Album review: Pink Floyd – Immersion and Discovery boxsets (EMI)

Immersion box

The latest Immersion and Discovery box sets reveal just how much more Floyd there is to go around.  Having spent the last week listening to more Pink Floyd than usual over the last few years, the verdict on both the Immersion and Discovery box sets is indeed mixed – and these are two distinctly different animals.

Both sets have been remastered by James Guthrie (co-producer of The Wall) who had partial mastering credits on Pink Floyd’s last box set entitled Oh By The Way, released in 2007.  If that weren’t confusing enough, part of the catalogue was remastered in 1992 for the Shine On box set, with some cursory bonus tracks.  Not having a Shine On set at my disposal, the discs in the Discovery box were compared to OBTW and found to be nearly identical, though “new mastering” is claimed.

Those possessing the early late 80’s vintage CD’s will be in for a treat, these discs sound better in every way, the music presents itself across a much bigger soundstage in all three dimensions and everything sounds so much more analogue.

The Immersion version of Dark Side of the Moon is another story; EMI has included pebbles, posters, stickers and a scarf along with six discs of material.  Disc 1 is the remastered version of the DSOM you already know and love. Disc 2 is a live performance of the album from Wembley in 1974.  Disc 3 features high and low resolution (448 kb/sec and 640kb/sec) 5.1 surround and 4.0 quadraphonic mixes and the original 1973 stereo mix in 24bit/48khz format.  You will either love or hate the surround mix and the quad mix possibly ends up being the more trippy of the two.  At the risk of enraging fans and collectors, this reviewer actually loved the sound of the 24/48 stereo mix.  For my money, I would have rather had this disc a full blown DVD-a (instead of just a DVD disc with “audio only”) with a 24/192 copy of the master tape.  Wait, perhaps another marketing opportunity!

The fourth disc contains live footage from Brighton in 1972, the 2003 DSOM documentary and concert screen films in PCM stereo and 5.1 surround.  All of this data is mirrored on Disc 5 in the Blu Ray format and is a substantial step up in video quality than the DVD version.  Finally, Disc six is an early Alan Parsons mix of DSOM, which is very interesting and not quite as densely packed with sound as the album we are most familiar with.  It’s too early to tell if this is rapidly becoming my favorite because I truly prefer it or just because it is a variation on the theme.  This disc also contains bonus tracks with alternate takes and a few live cuts as well.

The sound quality is excellent overall and the packaging first rate.  As intriguing as this set is, it is unfortunate that with six discs at our disposal, it would have been nice to see a few more rarities from the vault make an appearance, especially with a title like Immersion.

Of course, if your a maniacal fan or completist collector, you’ll need both of these box sets and keep in mind that there will be an Immersion version of Wish You Were Here and The Wall later on this year, so you aren’t done shopping just yet.  -Jeff Dorgay

 

Artist website and purchase information here.

6 Comments

  • Ronald Yeager says:

    In your comparisons, you have left out the SACD version of DSOM. I would be curios to know if the 5.1 version here is the same mix or if different, in what way.

  • JJ says:

    While the set doesn’t provide DVD-A quality 24bit 192kHz content, or indeed DVD-A disks, there is 24bit 96kHz LPCM audio content on the Bluray disk. The 1973 stereo mix, the Parson 1973 Quad and Guthrie 2003 Surround are all there in uncompressed high res.

    While many audiophiles may not have a Bluray, it’s worth mentioning this particular uncompressed high res content, since it and the previously unreleased Parson 1972 stereo mix are the real audio highlights of this set by my thinking. But the Bluray a limiting factor for those such as Apple Mac owners who can’t play Bluray natively. And probably makes the set obsolete to some degree, ironically. A truly up to date and useful alternative for audiophiles would have been issuing the high res LPCM files on USB, a la Beatles or a downloadable high res file format a la HDTracks.

    There may also be confusion, and I’ll admit I’m as confused as anyone, but everything I’ve read says the DVD Disk 1 48kHz stereo is the 2011 remaster, not the 1973 master which is supposedly on the Bluray. I suppose one of the confusing factors for me is how the 1973 mix could be transferred to 24bit, 96kHz without remastering, as noted for the Bluray. The question becomes for me then, is the 24-96 mix on the Bluray from 1973, 2003 or 2011. Same question for the DVD 24-48. Any engineers from this project have a conclusive answer?

  • Jeff says:

    I only listened to the 2ch mix on the SACD as I do not have a full surround setup. However, when listening at our staff collector’s house on a full blown multichannel rig, the current multichannel mix did not sound significantly different than the last one released.

    The DVD mix is the early one, (1973) and after so many different versions, still a bit foggy myself on the Blu Ray version. As I only have about 10 Blu Ray audio titles in my collection, this was also difficult to really evaluate to my complete satisfaction. I agree with JJ that these should just be made available as a high res download, but who knows? Once this box has run its course, I wouldn’t be surprised if EMI makes one last attempt to mine the catalog by offering a download as well.

    I do think they were trying to appeal to as wide a range of end users as possible…

  • David Broyles says:

    No one seems to be discussing/comparing the new editions to the late 90s CD editions of the albums. All the albums were reissued on CD in the late 90s (at least in the US), and until this spat of reissues appeared, if you were buying a single Pink Floyd album on CD, the late 90s edition was the one you were getting. Can anyone tell me how the new ones measure up to those???

  • Chris says:

    I’m so bored of those bands who multiply the remasters of their songs for marketing and financial reasons. Do we need 10.000$ sound hardware to play their “new” titles too in 24 bit 5d multi surround remasterized tracks ?
    STOP THE SHIT FLOYDS ! MUSIC MUST BE SIMPLE AND EFFICIENT AS IN THE EARLIES 70 !
    Don’t you have MONEY enough ? !!!

  • Chris says:

    Why not using this money to produce new songs better than all those stupid remasters which have absolutely non sense ? !!

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