World's best-sounding 3D Blu-ray
AIX Records has been making great sounding DVDs for years; now they're making 3D music Blu-rays!
I've referred to the AIX Records "Audio Calibration Disc & HD Music Sampler" Blu-ray in a bunch of my CNET equipment reviews, because it's loaded with terrific-sounding Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio music tracks. AIX refrains from using dynamic range compression, equalization, or signal processing, so the sound is as close to the original session as can be.
Now, with the release of "Goldberg Variations Acoustica" AIX has ventured into producing original 3D video programming. The new Blu-ray was shot with four prototype Panasonic 3D A1 cameras, and the sound was recorded in 96 kHz/24-bit high-resolution audio.
"Goldberg" maintains AIX's high standards for sound quality, but I'm an audio guy, so I called upon two of my video-reviewing CNET colleagues, David Katzmaier and Matthew Moskovciak, to comment on the disc's 3D picture quality. They watched the Blu-ray on a Panasonic TC-P65VT25 display and were generally impressed. They liked the picture's depth, but expressed concerns about visible crosstalk, which can appear as doubled outlines around onscreen objects, such as on the stand-up bass' strings. Katzmaier and Moskovciak also thought the image wasn't as sharp as it could have been. The crosstalk artifacts varied from shot to shot, but Moskovciak still thought the "Goldberg" Blu-ray might be the best live-action 3D picture he's seen "in a home theater setting" (the 3D image quality of "Avatar" in a movie theater was better).
Regarding the crosstalk, Katzmaier said it wasn't the disc's fault, and the crosstalk might not show up on future generations of 3D TVs. "Goldberg" is fully compatible with standard 2D Blu-ray players and displays, so you can enjoy the disc even if you don't own a 3D set.
Sonically, "Goldberg" is a knockout; and musically, it's a jazz interpretation of Bach's famous composition. Like most AIX titles, the disc offers two surround mixes: "Audience," meaning the sound is from the audience's perspective; and "Stage," which puts you on stage among the musicians. It's nice to have the choice, though I much prefer the Audience perspective. In either case, Laurence Juber's acoustic guitar, Kevin Axt's bass, M.B. Gordy's drums, and Alberto Lopez' percussion all sound natural and three-dimensionally present. Once you get used to hearing AIX discs most standard commercially released recordings sound hopelessly flat and artificially processed. "Goldberg" is the best-sounding Blu-ray I own.
Remember, gear that sounds great can't make lousy recordings sound any better than they really are. So before you upgrade your home theater buy a couple of AIX discs to see how good your system is right now.
I almost forgot to mention it, but the AIX Records "Audio Calibration Disc & HD Music Sampler" Blu-ray contains useful home theater setup tests such as the "Subwoofer Crossover Test" and "System Setup Tutorial" to help fine-tune your sound.
More AIX Records 3D Music Album titles are currently in production and will be released later this year.