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It's Like Quadraphonic All Over Again !

So, I finally have some quiet time to listen to the DVD-Audio (Dolby Digital 5.1) surround mix of Vespertine, and it's great. The surround mix really opens up the music, and little asides and other effects are positioned at the rear corners sometimes, which kind of “nips” your ears and actually makes you notice them more. The music boxes used on the album seem to fill the room with their chiming.

Anyway, I just visited her site, which I haven't done for a while, and noticed that Vespertine has also just been released in the other newfangled format, SACD. It's no big deal, since both will likely coexist and you can get a player at Best Buy that will play them both for about $130, but this is also like the quadraphonic format wars of the 70s, where you had discrete, matrix, QS, SQ, and so on. The fortunate thing now is that we're in the digital age, and give or take a few licensing fees, the chaos can be tamed with DSP chips and software.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 2nd, 2004 08:40 pm (UTC)
Hey, can I have all your old CDs when you replace them with expensive DVD-As and SA-CDs?
Mar. 2nd, 2004 09:01 pm (UTC)
Sure, for you I charge only 50% of list, my friend !

But I can't afford to replace my CDs, especially since most of them don't sound like crap. Not that I've bought every iteration, but I know that, for example, the David Bowie, Elvis Costello, and Byrds catalogs have been mastered three times a piece. On the other hand, what I am going to do for new major label stuff is a hold back and wait for them, if they're reasonably priced hybrids (i.e., I can still play them on a CD player). For example, the last Death Cab For Cutie and Peter Gabriel CDs were followed up by moderately priced hybrid SACDs (maybe $18) about two months later. It's DVD-Audio discs which are more expensive, and those aren't as compelling unless they've got gobs of extra stuff, like Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys, which is practically a boxed set on one disc.

I think the technology is neat but I don't think it's going to set the world on fire. Plus there's no easy way to rip DVD-Audio or non-hybrid SACD to a compressed format, legally anyway. Basically, despite the carping of the golden ears set, most people are satisfied with sub-CD-quality sound.

And MP3 and AAC can sound damned good. In fact, what I'm actually listening to right now is compressed – the Dolby Digital compression algorithm is a precursor to AAC, and on DVD you can afford a high bit rate to mask its shortcomings
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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