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Can someone please explain WHY the audio on the 2004 ANH DVD is so messed up?

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Ever since it was released, I've been extremely annoyed by the audio fuck ups on the 2004 DVD release of ANH. Were these simply errors on the part of the audio mixers, or what? I mean, the DVD was bittersweet to me: it had EXCELLENT picture quality, but the audio was HORRIBLE. First off, the majoprity of it sounds very echoed and distant. Second, several lines are messed up badly; Tarkin's "Then name the system," and Luke's "You mean it controls your actions?"

So, does anyone with a knowlegde of sound/insider's info on the 2004 DVD production tell me what happened? I mean, ESB and ROTJ had EXCELLENT sound quality, and I don't have a problem at all with it. I just want the audio in ANH to sound just like the audio in ESB and ROTJ.

(And, by the way, this thread is not intended to bash any changes made to the DVDs, only to discuss what happened to the audio quality.)
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For someone like yourself, I would assume Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope sounded great to you.

Wasn't the DVD set the first time you watched it?
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From TheDigitalBits.Com:

(LATE UPDATE - 9/20/04 - 10:30 PM PDT)

Well... Lucasfilm has responded to our questions about the audio issue on the DVD of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope with a blanket statement of denial. Here's the exact text:

"We are always impressed with how closely fans listen to the many different sound mixes we have made for the Star Wars movies over the years. It is flattering to know that, indeed, the audience is listening. Consequently, each mix comes out differently and any changes that you hear on the all-new Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX tracks on the Star Wars Trilogy DVD set are deliberate creative decisions. We can confirm that there are no technical glitches as reported."

Now here's my response. I don't buy it. The audio quality of that Tarkin line can't be anything other than a technical issue, probably a problem with the original audio element of the dialogue, and Lucasfilm doesn't want to cop to that on the eve of the big release. When you guys hear it tomorrow, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. Tarkin's "Then name the system!" line sounds terrible. As far as dialing down the trumpet fanfare during the Death Star attack (in fact, much of Williams' music during the first part of the attack has been reduced in volume in the mix)... I can see that could be a creative decision. It's a decision I absolutely HATE, but okay, maybe that's a creative decision. You guys will have to see what you think when you get the discs. We'd like you die hard audiophiles out there to give them a listen yourselves and let us know your opinion.

We'll keep looking into this, so stay tuned...
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Originally posted by: TheCassidy
For someone like yourself, I would assume Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope sounded great to you.

Wasn't the DVD set the first time you watched it?


No. The first time I saw it was the OO version of it in 2000. It was the "faces" tape. I then bought the special edition tapes of ll three when they were re-released in 2000. Comparing the ANH DVD with the tapes, and comparing the DVD of ANH with the DVDs of ESB and ROTJ provides a noticeable difference.
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Yes, the Tarkin dialogue original tapes must be the reason it sounds weird in the mix. Thats OK with me, nothing they can really do about it when making a new mix from original audio sources. Thats fine, no glitch really, just unfortunate. But I know someone in the past said the rear channels in ANH are reversed from what they should be. I myself don't have a 5.1 to listen to it on but if it is true, that cannot possibly be a creative decision. It is a bonafide glitch. No amount of explaining can justify it. They should have done a recall or something. The quality control just wasn't their. They shouldn't ave rushed to DVD one of the greatest films (the whole trilogy really) to DVD just for holiday. Unacceptable. If (when) it is released on HD-DVD/Blu-ray/whatever these things must be fixed or shit is going down.....here mostly, but still.

Hey look, a bear!

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Well, I just can't believe that they couldn't have found a better source for those two Tarkin and Luke lines. I mean, this is one of the greatest films ever made, surely it would have been better kept than that.

And by the way, what's the deal with the way films are stored? It seems as if director's disregard their films until later on and say "Hold on a sec, what happened to it?" And then they do a poor restoration job on it. Take Raiders of the Lost Ark, for instance. It contains so much grain that it ruins the experuience. It was very poorly put to DVD, and the audio is messed up on it as well. I mean, it is understandable that some of the copies of the film would have deteriorated.. but, the original?
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They either trusted in the people that store films to do it well and they didn't really or they simply didn't percieve that there would be such high quality formats for the movies to be released on in a way that deterioration was so evident. That and maybe they thought our restoration techniques would be even further advanced to not make it a problem.

But in all seriousness, the companies that release these sub-par versions of important films rely on the average consumers ignorance and over-tolerance to these problems so that they can be out in time for whatever reason. Or maybe they just assume it'll come out later again and they can fix shit then.

But goddamnit, if they can fix "The Wizard of..." fucking "...Oz" to look damn near like it was filmed decades later at least then you think they'd try harder on other historically significant films. Maybe leave it up to people that care like the WoO people prolly did.

Hey look, a bear!

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Yeah! I mean, what Lucas should do is personally take a few good months to PAINSTAKINGLY look over every single frame of the original negative and fix ANY problem with it, color correct anything that needs corrected, add or remove and make adjustments EXACTLY as he sees necessary, etc. He needs to make a definitive version that he wants to remain throughout history. I mean it needs to be THE BEST it can ever be. He then needs to put it on the highest definition available and release ALL oif the films this way on the BEST available format.

Now, take a look at what Ridley Scott has done to Blade Runner. He definately improved the film by making his director's cut. But what did he do? He used a crappy copy of the film to do it with, and didn't have it restored correctly for the DVD, and now he has to do this definitive DVD that he should have got right the first time! And then of course now, that asshole Jerry Perenchio (who owns part of the rights to it) refuses to allow it to be re-released, due to his own greedy desires.
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The cool thing is, adam, that Lucas could easily pay any number of talented individuals who actually DO care about the OT to do this job for him, as was the case with WoO or the original King Kong. I kinda suspect that Merian Cooper or Victor Fleming either had little to do with the restoration jobs on their classic films (unless it was in some, say, zombified way.) At this point in time Lucas himself I fear could not be trusted to manage this project. This is why authors (and film directors for that matter) have editors- at some point one has to be able to step back and let someone a little less creatively involved but nonetheless talented lend a helping hand. Hell, if GL just turned over a set of OT original copies to an organization like Criterion we could all sleep a little better.

Well, *most* of us.
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If you like the 2004 DVD changes (like AWK) or not, the audio is inexcusable. How could they do some of the things like reverse the audio channels, poor volume on certain lines, etc. In my opinion, I can accept that they made a mistake on the 2004 DVD audio. but to pass it off as "deliberate creative decisions" is ridiclous.
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Well, it was only the ANH DVD that had the audio mistakes. The ESB amd ROTJ DVDs had excellent audio quality.

But, the reversing of channels on ANH, I am certain was no mistake. That was something they did to improve the overall sound of things like Vader's voice, which sounded very echoed in all other versions of ANH. That is one improvement, IMHO, as it is one of the few things that makes the audio clearer than before. And I just reallized that Luke's line of "You mean it controls your actions" was sourced from the regular on-set audio, where you could hear the lightsaber rod spinning. Apparently, in the DVDs, someone put in the wrong audio recording there.

I seriously hope that he or someone else notices these audio problems before they do his archival editions of the films. If he could just get everything exactly how he wants, and every one of these little problems fixed, I... would be EXTREMELY happy.
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The screw up with Tarkin's line just boggles the mind. If the master recording is damaged, how hard is it to lift it from another source and isolate the dialog?
originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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In both the laserdisk and the SE tapes, I have never noticed any bad audio problems that weren't part of the orignal recording. I have never seen the DVD's so I don't know how bad the changes are.

There is just one piece of audio that I desperatly wish they would fix (but it might be impossible) is Luke's line of "Aww, it just isn't fair. Biggs is right, I'm never gonna get out of here!"
That line sounds like they had a windsock or something on the Boom Mic. All the other dialogue is fine, but line has always bothered me. Hell, if the sound has degrated so badly, why don't they just have Mark Hamill come in and do the line again. Luke's back is turned when he says it anyway, so it wouldn't be that hard.
"I am altering the movies. Pray I don't alter them any further." -Darth Lucas
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Originally posted by: SilverWook
The screw up with Tarkin's line just boggles the mind. If the master recording is damaged, how hard is it to lift it from another source and isolate the dialog?


My thoughts exactly. But it was probably because they were in such a hurry that they just forgot or something. Seriously, I just don't understand why he HAD to relase the set last year. Why didn't he wait until after ROTS, so that he could get everything right THE FIRST TIME.
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Well, Lucas said that he wasn't going to release the film until ROTS was out on DVD anyway, so I don't know why the hell he release that rush job of a DVD set anyway.
"I am altering the movies. Pray I don't alter them any further." -Darth Lucas
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i'm sorry adam youll just have to go back to tape or laserdisc. or get ocpmovies version
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Originally posted by: battlewars
i'm sorry adam youll just have to go back to tape or laserdisc. or get ocpmovies version


Or wait until 2007.
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I watched Moth3r's DVD of ANH recently and although it is less noticeable, the changes in quality between Leia and Tarkin are also present here. It has always been that way. It is only because of the enchanced audio clarity on the DVD that it sticks out like a sore thumb. Who knows what went wrong? Damaged reels? Bad recording equipment? The fact is that the problem has been present since 1977 and this would probably indicate that it can't be fixed.

As for why Lucasfilm seemingly rushed the DVDs to get them done, read my theory about it in the OT vs SE forum.
"The things that stick in my mind and make me laugh were, like, memos worried about whether or not the Wookie should have pants. They're looking at this thing and saying, "Couldn't he have some lederhosen?" This is great. Of all the things to worry about, the Wookie has no pants." -Mark Hamill
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Well, I'll try watching my tape of the OO version of ANH again and listen for myself. But, GOOD GOD, I hope that they can somehow fix that audio! It sticks out like a sore thumb! There's just no way that that was THE ONLY recording of that dialogue. I mean, as I said, it sounded as if it were from the on-set recordings without the re-recorded dialogue the actors do.
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i dont think olzen is correct because it doesnt sound as blatant as the dvds. they really screwed the pooch with that release
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Yes. It's easier noticeable because the audio is a whole lot clearer (you can't deny that). Say what you will, it's still there in the original release.
"The things that stick in my mind and make me laugh were, like, memos worried about whether or not the Wookie should have pants. They're looking at this thing and saying, "Couldn't he have some lederhosen?" This is great. Of all the things to worry about, the Wookie has no pants." -Mark Hamill
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Yeah, I just checked that scene on my tape of the OO ANH. It's there, albeit less noticeable. From what I can tell, they simply never replaced that with the re-recorded dialogue, as they did with everything else. I would say that they have the dialogue, just forgot to add it in.
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Yeah, it's annoying they refuse to tell the truth. Again those "creative decisions". If they do not have these lines as ADR, I'll certainly be able to live with the current version, though. Muffled audio or not, overdubbing Peter Cushing would be utter blasphemy!
"The things that stick in my mind and make me laugh were, like, memos worried about whether or not the Wookie should have pants. They're looking at this thing and saying, "Couldn't he have some lederhosen?" This is great. Of all the things to worry about, the Wookie has no pants." -Mark Hamill
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Well, IF they don't have that ADR line of Luke's, at least they could possibly get Mark Hamill to overdub for that line of his. IMO, it is far more jarring than Tarkin's.