Top Gun Maverick – Review (vinyl, Qobuz Hi-Res , Tidal Dolby Atmos)

After a very big success in cinema and also in video with its Dolby Atmos soundtrack which is used in many demonstrations at the Paris Audio Video Show, here is the soundtrack of this film which gathers already known tracks and new tracks of Top Gun Maverick.

We will review 3 versions including vinyl, Qobuz Hi-Res , Tidal Dolby Atmos.

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 12 tracks:

  1. Main Titles (You’ve Been Called Back To Top Gun)
  2. Danger Zone*
  3. Darkstar
  4. Great Balls Of Fire [Live]
  5. You’re Where You Belong / Give `em Hell
  6. I Ain’t Worried
  7. Dagger One Is Hit / Time To Let Go
  8. Tally Two / What’s The Plan / F-14
  9. The Man, The Legend / Touchdown
  10. Penny Returns – Interlude
  11. Hold My Hand
  12. Top Gun Anthem

* not available in streaming

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

Very nice vinyl edition of this limited edition album (ref: 602445970735) with a white vinyl record.

Ed 2: Qobuz Hi-Res – 2022
Presentation

The Qobuz version offers the album in Hi-Res (24 bits 44.1 kHz), but with a track “Danger Zone” not available on streaming platforms

Qobuz Hi-Res – 2022
Ed 3: Tidal – Dolby Atmos – 2022
Presentation

For this Dolby Atmos version, only 2 tracks are available in this format: “I Ain’t Worried” and “Hold My Hand”.

Tidal – Dolby Atmos – 2022

Part 2 : Waveform and dynamic comparaisons

Waveform

The waveform represents the 9 tracks of the original album.

The graph below represents the waveform of the vinyl, we find the dynamics on the whole of the tracks without effect of limitation of the dynamics as on the Qobuz Hi-Res.

The graph below represents the waveform of the Qobuz version, the yellow area shows an example of the dynamic range limiting effect that is confirmed by the DR measurement.

No problem of dynamic limitation for these two tracks mixed in Dolby Atmos. The waveforms below represent the decoding of the Dolby Atmos track in 5.1 channels

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

Vinyl – 2022Qobuz Hi-Res – 2022Tidal – Dolby Atmos – 2022
GlobalDR11DR7DR13
MinDR9 DR5DR12
MaxDR13DR11DR14
Main Titles (You’ve Been Called Back To Top Gun)DR12DR8
Danger Zone*DR11
DarkstarDR11DR7
Great Balls Of Fire [Live]DR10DR8
You’re Where You Belong / Give `em HellDR12DR9
I Ain’t WorriedDR9 DR6 DR14
Dagger One Is Hit / Time To Let GoDR13DR6
Tally Two / What’s The Plan / F-14DR11DR11
The Man, The Legend / TouchdownDR10DR8
Penny Returns – InterludeDR12DR5
Hold My HandDR10DR8 DR12
Top Gun AnthemDR10DR6

We find 2 main categories at the level of the dynamics of the editions, the dynamic versions with a DR11 or DR13 which concern the vinyl versions and Dolby Atmos, and the digital stereo version with a DR7 which a important compression of the dynamics 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 below compares the vinyl and the Qobuz Hi-Res version. The two spectra overlap up to 7 kHz, beyond the yellow area there is a variation of 1 or 2 dB between the two curves up to 18 kHz and a small bump of 5 dB between 18 and 20 kHz for the vinyl. The yellow arrow shows the frequency limit at 22 kHz of the Qobuz version due to the sampling rate of 44.1 kHz.

The spectrum below represents the 5.1 channels of Dolby Digital plus without the decoding of the Atmos channels. The central channel is little or not exploited. But the front and rear channels are well exploited. The bass channel is filtered at 120 Hz (green arrow). The Dolby Digital Plus encoding limits the bandwidth to 20 kHz (yellow arrow).

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 below represents the vinyl edition and 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 Tidal Hi-Res version goes up to 22 kHz (yellow arrow) due to the 44.1 kHz sampling rate, beyond that, there is no signal (white arrow).

The spectrogram below represents the Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 version without Dolby Atmos decoding. This spectrogram shows a frequency limitation at 20 kHz (yellow arrow) due to the Dolby Digital Plus encoding. The green arrow shows the cut-off at 120 Hz of the LFE bass channel.

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 represents the measurement for the two available tracks The spatialization is well exploited with a value of 9 for the track “I Ain’t Worried” by OneRepublic

Spatialization of the track “I Ain’t Worried” by OneRepublic. Very nice distribution of the sound on all the channels, the music is really around you.

Spatialization : ●●●●●●●●●o (9)

Spatialization of the track “Hold My Hand” by Lady Gaga, Less pronounced than for the previous title, we find however a beautiful distribution of the channels in the space.

Spatialization : ●●●●●●●ooo (7.2)

Part 6 : Summary, scoring and Samples

Ed 1: Vinyl – 2022

Very nice vinyl album with a superb poster of the montage seen from the plane. The vinyl brings more value to an album than the CD support because of its size and its images, with for this special edition the vinyl of white color. The pressing is of quality and we find a dynamic album very pleasant to listen to, that it is for the new titles or for the old ones.

Rating:

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

Sample : ”Hold My Hand” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:

Sample 1 Ed 1: Vinyl – 2022
Ed 2: Qobuz Hi-Res – 2022

The digital streaming version suffers from the loudness war with reduced dynamics. Another limitation of the streaming version is the unavailability of the “Danger Zone” track.

Rating:

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

Sample : ”Hold My Hand” 24 bits 44.1 kHz:

Sample 1 Ed 2: Qobuz Hi-Res – 2022
Ed 3: Tidal – Dolby Atmos – 2022

Only two tracks are available in Dolby Atmos, but a good spatial mix of the track “Hold My Hand” like “I Ain’t Worried” which has a spatialization score of 9 highlighting a real sound immersion.

Rating:

  • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4)
  • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4)
  • Spatialization: ●●●●●●●●oo (8)
  • Listening: ●●●●o (4)

Sample : ”Hold My Hand” 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 3: Tidal – Dolby Atmos in 5.1 – 2022

The vinyl version brings the most dynamic and pleasant to listen to stereo versions, and it’s also a very nice edition for all those who liked the movie. The two Dolby Atmos tracks are worth the detour thanks to a very immersive mix that totally immerses us in the music, too bad the whole album is not in this format.

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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.
  • Listening:
    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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