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Excerpts from Hi-Res Reviews in April 2005 issue of AUDIOPHILE AUDITION
Last issue we included our first Dual Disc reviews in our Hi-Res section even though they were not hi-res on the audio side of the discs but just standard 44.1 CD. Some readers objected to this, and we agree with them. The reason we included them in the hi-res section was because the original news release from the DVD Forum stated that all DualDiscs would offer a multichannel DVD-A option as well as Dolby 5.1. Now it appears that only the Silverline DualDiscs do (but they're mysteriously keeping it secret), so for this issue I have set up this separate section for some of the many Dual Discs we have received.
On the Silverlines the fact that they are DVD-Audio on the DVD side is completely disguised. There is a logo for Dolby 5.1 but nothing visible for DVD-A or MLP and no wording on either front or back of the discs indicating that they are DVD-A encoded. There also is absolutely no on-screen indication that the 5.1 surround option is DVD-Audio. The only way I identified it was to press the Audio button on my player's remote—it displayed "24/96K." Only just today was I was informed by the label's CEO Jeff Dean that the words "DVD audio" do actually appear on the back of each jewel box, twice in fact. I dare anyone to find it! Hint: you will practically need an electron microscope. The DualDisc logo says under it DualDisc in small but bold letters. Then under that (you will probably need a magnifying glass) it says "CD/DVD." If you enlarge this area greatly somehow, what at first appears to be merely a short line that shouldn't be there under the letter DVD reads "audio." Does this make any logical sense whatsoever? Has the concept of secret "Easter Eggs" in the bonus sections of feature film DVDs been extended to DualDiscs?
You will find a special feature in this issue by another of our staff reviewing DualDiscs, talking about his impressions of the new format. See our second feature for this month. Also, Brian Bloom in his DualDisc reviews below explains some of his own problems with DualDiscs. My personal experience with DualDisc has been similar to these two writers. On the positive side, I was surprised to see one of the DualDiscs' CD side (the Mahler Symphony) running over 70 minutes, even though several reviewers have complained about a time limitation to about 45 minutes—meaning it was unsuitable for much classical music. And now that I know secret undercover route to getting DVD-A reproduction out these things, the hi-res surround on the Vanguard-sourced classical ones is excellent. The audio on most of the rock ones is as usual crappy.
How about pricing? The original promotion for DualDisc included an observation that they would only cost $1 more than an equivalent CD of just the music. Ha! Most have an SRP of $18.98 and some are even more. Non-DualDisc DVD-As also carry a $18.98 SRP though some are as high as $24.98 and down to $17.98. Standard CDs range all over the place but are generally quite a bit less than just $1 lower.
MSNBC's Gary Krakow calls DualDiscs "half-CD, half-DVD and half-baked." But he too repeats the rumor that "Sony threw in the towel on their hi-res SACD format." See our SACD article in this issue. He hopes that some labels will add SACD audio to their DualDiscs, so he is unaware that due to physical specs that would be impossible: All SACDs are now hybrid in order to play on standard CD players, and hybrid discs are thicker than normal—they would make the already too-thick DualDisc even thicker and it would jam on all players.
There haven't been many pros on DualDiscs vs the cons. The promise of bringing hi-res audio to a wider public, combined with music videos of the performing artists, has clearly not happened. Many of the DualDiscs have no actual performance videos at all—just stills of the artists, some printed information on the screen and a web link. Those that do have some video content usually offer only a single short MTV-type music video and that is all. (That can be easily done and be completely compatible on an Enhanced CD—as was done in the United Artists series of movie soundtracks which had a video of the original theatrical trailer of each movie - a great idea.) In addition to all this, the CD audio side of the discs will only play in about 60% of the CD players out there according to our research.
The CD side cannot legally use the standard Compact Disc logo because it fails to meet Red Book CD specs—primarily by being thicker than standard CDs. They are 1.5mm thick, which is considerably more than standard DVDs or CDs. That is why they fail to play on many disc players. The DVD Forum doesn't care about the CD side as long as the DVD side meets their specs. EMI released an excellent two-disc album last year of Mahler's Fifth Symphony conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. It was a true Dual Disc and we should have lots more of the same: a complete video of the entire performance of the symphony with Dolby 5.1 audio on one disc, and the same performance in 5.1 DVD-Audio on the second disc. Warner Bros. are now doing a similar thing in the pop/rock area: They have double discs out of Mark Knopfler, Bonnie Raitt, REM and others—one disc a 5.1 DVD-A (with some video or not as the case may be) and the other the same program on a standard stereo CD that plays anywhere. Unfortunately the SRP is $24.98. Considering a label's cost of pressing one CD is less than $1 that seems excessive.
To my thinking, the Dual Disc is about as intelligent a technical development as was 8-Track, 16 2/3 rpm LPs, and the Elcaset. In short, consumers who purchase them expecting both complete concert videos of their favorite performers, hi-res audio (since when present it's currently kept a secret), and the ability to play the CD side in their car, portable or computer without risking expensive repairs, might understandably even consider them a fraud. John Sunier
Arr. CANTELOUBE: Songs of the Auvergne, Vol. 1 - Netania Davrath, soprano/ Orchestra cond. by Pierre de la Roche - Vanguard/Silverline DualDisc 284216-2:
According to founder of Vanguard Records Maynard Solomon, who is interviewed in a video on this disc, he knew Davrath had a terrific voice but there was no particular fuss about this recording when it was first released on LP. Only in the years since has it grown a reputation as a classic audiophile gem and has been reissued many times. The versions now include audiophile LP, standard CD, multichannel SACD, and a Classic Records two-channel DVD-A plus 96K DVD "HDAD" which presents both Volumes 1 & 2 of this glorious collection of folk songs song in the French dialect of the Auvergne region. The music has also been made into at least one lovely black & white film and a laserdisc. If you are prescient enough to put the Dual Disc DVD side in a DVD-Audio player without any visual stimuli convincing you to do so, you will hear a fine hi-res 96K surround sound mix similar to the two-channel Classic Records release (but only of Volume 1).
The folk songs have titles such as Shepherd's Song, I Have No Girl to Love Me, The Cuckoo, Go Thru the Meadow. It is not important to understand the lyrics—the melodies are heavenly and very catchy, and Canteloube's arrangements are a delight. But the DualDisc does provide English translations of all the songs, which can be helpful. (It's a shame there isn't just a short film of Davrath performing—hard to believe she was never filmed or never appeared on European TV.) There have been many competing recordings of the Songs; in fact I'm just auditioning one for our next issue, on a Naxos SACD. But it and all the others employ operatic-type sopranos, while Israeli singer Davrath—while she has had training—retains a wonderfully innocent and unspoiled voice which is captivating in the extreme. I don't even fancy vocal music very much and I love this never-equaled recording - in any format. John Sunier
Big Phat Band - Swingin' For The Fences - Silverline DualDisc 284107-2:
We reviewed this album originally as a DTS-only offering, then as a DVD-A album. In both we said it was just about the last word in exciting big band sound captured in high-res surround sound. The DVD-A disc had a number of unusual extras—a featurette on the band using still photos and videos of interviews with band members, options of displaying comments about each selection on the screen during the music, or showing some of the actual charts, complete charts for four solos on the album, bios of the band members, a photo gallery, commentary about the album, DVD-ROM content, and test tones to set up your 5.1 system. The DualDisc does retain most of these extras including the featurette, and the Dolby 5.1 surround isn't bad—but the DVD-A mix is considerably better if you know it's there and put it in an appropriate player. The standard CD side doesn't really portray the impact of this great big band, whose members include Eddie Daniels, Arthro Sandoval and others.
Tracks: Sing Sang Sung, Count Bubba, Samba Del Gringo, Bach Two Part Invention in D Minor, I Remember, Swingin' for the Fences, Shake Your Bones, Second Chances, There's the Rub, A Few Good Men. John Henry
Pancho Sanchez - Poncho at Montreux - Silverline DualDisc 284147-2:
When he appeared at the popular Montreux Jazz Festival on Lake Geneva in 2003, Grammy-winner Poncho Sanchez and his band put on a great performance that really jelled with the audience there. It's too bad the entire video which must have been shot of the concert can't be seen on this DualDisc, but we do get to see one single tune - Batiri Cha Cha. Sanchez' arrangements have more influence of rock, soul and jazz that most Latin bands; still, I find them just a bit too repetitive for my ears. I imagine they're great for salsa dancing though. Perhaps a reason for there only being a video of a single tune provided is that behind the stage on the video - on this DualDisc from Silverline - we continually see two big banners proclaiming Concord Records, with their musical note logo! Perhaps Concord will be putting out a complete video DVD of the concert. The DVD-Audio option—once you discover it—is an improvement over the Dolby 5.1. I particularly dug the final track, their big hit Watermelon Man - providing a great finish for the concert! Other extras on the DVD side are artist photos, a discography, biography, and some DVD-ROM content.
Tracks: One Mint Julep, El Shing-a-Ling, Guaripumpe, I Showed Them, Conmigo, Out of Sight, Batri Cha Cha, Watermelon Man. John Henry
BACH: The Brandenburg Concertos (complete) - Academy of St. James/Carl Pini, director & violin soloist - Silverline DualDisc 284200-2 (2 discs). CD sides: 42:38, 52:57 *** 1/2:
This DualDisc was a pleasant surprise; it hadn't arrived earlier as a plain DVD-A disc. It's not part of the Utah Symphony series but a brand new recording made in Australia by an excellent chamber ensemble. The CD sides divide up the six concertos as is the usual practice, with the first three on one CD and the second three on the other CD. However, both of the DVD sides of the discs carry all six concertos. But on the first they are in 5.1 surround—both DVD-A and Dolby digital—whereas on the second disc they are in two-channel at 192K/24-bit audio. I frankly could hear little difference between the two DVD-A options except for the surround information of course. The Dolby Digital was inferior to the DVD-A - more opaque and dulled-sounding, though not greatly so.
The performances are up to modern musicological standards, sprightly and often at fairly rapid tempi. The harpsichord is clearly heard and the frontal soundstage spread is wide, though just ambience at the surrounds. There is a spacious feeling of the venue—Sidney's Opera House Concert Hall. Both DVD sides have the same video presentation found on all the Utah Symphony discs—on transferring and restoring a legacy. It is completely inappropriate for this particular DualDisc since it was just recorded recently and is not a reissue at all! There is also an on-screen text biography on Bach and some DVD-ROM content.
While I greatly enjoyed the Aussie performance, when I switched to its DVD-A competition - the Tacet disc by the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra which we reviewed in Jul/Aug of 2002 - I was reminded of the greater aural appeal of that version. The performance is even more bright and sprightly, is recorded with a much closer perspective so that the various solo instruments can be heard more clearly, and it is one of the label's "Real Surround Sound" discs—in which the listener hears the performers literally all around him or her. I know some other reviewers have found this to be a weird gimmick, but I definitely prefer it. John Sunier
RACHMANINOFF: Symphony No. 3 in A Minor; Chanson Georgienne - Utah Symphony Orchestra/Maurice Abravanel - Vanguard/Silverline Classics DualDisc 284212-2:
Following is our original review of the DVD-A-only release. The last paragraph updates the information for the DualDisc version
Continuing the superb reissue program of the phenomenal Abravanel quadraphonic recordings for Vanguard on DVD-A, this one brings us a lovely performance of a popular Rachmaninoff symphony. All the four-track original tapes have been lovingly restored and played on specially-tweaked four-channel analog decks in order to re-mix for 5.1 surround. One of the three special features included with each disc in this series goes into that effort on transferring and restoring the legacy. The other two features here also continue what is found on the other discs: an Abravanel Memorial Tribute, and Remembering Abravanel's Utah Symphony Orchestra. It's quite exceptional what perfection Abravanel achieved with his orchestra, which was not considered among the top U.S. orchestras. And Vanguard's skill in engineering the original recordings, plus the acoustics of the Mormon Tabernacle venue all added up to a musical achievement that has withstood the test of time, and now can be heard with the clarity and fidelity that was impossible at the time of the recordings' first releases. This series is exactly the sort that the DVD-Audio camp sorely needs to bolster up the classical side of its catalog vs. the majority of SACD classical releases. Bravo to all concerned! The short Chanson features vocalist Natania Davrath, who is also the unique vocalist in the Songs of the Auvergne reissues, also reviewed here this month.
All of the video features of the DVD-A are included on the DualDisc version - all three featurettes on the Utah Symphony, Abravanel and the reissue project, plus a composer bio, performance memorabilia and photos. While it doesn't provide a video of the Symphony actually performing the works, it's much more than you usually get with the extras on either a DVD-A alone or a DualDisc. So basically what you get here extra is the CD possibility, provided it will play in the players you want to hear it in. John Sunier
PROKOFIEV: Peter and the Wolf; Lt. Kije Suite - Boris Karloff, narrator/Vienna State Opera Chorus & Orchestra/Mario Rossi - Vanguard/Silverline DualDisc 284213-2, 40 minutes:
Again, reviewed as a plain DVD-A, with my DualDisc comments at the end
Another four-channel original from Vanguard in the quad era, taped in l957 in Vienna, and now having a new life in 5.1 digital surround. I remember the Karloff Peter and the Wolf from the original release. What a kick for a kid - having Frankenstein's monster telling you the story of Peter and the Wolf! I think this still stands as one of the best-narrated Peters ever. It holds an honored place in my mind with Ogden Nash's narration of Carnival of the Animals. But that one is only in dated mono and now we have Peter's story in up-to-the-minute 5.1 surround! Not bad in the orchestral department either. The animals and characters may not be running around your listening room—as they did with the recent DVD-A of this we reviewed on the Tacet label—but the performance is richer and more enjoyable. I don't believe I had heard the chorus used in the Lt. Kije music before—it's a nice addition to this delightful five-movement suite.
One odd extra on the DVD side is a reproduction of the narration agreement originally signed by Boris Karloff. Again, if you sleuth out that this is in fact a true DVD-Audio disc on the DVD side and you don't already have that, you get not only it but a possibly-useful stereo CD version of the music as well. (But you probably won't be able to play it in your car player to keep the kids occupied for a few minutes.) John Sunier
Symphony No. 4 in F Minor - Baltimore Symphony
This is another of the Vanguard DVD-As that we missed out on the first time around. Recorded for four-channel quadraphonic release sometime in the early 1970s, it has been remixed for full 5.1 DVD-A as well as 5.1 Dolby Digital - both on the DVD side of the double-sided disc. This is at loggerheads with the policies of BMG in their Living Stereo SACDs, Mercury in their Living Presence SACDs, and Pentatone in their RQR SACDs - all committed to transferring the original three or four channels directly to hi-res without creating more artificial channels. However, I must say it works quite well, and sometimes while listening to the three-front-channels-only discs I wish there was an option for a derived ambience signal in the surrounds since most AV preamps won't allow using ProLogic II or Circle Surround on discrete multichannel sources.
If you pick up more than one of these Silverline Classics discs, you will be getting extremely familiar with the short bonus documentary "Transferring and Restoring a Legacy," because it's on all of them. The sonics are OK - strictly ambient on the surrounds, and even less of it in the Dolby 5.1 version. Performance-wise the Baltimore Symphony is not exactly one of the world-beaters of symphonies, and the San Francisco Symphony's recent Tchaikovsky Fourth video DVD with Michael Tilson Thomas (reviewed here September 2004 issue) wipes it out I'm afraid. John Sunier
Queensryche - Tribe - Silverline 284560-2 DualDisc Audio + DVD-A; Rating: ***+ (music), no stars (DualDisc):
This was my first experience with DualDisc, so I was anxious to see what all the hoopla was about. The actual DualDisc website is nice looking, but has virtually no information. Several paper magazines as well as online mags (including our own which had at least 5 news blurbs in the news section) have reported some of the issues associated with the discs. I don't remember such a consumer backlash against a new audio/video technology since DIVX—the dead DVD offshoot sold at Circuit City. Here is what I've found from my 15 minutes of online research.
The DualDisc is a two-sided disc that is slightly thicker than a standard CD. Typical CDs are 1.2mm thick while the DualDisc is 1.5mm thick (which is at the maximum specified by the CD format). This extra thickness is what may cause read errors, jamming, or damage to CD playback hardware! Apparently, the audio side of the disc (can't call it CD, because Philips and Sony are contesting the right to call it CD) has a 60 minute limitation. This would mean that certain albums will be missing songs. Also, due to the manufacturing process, the DVD side of the disc cannot be dual layer. This means that either there will be less information or a reduction in video quality, etc. depending on the amount of information on the disc. In terms of any quality difference it is hard to say. The DualDisc website has no information about the sound quality. On the DVD side the discs claim enhanced resolution. According to one site, all this means is a 5.1 mix and a LPCM (stereo) track sampled at 48 kHz instead of 44.1 kHz—big deal. However, a few of the discs I received have a DVD-A side offering 96 kHz/24 bit surround and 192 kHz/24 bit stereo. Like many of the SACD releases, you have to get out your magnifying glass and search the cover to see if you are getting DVD-A capability.
Eight companies/organizations have formally issued warnings about potential problems playing the discs in their machines: Mark Levinson, Marantz, Sony Europe, Toshiba, Sony Electronics, Pioneer Electronics, Onkyo Electronics, and Sony Computer Entertainment America. So I gave it a try on as many CD/DVD/CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drives I could find. I only tried the CD side figuring, if that doesn't work, then neither will the DVD, and, if you can't even it play it like a regular CD it will be useless to the consumer.
On the computer side I tried a Lite On CD-ROM, an HP CD-Writer, and a Pioneer DVD-ROM. All these drives were able to read the disc, however the Pioneer had some trouble (although it sometimes has trouble reading normal DVDs too). I was not able to access any of the DVD-ROM features. When I tried to play the disc with the software DVD player I got a message about protected content and an error. The macromedia launcher on the disc would open and then close again--typical. Don't you love those copy protection schemes? The editor claimed he had problems on his Mac as well.
I tried several DVD players. The Arcam and Rotel would not read the disc. The Rotel just kept trying to read something until I finally opened the drawer while the Arcam just said "no disc." A Marantz, NAD, Sony, and Toshiba were able to read the disc. The Toshiba made some unusual noises, but worked okay. Same for the NAD—bad enough in fact that I wouldn't want to put another disc back in the machine. Note that two of these companies are warning about problems with this disc (of course, this could and most likely will differ from player to player).
For CD players I had worse luck. A Musical Fidelity, Linn, and Music Hall would not play the disc. The Linn wouldn't do anything, the Music Hall made a loud noise followed by dropping the disc back in the tray (similar to what happens when you have a machine that starts to go bad and won't read a normal disc). The Musical Fidelity was the worst. It didn't make any strange noise, but refused to give the disc back. I turned the hard power off, repeatedly pushed the open button, and prayed. Thankfully, the disc came out and I didn't try it again. Both Marantz and NAD's players handled the discs without trouble. I also tried an Escient hard disk recorder and the CD player in a Denon mini system. These players were able to recognize and the play the audio side of the DualDisc.
Frankly, after my experience and all the warnings I don't know why anyone would even want to take a chance that these discs may damage their player. It seems the manufacturers are trying to skirt the royalties for both CD and DVD, because this disc is neither. Did anyone really want this format? What's wrong with two discs—one you can take to work, put in your car, and another that you can leave in the DVD player, etc? It looks like another case of the consumer getting screwed to me.
By the way, this Queensryche disc was previously reviewed Here. Songs included are: Open; Losing Myself; Desert Dance; Falling Behind; The Great Divide; Rhythm of Hope; Tribe; Blood; The Art of Life; Doin' Fine. Brian Bloom
Plan - Still Not Getting Any… - Lava 93407-2 DualDisc Audio +
This is my second experience with DualDisc. For more information on the format, see my Queensryche review above. This disc is audio on one side with a standard DVD on the second. On the DVD there are options for DD 5.1 or DD Stereo. Unlike a normal DVD, all that is present while the music plays is a still picture in the background. All those who were ready to embrace the format because of the promise of having a full DVD video side are going to be sorely disappointed—I know I was. It makes no sense. At least on the other discs you get DVD-A quality sound, but here all you get is a 20 minute video on the making of the record. At least that is well done. If you have any interest in Simple Plan, this documentary has footage of the band in the studio through all stages of the record production, interviews with the band members and others associated with the record (like producer Bob Rock), and lots of footage of the band just "jamming." Even if you have no interest in the band itself, it is a wonderful look into what it takes to make a record in these days and times.
As for the band, they make music that sounds a lot like Blink 182 (what I'd call lite, poppy, new punk), and is geared towards the same audience—teenagers. They remind me of a younger Third Eye Blind. The first track is catchy ear candy, but even though it sounds like they have their guitar amps turned up to "11," the music sounds a little restrained. The vocals have that whiny inflection that is common with this flavor of music; luckily the songs are well produced. The material for most of these songs could be the start of a new teen movement, and I can imagine a 14 or 15 year old thinking that this is the best music there is--it speaks right to them. Unless adults want to escape back to their formative years, it will come off as being immature to that crowd. "Welcome To My Life" is a perfect example of this—it's a plea to take a look at the difficulties of growing up. Getting respect, understanding other's point of view, and the joys of life are some of the other themes throughout the record. If the material is a bit hard to stomach, don't worry--the solid production and high energy are the saving graces of this record. Don't delve too deeply and you might enjoy it.
Songs included are: Shut Up!; Welcome To My Life; Perfect World; ThankYou; Me Against The World; Crazy; Jump; Everytime; Promise; One; Untitled. Extras are: Making of the Record; Discography; Lyrics; Pictures. Brian Bloom
The Grateful Dead - American Beauty - Warner Bros. R2 74385 DualDisc Audio with DVD-A ***1/2:
This record is one of two classic Grateful Dead albums produced during 1970. It finds the group taking their music in a different direction—largely acoustic with vocal harmonies on virtually every song. There aren't any long semi-gratuitous solos or "jamming." The songs play from beginning to end and make use of the entire band creating a more focused and uniform effort. The band was maturing and real-life problems with family members' health pushed the Dead to make a more intimate record that returned to acoustic folk rock roots. Some of the songs have a country western feel to them too. The disc insert details many of the elements that made this record different including the instruments used, different recording techniques, collaborations on songs, and more. In a lot of ways this record is fairly low key and relaxing. "Ripples" is an excellent sounding tune with lots of acoustic guitars that come from every channel and "Truckin'" is bluesy number that most people will recognize. As someone was quick to point out to me the other day, the Grateful Dead is not just about hard rockin' and hippies, and this album is a perfect example.
This DualDisc utilizes a DVD-A side and there is a high resolution multichannel and stereo track on the disc. There is full use of the surround speakers with the 5.1 mix including vocals and instruments giving the presentation a diffuse focus. The listener has a choice of photos or lyrics over the music. Extras include a photo gallery and interviews with Mickey Hart and Bob Weir about "Sugar Magnolia." (5 min) Songs included are: Box of Rain; Friend of the Devil; Sugar Magnolia; Operator; Candyman; Ripple; Brokedown Palace; Till The Morning Comes; Attics of my Life; Truckin'. Brian Bloom
Sammy And The Wabo's Live - Hallelujah - Silverline 284209-2 DualDisc:
DVD-A Review published earlier
This disc is a "best of" live disc that includes songs that span Hagar's entire musical career in Montrose, Van Halen, and his work as a solo artist. Ex-Van Halen singer Gary Cherone and bassist Michael Anthony play on two of the tunes. The venue is a big rock arena and the sound reflects that with the echo and crowd noise in the back. Handpicking the songs from different concerts allowed Hagar to assemble the best versions of the songs, as well as his personal favorites. The entire disc rocks. ROCKS! Some of the songs will be easy to recognize, but the versions performed are different from the studio tracks and are better suited to the live acoustic. The performance is fast and furious throughout and only fades out as the songs from a different concert are edited into the mix. Still pictures are played over the music and sound quality is okay—it's a live rock concert after all.
Additional features on the disc include liner notes and the "Hallelujah" video. Songs included are: Shaka Doobie; Three Lock Box; There's Only One Way To Rock; Give to Live; Top Of The World; Deeper Kinda Love; Why Can't This Be Love; Eagles Fly; Little White Lie; Rock Candy; I Can't Drive 55; Mas Tequila; Heavy Metal; When It's Love; Right Now; Dreams; Hallelujah. Brian Bloom
Same for the DualDisc as the above except that you get a CD version that may or may not be useful to you... Ed.
Dishwalla/Opaline - DualDisc Immergent/Silverline 284101-2:
DVD-A-only earlier review
This album is the third from Dishwalla, and has a lot of the qualities that made their first album so popular-catchy tunes with nice instrumentation and hooks. Even if you aren't a fan, there is a lot here that will appeal to many different listeners. If you've already heard the single "Somewhere In The Middle" and like it, keep in mind there are even better songs on the disc. Most of the sound is up front, but occasionally you'll hear instruments or effects in the back. All in all, it isn't overdone and suits the music. If you prefer two-channel, you can select that instead. The recording quality is very good both tonally and spatially.
You can select to view either the song lyrics or art while the music plays. When you turn the commentary on, it plays over the music track (like with most DVD movies). In the extras area, there are stills of live performances and stills in the studio. In the "Studio Scrapbook" section, there is a video. Apparently, this disc is one of the first (if not the first) DVD-A discs to be released concurrently with the standard Compact Disc. In addition, there are "Easter Eggs" hidden on the disc that include videos and demo versions of a few of the songs. Songs included are: Opaline, Angels Or Devils, Somewhere In The Middle, Every Little Thing, When Morning Comes, Home, Today, Tonight, Mad Life, Candleburn, Nashville Skyline, Drawn Out. Brian Bloom
DualDisc comments: The "Somewhere in the Middle" video is here too, and the same 11 tracks are on the CD side—if it plays for you... Ed.
Reviews reprinted with permission from Audiophile Audition