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Queen 'Opera' Delayed Print E-mail
Monday, 08 April 2002
Despite being reviewed by several people including AudioRevolution.com read the original review here..., what may be the "killer DVD-A," Queen's "A Night at the Opera" on DTS Entertainment, is still not available, its release date having been put back now several times - but this is about to change.

DTS' distributor went bankrupt at the end of last year, and as a result, according to project manager Jeff Levison, they were able to use the time to do something that had not originally been possible, namely to let former Queen guitar genius Brian May loose on the masters. May had been unable to participate in the original 5.1 mix due to prior commitments at the Munich Planetarium and involvement in his play in London, but having accidentally ended up with some additional time, May flew out to Capitol Studios in Hollywood to complete the project. Meanwhile, Levison was able to obtain higher quality copies of the images he was using for the on-screen displays on the DVD-A and to improve several other aspects of the project. He also pointed out that, contrary to the author's supposition in the original review, very little noise reduction was used in the prepping of the multitrack transfers for remix: it was apparently unnecessary. Levison also noted that the stereo hi-res mix included on the DVD-A was transferred direct from the original "flat" stereo master (i.e., before it had been equalized for the vinyl cut), thereby avoiding additional generation noise.

May, once on the ground in L.A., was able to contribute a good deal more to "A Night at the Opera" than simply finishing the mixes, according to producer Rob Hill, who works with the team behind the Nuendo digital audio workstation system used on the project. It turned out that there were several mistakes on the original multitracks - an untoward thump here, a bum note there. May was able to fix these with the technology now at his disposal, such as the Nuendo workstation, repairs that would have been quite impossible to make when the album was originally recorded in the mid-'70s. The actual 5.1 remix was performed largely in the analog domain on a Neve VR console and, although some of the effects on the original mix were printed to tape and thus irreversible, most were re-created for the 5.1 remix, generally with 'appropriate" machinery, such as an analog delay machine and real echo chambers (which still exist at Capitol). More details on the technical aspects of the project appear in an article in the February issue of Surround Professional magazine.

May's alterations, according to Hill, are quite subtle, but if you know the album well, you'll spot them. He notes that the final master was approved just a couple of weeks ago in mid-March, and the final release should happen any time now. Meanwhile, there are a number of pre-release copies that are not the same as the release version - presumably destined to become collector's pieces like the Toshiba-EMI Japanese CD release of Abbey Road ...

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