Yes-Magnification (DVD-Audio) (2001) (NTSC)

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Released 24-Sep-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Booklet
Music Video-Magnification (Live)
Interviews-Cast
DVD-ROM Extras
Lyrics
Gallery-Photo
Credits
Rating ?
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 72:21
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Jon Anderson
Steve Howe
Chris Squire
Alan White
Case DVD-Audio Jewel
RPI $32.95 Music Yes


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Linear PCM 48/24 2.0 (2304Kb/s)
English MLP 96/24 5.1
English 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

    Staggering to believe, but Yes have been terrorising the world with their own unique brand of gut-wrenching, ethereal symphonic rock for well over thirty years. Yet in all those years, they have barely managed to produce anything of great value musically-speaking. So now you basically have the quintessential bunch of boring old farts still turning out irrelevant, worthless tripe way past any reasonably sane use-by date. They do have retirement ages for a reason you know. Listening to these boring old farts languidly wending their way through this staggeringly crappy collection of songs is a d*** fine illustration as to why such retirement ages should be enforced. Once the overblown excesses of the 1970's had passed, Yes ceased to have any relevance - they just forgot to take any notice of this in their infirm years.

    Let us not forget too that this is the band that has more line up changes than Imelda Marcos has had pairs of shoes... I mean, you need a supercomputer to keep track of which line up did what under the generic name of Yes.

    So why exactly am I sitting here painfully listening to some geriatrics trying to prove they can still turn out the same crap now that they could thirty years ago? I am beginning to wonder that myself!

    Since I probably have now got the (irate) attention of all the Yes fans out there, let me at least say that I too am a Yes fan. Many a fond moment was spent in front of my hi-fi gear in the 1970's taking in the delights of their earlier albums such as Fragile, Close To The Edge and Yessongs. I will even admit to having something of a soft spot for their 1980's effort 90125. However, when comparing this most recent musical effort with those great albums of the past, even I have to concede that perhaps those long-term denigrators of Yes may actually now have a point. Aside from the fact that some of the song lyrics are banal even by the worst Yes standards, it is almost painful to listen to Jon Anderson try and perform the vocal gymnastics he could perform with ease in the 1970's and 1980's. Following the same old tried and perhaps tired formula only seeks to demonstrate how older is not necessarily wiser.

    In many ways, the band seems to have succumbed to the same disease that has blighted The Rolling Stones, whose contribution to music over the past fifteen years has had less to do with musical relevance and having something to say but rather more to do with making a buck from fans who remember the good old days. The result is a melange of mediocre songs that continually try to capture the essence of the glory days but end up just trudging through dregs, reminding us of what the band did achieve in their peak. The experience leaves something of a bitter aftertaste that is difficult to wash away.

    The album itself is not aided at all by what seems to be a rather lacklustre piece of engineering. If you are anything but a die-hard Yes fan, this might well not be the best place to rekindle your acquaintance with the band. In the end that is a great shame, for we are unlikely to see all of their great albums making it onto the format unless this disc sells in sufficient numbers to make the powers-that-be convinced that there is some profit to be made form releasing those earlier albums. If I were anteing up my own bucks for the disc, I would perhaps sit on the fence and await the much-delayed Fragile album instead.

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Track Listing

1. Magnification
2. Spirit Of Survival
3. Don't Go
4. Give Love Each Day
5. Can You Imagine
6. We Agree
7. Soft As A Dove
8. Dreamtime
9. In The Presence Of
10. Time Is Time
11. In The Presence Of (Live)

Transfer Quality

Video

    The only video on the disc is the music video and interview segments in the extras, everything else is NTSC menus and stills. These are clear and sharp, with a suitably Yes ethereal quality to them.

Audio

    From the slick cover, you would have the impression that there are only three soundtracks on the disc. This is not correct, as a Linear PCM soundtrack is not listed in the contents. The soundtracks actually on the disc are: a DVD-Audio only MLP 96 kHz/24 bit 5.1 soundtrack, a DVD-Audio only MLP 96 kHz/24 bit 2.0 soundtrack, a DVD-Video compatible Dolby Digital 5.1 448 kb/s soundtrack and a DVD-Video compatible Linear PCM 48/24 2.0 2304 kb/s soundtrack. I listened to the 5.1 soundtracks in their entirety, whilst briefly sampling the 2.0 soundtracks.

    Perhaps it was the expectation of the symphonic rock nature of Yes' music, but frankly I was expecting a lot better than this from the surround soundtracks. Given that the issues I have with the soundtracks seem to be common between the two, I am presuming what we have here reflects the desires of Yes. If so, I have to say that they certainly were not willing to push the surround sound envelope, and in my view missed the opportunity to do something really memorable with the surround encoding.

    The DVD-Audio compatible MLP 5.1 soundtrack was the first through the player, and the overriding impression is restrained. This is mainly evident by the lack of some serious contribution from the rear channels. This starts with Magnification and continues through just about every song on the album. Don't get me wrong, there is surround encoding present but it simply lacks presence. Spirit of Survival starts with an almost quintessential Yes ethereal feel, yet the whole thing seems to lose its way before it reaches the rear channels, creating something a little indistinct in the rear channel. At the same time the front channels are not exactly full with the sound of the lead vocals. The overall result is hardly a demo of what surround sound can do, this being compounded by some rather abrupt drop outs in the rear channels with about 3:18 to go in the song. Now these drop outs are intended but they do demonstrate in my view exactly how average the overall mix is.

    The only time that there is any presence in the mix is when the bass is brought too much to the fore, resulting in a bit of reverb here and there that is not entirely appropriate to the songs at times - Dreamtime being a good example. I guess that the modest issues with the bass mix are easily overlooked for most, but I doubt that the inconsistent mix can be. We Agree perhaps shows how inconsistent the entire mix is, with a quite frontal soundscape with minimal rear channel usage. In the final analysis, this soundtrack is just a little too restrained for my liking, with a little bit too much in the way of inconsistency throughout.

    The DVD-Video compatible Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is very similar in every way, the only notably difference being the additional presence in the soundscape. Not that it is that much better, but just enough to illustrate that something overall is awry in the engineering choices. The same issue exists here and there with bass reverb, nothing major but certainly more obvious than in the MLP soundtrack. Indeed, comparing my notes - from different evenings I might add - there is a remarkable consistency in the issues noted. This really does serve to confirm that a lot of what I find disturbing is more than likely the result of the choices of the engineers. Neither of the surround soundtracks does the music much good and I have to rank them as something of a disappointment. It would have helped if the mix had provided something of a more focused sound that placed you more specifically in the soundscape.

    The DVD-Video compatible Linear PCM 48/24 2.0 is excellent from the brief sample I made. It seems to have a lot more presence to the sound than the surround soundtracks and is much easier on the ear.

    The DVD-Audio compatible MLP 2.0 soundtrack is quite good based upon the sample that I listened to, lacking something in the way of presence (not unexpectedly so though!).

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

Extras

    Note that the contents listed on the cover slick include a discography - this is not actually present on the disc. There is also some modest menu animation between menus.

Booklet

    A reasonable twelve page effort, mainly an essay from composer Larry Groupé.

Music Video - Magnification (7:15)

    An interesting piece of cross promotion, as this has been lifted from the previously released DVD-Video disc Yes - Symphonic Live. The overall quality is excellent, being presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 that is not 16x9 enhanced and with good quality Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. The only downer is that no many how many times I listen to the song, nothing has moved me from the position that the song is pure rubbish. Other than that, a good inclusion.

Interviews - Cast (4:27)

    Basically covering the gestation and making of the album, this is decent enough but really could and should have been somewhat more expansive. Presented in a 1.33:1 full frame format that is not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

DVD-ROM Content

    Toss the disc into your DVD-ROM drive and it will likely do nothing. Once you navigate to the ROM content folder using your file manager, you will have the chance to install a screensaver, install some wallpaper or watch a short movie (as long as you have Quicktime installed). Just remember to read the readme file first, as there are a long list of things you need to do in order to install the screensaver on anything other than Windows 2000/XP. The screensaver is pretty good and installed without problems (Windows XP OS). The wallpaper is pretty good too, although it is not the stuff I would want to keep as a background on my computer. Unfortunately I could not get the movie to play, despite having the latest version of Quicktime - now you know why I hate DVD-ROM content so much. At least make sure the d*** stuff works, otherwise leave the sodding stuff off the disc.

Lyrics

    Exactly what it says and accessible during playback.

Gallery - Photo

    Thirty three photos of the band members, mainly taken during performances and of reasonable quality. These are accessible in bunches of threes for each song during playback in DVD-Audio mode. In DVD-Video mode, they are only accessible in a complete bunch from the extras menu.

Credits

    Basically repeating those included in the booklet.

R4 vs R1

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

    This DVD-Audio is identical in content and format around the world.

Summary

    As an album I have to say that it is a disappointment. In some ways it is therefore appropriate that the audio side of things is also a disappointment. As an overall package, I have no serious problems. The extras are decent enough, even if they really don't add an awful lot to the programme.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Friday, December 27, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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