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Old 01-11-2012, 06:48 AM   #361
WiWavelength WiWavelength is offline
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Originally Posted by ZoetMB View Post
...and Woody Allen has always shot in 1.85...
Somebody forgot to tell that to Gordon Willis when he was shooting "Manhattan."

That minor exception aside, your points are well said. And I agree wholeheartedly.

AJ
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Old 01-11-2012, 09:19 AM   #362
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Originally Posted by mroz View Post
... and Woody Allen, who does not shoot in an aspect ratio which will be ruined when transferred to blu-ray.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZoetMB View Post
... Woody Allen has always shot in 1.85 and has done so long before HDTV existed. All his movies are also in mono..
I could have sworn that Woody Allen's Manhattan was in either 2.35:1 or 2.39:1, probably Panavision, and if the sound was mono, it was warm, rich, magnetic mono, rather than the dull and distorted optical kind.
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Old 01-11-2012, 07:02 PM   #363
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I could have sworn that Woody Allen's Manhattan was in either 2.35:1 or 2.39:1, probably Panavision, and if the sound was mono, it was warm, rich, magnetic mono, rather than the dull and distorted optical kind.
"Manhattan" is not on the list of 70mm blow ups. So, it is doubtful that it had any mag track release prints.

AJ
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Old 01-11-2012, 09:02 PM   #364
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Originally Posted by WiWavelength View Post
"Manhattan" is not on the list of 70mm blow ups. So, it is doubtful that it had any mag track release prints.

AJ
Were there not many 35 mm movies in the '70s that got magnetic tracks that were never slated for 70 mm blow ups? Or did they stop that earlier practice? I know that one strong reason they kept 70 mm around in the '70s was because of its great 6 track mag sound, but I remember 4 channel 35 mm mags early on and a few mono mags (even a few that were 1.85 or less) in the '60s ... didn't this trend continue into the '70s? In any case, if Manhattan was optical, it was just about the best optical I ever heard.

One film instructor at San Francisco State strongly urged students to get a mag track on their 16 mm films, although Palmer Films -- who made most of the prints for indies in S.F. -- argued against it on the grounds of poor durability. Super 8 sound was a mag medium.
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Old 01-11-2012, 09:45 PM   #365
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Were there not many 35 mm movies in the '70s that got magnetic tracks that were never slated for 70 mm blow ups? Or did they stop that earlier practice?
"Manhattan" was released in 1979. And I am fairly certain that, by that time, 35mm mag 4 track (which came in with CinemaScope in 1953) had all but disappeared. I will stand to be corrected, however.

AJ
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Old 01-12-2012, 12:19 AM   #366
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Originally Posted by WiWavelength View Post
"Manhattan" was released in 1979. And I am fairly certain that, by that time, 35mm mag 4 track (which came in with CinemaScope in 1953) had all but disappeared. I will stand to be corrected, however.

AJ
It looks like Dolby Optical had been around quite a while by the time of Manhattan. Dolby Optical, unlike standard optical, probably was good enough to make me think it was magnetic, so maybe that was what happened.

If Manhattan was recorded in mono (on a magnetic medium, as almost all films were) it is conceivable that a last minute decision was made to make Dolby Optical prints for certain cities, with all tracks carrying the same signal, or with some tracks blank. I was sitting too far back to distinguish between mono and stereo, but the tonality and dynamics sounded great.

The first Dolby Stereo Optical film that was widely released in DSO was Tommy (1975), although it played in DBX in San Francisco. Things were often different in San Francisco -- we tended to get films released in the best available format (by the lights of the distributor). There were several more by the time Manhattan rolled around in '79, such as Lisztomania (1975) and A Star is Born (1976) with a new encoding scheme. Of course, the 70 mm version of Star Wars (1977) was in Dolby magnetic, which made Dolby a household word even in non-audiophile households.
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Old 01-12-2012, 01:26 AM   #367
ZoetMB ZoetMB is offline
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Originally Posted by garyrc View Post
It looks like Dolby Optical had been around quite a while by the time of Manhattan. Dolby Optical, unlike standard optical, probably was good enough to make me think it was magnetic, so maybe that was what happened.

If Manhattan was recorded in mono (on a magnetic medium, as almost all films were) it is conceivable that a last minute decision was made to make Dolby Optical prints for certain cities, with all tracks carrying the same signal, or with some tracks blank. I was sitting too far back to distinguish between mono and stereo, but the tonality and dynamics sounded great.

The first Dolby Stereo Optical film that was widely released in DSO was Tommy (1975), although it played in DBX in San Francisco. Things were often different in San Francisco -- we tended to get films released in the best available format (by the lights of the distributor). There were several more by the time Manhattan rolled around in '79, such as Lisztomania (1975) and A Star is Born (1976) with a new encoding scheme. Of course, the 70 mm version of Star Wars (1977) was in Dolby magnetic, which made Dolby a household word even in non-audiophile households.
1979 was still pretty early in the life of Dolby released films. Manhattan was indeed made in Panavision (so I was wrong when I said above that Woody NEVER made an anamorphic movie), but with a mono soundtrack. There were still some 35mm mag (non-Dolby) releases in 1979, but only a very few prints were made. Other films released in mag stereo around that time were "Damien-Omen II", "Meteor", "Norma Rae" and "Time After Time". But if you weren't in Manhattan or Los Angeles or maybe San Francisco, you probably didn't hear a mag print.

In 1979, there were only 35 Dolby films released in the U.S., including 70mm films. 70mm Dolby films released in '79 included Hair, Hanover Street, a reissue of The Exorcist, Hurricane, Alien, The Muppet Movie, Apocalypse Now (1st with split surrounds), the Rose, 1941 (some think this was 6-tk discrete, not baby boom), and The Black Hole. Other 70mm releases included The Black Stallion, Moonraker, Star Trek, The Champ, Winds of Change. 35mm Dolby films included Goldengirl, The Kids are Alright, Quadrophenia, Rocky II, Dracula, Life of Brian and Roller Boogie, among others.
loose="not tight", lose="can't find it, doesn't have anymore" or the opposite of "win".
their="belongs to", there="place", they're="they are", there's = "there is"
it's="it is", for everything else use "its"
then="after", than="compared with"
"a lot" not "alot"

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Old 01-12-2012, 05:30 AM   #368
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In 1979, there were only 35 Dolby films released in the U.S., including 70mm films. 70mm Dolby films released in '79 included Hair, Hanover Street, a reissue of The Exorcist, Hurricane, Alien, The Muppet Movie, Apocalypse Now (1st with split surrounds), the Rose, 1941 (some think this was 6-tk discrete, not baby boom), and The Black Hole. Other 70mm releases included The Black Stallion, Moonraker, Star Trek, The Champ, Winds of Change. 35mm Dolby films included Goldengirl, The Kids are Alright, Quadrophenia, Rocky II, Dracula, Life of Brian and Roller Boogie, among others.
I saw eight of the films you mention in either Dolby mag or Dolby optical. They sounded great, but especially Apocalypse Now, The Rose, and Alien, all presented in approx 2.2:1 70 mm, although people are now saying that AN was 2.0:1 (and the Blu-ray is now more like 2.35). The sound in AN was very creatively used, and the dynamics in Alien were terrific.

One I'm wondering about is the late Ken Russell's The Music Lovers. In San Francisco in 1971 the Tchaikovsky music sounded like stereo mag -- the Piano Concerto displayed more dynamic range than we would have expected in pre-Dolby optical, but the sound effects sounded switched around, or at least weird, like Perspecta or some such. It looked like it could have been a 70 mm blow-up, and the aspect ratio looked like 2.2:1, but I don't recall it being advertized as being 70mm. IMDb mentions a 70 mm blow-up, but lists the soundtrack as being mono on the main page, and doesn't mention sound on the technical details page where they list the blow-up.

Last edited by garyrc; 01-12-2012 at 08:34 AM.
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Old 01-13-2012, 04:21 PM   #369
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1979 was still pretty early in the life of Dolby released films. Manhattan was indeed made in Panavision (so I was wrong when I said above that Woody NEVER made an anamorphic movie), but with a mono soundtrack. There were still some 35mm mag (non-Dolby) releases in 1979, but only a very few prints were made. Other films released in mag stereo around that time were "Damien-Omen II", "Meteor", "Norma Rae" and "Time After Time". But if you weren't in Manhattan or Los Angeles or maybe San Francisco, you probably didn't hear a mag print.

In 1979, there were only 35 Dolby films released in the U.S., including 70mm films. 70mm Dolby films released in '79 included Hair, Hanover Street, a reissue of The Exorcist, Hurricane, Alien, The Muppet Movie, Apocalypse Now (1st with split surrounds), the Rose, 1941 (some think this was 6-tk discrete, not baby boom), and The Black Hole. Other 70mm releases included The Black Stallion, Moonraker, Star Trek, The Champ, Winds of Change. 35mm Dolby films included Goldengirl, The Kids are Alright, Quadrophenia, Rocky II, Dracula, Life of Brian and Roller Boogie, among others.
Quote:
Originally Posted by garyrc View Post
I saw eight of the films you mention in either Dolby mag or Dolby optical. They sounded great, but especially Apocalypse Now, The Rose, and Alien, all presented in approx 2.2:1 70 mm, although people are now saying that AN was 2.0:1 (and the Blu-ray is now more like 2.35). The sound in AN was very creatively used, and the dynamics in Alien were terrific.

One I'm wondering about is the late Ken Russell's The Music Lovers. In San Francisco in 1971 the Tchaikovsky music sounded like stereo mag -- the Piano Concerto displayed more dynamic range than we would have expected in pre-Dolby optical, but the sound effects sounded switched around, or at least weird, like Perspecta or some such. It looked like it could have been a 70 mm blow-up, and the aspect ratio looked like 2.2:1, but I don't recall it being advertized as being 70mm. IMDb mentions a 70 mm blow-up, but lists the soundtrack as being mono on the main page, and doesn't mention sound on the technical details page where they list the blow-up.
The Music Lovers doesn't show up on any of my "lists", so I don't think it was a 70mm blowup.

I doubt very much that Apocalypse Now was 2.0 instead of 2.2:1. I may have told this story before, but I saw AN at the Ziegfeld in NYC. My wife turned to me before the film started and wondered whether it was worth all the hassle with parking, baby sitters, etc., to see a film in midtown. Just as she completed that sentence, the lights faded and we heard The Doors singing "The End" in glorious mag split surround. She turned to me and said "it's worth it!".

I miss those days. Maybe it's nostalgia, but there were so many 70mm presentations in those days where the sound just took my breath away. While there is certainly some great digital sound, I never feel the same emotion. Although I certainly don't have the same hearing I had 30 years ago.
loose="not tight", lose="can't find it, doesn't have anymore" or the opposite of "win".
their="belongs to", there="place", they're="they are", there's = "there is"
it's="it is", for everything else use "its"
then="after", than="compared with"
"a lot" not "alot"

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Old 01-13-2012, 11:41 PM   #370
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I miss those days. Maybe it's nostalgia, but there were so many 70mm presentations in those days where the sound just took my breath away. While there is certainly some great digital sound, I never feel the same emotion. Although I certainly don't have the same hearing I had 30 years ago.
I agree! To me, the decline of emotional response approximately coincided with the replacement of magnetic sound with the various Dolby Optical Analog configurations (even though Dolby improved optical greatly), and didn't seem to return with Dolby Digital. That there was an overlap, given that almost all 70 mm prints were magnetic well into the Dolby optical age, allowed us to compare (back when our ears were young). The various Dolby configurations -- except for the "Dolby Stereo" 70 mm 6 track configuration, which was magnetic -- seemed to be not as warm sounding as mag, and the dynamic surges, while there, were not as thrilling. The peaks may have measured about the same on an SPL meter -- or may actually have been higher in Dolby optical and digital, but they didn't sound as triumphant or as delightfully, dangerously unpredictable. The sound in the 70 mm presentations of Ben-Hur, Around the World in 80 Days (1956), Apocalypse Now, and several others in their 70 mm 6 track magnetic versions were about as good as it gets, IMO.
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Old 02-23-2013, 01:08 AM   #371
in2video2 in2video2 is offline
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I agree! To me, the decline of emotional response approximately coincided with the replacement of magnetic sound with the various Dolby Optical Analog configurations (even though Dolby improved optical greatly), and didn't seem to return with Dolby Digital. That there was an overlap, given that almost all 70 mm prints were magnetic well into the Dolby optical age, allowed us to compare (back when our ears were young). The various Dolby configurations -- except for the "Dolby Stereo" 70 mm 6 track configuration, which was magnetic -- seemed to be not as warm sounding as mag, and the dynamic surges, while there, were not as thrilling. The peaks may have measured about the same on an SPL meter -- or may actually have been higher in Dolby optical and digital, but they didn't sound as triumphant or as delightfully, dangerously unpredictable. The sound in the 70 mm presentations of Ben-Hur, Around the World in 80 Days (1956), Apocalypse Now, and several others in their 70 mm 6 track magnetic versions were about as good as it gets, IMO.
I liked the way you expressed yourself - "the decline of emotional response" approximately coincided with the replacement of magnetic sound with the various Dolby Optical Analog configurations. Having lived through the 70mm 6-Track Roadshow presentations as I was growing up I know of this emotional attachment drawing you the audience into the movie experience. Speaking for myself I find IMAX presentations distance me instead - in other words I am not so much drawn into the movie but continually reminded "I am watching a movie"... Am I correct to believe the compromise might be to produce the film camera negative in 70mm 6-Track - transfer the original visual and audio elements to digital disc for cinematic presentation as well as the eventual blu-ray home entertainment market? I am still not sure how we capture that warmth and tonal quality and crispness we remember. Have the producers of Barraka and Samsara caught onto the future of cinema production and digital presentation and shown us the quality the cinema of the future may bring? I cannot comment as I've not experienced these films in the cinema but I have read where the audiences have all walked out spellbound by the visual and audio realism experience. These were not IMAX presentations - instead 70mm 6-Track digital presentations (originally captured on film stock, then digitally transferred to disc for cinema distribution). Hope someone may enlighten me.

Last edited by in2video2; 02-23-2013 at 01:10 AM.
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Old 02-23-2013, 04:14 AM   #372
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I agree! To me, the decline of emotional response approximately coincided with the replacement of magnetic sound with the various Dolby Optical Analog configurations (even though Dolby improved optical greatly), and didn't seem to return with Dolby Digital. That there was an overlap, given that almost all 70 mm prints were magnetic well into the Dolby optical age, allowed us to compare (back when our ears were young). The various Dolby configurations -- except for the "Dolby Stereo" 70 mm 6 track configuration, which was magnetic -- seemed to be not as warm sounding as mag, and the dynamic surges, while there, were not as thrilling. The peaks may have measured about the same on an SPL meter -- or may actually have been higher in Dolby optical and digital, but they didn't sound as triumphant or as delightfully, dangerously unpredictable. The sound in the 70 mm presentations of Ben-Hur, Around the World in 80 Days (1956), Apocalypse Now, and several others in their 70 mm 6 track magnetic versions were about as good as it gets, IMO.
I don't think it's that the Dolby Optical wasn't as warm sounding. It was that Dolby Optical had a much lesser high-end frequency response. It was that simple. Although Dolby Optical removed the old Academy Rolloff curve, which started rolling off the frequency response of a theatre starting a 2KHz (!), analog optical sound is simply not capable of much high-end response. So while it was far better than Academy optical, it was far inferior to either 35mm 4-track mag or 70mm 6-track mag.

The other issue with Dolby Optical is that when Dolby went digital, they also included a Dolby Optical track, but it used the newer Dolby-SR encoding rather than the older Dolby-A encoding. While Dolby claimed compatibility, many theatres never installed the Dolby-SR cards (those that did were probably the earliest to switch to digital anyway) and Dolby-SR tracks played back with Dolby-A noise reduction didn't sound that great.

One other issue you have to take into consideration is that for some of the 70mm presentations in some cities, extra equipment, especially subwoofers, were installed. So it's kind of unfair to compare those presentations to Dolby Optical because they didn't have the extra equipment. This was especially true for the original version of Close Encounters and also for Apocalypse Now, which was the first Dolby 70mm film to use split surround (Superman had it in a few sections in two prints as an experiment). I saw both of those at the Ziegfeld in NYC and they were phenomenal presentations, but the Ziegfeld never installs any extra equipment today because even for premieres, many of which are held there, no one really gives a damn anymore.
loose="not tight", lose="can't find it, doesn't have anymore" or the opposite of "win".
their="belongs to", there="place", they're="they are", there's = "there is"
it's="it is", for everything else use "its"
then="after", than="compared with"
"a lot" not "alot"

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Old 02-23-2013, 04:31 AM   #373
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I am still not sure how we capture that warmth and tonal quality and crispness we remember.
Well...if you remember those old 70mm presentations, then you're probably as old as I am and if you're as old as I am, then you're never going to capture that quality because whether you want to believe it or not, you've most likely lost a great deal of your high frequency hearing, as I have.

A young kid can hear as high as 22KHz although most hear to about 20Khz. Most 30 year olds are no longer hearing much about 17K and the threshold of hearing (the minimum level at which you can hear a sound at a particular frequency) rises substantially. By the time you're 50 or 60, you're probably not hearing anything above 13KHz and have substantial threshold loss at 10K. And that's if you took good care of your ears and protected them from loud sounds.

In fact, I read an article about a store in Australia that didn't want kids hanging out in their parking lot, so they play high-frequency sounds (sort of like those insect repellent devices) that keeps teens away (unless they've already damaged their ears by attending too many concerts) but that adults don't notice. I noticed this phenomenon myself when my daughter could not stand being around one of those devices that keep insects away because she could hear the high-frequency buzz, which wasn't bothering any of the older adults because they couldn't hear it.

So you're not going to detect that crispness anymore because you can't hear it.

Having said that, I have been in a couple of theatres lately where the sound was simply spectacular. One is the Film Forum on Houston Street in NYC, which is mainly a revival and art house and where you would not normally expect that the sound would be that great, but I saw a documentary there recently and the voices sounded warm, crisp and clean with wonderful resonance. I saw Django at a newly built theatre in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and the sound there was marvelous as well. And the theatres that have Dolby Atmos installed also usually sound great because as part of the installation, Dolby does a very extensive EQing of the room that goes way beyond the EQ techniques of the past.

I must confess that I wonder if I was able to go back in time and see "West Side Story" or "How The West Was Won" again in their original roadshow presentations, whether they would sound as good to me as they did when I saw them as a kid, even if I had my kid hearing back.
loose="not tight", lose="can't find it, doesn't have anymore" or the opposite of "win".
their="belongs to", there="place", they're="they are", there's = "there is"
it's="it is", for everything else use "its"
then="after", than="compared with"
"a lot" not "alot"

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Old 02-23-2013, 06:09 AM   #374
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... if you're as old as I am, then you're never going to capture that quality because whether you want to believe it or not, you've most likely lost a great deal of your high frequency hearing, as I have ...

.
I, for one, am no doubt as old as you!

I agree about the decline in hearing, but I think that with normal hearing loss with aging (as opposed to abnormal hearing loss with aging), it may not be as big a factor as we might think.
  • Almost all audiologists and researchers measure at threshold, i.e., they try to determine the threshold at each frequency measured, and we don't listen to films or music -- especially the old 70 mm presentations -- at threshold. As we all know, even for someone with normal hearing, the Fletcher-Munsen and other collections of curves tell us that the high frequencies are perceived as disproportionally louder when the music is louder (bass too, of course). Older people also hear a greater proportion of high frequencies in loud sound than in soft. Thus, to me, loud cymbal crashes sound about the same as they always did. So do big orchestral climaxes. It's possible that with increased cortical arousal due to high SPL there is a catalytic effect on the brain's processing of whatever frequencies do get through that makes medium and loud high frequencies sound more or less normal to many oldsters. The softest sounds -- the ones the audiologist measures -- do suffer from considerable high frequency roll off in old age. Granted, we all lose some HF at medium volumes, but few of us want to risk our tweeters or headphones by turning up HF test tones to see what kind of HF loss there is at high volume (since, in music, the overtones are as much as 20 dB below the midrange, it's O.K. that many of our tweeters will only take a few watts). . Art medium level (the point at which midrange on a test disk sounds neither soft nor loud) I could hear to 16K Hz until about 3 or 4 years ago. Now it is 12KHz, on axis, with some attenuation, or 8KHz without. I'm glad to report that using Audyssey has helped the 12K. Todd-AO and the other 70 mm processes that used essentially the Todd-AO sound system were specified to go up to 12K Hz, but I think they were either being modest or the 12 K Hz reflected the top (practical) capacity of the Altec or JBL speakers used in the theater (most equipped for Todd-AO used two way Ampex systems for which the speakers were made by JBL. I was told by a JBL rep that the midrange/treble driver began to roll off fairly steeply at 11K).
  • About the time that most theater systems became able to propogate higher frequencies (1977??), the sound got worse in the way we have discussed. I don't think that was because of the better HF response, but other factors known and unknown.
    • My ancient ears can still pick up warm, dynamic, very crisp sound when hearing vinyl, some SACDs and a few Blu-rays. I'm dissappinted that some Blu-ray transfers are no better -- and sometimes a little worse -- that the DVD versions, or even, in a few cases, VHS HiFi, I have. One poster said nobody gives a damn. It's either that, or the people doing the transferring don't have any idea how these road shows sounded in the theater.

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Old 02-23-2013, 03:56 PM   #375
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Thanks guys for the updates and explanations. I've got a bad feeling that we are going to see a lot more rush jobs to transfer catalog movies to blu-ray and since the visual element must appear superior to DVD obviously (or there will be great backlash) I fear it may come at a great loss to the audio elements. Not all blu-ray collectors and film historians as "ancient" as us are as passionate regarding not just the visual but also the audio components which tend to be compromised. "...the people doing the transferring don't have any idea how these road shows sounded in the theater" - most likely the truth. And as for "...I must confess that I wonder if I was able to go back in time and see "West Side Story" or "How The West Was Won" again in their original roadshow presentations, whether they would sound as good to me as they did when I saw them as a kid, even if I had my kid hearing back." - well at 56 all I can say it's a bugger getting old... but we still have our memories.
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Old 02-24-2013, 04:24 AM   #376
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I must confess that I wonder if I was able to go back in time and see "West Side Story" or "How The West Was Won" again in their original roadshow presentations, whether they would sound as good to me as they did when I saw them as a kid, even if I had my kid hearing back.
I feel safe in saying that I and my audiophile friends of 1962, some of whom went to see How the West Was Won with me (in Cinerama, naturally), would have noticed if one of the Debbie Reynolds songs had the (moderate, but annoying) distortion that it now has on both the Blu-ray and the DVD.

What did we notice back then? O.K., the chorus was a bit harsh, but we wallowed in the magnificent transients, and the huge, clean sound.

And during the previous 6 years we spent a great deal of time at Hi Fi fairs and in the stores trying to simulate the great, warm, sound of Around the World in 80 Days (1956). Nothing measured up ... and we had to use other pieces of music to try to get there, because both the mono, and the later stereo, Lps of 80 Days were pretty terrible, even though best sellers because people so loved the movie and the bouncy, dynamic original 6 channel soundtrack. Now those of us still in contact find the sound on the DVD sad. We have to crank up the bass and cut the treble very carefully to veil some distortion and to get anything near the grandeur of the Todd-AO presentation.

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Old 03-16-2013, 07:59 AM   #377
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