My other half is a born again Simple Minds fan and so purchased the re-released Sparkle In The Rain Hi-Res Blu Ray audio version whilst saving pennies for the box set (which has the Hi-Res audio added via DVD). Both feature new Steven Wilson 5.1 surround mixes in DTS Hi Res and Dolby Digital formats plus “Stereo” Hi Res fold down mix as well as a transfer of the original Steve Lillywhite mix to Hi Res audio.
Not Better Just Different
If you struggled with the density and dripping layered reverb sound of Steve Lillywhite’s original mix then surround is a viable alternative listening offering that gives such a dense sound a bit more room to breathe and extra instrument definition in me ‘umble opinion but your mileage may vary as much like the short lived world of Quadraphonic nobody quite agrees on how music should be mixed and arranged between the speakers. Here it’s a case of pushing backing vocals and extra vocal dubs to the back rather than trying for a reverb placement or rear speaker ambiance beloved of live concert surround mixes and mixes that aren’t trying to put you in the centre of the band.
Pure Audio Or Pure Bollocks?
Now Blu Ray audio releases are still few and with DTS-CD, SACD and DVD-A formats before it failing to set the physical product music listening world on fire it’s touch and go as to whether in a very short time these ‘Pure Audio’ releases join my redundant but once loved dead format pile along with Quadraphonic records, tapes and laserdiscs.
Hi Res audio sure as hell more affordable to get into if you already have a blu ray player and 5.1 speaker setup than Hi Res DSD streams which require sometimes insanely expensive external DAC’s (digital analogue converters) or premium priced AV receivers that will decode DSD download files (which are huge).Probably more affordable than the cost of a good turntable too now that vinyl records are selling in larger numbers again unless of course you already have your old analogue gear still lying around.
I mean my Blu Ray player cost us £5 second hand and my surround amp and speakers were given away on Freecycle/Freegle so I’m no uber expensive HiFi gear elitist with bottomless cash pockets (honest guv). I haven’t even got perfect hearing these days but I do love some surround sound mixes.
Stereo Mix Is Mono?
As many have found there are a couple of faults in these offerings in that the 2014 Hi Res LPCM stereo mix is not stereo but gold old mono seemingly though the original mix is at least stereo,
There’s also a minor error in not crediting Charlie Burchill on guitar in the band credit liner notes despite getting song writing credits whereas box set purchasers are finding the same mono mix and a missing page in the more expansive enclosed booklet.
Can I Please Have My Hi Res Stereo?
Hopefully Universal, the company who made and released these will correct these eventually. If not then we’ll have to mark them down as collectable curios and another example of how the race to find a premium priced priced physical product in the popular music market doesn’t quite stretch to effective quality control.
UPDATE: Universal Offer Return And Replace
Box set owners are being offered a return and replace service by Universal UK for the faulty items. Presumably the Blu Ray audio will also be covered.