(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...