DVD/DTS Poll Bowie, David - Station To Station [DTS DVD]

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Rate the Audio-DVD of David Bowie - STATION TO STATION


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    17

neil wilkes

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When this was first announced, I found it very strange that this new 5.1 was only to be available in a box set edition costing what is in the current climate a hell of a lot of money.
Surely it would have made economic sense to have a CD/DVD version?
No lossless surround was another bummer for me as well - and now doubly so given this is a single layer disc and could easily fit an MLP section.
Notwithstanding all these reservations, I am a lifelong fan and I wanted this to be wonderful. I really did - when first released, I was still in Grammar School,
and it became the soundtrack to a year for me.
Maybe I wanted this too much though. Still, I can now at least begin to understand why the release is not more widespread.
Quite simply, It's terrible. Bloody dreadful in fact.
The flat transfer to 24/96 LPCM of the original analogue master sounds far, far better.
I want to show you something later, but right now let's take a very close look at the opening track, which epitomizes everything that is wrong with this mix.

The old train starts chuffing round exactly as you would expect it to - into the left rear, and clockwise until it hits to front right.
From then on, it is conventional "big stereo" all the way, with simply a cavernous reverb in the rear channels.
You feel as if you are listening in a massive aircraft hanger, or some cavernous cathedral - I was also hit immediately by how dominant the hi hats are, how harsh they sound & how toppy the whole thing is, all classic symptoms of overcompression & brickwall limiting - the hi hats going up & down in level is a dead giveaway, as is their enormous dominance.
Once the vocals kick in, the centre channel feels largely redundant until; you realise that this is because it is, in the main, being drowned out by the massive compression on L/R but we will get back to this later.
The tempo change in the middle thankfully finds the hi hats dropping down in level rather suddenly, but don't start to celebrate yet as when we hit the lyric "it's too late to be grateful"
there they are again, rearing their gruesome, splashy heads only to just as suddenly drop again until we hit the repeated "it's too late" line just before the guitar break, where they are
once again splashing away in front right overwhelming the mix at times.
Enter the guitar solo, and exit the hi hats for no obvious musical reason given their exit point. Hurrah. Oh No - here they are again, and again for no obvious musical reason.
I apologise for what must now seem like a fixation on these bloody ever be damned hi hats, but I cannot help it as they are so dominant.
They change level for no apparent good reason, drop in & out the same way & generally seem somewhat arbitrary.

The rest of the album has it's good bitys and it's downright poor bits with sadly the latter outnumbering the former.
"Golden Years" for example starts out feeling a bit more oomphy, but before too long out hats are back.
Also still excessively top heavy for me and the same cavernous reverb in the rears that is present throughout the whole mix is all we get.
Apart from a finger snap or two and the odd bit of keyboard SFX that was slung in - possibly for variety.
"Word on a Wing" has a very harsh sounding vocal, and is again too top heavy. Over limited with no room to breathe.

At first, I thought this had been done because Harry wanted to be faithful to the much loved stereo mix, so used the same sounds & reverbs.
The problem here is that not only does this approach not work here, as the huge reverbs required to give the space on the original mix are not needed in surround
as you have rear channels to give you depth in the mix, but as soon as "TVC15" starts you realise it's a non starter as an idea because this is very different to the original one
in the same sort of way that the 5.1 of "Rumours" is with the track "Never going back again" as parts that did not make the stereo are now present, sometimes prominently.
So maybe Harry wasn't too worried about staying true to the original - so what went wrong?

The clue is in this picture, i think. (The stereo file is the flat transfer of the analogue master to 24/96 for comparison)
StationToStation.jpg

Notice how brutally slammed the front left/right are. Was this done in mastering, or was it the mix?
I tried dropping the levels in L/R by -12dB, and RL/RR by -6dB - instantly sounded a lot better to me. Still needs tweaking though as even at -12dB the hats hurt.
The 2496 flat transfer off the original analogue master sounds a lot better to me, and the stereo at 24/48 from the "new mix" sounds like a downmix of the 5.1.

Sorry, but this is awful.
 

The Rang

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Thanks Neil for your incredibly detailed review.
Coming from someone with your qualifications it hold much more weight than the average review, of course.

What a travesty.
I was actually considering this set (even though I can't afford it) but now I'll pass.
My bank account is grateful. :)

If only they would release the 24/96 stereo LPCM on its own or as part of a much more affordable set.
 

DKA

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Very much appreciated, Neil. Sounds like yet another lost opportunity, which every bad retail mix winds up being.

As a Bowie fan, I've given strong thoughts to buying this, especially as its my favorite Bowie album. This may make me rethink doing so as well, as I hadn't plopped down the money yet.
 

alk3997

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When this was first announced, I found it very strange that this new 5.1 was only to be available in a box set edition costing what is in the current climate a hell of a lot of money...


Sorry, but this is awful.
That's too bad - I *was* looking forward to this one. It looks to me as if the 5.1 was done by adding to the original stereo mix in the front L/R rather than starting over again. It also looks very similar to Ziggy.

We get so few new surround releases that when one comes out that is Silverlined (that's being used as a verb, not saying the company had anything to do with this) it makes it even more annoying.

I'll give your drop down levels a try when my copy arrives. You may also want to tweak the LFE - looks like it is too low as well from your image. Another possibility is to subtract the L/R rears from the L/R fronts. That may give you a slightly more defined output.
 

rusinurbe

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Thats the sound of my wallet relaxing nowuing i dont have to shell out for a huge box for one disc.

I did want this in 5.1
Not worried about the stereo mix/Remix origianl RCA CD Mix or the Vinyl that much not overly worried about the live album.

A detailed review which ahs saved me a shed load.

Thansk waitinf for the next batch of King Crimsons !! Now that is how to do it.
 

neil wilkes

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I tell you guys, this has been a seriously depressing afternoon.
On the bright side (and I don't mean the new mix, either) the 24/96 analogue master is great - only stereo, but this will give some superb conversions, I think.
(Am I allowed to say that? Ah well - EMI should have done it properly in the first place.......)
The Nassau coliseum material is also superb - but why is this not all on the DVD too, as we did with KC? Given this is only a DVD5 with no lossless surround section, it would have fitted....as well as the edited mixes. All I need to do now is edit these 2 CD;'s with one of the bootleg releases that has the unedited version of "Panic in Detroit" (which here has the drum solo edited out) and we will have a full version of this show. But I digress.

The quote above about it being "silverlined" is almost appropriate. When anyone gets theirs, mute the front left & front right....I dare ya!
 

silvahalo007

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Damn, I have this coming in the mail. I'm now considering a return...

Thanks, Neil.
 

georgeshannon

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"...bloody ever be damned hi hats..." :)

Thanks for that. Am going to save that for future use.

Thanks for the heads up on the surround sound quality.
 

Bob Romano

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I concur with Neil... I got mine today and man... what a complete waste of an opportunity to present a beautiful surround program. My upmix from several years ago is far more discrete than this thing. So sad. I did buy it for the rest of the stuff that came along with it so at least I got that to listen to but I highly doubt the DVD will ever get played again unless I want to hear the analog master in 96/24.
 

zabble

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Yikes! :yikes

From your description Neil, it looks like the 5.1 mix of Ziggy Stardust isn't so bad after all.
 

alk3997

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Neil, just wanted to say thanks again for the review and wave image. It turned out I was able to cancel my pre-order.

Too bad you don't get a cut (say 10%) of all the money you have saved those of us who were able to cancel! I would have, of course, been much happier spending the money on Station To Station, had they even had, at least, a mediocre 5.1-channel mix. Not worth that much money for a bad mix!

Neil, one question...What is in the left surround in track 2? It is the only surround track that looks vaguely discrete.

Andy
 
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silvahalo007

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I decided to keep the set because of all the other goodies. But I concur, the 5.1 version is a major disappointment. It basically reminds me of the awful dvd included in the Pixies - Minotaur set. Stereo in the fronts and reverb in the rears with a very compressed sounding top-end.

What a waste! It's a crime really...
 

Manmc

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Many Thanks for your honesty , Neil . Everybody here would probably have liked to jump for this , I know I would but I settled for the 3CD set because I thought the pricing ridiculous and being forced to buy Vinyl when I don't require it pi$$es me off . I would love to support surround sound releases and frequently buy stuff blind ( eg. Dorothy Munyaneza ) but I think Bowie and Lennon re-releases have missed an opportunity . Even when people only have Dvd-V capability , having Dvd-A / mlp tracks shouldn't put them off purchasing and at the same time would encourage some free plugs from the audiophile community . At least if they haven't made a hames of it like this release .

Stupid , stupid music companies .....

~M~
 

lennon fan

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got the mega box and while the rears in the 5.1 are rather bad, the center channel is quite discrete and offers a dry Bowie vocal with sparse instrumentation. Just try upping the center level (and for giggles, try the center alone) and it's pretty cool, and you can have your Bowie wet or dry, season to taste. :)

Those rear channels tho...should have left most of that reverb out and just had whatever discrete info there was in spite of it...
 

neil wilkes

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got the mega box and while the rears in the 5.1 are rather bad, the center channel is quite discrete and offers a dry Bowie vocal with sparse instrumentation. Just try upping the center level (and for giggles, try the center alone) and it's pretty cool, and you can have your Bowie wet or dry, season to taste. :)

Those rear channels tho...should have left most of that reverb out and just had whatever discrete info there was in spite of it...
The Centre channel has very, very little there at all - definitely not a dry vocal.
Mainly a reverb effect, with the occasional hint of something else.
Try muting Left/Right - nothing left except effects.
 
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