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Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Hollywood, U.S.A.
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Last night I played the Abbey Road 5.1 mix, and it's clear that with a 5.1 system, this is better than the Atmos. The Atmos mix played in 5.1 had different instruments in each speaker. I didn't care for it at all. The 5.1 mix made a nice clear soundstage across the front. This is a less adventurous multichannel mix than the previous Beatles ones, and whenever there was a song that was also on Love, I preferred the Love mix, but overall it was good.
The lead vocals are always isolated in the center channel. This can tend to make them sound thin, and it appears that they tried to overcome that by boosting the level of the center a bit. Unfortunately, on my system, that messed up the relative balance of the lead and harmony vocals on Because and Sun King. To get the Beach Boys inspired vocal sounds they were aiming for, the balances have to be just right. I found that a -2dB correction on the center channel fixed it perfectly. Likewise, the rears were a little bit low, like in Sgt Pepper, but it seems that they split the difference. Instead of needing a +6dB boost to the rears, it only needed a +3dB correction. Once I got the levels right, the handoff from speaker to speaker is perfect. Her Majesty moves around the room with perfectly even volume.
This isn't my favorite Beatles album, but it's probably the one I've heard the most times. Every inch of it is burned into my brain from repeated playings over the years. It seems that they've decided to move away from exactly following the original mix like they did on Sgt Pepper and the White Album. I noticed several places that sounded quite different from the way I'm used to hear it, mostly in crescendos. She's So Heavy is all at a single level, without any slow build. The hammer hits in Maxwell weren't as clear as on the original album. And the vocals throughout the album sounded dryer and were presented exactly the same in each song, more like what I hear in Steven Wilson mixes, not like the way vocals used to be mixed with each song having is own sound envelope.
Overall it was a fairly conservative and functional multichannel mix, similar to the Elton John SACDs. The front soundstage was clear, the lead vocals completely isolated in the center, and if something was in the rear, it came from the corners. No attempt to create a front/back soundscape, or to try to place things in the phantom center between the rears. (Her Majesty deliberately avoided that.) There was nothing like Strawberry Fields where the sound swirls around in the middle of the room. This should help the mix sound better in less than optimal speaker installations and avoid the problems they had with consistency of presentation they had with Sgt Pepper.
I rank this one right between Sgt Pepper and the White Album. A good bread and butter multichannel mix. Glad I got it.
Last edited by sworth; 10-04-2019 at 10:31 AM.