Muse – Will Of The People – Review (Cassette, Vinyl, Qobuz Hi-Res, Amazon Dolby Atmos Binaural)

“Will Of The People” is the ninth studio album by Muse. It is an album that reflects the current uncertainties with rather dark songs. This new album has 10 songs and a duration of 37 minutes and is a best of of the best music the band can make.

The review includes 4 editions: Vinyl, Cassette, Amazon Dolby Atmos Binaural, Qobuz Hi-Res.

In this test, the DR measurement shows that the DRs are identical between the Tidal and Qobuz versions. The detailed analysis will therefore focus on Qobuz.

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 includes 10 tracks reviewed:

  1. Will Of The People
  2. Compliance
  3. Liberation
  4. Won’t Stand Down
  5. Ghosts (How Can I Move On)
  6. You Make Me Feel Like It’s Halloween
  7. Kill Or Be Killed
  8. Verona
  9. Euphoria
  10. We Are Fucking Fucked

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 : Summary, scoring and Sample

Part 1: presentation of the editions

Ed1: Amazon Dolby Atmos Binaural – 2022
Presentation

This is the version of the album mixed in Dolby Atmos and presented here in binaural for headphone listening.

Label‎Warner Records
ReferenceAmazon Dolby Atmos
Format (speed)Streaming
TypeDolby Digital Plus Atmos
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingMastered By – Chris Gehringer
Original recordingDigital
StateUS
Year original2022
Year production2022
Ed2: Qobuz Hi-Res – 2022
Presentation

This is the streaming Qobuz Hi-Res presented in 24 bits 96 kHz ou in 24 bits 44.1 kHz for Won’t Stand Down.

Label‎Warner Records
ReferenceQobuz Hi-Res
Format (speed)Streaming Hi-Res 24 bits 96 kHz or 44.1 kHz
TypeLossless
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingMastered By – Chris Gehringer
Original recordingDigital
StateEurope
Year original2022
Year production2022
Ed3: Vinyl ref: 0190296383861 – 2022
Presentation

This is the black vinyl of this album.

Label‎Warner Records
Reference0190296383861
Format (speed)Vinyl 33rpm 140g
TypeVinyl
MasterDigital 24/96
Mastering/PressingMastered By – Chris Gehringer
Original recordingDigital
StateEurope
Year original2022
Year production2022
Ed4: Cassette ref: 0190296237591 – 2022
Presentation

This is the yellow cassette of this album.

Label‎Warner Records
Reference0190296237591
Format (speed)Cassette Yellow
TypeCassette
MasterDigital 24/96
Mastering/PressingMastered By – Chris Gehringer
Original recordingDigital
StateEurope
Year original2022
Year production2022

Part 2 : Waveform and dynamic comparaisons

Waveform

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

The graphs below represent the waveforms of Dolby Atmos Binaural version (Ed1), vinyl (Ed3) and cassette (Ed4).
This version is dynamic without the excessive use of dynamic limiters as on the streaming edition.

The Qobuz version (Ed2) is strongly compressed in dynamic (yellow zone) as confirmed by its DR4.

Comparison between Cassette, Vinyl, Qobuz and the Dolby Atmos Binaural of the song Will Of The People adjusted to the same sound level. We can see the effect of the dynamic range compression which limits the sound levels, thus suppressing part of the signal (Qobuz). The difference between the waveform of vinyl/cassette and the waveform of Dolby Atmos are different and largely due to the different mixing.

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:Atmos BinauralEd2: QobuzEd3: VinylEd4: CassetteTidal
GLOBALDR10DR4DR11DR10DR4
MinDR9DR3DR10DR9DR3
MaxDR11DR6DR11DR10DR6
Will Of The PeopleDR10DR4DR11DR10DR4
ComplianceDR10DR5DR11DR10DR5
LiberationDR11DR4DR11DR9DR4
Won’t Stand DownDR11DR5DR10DR9DR5
Ghosts (How Can I Move On)DR10DR6DR10DR9DR6
You Make Me Feel Like It’s HalloweenDR11DR4DR10DR10DR4
Kill Or Be KilledDR11DR3DR11DR10DR3
VeronaDR9DR4DR11DR10DR4
EuphoriaDR10DR4DR10DR10DR4
We Are Fucking FuckedDR11DR4DR10DR10DR4

The Qobuz version (or Tidal) is presented with a higher dynamic compression giving a DR4 compared to the vinyl, cassette and Dolby Atmos version DR11/DR10.

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 “Will Of The People”.

The graph below shows the difference between the spectrum of the Qobuz version (Ed2) and the Dolby Atmos Binaural version (Ed1). The yellow areas show the differences between the two versions. It is not possible to compare these two curves because they come from different mixes, in stereo (blue) and in Dolby Atmos (white). The yellow arrow shows the 20 kHz limit for the 360RA binaural version, this is due to the Dolby Digital Plus encoding which reduces the high frequencies.

The spectrum between the vinyl (Ed3) and the Qobuz version (Ed2) are very close up to 24800 Hz. The yellow area shows a difference in the treble for the vinyl which has more variation than the digital version.

The spectrum of the cassette (Ed4) is superimposed on that of the vinyl (Ed3) up to 5 kHz. Beyond 5 kHz, there is an attenuation of the high frequencies up to 5 dB (yellow zone) and a frequency that goes up to 15-17 kHz (yellow arrow). The sound balance will put forward more the bottom of the spectrum compared to the vinyl, while having dynamics.

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 Dolby Atmos (Ed1) shows a limit at 20kHz (yellow arrow) due to the Dolby Digital Plus encoding and the absence of signal above 20 kHz (white arrow).

The spectrograms of Qobuz Hi-Res (Ed2) continues above 22 kHz (yellow arrow). The white arrow shows the signal of the music above 22 kHz and up to 48 kHz, except for the track 4 green arrow).

The spectrogram of the vinyl (Ed3) shows that the signal rises above 22 kHz. It is interesting to compare the vinyl spectrogram with the Qobuz 24 bit 96 kHz spectrogram. There are similarities between the two versions, with the high frequencies being more accentuated on the vinyl. For the 4th track, we can see on the Qobuz version (green arrow) that the signal is limited to 22 kHz, whereas on the vinyl, there are more signals above 22 kHz (White). This difference is due to the principle of vinyl which generates distortion when reproducing frequencies above 22 kHz.

We find a classical spectrogram for a cassette with a limit bandwidth below 20 kHz (yellow arrow), and the cassette noise above 20 kHz (green arrow)

Part 5 : Summary, scoring and Samples

Ed1: Amazon Dolby Atmos Binaural – 2022

The Dolby Atmos Binaural version brings dynamics and a more open rendering of the music that immerses us in all the instruments.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●oo (3/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (3.5/5)
  • Sample : “Will Of The People” Amazon Atmos Binaural:
Sample Ed1 Amazon Atmos Binaural
Ed2: Qobuz Hi-Res – 2022

The version produces a powerful sound, even very ford at the expense of the fineness of the rendering and with distortion that is clearly audible. We are at the top of the loudness war! It’s a shame with the use of high resolution 24 bit 96 kHz.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●oooo (1/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Restitution: ●●ooo (2/5)
  • Sample : “Will Of The People” 24bits 96 kHz:
Sample Ed2 Qobuz Hi-Res
Ed3: Vinyl ref: 0190296383861 – 2022

The pressing is of high quality, with reduced surface noise. When listening to it, one immediately finds more dynamics, openness of the sound image and detail and precision than the digital Qobuz version. The vinyl brings a more pleasant version to listen to with a better restitution of all the instruments and voices.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●oo (3/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Surface noise: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (3.5/5)
  • Sample : “Will Of The People” 24bits 88.2 kHz:
Sample Ed3 Vinyl
Ed4: Cassette ref: 0190296237591 – 2022

Despite the limitations of the cassette with less precision than the other editions, the dynamics identical to the vinyl with a more bass balance give a very result that allows the cassette to give a warmer and more dynamic rendering than the digital version affected by the loudness war.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●oo (3/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (3.5/5)
    • Surface noise: ●●●oo (2.5/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (2.5/5)
  • Sample : “Will Of The People” 24bits 96 kHz:
Sample Ed4 Cassette

Muse certainly holds the record this August with a DR4 for the digital stereo version, which is a pity, because this level of dynamic compression is clearly audible. The Dolby Atmos Binaural version, for headphone listening, corrects this problem by providing dynamic, spatialized sound and detailed rendering of the music.

Update of the review with the vinyl: the listening makes the difference with the digital stereo version, no doubt, it is the vinyl version to privilege if you want more precision, details and dynamics!

Update of the review with the cassette: It’s a surprise, the tape, despite its technical limitations, gives a good rendering on this Muse album. It does not have the precision of the other supports, if one does not seek the perfection, it brings a warm listening of the cassette, it is funny this return of the cassette!

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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.
  • 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.

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