Sign In

The best audio, and differences between the many audio tracks available?

Replies
20
Author
Time

I was looking for a recommendation on which audio track to listen to, and it occurred to me I guess I’m also curious about them in general. And for the record it’ll come out as stereo on my setup, since I play it on my computer sent to my HDTV, which does have 5.1 speakers. But I like the stereo audio anyway.

I was just looking through the topic for Harmy’s terrific Despecialized edition searching for posts mentioning audio, and I saw one say “wrong topic really”, so figured I’d make a topic for it.

So I’ve always enjoyed the laserdisc version’s audio, in fact until just now when I got into the Despecialized edition, I’ve only been watching the ol’ laserdisc rips for the past 12 years or so. I don’t actually know but I assume these used the 93 audio track?

Also a post from that topic said this: “the general public will probably be happy with Disney’s 81 crawl/93 audio upmixed”, which made me guess maybe the 93 track is the crowd pleaser anyway?

But I see the 70mm 6-track version is the default, and I saw a post saying it sounds great. And the other two top contenders for me I think are the 77 35mm stereo mix, and the 85 laserdisc mix.

So as an English speaker just looking for a track that will sound great, which will be in stereo anyway, what is the best track for me? Just the one with the best dialogue clarity and presence, overall nice sounding, oomph, etc?

And are there any interesting differences between the many available options? After just sampling a couple scenes and trying out all these tracks, to me it sounds like the 93 one boosts the dialogue a bit, and I guess it’s the track I’m used to. But I’m open to trying new things! =D Thanks!

This post has been edited.

Author
Time

I have no answers for you, but rather another related question that I’ve been wondering about for a while. Where do the lossless audio files for the OOT that we have access to come from in the first place? Surely lossless audio wasn’t a home video priority before 1997, and theatrical DTS wasn’t around during the original run.

Author
Time

It depends on your priorities. For Star Wars, the most “authentic” tracks are the 77 theatrical ones. 77 mono is probably what most people heard in theatres, but it’s the worst audio quality (recording of OTA broadcast, and academy mono wasn’t so hot to begin with). Stereo and 70mm are very slightly different content-wise (but not so most people would notice), and both sound great (lossless from Laserdisc, 70mm also uses some Blu-ray elements). For a stereo system, it’s safest to recommend a stereo track, as downmixing six channels can muddy things up a bit.

Then comes the 85 mix. A lot of people like this because it’s the home video mix most were used to in the VHS glory days – and because it’s a sort of mashup of the mono and surround mixes, it’s made up of all-authentic mixes, kind of a best of both worlds. It has great channel separation and no dynamics to speak of, but the audio quality is also great (lossless from Laserdisc).

The 93 mix is far from a crowd pleaser. While the audio quality is top-notch, authenticity goes out the window, as non-theatrical (and thoroughly unnecessary) elements have been added to the mix. It’s what (some) Star Wars fans hated before there were Special Editions. It’s also lossless from Laserdisc. I think it’s inevitable that any official OOT release would have this g****mn mix as the only audio option, which is why I made the comment you referred to earlier.

For Empire, the 1980 stereo mix and six-channel mixes on Despecialized are content-identical. There was a 70mm six-channel mix, but this isn’t it, and there aren’t any good recordings of it, and it went with a different video cut anyway. They both sound great (80 stereo and six-channel), lossless from Laserdisc, yadda yadda. The 1993 mix also sounds very good but is flawed, as it’s missing a sound effect during the snowspeeder crash. The 16mm mono mix is a recent discovery, sounds like crud, but is really interesting, and authentic.

For Jedi, all mixes are content-identical, and all sound very good. I think the 93 stereo might sound a little better than 80 stereo, but they are both lossless from Laserdisc, you know the drill.

Hopefully my repeated mentions of Laserdisc let joefavs know where the lossless sources come from–high-quality lossless audio for home video actually predates DVDs by quite a bit. Star Wars Laserdiscs released before 1985 have the 77 mix, between 1985 and 1993 have the 85 mix, and after 1993 have the 93 mix. Some Laserdisc audio was analogue, but we actually have digital captures of all of these (not sure which ones Despecialized uses, except 77 stereo is definitely a digital capture, because it was so hard to find digital audio on a pre-85 Laserdisc that we made a big deal about it when we found one).

For me? I always listen to the 6-channel mixes, and the downmixing doesn’t really make that much difference on stereo setups IMO, so I’d still listen to them there.

This post has been edited.

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)

Author
Time

I’m personally a fan of listening to the 93 track with a stereo setup, as it sounds really damn good. But like CatBus said, it’s not authentic. If you’re fine with some revisionism, it will sound better than the 70mm downmixed.

Author
Time

Much thanks for the detailed info there! And thanks for including the sequels, I forgot to mention those.

My guess is the 93 audio track is the only one I’ve heard in a long time, so it would seem the changes didn’t bother me.

I just looked at this wiki page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_changes_in_Star_Wars_re-releases

but it was kind confusing to take in some of the details listed there.

Other than a C3PO tractor beam line, are there any notable dialogue differences between those various A New Hope audio tracks? And sounds like the main reason you dislike the 93 track is added sound effects?

The 85 mix does sound like a fun option, since that would be what I heard on VHS as a young lad. Any notable things in the comparison battle between that and the 77 stereo or 6-channel track? Quality and content wise? I’m very wish-washy on what to go with, but it is fun to have so many options.

The main thing I noticed on a quick comparison is I think the dialogue might come across stronger/better in the 93 mix, which could be a thing in it’s favor.

This post has been edited.

Author
Time

Since we all have them available now the best result is usually to try each one and see which you prefer and what sounds best on your setup.
For me I’ve become a huge fan of the mono mix despite having many of the stereo differences ingrained in my memory forever. The 85 track is great and adds the IMO essential tractor beam line back.
And of course the 97SE mix is outstanding too.
I love the mono ESB track. It has a number of things that popped up in the SE mix and sounds exceptional for single channel audio. Otherwise the others sound virtually identical for the most part. ROTJ is similar.
The 97SE mixes are great at introducing the films into the modern six channel layout without losing their original identity. The 2.0 matrix PCM actually sounds even closer due to being similar to the original general release format.

Nothing that isn’t an LD has decent audio. VHS had some good issues but you need a great deck. All the DVDs are **** in sound quality and the continual remixing to 6.1 tracks become continually worse and worse with lessening degrees of fidelity.

One question: how is the 85 mix different to the 77 stereo exactly in terms of the dynamic range? I know everybody says the dr is different but are try just referring to a narrowing of sound field for home viewing?
And did we ever find a difference in the 85 tracks for ESB and ROTJ?

VADER!? WHERE THE HELL IS MY MOCHA LATTE? -Palpy on a very bad day.

"George didn't think there was any future in dead Han toys."-Harrison Ford

My review blog: thehificelluloidmonster.wordpress.com

Author
Time

Check this thread for dialogue differences:
http://originaltrilogy.com/topic/The-Definitive-tractor-beam-Close-the-blast-doors-Blast-it-Biggs-Wedge-you-dont-taste-very-good-Noooooo-Preservation-Guide/id/13428

I’m not sure it includes the ESB mono mix because that was a somewhat recent discovery.

77 has a decent amount of dynamic range, 85 has very little, it’s your standard “near field” home video remix of the time. And actually IIRC the 85 has a wider sound stage than any other mix, I’m not sure why.

There’s been speculation about an 85 mix for ESB and ROTJ, but the consensus among the experts (not me, hairy_hen and folks) are that there wasn’t one. The slight variations in sound quality from release to release more than account for the differences on 85 soundtracks for ESB and ROTJ without anyone having had to make a new mix. So, all ESB soundtracks prior to 93 are the 80 mix, and all ROTJ soundtracks prior to 93 are the 83 mix.

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)

Author
Time

Thanks for the info there. Just looking at the dialogue differences topic there is really confusing to me. I almost would need a pie chart showing which versions have which 😄. For example you mentioned the 85 version has stuff from both of the previous different theatrical mixes. But I’m not sure how to determine what lines exactly would be “missing” from this version for example, out of all the possible lines of dialogue. Ditto for comparing any other versions to eachother. Is this info laid out in a more comparative/less confusing way like that anywhere?

One other question, about these audio mixes from the laserdisc being lossless. On Harmy’s 2.5 release of ANH, both the 85 and 93 mixes are 320kbps ac3. Does that count as lossless? The 5.1 70mm is about 1536kbps and 35mm stereo is 640kbps dts, for comparison.

And thanks again, it’s really interesting learning about this stuff.

This post has been edited.

Author
Time

No, we (meaning, people at OT.com) have lossless versions (DTS-MA, FLAC, whatever) of those tracks, but I guess either Harmy opted not to use them for space reasons or he didn’t have easy access to the lossless versions at the time he finalized 2.5. There’s always new audio captures being made – yes, off 30-plus-year old Japanese media we buy on eBay. AC3 and DTS are both lossy, unless you’re talking DTS-MA.

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)

Author
Time

Thanks for the info. And that’s more out of curiosity anyway, I’m not enough of an audiophile to really notice anything like that myself. 320 kbps is plenty for me. Also it took me a bit but I’m starting to understand how that comparison page is laid out ha.

While we’re talking, could you expand more on why you hate the 93 version? Just curious. Do any of the added effects stand out as particularly bad etc?

This post has been edited.

Author
Time

GroovyLord said:
While we’re talking, could you expand more on why you hate the 93 version? Just curious. Do any of the added effects stand out as particularly bad etc?

I can’t remember all of the differences, but the one that stands out the most to me is the sound of shattering glass as Luke/Han/Chewie destroy the sensors/cameras in the detention block. I hate that sound (also hate the sound of Lando destroying the core of the 2nd Death Star!).

Anyone remember different camera angles from ROTJ?

Author
Time

SpilkaBilka said:

GroovyLord said:
While we’re talking, could you expand more on why you hate the 93 version? Just curious. Do any of the added effects stand out as particularly bad etc?

I can’t remember all of the differences, but the one that stands out the most to me is the sound of shattering glass as Luke/Han/Chewie destroy the sensors/cameras in the detention block. I hate that sound (also hate the sound of Lando destroying the core of the 2nd Death Star!).

Right on, interesting. Well allrighty, I’m going to go with the 85 laserdisc audio for this viewing. Looks like this version has this tractor beam line that I never got to hear with the 93 version over the years.

Author
Time

Yeah, it’s multiple things. I probably dislike the shattering glass mostly because when you’re seen a movie around one gazillion times, and there’s never been shattering glass on any of the mixes, then suddenly one day there is, there’s pretty much no way to keep your brain from saying this is wrong, they screwed something up, stop watching this movie and put in the one with the right soundtrack. Plus, you know, there’s the complete unnecessariness of adding the shattering glass sound that I can’t ignore either. As for the inclusion of the mono mix lines, I also favor the original multichannel mixes because they don’t have them. The tractor beam line, for example, sounds like he’s off saying it in a broom closet instead of on the same set he says all his other lines. The line itself it fine, it just… doesn’t blend for me, even on the mono mix. Probably in the minority on that one, but this stuff is pretty subjective at some point.

This post has been edited.

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)

Author
Time

CatBus said:

As for the inclusion of the mono mix lines, I also favor the original multichannel mixes because they don’t have them. The tractor beam line, for example, sounds like he’s off saying it in a broom closet instead of on the same set he says all his other lines. The line itself it fine, it just… doesn’t blend for me, even on the mono mix. Probably in the minority on that one, but this stuff is pretty subjective at some point.

If that topic linked is correct, the only mono line added to the 85 version is the tractor beam one I think? The blast doors one isn’t included for example.

And the track you prefer is technically a recreation, not an original theatrical track right? Not that this distinction matters too much, I just guess other than some changes it’s mostly the same as whichever laserdisc track was the base for it anyway? (edit: ah, I see there’s a topic about that track on the first page that answers my question there)

Definitely true that it’s subjective stuff, and the movie is enjoyable with any of these tracks.

This post has been edited.

Author
Time

CatBus said:

The tractor beam line, for example, sounds like he’s off saying it in a broom closet instead of on the same set he says all his other lines. The line itself it fine, it just… doesn’t blend for me, even on the mono mix. Probably in the minority on that one, but this stuff is pretty subjective at some point.

I guess it wasn’t my imagination. According to the info at the link Moth3r provided, “according to Anthony Daniels, C3PO’s tractor beam line was recorded long after filming had finished, on his own in a broom cupboard in London”.

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)

Author
Time

Here’s an awesome video Space Hunter M made comparing the Dolby and Mono mixes:

Space Hunter M said:

Not really a “find”, since I made it, but I put together a very basic video of all of the major differences between the Dolby/Mono mixes of the original film since the Starkiller Guide doesn’t function properly anymore and was missing quite a few bits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeXpcYcZNDw

Anyone remember different camera angles from ROTJ?

Author
Time

CatBus said:

The tractor beam line, for example, sounds like he’s off saying it in a broom closet instead of on the same set he says all his other lines.

I agree, especially after reading your later statement. The line just doesn’t sound right in the scene, nor is it necessary.

Army of Darkness: The Medieval Deadit / The Terminator - Color Regrade
SONIC RACES THROUGH THE GREEN FIELDS.
THE SUN RACES THROUGH A BLUE SKY FILLED WITH WHITE CLOUDS.
THE WAYS OF HIS HEART ARE MUCH LIKE THE SUN. SONIC RUNS AND RESTS; THE SUN RISES AND SETS.
DON’T GIVE UP ON THE SUN. DON’T MAKE THE SUN LAUGH AT YOU.

Author
Time

Well, Han’s “even I get boarded sometimes, do you think I had a choice?” line has the same problem, more or less, but the super-close-up camera angle at that moment kinda makes the different acoustics more plausible.

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)

Author
Time

I think the tractor beam line is well done for how quickly it was added and is absolutely essential so that the scene doesn’t feel empty. Without it everyone stares at a monitor, and after an uncomfortable pause Obi-wan magically knows how to disable the tractor beam.

Going back and forth between the 77 stereo and 85 mix shows the range difference. The remix loses the high end detailing and slight bit of what is almost like tape hiss in favor of a more robust smaller range because home systems of the day couldn’t reproduce much further. It sounds slightly boxes in when going back and forth but not bad at all.

VADER!? WHERE THE HELL IS MY MOCHA LATTE? -Palpy on a very bad day.

"George didn't think there was any future in dead Han toys."-Harrison Ford

My review blog: thehificelluloidmonster.wordpress.com

To the top