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Discussion: Simple Minds: Sparkle in the Rain

Posts: 60
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Post by fredblue March 20, 2015 (11 of 60)
Ear said:

I read two reviews on amazon Germany, with complains that Jims voice was barely audible and with center speaker and rears dominating the mix.
I cannont verify that, since I have no surround speakers at the time of writing.

Ok, thank you.

5.1 user setup issues, I suspect.. but I will check the finished product later today.

Post by Ear March 22, 2015 (12 of 60)
Please post your experiences, when you can :)

Post by sylvian March 23, 2015 (13 of 60)
Currently listenin to PCM surround:

Very good dynamics and the 5.1mix is also impressive - some backing vocals & guitars & keyboards in the rears if you do not mind them. Still far away from some SA-CD releases (e.g.DSOTM). Rather punchy sound is fine with me, it is rock music, init?

Funny thing is that when the album in one codec ends the other codec starts at once and you can hear the whole thing again ! :-)))

Post by onenairb March 24, 2015 (14 of 60)
sylvian said:

Currently listenin to PCM surround:

Very good dynamics and the 5.1mix is also impressive - some backing vocals & guitars & keyboards in the rears if you do not mind them. Still far away from some SA-CD releases (e.g.DSOTM). Rather punchy sound is fine with me, it is rock music, init?

Funny thing is that when the album in one codec ends the other codec starts at once and you can hear the whole thing again ! :-)))

Agree with Sylvian.

Would also add I have not noticed any issues with Jims voice in the surround mix which really opens up the sound stage compared to the stereo.

Also listened again to 'New Gold Dream' and 'Once Upon A Time' DVDA's in 5.1 which I would highly recommend if you have the budget. IMHO Simple Minds sound best in 5.1.

Post by ProfBoz March 24, 2015 (15 of 60)
fredblue said:

Ok, thank you.

5.1 user setup issues, I suspect.. but I will check the finished product later today.

There might be faulty discs out there, then. I seem to have one. The 5.1 mix on my copy is horrendous. Like others have said, the center vocal channel is mixed too low. And no, this is not a set up issue. I have half a dozen blu-ray 5.1 discs, including all the new Yes ones not to mention Steve Wilson's 5.1 mix of Tears for Fears "Songs from the Big Chair," and the center channel is fine on all of those. But there are worse problems. "Waterfront" is a travesty. The huge keyboard/percussion chords that crash down are completely screwed up here: it's as if the sound were passed through some sort of reverse channel so that instead of exploding outward, the sound folds in upon itself. The same issue plagues the "New Steve Wilson Stereo" version of "Waterfront," which I am convinced is a fold down to mono. This is the 5.1 equivalent of duophonc stereo, and I can only assume my disc was from a run of faulty mastered versions. I've written Universal and I'm also keeping my eye on Steve Hoffman. But if your version doesn't have the same problems on "Waterfront" that mine does, then it's clear you got a good disc. Otherwise, there's no way to miss the mixing disaster on that song. It can't possibly be intentional.

Post by sylvian March 25, 2015 (16 of 60)
Mine copy bears the year of release "2014" which is proof that the disc and printed matter is prepared long ago before the actual release date.

Minor issue is also that original Cover and also CD-booklet & insert has been made with 5 colors printer, but HFPA booklet and insert is plain CMYK. (The fifth color of the original cover is Golden).

Concerning backing vocals: I have not written that it is Jimmy Kerr in the rears. He can be heard from the center speaker only (similar to Elton John mixes of his 70s albums on SA-CD.) the voices from the rears are someone elses definitely.

Nevertheless this mix surpasses the other two SIMPLE MINDS previous surround mixes released 10 ya.

Post by Rickko March 27, 2015 (17 of 60)
I received my copy of Sparkle in the Rain today.

I can confirm there is a problem with the Stereo mix as it is collapsed into Mono.

I did my initial listen to the 5.1 mix in LPCM 96k 24Bit. Steven Wilson's mix is excellent but there is an issue: the vocals sound pushed back in the mix. I encountered this same issue with Songs From the Big Chair (SFTBC) that I referenced in my posted review a few months ago. I adjusted my centre channel by +2.5 db to compensate for the vocals in SFTBC.

I made the same adjustment to the centre channel on Sparkle with a boost of + 3 db to increase the vocals. A small adjustment allowed me to thoroughly enjoy an outstanding 5.1 mix.

I am not alone in bringing up the matter of the vocals for Steven Wilson's mix for both albums. There have been discussions on other forums so it was quite interesting to see a post under 'Sparkle in the Rain Separating Fact from Fiction' by the moniker of rtbluray on Quadraphonic Forum. His analysis provided a feasible explanation (at least for me) about this occurrence in regard to the vocals in the centre channel. He based his comments on his Master's Project on Surround Mixing. He postulates that (quote) "Digital Audio Workstations do not compensate for pan law when going from phantom center to the center channel". He goes on to say that for working on his mixes for his Masters Project required adding around + 3 db to the lead vocal in moving from phantom centre to centre channel.....for the vocals to be consistent.

This poster rtbluray also indicated he has interviewed Steven Wilson who does not make this type of compensation.

Another common factor between SFTBC and Sparkle mentioned in this post is both albums used a lot of reverb that increases spacial qualities that could impact vocals.

Sure there are other factors to consider. I look at calibration of the listeners system or perhaps personal preferences where vocals do not appear to be a problem for some.

Anyways for me, the analysis provided a plausible explanation.

Post by rammiepie March 27, 2015 (18 of 60)
Rickko.....I have been "sharply" criticized on this site for NOT having a center channel (in my MAIN system). I have a 4.2 system with full range speakers.

I have also read that a LOT of mixers have NO clue what to do with a center channel when folding multitracks into 5.1.

Sparkle In The Rain is enroute so cannot comment on that but the 5.1 DVD~A of Songs From The Big Chair sounds magnificent on my system.

Lest we forget, 5.1 was developed for movie theaters and was later incorporated for music and my theory is unless you have three matching speakers in the front (whether they be full range or satellites), there will be an INEQUITY of sound in that center channel.

If one has to boost either center or rears for maximum sonic enjoyment with each individual disc then there is something inherently wrong.....either with the system (mismatched speakers) or, of course, the disc itself.

I have almost ALL of the Steve Wilson 5.1 remasters.....and with 4.2 (NO Center) NEVER had an issue with what I have read is inherently wrong with SW remixes as relates to the center channel...

BTW, as Wilson himself has posted......when listening to STEREO....you're actually listening to multichannel meaning the phantom center IS the third speaker....provided your l/r fronts are PERFECTLY imaged.

My advice: try disengaging the center channel when listening to SW 5.1 remixes and hear for yourself if it ameliorates the problem with diffuse or echoey vocal tracks.

Post by Rickko March 27, 2015 (19 of 60)
rammiepie said:

Rickko.....I have been "sharply" criticized on this site for NOT having a center channel (in my MAIN system). I have a 4.2 system with full range speakers.

.......

If one has to boost either center or rears for maximum sonic enjoyment with each individual disc then there is something inherently wrong.....either with the system (mismatched speakers) or, of course, the disc itself.

I have almost ALL of the Steve Wilson 5.1 remasters.....and with 4.2 (NO Center) NEVER had an issue with what I have read is inherently wrong with SW remixes as relates to the center channel...

BTW, as Wilson himself has posted......when listening to STEREO....you're actually listening to multichannel meaning the phantom center IS the third speaker....provided your l/r fronts are PERFECTLY imaged.

My advice: try disengaging the center channel when listening to SW 5.1 remixes and hear for yourself if it ameliorates the problem with diffuse or echoey vocal tracks.

rammpie,

Good to hear you are pleased with your system.

In my referencing the vocals pushed back in the mix on SFTBC and Sparkle, a simple increase of +3db resolved any issue for me and made for a great 5.1 mix.
A very simple fix.

Your advice (unsolicited) is for me to monkey around with my system by disengaging my centre channel? ReallY?

As for making adjustments to my system, I rarely tweak anything except for the sub-bass (occassionally shut-off). As for the centre channel, it has been adjusted only twice over several years (guess which 2 albums for the 5.1 mix).

Post by rammiepie March 27, 2015 (20 of 60)
Rickko said:

rammpie,

Good to hear you are pleased with your system.

In my referencing the vocals pushed back in the mix on SFTBC and Sparkle, a simple increase of +3db resolved any issue for me and made for a great 5.1 mix.
A very simple fix.

Your advice (unsolicited) is for me to monkey around with my system by disengaging my centre channel? ReallY?

As for making adjustments to my system, I rarely tweak anything except for the sub-bass (occassionally shut-off). As for the centre channel, it has been adjusted only twice over several years (guess which 2 albums for the 5.1 mix).

Perhaps my "unsolicited" response may be of NO benefit to you, Rick...but it may help others in resolving the center channel dilemma....with a few "suspect" mch recordings.

Discounting the age of MONO, 99.99% of ALL recordings are recorded and mixed with stereo in mind.

More recent 5.1 remixes, which were recorded with a multichannel release in mind, fare better (I DO have two 5.1 systems, as well).

My remarks about 5.1 remixing engineers having a problem with what to do with a center channel is not fiction and I can understand their dilemma. As previously noted, with Star Wars (1977), 5.1 (6 track magnetic?) was introduced into the mainstream. Until that time, most surround albums were indeed QUAD (4.0) and if you've heard the magnificent AF 4.0 SACD remasters, I find them incredibly ACTIVE....again, they're utilizing the l/r fronts to create a phantom center...... and with GREAT success, IMHO!

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