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Reviews: Duran Duran: Astronaut

Reviews: 4

Review by Marc P January 16, 2006 (6 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Duran Duran have always been a band I kinda liked. When I saw they released their lasted album on SACD I went for it. Now I wish I didn't. The song are good some of them even great. But then there is the sound quality, which is bad. And when I say bad, I mean really bad. This is one recording that will probably sound great on a boombox or a car stereo, but sounds horrible on my home stereo.
The soundstage is completly flat, it sounds dull and someone probably thought he was mastering an MP3 release and compressed the hell out it.
Yes for those of you who want to believe it, this is even worse than Peter Gabriel-Shaking the tree and Train-Drops of Jupiter.
Keep away from this one, it's a complete waste of money!

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Review by synthy January 17, 2006 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I'm afaid I don't have much to add to the previous reviewer. The performance and songs on this album are surprisingly good considering the band hasn't been fully together for years. Some of their 80s flair and energy is back, especially in catchy up-tempo songs like Want You More or Nice. In classic Duran Duran fashion, a lot of the choruses are catchy and sound nice but don't really mean anything lyrically. In addition to the synth pop stuff, there are also a few songs that are in between power ballad and pop anthem, like What Happens Tomorrow and Finest Hour. As I said, overall it's good, not great, but that's better than I expected from Duran Duran...

Regarding the sonics: pretty lousy. They ruined the DSD masters somehow. Both the 2 channel and multi-channel tracks are completely lacking in sparkle and depth. In surround, everything is panned around you in what would seem like an immersive experience, but it's relatively flat and lifeless. A lot of the high frequency stuff seems rolled off, and the overall impression of the sound is "cardboard-like." The stereo DSD track is even worse. What really surprised me, however, is that the stereo redbook CD layer is much better! Far more depth, the high end is much sweeter and more extended. Sony did a real insult to SACD by releasing this. My advice: Buy the regular CD.

FYI: The stereo star rating refers to the SACD layer. Redbook layer would be 3.5, maybe even 4 considering the type of music.

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Review by In Spire Music December 9, 2006 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
One of the things I noticed about this CD is it will show any flaws in your system setup. After reading the other two reviews I gave this disc a real serious listening. Personally I think this disc is an example of where all music should go in the future. As a sound engineer, I believe this new technology can create a new landscape for artists. Whereas some recording of say classical nature should attempt to capture the acoustics of the arena, Pop recordings such as this done in the studio will need a whole new breed of engineers - the artistic engineers. The Surrond side of this recording actually is accurate and not flawed - but as an engineer I recognize less than great application on the center channel reverb. It is better after the first 3 tracks though. On the fifth track, Bedroom Toys, we have a superb example of what sound landscapes can be. I was actually able to find out that my center channel speaker which was designed for movie surrond was woefully inadequate. I quickly replaced it with a full range center and was convinced that it is important that limitations of your speaker setup be accounted for. As with this disc and future discs, I feel that it will be important to have 5 full range matched speakers and the sub channel. This will allow you to hear what the artists and engineers wanted without coloration.

Great performance by the band, and when you look at the recording deeper, a really good attempt at some exciting new technology.

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Review by Quint March 13, 2013
Performance:   Sonics:  
I have to disagree with some posters' assertions that this is one of the worst pop/rock SACDs ever produced. I just got done listening to it in both SACD *and* redbook, and I have a hard time understanding all the vitriol. I have a very good source (modified Marantz SA-7S1), and the rest of my rig is halfway decent as well, and while this SACD is leagues from being demo material, it's not as atrociously bad as some say. At least not on my system.

The hi-rez layer sounds reasonably smooth and natural for a heavily produced pop/rock record, and it has a good amount of air and space overall. The redbook layer doesn't sound bad either--in fact, one could argue that it has more presence and "urgency" than the SACD layer and that Simon's vocals are a little clearer cut--but the hi-rez layer just sounds more natural and less processed to me.

Overall, I'll take this pressing over Alice in Chain's "Greatest Hits" SACD (another widely excoriated SACD) any day of the week. In fact, I recently sold my copy of AIC because it was almost intolerable. I don't get the same feeling with "Astronaut"--not nearly.

To summarize, I certainly wouldn't call "Astronaut" a great SACD. I've heard far better uses of the technology, but I've also heard a good deal worse as well. There's no way I would pay the inflated asking prices on eBay and Amazon, but I'm glad I don't have to make that call. I'm not selling my copy anytime soon, that's for sure.

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