Alan Parsons Project - The Turn of a Friendly Card DVD-Audio Review
Price: $19.98 | Get the Best Price
There is something to be said for the classics. While some have gone the route of transforming an original two channel mix into surround with sometimes disastrous effects (see my Queen: The Game and Moody Blues: Days of Future Passed reviews), The Alan Parsons Project has gone the opposite direction and tried to maximize the audio quality of their original recording. While part of me is interested in experiencing the classics in full surround sound, I'd rather have a great two channel experience than a mediocre surround sound one.
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 HDAD stereo mix (in this case) 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 Pioneer VSX-516.
- May Be a Price to Pay
- Games People Play
- I Don't Wanna Go Home
- The Gold Bug
- The Turn of a Friendly Card
i. The Turn of a Friendly Card (part one)
ii. Snake Eyes
iii. The Ace of Swords
iv. Nothing Left to Lose
v. The Turn of a Friendly Card (part two)
Even though the vast majority of those that purchases this album will know exactly what to expect, I'll say for the rest that Turn of a Friendly Card mixes classic rock guitar, orchestral elements, and synthesizers in a way that lets them all shine. Originally published in 1980, the 70's influence still shines through with lots of guitar and melodic melodies but is heavily tempered with the 80's influence. Definitely a "pop" album, the songs are all very accessible. This concept album denounces the evils of greed and gambling.
The downsampled mix that is under review (the DVD-A version is 192 kHz vs. the DVD version at 92 kHz) is excellent overall. One of the joys of some of these older albums is the love and care they put into their recordings. None of this "Hey, will you wear a belly shirt? 'Cause I can make you a star!" crap. These musicians are artists and artists care about their art. They want their product to be as high quality as possible. That is what makes such high quality versions possible - high quality masters. I shudder to think what a 24/96 version of NKOTB would sound like.
Balance is always an issue with older recordings. In the Moody Blues review, I found that the rock portions were considerably recessed and of lower quality than the classical parts. Here, I found that everything was balanced perfectly. Not only didn't the vocals take center stage, but each instrument had its own voice and character. My big test for audio quality is two fold - noise floor and depth. If you've read this far and I haven't mentioned the noise floor, you can bet it was very low. To test depth, I try and find a background or backup instrument (something that isn't taking center stage) and listen specifically for it. If that instrument becomes muddy, lifeless, or disappears, there is probably a problem with the audio quality of the album - definitely not the problem here. Regardless of the instrument I chose, I had no problem picking it out, regardless of what else was going on in the song.
My only problem with the album was that I found it slightly sibilant and fatiguing. Many of the songs live in the upper register and are almost devoid of meaningful bass. I often found myself reaching for the remote to bump up the sub a few decibels. Still, that wouldn't have brought down the higher notes. A minor quibble, it didn't significantly reduce my enjoyment of the audio quality of the album.
This album has some of the best two channel implementation I've experienced in quite some time. I've got to believe that the era the album was made played a part. It just seems that some of the older music really cared about where instruments were placed and whether or not they moved from speaker to speaker. Almost every track made good use of the stereo format but I took particular note of track 2 (Games People Play) and 5 (The Gold Bug). Gold Bug is an instrumental where such attention to detail is exceptionally appreciated. There were definitely times that I thought more could be done, but for the most part, this was an exceptional effort and very well executed.
Lyrics on the jacket, name of album, cover art, and track currently being played displayed on the screen. I wasn't crazy about the onscreen display as nothing but the song titles changed leaving the other 98% of the screen static (and a possible source of burn-in).
I'm always happy to run across a well done album, and this one fits the bill nicely. Minor quibbles aside, my only real reservation about recommending this album to a friend is its age. Older music is by its nature dated, but good music is ageless. This definitely falls in the later category. If you are looking for a well produced and recorded classic album, look no further.
Confused about what AV Gear to buy or how to set it up? Join our Exclusive Audioholics E-Book Membership Program!