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The beautiful Fantasia on a lazy release
on 25 July 2009
Given the circumstances, its beyond me why the Disney company continue to sell a 1993 "Remastered Album" that not many years before hand, they quoted was beyond repair. I bought this some months ago just to test out the sound quality and I can only back-up what others have said - the salvaging job is like trying to clean mud of white shoe laces; the damage has been done. What makes matters worse is that because Disney "remaster-the-remasters" every few years, the resulting sound is completed 'Gated' (in other words, once the Volume hits a certain level, it immediately bounces down, resulting in Stubby sounding music) and lacking in all balance, going from in-audible lows to excruciating highs.
A number of factors contribute to the films state, however. Firstly, this was recorded on Nitrate film that back in 1938-40, when no-one had the foresight to understand that in years to come, the film becomes highly combustable and loses its quality dramatically. As such, 70 years of even the upmost care would have still resulted in the film being exposed to damage, so its quite un-fair to actually accuse Disney of doing a lousy job 'restoring' this music to the standards were normally used to. By the 1950's, the company was using Magnetic tape which had a better fidelity and of course lasts much, much longer in the years to come - hence the flawless remasters recently, particularly of any of the recent DVD's/Sleeping Beauty.
One question we could ask, though, is why Disney didn't use other source material to remaster this soundtrack. Using the 'original' film may be a motive to get the most original fidelity, but its completely unpractical given its condition. I put this idea to the test and recently bought a copy of the 1956 Vinyl Soundtrack (on website rhyming with "zDay...", only to discover an completely astonishing difference in not just the sound quality, but the clarity. Once I removed the pops/crackles of the vinyl on the program "CD Spin Doctor" from the Toast Titanium package, the music sounded out of this world. Suffice to say, I recorded them all to MP3 and binned this CD!
Why the difference? Quite simply, because that 1956 album was the earliest one in sale, and therefore the one with the least damaged recordings. Now the sound opens up - you can actually hear the reverb of the instruments in the hall, unlike this CD, where any low audio is cut off as that is when the distortion is most audible. The sound levels are also perfect and not 'bouncing' all over the place like this album.
You may be thinking if this is all just fuss from an individual who lives and breathes music. Perhaps so, but as the others reviews confirm, I'm not the only one who is displeased with the attitude Disney have taken with this lazy release. Hopefully once the films Diamond Edition comes out this Spring, we'll see a new remaster - if not, I'll keep my listening to my '56 release!