“Let our rigorous testing and reviews be your guidelines to A/V equipment – not marketing slogans”
Facebook Youtube Twitter instagram pinterest

The Moody Blues - Days of Future Passed (DTS)

by December 07, 2006
Label: DTS Entertainment

Price: $19.98 | Get the Best Price

Okey Dokey - yet another groundbreaking '60's album translated into the surround format. Past reviews have shown that such undertakings are risky at best. Many times the original recordings are not up to the conversion into the digital realm or the "groundbreaking" nature of the album is lost in its translation. The crux is that, while the band may have written the music with stereo sound in mind, there is no way they could have envisioned their work one day being translated into surround. The onus is then on the post-processor to discern the most authentic way to render the music in surround sound. Time to see how they did.

Review Methodology

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 .

The Songs

1) The Day Begins - Classical Overture - This solely classical piece introduces most of the major themes and melodies of the album. While the chimes come through nice and clear, some of the strings and woodwinds are a little muddy. The voiceover is anchored in the back of the room. The Surround Right channel is used more often than the Surround Left.

2) Dawn: Dawn Is A Feeling - Classical to Rock Ballad - The vocals are accompanied mainly by drums and are anchored dead center. Later, a second vocal section is anchored in the rear speakers. The first thing that is noticeable is that the rock vocals and drums are of a different quality and timbre from the classical recording. They seem recessed as compared to the classical sections. I also detect a slightly higher noise floor on the rock passages as opposed to the classical.

3) The Morning - Another Morning - Classical to Polka? - When the polka section started I thought, "I don't think I'm high enough to really get this album." Oh well, I'll try anyways. For some reason, the lead vocal is mostly mixed into the Front Right and Surround Left speakers - at the same time. At first I thought I was going crazy, but a quick walk around the room confirmed it. The polka riff (accordion sounding) careened between the rear speakers giving the feeling of having your head knocked side to side in rapid succession. Fun for the whole family. Plus, the accordion sounded quite a bit louder than the vocals, I even stopped and checked my speaker levels again just to be sure it wasn't the system. The classical sections at the beginning and near the end were very well done as well as was the polka section done by the orchestra at the very end.

4) Lunch Break - Peak Hour - '50's movie soundtrack to surfer rock - When this track started, I expected to see Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn running around my room looking for their baby. This section had lots of movement that was completely appropriate for the musical style. Once the surfer rock section started, I immediately messed up the numbers on my notes because I thought that it was a different song; not a seamless flow between the sections. Once again, the rock section seemed recessed. The acapella section (a little flat on that last note) and the guitar (on the right side of the room) and organ (on the left side of the room) sections were nice, but it seems I heard them twice. Not repeated, but the actual same recording played twice. Especially noticeable since the last note of the acapella section was flat in exactly the same way.

5) The Afternoon - Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?) - Rock to Classical - This track had a tinny quality that did not agree with me. At the beginning, the voice was anchored in the front and had the recessed quality that I've referred to previously. Later, it moved to the back speakers and was much more forward and in your face…well, back of your head. So now I'm thinking it's my center channel that can't keep up with the rest of my speakers. I replay the track again and walk around the room. Clearly, the vocals are recessed when in the front, but the vocals are being spread across all three front speakers. Surely, the recessed quality is by design. Those three speakers should be able to put those vocals on my lap if the music was mixed to do so. I figure the only thing to do is to move my front speakers to the rear to see if that replicated the problems but considering all the work that I put in getting them positioned JUST RIGHT, I'm thinking…..no. The bass line centered on the Left Rear speaker is a little muddy. The classical section at the end is again well done.

5.5) The Afternoon - Time to Get Away - Rock Ballad - This slower section has a fuller sound than some of the previous tracks (reassuring me in the correctness of my decision not to move my speakers). Good use of the piano (front) and guitar (back) duet. While the falsetto portions of the song were wrong on so many levels, they were well mixed.

6) Evening - The Sun Set - '50's movie soundtrack to Asian martial arts movie soundtrack? - There is a short '50's section at the beginning reminiscent of track #4 that quickly gives way to a drum-heavy Asian sounding section. The drums are liberally distributed amongst the speakers and the vocals are very full and enveloping. The end of this section has one of the better examples of the rock portion blending into the classical - which then repeats the '50's riff from the beginning and ruins it for me.

6.5) Evening - Twilight Time - Rock - This section features chorus-like vocals spread around every speaker except for the center at a similar volume. OK, interesting choice, but for anyone that has experienced 5 or 7 channel stereo, the vocals never really mesh all that well when arriving to your ears from 5 different speakers at the same time. A turn of your head can make the location of the voice seem different. This section had a serious drop off that abruptly leads into a classical section.

7) The Night - Nights in White Satin - Rock Ballad - This track fades up into a slightly recessed vocal. The classical instruments are a little too loud and overtake the rock instruments at times. The classical and rock elements compliment each other well but aren't mixed as well as they could be. The flute solo is anchored in the Surround Left channel.

Audio Quality

Let's be honest: The original master was recorded in 1967 - even under the best of conditions it's probably degraded a bit from age alone. Factor in differences in recording technology, methodology, and goals - and the challenges of converting a classic album to 5.1 become clear. As evidenced above, there are lots of level problems on this album. For the most part, the audio quality is a mess - not a Hellraiser, send your wife running from the room gagging mess, a CSI, pan across it real quick so she flinches but still watches mess. I honestly believe that the higher noise floor on the band recordings as opposed to the orchestral recordings "forced" the mixer(s) to raise the levels on the orchestral portions in order to hide the noise floor.

Much of the recording could have been clearer, especially the orchestral sections. Many of the instruments blended together, not in a, "Wow, I can't believe how well all these different instruments blend together!" kind of way, but a, "What the heck instrument is that anyway?" kind of way. I'm sure this is a function of the technology used to record it more than anything else.

Surround Implementation

This is another example of the surround processor realizing that they are dealing with a groundbreaking stereo album and trying to create a groundbreaking surround album. Well, hate to break it to you, but groundbreaking surround cannot be forced - it seems to take a balance of the proper material, correct mixing staff, and perhaps an offering to the audio gods. Some of the Surround Implementation is done very well, most is OK or non-intrusive (which is fine if a little boring), and some…well some seems to have questionable logic behind the decisions. Come on, a flute solo anchored in Surround Left…that's just silly.


None to speak of (jacket cover doesn't even have lyrics except for the voiced over portions from tracks 1 and 7).


I get concept albums - Roger Waters (with and without Pink Floyd) created some of my favorite works. I understand what they were trying to say with this album but I think much of their message was lost in the conversion to 5.1. Truthfully, I'm beginning to believe that you can't just take a classic album and re-master it in 5.1. You need to really spend the time to clean up the degradation due to age and the imperfections due to different recording equipment/standards in order to due justice to the spirit of the original. And if you are not going to do it right…well you know the rest.

The reality is that this is not a bad album - just disappointing. Few things on this album are particularly horrible, nothing is outstanding, while much is mediocre. If you want an album that will show off your system, this is not the one. If you want an album that will make you check the speaker calibration, re-check, re-re-check, walk around the room wondering why a particular speaker seems to be malfunctioning, and then re-re-re-check, this is the one for you (though you may need to seek professional help). I'm sure there are some out there that enjoy this album; I'm just not one of them.


About the author:
author portrait

As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

View full profile