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Beck - Sea Change [Blu-ray Audio]
Review by Gary Tooze
Producer: Universal Music Group (Geffen Records)
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Total Music time: 0:52:24
Disc Size: 25,965,887,488 bytes
Bitrate: Audio is encoded at 24/192 (24 bit depth and 192kHz sampling rate)
Chapters: 12 (one per song)
Case: Transparent Blu-ray case
Release date: October 30th, 2013
2.0 Stereo LPCM or DTS-HD 24 / 192 (24 bit depth and 192 kHz sampling rate)
5.1 Surround 24 / 192
Note: this marks the first time this stellar album is released at this bitrate
Note: as for most Universal Blu-ray, none of this is indicated on the package
Foldout with photos and lyrics.
Supertramp - Sea Change Track Listing:
NOTE: Japanese CD and MFSL editions feature a 13th track ‘Ship In The Bottle’
Description: Beck was turning 30 when he found out his girlfriend of 9 years was cheating on him. The resulting melancholy, heartbreak and loneliness led to the mostly acoustic and partially orchestral based tracks on ‘Sea Change’. An intensely introspective work, it marked a departure from the electronic, retro and sample based styles which brought Beck Hansen to wider notice with albums like ‘Mellow Gold’. It was not a completely stylistic sea change (pun intended) as the previous work ‘Mutations’ also featured some of the same lush treatment. The album is frequently pulled out at audio shows and is a favourite with audiophiles. The recording is stellar and much of it was recorded in a live style with little overdubbing/additions later.
RIAA Sales: Certified gold
The album starts with the deceptively folksy/bright ‘The Golden Age’ which is really rather bleak. ‘These days I barely get by, I don’t ever try. It’s a treacherous road with a desolated view’ is a lyric which sets the tone for the album. ‘Paper Tiger’ is a standout where Beck reminds us that ‘We're just holding on to nothing, To see how long nothing lasts’. The track ‘Guess I’m Doing Fine’ sounds like a broken man trying to convince himself of something while his world falls apart. Songs like ‘Lonesome Tears’, ‘Already Dead’, and ‘Lost Cause’ all progressively seal the deal. However, the beautiful ‘Sunday Sun’ and ‘Little One’ change the tone a little towards the end of the album, hinting that ‘Yesterdays are mending’ and he might just survive. If the best way to deal with heartache is to put it all out there, Beck must have become the most emotionally healthy person alive after the catharsis of ‘Sea Change’.
Audio: I’m not certain why,
but the DVD Audio and HDTracks release of this album are in
the 24/88.2 kHz format, leading me to wonder if it was
originally recorded this way. The DVD-Audio and SACD
originally included a surround mix, so it’s a no-brainer to
have it return on the Bluray edition. The
in the 24 bit / 192 kHz which is essentially the highest
bitrate we’ll see in this format. There are some audiophile
specialty labels releasing data discs with 32 bit or 384 kHz
recordings, or double DSD, pushing the boundaries of digital
audio further but these are not mass market yet.
(2) Japanese SHM CD: little difference. Perhaps a slight audible bass improvement. SHM materials in the optical layer are supposed to improve the information retrieval from CD players. I am not convinced I hear much difference here.
(3)MFSL Original Master Recording 24K Gold Disc: Mastering volume reduced. This results in a tradeoff of wider dynamic range however perhaps slightly less detail overall. Totally different sound!
(4) Geffen DVD Audio – Stereo Track: Sounds wonderful, much more presence and soundstage than the CD editions, if a little compressed.
(6) Blu-ray Audio – Stereo Track: Bears tremendous resemblance to the now out-of-print SACD and DVD-A. Plenty of detail, lots of air around the instruments (soundstage seems wider and more open, slightly longer decays on bells for example in track one)
RECOMMENDATION: You should immediately run to your computer
or retailer and get a copy of this
Blu-ray. Although perhaps not perfect
(whatever that means anymore), the other high resolution
formats are all long out of print and worth a king’s ransom.
Blu-ray edition marks the return of the
surround mix as well if you are a fan of multichannel audio.
If you just want a CD edition, the MFSL seems to be a great
value and features the bonus track. The Japanese edition
suffers from modern remastering for an album that, frankly,
doesn’t need it and only declines as a result. The DVD-Audio
is the winner for bonus material, but is also slightly
punched-up and compressed. If you can happen to get your
hands on one, I’d recommend it as well for the bonus
material but be prepared to pay well over $100. All high
resolution and vinyl editions have shot up tremendously in
value in the past. The bluray may as well if and when it
goes out of print.
The Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc (like CDs) playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
A foldout with photos and lyrics and extensive description of the recording process of the album. A paper with a code to access the Blu-ray disc digital downloads online
Summary: Worst to Best (***
TOO CLOSE TO CALL *** Multiple excellent editions!)
March 23rd, 2014