Oct 312014


I know that this site has raised the ire of Andy Partridge, which is unfortunate since he is somebody whose music has been absolutely integral in my life. [“Mine too,” says the authors of the old piece that got his goat.- Mr Mod] I’m not trying to piss him off. And I know the Nonsuch album is not so widely loved in these halls, but it does have some tunes I love – yes, I *like* “That Wave.” I’ve played that album many, many times, I know where the little squeaks and clicks are, I know the timing between the songs. I was psyched to hear it in surround, I thought it would be cool.

Feeding this also is that I joined the FB XTC group, mostly to hear news, but honestly I’m a bit turned off by the rampant fandom there, where the praise is generous and lavish and criticism is not especially welcome or considered. Those fan groups can have a weird dynamic and maybe I’m reacting against that. But I’m not trying to piss off those fans either, just to state my opinion.


  7 Responses to “Nonsuch: How NOT to Do Surround Sound”

  1. I did a lot of surround work a few years ago with a company that had developed a system to fully spread a stereo mix matrix. It wasn’t the crappy “upmix” style but a complete artifact free full surround mix derived from a stereo source. Our first priority was that whatever we processed had to stay absolutely faithful to the original intentions of the artist and producer. The surround field is round like a pan pot on a mixing board, so wherever the sounds were panned in the original is where it would show up in the surround mix. The major reason we stuck to this rule was to avoid exactly what you are experiencing with this XTC album.

    I’m not going to name the company because I’m bitter. I was a co-founder and got shafted, completely. If you’re curious you can hear things I did in the movie Watchmen and all of the surround for Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds was done in my bedroom ….half of it done directly from QT’s vinyl collection …..I shit you not. I swear I have Ennio Morricone HD surround mixes with needle drops!

  2. trigmogigmo

    Nonsuch is an album I like a lot, so this intrigues me. Unfortunately even if I were to get rear surrounds added to my current system I think that getting use out of a surround record would require a special sit-down end-toend album listening session, which honestly doesn’t seem very likely!

  3. The experiences and knowledge people have around here never fail to amaze me.

  4. cherguevara

    But you can still check out Steve Wilson’s stereo mix! I mean, that’s part of what is grating at me. Lots of albums are being remixed for surround, some mixes are good, some not so great. But not many, if any, of these albums also feature new stereo mixes. Why would you do that?

    Who wants to hear new stereo mixes of Drums and Wires? Who thought that was necessary? Can anybody really tell me that Wilson’s mix is better or more defininitive than the one produced by Steve Lilywhite and Hugh Padgham? Two men with a shit ton of classic albums on their CVs? Seriously, the idea is almost comical.

    Patrock – that is very cool! Spinning records with QT must be a trip and a half. I’m not much of a fan of up-mixing or down-mixing. But then, having said that, I’m not much of a fan of having anything but primarily ambience in the surrounds. One of the first surround things I heard was in a demo room at an audio show, it was the Eagles, some big vocal harmony number. There were unsettling voices were behind me, it was like I was going to get jumped by Glenn Fry.

    Anyway, the new D&W does have some very tempting extras in it along with the original mix, and my CD copy is a very early British import, probably not the best version. But then, at home I play my vinyl and that works for me.

  5. 2000 Man

    I don’t have a surround system. I just have never heard one I was very impressed with. All of them have seemed under powered and while I’m not a big audiophile, I think you can hear the difference between a well thought out system and a less well thought out one. I think most surround systems seem designed for movies and thy do deep bass and vocals pretty well. Other than that, it seems to me like before the system gets musical at all you’re in to it for huge amounts of money. A two channel system just seems more sensible in a house to me.

    Then there’s every surround mix I’ve heard – YUCK! I know what Cher’s talking about with weird stuff coming from behind. I can’t think of any musical information I want to come from behind me. An echo effect like i’m in a big hall? No thanks. Weird synth effects that go zipping around all the channels? Yeah, it’s cool once. But for just music I’d rather listen and see how well the soundstage can come across. Do the Stones sound like Keith is on the right, and Ronnie on the left, like when you go see them? Does a piano just sound like it’s a phantom floating over everything or does it sound like it’s a little backstage left? I know a lot of today’s recordings are pretty much just really loud and essentially mono, but some records still sound like stereo and seem mastered more carefully.

    And what’s with the people that say they prefer vinyl, but don’t have turntables and only listen to “needledrops?” Aren’t those just digital copies of analog sourced material? I just don’t understand that at all.

  6. The whole discussion is interesting, but the best thing is it sparked me to listen to Nonsuch over the weekend — and outstanding album that I kind of ignored during my alt-country snob years.

Lost Password?

twitter facebook youtube