Archive for the ‘SACD’ Category

HDDVD Vs. Blu-ray

January 5, 2008


  It Looks like Warner Brothers has crossed over to the Blu-Ray side. All of my friends ask me which to buy, and until this moment I have said neither. Carnell is officially supporting Blu-Ray as of now. I find this to be somewhat sad, since I was leaning toward HDDVD. I felt HDDVD had the advantage with price and features, but with no studio support, I feel they are doomed. All the details of this can be found HERE. Looking on the bright side of this, with Sony being the backbone of my beloved SACD format, if Blu-Ray Players include that support, this MIGHT give a little CPR to the fledgling format that I love so.

Abacab SACD Review (short and sweet)

June 25, 2007


Genesis, abacab SACD review.

If the three previous albums did not prove that this wasn’t the old prog rock Genesis we were all accustomed to, abacab did it. Known to the band as their “punk album”, this was the first album recorded in Genesis’ “The Farm” studio in Surrey England. Also, the first album engineered by Hugh Padgham, known for his work on Police albums. This album originally had that tight, rapid bass sound with little reverb, that is Hugh’s signature style. That sound remains, and truly has a live studio feel to the entire disc. Once again, there really is not a track by track difference in quality as reported on some of the other SACDs. I believe this is due to the fact that the band was in there own studio at this point, with better quality control. Or perhaps the previous tracks on earlier albums were recorded at different times. Heck, maybe its just the tech was getting better and better, and the guys were feeling comfortable about being a threesome now. I don’t know, nor will I try to guess, all I do know, is this is a Damn fine disc.

Vocals soar, horns blat with quick confidence, and drums kick with authority. Even the worst song ever made in the history of mankind (next to Les Boys by Dire Straits) Who Dunnit sound absolutely tight and wonderful. Of course, that is my opinion about those two tracks, your mileage may vary. That being said, of the 5.1 remasters, this album is by far the best, of those released so far.

Turn it on again!!!

June 16, 2007


Genesis, Duke SACD review.

1980’s Duke has our friends starting to turn the page from Prog Rock, to more of the radio friendly tunes. Now don’t get me wrong, Duke has some fantastic, tightly written, long pieces that are quite satisfying. However, we start seeing more of the pop ditties that turned off so many of the old school fans. I for one, enjoy both sides of Genesis and find this to be a near perfect album. Sure “Alone Tonight” is a little sappy, but the Duchess Suite, and Duke’s Travel and End, makes up for any of the album’s misgivings.

Alas, I am here to review the album’s sound and not the content, so I will give you that.

I cannot review this album without referring back to the awful time I had with”… And Then There Were Three…” “Three” had such an awful sound, that I needed a breather and palette cleanser so as to move on. I listen to Duke quite often, almost as much as Trick, so there aren’t many nuances I am not thoroughly familiar with, this disc brought out all of that and more with a wonderful, bouncy, live sound that impressed me from start to finish. In fact, the sound is so solid and consistent, I see no reason to go track by track on this release. I will return to that format, if future releases have variations in perceived audio quality track to track, but this is a solid album.

Describing this album the word “live” could be used a lot. It describes not only the lively sound of the more upbeat material, but also the entire collection of songs sound like they were recorded live, within a short amount of time at the same studio. The bonus DVD all but confirms this. The members  all had solo experience at this point, and there maturity shows here. Sparkling vocals, tight bass, crystal clear instruments, and great surround use is the norm here.

Notable stand outs are on Behind the Lines, which is a stark contrast from the last SACD, grabbing you and letting you know that you are in for an enjoyable ride. Man of our Times finally loses the garbled crunch of previous versions and really opens into something musical. Heathaze, lets Phil’s voice warble on the quiet intro enough to where you can almost hear the tears in his voice. Turn it on Again, is perfect single material, and the final Duke Suite envelops you and makes you want to hit the repeat button on your player to experience it all again!

It pleased me so much to know, that one of my favorites was treated with so much care, and sonically will stand the test of time unlike the thinner versions I had before.

I am optimistic now for Abacab, and if it is half as good as this, I should be very pleased. I don’t anticipate any sonic problems with the releases after this, Genesis has always been a band concerned about good sound. Technology may have finally caught up to them in the later releases, with much newer and solid source tapes. The Gabriel years are truly going to be a treat to revisit in hi-rez, I just pray the original sources are going to stand up to modern scrutiny. Should be a fun journey regardless, and I will never complain for having an excuse to hear these gems any chance I get.

…And Then I Was Ill…

June 10, 2007

Genesis, …and then there were three… SACD review.



  In 1978 Genesis found themselves without a lead guitarist, a vocalist who wasn’t entirely sure he wanted the job yet, and members who were all around becoming a bit credit hungry. I should start off by saying that “Three” was always one of my least favorite in the catalog. I have never found any of the songs particularly interesting, with the exception of the hit single “Follow You Follow me” and “Many Too Many”. I used to skip this one all together. I tried to leave my bias at the door when sitting down to listen to this one. As I recall, I have always thought it was a poor sounding, garbled sort of album. I had hoped that the SACD release would clear that up, and make this a more enjoyable experience. I was wrong.



1.) Down And Out- Not nearly as much sheen and sparkle as was heard on Wind and Wuthering. Recording is quite harsh actually. Compared to the original CD release and the remaster, it has opened a bit more, but still muddy.


2.) Undertow- Grime? Grain? You can hear the track sounds strained. Vocals sound like Phil used a budget Microphone.


3.) Ballad of Big- This track is far more open than any other release, and still manages to be a clusterfuck.


4.) Snowbound- Much clearer vocals, Far more open with some decent imaging. I was losing hope. This is much better.


5.) Burning Rope- None of the realism I am used to hearing on SACD. Sounds like a mediocre CD. Wondering if it is my bias against this album. Lord, will this song end?


6.) Deep in the Motherlode- Direct quote from my notes “Little or no bass definition. No sheen on cymbals, sounds like static. CD quality at best. Messy surrounds just spread the mess.”


7.) Many To Many- I think I like the CD remaster version better on this one. Phil was clearer.


8.) Scenes from a Night’s Dream- Quoting my notes again, I wrote; “Am I listening to a CD?!?!” At this point I physically confirmed I was listening to the surround layer of an SACD via my players on screen menus.


9.) Say It’s All Right Joe- C’mon Joe, say this is a bad joke, and my real disc is in the mail. Ugh.


10.)The Lady Lies- We have digressed to Early ‘80’s CD quality now. Surrounds are unnecessary which magnifies the problems. Main Vocals clearer, but still get lost in the chorus. Cymbal crashes sound “crunchy”.


11.)Follow You Follow me- Phil said that when they originally recorded this album, that they knew it would be a hit, so they returned to the studio, rerecorded it, and polished it up. It shows. He must have bought a new microphone on his way back. Sounds much better than the rest of the album, and that ain’t saying much.


 Was I too hard on this? No, I think not, if one of my favorites like “Selling England by the Pound” or “Duke” comes off sounding like this, I won’t be terribly pleased. As far as a letter grade, I think I will cop out, because of my dislike for this album. Some albums like “Wind” grew on me as I got older, Check back with me in a decade, it might take that long.



Entry for June 08, 2007

June 8, 2007

Genesis, Wind and Wuthering SACD review.


Genesis’ 1977 follow up to “A Trick of the Tail” found themselves settling into there new style. Phil was getting cozy with doing vocals after the departure of Gabriel, and Tony Banks is really coming into his own, with pretty much carte blanch to do his beautiful, structured song writing. Steve Hackett really shines on this release also. Such a pity it would be his last studio album with the band.


Wind and Wuthering was one of my least favorite of the catalog as a kid. Within the last decade, it has really grown on me, and I find new things to enjoy about this crafted disc on every listening. Not really the album to reach for, when you want some hard rockers like Squonk. It’s really an album that reminds me of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Not so much the scale, but the material is a somewhat British look at life and truly the second most “British” Genesis album next to “Selling England by the Pound”. Here are my views on the sonic quality of the 2007 SACD remaster.



1.) Eleventh Earl of Mar- Right from the start I am impressed by the all around sound and surround usage. This album has always been high, and slightly shrilly to me. And several tracks used to have me turning the volume down over the years from fatigue. I detect none of that here, highs are smooth, and the entire track is far more musical and pleasurable than before.


2.) One For the Vine- I find that Phil’s voice is not as clear, solid, and fixed as it was in Trick. There is sparkling clarity otherwise. Phil’s voice might be a matter of the original source tapes. It is not a bad thing, just very prominent after listening to Trick only yesterday. Much better use of the quiet passages now. There is a section half way through the song that has “racket” which makes excellent surround effects. That, once again has me chomping at the bits to hear “The Waiting Room” from The Lamb. As the song comes to a close, I realize I just had the best time ever listening to this song, and will be revisiting it again very soon.


3.) Your Own Special Way- Meticulously mixed. Perfect. The track comes alive like never before.


4.) Wot Gorilla?- This wasn’t the drum powerhouse I anticipated. Stellar surround use again however. Song is opened greatly, always sounded claustrophobic before. Lots of separation and imaging. Will be revisiting this one in SACD stereo. Bells tinkle with sparkling clarity.


5.) All in a Mouse’s Night. Here is what I wrote in my note pad while listening to this rather twee, cute song. “PERFECT! A true SACD demo track! DAMN!” this is the kind of track that makes the money, and time I spend on this system worth it. I would like to thank Bowers and Wilkens for making wonderful speakers, and for making moments like these possible. There is a tear in my eye.


6.) Blood on the Rooftops- This is the track that brings you back for more helpings of this underrated album. Perfect again. Perfect.


7.) Unquiet Sleepers for the Sleepers…- This track is far more musical than I have ever noticed before. I always used to think of this as a throw away, transitional, build-up track. This changed my mind, and this mix has really opened up this track, and gave the guys elbow room to work.


8.) …In That Quiet earth- Every time I heard this track in the past I have always had to bump the volume down a bit. This track has always been shrill and harsh to me. My thumb was poised over the volume down button. Low and behold, it was not needed! Clear with clean highs, but not rolled off. Drums were not as powerful as they should be.


9.) Afterglow- A bit more subdued than I expected for a closer. Gorgeous none the less.



Well there you have it. Another A performance, I am starting to think I am going to have to have another sort of ratings scale. I think it could have been an A+ but some sonic limitations hindered that. I believe that the recordings were utilized to the best. I will check and see where Trick was recorded in relation to this, which might explain the difference in quality on the vocals. It was the most enjoyable time I have ever had with this album. Thank goodness for Genesis.

Entry for June 07, 2007

June 7, 2007

Genesis, A Trick of the Tail SACD review.

Any one who knows me, knows that I am a huge Genesis fan. Finally, the SACD versions of all there albums are being released in three different sets. I blogged about this a while ago, check the archives for details. The bad part is that the SACD versions are NOT being released here in the U.S.! I had to import them from Hong Kong to hear these gems in ther highest resolution currently available! All have a 5.1 mix and come with a region free NTSC bonus DVD. I will concentrate my reviews over the next coming days and weeks to the audio of the SACD disc only. So without further ado, here is my review of A Trick of the Tail!

Trick has always been on of my top three list of Genesis albums. It has the beginnings of Phil Collin’s soft, sweet vocals and styling’s, some sweet mystical guitar work by Mike Rutherford and Steve Hackett, and of course, Tony Bank’s dizzying keyboard work and song writing shines though as always. This is a FUN album, but also one of those albums that has layers upon layers of deeper meaning and meticulous song writing. Okay, that last sentence describes EVERY Genesis album. I just want to point out I am reviewing this mix and how it sounds on my system, NOT the content of the music. Just this release’s presentation. Here are my thoughts written tracks for track.

1.) Dance on a Volcano – The opening proves that the surrounds will be used on these tracks and not just as ambience. The bass is tight, not boomy or tubby like other mixes I have heard. Phil’s voice has never been clearer, anchored to the center speaker. Cymbals shimmer with all the detail and realism that SACD promised years ago at inception. And the bells toll with a tone and musical clarity I have never noticed prior.

2.) Entangled- Bells are alive again and are inspiring. However the mix seems a bit too loud. Allow me to illustrate, this is a quiet thoughtful track, it has some soft spots and builds to a choric crescendo at the conclusion. This version seem a lot louder. Please don’t confuse that as sounding compressed though. The integrity and clarity of the track is still there. Just the soul of the song is a bit softer and should have been mixed that way. The ending choir and build up has always been fatiguing to me, this time, I was swept into the sound until it’s end swirls you away, the way I think our friends meant for it to end.

3.) Squonk- A fun tubby rocker that shows Phil isn’t all about the sappy love songs he has the (not deserved) reputation for. Bass has a strong tone and power I have never heard before. I had both the original CD release, the remaster, and have heard the album on a decent set up, many years ago. Every other version the bass has been either tubby, chuffy, or non existent. Squonk gets the bass it deserves on this release. Phil’s voice has been front and center on every song until now, and gets a little lost in the mix. It’s always been that way, I believe it is inherent to the song. The mix is also a little busy, not as much separation as the rest, but I think it’s just inherent with the sound of this track, and I certainly can forgive it with this fun rocker.

4.) Mad Man Moon- I hear a hiss in the rear, most likely from the source. I wonder why it could not have been muted. Once again this is a ballad that is soft and it’s mixed a bit loud for my taste. Also once again it doesn’t sound compressed. A slight volume adjustment in future listenings will be done. A minor complaint, for an awesome sonic experience so far. Good use of rear channels that opens up the soundstage and gives Steve a voice, and focus never heard before to me. Hiss returns in the quiet ending.

5.) Robbery, Assault and Battery- Phil comes really forward on this one. Not only is he front and center, but there is a slight forward of the center projection here. It works oddly well, Phil is somewhat of a story teller in this one. While listening to this track I put down my notepad and got lost in the sound. That was a good thing.

6.) Ripples- The start of this song is a sonic treat. Truly what having all this equipment and SACD is all about. Phil’s voice on the chorus is out of phase to great effect.

(The song IS called Ripples.) one word describes the beautiful instrumental ending, ethereal.

7.) Trick of the Tail- Another fun story song that begs for a 5.1 treatment. It does not disappoint. This cut makes me salivate for The Lamb coming later this year or early next. One of the finest things about being an audiophile, is when you hear details in an album you’ve never noticed before. This was one of those rare treats. Phil ends the song with a mmmm MMMMM! That about says it all.

8.) Los Endos- Wow! Powerful, enveloping, bass guitar. Subwoofer is a requirement folks. Surrounds give it a live concert sound and FEEL. Phil’s famous, cryptic, final goodbye to Peter Gabriel is a bit more lost in the mix, but an all around fantastic presentation.

There you have it. I would give this a solid A. An A+ if the ballads had been a tad more softer sounding. This album reminds me of the kid in Gary, Indiana swept to other worlds and places by the magical albums of Genesis back in the day, and why I will always enjoy and cherish every note. If this first re-release is any clue, I am in for some sonic treats in the months ahead.