QUEEN A Night At The Opera DVD-AUDIO Review by David Tolsky When 5.1 channel surround sound music mixes first made their way onto the scene, there were several bands that came to mind that I felt could truly benefit from the extra discreet channels. Keep in mind that most of my radio listening and concert going occurred from the mid 70’s and through the 80’s. My personal short list of Pop/Rock groups that, to me, have real potential in the digital surround sound realm include (in no particular order) Pink Floyd, Yes, Electric Light Orchestra, pre-‘80’s Genesis and Queen. I’m sure there are others, but I know that the creative instrumentals and vocals of these bands would provide some unique listening experiences in 5.1 After a delay, the much anticipated Queen title, A Night At The Opera, makes its way into music stores in April. Let me tell you, this disc is worth the wait. This is probably the best surround mix for music I’ve ever heard, and that includes Alan Parsons On Air DTS and the Steely Dan concert DVD. A Night At the Opera is a popular title from the 70’s and is responsible for such memorable hits as “You’re My Best Friend” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I couldn’t just sit down and pretend I’ve never heard it before. Instead, I approached this familiar album looking for a more enjoyable and much improved listening experience. I got more than I bargained for, and I’m not even set up for DVD-audio yet! I listened to the DTS 5.1 track that plays on any DVD player--in this case, my Pioneer DV-414. Don’t forget, this is DVD-Audio we’re talking about, so we’re treated to some visuals along with our audio. In this case, from the menu screen we get the following choices: TRACKS, VIDEO, GALLERY, LYRICS, CREDITS, DTS STORY, and AUDIO OPTIONS. After choosing the DTS 5.1 Digital Surround option from the AUDIO screen, the first thing I did was listen to the tracks. Automatically, I was shown the lyrics to the opening track, Death On Two Legs. The track began and almost immediately I felt the impact of a great 5.1 re-mix. Piano is heard from the rear surrounds and then Brian May’s screaming guitar blasted from the left main front. Lead singing came in from the center channel. Ah, but when I think of Queen, I think of the signature background vocals that set this band apart. When the music abruptly stopped and those vocals kicked in behind me, I knew that this was going to be a special listening experience. “Seaside Rendezvous,” track #7, is classic Queen: An upbeat, somewhat ragtime song with all the patented Queen staples; dueling piano playing (both standard and electric), great vocals by Freddy Mercury, and cool percussion effects coming from the rear surrounds. I believe the kazoo even makes an appearance from the front left main speaker. This is a fun tune to listen to and it makes very creative use of 5.1 discreet channels. Track #8, Prophets Song, features a voice-only segment that will have your head spinning trying to figure out which speakers the echos are coming from -- lots of fun! For you Bohemian Rhapsody fans, this disc gives you double the pleasure. Not only do you get the audio track but you also get the original music video as seen on MTV, totally re-mixed in 5.1. It’s a real treat for die-hard Queen fans or those younger kids that have just recently discovered the classic tune from “Wayne’s World.” By the time I got to the Bohemian Rhapsody audio track, I had already heard ten songs so I was anxious to hear what 5.1 DTS would do to this classic. “Easy come, easy go” (left and right mains), “A little high” (rear left surround), “little low” (rear right surround), and that brought a smile to my face. In short, the surround sound treatment for this classic song will not disappoint you. Accessing the GALLERY section from the main menu will give you ten photos that you can scroll through with your remote, including close-ups of the band members and concert action shots. Going to LYRICS, you can scroll down the title list and hear a couple of seconds worth of music from each song to jog your memory. Click on the title and up come your lyrics. CREDITS are self explanatory, listing everyone responsible from the original recording to the current re-mix. Finally, you also get a few paragraphs on the DTS STORY, a synopsis of the DTS role in 5.1 music. By the time it was all said and done, I wondered how we, as music enthusiasts, ever put up with a two channel mix for so long. Now if they can just go back and re-mix some classic Yes, Pink Floyd, and ELO…but that’s another issue entirely.