The original 70mm soundtrack of Star Wars has long been considered something of a holy grail for fans of the series. With its dynamic range, bass, and surround sound, it provided best sonic experience for the film. Later remixes have never completely captured the feel of the original.
It is fairly well known on this forum that the 1993 Definitive Collection laserdisc soundtrack comes the closest, since it was sourced directly from the 70mm printmaster. But because of numerous added sound effects (some of which are worthy additions, while others prove more distracting), it occasionally leaves the listener with the feeling that they are not hearing the film's "real" sound mix. It is also a stereo/Prologic downmix while the original utilised discrete channels. The 1997 special edition was mixed for the 5.1 format, but contains even more added sounds and has a rather different balance--and strangely, less dynamic range than the 1993 version. The abominable 2004 mix is almost completely invalid.
Last year I had the idea to combine the LFE track from the special edition with the 1993 mix, but at the time I had only 2.1 at my disposal; that is to say stereo speakers and a subwoofer. Now I have a complete 5.1 setup, and a listening environment with better acoustics. Despite the lack of discrete channels, the '93 mixes sound great played through modern upmixing algorithms, and I've really enjoyed being able to take advantage of the built-in surround cues.
Still, for a while I've been pondering whether it would be worthwhile to try to recreate the 70mm soundtrack, and recently I decided to find out. To do so requires the altered segments of the 1993 mix to be replaced with their equivalents in the 35mm stereo soundtrack, adjusting the levels to match and retaining the '93 version's bass content. To truly replicate the theatrical experience, a custom LFE channel will be assembled from the '97 and '04 special edition mixes, using whichever bass effect sounds best in each instance, along with level adjustment to achieve the optimum sound. Many people who have seen the film in 70mm remember the Star Destroyer's powerful roar in particular, and it will certainly make itself known here.
I made a demo file of the opening scene for your listening pleasure. I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that no upmixer will work on my computer, so this is in a stereo + LFE format. On my receiver, using Prologic II will drop the LFE channel, but it is retained by using stereo or DTS Neo:6 modes; your results may vary. The completed version will use the 5.1 format for greater compatibility. If you have a digital out on your computer, hook it up to your receiver, crank the volume--don't forget to turn on your subwoofer!--and enjoy this preview of things to come. http://www.sendspace.com/file/axszo5
Some later parts of the film might be more difficult to integrate successfully, but I'm confident I'll be able make it work. Obviously this isn't going to sound exactly like the real 70mm soundtrack, since it will be upmixed and patched together, and the exact nature of the bass content is ultimately only my interpretation of what it might have been like. But short of having an official transfer (I won't hold my breath), this should be the next best thing.
Edit: Since this project is now complete, I'll put the download links here in the first post to make them easy to find. The Star Wars 70mm recreation is available in a stereo version as well as a 5.1 mix; the stereo is uploaded as a FLAC split into six RAR files, and the 5.1 as a 448 kbps AC3 split into two RARs.
70mm 5.1 part one: http://www.sendspace.com/file/qq11vb
70mm 5.1 part two: http://www.sendspace.com/file/jd98ys
Stereo part one: http://www.sendspace.com/file/efonsr
Stereo part two: http://www.sendspace.com/file/c62qjm
Stereo part three: http://www.sendspace.com/file/iqwit0
Stereo part four: http://www.sendspace.com/file/rk7p55
Stereo part five: http://www.sendspace.com/file/iypdet
Stereo part six: http://www.sendspace.com/file/q5g9be
I also created new 5.1 mixes for Empire and Jedi to go along with this. While there are a few small differences from the 70mm versions of those films (the content more precisely reflects the 35mm releases), the overall sound is extremely close. The majority of the audio comes from the 1993 mixes, with modified 2004 LFE.
Empire 5.1: http://www.nakido.com/A79D1681FBAE5459337580B6C92AEDB89963D72B
Jedi 5.1: http://www.nakido.com/0F196D0DEA5E5A752ECE1E15DE3ACE7E31BEC143
Being a fan of the films' scores, I also made alternate versions containing a few music edits to bring them closer to the way John Williams originally composed them. These mixes are identical in every way to those listed above, except that the cue for Boba Fett's departure from Bespin in ESB is replaced from the '97 SE, and the deleted music for Ben's scene on Dagobah has been inserted into RotJ. I myself am rather fond of the way these edits sound, but if they're not to your liking, no worries--that's what the other versions are for. ;)
Since my computer seems unable to actually upmix a stereo track into five channels, Satanika performed this part of the process, as well as combining the result with the LFE channel and encoding to AC3; so credit must go to him for helping me with that.
Feel free to request a re-upload if the links expire.
This post has been edited.