Coldplay – Music Of The Spheres Review (LP, Streaming Amazon, Apple, Qobuz, Atmos)

MThe British band has just unveiled Music of the Spheres, their ninth album.The album is produced by Max Martin, specialist of hits for Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Britney Spears.

You can find the measurements of each edition in the different parts and listen to the samples of these albums here.

This album includes 12 tracks : 

  1. Higher Power
  2. Humankind
  3. *✧
  4. Let Somebody Go
  5. People Of The Pride
  6. Biutyful
  7. My Universe
  8. Coloratura

We will review 6 editions (recycled colored Vinyl , Streaming Amazon Music, Apple Music and Qobuz, Amazon and Apple Atmos) of this album.

First we will analyze each edition in detail (technical and qualitative analysis) then we will compare the successive editions with their dynamics and assign a final score and you will be able to listen some samples.

Review of the editions:

Part 1: Presentation of the editions

Part 2 : Waveform and dynamique comparaison

Parts 3 : Spectrum comparisons

Part 4 : Spectrogram comparaisons

Part 5 : Summary, scoring and Sample

Part 1: presentation of the editions

Coldplay – Music Of The Spheres

Ed1 : Vinyl ref 0190296666964- 2021
Presentation

This is the superb vinyl edition with :

  • One LP (recycled coloured vinyl)
  • 28-page booklet (artwork, lyrics)
  • Download Code for MP3 files (no reviewed)
LabelParlophone Records Ltd.
Reference0190296666964
Format (speed)Vinyl 33.3 rpm 140g
TypeSingle Vinyl LP recycled coloured vinyl
MasterDigital 24 bits 44.1 kHz
Mastering/PressingMastered by Randy Merrill at Sterling Sound
Optimal Media GmbH
Original recordingDigital 24 bits 44.1 kHz
StateEurope
Year original2021
Year production2021
Ed2 : Streaming Amazon Music UltraHD – 2021
Presentation

This is the streaming Amazon Music Ultra HD of this album.

Small difference of the mix at the beginning of the title My Universe compared to Ed1 and Ed4, but identical to Ed3.

LabelParlophone Records Ltd.
ReferenceAmazon Music UltraHD
Format (speed)UltraHD 24 bits 44.1 KHz
TypeStreaming
MasterDigital 24 bits 44.1 kHz
Mastering/PressingMastered by Randy Merrill at Sterling Sound
Original recordingDigital 24 bits 44.1 kHz
StateEurope
Year original2021
Year production2021
Ed3 : Streaming Apple Music Lossless – 2021

Presentation

This is the Apple Music Lossless of this album. Apple also releases the Dolby Atmos version of this album.

Small difference of the mix at the beginning of the title My Universe compared to Ed1 and Ed4, but identical to Ed2.

LabelParlophone Records Ltd.
ReferenceApple Music Lossless
Format (speed)Lossless 24 bits 44.1 KHz
TypeStreaming
MasterDigital 24 bits 44.1 kHz
Mastering/PressingMastered by Randy Merrill at Sterling Sound
Original recordingDigital 24 bits 44.1 kHz
StateEurope
Year original2021
Year production2021
Ed4 : Streaming Qobuz Lossless – 2021

Presentation

This is the Apple Music Lossless of this album. Qobuz also sells the album as a download.

LabelParlophone Records Ltd.
ReferenceQobuz Lossless
Format (speed)Lossless 24 bits 44.1 KHz
TypeStreaming
MasterDigital 24 bits 44.1 kHz
Mastering/PressingMastered by Randy Merrill at Sterling Sound
Original recordingDigital 24 bits 44.1 kHz
StateEurope
Year original2021
Year production2021
Ed5 : Streaming Amazon Music Atmos (binaural)- 2021
Presentation

This is the streaming Amazon Music Atmos of this album in binaural for headphone listening.

Small difference of the mix at the beginning of the title My Universe compared to Ed1 and Ed4, but identical to Ed3.

LabelParlophone Records Ltd.
ReferenceAmazon Music Atmos
Format (speed)Atmos Binaural
TypeStreaming
MasterDigital 24 bits 48 kHz
Mastering/PressingMastered by Randy Merrill at Sterling Sound
Original recordingDigital
StateEurope
Year original2021
Year production2021
Ed6 : Streaming Apple Music Atmos (binaural)- 2021

Presentation

This is the Apple Music Atmos of this album. The review concerns the stereo binaural version of the Dolby Atmos for headphone listening. Listening on a speaker system is also possible with an amplifier decoding Dolby Atmos and via an Apple TV as a source of the Dolby Atmos signal example, but is not tested here.

Small difference of the mix at the beginning of the title My Universe compared to Ed1 and Ed4, but identical to Ed2.

LabelParlophone Records Ltd.
ReferenceApple Music Atmos
Format (speed)Atmos Binaural
TypeStreaming Dolby Atmos
MasterDigital 24 bits 48 kHz
Mastering/PressingMastered by Randy Merrill at Sterling Sound
Original recordingDigital
StateEurope
Year original2021
Year production2021

Part 2 : Waveform and dynamic comparaisons

Waveform

The waveform represents all the tracks of the album.

For the representation of the waveform, we can classify the different editions in two categories.

The Ed1 Vinyl, Ed5 Apple Music Atmos and Ed6 Amazon Music Atmos present a dynamic waveform with a variation of levels distributed over the whole of the songs, without marked effects of compression of the peaks of levels.

Waveform Ed1 : Vinyl 2021
Waveform Ed5 : Amazon Music Atmos 2021
Waveform Ed5 : Apple Music Atmos2021

For the Ed 2 Streaming Amazon Music, Ed3 Streaming Apple Music and Ed4 Streaming Qobuz, there is a strong compression which consists in maximizing the sound level until reducing the variations to the maximum (yellow zone). The “Zoom with clipping” graph shows that it is not only compressed, but that there is also clipping present (yellow zone). More informations about compression here.

Waveform Ed2 Amazon Music 2021
Waveform Ed3 Apple Music 2021
Waveform Ed4 Qobuz 2021

The yellow areas in the graph below show the clipping of part of the signal, i.e. the signal should rise above the maximum level allowed by the digital system.

Zoom with clipping

Dynamic

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

For our 6 editions we have obtained the following Dynamic Range (DR):

 Ed1: VinylEd2: Amazon MusicEd3:  Apple MusicEd4:  QobuzEd5: Amazon Music AtmosEd6:  Apple Music Atmos
GLOBALDR9DR6DR7DR6DR9DR8
MinDR9DR9DR5DR3DR7DR8
MaxDR11DR9DR10DR9DR11DR11
DR10DR8DR10DR8DR9DR9
Higher PowerDR11DR6DR6DR6DR9DR8
HumankindDR11DR6DR6DR6DR10DR8
*✧DR10DR7DR7DR7DR8DR8
Let Somebody GoDR09DR5DR6DR5DR9DR8
DR11DR7DR7DR7DR11DR11
People Of The PrideDR10DR3DR5DR3DR9DR6
BiutyfulDR10DR5DR5DR5DR7DR7
DR10DR9DR10DR9DR10DR10
My UniverseDR10DR5DR6DR5DR10DR8
DR10DR6DR6DR6DR9DR9
ColoraturaDR11DR6DR7DR6DR10DR10

With DR9 for vinyl (Ed1), this versions offers a dynamic range of songs between DR9 and DR11. The Atmos versions (Ed5 and Ed6) offer better dynamics than the digital stereo versions.
For the Ed2, Ed3 and Ed4 editions, we are here in full loudness war with average DR6 and DR5. There is even a DR3 for a track on Qobuz, Amazon Music, DR5 on Apple Music.

As a reminder, the scale goes from 0 to more 20, but the dynamics are considered good from 12, quite good between 10 and 11, and deteriorate below 10.

Part 3 : spectrum comparisons

Spectrum

The Spectrum allows to check the tonal balance of the music (balance between treble, medium and bass sounds) and to detect process that may have been carried out during the recording, the mixing, mastering or manufacturing phases. It is also possible to detect frequency interference issues.

The curve represents the average frequency distribution over the track “My Universe”.

The interesting features on this curve Ed1 Vinyl (White) vs Ed2 Streaming Amazon Music are the following:

  1. The two curves are superposed between 60 Hz to 10 kHz.
  2. The treble level (Ed1 Vinyl ) above 10 kHz is louder than on the Ed2 . With a small difference between 1 and 2 dB.
  3. the low frequencies below 30 Hz of the Ed1 Vinyl are 5 dB lower than the digital version Ed2 Streaming Amazon Music
  4. On the Ed1 vinyl version and the Ed2 Streaming Amazon version, we find the limit of the master at 22.1 Khz due to the sampling frequency of 44.1 kHz
Spectrum Ed1 Vinyl (White) vs Ed2 Amazon Music (Blue)

The interesting feature on this curve (below) Ed2 streaming Amazon Music (White) vs Ed4 streaming Qobuz is that the two curves are completely identical except for the small difference in cutoff above 20 kHz.

Spectrum Ed2 Amazon Music (white) vs Qobuz (Blue)

The interesting feature on this curve (below) Ed3 streaming Apple Music (White) vs Ed2 streaming Amazon music is that the two curves are completely identical except for a small difference above 20 kHz (update of the curve the 10/18/2021).

Spectrum Ed3 Apple Music (White) vs Ed2 Amazon Music (Blue)

The response curve of the Apple Atmos version differs from the Amazon Music Stereo version and cannot be compared due to the different process

Spectrum Ed6 Apple Music Atmos (white) vs Ed2 Amazon Music (Blue)

The Amazon and Apple Atmos versions differ regarding the response curve. The ambiphonic conversion used between the two versions must not have the same parameters.

Spectrum Ed5 Amazon Music Atmos (white) vs Ed6 Apple Music Atmos (Blue)

Part 4 : Spectrogram comparaisons

Spectrogram

Spectrogram is another representation of frequency versus time of a track. For each channel (right and left), horizontal axis represents time, and the vertical axis represents frequency. The amplitude is represented by the intensity (brightness) of the color of each point in the image.

For the spectrogram of the Ed1 Vinyl, the yellow arrow reveals the limit above 22 kHz due to the sampling rate of the master at 44.1 kHz. The white arrow shows the harmonics that are generated by the vinyl playback process.

Spectrogram Ed1 : Vinyl 2021

For the 3 digital editions (Ed2, Ed3, Ed4, Ed5 and Ed6), we find similar characteristics, with a limitation of the bandwidth above 20 kHz (Yellow arrow) and no signal beyond (white arrow) unlike the vinyl.

Spectrogram Ed2 Amazon Music 2021
Spectrogram Ed3 Apple Music 2021
Spectrogram Ed4 Qobuz 2021
Spectrogram Ed5 Amazon Music Atmos 2021
Spectrogram Ed6 Apple Music Atmos 2021

Part 5 : Summary, scoring and Samples

Ed1 : Vinyl ref 0190296666964- 2021

The vinyl version has a very nice packaging, with a very elaborate cover and a color booklet. A code is provided for the download, but in MP3 format, we would have preferred to have the FLAC format!
The quality of pressing of the vinyl is correct, it is made with recycled material. The sound quality is good with a dynamic that allows to have a lot of nuances and details than the compressed versions.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●oo (2.5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Surface noise: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●●o (3.5/5)
  • Sample : “My Universe” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:
Sample Ed1 Vinyl 2021
Ed2 : Streaming Amazon Music UltraHD – 2021

Like Apple Music the Qobuz version, this version is also compressed, unlike the less compressed Atmos version

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic:  ●oooo (1/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (2.5/5)
  • Sample : “My Universe” 24 bits 44.1 kHz:
Sample Amazon Music 2021
Ed3 : Streaming Apple Music Lossless – 2021

Apple also provides the Atmos version of the album for a more spatial rendering, but it’s a shame that the lossless stereo version is so compressed.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (2.5/5)
  • Sample : “My Universe” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:
Sample Ed3 Apple Music
Ed4 : Streaming Qobuz Lossless – 2021

Like Apple Music the Qobuz version is also compressed, even a little more. Loudness war is always present, even in the streaming world.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●oooo (1/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (2.5/5)
  • Sample : “My Universe” 24 bits 44.1 kHz:
Sample Ed4 Qobuz Streaming
Ed5 : Streaming Amazon Music Atmos ‘binaural)- 2021

Specifically for headphone listening, the atmos Binaural version is more dynamic and provides a better spacialization of the music, enhancing details.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●oo (2.5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (3/5)
  • Sample : “My Universe” Atmos Binaural:
Sample Ed5 Amazon Music Atmos
Ed6 : Streaming Apple Music Atmos (binaural) – 2021

Specifically for headphone listening, the atmos Binaural version brings a more dynamic listening and a better spacialization of the music compared to the stereo versions. The Binaural version has a slightly different spatial rendering than the Amazon version, with more bass.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (3.5/5)
  • Sample : “My Universe” Atmos Binaural:
Sample Ed6 Apple Music Atmos

The choice is quickly made, if you want a beautiful object and moreover sounds good, you must choose the vinyl. On the digital side, the compression is raging, we hoped to get out of this problem with streaming, and not to reproduce what is done on the CD, but it is not the case, except for the Atmos version which offers a more dynamic and spatial rendering, but reserved for headphone use.

Detail of the ratings :

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

2 thoughts on “Coldplay – Music Of The Spheres Review (LP, Streaming Amazon, Apple, Qobuz, Atmos)

  1. Very interesting thank you for the time taken to do this analysis. Just to clarify your last point “reserved for headphone use” do you mean mastered for headphone use? I just say this as the album sounds rather good on Apple Music using Atmos via a Hime theatre fed by Apple TV/receiver, in my humble opinion of course.

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    1. Thank you Angela for your comment. Indeed, the version tested in Dolby Atmos is a version Binaural for headphones. What allows to put a sample to compare with the other releases. I share your point of view on the listening on speakers in 7.1.4 which is indeed very good. That will be included in the tests in the futur.

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