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

The 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 8 editions (recycled colored Vinyl , Streaming Amazon Music, Apple Music and Qobuz, Amazon, Apple and Tidal Atmos Binaural, Tidal Atmos Multichannel) 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 : Spatialization

Part 6 : Summary, scoring and Sample

Part 1: presentation of the editions

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
Ed7 : Streaming Tidal Atmos (binaural) – 2021

Presentation

This is the Tidal Atmos of this album. The review concerns the stereo binaural version of the Dolby Atmos for headphone listening.

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.
ReferenceTidal 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
Ed8 : Streaming Tidal Atmos (Multi Channel) – 2021

Presentation

This is the Tidal Atmos of this album. The review concerns the multichanel version of the Dolby Atmos with 7.1.4 configuration.

LabelParlophone Records Ltd.
ReferenceTidal Dolby Atmos
Format (speed)Streaming Atmos Dolby Digital+ at 768 kb/s
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 , Ed6 Amazon Music Atmos and Ed7 Tidal 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 Atmos 2021

Compared to other Dolby Atmos Binaural versions, the Tidal version (Ed7) shows some cretes that are a bit limited in level.

Waveform Ed7 : Tidal Atmos 2021

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

The graph below represents the Tidal Dolby Digital+ in 5.1 without Atmos decoding. We notice a dynamics of the tracks on all the front and back channels.

Waveform Ed8 : Tidal Dolby Atmos DD+ without Atmos decoding

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 8 editions we have obtained the following Dynamic Range (DR):

 Ed1: VinylEd2: Amazon MusicEd3:  Apple MusicEd4:  QobuzEd5: Amazon  Atmos BinauralEd6:  Apple  Atmos BinauralEd7:  Tidal  Atmos BinauralEd7:  Tidal  Atmos
GLOBALDR9DR6DR7DR6DR9DR8DR9DR10
MinDR9DR9DR5DR3DR7DR8DR7DR6
MaxDR11DR9DR10DR9DR11DR11DR10DR13
DR10DR8DR10DR8DR9DR9DR7DR10
Higher PowerDR11DR6DR6DR6DR9DR8DR9DR11
HumankindDR11DR6DR6DR6DR10DR8DR10DR12
*✧DR10DR7DR7DR7DR8DR8DR7DR6
Let Somebody GoDR09DR5DR6DR5DR9DR8DR9DR12
DR11DR7DR7DR7DR11DR11DR10DR10
People Of The PrideDR10DR3DR5DR3DR9DR6DR8DR8
BiutyfulDR10DR5DR5DR5DR7DR7DR7DR10
DR10DR9DR10DR9DR10DR10DR10DR11
My UniverseDR10DR5DR6DR5DR10DR8DR9DR13
DR10DR6DR6DR6DR9DR9DR9DR11
ColoraturaDR11DR6DR7DR6DR10DR10DR9DR9

With DR9 for vinyl (Ed1), this versions offers a dynamic range of songs between DR9 and DR11. The Atmos versions (Ed5,Ed6 and Ed7 ) 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.

The multi-channel version is different due to the use of multiple channels and offers an average DR10 with a maximum at DR13.

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)

The two curves are similar except for the cutoff frequency which is 20 kHz for Amazon and 18 kHz (yellow arrow) up to 20 kHz (averaged value). A possible reason could be the use of a lower bitrate for the Atmos track on Tidal than on Amazon.

Spectrum Ed7 Tidal Atmos (white) vs Ed5 Amazon Atmos (Blue)

Dolby Digital Plus dynamically adapts the high cutoff frequency according to the level present in the high frequencies, always with the aim of optimizing data compression. The example below shows different cutoff frequencies from 15 kHz to 20 kHz found in the Tidal track My Universe.

Spectrum Ed7 Tidal Atmos – Variation during the song

The spectrum below represents the 6 channels of Tidal Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 without ATMOS decoding. The maximum frequency is 20 kHz (yellow arrow). We also find the LFE channel (green arrow), but which is filtered in the 120 Hz. The central channel is little used in this track. The cutoff frequency is 20 kHz and not 18 kHz like the Ed7. The adaptation of the dynamic cutoff frequency is less strong compared to the Tidal version binaural. It seems that the Atmos track rate is not the same depending on the equipment used (Telephone vs Amazon Stick).

Spectrum Ed8 Tidal Dolby Digital Plus without decoding atmos (Scale max at 24 kHz)

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

The Tidal Atmos Binaural (Ed7) version is very similar to the Apple Music and Amazon versions with the cut-off at 20 kHz maximum (yellow arrow), but also with passages cut at 18 kHz (black arrow) or less. This is due to the encoding principle of Dolby Digital Plus, which eliminates the frequencies with the lowest level to compress more easily.

Spectrogram Ed7 Tidal Atmos binaural 2021

In the spectrograms below of the Ed8 Tidal Doby Digital+, the yellow arrow indicates the limit at 20 kHz. There is no signal above 20 kHz (white arrow). This is in coherence with the representation of the spectrum. The green arrow shows the LFE channel filtering at 120 Hz. There is also a lot of darker area (black) due to the Dolby Digital+ compression which makes a cleaning of the signal to compress the sound more easily with a low bit rate of 768 kb/s.

Spectrogram Ed8 Tidal Dolby Digital Plus without decoding atmos

Part 5 : Spatialization

Spatialization allows you to define the sound distribution of the music on all the channels. The spatialization indicator and the description of the graph are described here.

As the graphs below show, the spatialization of the music is good for the Dolby Atmos version.

Representation of the Tidal Dolby Digital+ with ATMOS decoding of the Tidal Streaming (ED8). Dolby atmos is well used with a space occupation that varies according to the tracks. The spatialization score represents the average value for the album.

Spatialization : ●●●●●●oooo (6.3)

Part 6 : 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
Ed7 : Streaming Tidal Atmos (binaural) – 2021

The Tidal Atmos version is based on the same mix as the other Atmos versions and with the same binaural rendering as the Amazon Atmos Binaural version.However, the use of a higher compression of the data with loss of information removes some precision in the details and high frequencies.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●oo (3.5/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (3/5)
  • Sample : “My Universe” Atmos Binaural:
Sample Ed6 Apple Music Atmos
Ed8 : Streaming Tidal Atmos (Multichannel) – 2021

The Tidal Atmos version in multi-channel listening is a very dynamic and spatialized version. Many channels are exploited to occupy the space with the music and to plunge us in the heart of this one.
All the tracks are not totally immersive, it depends on the will of artistic creation, but a track like “My Universe” is a good example of what can be done with an immersion of 5.5 for this track.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●oo (3/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Atmos Spatialization : ●●●●●●oooo (6.3)
    • Restitution: ●●●●o (4/5)
  • Sample : “My Universe” 5.1 16 bits 48kHz, the sample corresponds to the Dolby Digital+ 5.1 audio track without Atmos decoding:

The sample is in 5.1 wav format, if you can not play the sample in your navigator, you can save it, right button menu and “Save Audio As…” and play it with an external player.

Sample Ed8 Tidal Atmos multichannel

The choice is quickly made, if you want a beautiful object and moreover which sounds well, you can choose the vinyl. On the digital side, the dynamic compression is also present on the CD and the stereo streaming, but it is not the case of the Atmos version which offers a more dynamic and spatial rendering, but reserved for a use with the headphones, or in multi channel where we are immerged in the heart of the music. But nothing is perfect, because the Atmos versions are encoded in Dolby Digital Plus.

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)
  • Spatialization :Between 0 and 5 for 5.1 or 7.1 channels configuration
    • Between 0 and 10 for Atmos configuration (7.1.4)
    • For more information on spatialization, you can read the article describing this parameter here.
  • 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.

4 thoughts on “Coldplay – Music Of The Spheres Review (LP, Streaming Amazon, Apple, Qobuz, Tidal, Binaural, Multichannel, 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.

    Like

    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.

      Like

  2. I am listening to Audio Technica ATH-M50x EQ-ed to a bit modified Optimum Hi-Fi target + ASH-IR 7.1 surround binaural impulse response & multi channel version sounds amazing! It’s a shame that it’s only avaliable on Tidal.

    Like

    1. You must have a very nice listening with this headphone. Dolby Atmos is available in Binaural on Amazon, Apple and Tidal. It is available in multichannel on Tidal and Apple (via AppleTV). Indeed, not all streaming services offer it yet.

      Like

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