Alejandro Sanz-Unplugged (2001) (NTSC)

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Released 25-Nov-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Biographies-Cast-Alejandro Sanz
Notes-MTV Unplugged/Technical Specifications
Discography
Gallery-Photo
DVD-ROM Extras-Screensavers; MTV Wallpapers
Booklet
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 75:16 (Case: 80)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Manny Rodriguez
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Alejandro Sanz
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Alejandro Sanz


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Spanish Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (256Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
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 Yes, end titles over end of concert

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

Plot Synopsis

    Spanish pop superstar Alejandro Sanz, fresh from winning four Latin Grammys (Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance) for his sixth album El alma al aire ("Soul in the air"), has decided to join the list of artists who have recorded an "MTV Unplugged" concert. The idea is to present well-known artists performing their most popular material using acoustic instruments only (electric organs and pianos are grudgingly allowed) to a smallish audience in a more intimate venue. So far over 100 artists have performed in MTV Unplugged concerts, starting with Paul McCartney in 1991, so it's not exactly an exclusive club.

    This one is recorded in 2 October 2001, in the Gusman Theatre in Miami. The concert was originally scheduled for September but had to be delayed due to the tragic events of 11 September 2001. There were around 300 people in the concert, and the show was broadcast on MTV to an audience of approximately 11 million people (in mostly Latin countries) and the recording of the concert was subsequently released on CD, music cassette, VHS video and now on DVD.

    I was expecting an "unplugged" concert to consist of mostly Alejandro with a guitar, so I was quite surprised to see a large group of musicians on various instruments. In fact, the musicians on stage were so numerous they were threatening to dwarf the audience! This was definitely not a small-scale production. It was masterminded by super-producer Humberto Gatica who is also responsible for producing/engineering Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand albums amongst others.

    The list of musicians include:

    Of these musicians, I recognised Randy Waldman as an LA session pianist who has played on quite a few albums I own. The band is also augmented by the Miami Symphonic Strings.

    The marketing blurb gushes about Alejandro performing some of his best known songs in the concert. Well, since I have never heard any of his songs, I'll have to take that on faith. In any case, the songs are quite pleasant, ranging from light pop to ballads (anyone who has read some of my previous reviews will know that I have a very soft spot for Spanish love songs!). The acoustic arrangements softens many of the songs, I suspect, from the original versions.

    Alejandro engages in quite a bit of dialogue in between songs. Unfortunately, I can't understand a word of Spanish, so I don't know what he is saying, but the audience of (mostly) teenage girls plus some of their boyfriends seem to be really enjoying it. He introduces the band members at the end of Track 7 (Cuando Nadie Me Vie).

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Track Listing

1. Todo Es De Color
2. Apeendiz
3. Toca Para Mi
4. Quiero Moriren Tu Veneno
5. Siempre Es De Noche
6. Quisiera Ser
7. Cuando Nadie Me Ve
8. Y Solo Se Me Ocurre Amarte
9. Como Te Echo De Menos
10. Se Le Apago La Luz
11. Lo Que Eui Es Lo Que Soy
12. Corazon Partio
13. Amiga Mia

Transfer Quality

Video

    This is an NTSC full frame transfer intended for broadcast on TV. Normally I would be whinging about NTSC transfers, but given that the programme would have been originally broadcast in NTSC at least we are seeing it in its original video format and that can only be a Good Thing.

    This is a fairly decent transfer based on, presumably, a digital video source. Detail levels are good (though not quite as good as film) and colour saturation is pretty close to perfect with saturated highlights kept to a minimum. I was also glad to see no evidence of aliasing, edge enhancement or low level video noise whatsoever.

    The major issue with this transfer is probably persistent Gibb's effect ringing, which is particularly noticeable around the microphone. In addition, the black and white credits at the end of the programme suffer from minor pixelization.

    This is a single sided single layered disc with no subtitle tracks.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three audio tracks on this disc, all in Spanish: Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536kb/s), Dolby Digital 5.1 (256kb/s), Dolby Digital 2.0 (256kb/s).

    The best audio track of the three is the Linear PCM 2.0 track, as you would expect. Although lacking in bass and sounding a bit glassy compared to the Dolby Digital tracks, uncompressed PCM is still the king when it comes to detail, subtlety and finesse. It is recorded at a lower than normal level (about -3dB compared to a typical CD).

    Alejandro's voice has a completely different timbre on LPCM, plus he sounds much more subtle with micro-dynamics inherent in his phrasing. Secondly, the background vocalists also come through clearly on this track instead of muffled, as on the other tracks. Thirdly, the various instruments are much better defined than on the other tracks.

    I was surprised that the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track was encoded at such a low bitrate (256kb/s), and the results are disappointing. This is easily the worst sounding track, and bit starvation results in Alejandro's voice sounding muffled, the background vocalists get submerged underneath the music, and the overall sound lacked sparkle and warmth.

    The centre channel in the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix appears to be silent. The subwoofer is lightly used to support the low frequencies in the music. The rear speakers mainly contain background ambience and reflections of the music from the back of the hall, but occasionally I can detect various instruments being directed towards the rears - the electric organ, chimes, for example.

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 track in comparison sounded quite decent. Although not as subtle as the Linear PCM track, it sounded quite full bodied and decent. The soundstage is a bit on the flat side but expands wonderfully when I engage Dolby Pro Logic II (a bit too deep using Cinema mode, more natural and subtle using Music mode).

    Dialogue sounded quite natural, but since it's all in Spanish I couldn't understand a single word. Unfortunately there are no subtitle tracks, but at least I did not detect any audio synchronization issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Extras are mainly stills and DVD-ROM content.

Menu

    The menus are full frame, but the main menu is preceded by an extensive introduction (0:44) and includes animation and background audio.

Biographies-Cast-Alejandro Sanz

    This is a set of four stills providing a biography of Alejandro Sanz. It seems to be mostly focused on the albums that he has released rather than a story of his life.

Notes-MTV Unplugged/Technical Specifications

    This consists of two stills providing a short essay on the MTV Unplugged concept, plus three stills providing musician and production credits.

Discography

    This is a submenu that leads to 1 still per album. Each album still includes cover art and track listing.

Gallery-Photo

    This consists of 27 stills of various photos taken during the concert.

DVD-ROM Extras-Screensavers; MTV Wallpapers

    There are two screensavers (both of which come in PC and Macintosh versions) stored in the SANZ_M1\SANZ_M1 directory on the DVD-ROM. There are also 9 wallpapers, all in 1024x768 (24 bit) JPEG. These look a bit grainy to me, plus you get the annoying "MTV Unplugged" logo and text on each one of them.

Booklet

    This is a four page colour booklet containing a track listing, DVD contents listing, musician and production credits.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 and 4 versions of this disc are identical.

Summary

    Alejandro Sanz: MTV Unplugged features the Grammy Award Spanish pop star Alejandro Sanz performing some of his most well known songs backed by a substantial acoustic band and strings.

    The video quality is excellent with minimal artefacts apart from Gibb's effect ringing.

    The audio quality for the LPCM 2.0 and DD2.0 tracks are good, but the DD5.1 track suffers from a bitrate that is too low to do the music justice.

    Extras are mainly stills and DVD-ROM content.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Monday, May 19, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RP82, using Component 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 surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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