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LaserDisc fans: let's talk about killer PCM tracks


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#1 of 55 OFFLINE   Aaron Reynolds

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Posted August 20 2002 - 02:11 AM

I had a productive three days of LaserDisc collecting, thanks once again to the death of the format. On the weekend, I picked up the Tron Archive Collection boxed set, Criterion's CLV From Russia With Love and the original CLV disc of Fantasia at Harmony Music in Toronto (they have tons of good stuff right now), and then on Monday a giant package from LaserExchange's $5 LD blowout showed up, containing (among other things) 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould and the Japanese LD of The Sixth Sense (which was more than $5).

A quick sampling of these titles has once again got me all jazzed up about PCM tracks and just how phenomenal they can sound. Tron and The Sixth Sense are both easily among the best tracks I've ever heard, with superbly clean, rich and detailed sound.

So, I was wondering, since I know there are at least a few other LDphiles hanging out on HTF, what are the best, highly-recommended, not-to-be-missed PCM tracks out there?

Some of my faves, in no particular order, are:

Apocalypse Now widescreen remaster -- apparently the subsequent THX DD 5.1 LD also had the same PCM track on it. The warning on the back cover of the disc is true: the sound is so dynamic and at times so rich that one time I was listening to it a little too loud and I blew a speaker when they dropped the napalm! Of course, I was younger and dumber then. Posted Image The non-DD disc has a less-dynamic mix on the analog tracks, which is the same as the mix on the widescreen VHS tape.

Jaws Signature Collection -- probably the best sounding mono mix I've ever heard. The John Williams score sounds spectacular, especially those low notes at the beginning of the opening credits.

Out of Sight Signature Collection -- the music really shakes the floor, but I think this disc really shines in the quietest moments of the mix, like all of the ambient sound when Clooney is waiting at the bank and flicking his lighter, or Don Cheadle's "vertically integrated" monologue in the stolen car. I really don't know how to describe it...the whole movie sounds "smooth".

Se7en Criterion Collection -- my two favourite-sounding scenes are Morgan Freeman in the library (the way those echoes just wash over you) and Freeman and Pitt in the room under the club, with the music blaring away. That second scene is loud and heavy, but also incredibly clear without being harsh or grating.

Brazil Criterion Collection -- after the original MCA disc, I'd never have expected Brazil to sound as good as it does, particularly the score. The old MCA disc is muffled in comparison.

Mission: Impossible with Tom Cruise -- I usually use the opening credit sequence as a demo of why I like PCM soundtracks.

The English Patient Criterion Collection -- really, really, really good. Frighteningly dynamic, though not as extreme as Apocalypse Now or Pink Floyd: The Wall.

Beauty and the Beast: Work in Progress from Disney -- top notch. Deep, thundering bass, clean, clear highs, and not harsh at all. This was my audio demo for years.

If I think of more, I'll add 'em.

Tracks I thought were disappointing:

Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace Japanese THX -- well, it doesn't sound bad or anything, just after all the hype (I finally received a copy this year) it was a bit of a letdown. I found it almost harsh at times.

Sleeping Beauty Disney THX -- I'm guessing that the PCM track is a mixdown from the DD 5.1 remix, because it has a boomy, hollow sound that reminded me of listening to things through a vacuum cleaner hose. Almost all the Disney LDs I have sound great. Sadly, this fantastic-looking disc is an exception.

The Godfather and The Godfather, part II widescreen THX -- again, a boomy, hollow, fake-sounding disc. Bleah. It's a shame they look so much better than the full frame discs that have the original mono mix.

Okay, who else wants to share? Or to dispute my opinions! Posted Image

#2 of 55 OFFLINE   Gui A

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Posted August 20 2002 - 02:30 AM

Aaron, where is Harmony Music? Is it any one of these?

I've been meaning to pop in The Lion King for the last few days... I think I'll do that today. I haven't listened to my LDs ever since I got my new speaker system. Hopefully it will rock the house down.

Question: Do you lose anything by choosing ProLogic or DPL2 over regular stereo?

#3 of 55 OFFLINE   Aaron Reynolds

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Posted August 20 2002 - 03:26 AM

Quote:
Do you lose anything by choosing ProLogic or DPL2 over regular stereo?

I don't know anything about DPL2, so I won't venture an opinion on it. ProLogic can, depending on the system and the sound mix itself, lead to more muffled, less rich sound. I personally listen to most PCM material through two speakers.

Try it! Compare with DPL on and off.

Harmony is on that list: 711 Mount Pleasant Rd,*Toronto*(416) 440-1386. Their prices range from good to a little high, depending on the title. Lots of stuff between $10 and $15.

#4 of 55 OFFLINE   Lyle_JP

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Posted August 20 2002 - 04:41 AM

I always felt that the True Lies laserdisc had reference PCM and AC-3 tracks. Neither dissapoints. A couple of films where I felt the PCM trounced the AC-3 track were Austin Powers:IMOM and Scream (Director's Cut). In both cases the PCM Dolby Surround track was way more engaging than its DD 5.1 counterpart.

-Lyle J.P.

#5 of 55 OFFLINE   Geoff_D

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Posted August 20 2002 - 06:54 AM

The PCM track on my PAL Apocalypse Now LD is AWESOME, even in Pro-Logic. Bass goes frighteningly deep, and the sound steerage is phenomenal. Walter Murch's oscar-winning work has never sounded better. It's one of my favourite soundtracks, and has continued to impress for years. It sounds so frickin' good that I won't even touch a DVD version of Apocalypse until the super-smashing-great DVD finally arrives - although that R4 package of Redux looks quite tasty.

#6 of 55 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted August 20 2002 - 06:58 AM

Quote:
The English Patient

definitely an excellent PCM 2.0 soundtrack on that LD

Another LD I can't replace with the DVD because the PCM sound is so good (and the DVD is only 4x3 lbxed) is:

The Piano

WOW. Amazing PCM sound.

Toy Story LD was also great PCM.

One that will have audophile's swooning is Dead Man Walking. You can close your eyes and you get imaging and depth that is just astounding. In the jail it sounds like there are jail door slaming closed off in the distance 30 feet to the right of the room and we were just listening in stereo!

-dave
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#7 of 55 OFFLINE   Aaron Reynolds

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Posted August 20 2002 - 07:39 AM

Yeah, The Piano! What a great sounding disc.

I never picked up Dead Man Walking. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for a copy. Thanks!

#8 of 55 OFFLINE   Grant B

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Posted August 20 2002 - 09:47 AM

Broken Arrow- when the plane goes over the range, you understand what shw felt
"Whatever it is, I'm against it!" G. Marx

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#9 of 55 OFFLINE   DeanWalsh

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Posted August 20 2002 - 10:55 AM

The Matrix. The DVD sounds like a VHS tape by comparison.

#10 of 55 OFFLINE   Joel Fontenot

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Posted August 20 2002 - 11:06 AM

Some of my favorite sounding PCM track LD's (considering my player is a 92 model and can't do AC-3 anyway, and I don't have any DTS discs):
  • Jurassic Park - CAV boxed set (well, that's what I have)
  • Speed
  • Independence Day
  • The Living Daylights (love the opening sequence)
  • IJ and the Last Crusade
  • The Lion King (just to second that motion)
  • The Empire Strikes Back from the Definitive Collection - just more open sounding than the other 2 which do sound good too.
That's all that come to mind right now - I'm about to head home in a rain storm, so I might add more later.

Joel
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#11 of 55 OFFLINE   Daniel J

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Posted August 20 2002 - 12:18 PM

Quote:
The Matrix. The DVD sounds like a VHS tape by comparison.


I wasn't aware of the existence of a Matrix LD. Is it easy to find?

Which DVD version ofApocalypse Now best reproduces that LD track? Are there any planned for release (W/PCM)?
Ba weep gra na weep nini bom!

#12 of 55 OFFLINE   GregK

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Posted August 20 2002 - 12:22 PM

Forrest Gump

#13 of 55 OFFLINE   Gui A

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Posted August 20 2002 - 01:23 PM

Thanks Aaron! I'll check it out.

#14 of 55 OFFLINE   Grant B

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Posted August 20 2002 - 01:27 PM

Just walked down to Amoeba Records and they had the LD of Rock & Roll Circus (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
Just listened to Yer Blues (Lennon, Clapton and Keith Richards)
in AC3 and PCM; and PCM wins again!
(Bought "get shorty" DTS for $5, you should hear me giggle to myself)
Anyone else in SF get over to Haight St; they have another 10 discs I would have bought in a instance
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#15 of 55 OFFLINE   Grant B

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Posted August 20 2002 - 01:32 PM

they still have a Blade DTS for $7 and Apocalypse Now widescreen remaster for under $10 in case anyone wants one
"Whatever it is, I'm against it!" G. Marx

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#16 of 55 OFFLINE   Peter O

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Posted August 20 2002 - 02:05 PM

Quote:
I wasn't aware of the existence of a Matrix LD. Is it easy to find?

Easy to find on eBay.... if you're willing to pay $70-100 Posted Image


The PCM track on Heat is amazing. In addition to the famous bank scene, check out the showdown at the end: the dynamic range is great. Goes from absolute silence as the two characters stalk each other to deafening nose as the jets fly overhead.

#17 of 55 OFFLINE   AL KUENSTER

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Posted August 20 2002 - 03:21 PM

I agree with all those mentioned plus T2, Total Recall, Escape From New York, Clear & Present Danger, the Die Hard Trilogy. There are so many it's hard to remember all. I often prefer the PCM track over the AC3.
Keep spinning those big discs!
Al Kuenster

#18 of 55 OFFLINE   Tim Glover

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Posted August 20 2002 - 04:25 PM

Somewhat ignorant of the PCM tracks but the LD of Saving Private Ryan DD 5.1 simply is the most dynamic, well-balanced mix I've ever heard. I own the dts dvd as well.

Mission Impossible and Phantom Menace are a close second on laser. Those 2 ld mixes are phenomenal compared to the dvd.

Another great mix is the 5.1 of Speed, Batman Forever, and Ghost in the Darkness.

#19 of 55 OFFLINE   Aaron Garman

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Posted August 20 2002 - 06:59 PM

Hello all. Nothing beats a nice PCM track. As for reference quality ones, I choose:

-Mission: Impossible
-Jurassic Park (CAV)
-The Lion King

As for AC-3, I whole-heartedly reccomend:

-Mission: Impossible (Blows the pants off of the DVD)
-Star Wars Episode I (Again, destroys the DVD)
-Saving Private Ryan (Amazing and possibly as good as the DTS DVD)

AJ Garman
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#20 of 55 OFFLINE   Brendon

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Posted August 20 2002 - 07:40 PM

I'll have to second the Lion King, the PCM track is simply gorgeous (hands up who's ever got tired of rewatching the Circle Of Life opening sequence!).

I'd like to add Aladdin and Beauty & The Beast to this list too.

And as far as Pro Logic steering goes, Raiders Of The Lost Ark: the scene when the Nazi's attack Marion's bar is still a reference example of what the PCM Stereo/Pro Logic is capable of.

Cheers,

Brendon


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