Tony Bennett-Unplugged (1994) (NTSC)
|Year Of Production||1994|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Beth McCarthy|
Ralph Sharon Trio
K. D. Lang
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
|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|
Recorded live, this is basically a collection of some of the more memorable popular tunes of the 20th Century sung in a style that borders on being unique today. If there aren't a couple of songs that you recognize here, then where have you been hiding for the past thirty or forty years?
After watching the show, you know why it has been such a lauded effort. This is superb singing of a style that we seldom see nowadays, and for that music in general is much the poorer. This is a genuine revelation in as much as I never realized that Elvis Costello actually has a decent voice, although I do think Tony Bennett's assessment of K.D. Lang is just a tad over the top. Overall though, this is a very enjoyable concert experience in the best Unplugged tradition, and anyone with even a remote interest in music of the era when there actually was music (that is anything prior to the mid-1980s) should find a way to add this to their collection.
The concert is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and of course it is not 16x9 enhanced.
This is about as perfect an NTSC transfer as I would think we are ever going to see, and this certainly is of reference quality for NTSC transfers. This is a consistently sharp and well-detailed transfer that handles everything thrown at it with aplomb. There is a vibrancy and a clarity to the transfer that I have rarely seen in an NTSC transfer. Shadow detail is quite wonderful, with the audience background in particular being handled very nicely so that information is there, but it in no way detracts from the main focus of the transfer. There did not appear to be any low level noise in the transfer and this really is quite wonderful stuff indeed.
Ah, the colours! This is a very nice, vibrant transfer with a lovely rich tone to it that is utterly believable. Even when the stage lighting goes up a little, and the background colour fades a little, everything still seems to have a very natural feel to it. Oversaturation was never an issue here and the way the colours have been handled is just about spot on. About the only quibble that I have is that perhaps the background could have been just a tad more vibrant on a couple of occasions.
MPEG artefacts? Film-to-video artefacts? Film artefacts? Forget it - nothing here at all to remotely distract or detract from the transfer at all. This is visually as clean a transfer and as perfect a transfer that I have seen from an NTSC source disc, and it is not that far removed from being perfect for a PAL sourced transfer.
There are two English audio tracks on the DVD, a Dolby Digital 5.1 track and a Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 track. I listened to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack whilst briefly sampling the Linear PCM track, which is actually the default track on the DVD.
The music and vocals generally come up pretty well in both soundtracks, but the Dolby Digital soundtrack has a slight peculiarity to it. It by no means makes the soundtrack unlistenable, and indeed perhaps I am being too overly critical, but the vocal track seems just a tad too recessed in the front surround channels and a tad too forward in the rear surround channels. There also seems to be a bit of an imbalance in the rear surround channels, with the left channel being mixed at a higher level than the right channel. The result is a sound picture that is just a little too rearward-balanced for my taste, although you do tend to adjust to the balance quite readily.
Audio sync did not appear to be a problem with either of the soundtracks.
Apart from the slightly odd imbalance in the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, there is not too much to complain about and indeed some praise to be handed out. The bass channel here, which is in constant use thanks to the obligatory bass in the trio format, really gets a nice solid work out and really impels the whole soundtrack along quite nicely. The overall sound picture would have been even better had the front vocal tracks been just a little more prevalent in the mix, as it would have resulted in a much more balanced sound overall to complement the bass channel. The Linear PCM soundtrack is nice but does not really capture the musical accompaniment quite as well as I would have expected. Still, there is a lot of pleasure to be derived from listening to Tony Bennett's very nice vocals in this manner.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
A superb video transfer.
A very good audio transfer.
A barely adequate extras package.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega (80cm). 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|