Sunday 31 March 2024

Predator (1987)

1988 CBS/Fox LaserDisc [SF078-1445]: A different mix than the 4.0/5.1 on the UHD - the dialogue/music/effects are aligned differently. It all sounds rather dead and undetailed.

1991 Fox Video LaserDisc [1515-85]: The same mix as the 1988 LaserDisc but significantly more detailed. Quite natural sounding. 

2018 20th Century Fox UHD Blu-ray: The 5.1 is ostensibly the same mix as the 4.0, just conformed to 5.1. More dynamic range than the LaserDisc mix and more aggressive, but perhaps a bit bright. 

Monday 8 January 2024

Holiday Inn (1942)

1985 MCA LaserDisc [40288]: Pretty unimpressive. It's an analogue track, but I think it sounds muffled due to some form of noise management. I suspect the 1986 Hi-Fi VHS uses the same transfer.

2003 R1 Universal DVD: Decent. More detailed than the LaserDisc.

2014 Universal Blu-ray: Like the DVD but with some additional light noise gating and limiting.

2022 Universal UHD Blu-ray: More noise reduction than the DVD and blu-ray - it sometimes sounds worse than the LaserDisc. Additional automated crackle removal has lopped off high-frequency peaks indescriminately: 1, 2

Saturday 6 January 2024

Duel (1971)

Speaking only of the mono tracks on each of these –

1990 MCA Hi-Fi VHS: The same mastering as the 1993 LaserDisc.

1993 MCA LaserDisc [41752]: As is, this sounds muffled, though there is still plenty of high-frequency detail that has been attenuated - presumably rolled off to reduce hiss. With some EQ, it sounds great: -1 dB (bell) at 2500 Hz, q 2.8; +1 dB (bell) at 3130 Hz, q 1.1; +6.2 dB (high shelf) at 4830 Hz, q 1.5; and -2 dB (high shelf) at 13600 Hz, q 2. (Images: 1, 2.) I've applied this EQ to the LD track in the clip below.

2004 R1 Universal DVD - Collector's Edition: Like the blu-ray mono but with additional global noise reduction. 

2015 Universal Blu-ray: The mono track here is a new reduction of the dialogue, music, and effects stems. There is moderate to strong hiss reduction on dialogue (the scene with the children and the school bus sounds especially bad), but less on the music and effects. A handful of the music cues are of significantly higher fidelity than the rest of the film. The effects are typically louder relative to the music, especially in the final five minutes. Some of the crude edits in the original mix have been made less jarring.

Thursday 4 January 2024

Barbarella (1968)

1994 Paramount LaserDisc [LV6812-WS]: This is a wonderful sounding disc. No hiss reduction and presumably just a straight transfer of the original magnetic track.

2001 R4 Paramount DVD: Global noise reduction, making everything muffled.

2012 Paramount Blu-ray: Same mastering as the DVD.

2023 Arrow UHD Blu-ray: The 1.0 track is a new mono reduction of the dialogue, music, and effects stems. I caught only two mixing differences (though I haven't searched exhaustively for more): at 7:54, Fonda's line flub has been edited ("ob-object received" → "object received"); and at 25:59, the end guitar note carries on for another 3 seconds, continuing beneath Fonda's moans. The sync of the music/effects relative to the dialogue is consistently different, though imperceptibly so. The biggest problem with both the 1.0 and Atmos tracks is the noise gating: most of the film sounds nearly identical to the LaserDisc, but the hiss drops out entirely during quiet moments. This gating is aggressive at times and its activation pretty arbitrary. Whether or not it has removed audible detail is arguable (you can certainly notice it if you know what to listen for), but the fluctuations in hiss are noticeable. All in all, not too bad, but the mastering work is completely unnecessary and the LaserDisc sounds better.

Thursday 14 December 2023

In the Good Old Summertime (1949)

2004 R1 Warner DVD: Things start rolling off above 6 kHz; I think this sounds pretty bad. 

2021 Warner Archive Blu-ray: Things start rolling off above 7 kHz; slightly better, but still very muffled.

Wednesday 13 December 2023

Easy Living (1937)

2008 R1 Universal DVD: Pretty muffled. 

2019 Kino Lorber Blu-ray: Nearly identical to the Universal DVD; based on the same mastering. 

Monday 11 December 2023

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

1991 MGM LaserDisc [ML101642]: Excellent. Very detailed, with no overt manipulation that I can detect.

2004 R1 Warner DVD: Dreadful. Everything above ~5 kHz has been removed. Awfully murky.

2022 Warner Archive Blu-ray: As far as '30s soundtracks go, this isn't terrible, but the LaserDisc is more detailed. There's a treble boost here too, which, combined with the noise reduction, produces new distortion - listen to the strings at 1:31 below, or the piano at 3:21. The loudest passages are also clipped.