Saturday, June 18, 2005

Dire Straits' new call to arms for SACD ...

stated Hi-Fi News in July 2005 issue presenting a new re-mix of this classic (?) and audiophiles' favored (?) album. Although I don't possess or plan to purchase SACD player, I was intrigued enough to order this hybrid CD/SACD (stereo/5.1) disk. As I don't have the original CD, the listening notes concern the Sultans of Swing, The Very Best of Dire Straits CD I have. Since this Best Of has Brothers in Arms and So far Away tracks, I compared them with the same tracks in re-mastered hybrid disk.

In short, better. Increased resolution, better defined bass, Mark Knopfler's voice has more texture, sound is definitely more open and airy. I also discovered that new hybrid's CD layer is HDCD coded, although I couldn't find HDCD logo anywhere in packaging. The Best Of album is also HDCD coded, and clearly indicated so. The CD layer of SACD disk has also substantially more presence, but unfortunately sounded a tad more louder than the other disk (read: more compression?).

Funny thing, though. As a teen, I was a big fan of Dire Straits and had all their albums in vinyl. Loved that sound played through my humble hifi gear, yet nowadays even this re-mastered disk leaves me dead cold emotionally speaking. Sure, my music taste is utterly different nowadays (90% 50/60's jazz, rest 10% consists of French non-contemporary like Manu Chao and bands like Pink Martini), but still I have to confess that after the test was concluded this Brothers of Arms ended right there with my other secondary stuff. Furthermore, this re-mastered version left me question what virtues other audiophiles appreciate in order to use this album as their reference disk?

With the same delivery from I also got classic War of the Worlds album, remastered to CD/SACD hybrid. If the latest version of Brothers of Arms sounded superior to precedent version(s), the re-mastered War of the Worlds sounds way superior to the double CD I possess. Richard Burton's voice, in particular, is wonderfully presented - rich, full of warm and shades. The packaging is super as well.

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