Monday, 12 March 2046

What is this website?

My rationale for keeping this site.

10/2/2021: Added a new section, "So what should you do?"

Saturday, 20 November 2021

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

The old MCA LaserDisc, although possibly a hodgepodge of different analogue sources (suggested by the varying levels of hiss throughout the film), sounds the most detailed and natural to me.

The Universal DVD, the Arrow blu-ray, and the Koch blu-ray share the same mastering and have more noise reduction and a compensatory high-frequency boost. Some segments of music arguably sound better with this EQ compared to the LaserDisc track (and I was able to match the LD to them with some EQ of my own), but there are only a handful of these moments spread throughout the film. The Koch blu-ray is a lossy transcode.

The Criterion blu-ray generally has more noise reduction than the DVDs and the other two blu-rays, but its EQ more closely matches the LaserDisc - though dialogue still sounds a bit comparatively hollow.

Friday, 12 November 2021

Mad Love (1935)

The new Warner Archive blu-ray sounds much, much better than the Warner DVD and the MGM LaserDisc. The DVD and LD are basically the same, with very little above 7 kHz and their bass noticeably cut. 

I don't usually make comparison clips for tracks that sound better on their blu-ray release, but I realise that I probably should. The ones that sound good are certainly rare enough that they're worth commending. Make no mistake - the Warner Archive blu-ray sounds better because it has less noise reduction applied; it appears to be the exact same audio transfer, but now with less destructive meddling. 

Thursday, 11 November 2021

Cat People (1942)

All of these sound similar.

The two LaserDiscs with digital tracks share the same mastering and have more hiss than the Warner DVD and the Criterion blu-ray, yet they don't actually have any extra detail. A handful of moments throughout the film (visible in the spectrals below) actually have more high-frequency detail in the DVD and blu-ray tracks. I spent some time looking for subtle sounds that have been eliminated from the DVD and blu-ray (especially during quiet scenes, which sometimes happens with a noise gate), but I couldn't find anything noteworthy. 

The Criterion blu-ray has some "additional restoration" (as noted in the booklet) relative to the Warner DVD, but this doesn't amount to anything truly audible. 

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

The Seventh Seal (1957)

Added the IVC and Tartan LaserDiscs, the Svensk Filmindustri DVD, and the BFI UHD blu-ray. 

Saturday, 30 October 2021

Dr. No (1962)

1982 20th Century Fox LaserDisc [4525-80]: More dupey and less detailed than every later release. The 1983 CBS/Fox LaserDisc (not pictured) shares the same mastering.

1988 MGM LaserDisc [ML101401] - Connery Classics: Very natural and quite detailed. It suffers a bit from being an analogue track, which introduces distortion during loud moments, but it fares well overall and is probably my second favourite release. Strangely, a 20-minute segment starting at about 17:00 has more hiss than the rest of the film, yet it doesn't possess any more or less detail.

1991 Criterion LaserDisc [CC1292L]: The best sounding edition overall, with minimal (if any) high frequency attenuation and no problematic EQ changes. It's evident that the best extant sound elements of this film are probably optical rather than magnetic, since it still sounds considerably worse than From Russia with Love.

It does have one error, though: the end music transitions into what is apparently the soundtrack version of the Bond theme. The edit isn't concealed well.

1992 MGM LaserDisc [ML102713] - Connery Collection: This is the first release to have an overtly cleaned up soundtrack. I hear some light-to-moderate global hiss reduction and some crackle removal, all topped with a treble boost. It manages to sound better than the blu-ray mono track usually, but it still sounds worse than the Criterion release in every conceivable way.

1993 MGM LaserDisc [NJEL-52726]: Like the ML102713 LaserDisc.

1998 MGM LaserDisc [ML105406] - THX: Like the ML102713 LaserDisc, but possibly with some additional noise reduction. Basically the same, though.

1998 R1 MGM DVD - THX: Like the ML105406 LaserDisc.

2000 R1 MGM DVD - Special Edition: Identical to the 1998 THX DVD.

2006 R1 MGM DVD - Ultimate Edition: Like the ML105406 LaserDisc.

2008 MGM Blu-ray - US: A new mastering. I suppose one small positive is that loud moments are not decrackled to the point of losing their power, but this track still has more noise reduction than any previous release - so much so that ambient sound is obliterated from dialogue-heavy scenes. It generally sounds worse than any release post-1982 LD. The first segment of the film has a very strong treble boost that abruptly vanishes at 18:24.