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[Help] Best mix for Aliens (1986)?
#1
It sort of occurred to me recently that despite the many discussions out there for the audio mixes on the first Alien movie and how people have determined the many oddities surrounding the final Dolby mix and the Sensurround mix and whatnot, but has anyone ever really dissected the mixes for Aliens?

I've always heard a lot about the 6-track 70mm mix for Aliens being really powerful (making heavy use of its Baby Boom track)...

https://ifi.ie/70mm-jargon-buster/ Wrote:Based on our experience with the Aliens 70mm print (playing on July 21st) when it ran at the IFI some years ago, the film will have a 6 channel Mag Track soundtrack, as the print was manufactured at the time of the movie’s release in 1986, many years before digital came along.  As this is James Cameron we are talking about, the Aliens sound mix is particularly excellent and famous for its aggressiveness and all round use of bass – which anybody who saw it here in 2011 will remember!  We have since installed a new subwoofer, so…good luck everybody!  As of writing we don’t have the print in house yet, so we can’t confirm it’s the exact same one from our previous shows or attest to its condition (either way it will be from 1986 or around that period).  Once its arrived and has been tested we can fill you in a lot more.

... but I never seemed to figure out if that has ever been released on home media anywhere, even on some old laserdisc. Was that what you got in some blu-rays or DVDs coincidentally (like how the CDS mix ended up being available for Terminator 2) or was it something that never got released or was perhaps used in some old laserdisc release that has or hasn't been capped yet?

This is not an urgent question or anything, but I was at least curious and perhaps thought answering this now for posterity may be useful for whenever the 4K UHD rolls out or something (perhaps even do a regrade when that time comes).
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#2
There was an AC-3 laserdisc for the theatrical cut, I capped it for PDB's project a while back. As far as I know there are no alternative mixes like the sensurround track for Alien but I believe it got remixed for discrete surrounds for the DVD and subsequent releases. There is also a 4.1 track on the blu ray but I couldn't say if it's the original mix or a near-field
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#3
(2021-10-12, 10:12 AM)zoidberg Wrote: There was an AC-3 laserdisc for the theatrical cut, I capped it for PDB's project a while back. As far as I know there are no alternative mixes like the sensurround track for Alien but I believe it got remixed for discrete surrounds for the DVD and subsequent releases. There is also a 4.1 track on the blu ray but I couldn't say if it's the original mix or a near-field

Again, why would they wanna do a separate 4.1 mix for the home release? Wouldn't it be 5.1? I would assume the lossy 4.1 track found on the blu ray is the original 70mm mix, unless proven otherwise.
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#4
(2021-10-12, 10:12 AM)zoidberg Wrote: There is also a 4.1 track on the blu ray but I couldn't say if it's the original mix or a near-field

I don't know too; what I noticed is that Alien on BD 4.1 (and 5.1 IIRC) is quite different from the AC-3 70mm track from LD - not only for the different dialogue parts; they used the DC and mixed together with 70mm track... what I surely remember is that the Italian BD track (maybe other languages too) differs a lot from the BD track, and is more similar to 70mm (actually much more to the 35mm Dolby Surround).

A "35mm Dolby Surround Vs 70mm 6-track" debate should worth its own thread... who will start it? Wink
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#5
(2021-10-12, 12:48 PM)spoRv Wrote:
(2021-10-12, 10:12 AM)zoidberg Wrote: There is also a 4.1 track on the blu ray but I couldn't say if it's the original mix or a near-field

I don't know too; what I noticed is that Alien on BD 4.1 (and 5.1 IIRC) is quite different from the AC-3 70mm track from LD - not only for the different dialogue parts; they used the DC and mixed together with 70mm track... what I surely remember is that the Italian BD track (maybe other languages too) differs a lot from the BD track, and is more similar to 70mm (actually much more to the 35mm Dolby Surround).

A "35mm Dolby Surround Vs 70mm 6-track" debate should worth its own thread... who will start it? Wink

This isn't about Alien, though. It's about Aliens Smile
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#6
(2021-10-12, 12:53 PM)allldu Wrote: This isn't about Alien, though. It's about Aliens Smile

I KNOW! Tongue 

But I wrote it because it *may* apply to Aliens too, as they were reissued as a quadrilogy with new tracks - revised or not, need to be investigated...
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#7
Considering the 4.1 option is only available for the TC it's almost certainly the theatrical audio in terms of channel layout and content, however the possibility it may have been near-field mixed can't be ruled out. Some of the members here have attended 70mm screenings of Aliens, hopefully they can chip in. In any case the LD AC-3 is a nice track Smile
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#8
If there is a chance that a 70mm 6-track port exists, that would almost surely be on laserdisc! Smile
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#9
(2021-10-12, 01:44 PM)zoidberg Wrote: In any case the LD AC-3 is a nice track Smile

Does it have mono surrounds? I guess it should, if that's an original 70mm mix.
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#10
I did a rough headphone comparison with my project. For the LDs I said:

The feel on the tracks is slightly different. There were no sound effects differences that I heard. The P&S did seem to be missing small bits occasionally at what I assume were the reel changes.

The P&S did feel like the music was buried in the mix a bit versus dialogue/sounds but overall it felt more balanced between the elements. The THX, on the other hand, did feel "bassier" and slightly more bombastic with it's music.

One thing I did notice was from Ripley going after Newt till the end seems to be a little brickwalled on the THX and comparatively lower but more balanced on the P&S.

The THX 5.1 feels similar to the DTS MA 5.1 of the BD but a bit more robust while the 4.1 and P&S PCM feel a little different but not necessarily similar.


The LD AC-3 was the same mix as the THX PCM 2.0 but obviously in discrete mode. Although looking similar on a waveform, I remember comparing the 4.1 and 5.1 on the BD and found them to have different dynamics and emphasis. Again this is in a headphone setup. I included the 4.1 based on that, believing it to be different enough from the other tracks. I had the Quad 5.1 lined up but didn't sync it. I might for a future Aliens project.

If you want the "best" sounding track, maybe not accurate (don't know), go with the THX LD. It has faults but sounds like war film. But that's just my opinion.
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