Monday, July 17, 2006

Mary Chain DualDiscs Don't Suck

JaMC - Christ DarklandsThis weekend I learned from an informative soul on the Some Candy Talking message board that the new Mary Chain DualDiscs do in fact have high resolution (24-bit/96 kHz) DVD-Audio on their flip side. So in a service to you, dear reader, I made it a mission to go out and purchase all five new releases.

Quick conclusion: good stuff if you have a DVD-A player. The high resolution layer does three things right:
  1. It is no louder than CDs that were made about 15-20 years ago.
  2. The sound is less harsh in the high end.
  3. The low end/bass is tighter and has more definition.
The CD layer, however, is much louder than the DVD-A layer, so even though there's probably some improved clarity over the original CDs, it's probably less dynamic, there's a greater liklihood of sound clipping, and it's more tiring on the ears.

The discs also include videos (usually for the singles off of the designated album), a Dolby Digital Stereo mix of the album, on-screen lyrics, and about four pages of new liner notes.

Conclusion? Perhaps DualDiscs don't suck as much as I orignally said they did. First, it seems most of the DualDiscs that have the lamer 16-bit/48 kHz audio are actually Sony ones, so they don't directly compete with their SACD format. Second, yes, these things don't work in a lot of regular CD players and usually that layer is mastered too loud, but so what? If they release high quality DVD-Audio content on the flip side, then people like me can be happy, and the people who don't care about sound quality can listen to the other side and "be happy".

Considering the fact that the DVD-A and SACD sections in Best Buy and Circuit City seem to be going away, this may be the best option to keep high quality audio alive.


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