Did anyone pick up the new release of the soundtrack? I forgot to pick it up. There's been some confusion as to whether they are true SACDs or not... they've been listed as DSD mastered, but no one can confirm them being actual SACD discs. Weird.
Well, I can confirm they are not SACDs, but they are labelled as being DSD mastered on the sticker affixed to the outer plastic wrapping. I picked up all three sets at a WM the other day for just over 30 bucks total (a story in and of itself), but I have only had the chance to listen to ANH so far. It sounded really good on my headphones, but since I tend to listen to the ESB:SE soundtrack much more than the others, it will be a few days before I can say with any authority that the remastering shows any real difference in sound quality.
I guess I should chime in with the "review" of the layout and packaging of the new CD sets, just in case some of you SE owners (of which I am proud to be one) wanted to know if the packaging had been reproduced.
Overall, the packaging is similar to the Episode I single disc that Sony put out in 1999. Instead of a booklet, each liner has a six panel foldout with the front and back cover, a two panel section with track titles, and another two panel section with the recording information (producer, engineer, etc). On the back of each is another photoshopped "poster" with characters from each film. The "lenticular" cover is actually a piece to itself separate from the CD liner. The case is another slimline double disc case although it tends to be more secure than other slimline doubles I've seen in recent years.
The really annoying thing is that the discs and the back liner of the CD case have these huge and gaudy FBI Warnings on them now that are the musical equivalent of the obnoxiousness of the VHS/DVD FBI warnings. Seriously, this is the first time I've seen these on CDs, and it made me ill. Before long, CDs won't even have covers; it'll just be one huge warning label.
Okay, the individual discs now have new artwork that is not uniform like the SEs had. ANH has Luke on Disc 1 and Vader on disc 2; ESB has Boba Fett on Disc 1 and Vader on Disc 2; and ROTJ has Luke and Leia on Disc 1 and Palpatine on Disc 2. The artwork is totally unique to these releases, and none of the SE content is repeated in terms of the packaging. Which is my key argument with the packaging.
The excellent liner notes from the SE releases are not included at all. That was one of my favorite things about those releases (other than the obvious music), and I am really sad to see that they weren't included so that Sony could include one of their crappy "posters" in the liner notes instead. I'm in the process of typing all these notes into a .doc so I'll still have them around, so if anyone else decides to sell off their SE sets in favor of these and still wants the notes, drop me a PM and I'll email you a copy of my typing.
The important thing though is the music and I'm happy to say that ANH does sound really good. Thankfully, the tracks from the SE are all intact (including takes 16-20, even though they aren't listed on the cover or notes at all; people who haven't heard the SE sets are going to be confused I think when those come on), and nothing was omitted (as in no creative decisions were made to obliterate sections of John Williams' score so Ben Burtt could show us how big his dick is). The other discs seem to contain all the tracks from the SEs and the times are the same, but I will not comment on the content until I have had a chance to listen to them later this week.
Overall, I don't feel as if I was cheated by paying 10 bucks for ANH, but the loss of the excellent liner notes and those huge ass FBI warnings really irritated me. But, the music is what is important, and ANH sounds great. I'll post again once I've had a chance to listen to the other two, since ROTJ seems to be the one that most people are curious about, due to the dropoff in sound quality on disc two of the SE releases.
But since this is about the DVDs, I'll comment on those...
The changes don't bother me a bit anymore. Jabba doesn't look ridiculous, the Han-Greedo shootout is tolerable (although I still prefer Han shooting first), they corrected Obi-Wan's lightsaber, so I'm generally happy. The only things I'm a little confused by are Luke's white saber on the Falcon, the fact that apparently R2 can project holograms of Theed, Princess Leia, and Luke with no problem, but he can't manage anything past an Atari readout for the Death Star, and the fact that they still edit the Luke and Biggs conversation really badly with the "walk-by" instead of including the line about Red Leader flying with Anakin in years gone by.
What does bother me (as I alluded to earlier) is Ben Burtt showing his jealousy yet again and dialing back John Williams' music so his sound effects can take center stage. Those of you who have heard about this know what I'm talking about, but those of you that don't: the trumpet fanfare when the X-Wings are diving toward the Death Star in ANH has been lowered considerably almost to the point of being inaudible. LFL claims this was a "creative decision"; I, as I said earlier, claim it is Ben Burtt showing how big his dick is. I hope that once Episode III is complete, we're going to be hearing a lot more from John Williams on this matter. People want to complain about Rick McCallum being Lucas' biggest yes man, but I think Burtt has been far more harmful to the prequels.
But I digress, as I've rambled on far enough. As I said, I'll update everyone once I've had a chance to listen to the ESB and ROTJ soundtracks. Until then, enjoy the DVDs!