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I wasn’t shivering with anticipation as I unwrapped this DVD-A which arrived in this morning’s post. I wasn’t even breathing heavily. I wasn’t expecting much difference to the sound quality that I was already used to from my “Queen’s Greatest Video Hits” DVD, which has DTS sound. I stuck it in the Pioneer and started to play it. A few minutes later I felt like a complete twit ! This really was going to be a night to remember ..... So - with my comfy chair at the centre of acoustic sweetness, a glass of Jura single malt, I let this marvel of sonic engineering and top notch musicianship wash over me.

The Album

Within seconds of the piano opening of “Death on two Legs” I knew that this whole production was going to be as good, if not better than it had promised. And as each track passed I also realised that this was the “Hi-Fi” sound that I had been dreaming about for so many years.

Track List

Most tracks are simply superb, while others are just fantastic, but if I had to choose a loser it would be “Love of my Life”. This on it’s own and out of context sounds great, but compared to the rest of the disc it sounds just a wee bit overblown. Freddie’s voice seems to dominate the left channel, whilst everything else is scattered almost haphazardly around the other channels. The whole thing is a bit OTT, with a subtle suggestion of distortion all the way through, which didn’t rest too well on my ears. The chorus voices are a bit boomy too....

In complete contrast, “The Prophet’s Song” is a real gem, which, with Bohemian Rhapsody, make up my two favourites from this disc. Not my original favourites, but the new mix and surround effects treatment make these stand out as special, even on this very special disc !! The echo section in “The Prophet’s Song” is extremely well done, and when the guitar and drums come back in at 6m 04s, it is with such force and emphasis that I nearly knocked my Jura over ! The first bite is in the front speakers and the “echo” is in rear - a real tour de force for your lugholes.

Freddie, Freddie, Freddie.....

Other tracks worthy of mention include “You’re My Best Friend” which, again, was everything I could have hoped for with beautiful clarity on voices, and “I’m In Love With My Car” with its really well placed vehicle sounds and guitar work.

Audio Quality

I had used my original “Night At The Opera” CD and the “Queen’s Greatest Video Hits” DVD as references, and using “Bohemian Rhapsody” as my main comparison track, the first thing that struck me was how quiet the opening was ... very much reduced hum, almost none of the hiss that the CD produced, and an even better dynamic range than the DTS DVD (which I didn’t really think was possible, but there you go). This was followed up by stunningly clear and sweet vocals from Freddie, mainly in the centre speaker, solid gut-thudding drums, and guitar work to make you weep (yes, I was very close to tears listening to this !!)

Nice dissolve of Freddie and Mr May

Just a little further into Bohemian Rhapsody, I noticed for the first time that there are some possible “unwanted” noises on this track. When the guys sing “easy come, easy go, little high, little low”, although the surround effects are brilliant, the distortion toward the end of the word “low” is really noticeable (breath noises ??), even though it was always there on the CD. There are also several microphone pops and piano pedal thumps that I’d not heard before, but with this dynamic range I suppose that was to be expected too.

The use of the multi-channel 5.1 mix is a superb example of how it can be done, but this too, is not without its surprises. The little jangly noise when Freddie sings “sends shivers down my spine” is a little too dominant for my taste (same on the DTS track), but it is just nicely blended in on the stereo CD version. Also, some of the original left/right pans and switches are changed, and so that it is a bit of a shock (especially if you know the stereo CD track very well) as the guitar riffs move in and out of the left, right, front & rear channels in a new sequence ! But I did enjoy those particular changes as it made for a more balanced overall effect. Oh, and the gong, right at the very end of the track, is so full of harmonics and lasts for so long ...what an amazing change from the weak splash of what (now) sounds like a small cymbal on the CD !

Extras

When “God Save The Queen” had finally faded out, I played the whole disc again, all the way through. Then I switched to the alternate DTS track. Unfortunately, this didn’t last very long before I switched back to DVD-A. The DTS playback, whilst excellent, is not a patch on the DVD-A. The sound staging was much more coherent, bass tighter, voices sweeter (particularly that high voiced Roger Taylor) and everything just seemed to gel more on the DVD-A. The stereo PCM tracks are an improvement over the original CD too, but as this won’t play on an ordinary CD player, it does seem to be a little redundant as most DVD players now have DTS decoding built in.

The addition of the DTS tracks is, however, very welcome for those listeners who have not been able to make the fairly significant leap to a full DVD-A set-up, but as already noted, the DVD-A really does make it worth spending the extra to upgrade to in my humble opinion, the best audio you can get.

Lyrics Sample

The extras include full lyrics and the video of Bohemian Rhapsody, which is the same as is on Greatest Video Hits DVD. The lyrics are quite neatly done, with auto scroll. It just flicks from page to page as required, just like turning the pages in a book. There is a small photo gallery, which could have been a little bigger, instead of the scant few stock shots of the band .... Finally, there are a few pages dedicated to “The DTS Story” and “Credits” but nothing else of real significance.

Photo Gallery Sample

The booklet is another well thought out piece of work, with all lyrics reprinted and a couple of photos on the centre page and a complete list of production people on the back inside page..... very interesting to see how many people needed to be involved in making this DVD-A (about 50 including the band !)

Overall

So, to summarise : one ever so slightly dodgy track (but that’s just MY opinion) combined with eleven masterpieces which brought back a flood of memories from that hot summer of 1976. I have always loved this album, especially “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and I am just so chuffed to have been able to add this new reworking to my collection .....  and guess what ?

No-one played synthesisers !

Bring on “A Day at the Races” ....


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