After multiple delays and a price reduction to $16, Amazon sent me one of the first MVI DVD-Albums, Rush’s Snakes & Arrows. They’ve provided 5.1 DD (16/48kHz) and 2.0 LPCM (24/96kHz) versions of the music, 192kbps MP3s (-9.35dB RG), 11 entertaining 1024×768-pixel wallpaper BMPs, and other extra content like a 40-minute making-of-S&A documentary by Andrew MacNaughton. It’s in a very attractive laminated cardboard box with a 28-page booklet that’s similar to the CD’s with a few more pages. Does Hugh Syme kick ass or what?

My main technical interest in this release is the quality of the high-resolution and surround versions of the album. A test listen will come soon, but my initial rip and ReplayGain of the 24/96 stereo mix reveals a fatal flaw: less dynamic range in the 24-bit audio than the MP3s sourced from the 16-bit CD audio! The MP3s on the DVD show a RG Album value of -9.35dB, and the high-res version shows -10.14dB. Very disappointing. There’s no point in mastering a high-res version of the music if you’re going to further squash the dynamic range!

There is speculation that this is a DVD-Audio release. It’s not. All the content is either in the DVD-Video portion of the disc or elsewhere in its UDF filesystem.

Update: Looking at the hi-res WAVs playing back in REAPER, they’re maxing out at +0.8dB, which accounts for the difference in RG values between them and the MP3s. However, a question remains: why didn’t the producer & engineer take advantage of the extra bit depth of the hi-res version by leaving more dynamic range?

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