|Pioneer Elite DV-47Ai DVD-A/V/SACD Player|
|Home Theater Audio Sources DVD-Audio/SACD Players|
|Written by Matthew Evert|
|Monday, 01 March 2004|
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Music and Movies
Let’s start the discs a-spinning with the DVD-Audio release of The Fixx’s 1011 Woodland (Silverline Records). The familiar tune “Stand or Fall” chilled me out with the melancholy lyrics of singer Cy Curnin. His voice dwelled sweetly in the lower midrange while staying warm to my ears. Slight picks and gentle brushes of Jamie West-Oram’s acoustic guitar brought me into the mood of the song. The track “Outside” was a different contribution from the drummer and the singer. The drummer’s high hat demonstrated that the high frequencies were just as sweet as the earlier mentioned midrange. Curnin ventured all over the place, with his voice almost going soprano at times in this track. The DV-47AI kept up the pace very nicely. I never become immune to the coolness of having music emanating from all six speakers and this cut was a great reminder of how great six-channel sound is.
Moving to a completely different genre, I next tapped the abilities of Donna Summer with her timeless Bad Girls (Casablanca Records) CD. Disco will never die. Okay, perhaps it has to some degree, but it never died in my mind. Say what you will, but I have seen few that can resist shaking their booties to “Bad Girls.” This cut displays an electronic synthesizer and a funky guitar that would outclass anything modern-day funk master Bootsy Collins could throw out there. The toot-toots and beep-beeps from the backup singers were surrounding me, thanks to the excellent sound staging of the DV-47AI. This was pretty incredible, since the recording is from 1979. “Walk Away” used lots of echo effects and an impressive vocal solo from Summer herself. The thumping bass was very tight and kept the driving rhythm solid throughout, Although this recording can sound a little congested at times, the DV-47Ai performed exceptionally and provided a detailed and powerful view of this recording.
Off to the movies, I started out with Iron Maiden’s two-DVD set called Visions of The Beast (Columbia Music). Man, this DVD set rocks. Maiden has been entertaining the world’s rebellious youth for some 25 years and is still going strong. I have seen them in concert probably five times, so I was a little cynical about a compilation of their old videos and live performances. I started out with their first major video (with Bruce Dickinson singing), “Run to The Hills.” This track begins with a barrage of tom-toms, bass drum pounding and hit hats closing together from the drummer. Then a thunderously heavy bass line from Steve Harris bass guitar gives a prelude to the head-banging that is about to commence. Dave Murray’s fast-paced electric guitar melodies and Dickinson’s opera-style singing were powerful and detailed in their presentation without being overly bright, the way some players can sound. Dickinson looks about 16 years old in the video and is wearing black leather and tight pants, a mandatory get-up back in those days. In fact, I think you got a free pair of tight jeans with any metal-style electric guitar purchased at guitar stores back then. The deep tenor voice of Vincent Price in the intro to “Number of The Beast” and the low midrange sound of the dueling electric guitars was smooth yet not soft. It was very engaging and was free of grain or other annoying artifacts that can otherwise detract from the enjoyment of the material. In fact, I never did detect any obvious signs of stridency or harshness with this midrange throughout the time I auditioned this piece. Dickinson’s 30-second scream that kick-started the rest of the song was mind numbing. I was so impressed that after the song ended, I wanted to grow a mullet and get a muscle car to work on in my front lawn.
Jim Carrey’s breakout movie, “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” (Warner Home Video), is a hilarious spin on the all-too-common Hollywood detective story. This time the plastic-faced Carrey uses his unique powers of impersonation and body manipulation to portray a wacky pet detective. The opening scene of Ace dribbling and kicking a parcel around like a soccer ball had me in stitches. The sound of broken glass shaking in the smashed box was hugely convincing, sounding real without any edginess. The DV-47Ai presented the vivid colors that were prevalent in this movie (i.e. Ace’s Hawaiian shirts and the Miami Dolphins uniforms) very well, better in fact than I have seen to date in my system.
I next fired up “Saving Private Ryan” (DreamWorks Home Entertainment) because of its impressive cinematography and excellent surround sound. This movie’s opening scene of the growling of the landing ships engines, the splashing of the ocean against the ship and the soldiers being informed that the time is near to run for the beach was incredibly displayed both with sound and picture. As the gates of the ship open and bullets rip through the bodies of dozens of soldiers in front, the sound was both detailed and immediate. It was no stretch to believe that I was there. This scene clearly makes the viewer feel the hell that these brave souls faced. Blood and water splashing onto the lens of the camera added even more drama to the re-enactment of Operation Overlord. There were moments in this film, such as when the soldiers storm the bunkers at the end of the beach invasion, that I forgot I was evaluating the product and was fixated on the story.