mostly echo in the other channels. Almost like XTC karaoke. So long story short, I need to find a way to install a center speaker before I can give this a proper review. I listen to surround in the car more than anywhere else because that's the longest I sit in one place on typical days.
Try selecting the DTS track to play and see if that sounds better. I've found that the JVC doesn't do any processing on DVD-A discs, so If you have DVD-As with a center channel you don't hear it split in the Left and right channels.. Seems to work with DTS though...
I will try this DVD-A in my car later today & report back...
P.S. Liking the disc - need to listen a few more times before I report.
I give this one a 10. I had not even heard the music of XTC until a few months ago, but I'm a big fan now. SW has done his magic again; he seems to have had a unique approach to every song. I can't remember which one, but there's a fadeout guitar solo in the rear at the end of one song. Beautiful. I didn't have any problems with the center channel, but I rarely do because I have a Bigfoot center.
That's likely 'Books Are Burning', where David Gregory plays a multi-part solo on the fade. Right rear and then left rear with a different effect on it that boosts midrange as my guitar tech friend says.
Having XTC in surround is a dream come true.
Moderator, Musician, Foole
Daddeo 2016 Selected Songs link:
Just one listen and I can't imaging anything less than a 10 - but I'll listen a few more times before the final vote. There is so much content here that any major label releasing a competing BD A would surely be embarrassed by the comparison of riches. There are no complaints - just one question - the DTS HD MA stream is 24/48 while the PCM is 24/96 - I'm guessing a disc capacity issue? Either way it all sounds fab - really!
I listened to this again this morning. There's no arguing with the supreme quality of the sound and the all round package. A couple of points with the sound - to me it sounds best in LPCM, rather than DTS HD, and also it sounds better louder.
The package shows how it should be done, with the in studio video and the demos. Wouldn't it be nice when Going For The One comes out if one of the extras was the old in studio video of the band, which I have on an old vhs tape in the garage somewhere! C'mon Yes, if XTC can do it!
Semi-on topic. Can't listen to the multichannel atm but can listen to the CD. Cover says 'Original Stereo mix' but 5 secs in and it blatently isn't. Super phasing on the guitar is a dead giveaway. Gotta be a Stereo of the new mix. Ohhhhhhhh man I've listened to this 100's of times and it's never been sooo goood and sooo clear. Also nice to query a CD on Freedb via Audiograbber and be the first to post a new one :-) Looking forward to the rest of my evening....
Aha I see :-) The slipcase says 'Original Stereo Mix' but the inner says 'CD : New Stereo edition ' e.t.c. as you say. Sounds gooooood. Can't wait for some 'me' time .......
Yeah, I believe the "Original Stereo Mix" is referring to Steven's effort to match the stereo mix using the original multi-track masters. I'm not as familiar with the original release as you. It should be close, but better.
for now...very major quibble...
WHERE ARE THE LYRICS??????
Avatar: a Goddess...Capucine -...The Ice Queen
"LIFE is NOT in Stereo , it's in SURROUND, so why limit your music to stereo...? By that same train of thought we should've stayed in MONO..." -Me
The difference between DTS-HD MA and LPCM is that DTS-HD MA uses less bits (the data is packed) and has the option to output a lossy DTS core output for those players that can't handle DTS-HD MA.
"DTS-HD Master Audio is bit-for bit identical to the studio master..."
If you are hearing differences it could be because you have the LPCM output "tuned" differently on your AVR than LPCM output. One of the easiest ways to make them sound different is to play them at different volumes. Louder always sounds better. Also the brain is amazing at making things sounds better - because you know that the bitrate is higher your brain says it must sound better, when in reality they are the same bits being output.
You realize that a zip file is smaller than a word document, but when you decode the zip file the word document comes out exactly the same?
There are reasons it can sound different and the LPCM and DTS not be bit perfect copies. There may have been some tweaks on the DTS side prior to the encoding. Your decoder may do something different with regard to bass management etc. or simply result in one playing at a different volume level than the other.
There is no REASON for them to be any different, but they may be, and one can not be faulted for preferring one over the other, just as no one should be faulted for pointing out that technically they should be identical.