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Official Review [Album]: "PASSAGE" (SP-4703)

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, Aug 6, 2013.

How Would You Rate This Album?

  1. ***** (BEST)

    7 vote(s)
    9.5%
  2. ****

    37 vote(s)
    50.0%
  3. ***

    26 vote(s)
    35.1%
  4. **

    4 vote(s)
    5.4%
  5. *

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    I just got the same disc in the mail yesterday (I've also got a Remastered Classics version on order). Here's what I'm finding, when I'm listening through
    my Yamaha surround system using the Pro Logic setting.

    B'Wana - entire track is in mono

    All You Get From Love- stereo with just enough seperation to call it stereo, also allows for a tiny bit of surround.

    I Just Fall In Love Again- surround stereo.

    Don't Cry For Me Argentina- mono

    Sweet, Sweet Smile- surround stereo

    Two Sides- Surround stereo

    Man Smart, Woman Smarter - mono

    Calling Occupants - stereo with just enough serration to call it stereo.
     
    Chris Mills likes this.
  2. Remember that this album was mixed for stereo and using Pro-Logic surround will reveal some things but won't tell the whole story.

    When you say that "B'wana She No Home" is entirely in mono, that's not totally true. If it were a mono track, then using the OOPS (out-of-phase-stereo) method of combining the two channels out of phase would yield a total nulling of all sound. Well, there's always *something* left when you do that, but not much.

    When I collapse "B'wana She No Home" to OOPS there's quite a bit left, including vocals from Karen. Normally when you use the OOPS method on a vocal, it'll lose most of the vocal since vocals are usually centered. Mono tracks have *everything* centered. So listening to what's left after OOPS-ing "B'wana..." reveals that there's a lot of stuff going on in the two separate channels, but that info is not separated by very much. In other words, the great bulk of "B'wana..." is in what we would term narrow stereo. Certain sounds are in the left channel, but only a little louder in the left than in the right. As a result, they only partially cancel.

    What I think I've determined with Karen's doubled vocals in this track is that one of her vocal tracks is slightly left, the other slightly right. As a result, total cancellation doesn't take place.

    So it's not mono - it's narrowed stereo. And on a ProLogic system, you're not going to get much "surrounding" you. But if you go check out your left speaker up close, you'll hear some things coming out of it. If it were total mono, you'd only hear stuff coming from your center channel, with a tiny bit of leakage in the other channels.

    "Argentina" only has a single vocal track by Karen, but that centered vocal echoes in the left and right channels, so when you OOPS it, you only hear an unearthly echo of Karen's vocals. There's plenty of other stereo information in the track - strings to the left, etc.

    "Man Smart..." has some stereo going on, but is largely narrowed. The "tweeting" sound is clearly coming from the left channel, as is various percussion sounds. Laughing comes from the right. But the overall mix is largely centered.

    PASSAGE in stereo just was not meant to be listened to in surround with any great effect. Do yourself a favor, turn off the surround, and listen in two-channel stereo as it was meant to be heard.
     
  3. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    I have to disagree with you Harry, as when I was listening to B'Wana everything was coming out of the centre speaker. Same with Argentina, although I want to get my copy of the UK Treasures out, since it seems to me that the choir, the few times I've played that disc through Pro Logic, the choir actually filled the front speakers. But for the songs I marked mono, even when I switched to stereo they had about as much stereo sound as the original mono versions of the tracks on the Beach Boys 2001 Pet Sounds CD.

    But that's also why in my original post with Love Songs and Occupants I said that I found those two barely qualified as stereo to me, as I did hear different instruments and vocals coming out of the left and right front speakers, but everything was still pretty much centred. In a way I would compare those two tracks to the old Capitol Duophonic stereo process.
     
  4. Then we'll agree to disagree. I just don't want what I perceive to be inaccurate information "out there" without rebuttal.
     
  5. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    Well you might want to double check the version on the 80's Passage CD vs. the UK Treasures CD of Argentina. Even in stereo the UK one is much fuller (and it sounds like there might be added reverb in some sections), but on Pro Logic the recording goes from being just dead center to being surround, and the chorus, especially after Karen's last "too" really swells on Treasures across both channels. Treasures might've received a remix of the song. (Treasures also had "I Just Fall In Love Again", but it sounded the same as the Passage CD.)
     
  6. The mix on TREASURES is the same as what's on the A&M CD. Both are in full stereo. The only difference is that the TREASURES disc is mastered a bit louder than the A&M CD.
     
  7. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    It's more than a bit louder. The version on Treasures is full stereo, the A&M CD is more 2.0 mono.
     
  8. The A&M CD is in full stereo, just like the TREASURES. Again, we'll agree to disagree. Let's move on, huh?
     
  9. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    In general, an album is either mixed and presented in 'stereo' or 'monaural' a.k.a "mono".

    I've explained a couple of times before that a majority of this album was mixed using a lot of track/channel sub-groupings that end up placing stacks of instrumentation down to one single track or "stems" as they're commonly referred to on the master, next to another and so-on within the 24. A&M was still using 2 inch 24-track technology back then, and with Passage being the experimental album it was, there were several songs that had so much going on in them, that much of the instrumentation and vocals had a ton of sub-mixing within the multitrack. Once you have that, there are only certain things you can pan out of center without taking multiple pieces with it that and risking throwing the mix out of balance.

    I know what you're saying @tomswift2002 with regard to much of it sounding as if it were mixed in mono. In reality, there are subtleties that indeed still make every song on the album a stereo mix (i.e. stereo vocal reverb effect loops, some backing vocal subs panned slightly out of center, a bell or whistle here or there etc.). There may be very little if any 'hard' panning on a lot of these tracks, but none of the songs on the album were technically mixed in mono if that makes sense. This is why I personally don't listen all that much to it, and as I've always said it had so little separation through a lot of these that you have trouble really appreciating all of the little nuances that have otherwise gotten locked into the individual sub-mixes.
     
  10. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    US
    By nature of its design, Dolby Pro-Logic can't "decode" anything from a stereo recording correctly, especially given that the Pro-Logic circuitry uses logic steering to effectively "amplify" the signal of the dominant channel by reducing the volume of the non-dominant channels. A soundtrack with a heavy center focus results in left, right and surround channels being reduced in volume so that the sound appears to predominantly come from the center. That is not a true representation of what is in the stereo signal.

    As such, Pro-Logic is highly unreliable for use other than as intended--for unfolding Pro-Logic encoded recordings. For music that is not encoded, Pro-Logic essentially is working in a very faulty manner. And given the nature of the mono/stereo detection, Pro-Logic is a highly flawed and unreliable method to determine what a stereo recording contains. (Basically, the Pro-Logic decoder 1) detects very little differences in the left/right channels, so 2) it determines that the resulting mono signal is destined for the center channel, then 3) "steers" that to the center channel by dropping the volume of the left and right channels. Hardly accurate.)

    There are technical papers out there that explain the process in better detail than I have time to go into it here.

    Subtracting left from right channels will give you a difference signal. If there is absolutely no difference signal at all, it is a pure mono recording. If there is a difference signal, with a mix of different sounds at varying levels, then it is stereo.
     
    Chris May likes this.
  11. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    I think the art work on Passage is top notch! Even using different 'font' on Carpenters is like using the typeset on I Won't Last A Day Without You and Top Of The World record sleeves. I think using the regular logo against the cover art might make it look like a coloring book, so the typeset here just goes with the flow. I even love the label on the alumn, too! I love Passage, even the songs I don't like are still great for listening, just stylistically different so individual tastes are more prominent, yet, brave for a pop sound! I was proud they made it and I am still proud to own it in all the media forms I have purchased it.
     
    Mark-T likes this.
  12. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    I get what @tomswift2002 is getting at too. While it's definitely in stereo, it feels very "mono". This is especially true of "B'Wana". Musically, it's the most dynamic tune on the record, yet it sounds like it was recorded in a tin can. A lot of recordings were done in this style and it's a style that never should have caught on. If they were "bouncing" all along, there wouldn't be any way for Richard to "unpack" it for proper mixing. All he'd be able to do is brighten it up a bit. He won't, but he could if he chose to.

    Ed
     
    newvillefan likes this.
  13. Oh, there's no doubt about the fact that "B'wana..." is very narrowed to the point of sounding mostly centered - virtually mono. My point is that it truly *is* stereo, but the separate left-right elements are narrowed in the soundstage to effectively be just left of center or just right of center, and I believe that Karen's doubled vocals are actually separated, one slightly left and one slightly right.

    Other tracks mentioned all have quite good stereo separation. Any decent pair of headphones will reveal that right away. Dolby Pro-Logic, as Rudy mentioned, is not the best way to attempt to listen to this or really any other stereo album.
     
  14. Graeme

    Graeme Active Member

    I bought my copy of Passage back in the mid 90's from the long defunct Our Price. Normally I hate stickers being stuck directly onto a CD case. But in this instance, and by pure coincidence, it matched the album perfectly (though it's an annoyance on my Horizon case). And having finally figured out how to post pictures you can see it for yourself...

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Chris Mills

    Chris Mills Well-Known Member

    How does the CD look?
     
  16. Graeme

    Graeme Active Member

    It looks different to the one you posted

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Chris Mills

    Chris Mills Well-Known Member

    Yes it is different, mine was bought in 1988, Made in USA, obviously an import. I would say your CD was pressed somewhere in EU.
     
    Graeme likes this.
  18. Chris Mills

    Chris Mills Well-Known Member

    Try listening with a set of headphones to B'Wana She No Home and All You Get From Love Is A Love Song. Is there any difference in the stereo separation between the two songs?
     
    Graeme likes this.
  19. Graeme

    Graeme Active Member

    I shall plonk the headphones on, though from memory I believe there's a difference. Bear with...
     
  20. Graeme

    Graeme Active Member

    There is, a big difference. Looking at the centre of the cd it says it was made in Germany by PMDC. Is this the brighter version that's spoken about or the other one?

    To chip in with the discussion earlier on about mono/stereo, B'wana is definitely stereo, though barely. You can hear an electric piano or organ playing faintly throughout to the left, plonking away on the chords and when you come to end of the flute section with the 'ooooh, ooooh' background vocals and just before the third verse, the drum kicks in on the left before venturing back to the middle (or seems to with these ears anyway).
     
    Chris Mills likes this.
  21. Chris Mills

    Chris Mills Well-Known Member

    After listening to B'Wana She No Home, All You Get From Love Is A Song is for me with headphones, a completely different listening experience even though both tracks have various instruments and vocals going on in the mix. They are mixed in completely different ways which to my ears is disturbing especially as one track follows the other.
     
  22. The version that Graeme posted was the EU version of the original A&M CD which should have the slightly brighter "B'wana..."
     
  23. WYBIMLA

    WYBIMLA Active Member

    "Two Sides" comes across to me with a bit of a wider feel.
    Another overlooked selection on that album. Quite nice I find.
    This is interesting because now I understand why a lot of this I don't put on as often either. It does feel "narrow" in parts, but there's reasoning why.
    After a while, aside from the odd remix like "Occupants", there was something "muddy" about the mix that didn't have the same clarity and presence like "Horizon" for example.
    Why that could never be achieved again is kinda baffling no?
     
  24. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    Ah! A Polygram disc. My "Song for You" is as well. Careful of "ring rot".

    Ed
     
  25. Graeme

    Graeme Active Member

    Most of my Carpenters CDs are. Are Polygram discs more susceptible to ring rot then? Worried now! I was aware CDs are supposed to have a limited life. Many of mine are over the 20 year mark.
     

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