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Original Audio Mix...HT enthusiasts need to take up the cause for HD media

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#1 of 3 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

DaViD Boulet

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Posted February 21 2006 - 01:16 AM

The importance of preserving the orignial audio mix/sound quality on home-video.

This little principle is all-too-often forgotten even by the loyal film lovers at HTF. We're all quick to pull out banners and march the OAR cause. But when Warner remixes the audio for Ben Hur (and destroys directional dialogue panning) or FOX releases a musical with stunning stereo tracks and only uses a later-generation mono mix-down master for the DVD...somehow it never seems to get quite the same attention.

I think I can safely say that most HT enthusiasts aren't too upset about the chance to buy their beloved classics in HD, but they WOULD BE APPAULED to have to buy them OVER AND OVER AGAIN on the HD format if the studio can't present them right the first time and keeps re-releasing in HD over and over with nominal improvments...and getting the audio "wrong" for a classic presented in HD should be as unforgivable and panning and scanning a scope film.

For instance, if FOX dared to use the horribly noise-gated auido mix on an HD version of Hello Dolly, it would be a complete and utter waste...and HT enthusiasts who knew how good the original audio really sounded would be forced to wait yet again or decide to upgrade for the improved picture and then hope for a future re-release with properly presented sound.

While many studios are struggling in this department (including some very well-regarded studios like Warner Brothers and FOX who "win some" and "lose some" all the time with DVD), I have to say that Disney has impressed me with a steadily-growing track-record of properly presented auido mixes in DVD.

In particular, the last few years of releases seem to have been produced under a clear philosophy at the Mouse of "preserving the historic original audio mix presentation" as a clearly defined goal. All "new" 5.1 mixes are offered only as an alternative to the orignal mix presentation. This is the way ALL studios should handle sound. With the disc real estate and bandwidth available on HD media, nothing less should be tolerated by the HT enthusiast crowd.

I just reviewed Lady and the Tramp and did a detailed analysis of the sound:


Lady and the Tramp does an oustanding job presenting the original 3.0 mix in superb fidelity. It is a joy to watch this film and listen to it as the original audio-mixing artists intended...to hear their pans, their choices, their effects just as they planned. The new mix is excellent as well, but purists should demand that original sound presentation be preserved on home-video media EVEN if they prefer to listen to a newer, updated mix (Rocky Horror).

Disney has done an admirable job, and IMO as a studio they've set the standard for how to go about presenting sound (Mary Poppins is the exception to the rule). I'd like to see other studios step up to the plate and adopt this same philosophy, and I'd like to see the HT enthusiast crowd at HFM make it mandatory that they do.

Don't just sit around until Fox screws up the audio on the next Affair to Remember HD disc or Warner yet-again denies you the chance to hear the glorious orignal mutli-channel mix on Ben-Hur. Don't let them do it. You *and* the films deserve the option to experience that original audio mix. Accept nothing less!!!
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#2 of 3 OFFLINE   PeterTHX



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Posted February 21 2006 - 12:12 PM

One thing, it depends on the condition of the original elements. Robert Harris addressed a complaint about "My Fair Lady", explaining that it was the best they could do at the time. Numerous films have missing stereo tracks, 65MM elements, etc.

At the same time, Warner needs to know that directional panning needs to be kept intact. Hopefully someone will address this at the chat tonight.

Otherwise it would be APPALLING. Posted Image

#3 of 3 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

DaViD Boulet

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Posted February 21 2006 - 02:25 PM

Obviously, a studio can only use what elements exist and are available. But in many cases the proper elements DO exist. Someone at Fox thought that the audio to Hello Dolly would sound better if they filtered out the (almost inaudible) hiss by noise-gating out all the high frequencies. Someone at Warner thinks that directional audio is "bad" and insists on remixing all historic mulit-track scope soundtracks for home-video. Many movies which came to laserdisc with GREAT sounding 2.0 stereo PCM tracks show up on DVD in almost mono-sounding flatness (Good Morning Vietnam). It's hard to believe that the few short years between the laserdisc and DVD release could really be responsible for rendering all those source multi-track elements unplayable. And if that *is* the case, then why can't the studio just use the 2.0 PCM mix prepared for laserdisc? (Heck...if it sounds that much better...just sample-rate convert it to 48 kHz and slap it on the DVD) This has nothing to do with criticing a team for doing the best job possible with the best quality elements they were able to find. It has everything to do with disc production that just IGNORES the importance of properly presenting audio or worse...goes out of its way to mess it up!
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