Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxymore – Review (Vinyl, CD, Binaural, Qobuz Hi-Res, Tidal Dolby Atmos)

Jean-Michel Jarre is back with his 22nd album Oxymore. It is an important project that pays homage to the pioneer of concrete and electronic music Pierre Henry (by taking up his legacy sounds) and also by realizing an album entirely thought in 3D spatial sound. This multichannel and binaural version of Oxymore was mixed and spatialized by Hervé Déjardin, project manager at the audio-innovation department of Radio France and Jean-Michel Jarre. Oxymore comes out 46 years after the famous album Oxygène, Jean-Michel Jarre offers us with Oxymore an album as good as Oxygene.

We will review 7 versions including vinyl, CD, Binaural, Qobuz Hi-Res (stereo and binaural) and Tidal Dolby Atmos.

You can find the reviews of other albums of Jean-Michel Jarre : Oxygène , AMAZÔNIA , Live in Notre-Dame VR – Welcome To The Other Side

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.

List of the tracks:

  1. AGORA
  2. OXYMORE
  3. NEON LIPS
  4. SONIC LAND
  5. ANIMAL GENESIS
  6. SYNTHY SISTERS
  7. SEX IN THE MACHINE
  8. ZEITGEIST
  9. CRYSTAL GARDEN
  10. BRUTALISM
  11. EPICA

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

Ed 1: Vinyl – 2022
Presentation

This is the double vinyl of Oxymore with a code to download the Binaural files.

LabelMusic Affair Entertainment Ltd
Reference196587465810
Format (speed)Vinyl double LP
Type2xLP 33 1/3 rpm
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingMixed by Jean-Michel Jarre assited by Marco Grenier Mastered by David – Dadwater – Perreau
Original recordingDigital
StateFrance
Year original2022
Year production2022
Ed 2: CD – 2022
Presentation

This is the CD of Oxymore with a code to download the Binaural files.

LabelMusic Affair Entertainment Ltd
Reference196587465827
Format (speed)CD
TypePCM 16 bits 44.1 kHz
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingMixed by Jean-Michel Jarre assited by Marco Grenier Mastered by David – Dadwater – Perreau
Original recordingDigital
StateFrance
Year original2022
Year production2022
Ed 3: Binaural downloaded – 2022
Presentation

This is the binaural version of Oxymore download with the code included with the CD and vinyl. This binaural version was generated in studio and uses the wav format which is a lossless format compared to Dolby Digital Plus (ATMOS).

Binaural downloaded – 2022
LabelMusic Affair Entertainment Ltd
Reference196587465827 and 196587465810
Format (speed)Downloaded wav files with code
TypePCM 24 bit 48 kHz
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingBinaural and Multichannel at Radio France by Hervé Dejardin et Jean-Michel Jarre
Original recordingDigital
StateFrance
Year original2022
Year production2022
Ed 4: Qobuz Hi-Res – 2022
Presentation

This is the stereo version of Oxymore presented by Qobuz in Hi-Res 24 bits 48 kHz

Qobuz Hi-Res – 2022
LabelMusic Affair Entertainment Ltd
ReferenceQobuz Hi-Res
Format (speed)Streaming lossless
TypePCM 24 bit 48 kHz
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingMixed by Jean-Michel Jarre assited by Marco Grenier Mastered by David – Dadwater – Perreau
Original recordingDigital
StateFrance
Year original2022
Year production2022
Ed 5: Qobuz Hi-Res Binaural – 2022
Presentation

This is the binaural version of Oxymore presented by Qobuz in Hi-Res 24 bits 48 kHz. This binaural version was generated in studio and uses he lossless format streaming compared to Dolby Digital Plus (ATMOS).

Qobuz Hi-Res Binaural – 2022
LabelMusic Affair Entertainment Ltd
ReferenceQobuz Hi-Res (Binaural Headphone Mix)
Format (speed)Streaming lossless
TypePCM 24 bit 48 kHz
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingBinaural and Multichannel at Radio France by Hervé Dejardin et Jean-Michel Jarre
Original recordingDigital
StateFrance
Year original2022
Year production2022
Ed 6: Tidal Dolby Atmos Binaural – 2022
Presentation

This is the binaural version of Oxymore presented by Tidal from Dolby Atmos track.

Tidal Dolby Atmos Binaural – 2022
LabelMusic Affair Entertainment Ltd
ReferenceTidal Dolby Atmos
Format (speed)Streaming Dolby Digital Plus Atmos
TypeBinaural
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingBinaural and Multichannel at Radio France by Hervé Dejardin et Jean-Michel Jarre
Original recordingDigital
StateFrance
Year original2022
Year production2022
Ed 7: Tidal Dolby Atmos – 2022
Presentation

This is the multichannel version of Oxymore presented by Tidal from Dolby Atmos

Tidal Dolby Atmos – 2022
LabelMusic Affair Entertainment Ltd
ReferenceTidal Dolby Atmos
Format (speed)Streaming Dolby Digital Plus Atmos
TypeMultichannel decoded up to 7.1.4
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingBinaural and Multichannel at Radio France by Hervé Dejardin et Jean-Michel Jarre
Original recordingDigital
StateFrance
Year original2022
Year production2022

Part 2 : Waveform and dynamic comparaisons

Waveform

The waveform represents the album

The graph below represents the waveform of the vinyl version (Ed1). These versions are dynamic without any effect of strong compression of the dynamics.

The CD (Ed2) and Qobuz Hi-Res( Ed4) below turn up the level to the maximum and with the use of a Brickwall limiter that caps the levels as shown in the yellow zone.

The Binaural Downloaded (Ed3) and Qobuz (Ed5) are more dynamic than the stereo CD (Ed2) and Qobuz (Ed4) versions with very few traces of limiter use (yellow zone) compared to these stereo versions.

It is quite surprising that this binaural version from Dolby Atmos is compressed, I have no explanation on the origin of this limitation.

This is the most dynamic version, as for the vinyl, we do not identify the use of a limiter that allows to obtain a DR14. The specific LFE bass channel is not used for this album.

For the track “ZEITGEIST”, the comparison of the waveforms adjusted to the same sound level shows the effect of the Brickwall limiter used to make the stereo digital version sound louder. We thus lose a lot of details and information for the musical rendering compared to the vinyl and the Binaural version.

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 7 editions reviewed have obtained the following Dynamic Range (DR) :

Vinyl – 2022CD – 2022Binaural downloaded – 2022Qobuz Hi-Res – 2022Qobuz Hi-Res Binaural – 2022Tidal Dolby Atmos Binaural – 2022Tidal Dolby Atmos – 2022
GlobalDR13DR7 DR10DR7 DR10DR8 DR14
MinDR12DR5 DR9 DR5 DR9 DR7 DR13
MaxDR14DR14DR12DR14DR12DR10DR15
AGORADR14DR14DR12DR14DR12DR10DR15
OXYMOREDR12DR7 DR9 DR7 DR9 DR8 DR14
NEON LIPSDR13DR7 DR12DR7 DR12DR9 DR14
SONIC LANDDR14DR7 DR11DR7 DR11DR9 DR15
ANIMAL GENESISDR13DR7 DR9 DR7 DR9 DR8 DR15
SYNTHY SISTERSDR12DR7 DR10DR7 DR10DR7 DR13
SEX IN THE MACHINEDR13DR7 DR11DR7 DR11DR8 DR13
ZEITGEISTDR12DR6 DR11DR6 DR11DR9 DR14
CRYSTAL GARDENDR13DR8 DR10DR8 DR10DR8 DR14
BRUTALISMDR13DR6 DR10DR6 DR10DR7 DR13
EPICADR12DR5 DR11DR5 DR11DR8 DR14

The result of the DR measurements is consistent with the waveform analysis, i.e. a DR7 for the digital stereo versions (with dynamic range limitation), a DR10 for the Binaural lossless versions and a DR13/DR14 for the vinyl and multi-channel Atmos versions. The only strange value is the DR8 for the Atmos Binaural version of Tidal which shows the use of a limiter.

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 vinyl and CD spectrum overlap for most of the spectrum, with just a small difference below 60 Hz (green area) and 18 kHz (yellow area). The yellow arrow shows the frequency limit of CD at 22 kHz according to the 44.1 kHz sampling rate.

The spectrum of the CD and the Qobuz Hi-Res version overlaps completely, even at the 22 kHz cutoff (yellow arrow). This indicates that, despite a 48 kHz sampling rate for the Qobuz version, the music was recorded at a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz.

The spectrum of the CD and the Qobuz Hi-Res version overlaps completely, even at the 22 kHz cutoff (yellow arrow). This indicates that, despite a 48 kHz sampling rate used for this release, the music was recorded at a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz.

The two versions Qobuez Hi-res stereo and Binaural are totally different because of the difference in the mix. The only common point is the cutoff frequency at 22 kHz.

The two Binaural versions between Qobuz and the Tidal Dolby Atmos version are very different. This is certainly due to the use of a different HRTF profile for the Binaural (green and purple area), and also to the Dolby Digital Plus encoding which removes high frequencies (yellow area) depending on their levels, and also limits the maximum possible frequency to 17kHe and 20 kHz (yellow arrow)

For the Dolby Atmos version in multichannel, the Atmos decoding is not activated, so we find the 5 basic decoded channels from Dolby Digital Plus with a frequency reduced to 20 kHz (yellow arrow) by the Dolby Digital encoder.

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 vinyl (Ed1) shows that the frequencies rise above 20 kHz (yellow arrow). Above this frequency (white arrow), we find a signal which is composed by the distortion generated by the vinyl playback principle.

The spectrograms of the CD version have a frequency limitation at 22 kHz (yellow arrow) due to the sampling frequency of 44,1 kHz. There is no signal above this frequency (white arrow).

The spectrograms of the Binaural downloaded and Qobuz, and QoBuz Hi-Res versions below are identical with a frequency limitation at 24 kHz (yellow arrow) due to the sampling frequency of 48 kHz. There is no signal above this frequency (white arrow).

The spectrograms of the Tidal Atmos Binaural and multichannel versions (5.1 decoded) below are identical with a frequency limitation at 20 kHz (yellow arrow) due to the Dolby Digital Encoding. There is no signal above this frequency (white arrow). The red area shows the suppression of high frequencies to optimize the data compression in order to reduce the throughput to 768 kbps.

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.

The music has been thought for the spatial mix, and you can hear it from the first seconds. We are not talking about a sound stage in front of us, but all around us. The music is alive, all the sounds and music revolve around us, it is a real horizontal immersion.

The playback of Dolby Digital Plus Atmos without Atmos decoding provides a 5.1 version which is very spatialized with an exploitation of all the channels.

Spatialization : ●●●●o (3.8)

The Dolby Atmos decoding in 7.1.4 brings a very important spatialization with a beautiful use of the front and surround channels. The high channels are very little used, with the music playing mainly around us.

Spatialization : ●●●●●ooooo (5)

Part 6 : Summary, scoring and Samples

Ed 1: Vinyl – 2022

The vinyl brings a lively and dynamic version compared to the digital stereo versions. The rendering of the sound space is very good with a very large sound image. The listening to the headphones is also very pleasant even without binaural.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4.5)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Surface noise: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●●oo (3.5)

Sample : ”ZEITGEIST” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:

Sample 1 Ed 1: Vinyl – 2022
Ed 2: CD – 2022

But why follow the loudness war for an album like this one, we find a sound less precise in dynamics and spatialization than the vinyl.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●●oo (3)

Sample : ”ZEITGEIST” 16 bits 44.1 kHz:

Sample 1 Ed 2: CD – 2022
Ed 3: Binaural downloaded – 2022

The binaural version has a much richer and more open mix, with a larger sound space. It is the recommended version for headphone listening (and why not in stereo, even if it is not designed for).

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●oo (3)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●●●o (4)

Sample : ”ZEITGEIST” 24 bits 48 kHz:

Sample 1 Ed 3: Binaural downloaded – 2022
Ed 4: Qobuz Hi-Res – 2022

As for the CD version we find the same rendering for this version with limitation of the dynamics.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●●oo (3)

Sample : ”ZEITGEIST” 24 bits 48 kHz:

Sample 1 Ed 4: Qobuz Hi-Res – 2022
Ed 5: Qobuz Hi-Res Binaural – 2022

This version is identical to the version proposed in download via a code for the purchase of the CD or vinyl.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●oo (3)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●●●o (4)

Sample : ”ZEITGEIST” 24 bits 48 kHz:

Sample 1 Ed 5: Qobuz Hi-Res Binaural – 2022
Ed 6: Tidal Dolby Atmos Binaural – 2022

The Dolby Atmos Binaural version has the defect of being encoded in Dolby Digital unlike the Qobuz and download versions. This results in less precision and detail. It is preferable to listen to the Qobuz Binaural or download versions with headphones.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●●oo (3.5)

Sample : ”ZEITGEIST” 16 bits 48 kHz:

Sample 1 Ed 6: Tidal Dolby Atmos Binaural – 2022
Ed 7: Tidal Dolby Atmos – 2022

Listened in 7.1.4, the rendering is really brilliant, we find ourselves imerged with the sounds which turn around us. It is the version to listen to to take advantage completely of the creativity of Jean-Michel Jarre in the exploitation of the space for the music, it is a very beautiful tribute to Pierre Henry. The downmix in stereo is a very good version with a better spatialization and dynamics of sounds.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4.5)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●●●o (4.5)

Sample : ”ZEITGEIST” 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 1 Ed 7: Tidal Dolby Atmos – 2022

46 years after Oxygène, Jean-Michel Jarre still wants to impress us with his spatial music composition. It’s not surprising that the best versions are the Dolby Atmos in multichannel mode and the binaural lossless versions (Download and Qobuz). These versions allow us to be immersed in the music with all the movement of the sounds. The Atmos mix is different from the one done for the stereo version, we would have liked to have a Dolby TrueHD Atmos version on Bluray Audio to benefit from the lossless quality of a multi channel format. With this difference between the Atmos and stereo mix, we then find the stereo versions far behind, with the vinyl version being more detailed but with less movement than the Atmos downmix.

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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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