To be released on the relatively new and totally new for Elvis DVDA format is the follow up to the huge worldwide success ELV1S 30 NUMBER ONES CD the 5.1 DVD AUDIO,ELV1S 30 #1 HITS.
As well as on dedicated DVDA players the DVDA will be able to play on most standard DVD video players and even a pc equipped with a DVD drive and a DVDA compatible sound card and of course to hear it in 5.1 you will need a decoder and speakers to match.
As well as offering 5.1 the DVDA format also offers superior sound resolution in comparison to the CD standard. So to hear it at its full potentional I would certainly recommend a very good system and pay particular attention to the quality of the speakers, especially the subwoofer which in most bundled surround set-ups will not be able to give the full benefit of the improved sound.
So how does it sound?…Well we start with…
A Little Less Conversation the huge worldwide hit remix by JXL...
As with the cd release the track starts quite low key on the intro until all the tracks start to add and build up the song, the sirens from the rear being very effective crashing into the mix from the rear left and right and later coming from all around in time to the music and not forgetting some nice rock guitar towards the end from the rear, the whole sound builds into a very enjoyable and powerful audio frenzy. It’s a great start, a lot of fun and by far the best version to date.
My only real complaint on this track as with all the non mono tracks is that Elvis is never in the centre channel at all but is front left/right and I feel this though not too noticeable on this track Elvis in the centre channel could have added a little more focus and on occasion the fact that he is not in the centre tends to distract when there is music coming from the centre channel as it does in general on this release.
Now we get to Elvis sessions proper and we start with the multitrack tapes, the track starts with the high hat noticeable from the centre. Overall it’s a good mix with piano mainly to the left until the chorus where we also get to hear it boogie to the rear. The backing vocals jump out on the chorus to great effect, we also get the dog noise at the end that strangely enough also featured on the original songwriters demo given to Elvis!.
First impressions of Elvis in surround
Although its a little odd hearing the individual band members from all around the room and I had my doubts how surround would work out overall I have to say its a great experience and the main thing I noticed regarding the multitrack recordings is the fact that its easier to make out each separate instrument even without going as far as isolating each individual speaker, I now feel I would take a guess that surround audio will be the future? once you have heard it applied to the multitrack tapes I feel you just cant ignore it.
Here we start with the main rhythm guitar to the front right while the piano cuts in from the rear left and this gives an interesting diagonal bouncing sound effect between the two, as on the cd version I just love the damped guitar return on this track coming from the front left most noticeable later in the track.
This track especially (along with the original E1 cd) really improves with a good high quality sub woofer to really appreciate the truly fantastic bass playing.
The Wonder Of You
Now we come to the alt take that I wasn’t too keen on from the original E1 cd, but in surround it really does sound better and I enjoyed the track a lot more on this release, somehow the whole sound performance just feels and sounds better... you even get to sit front row with the audience behind you! The sound of the orchestra sounds greatly improved, as does the vocal. Its a nice mix though I really did not like the male backing coming from the centre channel in between Elvis as for me this just sounded odd and unnatural though im sure many may not even notice this with the front side channels combined to create a centre image (in the way standard stereo does) masking the effect.
Well many commented on the flanging effect on the original E1 cd but im happy to say it does not feature on this version which truly does sound great, the guitar starts of the track to nice effect from the front right, horns from the rear with the string coming in beautifully from the rear right and the horns also blasting from the rear.... a great song an a great sound!
In The Ghetto
With this track we start with the acoustic guitar to the front left and the cello comes in with its haunting mournful sound to the rear right with string and horns to the rear and the first thing I noticed was the pure beauty of the sound and especially the overdubs that can now be heard more clearly and they as indeed does the whole sound come through more beautiful than ever before and a strong case perhaps to not remove overdubs but rather to mix them in a complementary manner. Again I had my doubts about surround sound music but this track alone convinced me this is the way forward!
I loved the version on the original E1 cd and felt it couldn’t be improved but it has and how! Perfection! Song/performance/mix, also id like to add how this track never got a Grammy first time round ill never know!
Crying In The Chapel - Stuck On You
Now we move on to the 3 track tapes where of course there is not a great deal you can do to create a convincing surround separated image so the DVDA team have incorporated several techniques such as miking rooms and eq isolation to try to create a more spacious and separated sound. and the overall effect is indeed a more spacious sound that is quite pleasant though there is a slight lack of image focus due to the general inherent lack of separation, though I feel this is not helped by the fact that the centre channel features some music content on these tracks. The tracks as a whole do sound close to the E1 original cd (with off course more space as mentioned) and what you liked or indeed did not about the original I feel will still stand with the DVDA release I wont go into great detail regarding the surround image as it is rather subtle through all the tracks. Regarding the room surround/echo id say in general it is quite subtle and my main complaint would be with the added unnatural echo on a few of the ballads (mainly crying in the chapel) that sounds a little unnatural more so than the room echo/special effect.
We now move on to the 1950s mono tracks...
A Big Hunk O Love - Heartbreak Hotel
This time the E1 team had an even harder job... try and create some kind of surround sound from a single mono track! Again the room acoustics were used with different size rooms used for front and rear (larger) and again some eq isolation to try to create some stereo separation has been used with a degree of success, this is most noticeable on the high frequencies... cymbals and clapping etc.
So how do the mono tracks sound?
Well again as with the 3 track tapes the monos also sound spacious and with the effect of being in a much larger room and many will enjoy the larger sound, however I personally felt the room echo was overdone and has created a rather muddled coloured echo sound which is more apparent on some tracks than others a big hunk o love to my ears is not too bad but others such as hound dog appears to suffer quite badly from this effect, having said this though it must have been a hard choice to make on what to do with the mono and 3 track tapes on a surround release and it certainly sounds bigger which some may prefer though I would have preferred a more purist approach on the mono and perhaps the 3 track tapes also.
Of special interest on the bonus tracks must be in the ghetto master vocal solo and suspicious minds master vocal solo, with `In The Ghetto` we get to hear the isolated Elvis vocal which really has a personal feel to it, a