March 4, 2008

A New Digital Format?

While Music Video Interactive (MVI) discs may appear to be brand new, they are in fact DVDs with diverse content, including multichannel and stereo audio programs, bonus tracks, music videos, lyrics and even cell-phone ringtones. The seven disc Nightfly Trilogy [Reprise 9 43325] is one of the first releases to include these discs. It comes complete with CDs and MVIs of Donald Fagen's three studio albums -- The Nightfly, Kamakiriad and Morph the Cat -- and a bonus CD of little-known and unreleased material, including a great cover of Al Green's "Rhymes." The audio on all three MVI discs includes multichannel DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital tracks of the albums, and 24-bit/96kHz stereo PCM tracks for Kamakiriad and Morph the Cat, while The Nightfly, easily Fagen's best and best-known solo effort, comes in 24-bit/48kHz PCM.

The sound of the CDs and MVI discs is as clear as a bell -- perfect for the clean and easy sonics of all of Fagen's solo albums. The CDs sound much improved over the initial releases, while the high-resolution stereo PCM of the MVI discs betters the CDs with greater low-end power and high-frequency sparkle. Oddly, playing the PCM tracks of the MVI discs on an Ayre C-5xe universal player created an obvious shift of the center image to the right channel. The discs played perfectly on an Oppo DV-980H.

While the DVD-A of Morph the Cat [Reprise 49976-2] appears to have the same multichannel and high-resolution musical content as the MVI disc here, the remastered CD is a good reason to add this set to your music collection. The DVDs -- er, MVIs -- add value via their extra content and superior sound. I'm hoping for more of these multi-format sets in the future. They keep the torches of high-resolution digital and multichannel music burning.

...Marc Mickelson
marc@soundstage.com

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