Queen's "A Night at the Opera" - Which one shall be "The Definitive Edition"?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Javier_Huerta, Jun 12, 2002.

  1. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    I'm sure there are many Queen fans out there. And I'm very sure someone has already made this comparison before.
    Since I just received my DVD-A of ANatO, I thought it would be interesting to see if anyone has any outstanding opinions about it, as well as comparing it to the rest of the ANatO remasters. As far as I know, I'm missing two major releases: the UK Remasters (were they issued by Capitol? Can't remember) and the Japanese Remasters.
    Here are the editions I have for comparison:
    - Hollywood Records remastered edition (1991).
    - Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab UltraDisc II (1991).
    - Digital Compact Classics (2000).
    - DTS DVD-A (2002) (which I could only listen to in DTS 96/24).
    First impressions:
    Hollywood Records' edition is the worst of them all, by far. No contest here. Try listening to the ending bars of '39. You will be surprised to hear the tape warbling and then suddenly almost dropping out. To call this a "remaster" is certainly being generous to it, since this is *not*, by any means, a master tape. Bass is loose, highs are shrill, and the entire recording sounds as if it was recorded back in '75. Oh, wait. It was [​IMG]
    MoFi's version is a lot better, by comparison. If I remember correctly, this version was recorded from a master tape Brian May had stored in his personal collection. If he actually was involved in the DTS surround sound mix, maybe he re-used this tape again. Highly doubtful, though. Sound quality is a bit better - bass goes deeper, is a lot more controlled, and the whole thing sounds a bit nicer, but not by a lot. Thankfully, there are no tape drop-outs or any other extraneous noises. Distortion is readily apparent on the Bohemian Rhapsody track.
    DCC's remastered edition is the one I haven't used a lot. Bass is completely explosive, taut and fast. I'm surprised, actually, at the difference between the MoFi edition and this one - it's a lot bassier. Maybe an EQ was involved. Then again, maybe not. The album is a bit clearer than the MoFi, and distortion is more noticeable.
    DTS' "remake" has me thinking. A lot. Do you like the Mini Cooper, or the "New" Mini Cooper? Well, that's the difference I see between DTS' version and the rest of them. I can't understand why DTS can't leave well enough alone. They simply destroyed "De doo doo doo, de da da da" on the Every Breath you Take DTS CD, as well as "Every little thing she does is magic". They remind me of the Hollywood remasters where songs are "ruined by Rick Rubin". Leave well enough alone, I say. Still, Roy Thomas Baker (the original producer) and Brian May (Queen's guitarist) were involved in the new mixes, so I decided to give them a try.
    What a difference. No, really. I'm tempted to say many parts were actually re-recorded, since they are *so* clear. Death on two legs (dedicated to...) is a completely different sounding track. The cleanest of them all, with a lot more separation, sweet, smooth highs, and best of all, the layering.
    Now, many people believe that DTS has worse-sounding audio than a CD. Why? "Because the sound is compressed!", they will cry out. Listen here... I respect your stance on uncompressed audio, and I support it fully. But you can't argue with physics here. A 128 KB/sec MP3 file will sound better than a same sized file using uncompressed PCM sound. Period. Likewise, my experience with DTS encoded CDs is that they almost always (with the exception of the terrible "Days of Future Passed" DTS Music Disc) sound better than the PCM CD. So I do believe DTS Audio Discs can and sound better than their PCM counterparts.
    Still, I don't know about this one. Bohemian Rhapsody, although being mock opera, sounds completely unrealistic. Which might be a good thing, after all, the original mix was made by splicing the record over the left and right channels. I'm sure the gang would have mixed it in surround sound given the chance. But to reinterpret a classic... bad idea. Remixing the songs, adding new sound snippets (choruses, for example, are a lot more apparent in lots of tracks) and generally altering the product are the reason I cannot state whether this is a better product than the DCC or MoFi discs. The previous ones are the real thing. The DTS album might just be a novelty. Just like the new Mini might only be a passing fad. Only time will tell, I think.
     
  2. Brian Glaeske

    Brian Glaeske Stunt Coordinator

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    Why are you blaming DTS for the mix? They didn't engineer it themselves.

    Blame the engineer.
     
  3. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    I was talking about DTS as a publishing label, not on a personal level or anything.

    Besides, ANatO was mixed by none other than Roy Thomas Baker and Brian May, so if I tried to blame them, I would be blaming a couple of very succesful guys.
     
  4. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Javier, I have all the versions of A Night at the Opera you listed plus the original UK EMI CD (released before the album was available on CD in the US). In every version, I hear quite a bit of static in "Bohemian Rhapsody". The static is most obvious on the DVD-Audio disc (considering the stereo track here), presumably because it is the higher-resolution version.
     
  5. Micahel C

    Micahel C Stunt Coordinator

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    Javier, Just one other small point. If you're going to do comparisons then you should be using the best that each disc offers. While the dts version may or may not sound good to you, it is still a compressed format and doesn't compare to the MLP tracks.
     
  6. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Micahel, absolutely. In my comments above about the DVD-Audio disc, I was referring to the stereo DVD-Audio track (24/96).
     
  7. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    Keith, unfortunately I cannot listen to the disc on DVD-A, since I don't own the player. Anyway, it would be an apples to oranges comparison, since the mix is completely different on both versions. There is no way to compare them both.

    OTOH, I could compare the stereo track. But I think it's 48/20, not 96/24.

    The static you hear on Bohemian Rhapsody is actually the original tapes overloading from the overdubs (at least that's what I read Brian May said in one interview - he said there were so many overdubs in it, the tape was distorted and almost destroyed).

    Edit: ANatO is truly a 96/24 disc. My player was downsampling to 48 KHz - that's the reason the DAC indicated that frequency.
     
  8. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Javier, thanks for the information on "Bohemian Rhapsody". That's a shame to the nth degree. [​IMG]
     
  9. John Geelan

    John Geelan Screenwriter

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    I really like the new DTS/DVDA version and would consider this the definitive ANATO at this point.
    Compared to the cd versions, the new disc has more everything on it, very alive and fun to listen to.
    Highly recommended!
    JohnG[​IMG]
     
  10. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    John, I agree that the DVD-Audio disc is the best version of A Night at the Opera (excluding vinyl since I haven't heard the album on that medium). However, with a high-resolution format, you take the bad with the good, and the distortion on "Bohemian Rhapsody" is much more obvious on the DVD-Audio disc than any of the CDs.
     

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