Sheryl Crow - The Globe Sessions (DTS)
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I was thrilled to be presented with a DTS-ES 6.1 Discreet DVD for my review. I'm always happy to let my 7.1 setup get the full workout. Like most people, I've heard most, if not all, of Sheryl Crow's popular releases, seen some performances on TV, and have been generally impressed with her talent. Tearing off the wrapper, I got right to the review.
Discs are listened to a minimum of twice with at least a 24 hour separation between the listening sessions. During session one, notes are taken on the subjective experience of the implementation of the DTS surround sound mix (in this case, except track 1 - mixed in DTS-ES) along with notes on other features. During session two, the original notes are compared and expanded upon during the listening experience. Additional listening sessions are added as needed. Before each session, speaker calibration is checked using an SPL meter and the test-tones on the receiver, in this case the Denon AVR-3805 .
1) My Favorite Mistake - Rock/Pop - This track is well done with most of the vocals emanating from the front and very little surround involvement except to add envelopment during the louder sections.
2) There Goes the Neighborhood - Rock/Pop - There is a nice drum (bongo's?) line eminating from from the rear speakers that is prevalent at the beginning/solos/end and can be heard throughout. During the song, the lead guitar is often anchored at the Front Left speaker that, after a while, seems out of place. There is also an electronic "clap" that seemed totally out of place. Otherwise, this track is fairly well done.
3) Riverwide - Ballad - There is some odd instrument placement in this track (guitar anchored in the Front Right speaker, rears not well balanced with fronts for parts of the song). I swear I can hear the crackle of a vinyl record coming from the center channel accompanied by percussion. There was some nice envelopment in this track.
4) It Don't Hurt - Rock/Pop - This tune has a sort of A-Ha-ish drum line from the Front Right speaker that seemed a little out of place with all the guitars. I really liked the synthesizer section at the end followed by a very nice guitar solo that fades away. At the beginning it sounds like a guitar is being strummed so hard that the string is hitting a fret,
5) Maybe That's Something - Rock/Pop - The beginning of this track features a number of odd sounds (street noises, Sheryl Crow's voice with a lot of reverb) that are nicely executed in surround. Other than the lead guitar anchored in the Front Left speaker, I thought this boring, repetitive track was nicely executed.
6) Am I Getting Through (Part I) - Rock/Pop - The lead vocals were anchored in the Front Left speaker with the lead guitar in the Front Right. Most of the other sounds were distributed between the center and surrounds by and large to good effect. The heavily digitized refrain was more than a little fatiguing. There was the sound of a disconnected phone at the end that could have been bounced around the room, but wasn't.
6.1) Am I Getting Through (Part II) - Rock/Pop - Short more "rocky" section at the end of Part I (starts at 4:28 ). The heavily synthesized voice and muddy sound makes this very short, fatiguing section of this track too long.
7) Anything But Down - Rock/Pop - The first thing that will grab you when you listen to this track is the absolute immediacy of the lead vocal. It feels so much closer than any of the previous tracks. The only complaint is that the backup guitars are set in the rear speakers and don't quite blend well enough with the rest of the sound to create that sense of envelopment that one expects. Perhaps this was by design, but I didn't think the effect benefited the song.
8) The Difficult Kind - Rock/Pop - Once again, the lead guitar was anchored in Front Left speaker with other instruments (backup guitar/piano) in the Front Right. This track is in dire need of some lower frequencies and becomes fatiguing by the end.
9) Mississippi - Rock/Pop - This song has fairly good envelopment similar to track 1. It also has a similar blending problem as discussed in track 7.
10) Members Only - Rock/Pop - Another fatiguing song though this one is fatiguing with nice envelopment (not sure this is a good thing). This is one of those songs where it sounds like Sheryl Crow's voice is being put though a chorus pedal (for a guitar). After experiencing how absolutely gorgeous her voice can be (see track 7), this is a real disservice to her talent.
11) Crash and Burn - Ballad - OK, this is getting ridiculous. The lead guitar is firmly (and I do mean FIRMLY) planted in the Left Surround channel and WON'T BUDGE. By this point, my head is pounding from the last few tracks and the guitar screaming in my left ear is not helping. In this track's defense, there is some interesting radio sounds at the beginning with nice movement (radio sounds, guess how good static sounded to me by this point) and, for the most part, the rest of the track had good blending and envelopment.
11.1) Unnamed Extra Song - Rock/Pop/Rap - Oh yeah, I said rap. This song starts 7:08 into track 11. Although, once again, the lead guitar is anchored in the Front Left speaker, the rest of the surround mix is well done. Except for Sheryl Crow rapping: Not sure how she channeled 50cent, but she did. Overall, good surround elements in this track.
This album is a mishmash in terms of Audio Quality. Tracks 2 and 3 obviously did not benefit from the conversion to 6.1. Much of the later tracks seem to lack the needed bass to keep the listener from becoming fatigued (and running for the aspirin). In fact, the entire album seemed light on the bass. During each subsequent listening session I found myself getting fatigued earlier and earlier. The saving grace was the quality of Sheryl Crow's voice on most of the tracks (especially track 7). Her smoky, melodic voice is one of my favorites. I just wish the rest of the audio was up to the task.
One other point to be made is that I only really got that sense of clarity from the guitars. Many of the other instruments had a more muddy or synthesized sound. The audio quality overall was sub par at best. It could be that the conversion to a high quality and ultimately revealing format was more than the original mastered recording could handle.
I have to say that the Surround Implementation in this album was an absolute mess. What the heck is going on? Why would one anchor the lead guitar in the Left Surround channel? Hey, surround channels are not Everest; you don't use them because they're there. Much of the "envelopment" was disrupted by either an anchored guitar or a poor blending of surrounds and fronts. I'm just so disappointed in the Surround Implementation that I'm nearly speechless… nearly.
None to speak of (jacket cover doesn't even have lyrics but you don't really need them).
What to say that hasn't already been said? Honestly, this album felt more like a quick and dirty conversion of a Redbook CD to bolster sales than a dedicated effort to present a new and improved product. A workout for my 7.1 speakers? Well the Front Left channel got a workout…and the tweeters. Maybe this is the wrong type of music, maybe the master recording was not of sufficient quality, maybe the post-processing studio was on a ley line, I don't know. What ever it was, it should never happen again. If you really, REALLY like Sheryl Crow and you absolutely must have every product she's ever produced, this one is for you. If you are looking for a DTS-ES DVD to have and enjoy, look elsewhere.