I already have four copies of this album in various formats but I just had to experience it in 5.1 Surround Sound DTS. I was not dissapointed, and neither will you be when you hear the new mix presented here. This album was recorded over 25 years ago but it's almost as though they knew that technology would one day be available to allow the listener to experience the music as they had originally intended. While this album sounds great in normal stereo the new multi channel mix makes an old album sound like new, and listening to it again is almost like hearing it for the first time.
Queen fans will know how meticulous Queen were with their studio recordings, with layer after layer of sound being added to create a depth and sound like no other band at the time. Two channel stereo can disguise some of this hard work as the speakers struggle to seperate out all that is going on at any one time. This new mix solves this problem by splitting the sound and sending each vocal or instrument through a seperate speaker where appropriate, giving unbelievable clarity particularly to such an old recording.
There are parts of this album, which many like me will know note for note, word for word, from beginning to end, which suddenly show you something new, something you haven't heard before. But of course you have - it's just that sometimes the sound has been buried so deep that it doesn't stand out until it is seperated and sent to you via a particular speaker.
Every song sounds great and has something new to offer to new and old listeners alike, although some tracks are particularly noteworthy. The Prophets Song is the standout track for me, with the multi-layered vocal completely immersing you in surround sound. I'm in Love With My Car and '39 also offer a completely new experience with the clarity offering new sounds previously buried.
In addition to the sound quality the whole DVD Audio experience has a lot to offer. The lyrics to the tracks appear on screen as you listen, even changing page at exactly the right time, offering those with Kareoke tendancies a barrel of fun. Also included is the video to Bohemian Rhapsody, the forefather to all pop videos.
My only criticism is on two points. The first may be the limitations of my DVD Video player, which is the Sony DAVS500. The whole album sounded great, but the odd track was very heavy on the 'bass', and my system does not allow me to adjust the bass or treble. Perhaps this would not be a problem on a DVD Audio player. Secondly, the scope for additional features to be included on a DVD Audio disc are immense, with a normal album only taking up half (if not less) of the space available. This album offers little additional content other than the video. I guess this expectation of extra features comes from being fed a diet of massive extras on DVD movies these days. (How about an audio commentary from Brian May (he likes to talk a lot), explaining the recording processes used and some anecdotes about studio sessions and radio reactions at the time).
On balance though the small niggles are that - small, and the benefits offered by the new mix make this an essential item for any music fan who has a DVD Audio player or home cinema system.
I have been wondering where music will go from the standard CD format. The jump from Vinly and Tape to CD was a big one that offered huge benefits in quality and durability, so the next jump must also offer something big, not just a tweak of an existing format, such as minidisc. I wondered if the future was MP3, but while this has many benefits, I can't see the industry as a whole supporting it due to copyright issues. I now believe that I have found the next 'format jump' - DVD Audio. Old albums can be remixed to sound like new, and new albums could be recorded with the six channels of sound in mind.
I look forward to owning more albums on this format and hope that the powers that be will soon add to the current limited list of available titles.