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Reviews: The Police: Every Breath You Take

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Reviews: 20

Review by Tom March 5, 2003 (4 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This is a Reference SACD. It does everything well. The bass drum is dynamic and sounds realistic, and the cymbals are clean and unveiled. This album contains some of the best rock cuts of all time. It just plain rocks!!! Sonics rate a 6!!!

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Review by emilsjr March 7, 2003 (5 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This is a simply stunning disc. In both stereo and multi-channel, the sonics and perfomance are both top notch. In stereo, just listen to the beauty of "King of Pain" and the power of the bass on "Wrapped around Your Finger". In multi-channel, relish the joy found in "Don't Stand So Close To Me" and the world created by "Every Breathe You Take". Bravo to all involved.

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Review by Marc P April 25, 2003 (0 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This disc clearly beats DSOTM moon on both musical content and sound. For the time being my favorite SACD.

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Review by ddarch88 May 16, 2003 (2 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
A speaker test...for those who dare...

When you are home alone...turn the volume control to the highest point you EVER play at...put in this SACD...forward to Every Breath You take...take your normal listening seat...push play!!

Okay, I know I am cheating...this is not a review of this entire album, but for me, the amazing first notes of this song in SACD format are easily worth the fourteen bucks for the disc!! The rest is gravy!!

Try it!

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Review by FivePointOne September 22, 2003 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Too bad all their albums weren't re-released in MCH 5.1 SACD. This collection will do in the meantime. There's some fun tricks in the surrounds on quite a few songs. Stewart Copeland's drumming sounds fantastic. I wish they had increased the sound for Sting's bass, though. The regular CDs (and "Message in a Box" set) have this same problem.

I love The Police. I've got the box set. I really wanted to hear some big-time upgrades with this SACD. While the sound is quite good, and much better than redbook CD, I can't help but think they should have put a little more effort in these to get them right.

Also, I deducted one star for the inclusion of that "Don't Stand So Close to Me" remix. Who the hell ever asked for that? I can think of 10+ songs I'd rather hear from their catalogue than that one (Demolition Man...Too Much Information...Secret Journey...Rehumanize Yourself...Hungry for You...Driven to Tears...Bring on the Night...So Lonely...etc).

For now, though, I'll take what I can get with MCH 5.1 Police songs. ;)

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Review by Dan Popp October 22, 2003 (1 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Let me disclaim up front that I'm not a life-long die-hard fan of The Police. I bought this disc because of a memory of a friend of mine cranking up the Red Book version of "Roxanne" many moons ago and enjoying the raw power and simplicity of it. Apparently I can't go home again. Any sonic treats on this SACD must be on the MultiChannel mix which I can't play on my stereo setup.

The 2-channel mixes sound distant, as if we're listening underwater. Vocals are way too far down. Where is the punch? I even put the player into MultiChannel mode (still with only 2 speakers hooked up) to see what happened. That was almost better - at least some of the instruments sounded close. My hunch is that they created the MC mix, and just folded it down to 2 tracks for us Neanderthals who don't have 6 speakers.

This may be a great 5.1 disc, but in my opinion, if you want a great stereo experience from Sting & Co., buy a Red Book CD of "Summoner's Tales," not this.

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Review by deathstroke June 13, 2004 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I bougth this disc on a recommendation from a friend and was not disappointed. I was not a big Police fan either, but now will look into some of their other albums. Roxanne sounds superb...as if Sting were right there in front of you! Could have used a bit more subwoofer though on most tracks.

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Review by peteyspambucket October 12, 2004 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I bought this because I was listening to this at J&R Music World, and the mix was Multichannel, and I was immediately annoyed that my Synchronicity SACD was only stereo.

I am pleased with the sound on this SACD. The MC mix is very nice, with major isolation of Sting to the center channel. The rear channels contain some very cool isolated instruments. I can sort of "hear" the engineers turning the instruments up and down though, which is interesting.

Of course, these are classic performances and songs, and if you're a fan of this music, you will love this SACD.

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Review by 24-96 Mastering January 11, 2005 (20 of 35 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I'm shocked to see this disc being rated so high. When I first listened to the disc, I thought it displays the worst in taste regarding surround mixing. Every nasty no-no in mixing (be it stereo or surround) has a firm place on this disc.

(The following review was posted on an audio engineer forum, so please excuse the technical lingo.)


Before I get into the details of what makes this disc so unbelievably bad, let me first say that normally I'm a huge fan of surround reissues / remixes as it gives able engineers not only the creative possibilities of surround but also enables them to enhance the original mix using equipment and techniques that simply weren't available at the time of the original mix.
I was looking forward very much to this release, as the original Police recordings all leave much to be desired in terms of sonic clarity. But oh, how I was disappointed.


The list of surround mixing no-nos in detail:

1. Don't feed a stereo sum to a stereo reverb unit and route the wet signal to the surrounds ONLY at a ridiculous level. (Track 1, 'roxanne')

2. Don't add a long and irritating dub-delay to single snare hits. This would be a bad mixing choice, it is even more ridiculous when it hasn't been there in the original and you're producing a new format remix. And I won't even go into the ridiculous panning choices for the guitar... (Track 2, 'can't stand losing you')

3. Applying a surround reverb on a snare drum with an reverb-tail-delay of more than 100ms. This is especially true if the reverb is so loud it completely drowns the rest of the track. (Track 3, 'message in a bottle')

4. NEVER EVER set your stereo reverb to a PRE-DELAY of 250 ms, apply it to an otherwise totally dry cross-click and move it from surround-only to stereo-only. And for god's sake don't move it back and forth and round and round. This is so unbelievably bad, you have to hear it to believe it. (Track 4, 'walking on the moon')

5. If you're going to put a plate reverb on the vocals that accents and carries the esses for 3 seconds, make sure you don't delay the rear speakers too much or you'll have them flying by your head. This is especially true if the song opens with the line: 'young teaCHer, the SubJect of School GirlS' fanTaSy'. (Track 5, 'don't stand so close to me' Other than that, this mix is actually pretty OK, surprisingly.)

6. If you have a shaker on every semi-quaver and a hihat on every second semi-demi-quaver in a song that's more than 120 bpm, don't pan one to right-surround and the other one to front-left.The listener might sue you for damages regarding substantial loss of mental health; Especially if there are vibratos, surround delays and pan moves on every guitar. Generally, if dynamic panning of single instruments on one track takes you more than 3 days to program, you know that you've overdone it. (Track 6, 'de do do do, de da da da')

7. Don't pan the hi-hat from left surround to left front and back and forth. (Track 7, 'every little thing she does is magic')

8. Don't mix all vocals mono (only in the center speaker), lay a mono reverb on them (only in the center) when the rest of the track is spaced wide over all surround.(Track 9, 'spirits in the material world'. This mix could have been really good if the keys and the snare reverb were down a few dB on the rears and the vocals weren't crammed into an acoustic space the size of a coin.)

9. Don't pan the kick drum to the left when the snare drum is in the center. (Track 11, 'king of pain', chorus)


The mastering of the album leaves some room for improvement too. It is rather middy, but I gues that's being true to the original recordings.

To be fair, I don't know if all the tracks were remixed from individual tracks or from stems or some even from a sum, but regardless of this most of the mixes are simply tasteless. Even when working with a sum, one could do much better than this.

Lastly, it should be said that a few of the tracks are mixed pretty decently. In light of the other disasters that make up the rest of the disc, this is not too signifficant though.

Out of my 100 (or so) surround recordings I have acquired so far, this one stands out as one of the best examples of what not to do with surround. I honestly (no sarcasm here) believe that this disc can teach us how to make better surround mixes. Buy it - it's worth it.

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Review by PaulHoncoop January 22, 2005 (1 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Not one of the best sounded sacd's i have in my collection.
The sound of this sacd is a little bit to shrill. However some tracks sounded well (Every breath you take for example). I missed songs like So lonely and Bring on the night. I don't know why they put Don't stand so close to me '86 on it.
On the whole; the performance is good but the sonics could much better, also the compilation.

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Review by lutefisk69 November 16, 2007 (3 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
This is why I buy SACD's. Not so much or music qualuty (although that is a plus) but for using the whole 5.1 system. this SACD is able to do that. I get music moving all around me, and I am quite happy with it. I am sure if I was picky I could find fault in this SACD, but I am looking for sound that is better then what I can get from a CD and this delivers. I find myself listening to this just for the fact that it has a great mix.

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Review by sportbigred June 27, 2008 (2 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I agree with most everything that 24-96 commented on regarding that you should never add something weird & different that is not on the original version unless you are in the band or have the band's stamp of approval. Many elements that were not on the original recording sound annoying & distracting. In retrospect, You are changing the integrity of the original vision by both producer & artist. On the flip-side of things, don't ever, ever, ever, delete or eliminate anything of significance that is on the original recording. Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" & Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" is a prime example of vital elements in the mix that everyone has known,loved & expected to hear are missing.

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Review by mccontrol July 16, 2008 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
For Police Fans,this compilation is a must.Hidden away on the multi channel 5.1 layer is a new version of "De do do do,De da da da" that this listener has never heard before.If you're a big fan then do yourself a favour and upgrade your sound system to SACD.The experience is a joy to be heard and worth the expense to hear this little gem.

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Review by monica April 11, 2009 (7 of 11 found this review helpful)
24-96 Mastering:

This is the first time I have ever signed up to an online forum of any sort. The comments that you made about the production and engineering of The Police's Greatest Hits album were enough to make me take time and effort to join such a discussion.


I'm not going to go into details concerning various reverb times, panning of semi-demi quavers and dry cross kicks as you did.

In fact, in my opinion, the above examples of experimentalism provide the signature sound of this significant and memorable album.

If there were rules that people had to absolutely adhere to whilst composing and producing music then the process of it's creation would have been the same since it's beginning. In most cases, I think that this principle of rules and guidelines is a foolish and introvert attitude to approaching music.

Although I think that some techniques that you mentioned are relevant, it is obvious to me that they complemented all of the Police's songs in the album.


Cheers

Monica

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Review by musicavenger July 14, 2009 (2 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
One of the best sounding SACDs ever. Good selection of songs but not to much surround mix effect.

Some idiots criticize this record but its not true what they say.

Highly recommended

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Review by Newby Sacd February 3, 2010 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This Album has prompted me for the first time to write a few notes or review if you like.
I love it! I have a fairly modest set up , which is enjoyable none the less for it. Knowing the normal cd album , this version is a huge audio boost over the cd. After the first listen through i thought Sting's sounded much more earthy, organic. I very much liked the new clarity of his voice. Fantastic. Copeland's drums and cymbals are tight and without any splashy harshness at all. Great. Bass is very defined and just right. Fast, tight , and dynamic , subsequent listens have only fortified my view. This 5.1 mix only enthuses me to search for other great musicians on the sacd format to enjoy. Have you guessed its my current favourite?

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Review by Quint June 27, 2011 (1 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I canít add to the discussion on the multichannel, but I can comment on the two-channel sound. First off, I think itís very well done. Stingís voice sounds warm and textured, Andy Summersí guitar work bites, and Stewart Copelandís drums hit HARD. It can get a tad bright when the volume is goosed really loud, but those are at very loud levels. At any rate, I think this is a pretty good SACDónot great, but definitely way above average.

The compilation itself is average at best. There are sooo many worthy songs missing, and I still can't fathom the inclusion of two remixes that could've easily been replaced by MUCH better songs, such as "So Lonely," for example.

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Review by Discspinner May 12, 2012 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Overall, a good compilation and it is in multi-channel! The sonics are excellent, though the bass a little light on some tracks where it seems like it was mixed into the center channel. Not my best channel for bass. "Wrapped Around Your Finger" is one standout followed closely by "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" which reveals piano I never paid much attention to before. Instrumentation is distinct, vocals clear, cymbals sound natural. Recommended.

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Review by jackan October 30, 2012 (0 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
First off, this is a collection of great songs. Yes there are some favorites left out, but by and large, a wonderful representation of the band. If you love The Police, this will not disappoint.

Next, the sound quality is great. Its the production that stinks.
I will not quibble about the use of the 5.1. I think sometimes it was a bit of a stretch to make a three piece fit all the way around. And I will not discount for inventiveness, as it is at least not a distraction to me.

What is a total distraction is the over use of effects. And the most egregious is the gated reverb on the snare. An 80's mainstay gimmick. So dated, and quite trite. To give a nod to this in the mix would be fine. It would be going against the original intent to have none. But to have it so overdone, to fall in love with the FX rack at the expense of the final product is a tragedy. Right off the bat on the first track, the gated verb is in the rear speakers. As if to show that if you were not paying attention, here it is on its own. While some of the vocal reverb is too much at times, it is always this gated snare reverb that cannot help but grate at every nerve once it is noticed.

Again, some might have to be there for histories sake. But in the light of the fact that this is SACD, and it will be heard like never before, to overdo it to the point of physical nausea is going way too far.

To the uninitiated the gated verb is a reverb that has a noise gate on it, so it cuts off abruptly. And can sound as if it is sucking the snare back into the speakers. Fun huh? I guess if you are smoking pot, and its your first time hearing it. But after its done to death, to try and listen to this album in its entirety is almost more that I can bare.

The Police also tend to have the snare very prominent in the mix. Just a smidge to much. A judgment call to be sure, and one that I could live with. If it were not for the over abundance of reverb that is to follow. Every singe measure. Song after song. No variation, except maybe to add more and make it more and more annoying till........

Ohh I can't take it anymore. I would sell my copy if it didn't mean that it would be out there wandering the streets. I must destroy in some sort of ritualistic manner. (Only half joking.)

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Review by Pianist718 August 21, 2014 (1 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Strange .,.. I actually had higher expectations. I won't go into technical details simply because I am far away from being able to. However, I do have a nice set up and have listened to about 20 different SACDs and DVDAs .... this one ... I was a bit disappointed. To me it was not balanced well. It didn't sound tight, if you know what I mean. "Every Breath you take" was decent but not amazing. Other songs ... some were good and some sounded just average at best.

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