Back to the Future – Soundtrack (Vinyl, CD)

Soundtrack of the famous movie “Back to the Future”.


This album was recorded in analog.

You will find the following items for this album:

The tested editions are :

  • Ed1: Back to the Future, Vinyl MCA Records ref : P-13178 , 1985.
  • Ed2 : Back to the Future, CD MCA Records ref : 255 334-2 (MCDA-6144), 1985.

Measurements :

Dynamic

We start this test by measuring the dynamics. Dynamics represents the ability to reproduce a wide range of sounds from the softest to the loudest. 

 
For our 2 editions we have obtained the following Dynamic Range (DR):

 Ed1 (Vinyl)Ed2 (CD)
GlobalDR14DR14
The Power Of LoveDR14DR15
Time Bomb TownDR16DR15
Back To The FutureDR13DR13
Heaven Is One Step AwayDR14DR15
Back In TimeDR15DR16
Back To The Future OvertureDR16DR15
The Wallflower (Dance With Me Henry)DR12DR12
Night TrainDR14DR14
Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)DR13DR12
Johnny B. GoodeDR13DR12

The DR is 14, which is a very good dynamic for the vinyl  and CD releases. There are even tracks above DR16. As a reminder, the scale goes from 0 to just over 20, but the dynamic is considered good from 12, quite good between 10 and 11, and deteriorate below 10.

A low DR deviation (1 or 2) may be due to compression or a different treble level. Indeed, an increase in trebles has the effect of accentuating the perception of dynamics during listening but also during measuring.

Waveform of the second track

The signal representation allows to see the dynamics of a recording and also the difference in the frequency representation, especially for the presence of treble and compression.

  • Ed1: Back to the Future, Vinyl MCA Records ref : P-13178 , 1985.

This edition of the vinyl is dynamic.

The album is dynamic without compression as shown on the curve of the A side.

Waveform Face A Vinyl (Ed1)

A zoom on the curve which shows that the signal is in phase opposition with Ed2 CD release ( bottom Yellow to compare with Ed2 curve).

  • Ed2 : Back to the Future, CD MCA Records ref : 255 334-2 (MCDA-6144), 1985.

The mastering of the cd is different from the vinyl. with a DR15 for the first track, the mastering don’t use compression. In the graph below, the pic of sound level is higher than in the vinyl edition. The higher DR (DR15 for CD vs DR14 for Vinyl) can explain the difference.

Like the vinyl (Ed1), this release is dynamic without compression as shown on the curve of the equivalent A side ( 5 first tracks).

A zoom on the curve which shows that the signal is in phase opposition with Ed1 Vinyl release (top Yellow to compare with Ed2 curve). The peaks in yellow are inverted between the two curves (bottom vs top)

Bandwidth

In addition to dynamics, we will also study the bandwidth of the recordings. This makes it possible to check the tonal balance of the music (balance between low, medium and high sounds) and to detect certain treatments that may have been carried out during the recording, during the mixing, mastering or media manufacturing process. With this measurement, it is also possible to detect frequency interference problems. 

  • Ed1: Back to the Future, Vinyl MCA Records ref : P-13178 , 1985.

The curve represents the average frequency distribution over the first track. The interesting features on this curve are the high frequency cuts regulary at 22kHz (Yellow) which is the maximum frequency of the master.

  • Ed2 : Back to the Future, CD MCA Records ref : 255 334-2 (MCDA-6144), 1985.

 The curve represents the average frequency distribution over the first track. The interesting features on this curve are the following:

  1. Like all editions, the high frequency cuts at 22kHz (yellow) which is the maximum frequency of the CD.
  2. The treble level above 10 kHz (green) is lower than that of Ed1 vinyl (White CD, grey Vinyl).

A very interesting point. The treble level of the vinyl is higher than on the CD, which often indicates that the DR is higher. This is not the case here, the DR15 of the CD is higher than the DR14 of the vinyl.
The recording of the CD is therefore more dynamic than that of the vinyl, without being due to the accentuation of the treble.

Bandwidth : CD in white, Vinyl in grey

Notation/Rating/Samples :

  • Ed1: Back to the Future, Vinyl MCA Records ref : P-13178 , 1985.

The Japanese version is a very nice pressing, the sound is very dynamic and very clear.
The balance is different from the CD versions, with more trebles.
This gives it a more dynamic listening experience, while the average DRs are almost identical or higher on some track in the CD.
Surface noise is low and reflects the quality of the pressing. We find an accentuation of the trebles as on the Japanese vinyl of Ghostbusters Soundtrack.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: 4
    • Bandwidth: 4
    • Surface noise: 4
    • Restitution: 4

3 samples : “Back to the Future” (Sample1) and “Power of Love” (Sample 2) and “Night Train” (Sample 3) in 24 bits 88.2 kHz*:

Sample 1_Back To The Future_Ed1
Sample 2_Back To The Future_Ed1
Sample 3_Back To The Future_Ed1
  •  Ed2 : Back to the Future, CD MCA Records ref : 255 334-2 (MCDA-6144), 1985.

The master of the CD is very good and very dynamic (no compression). The balance is different from vinyl, but it is very clean.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic:  4.5
    • Bandwidth: 4
    • Restitution: 4

3 samples : “Back to the Future” (Sample1) and “Power of Love” (Sample 2) and “Night Train” (Sample 3) in 16 bits 44.1 kHz*:

Sample 1_Back To The Future_Ed2
Sample 2_Back To The Future_Ed2
Sample 3_Back To The Future_Ed2

*The level has been adjusted to have the same RMS level for an easier comparison. The phase is also corrected.

Which version to choose?
The choice between the 2 editions is a question of preference concerning the tonal balance. Like the Ghostbusters album, if you prefer a more precise high pitched version, the Japanese edition of the vinyl is for you. On the other hand, if you prefer a more balanced version, the dynamic CD version is for you.



Detail of the ratings :

  • Dynamic :
    • Significant dynamic compression, DR less than 7
    • Compression of the present dynamics, DR between 7 and 9.
    • Correct piece DR >=10
    • No dynamic compression (DR >12), dynamic rendering
    • No dynamic compression, high DR and very dynamic sound rendering
  • Bandwidth :
    • Bandwidth cut and less than 15 khz
    • Bandwidth cut at 15 khz
    • Bandwidth not conforming to the original and cut (not HD) or original but limited bandwidth (but less than 20 kHz)
    • Bandwidth conforming to the original (but not HD)
    • Bandwidth conforming to the original with HD resolution (higher than 24kHz)
  • Surface noise (only for vinyl):
    • Continuous audible noise
    • Audible surface noise except on passages with a high level of noise
    • Reduced surface noise, barely audible on low level crossings
    • Low surface noise, very good quality
    • Very low surface noise, no defects, almost inaudible on the quiet passages (exceptional disc)
  • Restitution :
    • Low quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments.
    • Average quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments.
    • Quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Good record.
    • High quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Very high level disc.
    • Maximum quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Exceptional disc.

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