At the time of purchase in May 2015, my current universal (DTS/SACD/DVD-A/Blu-ray) player, a Pioneer BDP450, cost me a featherweight £159. Just over a year later it's "unavailable", unless I'm willing to settle for a refurbished model from Ebay. Reasonably priced multichannel DTS/SACD and DVD-Audio players are becoming really hard to find, even from the manufacturers who invented these formats. At present the best available options appear to be:
- PIONEER BDPLX58 (£449 at Richer Sounds)
- CAMBRIDGE CXU (£799.95)
- OPPO BDP105D (£1,099)
- PIONEER BDPLX88 (£1,099)
This is a partial list of my surround sound recordings by format. It will let me sit and grieve as first DTS, then SACD, then DVD-A, and finally (sooner than you'd think!) Blu-ray playback become impossible. Then I will at least be able to see at a glance each month, exactly what fraction of my collection has now become permanently unavailable to me. It's also a work in progress, since I have no intention of losing the bad habit of buying these wonderful recordings; currently I'm looking forward to the much-delayed Steven Wilson remixes of the early Roxy Music albums.
Top 100+ Speciality Multichannel Studio Mixes
This first table lists recordings where a studio engineer (usually Steven Wilson or Jakko Jakszyk ;-) has carefully pored over the source material, and arranged things in space to produce a curated, meticulously arranged, surround sound experience.
Notice that most of the Yes titles are double entries (in fact Fragile is a triple): the DVD-Audio and Blu-ray editions of these are of course equally essential.
The Loneliness of the Long Interval Musicologist
The Year column is problematic. Every recording has its place on multiple chronologies; for example, the life and development of its composer, its conductor, and its performing artist(s). The difficulty is that different performances naturally emphasise disparate chronologies, and a single date field in a table or database struggles to accommodate these variations.
For the historical study of musical development, the time stamp of primary interest is the date of composition. Sadly this is not recorded in typical media metadata, such as the ID3 tags on MP3 files. The "Year" recorded there represents the release date - when the particular edition was issued. Now, for most "popular" music (in the strict Amazon.com sense of "anything non-classical"), this is close enough to the date of composition; but for all of the recordings listed here, without exception, the release date for the multichannel edition is many years later than that of first publication of the original material, and the problem is only worse in the case of classical works.
Generally I've tried to get as close as possible to the date of composition. That means for popular works using the year of first issue, and for classical, the historical year (or century, for compilations) of composition. Still there remain intractable inconsistencies. For example, all of the material on the Beatles' "Love" album was recorded and issued long before Cirque du Soleil went shopping for a soundtrack in 2006. Finally, there's Daniel Barenboim. When the focus of a classical recording is neither composer nor performer, but instead a famous conductor, then I use the performance date.
Live Surround Sound Music Videos
This second table lists live video recordings of musical performances that just happen to have a surround sound component, often limited to a feeling of ambience in the hall where the recording was made. These are the second class citizens of the surround sound community.
|Artist or Composer||Album Title||Year||Physical Media|
|Daniel Barenboim||Knowledge is the Beginning / The Ramallah Concert||2008||✓|
|Mahler Symphony No. 9||✓|
|The Salzburg Concerts||2011||✓|
|Blackfield||NYC - Blackfield Live In New York City||2007||✓|
|Dream Theater||Live at Budokan||2004||✓|
|David Gilmour||Remember That Night||2007||✓|
|Led Zeppelin||The Song Remains the Same||1999||✓|
|Live at the Royal Albert Hall||2010||✓|
|Orphaned Land||The Road to Or Shalem||2011||✓|
|Porcupine Tree||Arriving Somewhere...||2006||✓|
|Steven Wilson||Get All You Deserve||2012||✓||✓|
|Live at Montreux 2003||2007||✓|
|Youssou N'Dour||Live at Montreux 1989||2005||✓|