Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon SACD

30th Anniversary Super Audio CD

Review by Brain Damage contributor, Wayne J Messina

Dark Side Of The Moon SACD Super Audio CD, 30th anniversary editionConsidering the short amount of time that was spent on this, James Guthrie deserves a standing ovation. I say short, because in Floyd years, a few months is really not much time to make all members of Floyd, including Roger agree on something as big as a new mix of DSOTM.

At this point I think that this SACD is probably the poster child for the SACD format. Everyone that I've chatted with about this disc are highly impressed, as I am, and most of those people have a standard of quality that far exceeds your average listener. Some of them are even on the edge of being insane about their quality.

I now have a new respect for Speak to Me. As short as it is, I never gave that part of DSOTM much credit, but the multichannel SACD really brings out a lot of enjoyment in listening to the opening of the album. One of the best things that I like about Guthrie's mix throughout the album is that although it is multichannel, it doesn't sound silly - to explain further, the effects of going to the rear speakers doesn't get out of hand. It's sometimes subtle, but just enough in my view. Very well done and classy. Sometimes you can get a multichannel disc that just overdoes it with the use of all channels. That's great for movies, but for music you need to use a little restraint.

As was posted before, the center channel speaker is not a primary source for sound on this mix, and I for one am very glad. However, when it is used, it is used perfectly. The sax solo on Us and Them comes out like crystal clear sound and it truly sounds like Dick is in my living room! I can't get over that sax sound. Unreal!!!

Back to the track listing...Breathe is very nice. Extremely full sound as you'd expect with SACD. The soundstage for this disc is unbelievably large. Of course, a lot of this is a result of good equipment, and to get the most out of SACD you really need to have a dynamite multichannel setup. The sound on Breathe is very difficult to describe in words. I would have to characterize it as audible bliss. Sounds silly, but that's the best way I can describe it.

On the Run is outstanding. If you listen carefully, you certainly can pick out the Gilmour guitar work that has been added to this mix that never made it on the version you've heard for all of these years. All of the effects sound really cool and this is where you get much more of the multichannel effect. This track sounded a bit different than what I was used to hearing.

The clicking of the clocks in the beginning of Time was outstanding. When the alarms went off my dog almost crapped on the floor. I'd have to say that this song pretty much sounded the same as usual, with just a better clearer quality. Not much else to report on Time.

Great Gig in the Sky was nice. Clare Torry's vocals came across in a very nice way. The larger soundstage really opened up this track nicely. I think the center channel was used a bit more in this song if I'm not mistaken.

Money was pretty typical. I could say much the same things about Money as I did about Time. You can assume that the quality was far superior for all of these tracks than I've heard in a while. One thing that may not make much sense but I'll say anyway is that all of the vocals on the album sounded much more "English" than I had heard in a while. I know that doesn't make much sense, but that kind of caught me by surprise. Maybe because the vocals came out much better and clearer than before, but the English accent really stood out throughout the SACD. Weird.

I've already said a bunch about Us and Them. This reaffirms to me why this track is my favorite track on the album. You can really tell that a lot of time was spent on this particular track. Enough cannot be said!!!

Any Colour You Like is probably the most different sounding song on the album. Much more guitar work is evident. I'm sure it was there in the earlier mixes, but a lot more stands out and was quite entertaining.

Brain Damage and Eclipse I'll lump together because most people do anyway. This is where that accent thing I was talking about really stands out the most. Even after listening to the album three times I was still amazed at how great the quality of the mix was.

I highly suggest to anyone that has not yet upgraded to any high resolution format and is a stickler for this kind of audio up your money now and get some really good equipment and do it soon!! You don't know what you're missing. I would imagine that many more Floyd albums will be in the works to be put on SACD. The Wall will be 25 years old next year so I imagine that may be next on the list. I can only hope that as was done with the Police, a large number of Pink Floyd albums will be redone on SACD very soon and released.

By Brain Damage contributor, Ken Stuart

Dark Side Of The Moon SACD Super Audio CD, 30th anniversary editionBeing a Pink Floyd fan, I have purchased every version of this album since it was released 30 years ago.

By far the best version is the SQ Quadraphonic LP version, but as far as the stereo mix goes, the original UK Harvest CD (made in Japan) is still the high point.

Ten years ago, the fine engineer Doug Sax made a valiant effort, but it is clear listening to that XXth Aniversary Edition CD that the original tapes no longer have the same dynamics they originally had (magnetic analog storage slowly loses its quality).

Nevertheless, I decided to give this new 30th Anniversary CD a try. I should mention here that this is only a review of the standard stereo tracks - I don't yet have an SACD-capable player.

However this release doesn't make me want to run out and buy one. My worst fears have been realized as once again, the overall mix of the album has been lost in favor of "resolving power", ie the ability to hear little details. The problem is that after applying techniques to bring out such details, the engineers have done nothing to restore the original mix of the album.

The result is like a starving artist's copy of a Rembrandt painting - it sounds something like Dark Side of the Moon, but when you hear the real thing, you realize that it is only a faded imitation.

The problem is that few people these days have access to what it actually sounds like. Almost no one listens to their LP versions, and only a handful of people are lucky enough to own the original UK Harvest CD. Furthermore, it seems clear that the engineers of this 30th Anniversary Edition haven't listened to the original, either.

Interestingly, the original engineer, Alan Parsons, asked to be involved in this 30th Anniversary Edition project, but was shut out. It would seem that future listeners suffer as a result.

PS My qualifications: I am a California state certified Studio Recording Engineer. One of my instructors was the original engineer for the drum recordings for "Dark Side of the Moon". I compared the 30th Anniversary Edition, XXth Anniversary Edition, and UK Harvest CDs using AKG K240 Studio Monitor headphones (as used in many studio recording situations over the past 20-30 years).