Alan Parsons – From the New World (CD, DVD, stereo, 5.1, Qobuz, Tidal)

Alan Parsons is back with his 6th solo album From the New World. But Alan Parsons is not only a musician, he is also a great engineer who worked on Abbey Road (The Beatles) and the fabulous The Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd)…

The review includes 5 editions: CD, DVD stereo, DVD 5.1, Qobuz Hi-Res, Tidal.

Below you will find the description of the different editions, as well as the measurements of each edition in the following chapters.
The synthesis of the review and the samples are available here.

This album in Bluray includes 11 tracks reviewed:

  1. Fare Thee Well
  2. The Secret
  3. Uroboros
  4. Don’t Fade Now
  5. Give ’em My Love
  6. Obstacles
  7. I Won’t Be Led Astray
  8. You Are The Light
  9. Halos
  10. Goin’ Home
  11. Be My Baby

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.

The streaming versions may evolve over time, those presented here correspond to the version tested at the date of publication, or update of the review.

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: CD ref : 8 024391124048 – 2022
Presentation

This is the CD of the box integrating CD and DVD.

Label‎Frontiers Music SRL
Reference 8 024391124048
Format (speed)CD
TypeCD 16 bits 44.1 kHz
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingMastered By Dave Donnelly, DNA Mastering
Original recordingDigital
StateEU
Year original2022
Year production2022
Ed2: DVD Stereo ref : 8 024391124048 – 2022
Presentation

This is stereo track of the DVD of the box integrating CD and DVD.

This track is announced in PCM, but it is encoded in Dolby Digital

Label‎Frontiers Music SRL
Reference 8 024391124048
Format (speed)DVD Stereo
TypeDolby Digital 192 kbits/s and not PCM
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingMastered By Dave Donnelly, DNA Mastering
Original recordingDigital
StateEU
Year original2022
Year production2022
Ed3: DVD 5.1 ref : 8 024391124048
Presentation

This is 5.1 track of the DVD of the box integrating CD and DVD.

Label‎Frontiers Music SRL
Reference 8 024391124048
Format (speed)DVD 5.1
TypeDolby Digital 5.1 448 kbits/s
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingMastered By Dave Donnelly, DNA Mastering
Original recordingDigital
StateEU
Year original2022
Year production2022
Ed4: Qobuz Hi-Res – 2022

Presentation

This is streaming Qobuz Hi-Res in lossless 24 bits 44.1 kHz

Label‎Frontiers Music SRL
ReferenceQobuz
Format (speed)Streaming Hi-Res
Type 24 bits 44.1 kHz
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingMastered By Dave Donnelly, DNA Mastering
Original recordingDigital
StateEU
Year original2022
Year production2022
Ed5: Tidal – 2022

Presentation

This is streamingTidal presented in lossless 16 bits 44.1 kHz

Label‎Frontiers Music SRL
ReferenceTidal
Format (speed)Streaming quality CD
Type16 bits 44.1 kHz
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingMastered By Dave Donnelly, DNA Mastering
Original recordingDigital
StateEU
Year original2022
Year production2022

Part 2 : Waveform and dynamic comparaisons

Waveform

The waveform represents all the tracks of the album for each version.

All stereo versions (Ed1 CD, Ed2 DVD stereo, Ed4 Qobuz and Ed5 Tidal) are dynamic, without any extreme flatness of the waveform showing an intensive use of a dynamic limiter. This is confirmed by the Dynamic Range (DR) measurement.

Waveform Ed1 : CD
Waveform Ed2 DVD Stereo
Waveform Ed4: Qobuz
Waveform Ed5: Tidal

The DVD 5.1(Ed3) is also dynamic, with a good presence of the surround channels.

Waveform Ed3: DVD5.1

Dynamic

Dynamic represents the ability to reproduce a wide range of sounds from the softest to the loudest. The target is to compare the dynamics of the music and not of the media (CD, digital files or vinyl).

For our 5 editions we have obtained the following Dynamic Range (DR) :

 Ed1: CDEd2: DVD 2.0Ed3: DVD 5.1Ed4: QobuzEd5: Tidal
GLOBALDR12DR12DR13DR12DR12
MinDR11DR11DR12DR11DR11
MaxDR13DR13DR14DR13DR13
Fare Thee WellDR11DR11DR13DR11DR13
The SecretDR12DR12DR14DR12DR11
UroborosDR12DR12DR14DR12DR12
Don’t Fade NowDR12DR12DR14DR12DR11
Give ’em My LoveDR11DR11DR14DR11DR12
ObstaclesDR12DR12DR13DR12DR12
I Won’t Be Led AstrayDR13DR13DR14DR13DR12
You Are The LightDR11DR11DR14DR11DR11
HalosDR11DR11DR14DR11DR11
Goin’ HomeDR13DR13DR12DR13DR13
Be My BabyDR12DR12DR14DR12DR12

After the analysis of the waveforms, the DR measurement confirms a good dynamic with a DR12 for all the stereo versions and a DR13 for the 5.1 version which is always higher due to the use of more channels.

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 sample “I Won’t Be Led Astray”.

The comparison between the CD (Ed1) and the DVD stereo (Ed2) clearly shows a cutoff at 16 kHz for the DVD stereo (yellow arrow). This cut is due to the Dolby Digital encoding at 192 kbps. Contrary to what is indicated on the cover, the stereo DVD version is in Dolby Digital and not in PCM.

Spectrum Ed2 DVD 2.0(white) vs Ed1 CD (blue)

For the two graphs below, the comparison between the CD (Ed1), the Qobuz version (Ed4) and Tidal (Ed5) shows that all the spectra overlap. With the other measures, this will confirm the use of the same master.

Spectrum Ed4 Qobuz (white) vs Ed1 CD (blue)
Spectrum Ed5 Tidal (white) vs Ed1 CD (blue)

The spectrum below represents the 6 channels in 5.1 configuration. The maximum frequency is 20 kHz due to the Dolby Digital encoding in 448 kbis/s (yellow arrow). The LFE channel is filtered above 120 Hz (green arrow).

Spectrum Ed3 DVD 5.1

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.

The spectrogram of the CD (Ed1), Qobuz (Ed4) and Tidal (Ed5) versions are similar with a maximum frequency at 22 kHz (yellow arrow) due to the 44.1 kHz sampling rate, with no signal above (white arrow).

Spectrogram Ed1 : CD
Spectrogram Ed4 : Qobuz
Spectrogram Ed5 : Tidal

The stereo DVD spectrogram has a maximum frequency at 16 kHz (yellow arrow) due to the Dolby Digital encoding with no signal above (white arrow).

Spectrogram Ed2 : DVD Stereo

The spectrograms of DVD 5.1 (Ed3) have a limit at 20kHz (yellow arrow) due to the Dolby Digital encoding and the absence of signal above 20kHz (white arrow). The green arrow shows the LFE channel cut-off at 120Hz.

Spectrogram Ed3 : DVD 5.1

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.

Very nice spatial rendering with a nice distribution of the instruments and a nice immersion in the sound space. Alan Parsons is familiar with multichannel mixes like the On Air album.

Spatialization : ●●●●o (3.6)

Part 6 : Summary, scoring and Samples

Ed1: CD ref : 8 024381124048 – 2022

We find a dynamic CD version with a nice opening. The music and the voices play perfectly together. Thanks to Alan Parsons for not following the will to sound louder with the dynamic limiters, to offer us an open and lively album.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●●o (3.5/5)
    • Surface noise: ●●●●o (4.0/5)
    • Sound result: ●●●●o (4/5)
  • Sample : “I Won’t Be Led Astray” 16 bits 44.1 kHz:
Sample Ed1 CD
Ed2: DVD Stereo ref : 8 024381124048 – 2022

Contrary to the indications on the box, the stereo version of the DVD is in Dolby Digital and not in PCM. So we find a track with a limited bandwidth due to the loss of information of the Dolby Digital compression, therefore without any interest compared to the CD version.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●●o (3.5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●ooo (2/5)
    • Sound result: ●●ooo (2.5/5)
  • Sample : “I Won’t Be Led Astray” 16 bits 48 kHz:
Sample Ed2 DVD 2.0
Ed3: DVD 5.1 ref : 8 024381124048

The 5.1 version brings a plus in the spatial rendering of the album. We find ourselves immersed in the music. The mix in 5.1 is very successful. The finesse of the musical rendering is limited by the encoding in Dolby Digital (at 448 kbits/s). We would have preferred a DTS encoding at 1536 kbits/s which would have brought more information, the ideal would be a version on Bluray in Lossless mode (DTS Master Audio or Dolby Digital True Audio) or Atmos, but certainly more expensive.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Spatialization: ●●●●o (3.6/5)
    • Sound result: ●●●●o (4/5)
  • Sample : “I Won’t Be Led Astray” 5.1 16 bits 48 kHz:

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 Ed3 DVD 5.1
Ed4: Qobuz Hi-Res – 2022

The Qobuz version is in Hi-Res 24 bits 44.1 kHz, but remains very similar to the CD and Tidal version. The difference is in the nuance with just a little more clarity and openness on this version, especially on the voice.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●●o (3.5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Sound result: ●●●●o (4/5)
  • Sample : “I Won’t Be Led Astray” 24 bits 44.1 kHz:
Sample Ed4 Qobuz
Ed5: Tidal – 2022

The Tidal version is similar to the CD version, we find the same dynamics and the same rendering of the music and voices.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●●o (3.5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Sound result: ●●●●o (4/5)
  • Sample : “I Won’t Be Led Astray” 16 bits 44.1kHz:
Sample Ed5 Tidal

It is with great pleasure to find an album produced in 2022 that is not impacted by the Loudness War. We find a similar digital version on all lossless media (CD, Qobuz and Tidal), everyone will be able to listen to this album according to his choice of purchase or subscription.
The box CD plus DVD is a good initiative to make available a 5.1 version which brings a very spatial rendering of this album. But we would have preferred the use of more qualitative encoding than the Dolby Digital in 448 kbits/s.

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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.
  • Sound result :
    1. Low quality of the sound mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments.
    2. Average quality of the sound mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments.
    3. Quality of the sound mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Good record.
    4. High quality of the sound mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Very high level disc.
    5. Maximum quality of the sound mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Exceptional disc.

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