The Alan Parsons' Project (APP) has for years been the masters
of the thematic album. For those unfamiliar with APP, APP's
first project was Tales of Mystery and Imagination,
which was a inspired by works of Edgar Alan Poe throughGaudi,
a tribute to the Spanish architect whom designed the Sagrada
Familia cathedral. Alan Parsons considers APP to be a collaborative
effort between himself and Eric Woolfson who is pursuing interests
other than rock music. On Air is the second "solo"
effort by Alan Parsons, the first entitled Try Anything
Once. The theme of On Air is that of flight past
Unlike some previous DTS encoded titles this mix is quite
aggressive from a multi-channel point of view. On Air
was remixed by Alan Parsons himself with the aid of HDS (High
Definition Surround) and finally encoded into DTS. The first
track Blue Blue Sky sets the stage by putting the only
two instruments (the vocalist and the acoustic guitar) in
the left rear and ambiance everywhere else. Blue Blue Sky
ends with jetfighters doing flyby's overhead and back.
To Close To The Sun is a much more conventional mix
with regard to the use of the surrounds. This track however
sets the stage for how good a good multi-channel mix can be.
The front soundstage is firmly planted with center imaging
primary performed via the left and right speakers with the
center channel ensuring that the image is firmly planted where
it should be.
Want a test to verify that you have your decoder configured
correctly? Blown by the Wind will give you a good test
of delay and speaker levels. The vocals in this song have
a heavy echo that if it sounds out of sync the main channels
or overpowering are good indicators that you should get reconfigure
Ready for special effects, thumping bass and lingering guitar
rifts rolled into one helluva enveloping auditory assault?
Cloudbreak is the poster child for multi-channel music.
The song starts with an older propeller plane being started
and ends with it landing. Throughout the song the plane makes
entrances from various directions exiting the sound stage.
The imaging is so you, you swear you were at an airshow. This
song is probably the standout on this CD for use of low bass.
This track takes liberties with the soundstage that I think
are quite fine given that this is an instrumental. The effect
is that of standing on the landing field of an airshow, completely
immersed in the wonders of flight, the wind creating the melody
while you gaze upward.
I Cant Look Down, Brother Up In HeavenandFall
Free are next, each providing
individual delights and emotion. Brother Up In Heaven
deals with the tragegty of flight and is very emotionally
moving. The other two are both very good songs in their own
right. These multi-channel versions are very nice. Surround
and bass are used consistently and are always appropriate.
Apollo is another instrumental that is a simple all
out assault on the senses. This song is sort of a dance tune
with a heavy back beat and synth usage throughout is probably
not for everyone. Percussion is distributed among all channels,
interestingly mixed with the synthesizer.
The rest of the tracks on the CD are fairly standard fair
for an APP album. The multi-channel versions of these songs
give them much more depth than that of the original stereo
release. On Air ends that way it began: with Blue
Blue Sky. Blue Blue Sky part two features the vocalist
walking around the room to finally take the stage in proper
position of the front soundstage.
This DTS CD contains in the liner notes, information on
how it was mixed, the equipment used for mixing and states
that you should setup your system in like manner. To quote,
the four corner (primary) full range and matched loudspeakers
were toed in 45º and exhibit a dispersion of 90º
to maintain a 360º soundfield. Obviously this is
not the position of speakers in a typical home theater setup.
It is my opinion however, that only the last track really
suffers from having the surrounds on the sidewalls.
On Air is a fine example of a tastefully mixed multi-channel
music employing an aggressive use of surround channels. So
looking for a something to actually play on your DTS decoder?
Looking for some good demo tracks? Then this is your next
DTS encoded CD. Don't like agressived surround mixes from
your music and believe that two-channel is the only way to
listen to music? Then buy the original and don't look back.