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post #31 of 33 Old 10-27-2009, 05:00 PM
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Some thoughts I had on The Best Of Soundstage for the PQ tier thread...

A compilation of music performances from the series broadcast on PBS, the BD is an exclusive release only available at Sears. It was produced and brought to the Blu-ray format courtesy of WTTTW National Productions on November 11, 2008. The 82-minute program is encoded in VC-1 at an average video bitrate of 27.90 Mbps on a single-layer BD-25. The native video resolution is 1080i, not an unusual choice for live music shot in high-definition video.

Even given the disparate nature of each performance, as there are over sixteen artists featured, each segment is generally of the same picture quality. It helps that presumably the same camera operators and stage were used for each show. The quality does not greatly stray from the typical look of material shot on high-definition cameras. Grain and noise are entirely absent while the clarity remains relatively high. There are small variances in absolute resolution between the different performances. The George Jones' segment stands out as one of the best for the closest visible details.

Contrast is nearly perfect and the ample stage lighting hides any real problem the cameras might show with poor black levels. The camera stays in-focus with laser-like precision on the main singers. Information in the shadows are finely delineated, revealing subtle texture details in the fabrics of the musicians. A few shots get slightly washed out when the complex overhead lighting scheme hits the stage at the wrong angle. The alternate angled-shots from the Sheryl Crow performance strangely display significantly brightened contrast.

Overall high-frequency content is barely average, if that, for the ranks of tier one. There are not a plethora of close-ups by the director. Perhaps the older performers did not want their facial features unnecessarily highlighted in the revealing glare of high-definition. The compression encode represents very good work that lacks any intrusive artifacting or diminishment in resolution from the original source material. At various points it displays sustained peaks in the forties, a very healthy figure. There are no real weaknesses in that regard.

Much of the program shows no halos, but a couple of performances did display troubling signs of edge enhancement. The Trace Adkins' portion had visible ringing for one example. It varies from segment to segment though and is not substantially affecting of the general image. Flesh tones are naturalistic in appearance with the color palette maintaining a good balance between saturation and accuracy. The baby blue in Chris Isaak's suit is a good example of superior fidelity and color depth.

Consistently excellent picture quality for a compilation disc allows me to recommend a placement in the middle of tier one, tier 1.5 specifically. It is not a disc someone should go out of their way to obtain for pure demonstration value unless a fan of the featured artists.

BDInfo scan (courtesy of Patsfan 123):

Blu-ray Picture Quality Tiers (updated through July 13, 2017)
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post #32 of 33 Old 10-28-2009, 04:20 PM
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Sears is selling the Best of... BR right now for $9.99. They have it listed as a sale price so it may be for just this week only.
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post #33 of 33 Old 10-28-2009, 04:37 PM
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Yeah, I was there buying a microwave. Picked up the Michael McDonald BD for $9.99 as well.

Very nice PQ. Sound was nice, but I couldn't crank it. Recommended.

I saw Michael McDonald at Wolf Trap (outside of Washington, D.C.) last year. Great show. Unfortunately, no Ashford & Simpson or Doobie Brothers. Otherwise it looks like the same (excellent) band lineup.
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