I finally listened to this for real, months after getting it, and all I can say is -- PRETTY GREAT!
Okay, some qualifiers too. It is "discrete" and somewhat "aggressive" for a MC mix, but overall I like it a lot. Already one of my favorites. Some may not like it for the same reasons though!
- Pretty discrete mix, but placement of instruments can vary from song to song and even within a song. Rhythm guitar is mostly FL but sometimes FL+FR, and occasionally bleeding to the surround channels. Bass is mostly in the center channel and some in the FR. Lead guitar is where it varies a lot. So, Slash's guitar solos often comes mostly out of the --- center channel. Yeah, no kidding! It is a little distracting since the center for the most part is bass and vocals. But other lead guitar parts, including some solos, often comes mostly from the surrounds (e.g. intro the Sweet Child O' Mine), but the solo will blast out the center channel on many songs (I didn't listen to all of them, just my favorite 7 or so). Wish the solos came out the right channel though. Vocals are in the front 3 channels.
- I like how the surrounds are not just used for ambiance, with just a little instrumentation bleeding to the rear. The surrounds are used heavily and I like it. It creates that "feel like you're there" sonic experience that I really enjoyed. It takes a little bit getting used to though.
- Vocals are not overpowering, as you might expect in a band with a diva lead singer like Axl Rose, which is good. Sounds good coming out of the three front channels instead of just the center like on many MC albums. Minimal vocals from the surrounds, which is great.
- As a bonus, the sex sounds on Rocket Queen (always hated it as it is too loud, prevents you from playing it in the car with your family/parents, and is just an unwanted distraction that's no longer amusing) only come out of the surrounds and are much lower in the mix so that you don't really hear it much. Of course, I am always hoping they'll release a version of Rocket Queen just minus the girl's moaning.
- Didn't really look into the extras but it is cool to have the music videos (including Patience... too bad it doesn't have You Could Be Mine also).
- There is some interesting visualizations while the songs play but thankfully you can turn it off if you want.
- Overall, if you liked AfD (and it was one of my favorites from childhood, bought it on cassette shortly after it got big in 1989), you will love how you can hear things you couldn't hear before, which is what I love about MC more than the surround aspect: I love hearing instruments separated out more so you can actually hear what they are playing clearly now. For instance, you can finally hear lead and rhythm guitar separately and it sounds awesome. You can hear the baseline cleanly now, not just on the intros (e.g. Sweet Child, Rocket Queen, etc.). I would give it a solid "A."
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