Mylène Farmer – L’Emprise – Review (vinyl, Red vinyl, CD, Qobuz Hi-Res, Tidal 360 RA, Apple Music Dolby Atmos)

While waiting for the Nevermore 2023 tour, Mylene Farmer releases a new studio album L’Emprise. For this album, Mylene Farmer is accompanied by AaRON, Woodked, Archive and Moby. In one week, the album is already a gold record in France with more than 50,000 albums sold. It is also number 1 in the sales of albums in France, which makes this album the 15th album of Mylène to be ranked number 1.

We will review 6 versions including vinyl, Red Vinyl, CD, Qobuz Hi-Res , Tidal 360RA and Apple Music Dolby Atmos.

You can also find the review of the album Histoires de here.

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

The album is composed of 14 tracks:

  1. Invisibles
  2. À Tout Jamais
  3. Que L’aube Est Belle
  4. L’emprise
  5. Do You Know Who I Am
  6. Rallumer Les Étoiles
  7. Rayon Vert
  8. Ode À L’apesanteur
  9. Que Je Devienne…
  10. Ne Plus Renaître
  11. D’un Autre Part
  12. Bouteille À La Mer
  13. Rayon Vert (Piano/Voix)
  14. Invisibles (Piano/Voix)

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: Red vinyl – 2022
Presentation

This is the special Red edition (with an obi) of the vinyl with 2 LP in 33 1/3 rpm (ref 1965872221) producted from a digital Master.

Ed 2: Vinyl – 2022
Presentation

This is theblack vinyl (with an obi) with 2 LP in 33 1/3 rpm (ref 196587567811) producted from a digital Master.

Ed 3: CD – 2022
Presentation

This is the CD edition presented in a trifold digisleeve (with an obi) included a 24-page booklet. The CD is in 16 bits 44,1 kHz producted from a digital Master.

Ed 4: Qobuz Hi-Res – 2022
Presentation

This is the Qobuz release presented in Hi-Res 24 bits 48 kHz,

Qobuz Hi-Res – 2022
Ed 5: Tidal 360 RA – 2022
Presentation

This is the Tidal version presented in SONY 360 RA (Reality Audio). This a spacial sound format wich was learning in binaural and in 7.1.4. The 360 RA mix was done at DES studio.

Tidal 360 RA – 2022
Ed 6: Apple Music Dolby Atmos – 2022
Presentation

This is the Apple Music version présented in Dolby Atmos. This a spacial sound format wich was learning in binaural and in 7.1.4. The Dolby Atmos mix was done at DES studio.

Apple Music Dolby Atmos Binaural – 2022

Part 2 : Waveform and dynamic comparaisons

Waveform

The waveform represents the 9 tracks of the original album.

Thes graphs below represens the waveform of the black vinyl and red vinyl versions. These versions are dynamic without dynamic range compression as on the CD.

Thes graphs below represens the waveform of the CD and Qobuz Hi-Res versions.We find for these two versions the effect of the compression of the dynamics (flat levels in the yellow zones) used to give a higher average sound level.

The binaural 360 RA version is the most dynamic of the versions tested. We find this dynamic in 7.1.4 listening and in binaural listening.

The Dolby Atmos version is more dynamic than the CD version with its DR11, however we notice a little limitation of the levels (yellow zone) on certain parts of the waveform unlike the 360RA 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 6 editions reviewed have obtained the following Dynamic Range (DR) :

Red vinyl – 2022Vinyl – 2022CD – 2022Qobuz Hi-Res – 2022Tidal 360 RA Binaural – 2022Apple Music Dolby Atmos Binaural – 2022
GlobalDR10DR10DR6 DR6 DR12DR11
MinDR9 DR9 DR5 DR5 DR11DR10
MaxDR12DR12DR7 DR7 DR14DR12
InvisiblesDR9 DR9 DR6 DR6 DR11DR11
À Tout JamaisDR11DR11DR6 DR6 DR13DR10
Que L’aube Est BelleDR10DR10DR7 DR7 DR12DR12
L’empriseDR10DR10DR5 DR5 DR12DR11
Do You Know Who I AmDR11DR11DR7 DR7 DR13DR12
Rallumer Les ÉtoilesDR10DR10DR6 DR6 DR13DR12
Rayon VertDR11DR11DR6 DR6 DR13DR10
Ode À L’apesanteurDR9 DR9 DR7 DR7 DR11DR12
Que Je Devienne…DR10DR10DR6 DR6 DR12DR11
Ne Plus RenaîtreDR11DR11DR7 DR7 DR14DR12
D’un Autre PartDR10DR10DR6 DR6 DR11DR11
Bouteille À La MerDR10DR10DR6 DR6 DR13DR11
Rayon Vert (Piano/Voix)DR12DR12DR7 DR7 DR13DR12
Invisibles (Piano/Voix)DR9 DR9 DR7 DR7 DR10DR10

We find 2 main categories at the level of the dynamics of the editions, the dynamic versions with a DR10 or DR12 which concern the vinyl versions, Dolby Atmos and 360RA, and the digital stereo versions with a DR6 (CD 2001, Qobuz Hi-Res) which undergo a compression of the dynamics very important as confirmed by the analysis of the waveforms.

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 spectrum of the two vinyls are totally superimposed, highlighting the use of the same master.

The spectrum of the vinyl and CD versions are very similar with an attenuation of a few dB for the vinyl from 5 kHz (yellow zone) and 3 dB less for the vinyl below 60 Hz.

The spectrum of the Qobuz and CD versions overlap completely up to 22 kHz, which corresponds to the sampling rate of the CD. The Qobuz version continues in the high frequencies up to 24 kHz due to its 48 kHz sampling rate.

The spectra of the 360 RA binaural and Dolby Atmos Binaural versions are very different, this is explained by a different mix between the two versions, and also by a different binaural rendering that can be noticed when listening. The white arrow shows the maximum frequency of 18 kHz in 360 RA (due to the MPEG-H encoding) compared to Dolby Atmos which limits to 20 kHz.

The spectra of the Dolby Atmos Binaural and CD versions are different, but with less deviation than the 360 RA version, this is due to the different mixing between the two versions, and also by a binaural rendering of the Dolby Atmos compared to the stereo rendering of the CD.

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 spectrograms below represent all the vinyl editions and show 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 below represent the CD and the Qobuz Hi-Res versions. These spectrograms show a frequency limitation at 22 kHz for the CD and 24 kHz for Qobuz (yellow arrow) due to the 44.1 kHz sampling rate of the CD and 48kHz sampling rate of Qobuz. There is no signal above this frequency (white arrow).

The spectrogram of the Tidal 360RA Binaural version shows a frequency limitation at 18 kHz (yellow arrow) due to the MPEG-H compression algorithm. There is no signal above this frequency (white arrow).

The spectrogram of the Dolby Atmos Binaural version shows a frequency limitation around 20 kHz (yellow arrow) due to the Dolby Digital Plus compression algorithm used by Apple. There is no signal above this frequency (white arrow).

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 spatialization represented below a measure on the whole album of Mylene Farmer in Sony 360 RA and Dolby Atmos. The surround channels bring a complement of spatialization which one finds on the whole of the pieces in a more or less marked way. The channels in height are used punctually to increase the spatial return.

Distribution of the channels on the whole album in Sony 360 RA. The central channel is not used and leaves the front left and right channels which reproduce the voice of Mylene Farmer. The 360RA version brings a slightly wider sound space than the Dolby Atmos version, as can be heard with the reproduction of the bells in the track Que je devienne… .

Spatialization : ●●●●●●oooo (6)

Distribution of the channels on the whole album in Dolby Atmos. The central channel is used for music and leaves the front left and right channels which reproduce the voice of Mylene Farmer.

Spatialization : ●●●●●ooooo (5)

Part 6 : Summary, scoring and Samples

Ed 1: Red vinyl – 2022

The pressing of the vinyl of red color is of good quality, proposed this album of 52 minutes on 2 LP allows to have a good sound level for the engraving. The vinyl is dynamic with a beautiful sound stage, the bass is less pronounced than on the digital stereo versions, but the voice is more critaline.

Rating:

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

Sample : ”À Tout Jamais” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:

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

As for the red vinyl, we find a good quality of preservation with a reduced surface noise. The rendering is similar to the red vinyl with a nice dynamic and a nice reproduction of the voice.

Rating:

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

Sample : ”À Tout Jamais” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:

Sample 1 Ed 2: Vinyl – 2022
Ed 3: CD – 2022

The CD is subject to the loudness war with its DR6, which has the consequence of reducing the dynamics. The rendering is less precise than on vinyl and the bass is more present giving more impact to the music.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●oooo (1)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●●oo (3)

Sample : ”À Tout Jamais” 16 bits 44.1 kHz:

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

The rendering is similar to the CD version and keeps the same characteristics.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●oooo (1)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Restitution: ●●●oo (3)

Sample : ”À Tout Jamais” 24 bits 48 kHz:

Sample 1 Ed 4: Qobuz Hi-Res – 2022
Ed 5: Tidal 360 RA – 2022

The Tidal 360RA version brings a beautiful spatialization in 7.1.4 listening with a distribution of instruments and effects on the surround channels. The passage in Binaural brings a more important opening than the Dolby Atmos version, but with a different sound balance due to the use of a binaural mode different from Dolby Atmos and which gives him less energy.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Spatialization: ●●●●●●oooo (6)
  • Restitution: ●●●●o (4)

Sample : ”À Tout Jamais” 360 RA Binaural to listen with headphones:

Sample 1 Ed 5: Tidal 360 RA binaural – 2022
Ed 6: Apple Music Dolby Atmos – 2022

The Dolby Atmos Binaural version is closer in its tonal balance to the stereo version, but loses in spatial rendering compared to the 360 RA Binaural version. Listening in Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 brings a nice spatialization but is less open than the 360RA version.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●●o (3.5)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Spatialization: ●●●●●ooooo (5)
  • Restitution: ●●●●o (4)

Sample : ”À Tout Jamais” Dolby Atmos Binaural to listen with headphones:

Sample 1 Ed 6: Apple Music Dolby Atmos Binaural – 2022

No surprise for Mylène Farmer’s album which remains consistent with the previously released singles. The digital stereo versions are compressed in dynamics with a richer rendering in the bass, but with less finesse and dynamics than the vinyl. The Dolby Atmos Binaural version provides greater dynamics and spatialization than the stereo versions while maintaining a similar tonal balance. The 360RA and Dolby Atmos versions listened in 7.1.4 allow to give a superior dimension to this album in term of spatialization (with more opening for the 360RA), however, the 360RA binaural version although bringing more spatialization has a tonal balance with basses in retreat compared to my Atmos Binaural version.

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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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