You've lost that mono feeling, now it's gone, gone, gone.

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Bring up colorization and movie fans hit Red Alert. Talk about post-converted 3D and some will say it depends on how well it's done - and there is always the option to stick with the 2D version. Yet I feel like I'm the only one asking for original monophonic soundtracks.

I saw Dirty Harry on Sunday and the sound seemed to be the 5.1 remix done for its DVD release. Sure the music benefited from being spread across the front, and the surrounds were barely used (as far as I could tell - I sit closer than most). But that's not the original soundtrack.

The Exorcist won the Oscar for Best Sound for 1973 with a mono track, yet all the home versions have 5.1 (EX on the Extended Version, f.k.a. The Version You've Never Seen Before). True, the film was remixed by the studio for it's 1979 re-issue in 70mm Dolby 6-Track. And the filmmakers were involved with the extended version soundtrack. But the mono track is lost in the aether (or in Warner Bros. vault). Are we missing a part of film history by remixing all these older titles into stereo and surround sound?

Sound mixing is an art that carefully balances music, sound effects and dialogue, and also takes into account the limitations of a mono sound system in the theater, as well as those of the variable area optical track on 35mm film; that's quite a balancing act. I just wondered if anyone else has any thoughts on this?

Matt
 

Brian McP

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You have a point Matt, and usually the original mono soundtracks are included in most (though not all) dvd and blurays, especially special editions -- but I'm usually a big fan of these stereo remixes as it usually makes these classics more visceral and something new for those who usually know these movies backwards.

For instance, "Dirty Harry" -- I can remember the Dolby remix of the movie on laserdisc (not the wretched 'faux stereo' treatment the first 4 movies got when they first came to laserdisc), it was one of the main selling points of this edition and pretty sure it was the one that first made it to dvd -- the studios restoring these movies for dvd would upgrade the soundtracks to Dolby 5.1 and occasionally dts -- I never minded.

Often the movies would have had stereo soundtracks if they had money for it in the original budget when the picture was made or if stereo was as commonplace as it was after 1977-78.

Admittedly I am surprised at some of the movies that do get this sonic makeover -- I remember the Charlie Chaplin boxset from a few years ago got the full treatment, one of the benefits of never throwing anything out after 60-70 years, including sound stems, I thought. Seeing "The Great Dictator" in 5.1 sound was amazing (but ruined by the PAL motion blur in the NTSC picture, but that's another story) as was "Limelight" and others, all with great music scores. I kind held out hope that one day someone would offer the same treatment to the Laurel and Hardy shorts, highlighting the magnificent scores done by LeRoy Shield and T. Marvin Hatley, but soon found out that we're lucky to even have a picture and any sound for most (and that too, is another story)

I'll admit, often these 5.1 remixes won't exactly endanger the subwoofer in your home theatre -- they're usually pretty thin sounding, based on the original sound materials from the 40s thru 90s and the dynamic range these materials had (even "Earthquake" complete with the Sensurround on the bluray, is just ok: it was the theatre sound systems that were the stars back then) -- but on the whole, I love hearing some star from the past in the middle of these stereo soundscapes. Usually if the studio cleans up the sound, they usually do likewise to the rest of the picture, so I'll never mind seeing the likes of "Singin' In The Rain" or other classics in full stereo (would anyone at MGM have the temerity to ask Woody Allen to give the 5.1 treatment to "Manhattan" for a re-release theatrically or on bluray? Somehow, I think I know why nobody's asked him....)

I must say that I do not like it when soundtracks are replaced in these 5.1 remixes as they somehow sound phony (to me anyway) -- "The Exorcist" is the perfect example as most likely that entire soundtrack was overhauled from the ground up: they were putting it back in theatres in 2000, so start from scratch and it worked. That is one movie that has had a total new sound design -- any others?
 
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SilverWook

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When we do get the mono mixes, they are usually consigned to a low bitrate Dolby track. I still have plenty of Laserdiscs where the mono PCM track blows the DVD or Blu Ray mono tracks out of the water.
 
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SilverWook said:
When we do get the mono mixes, they are usually consigned to a low bitrate Dolby track. I still have plenty of Laserdiscs where the mono PCM track blows the DVD or Blu Ray mono tracks out of the water.
This reminds me of another issue I don't clearly understand. For films from the Dolby Stereo era, why release 2.0 matrix surround tracks on dvd/blu-ray? Why not 4.0? Did studios not preserve the LCRS tracks, only the Lt/Rt? Would the LCRS sound different because they were mixed to compensate for the flaws (limitations) of the matrix encoding & decoding process? I would think discrete beats matrix surround (all else being equal). The films that had 70mm blowups mostly seem to have discrete 4.0 (or 4.1 or 5.1) on disc.
 
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Michael Elliott

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I think it's an excellent point and I've never understood why it didn't gather more debate. I think the main reason it didn't is because people want to fill up their home theater systems and that's the main goal.
 

MatthewA

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What I really dislike are the countless bad attempts to turn mono into stereo. You can hear the telltale signs: it's an unnatural listening experience, and if you put your ears up to the speakers, you'll hear dialogue and effects. My attitude towards this is has always been that if they don't have multi-channel elements necessary to create a true stereo remix, they should leave it alone, but always include the mono mix as an option.

But new computer software has allowed audio engineers to isolate specific sounds to create a more convincing faux-stereo effect on the Blu-ray of Psycho. I hope the technology improves before it becomes widespread.
 

Wayne_j

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The recent showings of Bonnie and Clyde were in mono, but that seems to be the only existing sound mix of that film.
 

Mikael Soderholm

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Jaws, anyone? It won best sound for its mono soundtrack, but on my DVD, there is only a 5.1 remix (which is good, but still).
The 'all my speakers and my whole screen' people, who remix soundtracks, and pan 'n' scan movies in order to utilize all of their HT equipment at all times, really don't deserve any respect at all.
 
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Mikael Soderholm said:
Jaws, anyone? It won best sound for its mono soundtrack, but on my DVD, there is only a 5.1 remix (which is good, but still).
The 'all my speakers and my whole screen' people, who remix soundtracks, and pan 'n' scan movies in order to utilize all of their HT equipment at all times, really don't deserve any respect at all.
Actually, if you upgrade (from DVD) to BluRay, you can indeed get the original mono soundtrack to Jaws, in addition to a well-reviewed 7.1 mix, which is allegedly much more respectfully done than the 5.1 mix first done for DVD many years ago (which added new or replacement sound effects).
 

davidmatychuk

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Regarding "The Exorcist", it was one of the first batch of DVD's issued in 1997 by Warner Home Video (or any other company, for that matter). It was double-sided, with an anamorphic widescreen transfer on one side, and a full-frame transfer on the other. The anamorphic transfer had only a mono soundtrack, while the full-frame transfer had an uncredited-on-the-packaging 5.1 remix, which I noticed immediately by the read-out on my Yamaha DDP-1 Dolby Digital processor. The Dolby Digital mono soundtrack was significantly weaker than the PCM audio on the laserdisc, but playing the DVD for guests, the widescreen transfer was what I showed them (not because I was a mono purist though).
 

Salacious Ackbar

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Matthew Belson_295371 said:
Actually, if you upgrade (from DVD) to BluRay, you can indeed get the original mono soundtrack to Jaws, in addition to a well-reviewed 7.1 mix, which is allegedly much more respectfully done than the 5.1 mix first done for DVD many years ago (which added new or replacement sound effects).
Universal has been pretty good about including mono or stereo tracks on their catalog releases, at least of their big catalog titles like Jaws, Psycho, etc. WB did it for Superman: The Movie too and even including the original stereo track in DTS-HD MA.
 

andySu

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Some TOS STAR TREK with dialogue or sound effects additional new sound effect added to some scenes on DVD region 2 same as the early region 1 DVD late 1998? I amuse.


The laserdisc with original MONO sounds just as good when I play it with bass and mid and highs, better than 2" speaker on a tv decades ago with limited frequency range.


Also have some pre-recorded shows off-air mid 1980's in MONO with reel change over dots and that is plus to see as you won't see them on IP versions.


I did a post somewhere comparing on episode The Galileo Seven. Where I did a thorough listening of the LCRS 5.1 compared to the MONO LD.


A portion of Gaetano scream was bit weaker sounding on the 5.1 and yet a bit more db of the scream on LD.


When, Lieutenant Latimer gets a sphere in the back on the DVD 5.1 you hear a THUMP and then a yell. Well on the LD MONO you see the sphere thrown then a, Yell as Latimer, falls down.


I heard rumors the bluray has MONO mix included so is there a THUMP effect when Latimer, gets a sphere in the back or is it, with just the yell as I feel the bluray is not worth buying and frankly I'd sooner keep the TOS LD and off-air shows and DVD, as my phaser banks are exhausted to give Paramount Pictures, another £20.00.
 

Bryan Tuck

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davidmatychuk said:
Regarding "The Exorcist", it was one of the first batch of DVD's issued in 1997 by Warner Home Video (or any other company, for that matter). It was double-sided, with an anamorphic widescreen transfer on one side, and a full-frame transfer on the other. The anamorphic transfer had only a mono soundtrack, while the full-frame transfer had an uncredited-on-the-packaging 5.1 remix, which I noticed immediately by the read-out on my Yamaha DDP-1 Dolby Digital processor. The Dolby Digital mono soundtrack was significantly weaker than the PCM audio on the laserdisc, but playing the DVD for guests, the widescreen transfer was what I showed them (not because I was a mono purist though).
Actually, the widescreen side had a stereo soundtrack, and I'm pretty sure both it and the 5.1 on the other side were taken from the 1979 remix. However, the 5.1 on the 25th Anniverary DVD and on the Blu-ray seems to have been made from the original mono, and is really only slightly expanded into the other channels. I'm not 100% certain on all this, but from what I can tell it makes the most sense.


The 6.1 on the Extended Version was a pretty sizeable overhaul, with numerous additions and adjustments throughout.
 

davidmatychuk

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Bryan Tuck said:
Actually, the widescreen side had a stereo soundtrack, and I'm pretty sure both it and the 5.1 on the other side were taken from the 1979 remix. However, the 5.1 on the 25th Anniverary DVD and on the Blu-ray seems to have been made from the original mono, and is really only slightly expanded into the other channels. I'm not 100% certain on all this, but from what I can tell it makes the most sense.


The 6.1 on the Extended Version was a pretty sizeable overhaul, with numerous additions and adjustments throughout.
You're right about the audio being stereo on the widescreen side of that early DVD, but it really sounded weak compared to the laserdisc's stereo surround audio. That probably explains my confusion. I must say that after watching and listening to "The Exorcist" for over 40 years in theatres and at home, I prefer the original version with as close to the original mono soundtrack as possible over any of the many variations.
 

Everett S.

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MatthewA said:
What I really dislike are the countless bad attempts to turn mono into stereo. You can hear the telltale signs: it's an unnatural listening experience, and if you put your ears up to the speakers, you'll hear dialogue and effects. My attitude towards this is has always been that if they don't have multi-channel elements necessary to create a true stereo remix, they should leave it alone, but always include the mono mix as an option.


But new computer software has allowed audio engineers to isolate specific sounds to create a more convincing faux-stereo effect on the Blu-ray of Psycho. I hope the technology improves before it becomes widespread.
I liked Psycho in 5.1 .
 

andySu

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Psycho (1960) DVD region 2 box-set








The opening looks like a NTSC tv set. Where did this part of the Paramount mountain come from as the rest of the film doesn't have large scan lines though it.





The aspect ratio looks like someone at Paramount was drunk and fell over on the control panel and hit scope 2.35:1 :lol: The camera has tinted the B&W I was thinking of selecting B&W on the camera.


Checked on imdb, open matt and the THX signature collection laserdisc is 1.85:1 and all other laserdisc full screen.








The mono sound mix sounds nice a bit low level but its audible and clear with effects dialogue and music.


The curtain being pulled is a little underneath the score that proceeds with the chiller shower scene and the scream is a little above the score.


Would be interesting to turn the colour down on Psycho '98 and select mono and see how it plays? I liked '98 version thou many with mother may not share the same thoughts. :P
 

Rick Thompson

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At least it isn't as bad as those "Rechanneled for Stereo" releases back in the LP days. I particularly remember one issue of the 1949 cast album of South Pacific. It was, of course, in mono, but they did things like moving the sound (orchestra and all) from side to the other on duets where one person sang and then the other did. All one could say was, "Ack!"


In video we've had colorization, redoing 2-D films into artificial 3-D and other such gadgetry. I don't want any of it. Do what you must to make them presentable (dirt and scratch removal, audio cleanup, etc.), but leave the films the way they were shot.
 

John Maher_289910

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The only film that comes to mind where I did not like the stereo remix of an originally released mono soundtrack, is DRESSED TO KILL, with its lousy 5.1 mix, that makes mincemeat of Pino Donaggio's incredible score. Otherwise, I prefer stereo to mono, every time.
 

SilverWook

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Andy, that stylized Paramount logo is obviously part of Saul Bass' title design. It's on the Blu Ray in any case.
 

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