Examples: Good 5.1 remixes and Bad 5.1 remixes

Eric Gripp

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Why are some considered really great and others considered less than great? I know that Superman: The Movie, Jaws, and Star Wars have 5.1 remixes that a lot of people don't care for. Why is that? Is a 5.1 that a majority consider really good have all the original elements?
 

Lord Dalek

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I suppose. Mostly just the idea of remixing older mono or 2.0 LT/RT films seems a bit repulsive to a lot of folks since it doesn't really add to the experience and ultimately sounds artificial and thin. Occasionally you get a good one like Gone With the Wind or Once Upon A Time in the West but mostly they're what I call "fudge tracks".
 

MatthewA

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Because some remixes are actually good, and some are just plain lousy.

Disney's 5.1 remixes are just mono spread over five channels, except for Bedknobs and Broomsticks, where they went back to the multichannel music stems and the mono dialogue and effects stems and mixed them together. Why can't they do this for other films?

The 5.1 Grease remix is a tragedy. They must have had all the original sound elements to do it right, but not enough time (done for the 1998 re-issue). The backup singers on the 2nd verse of You're the One that I Want are out of sync. Then there's the added foley.

Pre-stereo era films (before 1952) shouldn't be remixed to 5.1, considering the recording technology didn't exist except for MGM's experiments. I only support the idea of remixing if the remix does not add any elements recorded after the fact (bearing the existence of the original sound elements), if the music was recorded in a way that it would support a stereo mix, and if the original mono track is included.
 

Bo_Darville

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+1

also, some of the gunshots in the terminator sound like they are blazing across the living room, and that was originally mono i believe
 

Vincent_P

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Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA is a textbook example of a bad 5.1 (or in this case, actually 6.1 ) remix IMO. When SUSPIRIA was released theatrically in 1977, select prints were not only printed in glorious IB Technicolor, but featured 4-channel discreet magnetic stereo sound to boot. By all accounts, seeing a Technicolor, 4-channel stereo print of SUSPIRIA theatrically in 1977 was quite the cinematic experience. The letterboxed Image laserdisc release of SUSPIRIA approximated the aural experience fairly well, offering a PCM 2-channel downmix of the 4-track discreet original that was compatible with Dolby Pro-Logic Surround decoders...

Now, you'd THINK that with the advent of DVD and the ability of Dolby Digital to encode a 4.0 track that the original 4-channel mix from 1977 would be preserved on the DVD, but such is not the case. What we get on the Anchor Bay DVD is a 6.1 remix in both Dolby Digital EX and DTS-ES, and a 2.0 surround downconversion of the remix. No original sound mix included (unless you count the Dolby Digital 2.0 downmix of the 4-channel Italian dubbed soundtrack)...

The problem with the remixed soundtrack? It has a LOT of errors, from missing music cues, to the wrong sound levels for several of the music cues, to missing sound effects, and even missing dialogue. This could all have been averted had the original 4-channel mix been preserved on the DVD as a viewing option, but it was not, so all we have to choose from are the remixed tracks with all the mistakes, or a 2-channel downmix of the Italian dubbed track with no subtitles.

Vincent
 

Carter of Mars

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All of the Indiana Jones films were re-mixed from the original 6-track masters used on the 70mm prints at the time of each films initial release. They weren't re-thought tracks like Superman and Jaws.
 

Mark Anthony

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The discrepency is down to a huge variety of factors, do all the original source elements survive - in a decent condition, how was it originally recorded, if the music score was recorded in stereo do the master tapes survive - esp. if it was released in mono theatrically and finally whose doing, and supervising, the re-mix....

Just because it was originally released in mono doesn't mean the 5.1 re-mix is automatically bad - Conan The Barbarian in a number of peoples opinions is a perfect example of a mono re-mix done right as the music score stereo elements were available, the few stereo effects are not in your face and the impact of that score, in stereo, breathes new life into the film.

I personally think they did a great job with Superman, again considering the condition of the sound elements and the type of film it is, the new mix sounds more in line with how I'd expect Superman to sound, the original '78 mix was by the producer's admission a rush job at best and an early Dolby film regardless.

The Good, Bad and Ugly re-mix could have been amazing, subtle with use of the stereophonic score and re-purposed sound effects - but the use of stereophonic dialogue really distracts and for me pulls me out of the film, a great shame - For a few dollars more is the same.

Another title that has been brought up is Vertigo, that in my opinion just need's a bit of further tweaking to be another great example of what can be done when you have questionable elements.

But there are cases such as The Great Escape where it's advertised as 5.1, but it's just mono repurposed to 6 channels, when you have no stereo elements I can't see or hear the point of doing this..

M
 

Phil_O

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I was a disappointed in the Pulp Fiction DTS mix. Saw this a few weeks ago, and IMO there was no reason to even include the DTS track, ie no "big" special effects, special ambience effects or anything.

Awesome movie though.
 

Robert Harris

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"Vertigo" is fine in music and dialogue. Too many effects were added (improperly), and Foley needs to be toned down.

RAH
 

Ken_McAlinden

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You have probably covered this before, but I cannot remember the answer. Foley issues completely aside, did the folks who did the remix for the restoration have a usable isolated dialog track? If they did not, the fact that I have to ask the question should be considered a compliment to them.

Keeping the discussion going, I am of the opinion that all of the 5.1 remixes that were done for Warner's last iteration of the Stanley Kubrick Collection are darn near perfect. I imagine "The Shining" must have been very difficult with all of the edit pieces integrated into the music track, but it manages to keep the flavor of the original mix while opening up the soundstage and improving the fidelity and dynamic range.

Regards,
 

Patrick McCart

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While it's adapted from a 70mm 6-track magnetic mix, my personal favorite 5.1 remix is Warner's Around the World in 80 Days (1956). Between the fidelity being virtually perfect and the directional sound... wow.

Disney did an incredible job on Snow White, Dumbo, and Bambi for their 5.1 tracks. However, I can't stand the Mary Poppins 5.1 (the original 2.0 stereo is fantastic). I also don't care for the 5.1 remix for Some Like It Hot (on the original 1-disc SE)... too echoey. The old 5.1 track on Gone with the Wind was hard to listen to, but I like the 4-disc SE's much better.
 

JimTravis

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Disney's 5.1 remixes are just mono spread over five channels, except for Bedknobs and Broomsticks, where they went back to the multichannel music stems and the mono dialogue and effects stems and mixed them together. Why can't they do this for other films?

I thought the Disney 5.1 mix on titles like Bambi, Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Lady and the Tramp (etc etc.) were wonderful. I think the philosophy there was to give you the experience of hearing these classic films the way they would sound now in a theater, NOT how the films would sound if they were engineered today. The Mary Poppins 5.1 mix is awful because it tries to modernize the soundtrack with new foley f/x, "de-hissing", and similar tricks. Bambi is flat-out gorgeous, because you get the score support in the rear channels with the dialog and f/x in the front, just as it should be for a film 60 years old.

One example of a "modernized" 5.1 remix by Disney is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It retains its original theatrical sensibility while opening up the soundtrack for LFE f/x. There are some new localized stereo examples that can be jarring, but on the whole, its a gem (much like the movie and the DVD).
 

MatthewA

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Some of these were stereo originally. I had forgotten about these remixes, but I agree that they are not bad. The bad ones I mean are things like Vault Disney remixes of mono into 5.1 fat mono. Either remix it right or don't do it at all.

BTW, I have not bought the Little Mermaid because of the horrid remix.
 

JimTravis

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I bought it, but haven't spun it yet. I've bought an insane amount of discs this last month that I haven't heard yet.
 

Jeff Jacobson

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The Transformers DVD Season Sets made by Rhino had horrible 5.1 remixes. They just added in a bunch of really lame sound effects that quite frequently drowned out the dialogue.
 

walter o

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I read there is some sound effects missing in the recent TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE's 5.1 mix.
 

Joe Caps

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Vertigo I thought was a complete mess, so I was delighted when Universal reissued vertigo in their Hitchcock box with the original mono mix.

My Fair lady still lacks good sound and yes I know the masters are missing, etc. However, if lack of high end is a problem, you dont' help it by pumping up bass, filter ing more high end and ending loads of reverb to all the music.


Camelot - Warners had a great idea - take a mix nominated for an Academy award for best sound - that was originally stereo to begin with. Then remix from scratch, even when told by the original soundmixer that not all the elements exist to do such a job.
No problem, we'll just use some alternate and incorrect tracks and who will be the wiser? ;
This atrosity has never been fixed.
 

Brendon

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Given the number of classic animated Disney films, I'm suprised that Fantasia hasn't been mentioned. The 5,1 tracks, both DD & DTS, are wonderful. I suspect it helped no end that the original 'Fantasound' system was multichannel; whilst the Fantasound channel configuration/placement may not map precisely onto modern 5.1 systems (3/2/.1), the 5.1 remix of Fantasia does prove to be a significant step up from previous Dolby Surround mixes.

EDIT: Deems Taylor narration issues not withstanding!
 

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