Billy Cobham-Spectrum (DVD-Audio) (1973) (NTSC)

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Released 21-Oct-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Booklet
Featurette-Video Interview
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1973
Running Time 38:03
RSDL / Flipper Dual Sided Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Ken Scott

Warner Vision
Starring Billy Cobham
Case DVD-Audio Jewel
RPI $32.95 Music Billy Cobham

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Audio dts 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Audio MLP 96/24 5.1
Audio Linear PCM 96/24 2.0 (4608Kb/s)
Audio MLP 96/24 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This is legendary fusion drummer Billy Cobham's first album, Spectrum, originally released in 1973. Born in 1944 in Panama, he has always been fascinated by percussion instruments. He has played with legends such as Miles Davis and was one of the founding members of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, along with John McLaughlin. When Mahavishnu broke up, he formed a new band called Spectrum and this is the resultant album, widely regarded as his best.

    Billy plays percussion and drums and is also the producer of the album. The key accompanying musicians are:

    Other musicians include:

    Most of the songs start off with a drum solo, then in the second part the other musicians come in. One song (Stratus) however starts off with keyboards.

    For this DVD-Audio release, Billy Cobham is also responsible for supervising the surround sound remix and also features in a retrospective video interview.

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Track Listing

1. Quadrant 4
2. Searching For The Right Door
3. Spectrum
4. Anxiety
5. Taurian Matador
6. Stratus
7. To The Women In My Life
8. Le Lis
9. Snoopy's Search
10. Red Baron

Transfer Quality


    Like most of Warner DVD-Audio discs released to date, the video content on this disc is in full frame NTSC. We get one photo still per song that includes the song title.


    This is a recent DVD Audio release, and features what is very close to my ideal set of tracks and layout for DVD Audio discs. Basically, this is a dual sided single layered disc, with both DVD Audio and DVD Video surround mixes on one side, and DVD Audio and DVD Video stereo mixes on the other (totalling four separately playable versions on the one disc). Furthermore, the menu arrangement and extras are very similar to one another so no one loses out no matter what equipment they own or their stereo vs. multichannel listening preferences.

    In particular, those who do not own DVD Audio players are not short changed. The surround side includes both dts and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks, and the stereo side has a Linear PCM 96/24 audio track.

     Let's start off with the stereo side. I listened first to the MLP 96/24 2.0 track (not 192/24 as stated on the back cover). I found the audio quality of this somewhat disappointing. Although the end result is probably better than a typical CD, it wasn't as good as I hoped and somewhat lacklustre compared to other DVD Audios I have listened to.

     Although low level detail is there (as a example the slow decay of cymbals are very well reproduced), extreme high frequencies seem to be slightly rolled off and the overall sound is a bit muffled and dull, sounding almost like an LP that has been played too often.

    In other words, the recording seems to be realizing the benefits of additional sample depth from the increased word size (24 bits) but not really taking advantage of the increased sample frequency (96kHz).

    I also sampled the Linear PCM 96/24 2.0 track from the DVD Video part of the disc and it sounds identical to the MLP stereo track.

    Now for the surround mix. I listened to the MLP 96/24 5.1 track on the DVD Audio portion of the surround side. Again, it was somewhat disappointing although sounding slightly better than the stereo track.

    The main issue I have with the surround mix is that it is a little bit too front centre focused and too much music got steered to the centre. The rears seem to be mainly used for ambience, apart from two tracks: Track 2 (Searching for the Right Door/Spectrum) and Track 6 (Snoopy's Search/Red Baron) - where the synthesizer is imaginatively panned across front and rear channels.

    The subwoofer was used lightly to support the low frequency portion of the music.

    The full bitrate dts 5.1 audio track (1536Kb/s) on the DVD Video part of the side sounds very similar to the MLP track except possibly sounding slightly duller. Finally the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track (448Kb/s) is also similar but slightly harsher and recorded at a slight softer level (dialog normalisation -2dB).

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The extras are exactly the same no matter which part of the disc you select (DVD Audio or Video, Stereo or surround) which means there are four copies of everything (well, in reality probably only two for some of them as both DVD Audio and Video portions of any side can link to the same content on the disc).


    The menus are full frame and static.


    This is a 12 page booklet that includes both colour and black and white photographs, a lengthy essay by A. Scott Galloway, track listing, and musician/production credits.

Featurette - Video Interview (8:43)

    This is a full frame retrospective interview with Billy Cobham, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 (Kb/s). He talks about the themes behind the album, the recording (which took ten days), his reasons for making the album, and other artists he has worked with.

Photo Gallery

    This is a set of ten colour stills capturing the musicians during their performance. The photos look a bit grainy and yellowish/reddish in colour.


    This is a set of seven stills listing musicians and production team.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc appears to be identically featured across all regions.


    Spectrum is fusion drummer Billy Cobham's first album as leader and widely regarded as his best.

    This double sided disc contains a full selection of audio tracks, including MLP 96/24 5.1, full bitrate dts 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 on one side, and MLP 96/24 2.0 and Linear PCM 96/24 2.0 on the other side. Unfortunately, the quality of the audio is a bit disappointing.

    Extras include a video interview.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Monday, January 06, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RP82, using RGB output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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