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Reviews: Roxy Music: Avalon

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Reviews: 25

Review by emilsjr July 1, 2003 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
After along wait, Virgin finally releases another SACD. They have unleashed Roxy Music's final album "Avalon". The results are incredible. You can tell that a huge amount of love went into the making of this disc. The material fits multi-channel as if was designed for it.

The songs are some of the complex and interesting of Roxy Music's career. Highlights here include "More than this", "The space between" and the title track. Very chic, this album is. Back in the 80s, Roxy Music's contribution to the musical scene was never appreciated as much as it should have been. Very few of their peers have an album in their catalog that matches this album.

All older material needs to sound this good. You can tell that Rhett Davis did some amazing work on this recording. The sonics are right up there with the best pop discs. The mix is ambient, with vocals coming out of the center. The rears provide space and the whole mix is very respectful of the stereo mix. However, the album opens up in multi-channel that stereo can not do.

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Review by Marc P June 30, 2003 (1 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Great music, wonderfull sound quality.

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Review by Replevin July 1, 2003 (2 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I walked in this evening to find a small package from Amazon France; it was Avalon! I was surprised since I just ordered this disc last week and didn't choose express shipping. I paid 11.70 for the disc and 10.90 for the shipping (in Euros).

First some technical comments that I don't believe have been mentioned by others. Liner notes are nicely done, with several photos of the band and a picture of Arthur's mythical funerary barge. The new edition was mixed by Bob Clearmountain and remastered by Bob Ludwig, who respectively mixed and mastered the original. The notes have a short discussion from Clearmountain where he relates the experience of working on the 5.1 surround mix. Also, for those conspiracy theorists, Rhett Davies, the producer of the original album and the re-release mentions in a short notes that it was Sony that approached him about remixing the album in 5:1 surround (this is an EMI/BMG/Virgin release). Also, the cd layer is encoded in HDCD.

While some may chaffe (why?) at the idea that Sony is promoting/creating content for the new format, if it continues to bring us such fine efforts, I certainly can't complain. In fact, this is exactly the kind of work that many said was needed to make the format a success.

I'm not very good at some of the audiophile vernacular, but let me say that this album is significantly superior to the cd version that I own. The SACD has all of the qualities that continue to impress me about the format. Percussions have snap, definition, and force in comparison to my ancient redbook version. There is a drum on the intro to Take a Chance with Me that sounds so different from the redbook. On Tara, a song I know so well because it always used to mean I need to get out of bed and flip the record...you can once again hear the sound of the sea in the background. On the redbook, it oftens sounds like haze or static. Bryan Ferry's vocals are excellent. One thing I found disappointing with the Police re-releases was that the vocals seemed a bit recessed. Not so with Avalon and they present a wide and clear soundstage. In all, I found the 2 channel DSD layer to be a significant sonic improvement to my redbook copy. I seem to remember that this disc has received some audiophile treatment, but I'm afraid I don't have any other versions to compare.

On the music, what is there to say? This is major make-out stuff. Either that (or as we get old), it is great stuff to relax to after a few scotches. I remember listening to this album in my dorm room in college and discovering that the previous occupant had put those glow in the dark stars in the ceiling. Groovy. This is good stuff and after I finish this review I will hit the headphones and listen again.

I will also say that I am very curious to hear this album in MC. Even more so than DSOTM, this album (to me, at least) suggests some MC treatment. Perhaps some day I'll move to a space that let's me check it out. Until then, this is a 2 channel review!

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Review by JW July 4, 2003 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I can mirror almost every word in Replevin's eloquent review, so I will keep it short. He did not mention 'India' and I would like to take the opportunity to highlight that track. It's probably my favorite 104 seconds on this album. As an instrumental cameo its simply beautiful. Listen to it separately.

Jw

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Review by Eric LeRouge August 3, 2003 (8 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Unless you hate this Roxy Music classic (some people do), this record is a flagship example of what high-resolution remasters, when done carefully, can bring to a recording. This record has never sounded so good, on any CD edition, and the CD layer itself is already a step above all previous editions (except the Slave to Love best of).

The DSD 2CH version is yet two steps higher than any recent CD version, with a lot of detail, and a very engaging sense of swing. Lots of background details and instruments are now more evident, and it sounds fresh all over again, even if you have heard this album 1,000 times. I'm almost certain that that the 2CH SACD version is a new version, not a remaster of the latest PCM tapes. The mix appears slightly different in several tracks.

The DSD MCH version is really where this SACD shines. There is simply no comparison with all previous 2CH versions, it's another world altogether. As the liner notes suggest, the original team had a very clear idea of what a multi-channel version of Avalon would sound like, and they used all the freedom they had to re-design the album according to their ideas. The result is fascinating, because the new multi-channel version simply adds a lot of "flesh" to this recording, instruments appear more real, with more texture, and even better sense of rythm than the stero 2CH version(s). The team have added some "special effects" in the multi-channel version, but it never sounds artificial or gimmicky.

This remastered version required a lot of work and loving attention, and the team behind it probably resisted all pressure from the recording company to meet deadline with a mediocre product (hence the 21st anniversary date:)

If you really want to hear what multi-channel SACD can do for you, Avalon is a must.

Best

Eric

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Review by LGK August 8, 2003 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This has just become one of my top five SACD's! It's packages like this and Dark Side of the Moon that show you what can be done to musig you've heard a million times to make it like you've never heard it before. The mix is so interesting and clean that it opens up a whole new frontier to a historic album like this. Some of the percussion and background sounds are very clean and fun to hear along with the brilliant mixing job that shows what can be done with a little creativity from the engineer.

BUY IT!!

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Review by Tommy Chang September 23, 2003 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I finally had got this title today. After reading some good responce about
this album in this forum,I can not help putting the disc into my sacd player
immediately. Oh,what a beautiful multi-channel sound that a sacd should be.
In my thought before,The DVD Audio's multi-channel sound always be better than
the SACD's. But in this album ,it all change my mind,The ambiance is so
excellent in this sacd. No doubt,it's the best multi-channel sacd that
I had ever heared by now. I particularly like the track 4 "India" and track 9
"True To Life" in this album,I think they may be the SACD's multi-channel
demo tracks. I hope more good SACD MC material could come from the excellent
mixing engineer - Bob Clearmountain. Deeply Recommand !!

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Review by FivePointOne October 23, 2003 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Stunningly incredible.

After reading reviews for months, I picked this up yesterday and listened to it twice last night. It was everything I thought it would be, and more.

If you've got a multichannel setup, you need to get this SACD right away.

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Review by rsbeck April 8, 2004 (1 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
First time I listened, I was stunned by the clarity, but on repeat sessions, I was put off by the slight brightness. To my ears, there is some sonic hardness, some remaining digital edge that causes fatigue. I don't find that on other SACD's. For that reason, I don't find myself going back to this one. Sort of a puzzle. Sorry to crash the party, but I am less impressed after multiple listenings.

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Review by chriscmore October 14, 2004 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I'd never had this album, which is a lovely exception to the frustrating re-purchasing of albums for some incremental sonic benefit (I'm on my fifth version of Miles Davis "Kind of Blue"). I'd heard one of the tracks, Avalon, from a great friend (Thanks Kropp!), and bought this on faith. It's a brilliant album, justifiably on the short list of greatest pop albums. I don't know how the previous versions sounded, but this album is a reference of how good even pop albums can sound. With all the technological advances in the studio since this album's original recording, we get to enjoy what it was like before digital hash and compression. Sonically, I have zero complaints, which is not only rare (ask my wife), but my system unfortunately leans toward exposing harshness, which this album is practically absent of. Only two tracks meet the skip button on occasion. This is a first-class ticket all the way.

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Review by DrOctodivx October 27, 2004 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I have always loved this album since it was originally released back when I was in college. However the CD version for some reason tended to give me a subtle headache, and this across multiple incarnations of my music system, which caused me to not listen to it as often as I may have liked, though I am sure I will be doing some catching up now...

I am happy to say that this is a wondrous and crystal clear 5.1 remix of this classic album. I did not give me any fatigue at all. Closing my eyes and listening to this album, I could practically visualize each and every instrument due to the excellent localization in this 5.1 recording.

Very highly recommended.

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Review by mukkachukka January 18, 2005 (5 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Well, it's up for a Grammy this year in the Best Surround Recording category (even though I bought it in 2003), so that should give you some kind of idea of the quality of this SACD. In fact, next to Pink Floyd's DSOTM SACD, this is my favorite SACD in my collection. It's probably the most elegant rock album released in the 1980's, and definitely the classiest rock SACD released so far. True beauty is the only way to describe this release. Great use of the surrounds, just the right amount without being too flashy. Probably one of the reasons this SACD came out so well was the fact that they got the original producer (Rhett Davies) and engineer (Bob Clearmountain) to do the 5.1 mix! Manzanera's guitar has never sounded better than on this SACD. His licks in "Take A Chance With Me" are worth the price of the disc alone. My highest recommendation!

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Review by Rob January 20, 2005 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
One of my all time favorites is my favorite SACD .The multi channel mix is done just right. I feel like I am listening to Am radio when I hear the CD now. I hear details in the music that I haven't heard before. The extra track Always Unknowing is worth the SACD purchase alone.
Highest recommendation

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Review by PaulHoncoop January 22, 2005 (8 of 16 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
GREAT!
Roxy Music's Avelon in multichannel sounds so good, it's like an angel urinate in your ears.
All the instruments and voices are correct placed on this multichannel mix.
Recording is not to shrill or with to much deep bass. Sounds just good and very natural.
I think the quality of this sacd is equal with Pink Floyd's DSOTM sacd. In that case; very good!
The extra bonus track Always unknowing completes this album.
Avelon is one of Roxy Music's best studio albums, so i recommended this sacd version.

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Review by sthebkrman February 26, 2005 (3 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
After reading all of the reviews on the quality of the SACD mix of this CD, I had to buy it. I did not think I would like it because I classified this music as English Techno-Pop which reminds me of Boy George. Boy was I wrong. This is a classy CD and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys good music. It has one cool instrumental that pans clockwise around the room twice just to show off the versatility of Super Audio. My whole family likes this CD. You can't go wrong.

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Review by mindovermatter March 10, 2005 (1 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
A masterpiece all the way around--all the way surround.

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Review by Iet October 1, 2005 (2 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
No doubt about the status of this masterpiece as one of the popmusic classicals. Its successful re-release on SACD is a thrilling story (see: www.highfidelityreview.com). Beside all hallelujah about the nice sonics, however, also a critical remark about the positioning of instruments and voices. Personally I find especially in the stereo version the voice of Bryan Ferry not clearly placed. In the surround version the bass is located in the central speaker, which to my opinion somewhat ruins the result of the surround mix.

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Review by StyleAndEntertainmen October 27, 2005 (2 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Yes, this is a captivating musical experience on a shiny little disc... but you already knew that! What you may not know that Ferry and Davies created another album nigh as good titled 'Boys and Girls'. If you like this SACD you'll like that SACD. Performance and sonic ratings are for both discs. The show must go on... and it does boys and girls, it does :)

StyleAndEntertainment

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Review by FEdward October 25, 2006 (4 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
This 5.1 disc was the first I added to my collection and it absolutely enchanted (enslaved is more like it) me into the surround realm. Also reinvigorated my interest in Roxy, though this masterpiece is far greater than the previous parts that made up Ferry's band. The production is wondrous and I can't imagine not having it. This is my "system show off" album. Its present incantation is timeless and I can highly recommend it for all those who missed Roxy on the first time around, or who still love 'em. Not enough superlatives to really capture this collection of tunes.

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Review by steve e October 24, 2007 (3 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
This is a true masterpiece. Even if you don't know this music, it will impress you.

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Review by lutefisk69 November 24, 2007 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Wow. This is the first SACD I bought after Dark side of the moon. I did not know much about Bryan Ferry, but I did remember the song Avalon. I think I might buy more of the Roxy Music SACD'S because this one is most excellent. I find the the reason I like SACD's is not just that the music sounds better then a regular CD, but that they have the multi-channel mixes. During the Song India I find the music moving all around me, this is why I like the SACD and find that the rest of the album seems to do the same. Bryan Ferry likes moving sounds, and I like to hear them moving which makes this album a really good one to listen to.

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Review by Blu Falcon April 25, 2011 (12 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I was a Super Audio CD virgin until recently. I recently picked up a good used SACD player for a great price and had been building a small collection of SACD recordings such as Pink Floyd's DSOTM, Norah Jones' Come Away With Me, etc. I also picked up a good used copy of the Avalon SACD on a whim after hearing so many good things about the multichannel mix. I paid over $80 for it, which is currently the most I've ever spent an any single album. I already had a good 5.1 home theater system set-up, so plugging the player into the multichannel inputs on the receiver was all I had to do to get the ball rolling. Avalon was selected as the first SACD to test the system. Once I settled in my seat, the "sweet spot" of my listening area, I hit play on the remote and was unprepared for the level of sonic euphoria I was about to experience. I damn near fell out of my chair. Is this what I've been missing out on all these years? Can anything sound more lush, beautiful and as mind-numbingly good as this recording? And there I sat. Eyes closed. Smiling from ear to ear. Motionless. From beginning to end. I was taken on a journey through a vast sonic landscape, and somehow ended up center stage of the performance. The lead singer was there in front me. The instrumentation and background vocals were beautifully separated and surrounding me. Sounds panned from left to right, right to left, and even snuck up from behind. The music sometimes revolved around me and through me, but mostly uplifting me to a higher level of appreciation for the musical tapestry that was before me. It was an experience I won't soon forget and invite others to share. Simply put, Avalon is worth the cost of admission and then some.

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Review by Audioflea January 30, 2013 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
First, Blu Falcon’s review from April, 2011 is just awesome. How great would it have been to have Avalon as your very first multi-channel, surround-sound experience? And not only that, but to have paid a mere $80 for it. I laugh and I weep when I read that. As of today the going used rate for this Roxy Music disc is between $120 - $140.

I think, more than ever, people want to know if certain OOP SACDs are worth the often exorbitant sums that are being fetched on Amazon, Ebay, ect. Well rest assured, because after parting with my $125 hard-earned American dollars for a copy last week, I’ve never been more thrilled to find out something was sooooo worth it.

The sonics of this disc are as good as any DVD-A or Bluray that I’ve ever heard, and more impressive, it aggressively uses every single channel on every single song. Only Pink Floyd’s, Wish You Were Here can rival it in the SACD arena, and only Floyd’s DSOTM bluray and maybe Porcupine Tree’s, Stupid Dream DVD-A might best it.

If you’re a fan, this is a must. And if you’re not, after hearing this; you will be.

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Review by marshman February 6, 2013 (2 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Wow, reviews since 2007 - 2! I get the feeling I'm a little late on the bandwagon here. And like the previous most recent review I had to pay a pretty penny to get a copy of this SACD.

To sum up my review, I'm both impressed and a little disappointed. I'd read so many raving reviews of this CD that I felt I had to have a copy otherwise I'd be missing out on some pinnacle of SACD heaven. So I broke the piggy bank, paid someone an extortionate amount of $ for a (admittedly excellent condition) copy.

I will first admit that I am not familiar with the album, other than the two main singles. Musically, what I can discern is that this is clearly a well produced album and must have sounded awsome when released in the early 80's. But being unfamiliar with the material meant that it needed a couple of listens to appreciate what i was listening to.

I have to agree that the quality of the multi channel (and stereo) mix is superb. Everything is spaced out well and the sound is immersive but not gimmicky. It is evident that a lot of love and care went into the remix. So, no arguments on the quality, this is how an album should sound, with no evidence of compromise having been made in the recording or mastering.

BUT.

It's just a shame that SACD's like this are getting so hard to find and expensive. I have to question whether, as excellent as this sounds, does it justify the huge price tag it currently demands due to scarcity. I'm impressed, it's really really good, but is it 5-6 times as good as other SACD's I've recently got as part of my current fad (fuelled by the purchase of a SACD capable player where SACD capability was a by-product rather than a goal).

I once believed that higher resolution and 5.1 mixes were the next evolutionary step in music, like CD's from vinyl (can of worms there, I know), but instead quality has taken a secondary role to convenience. I await the day when high quality mixes like this can find a market in the download world and the world of high resolution audio and low cost, convenient downloads can find a happy marriage.

But then sometimes the world goes backwards. Nothing to replace Concorde yet, just slower but higher volume.

So I've deducted a star because as excellent as it is, I haven't found myself in audio nirvana with my aural senses melting on the floor, and for the current price tag that's what is deserved.

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Review by dmonds September 30, 2014 (0 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
It's 2014 and Avalon was a leap of faith here for me. Let me tell you why.

I'm realatively new to SACD.
I've not previously owned this album but do like Bryan Ferry from his "Let's Get Together" and "In Your Mind" era.
This SACD is rare and expensive.
The reviews here are opinions of people I do not know.

Thank you to those exact same people.
Once again, this community has steered me in the right direction!

I have obviously heard this album before but as I said haven't owned it.
The MultiChannel on this SACD blew me away.
Such depth and character.
The dynamic range on a really good SACD always gets me.

Is it worth the current asking price on eBay/Amazon?
Only after hearing this SACD would you be able to answer that and for yourself alone.

For me, I anticipate a long and enjoyable relationship with Avalon...relaxing over a couple of scotches or red wines (as a previous reviewer has said).

Gotta go, get another red and listen to the stereo mix now.

Cheers

p.s. the stereo mix is also very, very good!
(IMHO)
p.p.s the MC layer has a "track 11" ... "Always Unknowing"

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