Alan Parsons Project – Stereotomy

15 Feb


An experimental reissue – Comments on whether it is an improvement or not are very welcome.


Reissue: (D) New decode

Release: DS301u2q-II

Source: Ambisonic/UHJ CD

Process: U2Q-II




11 Responses to “Alan Parsons Project – Stereotomy”

  1. SacdtoDvda February 21, 2017 at 22:13 #

    I took the opportunity last night to have a closer listen to the track that is … different … to all the others to see if if the process made any difference or had even been applied to it. Clearly it had.

    In the original release that particular track sounded like it was being played back in a large empty hall – almost like ambient rears from a concert recording and a bit “boomy”.

    The new version was far more convincing in terms of the surround effect. Not completely discrete, of course, but certainly a greater level of clarity between the fronts and rears.

    One thing I particularly liked was the guitar solo. I might be kidding myself, but it seemed to me that right at the end after the solo has finished in other speakers there is a short burst of sustain that comes just from the right rear. It seemed to happen in both versions but appeared more noticeable in the new release.

    • oxforddickie February 21, 2017 at 23:52 #

      Out of interest which track was it? Does the rest of the album have similar improvements? And would you say that the Ambisonic feel is effected?

      • SacdtoDvda February 22, 2017 at 01:03 #

        It’s the one that was originally only mixed to stereo unlike the others that were Ambisonic – I won’t give it away and leave it to see if others can spot which one it is, but you know the one I mean.

        If the Ambisonic effect is feeling you are surrounded by the music as opposed to just having music come from different speakers then I would say that effect has not been diminished by the process.

        • oxforddickie February 22, 2017 at 09:22 #

          Thanks for letting me know which track… most interesting, as is the fact that the Ambisonic ‘feel’ hasn’t been affected.

          Thanks again.

  2. SacdtoDvda February 19, 2017 at 00:12 #

    I would agree with the comments by Tarkus about the volume and clarity.

    The improvement is similar to when this clean-up process has been applied to other matrix conversions – there is a distinct improvement in the tone of individual instruments. The bass guitar is more distinct from the drum beat and neither sound is just a thud any more. The bass guitar in particular sounds terrific and other sound effects and fills are much clearer.

    When I was listening to the old conversion I was thinking the music was all right but it had a bit of an 80s generic sound. The subtleties revealed in the new conversion have lifted it above that.

    No need to second guess yourself on this one, OD. The difference is palpable. At least as good and possibly even better than the difference the additional process makes to QS.

  3. TheTarkus10 February 16, 2017 at 17:51 #

    Wow. Big difference in your new release. The volume is lower and the clarity is impressive in comparison. One of Parson’s little effects on the left rear on the title track was so pronounced it almost made me jump.

    The old release was great until I did this side-by-side comparison of songs. Now the old release sound rather muddy. Whatever you are doing…well, wow

    • oxforddickie February 16, 2017 at 18:17 #

      Thanks for that, seems to be positive…. so far…

  4. oxforddickie February 15, 2017 at 10:35 #

    I think it’s best if i said a few words on why i’ve done this (and the one to be put out on the classical blog hopefully later today) ‘experimental decode.

    Some of you may not know exactly what ‘UHJ’ really is. It is the stereo compatible version of the Ambisonic B-Format system. This system doesn’t use standard speaker designations and is best described here:

    The issue with UHJ is that it is, basically,.a matrix system, much like SQ & QS, that encodes the three horizontal streams W, X and Y and just like its older bretheren it’s not perfect.

    I never thought i’d be able to make any in-roads in cleaning up the debris left over from the matrix and the need to decode it to gain access the B-Format information. But, after yet another brain-wave i came up with an idea that i now give over to those that have the previous decode for their honest view on whether it’s an improvement or not.

    I don’t want to put ideas into anyones minds what the changes are, or how they ‘sound’ but i must warn those who will be taking part that you may feel that there’s something missing when listening to it.

    And you’d be right, there is. What’s missing could best be described as a fog/mist/cloudness to the sound, that many may have believed to be the effect of ‘space’ or’being there’ or some other such decription of what is felt.

    What is actually missing is a large amount of the unwanted left-over phase rubbish caused by the need to use a form of matrixing to deliver a stereo compatible means of listening to it.

    Please do try to keep that in mind when listening to this, and more importantly, to the classical release as it shows up even more on that.


    • Owen Smith February 15, 2017 at 14:37 #

      The cloud of out of phase information after matrix decoding definitely needs sorting out. It was never meant to be there, it’s just a consequence of the matrix systems. Some people talk about recordings having “air” and complaining when it isn’t there on well mastered CDs, when in fact their “air” is distortion and master tape hiss and vinyl issues. They’ve mentally got used to something and miss it when it isn’t there, but it was never meant to be.

      There were complaints about the picture on digital TV and while there are things to complain about with MPEG encoding, some tests showed people were missing the analogue PAL colour encoding degrading the picture. If the PAL problems were put back in by running the set top box output through a PAL encode/decode the test subjects were much happier with the digital picture. This is believed to be why some people reported the UHF outputs of digital set top boxes gave a better picture than RGB SCART. The brain is a funny thing.

      If you go to a live orchestral concert there is also background noise but it is totally different, it’s the heating system and people moving in the audience. Occasionally the performance is so mesmerising the audience can become very still, and then the noise floor drops to almost nothing. I’ve been in a couple of concerts where that happened, it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up when all you can hear is a live flute and a violin or similar and absolutely nothing else because the performance room is so still.

    • zaphod2359 February 15, 2017 at 22:58 #

      To my ears this is a solid and pronounced improvement. I agree with your description of a “fog” being lifted. It feels as if the sound has moved away from the center and seems much clearer to me,if that makes sense. With that,it felt like the rears were busier too. I really like it!

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