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DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Little Mermaid - Disappointingly NOT Recommended (1 Viewer)

Felix Martinez

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I will greatly miss reading David's reviews here. Hopefully, the new gig will allow for the usual, wondrously insane level of detailed analysis ;) Good luck, we'll miss you!!
 

ScottR

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Can someone please tell me if this edition contains the original end credits with the Part of Your World instrumental (with chorus) or the re-release version with a reprise of Jodi's solo and Dolby Digital credit. If you watch the original dvd with the French or Spanish, you can hear the original version.
 

DaViD Boulet

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Hey everyone,

thanks for the kind words about my reviews. Rest assured I intend to stay an active member of HTF and contribute to discussion as usual... including sharing my thoughts about AV quality in the appropriate threads so you'll still be hearing from me. ;)



You know, I never actually kicked on the image from the laserdisc... just the sound. Pretty sly of me syncing up all that audio to the DVD video without even seeing the LD picture!

In any case, if memory serves me correctly, the older DVD, aside from some MPEG noise, was a pretty good representation of what was on the LD (I have a Pioneer Elite CLD 99 which is "good" but not the best LD image by a long shot... but better than the average LD user). I'm sure that the new DVD beats the pants off the LD image hands down. That's not a question...

Regarding audio, the original DVD's 5.1 mix, IMO, was the best choice out of all options. Second would have been the 2.0 LPCM on the LD, 3rd the 5.1 AC3 on the LD, and fourth this new DEHT mix.

Usually I prefer 2.0 LPCM over AC3 but in some cases the discrete mixing on the AC3 really serves the mix better despite slight loss of fidelity with the DD compression. This was the case with the 5.1 mix on the older DVD compared to the LPCM 2.0 mix on the LD. I had a similar experience with the Hello Dolly LD which had a 5.1 AC3 mix that sounded much better (less muddy) than the 2.0 LPCM mix on the same media. Sometimes that's not the case... the Lion King LD's LPCM track kicked the AC3's butt.
 

RobertSiegel

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Ok, I finally watched the Little Mermaid (which I picked up because I heard much praise about the xtras, and everyone was right, GREAT extras disc.

I agree with some of the posters here. The mix sounds way too "clean." If this is their idea of "digital sound" I'll take Analog anyday. Theres a big difference from the first dvd. It sounds as if they took the separate tracks (voice, sound effects,ect) and remixed them to such an extent that I don't even really hear the orchestral invisible sound field, which was very prevelant on older classics in stereo. So many sounds are way too much right or left and completely isolated. The mix on the first dvd was a pleasure. This one sounds to me like every time there is an instrument or sound effect, it's isolated instead of giving a "mixed and full sound." I am totally against the Disney Home Theater mix and was appauled at their HTmix for Mary Poppins. But at least with that disc, they gave us the original soundtrack, unfortunately in Dolby Surround and not 3.0 or 4.0, whichever it was originally. As I said before in an earlier post, I lost my respect for Disney when they released all those classic live-action films in pan and scan. Take ONE AND ONLY GENUINE ORIGINAL FAMILY BAND> They went to the trouble of an audio commentary, yet didn't release the film in its original aspect ratio. Aside from that, the transfer is awful. And since it is a musical, if it wasn't released in stereo originally (Joe Caps said it wasn't) then why not remix at least the songs for stereo. It has a great Sherman Brothers score. Then there was the Happiest Millionaire. The first edition on Anchor Bay was beautiful (even if not enhanced for 16:9). No edge enhancement and a full sounding sound. Then Disney released it with so much edge enhancement it's almost unwatchable, and the soundtrack sounds terrible. The same is true for MOST of the live-action Disney classics. That's why I never bought any of them.

I don't find the picture of Little Mermaid as bad as some have said. I do see the softness though. It's better than the original picture. It's just sad to see Disney doing this to their most beloved titles. Why only a home theater mix? I am making a complaint on the phone number provided in an earlier post and I urge everyone to do the same. We all know they will do nothing, but maybe the responses will stick in their minds (though I doubt it) when they release the next classic. I hope we don't have to suffer through their mixes for the high def versions.
 

MatthewA

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I hope that if I do call Disney they won't tag me as "the nutcase who called about The Golden Girls a few months ago claiming two episodes were edited". Sometimes I wonder if that hotline has any effect.
 

DaViD Boulet

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Yeah,

to anyone (and I hope everyone is) calling that hotline...

be sure to present yourself as a "normal" DVD collector... not as an extremist HT enthusiast who's on the outer-fringe of their market-audience.

Say things like "my family and I always prefer the original soundtrack because we like to listen to the movies the way they were made". Don't tell them about your fancy HT gear or that your a member of an esoteric HT web forum. Just the basics... about what you and your family prefer...
 

[email protected]

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I'm glad to see threads like this, even if I've already purchased the product.

This reminds me a bit of the snafu with the first Tarzan disc where the surrounds were reversed (unless I'm getting that mixed-up).

I watched the 1-disc DVD version, never noticed, and only read about it later.

Then recently, I purchased another used Tarzan as a gift for nephew.

Comparing the boxes, I realized that the recent purchase was the new Tarzan SE (with fixed 5.1 sound).

Guess which copy my nephew got?

So, maybe the future will hold a better version of Mermaid me as well.
 

cafink

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This is the first I've heard of any audio problems on Tarzan. Exactly which DVD was affected? I have the original 2-disc special edition (with the sparse "sketch" art on the cover). Does this release have an audio problem?
 

Joseph Bolus

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I believe the problem was restricted to the single disc release (which was the very first 16:9 enhanced disc that Disney ever released.)

As I recall, the problem was that the left front channel was reproduced in the left rear on the included DD 5.1 track. I think the original 2-disc didn't have this problem, but the mix was just DD 5.0.
 

cafink

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Carl Fink
Now that you mention it, I do remember hearing about this issue. Since the 2-disc release that I had was unaffected, I let it slip from my memory.

Thanks for the information.
 

Lyle_JP

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Oct 5, 2000
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Well, I just did my own comparison of 5 different Little Mermaid soundtracks. I used the same scene in all of them, the "Part of Your World" reprise with Ariel on the rock. I was looking for which mix best represented the vocals. I also used the title sequence to see which had the best orchestral sound field.

Here are my results, from best to worst:

THX LD PCM: Yup, this was a clear winner in the powerful vocals department. The orchestra sounds simply delightful as well, and sound really fills the room without ever sounding gimmicky.

Original LD PCM: Believe it or not, this came in at number two. The orchestra didn't sound quite as warm, but the vocals were spot on. The orchestra in the title sequence actually almost sounded better than all the other mixes. The cymbal crashes have so much more power and presence towards the end, and they are tuned way down in every other mix. Alas, the whole soundtrack is mixed too hot, and frequently clips. If it hadn't been for that, this track would have won the contest hands down. It sounds exactly like the mix I heard in 1989 (and yes, I do remember. When you here something 5 times a day, 5 days a week, for 6 weeks straight, you remember what it sounds like forever!).

Original DVD 5.1: I believe this might be the same sound mix as the 5.1 laserdisc, but the higher bitrate DVD affords allowed for there to be less high-frequency roll-off. Most of the mix sounds nearly identical between the two, except for the lack of highs. I liked this mix a lot, but there is something a little wrong with the vocals. There is a tinge of harshness to them, a sort of shrill quality. I didn't hear it on the PCM tracks. Otherwise, this 5.1 track is a lot of fun. Definitely the best multi-channel version.

THX LD 5.1: This mix is made from the 1997 re-release Dolby Digital soundtrack heard in theaters. It's an active fun track like the DVD counterpart, but in Ariel's singing there is quite obviously some high-frequency roll-off. Otherwise, this mix holds up well. It's not a bad 5.1 mix by any stretch, but doesn't hold a candle to the PCM 2 track mix found on the same disc.

New DVD 5.1: What the hell happened here?!? Ariel's vocals have been completely destroyed. It's more than just high-frequency roll-off. There is almost a nasal quality to the singing now, as if Ariel had a clothespin on her nose. That and the fact that it sounds like someone threw a wet towel over the microphone while it was being recorded. Just sad. The picture quality problems that some have complained about I did not see, however. This looked really good, certainly much better than either laser incarnation. But I don't think I'll watch it much.

The Little Mermaid is, first and foremost to me, a musical. As such, the accurate reproduction of the singing performances is key, and most of the 5.1 tracks do not measure up at all.

-Lyle J.P.
 

DaViD Boulet

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Amen.

I'll have to see if I have the THX LD or not. My LD is a single-CLV disc with the AC3 soundtrack. Any idea which one that would correspond with in your listening session?
 

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