Heart beats around us, coins fall from above, voices surround us. We previewed the new spatial audio mix Of The Dark Side of the Moon. The effects are sublime. They rain on us from every direction, they attack us from the sides, they invest us in front, leaving us (a sublime) no escape. Clare Torry’s long vocal solo in The Great Gig in the Sky then it’s magnificent, clean, engaging.
What is Spatial Audio?
But what is meant by spatial audio? Spaziale doesn’t mean “awesome” in this case, but it is a technology that allows you to simulate a three-dimensional audio environment through headphones or a single speaker (if it has multiple speakers inside). Not only left and right channels, therefore, as in stereo audio, but also high and low.
New emotions for Pink Floyd
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of this cornerstone of music (The Dark Side of the Moon was released on March 1, 1973), Warner has commissioned a new “spatial” mix or more precisely in Dolby Atmos.
Thus the material recorded between 1972 and 1973 at those Emi Studios in London made famous by the Beatles (and which would later be called Abbey Road Studios) was reborn for offer new emotions even to those who have put down that pin or pressed that play without rest in the last half century. As Time it is a rain of watches that floods the ears, The Great Gig in the Sky takes us to seventh heaven, the cash registers of Money they seem there beside us and the coins at hand. On the other hand, however, instruments and voices are less convincing. Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright and Nick Mason come out a bit mellow, not really sharp.
The box of wonders
It must be said that we listened to it in a cinema hall and it will be interesting to experience how the album sounds at home or on the go. But we have to wait for Friday 24 March when the new «spatial» mix will be available through two channels. The first is Warner’s maxi box set for the 50th anniversary Of The Dark Side of The Moona surprise envelope for audiophiles who for 300 euros really offers everything, two CDs with James Guthrie’s 2023 remaster and Live at Wembley Empire Pool from 1974, two LPs, an audio DVD and two Blu-Ray Audio. And it is here that, in addition to the 24bit/96kHz Surround and stereo mixes and Dts-Hd Master Audio, we find the Dolby Atmos mix.
In case we don’t have a Blu-Ray player with a dedicated system, we can always digitally open that prism designed by George Hardie. Also from Friday 24 Apple Music will offer its subscribers (equipped with Dolby Atmos compatible headphones or speakers) the disc in spatial audio.
The spatial audio of the 70s
Returning to The Dark Side of the Moon, this is not the first “spatial” treatment suffered by the disc. In addition to musical experimenters, Pink Floyd were sound explorers, a group that took obsessive attention to their engravings (still today many use their vinyls for audio testing of systems) and it was open to new paths. Before the album’s release, the band equipped themselves with a 28-channel mixer with four quadraphonic outputs, the technology that uses four channels (and as many speakers) positioned around the listener to envelop him with sound. An ante litteram spatial audio, so to speak. and not by chance Alan Parsons, legendary Pink Floyd producer, undertook a new quadraphonic mix, released in that same 1973 and designed precisely to become an emblematic example of the possibilities of this technology. The band never approved the work and so we will have to wait until 2003 for an official quadraphonic version. It was released on Super Audio CD for the thirty years of The Dark Side of the Moon but it was signed by James Guthrie, the maker of The Wall. One last tip: you know you can listen The Dark Side of the Moon synchronizing it with the movie The Wizard of Oz from 1939? Pink Floyd have always rejected this practice but it works, try it.