SPOTLIGHT Al Stewart's "Year of the Cat" (Remixed in 5.1 surround by Alan Parsons!!)

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stormchaser

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This is interesting. I was fairly underwhelmed by the DTS 24/96 upon a quick first listen. BUT, I also want to note that my Marantz AV 7704 had a problem with the 24/96 at first which seemed to resolve itself after a power off/on, and I'm also upmixing to a 7.1.4 system. So, I need to spend some more time with this and the various mixes (including the DD).
 

sjcorne

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I wouldn't put the Doobies in the unlistenable category but I will admit, the dubs from the reels sound more natural.
The problem with the Doobies for me was that the mastering seemed to be a 'one-size-fits-all' approach. The EQ curve they used brought life into the mellower, primarily acoustic songs ("Black Water", "Dark-Eyed Cajun Woman", "Toulouse Street", etc), but it made the rockers ("Without You", "China Grove", "Take Me In Your Arms", etc) too shrill for my tastes.
 

4-earredwonder

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And you figure all that can tone down a bright mastering eh? Then it must make well mastered stuff sound kinda dull??
IMO, it sure beats the pants off the 'plug and play' mentality ...... It seems over the past few weeks a LOT of our very favorite SACDs, DVD~As and even BD~As have come under scutiny for one reason or another.

We complain when NOTHING is released in surround and then when it is ..... the microscopes come out.

Did one EVER question whether their respective audio systems are at fault? After all, our listening rooms were not designed as listening rooms and we seem to neglect the VERY BASIC FACT that some tweaks do work wonders....and a little TLC CAN AND DOES result in better sound.

While we spend hundreds...even thousands on music ..... did you ever think of diverting some of that cash toward the replication of that music...you'd be absolutely shocked at what a few 'tweaks' can accomplish!
 

steelydave

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I wouldn't put the Doobies in the unlistenable category but I will admit, the dubs from the reels sound more natural.

Do you put the Chicago quadio's in the same category? Personally I don't, thankfully.
It's not as severe, but for me the Chicago Quadio suffers from the same mastering approach (as @sjcorne says, one-size-fits-all) as the Doobies box. The bass (at times) is out of control, and the top end is glassy and strident in a way that I find really unpleasant.

I think I said this stuff on another thread, but I have a long history with Chicago - they were my first "favourite" band, and I ran the first-ever fan website devoted to the band starting way back in 1994, and I've listened to the Terry Kath-era albums (especially the first 8) probably more than anything in my collection - I know these albums like the back of my hand. I've owned them all in their original LP incarnations, the quad LPs, and the original Columbia/Chicago Records CD issues, the Mastersound issue of CTA, the SACDs of CTA, II & VI, and the HDTracks 24/192 downloads of CTA, II (1970 mix, 2003 Kellogg mix, 2017 Wilson mix), V, VIII, and X. All of these sound better (and more true to the smooth sound of the original LPs) than Anderson's Quadio mastering, as does @Bob Vosgien 's superb mastering of CTA from the original standalone DTS DVD-V of the album from 10 years ago. The nonsense suggestion on the Quadio boxes that you need to turn your sub off to properly enjoy the albums speaks volumes to me about Anderson's inexperience with mastering - I own literally hundreds of digital versions of quad mixes from a variety of labels (including WMG ones that sound great, like Bruce Botnick's BD mastering of the Doors Best Of) across a variety of formats and the Quadio boxes are the only ones that have this problem.

I'm not the kind of person who needs to (or wants to) internet-bully people into taking my opinion as their opinion, and that's why I never waded in to the original Chicago Quadio thread, or the poll thread with my opinion - everyone seemed to be enjoying it so much that it seemed like it wouldn't serve any positive purpose to wade in with an outlier opinion and say "you know that thing you love? Let me plant the seeds of doubt for why you shouldn't like it!" I could probably produce a load of A/B EQ graphic comparisons that show how the Quadio boxes have boosted bass and treble relative to other versions, but it's literally academic - if you enjoy the Quadio boxes, you enjoy them, the approach simply doesn't work for me, and no amount of overpriced cables, snake oil disc goop or pieces of vibrating wood in my listening space can mitigate something that is at its core, flawed.
 
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ar surround

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The problem with the Doobies for me was that the mastering seemed to be a 'one-size-fits-all' approach. The EQ curve they used brought life into the mellower, primarily acoustic songs ("Black Water", "Dark-Eyed Cajun Woman", "Toulouse Street", etc), but it made the rockers ("Without You", "China Grove", "Take Me In Your Arms", etc) too shrill for my tastes.
It's not as severe, but for me the Chicago Quadio suffers from the same mastering approach (as @sjcorne says, one-size-fits-all) as the Doobies box. The bass (at times) is out of control, and the top end is glassy and strident in a way that I find really unpleasant.

I think I said this stuff on another thread, but I have a long history with Chicago - they were my first "favourite" band, and I ran the fist-ever fan website devoted to the band starting way back in 1994, and I've listened to the Terry Kath-era albums (especially the first 8) probably more than anything in my collection - I know these albums like the back of my hand. I've owned them all in their original LP incarnations, the quad LPs, and the original Columbia/Chicago Records CD issues, the Mastersound issue of CTA, the SACDs of CTA, II & VI, and the HDTracks 24/192 downloads of CTA, II (1970 mix, 2003 Kellogg mix, 2017 Wilson mix), V, VIII, and X. All of these sound better (and more true to the smooth sound of the original LPs) than Anderson's Quadio mastering, as does @Bob Vosgien 's superb mastering of CTA from the original standalone DTS DVD-V of the album from 10 years ago. The nonsense suggestion on the Quadio boxes that you need to turn your sub off to properly enjoy the albums speaks volumes to me about Anderson's inexperience with mastering - I own literally hundreds of digital versions of quad mixes from a variety of labels (including WMG ones that sound great, like Bruce Botnick's BD mastering of the Doors Best Of) across a variety of formats and the Quadio boxes are the only ones that have this problem.

I'm not the kind of person who needs to (or wants to) internet-bully people into taking my opinion as their opinion, and that's why I never waded in to the original Chicago Quadio thread, or the poll thread with my opinion - everyone seemed to be enjoying it so much that it seemed like it wouldn't serve any positive purpose to wade in with an outlier opinion and say "you know that thing you love? Let me plant the seeds of doubt for why you shouldn't like it!" I could probably produce a load of A/B EQ graphic comparisons that show how the Quadio boxes have boosted bass and treble relative to other versions, but it's literally academic - if you enjoy the Quadio boxes, you enjoy them, the approach simply doesn't work for me, and no amount of overpriced cables, snake oil disc goop or pieces of vibrating wood in my listening space can mitigate something that is at its core, flawed.
I agree that the mastering of the Chicago and Doobies Quadios sounds better than others on some albums /tracks, and that some need EQ. So I would like to see any recommended EQ curves / settings to fix the offending albums / tracks. It's probably too mammoth an undertaking to comment on them all, but even a few examples would be helpful.

My contribution: One thing I messed with was the mix on Introduction and Questions 67 and 68. I didn't like the way the horns were 'buried' in the rear left channel, so I mixed the rear left into the center creating a bogus 5.1. I played around with the volume of the center until things sounded right. The net effect is that the horns sound much 'bigger' and are pulled into the room on these two tracks. Note that my center speaker is a large 3-way, so I can get away with doing this.

(Well, as typical of QQ threads, this one has mutated from Al Stewart to the Chicago and Doobies Quadios. Looks like a Double Variant.)
 

4-earredwonder

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Regarding YOTC, of course the 96/24 Original Stereo mix sounds better as compared to the LOSSY 48/16b DTS 5.1. Ironically, the DTS/DD remixes were 'downgraded' from 96/24 [or better] 5.1 remasters!

Would be nice if Esoteric remasters the 5.1 remix of TIME PASSAGES in at least LPCM 5.1!
 

sjcorne

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My contribution: One thing I messed with was the mix on Introduction and Questions 67 and 68. I didn't like the way the horns were 'buried' in the rear left channel, so I mixed the rear left into the center creating a bogus 5.1. I played around with the volume of the center until things sounded right. The net effect is that the horns sound much 'bigger' and are pulled into the room on these two tracks. Note that my center speaker is a large 3-way, so I can get away with doing this.
The horn section in CTA is mono and hard-panned to the left on the original stereo mix as well, which suggests to me that it was recorded (or bounced-down) to one track on the presumably 8-track master. I think all the other albums have stereo horns.
 

LuvMyQuad

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(Well, as typical of QQ threads, this one has mutated from Al Stewart to the Chicago and Doobies Quadios. Looks like a Double Variant.)
I see what ya did there. :cool:

Back on topic now.... I was looking so forward to this release. This period in Stewarts career is just masterful to my ears. YOTC was always a bright album. The 5.1 mix is brighter and even harsh at times,. Im going to have to EQ this before i proclaim it a final rip.

Thoughts.....
Where did the cowbell go during the bridges of If it Dosent come Naturally Leave It ???? It sounds like its at 1/2 volume compared to the stereo.

Sjcorne is so correct on so many points in his characterization. It seems like when Parsons mixes tracks with heavy Orchestrtion he keeps the main band mostly front centric but wide and with the orchestration spread out horseshoe style in the rears. I do like the effect, but it seems to work less pleasingly here on several tracks. It does however work quite nicely on the title track, and also on the Time Passages demo. In fact the demo version of YOTC sounds more pleasing to my ear, but I was left with the impression the surround was better on the DVD. It could be just a bit more rear heavy, but all the same positioning.

Gems for me include The title track , One Stage Before, and Broadway Hotel. If Midas Shadow is an up mix it was done well to my tastes and no worse than On the Border or Grenville. With the exception of the 1st two tracks, the mixes are good to exceptionally good, but that high end glassyness ruins it. So many times i had to revert to an older stereo version to compare. The stereo is bright too, but not as bad as the DVD. The extra brightness really pushes any distortion and glare to the fore.

Nice Package. I read the book. Now lets find some space on the shelf for the odd size

I guess i should have posted this in the poll... Maybe I will when i vote.
 
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sjcorne

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In fact the demo version of YOTC sounds more pleasing to my ear, but I was left with the impression the surround was better on the DVD. It could be just a bit more rear heavy, but all the same positioning.
I still can't quite figure if the title track is a remix or just a remaster. It's kind of like comparing the DTS-CD and DVD-A/SACD variants of Steely Dan's Gaucho. The EQ is certainly different, but I'm also detecting subtle changes in terms of positioning--the front channel content (stereo drums, bass center, electric guitar left, acoustic guitar right) seems to float out into the room a bit more on the new DVD, whereas there was very little front/back overlap on the old DTS 44.1/16 version. The old version definitely sounds more like the original stereo tonally.
 

sjcorne

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I've uploaded samples of the rear channels only from the same section (during the acoustic guitar solo) of both "Year Of The Cat" 5.1 mixes. Notice that the guitar spills over a bit into the right rear on the old version, whereas it's completely gone on the new one. The cymbal crashes are much hotter in the rears on the new mix, likely due to the trebly EQ.
 

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ar surround

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I've uploaded samples of the rear channels only from the same section (during the acoustic guitar solo) of both "Year Of The Cat" 5.1 mixes. Notice that the guitar spills over a bit into the right rear on the old version, whereas it's completely gone on the new one. The cymbal crashes are much hotter in the rears on the new mix, likely due to the trebly EQ.
So they are not exactly the same mixes. That's interesting; and a good reason to keep both mixes. Also, what you describe as trebly EQ makes the cymbal crashes sound "dirty" to me. I noticed that when I played the new version. That "dirty cymbal" sound seems to be prevalent on quite a number of recordings and is annoying. Quadrophenia is a real culprit of this effect.

So as you discussed above, will a 3 to 5dB dip centered around 10kHz typically alleviate some of this "dirty cymbal" effect?
 

sjcorne

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So as you discussed above, will a 3 to 5dB dip centered around 10kHz typically alleviate some of this "dirty cymbal" effect?
I'm still very much a novice when it comes to fine EQ moves, but that adjustment seems to push those sharp hi-hat and cymbal hits further back in the mix (closer to how they sounded in the original stereo album) without negatively affecting anything else. I certainly encourage anyone who's dissatisfied with the sound of the 5.1 to experiment and share their thoughts.
 

skherbeck

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I'm really enjoying this with the rears raised relative to the fronts on some of the songs (Lord Grenville, On The Border, Year of The Cat), while others have a perfect surround mix as-is (Flying Sorcery, Broadway Hotel). This is a little bright overall (and it's pretty grating on "On The Border"), but not as bright as "Ammonia Avenue".
 
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jefe1

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For me the brightness becomes apparent when you listen ro another album you like after.
I followed this up with the Snow Patrol dualdisc which to me has a pleasing tonal balance and it was much easier on the ears.
Over time you simply listen less and less to what you don't like.

As a consumer it is not my job to fix mixes or products the professionals prepared and I bought. I do not know what passes for quality control in the recorded music industry but it clearly is deficient.

Mix choices can be subjective but sound quality shouldnt.
Hire a younger guy with good hearing to test the final mix prerelease.
Take advantage of QQ members for testing which has happened in the past.

Again this is not the worst disc I have heard but from a master sound engineer this issue is disappointing.
 
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