DAVID TOLSKY REVIEWS: "Nitty Gritty Surround"

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Aug 13, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Nitty Gritty Surround
    DVD Audio
    AIX Records

    by David Tolsky


    “AIX Records believes that in order to hear the
    improvements offered by increasing the sample rate
    and word size, you have to start by making NEW
    recordings!”(Taken from sub-menu, “The Disc,”
    on Nitty Gritty Surround)

    New recording sessions are at the heart of what
    makes AIX DVD-Audio discs so special. Think about it:
    what could be better to a music lover and audiophile
    than a brand new recording session using the best
    digital equipment and special miking techniques?
    It would be a no-frills session with no flashy
    stage show. There is no equalization going on, just
    music in the raw. The recording, mixing and mastering
    are all executed with a 96khz sample rate and 24 bit
    word length, created digitally from the ground up.
    Nitty Gritty Surround is an album that has
    its roots established way back in the 60’s with the
    Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. It’s bluegrass at its
    finest, with some traditional folk and swing thrown
    in for good measure. When these guys and gals get
    together, they can jam with the best of them.
    [​IMG]
    AIX cleverly uses both sides of the disc to divide
    DVD-A material (high-rez MLP tracks and 2-channel
    tracks -- both in 96/24), from the DVD-Video features.
    Let’s start with the video.
    The inside blue ring on the disc indicates the
    DVD-Video features, playable on any DVD video player.
    Here we actually get to sit in on the live session
    as it was being recorded, thanks to some skillful video work.
    [​IMG]
    Imagine yourself sitting in the middle of the stage.
    John McEuen grabs his banjo and takes a seat in front
    of you. Jimmy Ibbotson, folk guitar in hand, sits
    behind you facing McEuen. Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum
    stand next to Ibbotson, ready to sing. Phil Salazar
    (fiddle) sits opposite Randy Tico (acoustic bass).
    Tom Corbett (mandolin), Rick Cunha (guitar,
    ukulele, vocals) Matt Carsonas (harmony vocals, mandola,
    dulcimer), Jim Christie (percussion), Jonathan
    McEuen (John’s son on guitar and vocals) and special
    guest, vocalist Jennifer Warnes, fill in the empty
    spaces. Putting you in the middle of the music is
    what AIX calls their “stage mix” and it is what
    surround sound was born for. In this case, the DTS
    5.1 mix is the on-stage perspective. If you are
    fond of being surrounded by instruments and vocals,
    this is the mix for you.
    Let’s say you’re more of a purist and would prefer
    to keep your distance from the band. No problem
    since AIX also provides a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital
    mix of the session, called the “audience” mix.
    Clicking the Audio button on your remote
    accesses this mix on the fly, anytime you want.
    This is a great feature as you can very quickly
    compare the sound quality between the two popular
    encoding choices. You’ll notice that the instruments
    behind you will all but disappear, leaving you in
    the ambiance of the “audience”, with a much more
    frontal soundstage.
    Clicking the Angle button will allow an
    alternate video shot, usually an isolated vocalist
    or musician. These shots are nicely dissolved into
    wider group shots of all performers.
    What’s nice about Nitty Gritty Surround is
    that it is an education in acoustic strings. Banjo,
    guitar, mandolin, bass mandolin, fiddle, acoustic
    bass, ukulele -- they’re all blended into the
    unmistakable bluegrass sound that the Dirt Band is
    famous for. The Appalachian dulcimer even makes
    an appearance, and in a humorous video clip from “The
    Making Of,” musician Matt Cartsonis is applying ‘peg
    dope’ to the instrument’s old string pegs. “Why do
    you think they call it dope?” he muses, “Because
    you have to be one to play this instrument.”
    Flipping the disc over to the red side, you get your
    choice of 5.1 channel surround MLP and two channel
    PCM, both using 96 khz/24 bit technology. Both of
    these compression schemes are “lossless,” where none
    of the data is left out of the transfer process. The
    2-channel mix sounds every bit as clean as the multi-
    channel and is a great alternative mix for the die-hard
    stereo lover. Like the video side of the disc, the
    MLP version becomes the stage mix, a higher resolution
    version of its DTS counterpart. The 2-channel PCM is
    the audience mix and stereo never sounded so good. I
    much preferred the stage mix of the 2-channel PCM to
    the Dolby Digital stage mix from the video side.
    Voices and instruments were cleaner and more dynamic.
    That’s the difference that lossless compression can make.
    There is enough bonus material on this disc to rival
    a collector’s edition DVD movie, making it a great
    value. Included are musician bios, rehearsals,
    behind-the-scenes and backstage footage and a
    slide-show trip down memory lane with the Nitty Gritty
    band members. You’ll even learn the history of the
    venue chosen for the recording, the Fox Theater in
    Hanford, California. Let’s not forget topics such as
    how to use the disc, surround speaker setup, AIX’s
    mission statement and philosophies and a band
    photo gallery.
    If you are curious about how good the DVD-A format can
    be, I urge you to go out and purchase AIX’s Nitty
    Gritty Surround
    . Mark Waldrep, Ph.D. (AIX’s Founder
    and Chief Engineer) and friends have gone all out
    in providing one heck of a value-packed sight and
    sound experience.
     
  2. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Thanks! This one looks tasty.
    AIX makes the most interesting DVD-As in the business. I'm sure this one's a winner.
    [​IMG]
     
  3. Mark_Waldrep

    Mark_Waldrep Stunt Coordinator

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    I just wanted to thank David and the folks at the Forum for the kind review of the Nitty Gritty Surround DVD-Audio/Video product. We have completed 8 titles so far, but this one is certainly one of my personal favorites....wonderful people making really terrific music recorded using the finest equipment available.

    And Mike is right too. This title won the Discus Creative Excellence Award for "Best DVD-Audio" over Queen and Graham Nash from eMedia Magazine...a very nice honor. It was also picked by Rad Bennett in the new Sound and Vision Magazine as one of the top ten "Surround Sound Standouts". The "stage" mix in MLP is really amazing.

    Just in case anyone is curious, The Latin Jazz Trio featuring Luis Conte, David Garfield and David Carpenter has just been replicated and is available through AIX Records. This disc has the most incredible sound on recorded "metal"....wind chimes, cymbals, and bells...makes you wonder how we ever put up with low resolution CDs.

    Thanks again...as always, I welcome any suggestions or comments. I do this because I love music and I love using technology to bring it an ever larger audience.
     
  4. Tomoko Noguchi

    Tomoko Noguchi Second Unit

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    Yes, but only at 45 minutes for a live concert? Seems a bit on the short end of things. Of course, I may be wrong on the timing.
     
  5. Mark_Waldrep

    Mark_Waldrep Stunt Coordinator

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    While this recording was made of the musicians performing live without overdubs...it is not a "live album"...i.e. there is no audience. It contains 11 tracks recorded at 96 kHz/24 bits and mixed four different ways.
     
  6. Tomoko Noguchi

    Tomoko Noguchi Second Unit

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    Ok. Leave out the "live concert" words and is it still 45 minutes long?
     
  7. David Tolsky

    David Tolsky Supporting Actor

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    Tomoko, not sure where you're going with this. You cannot think of this as a "live show". This is like any other studio recording you have on regular CD (but of course, much better) There would be no applause after each track, and there are the same number of tracks (on average) as a single-disc studio recorded CD. I picked up a CD out of my collection and looked at the full time of the entire disc: 54 minutes. You just have to think in terms of eavesdropping on a studio session, which actually is pretty cool [​IMG]
     
  8. Tomoko Noguchi

    Tomoko Noguchi Second Unit

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    Not really trying to be too critical about the overall performance, which is probably really good. Just concerned with the amount of time given to a disc. I, for one, would want more time and performances on the disc. Just my opinion.
     
  9. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
    Reviewer

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    The Beatles' Revolver & Sgt. Pepper were shorter than 45 minutes, but I think I got my money's worth on those titles. [​IMG]
    Regards,
     
  10. Mark_Waldrep

    Mark_Waldrep Stunt Coordinator

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    Yes, the total running time of the music tracks is about 45 minutes, however, please remember that those tracks are on the disc 4 times! In addition, there is another hour of bonus video, behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, rehearsals etc. I have really tried to give the purchaser a combination TRUE high-resolution recording in multiple mixes, a complete video of the session as lots of extras, hundreds of information screens and photos, and system setup information...this is the kind of product that I would like to have myself. Sort of a video, boxed set, DVD-Video, DVD-Audio and coffee-table book all rolled into one.
     
  11. Al B. C

    Al B. C Supporting Actor

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    I own "Nitty" and I think it sounds great. Jennifer Warnes vocal tracks are simply awesome.
     
  12. David Tolsky

    David Tolsky Supporting Actor

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    Yeah, that's something that I didn't get around to mentioning in the review. While listening to the MLP tracks during one of Jennifer's vocals, I walked up to the center channel speaker to "meet" Jennifer. You would swear that she was singing on the other side of the drivers!
     
  13. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    So what tracks are on it?
    [​IMG]
    This sounds like a sale to me! especially since I can enjoy the regular DVD version right now, and decide later if I want to get a DVD A player (after the dust has settled some more on the competing formats).
    Adam
     
  14. David Tolsky

    David Tolsky Supporting Actor

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    Happy to oblige:

    1) Miner's Night Out 3:19
    2) Darcy Farrow 4:08
    3) Moonlight Dancing 3:54
    4) Acoustic Traveler 4:08
    5) Somewhere Somebody 2:29
    6) Too Late Love Comes
    To Me 4:36
    7) Shady Grove 3:15
    8) The Oak and the
    Laurel 4:59
    9) Swing To Bop 5:25
    10)It's Morning 3:43
    11)Blue Days, Sleepless
    Nights 4:03
     
  15. David Shearer

    David Shearer Auditioning

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    I have seen John McEuen in concert twice. Two of the best shows I have ever attended. I will definitely track this release down (though I will be able to use the video side only)! Thanks for giving it some attention.
     
  16. Micahel C

    Micahel C Stunt Coordinator

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    Congrats Mark on the EMedia Discus Award. For those that haven't heard, Dr. Waldrep and AIX records have been awarded the Discus Award in EMedia Magazine's 5th annual Discus Awards given for distinction in DVD creation. The John McEuen & Jimmy Ibbotson's "Nitty Gritty Surround" won the Discus Award for Creative Excellence in the "Best DVD-Audio" category. [​IMG]
     
  17. Jeff Savage

    Jeff Savage Second Unit

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    Ok I love this band but I have looked for this disc and can't find it. Where can this be purchased??
     
  18. Mark_Waldrep

    Mark_Waldrep Stunt Coordinator

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    All AIX Records discs can be purchased through our web site (www.aixrecords.com) or by calling our 800 number 800-668-4249. We are quite pleased that Image Entertainment has decided to distribute our complete line of titles including 10 classical titles due out in October and November. Of course, it benefits AIX a great deal if our customers purchase these titles directly from us...we get to be the retailer as well. Thanks for your interest and let me know what you think of our work.
     
  19. Jeff Savage

    Jeff Savage Second Unit

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    No online ordering? Bummer, I guess snail mail will have to do. Other than that a great site!

    Laters,
     
  20. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    AIX makes the best DVD-As I've heard so far.

    I plan on reviewing the Latin Jazz Trio after I get through the whole disc.


    NP: Thelonious Monk w/ Sonny Rollins
     

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