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Demonstrating why "restored" mono sounds awful, feat. THE SWORD IN THE STONE (1963)
#1
I just captured my (hitherto sealed and pristine) copy of THE SWORD IN THE STONE to check the audio out. And I'm sort of equally horrified and thrilled that it's an excellent demonstration of how distributors make a complete mess of "restoring" mono soundtracks on home video presentations because they presumably think people are all stupid and will complain about tape hiss if they don't remove it, even though removing it completely destroys the sound overall. Consider this my incredibly simplistic attempt at @Moshrom's schtick.

Firstly, the packaging is wrong. This is the second time today I've had a LaserDisc sleeve lie to me. Earlier on I captured my letterboxed widescreen edition of LES MISÉRABLES: THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT, only to find that despite the sleeve proudly proclaiming that it contains the "original 16:9 high definition aspect ratio", it's actually heavily cropped 4:3 which means it's identical to the 4:3 copy I already captured. Now, I see this sticker on THE SWORD IN THE STONE...

Quote:Available for the first time on home video: Walt Disney's original mono soundtrack mix on the analog channels.

Enhanced stereo soundtrack mix located on the digital tracks.

... but when I capture it, this is immediately proven false. What it actually contains is two different versions of the mono soundtrack, one on analogue and digital left,  and one on analogue and digital right.  And holy crap, what a difference there is between them.

The left channel sounds pretty fantastic, plenty of magnetic tape his left in and the frequency response is fairly balanced. The right channel on the other hand has clearly had a very ham-fisted "restoration" job to remove all the tape hiss and general analogue noise, which makes it sound absolutely atrocious. Y'know, the old clock radio syndrome: somehow managing to sound muffled and too thin/brittle at the same time. So remarkably obvious is this difference in quality that somebody's commented on the LDDB page that the *right* channel is the original mono, presumably assuming that it must be the older/unrestored version because it sounds absolutely awful next to the much better left channel, thus the better sounding one *has* to be the "restored" version. But no, this is just what happens with mono soundtracks that have audible tape hiss.

Check this s**t out:

[Image: thesw-ordinthestone-monocomparison-side1.png]
[Image: theswordinthestone-monocomparison-side1-L.png]
[Image: theswordinthestone-monocomparison-side1-R.png]

To demonstrate what I mean about how bad this sounds, here's a quick back-and-forth sample of the start and then an early dialogue scene. One version is kept in the channels they're in on the LaserDisc (so panned to left and right, I've just muted one channel or the other in an alternating pattern) and the other is centre-panned as 1-channel mono.

2ch (L/R panned as stored on LaserDisc):
https://mega.nz/#P!AgHy2SJNBsOFVUZkbYoDE...W5JJSRM6hA

1ch (mixed down / centre panned):
https://mega.nz/#P!AgEHH1JVAkpONJ9WwmD-i...PEPsh08XMw

pw =
longlivetheKing

The right channel, as you can hear, is extremely muffled whilst also sounding very thin, as if it's being played through a tiny speaker (think clock radio / Game Boy) with a cloth draped over it or something. This is the sound of mono soundtracks in 2020, thanks to Criterion et al. It's really sad.
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#2
WOW fantastic post!

And that's a really intriguing/interesting finding. I mean, figuring out the difference was not in the soundtrack format (analog vs digital) but on the channel. Impressive!

Fotunately most Laserdiscs carry unmolested soundtracks compared to the contemporary "restored" mono and stereo tracks (in the rare cases they are even available on comertial BDs and UHD-BDs)
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#3
Thankfully the left channel on this is great. But yeah, the right channel sounds like exactly the sort of muffled nonsense we often get on Blu-rays these days.
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#4
Those comparisons are amazing!
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#5
(2020-12-17, 04:12 AM)alinskey Wrote: Those comparisons are amazing!

The right channel is quite terrible, isn't it?
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#6
(2020-12-17, 04:14 AM)pipefan413 Wrote:
(2020-12-17, 04:12 AM)alinskey Wrote: Those comparisons are amazing!

The right channel is quite terrible, isn't it?

Shockingly so! 

I'm down to help with any Disney audio preservations you need. I don't have many titles right now but I'm looking to help any way I can.
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#7
(2020-12-17, 04:40 AM)alinskey Wrote:
(2020-12-17, 04:14 AM)pipefan413 Wrote: [quote="alinskey" pid="67921" dateline="1608171175"]
The right channel is quite terrible, isn't it?

Shockingly so! 

I'm down to help with any Disney audio preservations you need. I don't have many titles right now but I'm looking to help any way I can.

Thanks. I messaged you about some stuff a wee while ago actually; the AC-3 stuff in particular would help me a lot because I don't have a demodulator yet, even though I have a bunch of the discs themselves. I tried to buy one a while back but the seller basically completely ignored me trying to negotiate and then sold it to somebody else for much less than I was going to give them, which was extremely irritating. Just because they didn't want to post it, basically, even though it's not exactly a particularly fragile item...

One of the main motivations for me doing LD stuff was how bad Disney is at preserving their own back catalogue and I'm currently working on a pretty massive project involving matching up the best video and audio for each film. I have a *lot* of Disney ones to preserve so it's probably a good idea to check in before you buy 'em, hahah. (I already missed that you got Hunchback and bought a copy myself for instance.) I've got 4 different copies of TOY STORY and have the DTS captured off one of them; I'm considering experimenting with things like AutoOverlay to see if I can create some sort of "ubercapture" with as much detail and as little noise as possible by putting some combination of the 4 LDs together, since I'm pretty sure they're all from the exact same master. Some DVD versions of that are also going to be taken into consideration but I think even the earliest DVDs were straight off CAPS rather than the film source used for the LDs so I might end up going with LD video instead there.

I'm finally getting round to capturing the CAV PINOCCHIO just now, previously I'd just captured the bonus disc. I don't have a lot of interest in the audio but I already captured the very early Japanese LD with analogue mono in sync at 48 kHz. I still want to figure out a way of getting my 24-bit 96 kHz captures to sync without significant drift because they have a nocieably lower noise floor than the 20-bit 48 kHz captures I'm doing, but I don't really want to be capturing something that needs to have chunks of it looped to keep sync. I feel like there must be a solution to that problem but I'm struggling to figure out what it is.
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#8
I'm actually shocked at how bad the right channel sounds. I'm curious about how it apply to other disney titles and how bad will the BDs compare to the LDs
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#9
(2020-12-17, 09:13 AM)jolennon Wrote: I'm actually shocked at how bad the right channel sounds. I'm curious about how it apply to other disney titles and how bad will the BDs compare to the LDs

Exactly.

I captured a bunch yesterday including Alice in Wonderland but have yet to check the US "original" tracks against the LaserDisc ones.
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#10
That's a drastic difference! Easily the audio equivalent of severe DNR.
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