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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Eagles, The-Hotel California (DVD-Audio) (2001)

Eagles, The-Hotel California (DVD-Audio) (2001) (NTSC)

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Released 17-Jun-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Booklet
DVD Credits
Featurette-Producer's Notes-Interview with Bill Szymczyk
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 43:57
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Bill Szymczyk
Elliot Scheiner

Warner Vision
Starring Don Felder
Glenn Frey
Don Henley
Randy Meisner
Joe Walsh
Case DVD-Audio Jewel
RPI $32.95 Music The Eagles

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (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

    Here's the short review - The Eagles Hotel California DVD-Audio (DVD-A) represents the use of state-of-the-art technology to provide a reference standard recording of one of the seminal albums of the 1970s.

    Ok, seeing as you made it this far, I guess you want more, so here goes! Released in 1976, after 9 months in the recording studio, Hotel California propelled the Eagles to the heights of mega-stardom. Selling over 14 million copies, it also made three number one hits of the first three songs from the 9 track album and is still a steady seller today. Readers of this review will very probably know more about the Eagles than me and be very familiar with all the tracks of the album, so I won't waste your time by prattling on about the contents. Instead I'll discuss some of the issues raised by this release and surround sound.

    The Eagles have a reputation for meticulous production of their songs and this care translates further into the production of their recorded material. When Hell Freezes Over  was one of the very first music DVDs produced. Examination of the back cover revealed a small red and white DTS logo - just about unheard of at that time in Region 4, prompting a necessary monetary outlay to upgrade my processor so that I could hear what the fuss was about. So too with this release, not only do we have an unmentioned DTS 5.1 surround track but we also have a 192kHz/24 bit stereo recording in DVD-Audio. Together with the conventional Dolby Digital 5.1 track and 5.1 96kHz/24 bit DVD-Audio track we have here an example of  state-of-the-art recording formats. All that's missing is a DTS 96/24 track, but the software for this is even rarer than the necessary hardware to decode it, and we really don't need another competing high-res format.

    Hotel California was one of the first albums to be recorded using the recently available 24 track recorders (up from the previous 16) and was engineered by Bill Szymczyk (roughly pronounced Sim-Chick) who produced this DVD-Audio. Szymczyk then went on to enlist the help of surround mix guru and godfather Elliot Scheiner (who also did the surround mix on When Hell Freezes Over and who has also worked with Sting and Steely Dan). What I'm getting at is that the surround mix on this release is a major departure from the stereo versions that you will be familiar with from the original vinyl album and later CD. There has been a lot of puff by the stereo self-acclaimed experts that the place of surround speakers in music is simply to enhance the ambience and reverberation of a live performance to recreate the sense of being there. What we have on this DVD is not recreation but a creation of a whole different experience. The retentive 2 channel lobby is fond of pronouncing that they have no wish to be sonically placed in the orchestra pit, to which I reply - how do you know; have you ever been there? Well, on this release, Szymczyk and Scheiner have produced a masterpiece of surround sound creation and as Szymczyk points out, if ever there was a piece of music ideally suited to surround, the title track of Hotel California would have to be it. It's not hard to imagine that with 24 tracks squashed into 2 channels, stereo has severe limitations for a piece that has at least 4 distinctive guitar lines, keyboards, lead and backing vocals, bass and complex percussion. Breaking this down into surround enables right and left separation of guitar leads and breaks from Don Felder and Joe Walsh, initially duelling melodies, answered by reverberation and rhythm effects from the rear, building to an orgasmic, twin lead guitar finale. This all takes place to the swirling background of 12-string acoustic guitar and synthesiser effects - for the first time the potential of this complex piece of music can really be let out of the can. The frequent use of acoustic instruments and piano in sometimes quiet ballads is also ideally suited to the enhanced dynamic range, resolution and frequency response of DVD-A.

    A further objection to DVD-A (and SACD) from the armchair pundits is that there is no effective bass management - in simple terms the mandatory analogue output from the player decoder bypasses the AV processor's digital processing of setup of speaker size and diversion of bass from any one of the five surround speakers to the subwoofer. In theory this could result in overload and distortion of sound from small surround speakers. This has led to one respected technical author, of an R4 magazine, to advise potential purchasers of DVD-Audio players to save their money and buy something else. Let me reassure you that on this DVD, like the 20 or so others that I have listened to, the mix is just right and that there is no overload of surround speakers. The only time I could imagine this problem to occur is with tiny sub-sat systems, in which case the subwoofer usually takes all the output and filters off  low frequency, before porting the sound to the satellites. If you let this theoretical problem put you off buying into DVD-A right now, then you're missing out. Big time.

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

Track Listing

1. Hotel California
2. New Kid In Town
3. Life In The Fast Lane
4. Wasted Time
5. Wasted Time (reprise)
6. Victim Of Love
7. Pretty Maids All In A Row
8. Try And Love Again
9. The Last Resort

Transfer Quality


    The stills accompanying the soundtracks were in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and not 16 x 9 enhanced. As is the norm with DVD-Audio discs, the video was all in NTSC so you will need a compatible TV to view the titles and track credits. Video very much takes the back seat on this disc and is not even needed for navigation. The tracks will auto-start after a minute into DTS or DVD-A 5.1 tracks depending on whether your player defaults to DVD-A or DVD-V mode.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    This is a superb, reference quality transfer.

    There are two DVD-Audio tracks; 2.0 stereo encoded at 192kHz/24bit PPCM and 5.1 surround encoded at 96kHz/24 bit PPCM. There are also conventional Dolby Digital 5.1 AND DTS 5.1 surround tracks encoded at 448kbps and 1536kbps respectively. I listened to the PPCM tracks in their entirety and the DTS track. Hotel California, Wasted time (reprise) and The Last Resort were listened to many times comparing all four modalities. 2 copies of the disc were used in separate players to enable rapid A/B comparisons to be made between DVD-Audio and DVD-V versions (5.1 DVD-A and DTS 5.1).

    There was very little to choose between the DTS and Dolby surround tracks. Both sounded excellent with perhaps a little more smoothness and dynamic range in the DTS track, but both were very acceptable. I have previously commented on how impressive I think many current Dolby Digital recording are (despite the put-down comments from the hi-fi lobby). I was consequently unsure as to how much difference there would be between DVD-V and DVD-A and looked forward to the comparison. Well, to say I was impressed is an understatement - whereas the guitar intro was played in DVD-V, in DVD-A the notes sang out with a subtlety and sweetness that defied belief. The resolution of DVD-A was quite phenomenal. On Hotel California, every hit of Don Henley's top hat sounded slightly different and in Victim of Love the snare snapped out like a bullet cracking from a rifle. Every track was an aural feast and quite beyond my capability to capture all that was happening. So what about the ultra-high resolution version of the stereo 192/24 track? Well, to be honest, I couldn't really pick up any extra detail or clarity from the already stupendous 96/24 version, but I really missed the surround composition and so my vote would have to go for the DVD-Audio 96/24 5.1 surround mix.

    Dialogue was principally encoded to the centre speaker, together with drums, and was clear and easily discernible throughout the album with various vocalists.

    As all the video clips are stills, audio synch is not an issue.

    The rear mains (aka surrounds in lesser mixes!) were extensively used to break down the musical experience into manageable (sound) bites. Needless to say, this DVD is best suited for decent rear speakers on a par with, if not the same as, the front mains.

    The subwoofer unobtrusively supplemented bass throughout the DVD-A 5.1. In DTS and Dolby Digital, the subwoofer drew attention to itself which is okay I guess if you're in cinematic mode but I preferred the subtle levels and mix in the DVD-A version.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    Separate menus are presented for DVD-V or DVD-A modes with the sunset palm Hotel California backdrop as bedecked the original LP and a selection of 2 soundtracks, project credits or Producers Notes video.


    Eight pages of credits, centrefold photo of The Eagles and lyrics to the title song.

Project Credits

    Also reproduced in booklet.

Producers Notes

    5:47 interview with producer Bill Szymczyk. Obviously disc space was getting tight here as the 1.33:1 aspect ratio video was awfully pixelated and low in resolution and the sound was distorted Dolby Digital 2.0 channel. Notwithstanding, the content of the interview was worthwhile and interesting to see the make of studio monitor speakers - you ATC, B&W and Wilson fans prepare to cringe - Yamahas all round!

R4 vs R1

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

    The 'R1' version of this disc I bought in the US and the 'R4' version supplied for this review are identical multi-region versions.


    This is the latest, and best, high-resolution version of this classic album mixed by the leading exponents of surround sound today. There is nothing lacking from the DVD-Audio tracks, which take up over 4 Gb of disc, and as a result video space is very tight.

    The audio soundtrack is of the highest quality.

    The video content is extremely limited which is not out of context, considering the audio presentation.

    Extras are minimal but short of a double disc set there really isn't room for extraneous information which, after all, is easily available on the web.

Ratings (out of 5)


© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Friday, August 16, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-900E, using RGB output
DisplayPioneer SD-T50W1 (127cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderNaim AV2. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTheta Digital Intrepid
SpeakersML Aeon front. B&W LRC6 Centre. ML Script rear. REL Strata III SW.

Other Reviews NONE