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Imitation Dark Side of the Moon,
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This review is from: The Dark Side of the Moon, 30th Anniversary Edition (Audio CD)
Being a Pink Floyd fan, I have purchased every version of this album since it was released 30 years ago.
By far the best version is the SQ Quadraphonic LP version, but as far as the stereo mix goes, the original UK Harvest CD (made in Japan) is still the high point.
Ten years ago, the fine engineer Doug Sax made a valiant effort, but it is clear listening to that XXth Aniversary Edition CD that the original tapes no longer have the same dynamics they originally had (magnetic analog storage slowly loses it quality).
Nevertheless, I decided to give this new 30th Anniversary CD a try. I should mention here that this is only a review of the standard stereo tracks - I don't yet have an SACD-capable player.
However this release doesn't make me want to run out and buy one. My worst fears have been realized as once again, the overall mix of the album has been lost in favor of "resolving power", ie the ability to hear little details. The problem is that after applying techniques to bring out such details, the engineers have done nothing to restore the original mix of the album.
The result is like a starving artist's copy of a Rembrandt painting - it sounds something like Dark Side of the Moon, but when you hear the real thing, you realize that it is only a faded imitation.
The problem is that few people these days have access to what it actually sounds like. Almost no one listens to their LP versions, and only a handful of people are lucky enough to own the original UK Harvest CD. Furthermore, it seems clear that the engineers of this 30th Anniversary Edition haven't listened to the original, either.
Interestingly, the original engineer, Alan Parsons, asked to be involved in this 30th Anniversary Edition project, but was shut out. It would seem that future listeners suffer as a result.
PS My qualifications: I am a California state certified Studio Recording Engineer. One of my instructors was the original engineer for the drum recordings for "Dark Side of the Moon". I compared the 30th Anniversary Edition, XXth Anniversary Edition, and UK Harvest CDs using AKG K240 Studio Monitor headphones (as used in many studio recording situations over the past 20-30 years).
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Showing 1-10 of 52 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 30, 2006, 3:12:11 PM PST
You really should buy a SACD player, it doesn't get any better then this.
Posted on Nov 8, 2006, 6:20:53 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 8, 2006, 6:23:24 PM PST
Gregory J. Bendokus says:
You are exactly right, the CD is compressed to hell and sounds terrible. The original Japanese Harvest CD (or the MoFi) is still the best version on CD out there.
However...the SACD layer is by far the best SACD I've yet heard. It sounds like you are a big fan of this album - I suggest buying one of Sony's cheap DVD players that is SACD-compatible and see what you think. You will not believe how good this sounds, I promise. As an audiophile myself, my jaw dropped. Repeatedly.
All hype aside, this is the goods. Post back here if you do decide to go SACD, I'd love to hear what you think.
Posted on Feb 11, 2007, 7:12:57 AM PST
Earl Haines says:
Posted on Feb 24, 2007, 7:59:48 AM PST
T. Butler says:
A "California state certified Studio Recording Engineer" What the hell ia that? Don't tell me California certifies recording engineers. If that is true, we have taken a giant step on the slippery road to hell.
Also why would you review an SACD disc and not listen to the SACD portion? The primary point behind this release is the SACD mix.
Posted on Apr 19, 2007, 8:07:29 AM PDT
I share the passion of music but only when its content has been meticulously recorded as in 24/96, DSD, or SACD etc. Most rock CD's sound like crap. There is nothing worse than compressed digital however, this reviewer hadn't reserved his opinion upon hearing the SACD cut. That's unfortunate. The subsequent reviewers have solidified my resolve to get a hybrid SACD player so I can hear this CD! I remember this album as a kid but I no longer have the vinyl. On a side note: I picked up "Frampton Comes Alive" on a 2 CD set a few years ago because I realized it had been transferred onto CD using "Pacific Microsonics' HDCD" method, which at the time was the best you could do with a standard CD re-recording. (That CD is amazing but I think they discontinued it). Point is SACD and DVD audio are dying out already, so when you see a classic like Dark Side...recorded this well, go get it!
Posted on Jul 18, 2007, 11:10:53 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 18, 2007, 7:24:44 PM PDT
J. K. Weston says:
This review of the CD layer is basically on target. The CD layer is lousy. The SACD layers, however, are an entirely different matter.
But, before I get to the SACD, I would question the reviewer's taste if he actually thinks the SQ Quadraphonic LP version is the best. I have 2 copies of that, an unopened backup and a copy I play on rare occasions. I also have one opened and 2 sealed stereo LP pressings, all 5 of which are British Harvest pressings circa 1977, plus an opened and a sealed MFSL LP pressing, and an American Capital pressing. In my opinion the late 70s British stereo pressings beat all comers. The MFSL is crisper and has more detail but, fatally, less atmosphere. But it is a good second choice and occasionally a good alternate listen. The British quad pressing has cleaner, quieter surfaces than the American Capital and is clearly a different mix, which makes for an interesting alternate listen on a rare occasion, but the sound quality and mix are actually better on the American Capital. If you are listening for sound quality, the SQ is a poor fourth. If you want quad or surround, any of the other 3 played through Dynaquad or Dolby Surround,or some other ambiance recovery arrangement gives a much more satisfying experience. My comments on British pressings are limited to late 1970s pressings because I picked up a British stereo pressing of Wish You Were Here about 1986 and it sounds muffled compared to my Japanese stereo and British Quad pressings from the 70s. The British Quad pressing of Wish You Were Here stands with the British Stereo pressing of Dark Side in terms of sound quality and quality of listening experience. The mix is different from and superior to the stereo version of Wish You Were Here whether played back is stereo or in quad. On to the SACD.
You have 2 choices on the SACD layer, Stereo, or a new 5.1 channel mix. Earlier I said that late 70s British stereo pressings beat all comers. Let me qualify that. The stereo SACD version equals it. It is very difficult to hear any difference between the old British stereo pressing and the SACD stereo. Old British stereo pressings are basically going to be impossible to find. This is a worthy substitute. There is also the new 5.1 channel mix. If you like surround sound you'll love this. I love surround sound and listen to most stereo sources with Dynaquad passive ambiance recovery. This new surround mix is about equal to the stereo mix but different, exchanging a little more clarity for a little less of the mysterious. It is a worthy alternative (unlike the old SQ version). I listen to both.
So buy this SACD while it is still available if you like this music. If you don't have an SACD player, don't listen to it yet. But get yourself one of the universal DVD players that plays SACD (and DVD-A, too, preferably) and you are in for a treat. And some of the dedicated SACD players sound even better.
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 19, 2007, 7:56:01 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 19, 2007, 9:08:25 PM PDT
Yeah, the SACD 5.1 mix blew me away when I first heard it. I listened on a Sony stereo with floor-standing, dual woofer 3-way Sony front speakers, Bose 201 Series V as surrounds, a Klipsch Center Channel speaker, and Sony 12" powered subwoofer. Being totally new to SACD, as I had just bought the player, with the "Pink" CD, it was the greatest sound I ever heard from a digital compact disc. However, it still wasn't as awesome of an experience as when I heard it on a high-end analog system, in an audio store, when it first came out. I think they did a really good job on rendering the source material to SACD. Apparently (unfortunately), this much care has not gone into a lot of other SACD's.
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 19, 2007, 8:21:58 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 19, 2007, 9:22:14 PM PDT
I agree, the SACD mix is much better than the standard CD part of the disc. Yes, Sony SCD-CE595 super audio player is great. Even regular CD's sound better than on the standard Sony CDP-CE275 player, and sound better than CD's played on my DVD player. People should start buying the Sony SACD players so it doesn't go the wayside. A good SACD -- of which there are a few -- is recorded using the direct stream and takes advantage of several Gigabits sampling rate, which is something like 30 times more than standard CD's and 3-10 times more than DVD-Audio (excuse me for any inaccuracies, but the sampling rate is much higher than the -- approximately -- 20 k bits of a standard CD recording). Sony should have launched a bigger campaign to promote the SACD player. Well, maybe the California certified recording engineer who reviewed the Pink Floyd SACD could help turn things around, by making excellent hi-fi recordings on SACD. However, he would have to at least buy an SACD player, first, and experience "The Dark Side of the Moon" in 5.1 surround sound.
Posted on Aug 19, 2007, 8:32:41 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 19, 2007, 9:11:21 PM PDT
Man, how could so many people find this review helpful, when you didn't even review the SACD portion of the disc? Well, I guess the many who own just regular CD players might find it useful. Did I just answer my own question? Anyway, "for God sakes," man, why don't you buy an SACD player, or find someone who owns one, and review the SACD portion of it?
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 19, 2007, 8:38:06 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 19, 2007, 9:27:23 PM PDT
True. This is the best SACD I've heard (but only have a couple others). Also true; my jaw literally dropped repeatedly too, upon 1st listen to the 5.1 SACD portion of it. It was awesome hi-end sound coming out of a moderately priced audio system.