HiRez Poll Blur - THE BALLAD OF DARREN [Blu-Ray Audio (Dolby Atmos)]

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Rate the Blu-Ray of Blur - The Ballad Of Darren


  • Total voters
    23

sjcorne

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Please post your thoughts and comments on this 2023 release from Blur entitled "The Ballad Of Darren".
The Blu-Ray Audio release from Parlophone contains a Dolby Atmos mix of the album by David Wrench.

The Dolby Atmos mix is also available to stream on all Dolby Atmos streaming providers:


(y) :) (n)

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Pre-release thread for all shipping/ordering queries and non-poll related posts:
https://www.quadraphonicquad.com/fo...ray-with-dolby-atmos-mix-shipping-7-21.34471/
 
Though it’s definitely encouraging to see Parlophone issue a standalone Atmos Blu-Ray in 2023 on their own accord (not even as an SDE shop exclusive!), I do think there's kind of a cruel irony to this particular title getting the lossless treatment while amazing stuff far more deserving of a physical release – like the Joni Mitchell and Grateful Dead Atmos mixes – will probably languish on the streaming services forever.

It sounds to me like they’ve largely kept the stereo mix intact in the front speakers, but – likely by using the object size control – doubled some elements (backing vocals, rhythm guitars, keyboards) in the front height & side speakers. The rear speakers are more-or-less silent most of the time, and the rear heights carry only low-level reverb.

The end result is that, when sitting in the sweet spot and looking straight ahead, the soundstage seems to eerily extend a bit beyond the front speakers (as can often happen with a really great stereo presentation). But as soon as you turn your head to the side, all the sound suddenly shifts toward the front of the room.

I don’t mind the music itself, though I’m not sure when or if I’ll end up giving this another listen (a daring surround presentation and/or better mastering might have helped in this regard). The sound quality isn’t awful by any means, but the louder passages do seem to exhibit that messy 'oversaturated' quality from too much dynamic compression.

The cherry on top is that the TrueHD/Atmos audio was incorrectly encoded with a DialNorm value of -19, so it plays back 12 dB quieter than the original ADM BWF master files printed by the mixer. The Apple Music stream appears to have the intended amount of gain, so I guess I’ll stick to that for future listens. Going with a “5” overall.
 
Though it’s definitely encouraging to see Parlophone issue a standalone Atmos Blu-Ray in 2023 on their own accord (not even as an SDE shop exclusive!), I do think there's kind of a cruel irony to this particular title getting the lossless treatment while amazing stuff far more deserving of a physical release – like the Joni Mitchell and Grateful Dead Atmos mixes – will probably languish on the streaming services forever.

It sounds to me like they’ve largely kept the stereo mix intact in the front speakers, but – likely by using the object size control – doubled some elements (backing vocals, rhythm guitars, keyboards) in the front height & side speakers. The rear speakers are more-or-less silent most of the time, and the rear heights carry only low-level reverb.

The end result is that, when sitting in the sweet spot and looking straight ahead, the soundstage seems to eerily extend a bit beyond the front speakers (as can often happen with a really great stereo presentation). But as soon as you turn your head to the side, all the sound suddenly shifts toward the front of the room.

I don’t mind the music itself, though I’m not sure when or if I’ll end up giving this another listen (a daring surround presentation and/or better mastering might have helped in this regard). The sound quality isn’t awful by any means, but the louder passages do seem to exhibit that messy 'oversaturated' quality from too much dynamic compression.

The cherry on top is that the TrueHD/Atmos audio was incorrectly encoded with a DialNorm value of -19, so it plays back 12 dB quieter than the original ADM BWF master files printed by the mixer. The Apple Music stream appears to have the intended amount of gain, so I guess I’ll stick to that for future listens. Going with a “5” overall.
Well this is sad to see, a 5 vote from Dr. sj!
You know I trust your opinion on here implicitly as you’re usually right with your hearing and knowledge, having an approximately 99.8% accuracy for such things (a 60’s Spockian statistical assessment :D)

Just got mine in, so I’m almost dreading a listen now, ‘cause weak surround mixes just tend to piss me off. But I’ll see later today and come back with a vote anyway.
 
I voted 8.
I have changed my opinion after playing the hard disc last night.
I first listened via Apple ATMOS streaming and was not impressed both with the music and the Atmos signal.
Then my copy arrived yesterday and I listened to the hard disc, Dolby ATMOS, last night, and actually found the music and the ATMOS signal quite enjoyable.
I would call the music easy listening pop, good tunes, a few toe tappers, that's always a good sign when the foot starts wagging.
The ATMOS signal is quite engaging, and there are discrete moments a plenty, not constantly but enough to make it pleasantly engaging.
The heights can go from all 4 ambient, to just fronts, and to just rears.
The choice on disc is either Stereo or Atmos, no 5.1 choice.
I like the cover picture with the blue swimming pool against the oncoming gray storm, thought provoking.

Please keep poll threads pure to your listening experience only.
 
I guess I'm about a weak "6" vote on this one.

Listening to the 7.1 unfolded mix.
It's not even that the balance to the rears could be boosted a touch, that wouldn't help IMO; it's the mix that is weak overall.

https://www.discogs.com/release/27721497-Blur-The-Ballad-Of-DarrenDidn't see much experience on MC mixing-just this title filtered out (on Technical & Production) screen on discogs for David Wrench.
Anyone else have info for these two?

The music is OK, but IMO does have a very unadventurous mix overall.

blur Avalon .jpg
blur BD.jpg
 
Didn't see much experience on MC mixing-just this title filtered out (on Technical & Production) screen on discogs for David Wrench.
Anyone else have info for these two?
From the SDE announcement article:
The Ballad of Darren has so far been made available to pre-order on a number of different formats (CD, deluxe CD, different coloured vinyl editions, zoetrope vinyl and cassette), so this blu-ray adds to the tally. Of course, with the Dolby Atmos Mix in particular, you are actually getting something different in terms of the audio. The mix was created by David Wrench.
 
A 5 for me to if I’m just judging the mix. A real shame and missed opportunity as it’s a great come back album. Had the pleasure in seeing them play twice over the last couple of weeks including the playback of the album live at Hammersmith on Tuesday. Such a great sounding live band but unfortunately not an engaging or discreet mix.
 
Blurs Grown up album gets a very disappointing, I hesitate to use the word surround mix. I like the album, it's a band producing a more grown up lived in sound, its Blur but not Britpop Blur. The surround is very weak makes James Guthrie seem like the surround genius he is not. Having listened to this after Orbital you could not get two more different approaches.
 
Because I had my neighbor that is a hostess at a club at night banging on my walls, i had to engage audisey dynamic and bass control. At these low BGM levels however Musically this is the finest album ive heard in this decade.
 
I gave it a 6. Sounded as if a Beatles frontman was playing with session people, and the mix
was rather tame (maybe the source material limited it). Pleasant, but not something I'll play a lot.
 
It sounds to me like they’ve largely kept the stereo mix intact in the front speakers, but – likely by using the object size control – doubled some elements (backing vocals, rhythm guitars, keyboards) in the front height & side speakers. The rear speakers are more-or-less silent most of the time, and the rear heights carry only low-level reverb.

[...]

The cherry on top is that the TrueHD/Atmos audio was incorrectly encoded with a DialNorm value of -19, so it plays back 12 dB quieter than the original ADM BWF master files printed by the mixer. The Apple Music stream appears to have the intended amount of gain, so I guess I’ll stick to that for future listens. Going with a “5” overall.
So I finally opened this up and am playing it for the first time--and I'm scratching my head at many of the reviews here. Maybe some of y'all got shipped defective discs? I agree that it could have been a much more adventurous mix: listening on a 5.1.4 system, I too am hearing some elements doubled in the front heights, and only low-level reverb in the rear heights. But I certainly wouldn't say that the rears are "more-or-less silent most of the time"--or even much of the time. I also don't find it noticeably quieter than any other Atmos disc in my collection.

What I did find, at first, was that my AVR (a Marantz SR6014) had not detected that this was an Atmos disc, even after I'd selected the Atmos stream from the disc menu. Consequently, it was playing the Atmos stream in "Dolby Audio/Dolby TrueHD" until I manually selected Atmos playback via the AVR's remote.

Is it possible that there's something screwy about the handshake signals that this disc is sending to people's AVRs?
 
But I certainly wouldn't say that the rears are "more-or-less silent most of the time"--or even much of the time.
On a 7.1.x system, the side surrounds definitely have audible content (though I thought most of it was also present in the fronts) but the 'true rears' basically go unused for the duration of the album.

Screenshot 2023-08-19 at 12.38.58 AM.png

As for the volume thing, I guess some players can ignore the dialnorm? Did you find that the Zappa Waka/Wazoo Blu-Ray was playing back too low?
 
On a 7.1.x system, the side surrounds definitely have audible content (though I thought most of it was also present in the fronts) but the 'true rears' basically go unused for the duration of the album.

As for the volume thing, I guess some players can ignore the dialnorm? Did you find that the Zappa Waka/Wazoo Blu-Ray was playing back too low?
Interesting. So what's going to your side surrounds on a 7.1.4 system is going to the rears on my 5.1.4. (For once, I'm glad I don't have side surrounds!) And no, I don't think I noticed a huge volume difference on Waka/Wazoo either.
 
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Okay, so: Not my favorite Blur album by any stretch--the last few Gorillaz albums haven't done much for me, either, as much as I respect Damon Albarn--although there are couple of songs I like enough to go back to (St. Charles Square, The Narcissist--the album's real keeper, I think). So...a 7 (for me that's a "C") for the music.

As for the mix: not quite the nothing-burger that some have described--at least not on my system--but it does show a singular lack of imagination, that's for sure. (Whether that lack is on the part of the mixer, the artist, or the label, I'm not so sure.) If you run the stereo mix through Dolby Surround Upmixer and it sounds as good as or better than the Atmos mix, then you know you've got a problem. 6 ("D")

And fidelity? Hard to fault that. Engineering, mastering, clarity, soundfield--all just fine, to my ears, although it's not a demo disc or anything. 8 ("B")

On the whole, then: 7 from me.
 
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After such lacklustre reviews on this site, I didn't bother purchasing the disc - until the album made "Album Of The Year" in Mojo this month. The CD is compressed to hell and back, as usual, so I purchased the blu-ray audio, which has much better fidelity. And it's a much better listen - think Tears For Fears' The Tipping Point . I had Blur as a teenager and haven't listened to them since 2009 (Think Tank). This is a great, mature album, with gorgeous tunes. Glad I got this, while it was still available for a mere $18 (FNAC).
 
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