Olivia Newton-John-One Woman's Live Journey (DVD-Audio) (2001) (NTSC)
Notes-The DTS Story
|Year Of Production||2001|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||None Given|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
English MLP 48/24 5.1
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Amongst the rumours of the death of DVD-Audio, including the imminent appearance of Dual Disc (CD on one side, DVD-Audio on the other), you might be lead into thinking that DVD-Audio has already been given the death sentence, at least by the "majors". Well, at least there still are some of the smaller, "independent", companies out there and some of them are still supporting the format. Unfortunately, few of them are known outside the United States by any other than strong devotees of the format it seems. And that is where smaller, independent distributors come into play: they can look for niche product or markets that are of little interest to the majors but within which they can hopefully make a buck or two.
So it is that Simitar DVD have latched onto one of those niche markets with the output of one of those independent companies: DVD-Audio and DTS Entertainment respectively. Obviously the company has seen that there are some people out there interested in the format and seen an opportunity to grab a few sales from those persons frustrated with the depressing lack of product available locally. DTS Entertainment obviously is an arm of the company that gave us the dts sound format - Digital Theater Systems. The other interesting thing about these smaller companies is that the product tends to veer a little all over the place in terms of musical genres.
In this case, that meandering sees one of the greatest musical exports from Australia exposing her talents on DVD-Audio. Now it probably is not the appropriate place to admit this, but what the heck: I had a really serious crush on Olivia Newton-John back in the days of my occasionally reckless youth. Aside from being a talented singer, she also is an extremely gorgeous woman. Back in the 1970's, you would often find me sitting in my room listening to one of her earlier, more country influenced releases, whilst gazing longingly upon a rather large poster of the lady looking down at me from where it hung. At least it kept me off the streets and out of trouble. It also meant that I garnered a fondness for her music that I have never, ever lost.
So when this disc came up for review, there was little doubt that I would take it even though now retired from reviewing. Recorded in Atlantic City over two nights in late August, 1999, One Woman's Live Journey is a reasonable encapsulation of the musical career of Olivia Newton-John. Covering some of her earlier, country-style hits, some of her film music and some of her newer stuff that would be less familiar to any but her true fans, this is a nice enough mix of music. I am quite sure that fans could come up with a far more extensive concert though, so it has to be said that this hardly does justice to all that Olivia Newton-John ever did musically. It is also true to say that the recording of the concert is not the best and in some ways works against the lady in many ways. But overall, far better this than nothing at all.
Not the greatest concert ever heard therefore, and not even the generally reliable Elliot Scheiner manages to truly overcome what can only be presumed to be an inherently mediocre recording. Ultimately it is the niggling concerns regarding the recording and its presentation here that detract from what is otherwise a quite enjoyable concert experience. Fans of the lady will in general probably find much more here to enjoy rather than to quibble over.
3. Don't Stop Believin'
4. Please, Mister, Please
6. Let Me Be There
8. Have You Never Been Mellow?
9. Precious Love
10. Not Gonna Give Into It
|12. Back With A Heart|
14. You're The One That I Want
15. Hopelessly Devoted To You
16. Summer Nights
17. Don't Cut Me Down
18. Somewhere Over The Rainbow
19. If You Love Me
20. Let's Get Physical
21. I Honestly Love You
There is no video on the disc, only stills. There is nothing at all wrong with the presentation of these.
There are three soundtrack options on the disc. Obviously the main focus, given the issuer of the disc, is a dts 5.1 soundtrack, along with a 48kHz/24-bit MLP Advanced Resolution Surround Sound 5.1 effort. Since the derivation of the disc is from DTS Entertainment, the Dolby Digital contribution is a 2.0 soundtrack at the unusually low (for a DVD-Audio disc) bitrate of 192 Kb/s. The language is in all cases, quite obviously, English.
Quite some time ago I remember reading a review of this disc on an American site that indicated that this was quite a good sounding disc, albeit with some concerns regarding the mixing in the rear channels. I am buggered as to how anyone found this quite a good sounding disc.
Frankly, the dts soundtrack is to me one of the worst I have heard on DVD-Audio - and given that the disc is from DTS Entertainment I find this quite amazing. I was sort of expecting this to be a dts demonstration disc. It is, just in a negative sense rather than the expected positive sense. The biggest problem is that the style of the soundtrack is almost completely inappropriate for the style of the music. A lot of Olivia Newton-John's music is heavily dependent upon harmony and lyricism, especially the earlier music - so it needs a nice open sound, with a degree of emphasis on the vocals and not much in the way of bass. What it gets here is almost thumping bass that is way too prevalent in the mix and far too focused to boot. The result tends to overpower the vocals, which are correctly quite front and centre, too much. The surround channels are not especially well used and create a somewhat unnatural soundscape - and one that certainly does not in my view sound at all like a live concert experience. At no time could I close my eyes and believe that I was at the Taj Mahal on those nights enjoying this concert. Backing vocals are almost solely out of the rear channels but they are too separated in the mix, with the result that you have two distinct sound foci - Olivia in front of you and the backing singers behind you. Not right at all. I also felt that the mix was a little too muddied at times - although the bass may be influencing this impression. It is hardly what I would consider a clean, open sound. A major disappointment in general.
The DVD-Video compatible Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is much better overall and is far more suited to the style of music on offer. The more modest bass information means that the vocals are not overpowered and therefore they shine a little more. The sound is quite clean and open so there is nothing much here that I would consider to be muddied. What modest surround encoding that does appear to be here is quite appropriate for the occasion. The disappointment is that the soundtrack appears to be truncated very quickly at the end of the last thank you, such that we don't get the full effect.
The DVD-Audio MLP 5.1 soundtrack is the better of the two six channel soundtracks by a considerable margin, although still not really in the same league as the best that we have seen in the format. It at least features far better handled bass, so that the vocals are not overpowered and the overall sound has slightly better balance, albeit still not "right". The surround encoding is still not really natural and you still don't get the feeling of actually being at the concert. Backing vocals are a little more obvious than I prefer and are still quite specifically placed in the mix, but in such a manner that you still get a distinctly odd sounding effort with the lead vocals in front of you and the backing vocals at almost the same intensity behind you. So unless you were actually sitting on stage, this is not a natural, encompassing sound - and then you would have to quibble about where the audience noise is located in the mix in relation to the rest of the vocals. It does not matter which way I look at this mix, it just does not fit a natural sound at all. The soundtrack features a very crisp, clean sound though and there is certainly nothing hidden.
|Surround Channel Use|
Uninspiring stuff indeed!
An eight page effort that really is hardly worth the effort. Would a bio of the lady or some notes about the concerts be too much to ask?
Three (short) pages of shameless promotion of negligible value. Well, of no value actually...
Fifteen photos in all, rather inadequate especially when they are as affected by moiré artefacting as some of these are.
One page of them...
This is the same disc as released worldwide.
Okay, as a fan I was hoping that this was going to be better than the few overseas reviews located indicated. As a fan I was willing to overlook some of the inadequacies of the disc. But the truth is that as a fan, I am more ambivalent about this disc than I should be. Yes, it is very nice to hear this gorgeous lady in surround sound but it is hardly the most flattering sound you will ever hear. I admire the efforts of Simitar DVD in bringing the disc to a local release, but in reality it is going to require far better quality stuff than this, technically speaking, to encourage people into the dying format. At the price, strictly for hard core fans only.
|DVD||Denon DVD-1600, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|