Linda Ronstadt-What's New (DVD-Audio) (2002) (NTSC)

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Released 18-Mar-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Booklet
Gallery-Photo
Music Video-What's New
Lyrics
Credits
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 37:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Peter Asher
George Massenburg
Bob Ludwig
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Linda Ronstadt
Nelson Riddle
Case DVD-Audio Jewel
RPI $29.95 Music Various


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
English MLP 96/24 5.1
English MLP 192/24 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

    Well it sure ain't rock and roll but I like it! Linda Ronstadt's 1983 album What's New is beautifully engineered and presented on this DVD-Audio/Video disc. Whilst New Wave music and unisexual variations on black leather, zips and safety pins were the order of the day, What's New presented a consummately skilled singer presenting classic songs with a lush, well crafted accompaniment from veteran arranger Nelson Riddle and his orchestra. Songs of the kind found on this album can be heard on popular films of the 40's and 50's featuring artists such as Sinatra, Billie Holliday and Bing Crosby from legendary writers such as the Gershwins, Irving Berlin and Gordon Jenkins. They're sophisticated, musically challenging and easy listening - no cause to change the world or bring peace in our time. Against the backdrop of Riddle's orchestra can be found instrumental solos and accompaniments from seasoned jazz veterans such as bass player Ray Brown, tenor saxophonist Plas Johnson or keyboard player Don Grodnick.

    What of Linda Ronstadt herself? Born to musician parents in Arizona in 1947, she has successfully embraced a number of musical genres over the years including country, rock, jazz and light opera. You've probably heard her duet 'Don't Know Much' with Aaron Neville or her earlier hit 'You're No Good' and you may well have heard her with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris or even earlier in the Californian Rock Days with musicians Don Henley, Glen Frey, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner who, of course, went on to become The Eagles.

    Do you like sleazy sax? Well, let the tenor slip out of your centre speaker, slide across the floor and disappear out the back on the intro to I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You. Think your audio gear is pretty cool? If you can't hear the sawing of the bow of the double bass in What's New at 0:13 or tell which is clarinet and which instrument is oboe during Goodbye then you're not hearing all this disc has to offer!

    I'm left in no doubt that this is the best engineered digital music disc that I've yet heard - the combination of slow, sustained female vocals, acoustic instruments and subtle music is wholly unforgiving of faulty microphone technique, bad mixing or clumsy compression. Even if you're not overly fond of the music, you won't find a better test disc with which to evaluate your HT or stereo equipment.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Track Listing

1. What's New
2. I've Got A Crush On You
3. Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry
4. Crazy He Calls Me
5. Someone To Watch Over Me
6. I Don't Stand a Ghost Of A Chance
7. What'll I Do
8. Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be)
9. Good-Bye

Transfer Quality

Video

    As is normal for all DVD-Audio discs I have seen so far, the video is formatted for NTSC and presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The quality of the stills of Linda is not so sharp as other discs I have and I guess reflects the quality of source material, much of which is video derived and over 20 years old now. The only moving video is the promotion for What's New and this has appreciable video noise and a curious 'linen effect' that I haven't seen before.

    Promotional video to support the What's New release way back in 1983. Audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0 with a noticeable hiss and mediocre video in 1.33:1

Lyrics

    Whereas these can be read during playback on the DVD-A tracks, they are also included for DVD-V players from the menu - unfortunately they can't be accessed during DVD-V playback but they're nice to have.

Booklet

    Very informative and nicely produced 16 pages with information on musicians, Ms Ronstadt and the songs and their composers.

Photos

    10 nice pics of Ms Ronstadt and Mr Riddle

Audio

    This is a magnificent, reference quality transfer and the available formats should suit anyone (LPCM purists - please note this is DVD! - go out and buy the CD!).

    There are DVD-Audio and DVD-Video audio tracks. On some DVD players you can setup the equipment to default to one or the other format - on others, notably Pioneer players and my own EAD 8000, there is no way to pick and it defaults to the higher resolution format. This made strict comparisons between DVD-A and DVD-V difficult as I had to listen to it on two different setups.

    The DVD-Audio portion of the disc has a conventional 5.1 channel 96/24 PPCM track and a not so common high resolution 2 channel 192/24 PPCM track.

    There's one minor pop at the start of track 7 in 192/24 DVD-A. Otherwise, the production sounds technically perfect.

    The DVD-Video portion of the disc contains Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital stereo and DTS 5.1 tracks. It was not possible to switch formats on-the-fly on my players - you have to go back to the Top Menu to select between DD and DTS.

    I listened to the 2 and surround channel DVD-Audio tracks back to back and then compared a few tracks between all available formats excepting the DTS and DD 5.1 surround tracks which I was not able to force my reference player to read.

    Linda's vocals were superbly rendered in all formats - the DVD-A were best in terms of detail resolution and smoothness of attack and decay. The 2 channel DVD-A leant a delicacy and reverberation to the songs whilst the surround version was more immersive and intimate though slightly lacking the feather-light touch of the 192/24 track. Similar to the vocals, the shades of timbre of brass, percussion and woodwind were best delivered through the highest resolution track although DVD-A surround was able to deliver a few gimmicks such as trumpet breaking right through the rear surround at the end of track 2. The abovementioned saw of double bass bowing during the intro to Track 1, What's New, was only audible on the 2 channel DVD-A - this test showed up shortcomings of some very expensive speakers I had on trial (electrostatic speakers Rule OK!).

    The DVD-Video tracks were all good (above caveat noted) - I thought the Dolby Digital 2.0 track sounded the best of the bunch in 2 channel and is a worthy transfer for those without DVD-Audio.

    The subwoofer was active during the surround tracks but not during 2 channel, unless of course you hard-wire it into your speaker leads (don't do this unless you have a high-level subwoofer input!). It exclusively delivered bass - I don't think kick drums feature in Mr Riddle's orchestra! - and nicely rounded out the sub 40 Hz zones of my system.

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

Extras

Video

    Promotional video to support What's New release way back in 1983. Audio in Dolby Digital 2.0 with a noticeable hiss and mediocre video in 1.33:1

Lyrics

    Whereas these can be read during playback on the DVD-A tracks, they are also included for DVD-V players from the menu - unfortunately they can't be accessed during DVD-V playback but they're nice to have.

Booklet

    Very informative and nicely produced 16 pages with information on musicians, Ms Rondstadt and the songs and their composers.

Photos

    10 nice pics of Ms Ronstadt and Mr Riddle

R4 vs R1

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

    So far all released DVD-Audio discs seem to be of an identical format for all regions and this disc is no exception to the rule.

Summary

    A very full and comprehensive disc - well done to all concerned! You may or may not like the content, but there's no denying the quality - if you like female vocalists, jazz, the Big Band sound or just enjoy listening to fine music then you should find something here.

    The video quality of the extra or stills is a bit below par, but who's looking!

    The audio is of reference quality and the highest resolution DVD-A track is the best technical rendition of sound I have heard on all formats.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Friday, November 21, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDEAD 8000 Pro, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE300E Projector onto 250cm screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTheta Digital Intrepid
SpeakersMartin Logan - Aeon Fronts/Script rears/Theatre centre/ - REL Strata III SW

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