Sunday, December 18, 2005

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superdisc!

Artist: 3 Doors Down
Title: Live, Away From The Sun
Format: DVD-Video "Superdisc"

Surround Mixes By Ryan Williams and Noel Lee
Mastered by Steve Marcussen

DVD-Audio....Super Audio CD....Dual Disc....Eggo Waffle (ok, just kidding on that one)...consumers can be confused to death by all the different surround formats (and in the case of some Dual Discs, NON-surround formats!). Different players needed, some discs incompatible .....CALGON, TAKE ME AWAY! However, nothing is simpler or more readily available than the plain old DVD player. Everbody has one! So along comes Monster, the company better known for interconnects and speaker cable, to try and bring some calm and some much needed value to the surround picture! Ladies and Gentleman....SUPERDISC! Essentially a DVD-video disc, but with so many goodies packed into it the thing might explode! This concert DVD by safe-rockers 3 Doors Down features:

A Stereo track

Dolby 5.1 "In The Audience" track (music in the front, crowd and ambiance in the rears)

Dolby 5.1 and DTS 5.1 "On Stage Mix" (discrete surround mix)

Dolby Headphone Surround music files (AAC and WMA)

Along with other extras and Home Theater Performance tips. Quite the bang for the buck!

The music: 3 Doors Down are a non-offensive hard rock band that are perfect for Clear Channel. It's music that Frank Zappa might have described as "safe for white teens and their even whiter parents!". The band plays their big hits Kryptonite, When I'm Gone and Here Without You to a very clean looking audience made up of everything from toddlers to teens to old fogies. The band plays with great energy and come across much better in a live setting than in the studio where they are slightly more glossy sounding. Kudos to them for a very professional stage presentation and for seeming to truly care about the audience. The music is maybe a bit more "Mom and apple pie" than I prefer, but the band's onstage presence made it enjoyable.
Score: 7/10

The mix: I initially tried the "In The Audience" mix for a minute or two, then started over and went for the DTS "On Stage" mix. It was like going from black and white to Technicolor! The sound opened up nicely, with guitars coming from everywhere, drums spread across the fronts and rears and vocals seeming to come from just in front of the center channel. Very enjoyable mix! I didn't even think about going back to the "Audience" mix again, and probably never will. All live surround mixes need to be this good!
Score: 9/10

The sound: Very clear and detailed sound, if just a bit bright and lacking some nice bottom end growl. Drums were punchy and clear, vocals very present and guitars had a good crunch but could have their top end shaved off a bit.
Score: 8/10

Overall: 8.5/10

Save for a few cheesy moments ( a toddler coming on stage, THANKFULLY with ear protection!), and some U-S-A, U-S-A Rah Rah patriotism that seemed too contrived, this was a very enjoyable disc and I hope Monster continues to do more. Check for further info and releases.

Let's keep em coming, Monster! Maybe Sony and Universal will wake from their surround slumber!


At 8:50 PM, Blogger Marty said...

Has anyone been able to try out the Dolby Headphone mix? I'm curious to see how it compares to the discrete surround mixes. I'll have to get this disc based on your review now, even though it's sanitized Clear Channel(tm) approved.

I hope Monster finds success with this effort as SOMEONE needs to provide multichannel discs for those of us who can't get enough. Here's hoping they release better titles though (i.e. something I like! :^) Besides, by overcharging for their cables at Best Buy and Circuit City they should have enough $$$ to finance ventures like this!


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