Multi-channel is not always better

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MidiMagic

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Loreena McKinnett is one of my all-time favorite singer/songwriters. Her voice is magnificent; her compositions beautiful. Consequently, I was very excited to receive last week her relatively new 5-disc release of The Visit, which is perhaps her most popular album. What made this 2021 issue so appealing is its inclusion of a multi-channel Blu-ray audio version of that 1991 CD.

Unfortunately, ouch!! Indeed, it was in multi-channel but the positioning of the instruments was nonsensical. Far worse, though, was the engineering of the music. I use an OPPO-203 as a Blu-ray transport (for audio), with the data transferred by HDMI to my Theta Digital Casablanca V. Whether a Blu-ray, a DTS audio, or a multi-channel CD, I am always delighted with what I hear. The tracks were nearly unlistenable because the production engineers must have boosted from 2KHz up between 6db and 12db. The result was hyper-exaggerated treble. Her beautiful voice no longer sounded luscious; the music had a hard-edge to it. I actually stopped listening halfway through the disc.
That sounds almost as if the channels had been given RIAA phono pre-emphasis.
 

AVphile

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How does the stereo version on the blu-ray sound to you?
Tonight, before an audience of four — mysellf included, I played the first track of both the new Dolby Atmos ( disc 5: Blu-ray) and the original stereo (disc 1: CD) versions from the new 2021 release of The Visit. The Blu-ray was played via HDMI (Audioquest Cinnamon) using my OPPO 203 and the CD was played via AES/EBU digital (Kimber Orchid) using my Wadia 8 transport — both into my Theta Digital Casablanca V processor preamp.

Everyone of us had exactly the same impression. The imaging, especially of Lorena, was smeared and the treble was boosted 12db or more on the Blu-ray. The presentation on the CD was simply marvelous; Lorena’s voice was just rich and magnificent.

As I said previously, this 5.1 “redo” was botched.
 

MidiMagic

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Sounds like the early Q8 messes, where they couldn't even decide which track was which channel.
 

AYanguas

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I didn’t know Loreena before this Atmos release. The Atmos version was a good listening for me as I didn’t know her voice before.

But now, after comparing her voice in the Stereo CD and in the Atmos track, I do actually find a little difference. The voice in the stereo version sound good and charm. And the voice in the Atmos track sound a little bit shriller.

That shriller voice reminds me of other gothic band singers instead of a Celtic music singer. Not as charm as the stereo version.

But, on the other hand, her voice in the Atmos version looks like as if they had removed a veil between his mouth and the microphone. Also accentuated by a more prominent use of the central channel for the voice.

This makes me wonder what her real voice is. The original stereo mix/master may have other kind of sound processing. Being improved (or worsened) in the current multichannel.

Either way we have both versions stereo and multichannel to compare. You want to hear discrete moving sounds, then select the multichannel. Want to hear her voice as you remember from the original masters, then get the stereo.

But I wouldn’t say multichannel is not better. I would say it’s different.
 

Tornado Red

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I would say her voice on The Visit is bright on the Blu Ray as well, but not enough to bother me. Having said that, as the title of this thread points to, there are discs I would say most of us have that we prefer the stereo to MC mix. A couple for me would be Hootie's Cracked Rear View DVD and AF's quad of The Guess Who - The Best Of The Guess Who, I'll take stereo on both of those.
 

DuncanS

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I would say her voice on The Visit is bright on the Blu Ray as well, but not enough to bother me. Having said that, as the title of this thread points to, there are discs I would say most of us have that we prefer the stereo to MC mix. A couple for me would be Hootie's Cracked Rear View DVD and AF's quad of The Guess Who - The Best Of The Guess Who, I'll take stereo on both of those.
I didn't know this album before this deluxe version. I agree and it doesn't quite bother me, the vocal is 'clear', but there is something, not quite sibilance, I suspect the 'brightness/harshness' is 'embedded' in the original multi-track recording
 

MidiMagic

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I’m not familiar with the artist or recording/and or release. No comment.

The ultimate on some of these box sets might be if they included the multi-tracks, so I could do my own mix. But then again, you might also find that it’s a lot harder than it seems. I find life much happier if I accept a recording for what it is, rather than what it might not be.
And just what would you play the multitrack on? Each studio has its own equipment. The recording formats vary from multitrack to multitrack. This was not important to the studio, because they would play it back on the same equipment they recorded it on.
 

srbjab

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I strongly disagree that the surround mix sounds brighter than the cd. I've been a long time fan of Loreena Mckinnett and have collected all her CD releases over the years. For me, the original cd release of The Visit has always sounded overly bright and brittle, particularly when played at higher volumes, and can quickly become fatiguing. This is one of the things I specifically wanted to AB compare when I got the new surround mix. Happily, on my atmos system, I can crank it to my preferred listening level now without hearing that issue. Her voice remains crystal clear, but no longer as sharp sounding on the higher notes. With better fidelity and the excellent mix, the atmos version is my preferred way to hear this album going forward. I'm hoping that at least some of her other titles receive the same treatment.
 
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