Pop listeners like me will certainly recall the Jefferson Starship album “Red Octopus” which featured the top hit “Miracles.” On the other hand, many of those fans such as myself likely didn’t pick up the quadrophonic vinyl edition released in 1975. Now, nearly 50 years on, audiophiles and immersionists can experience the captivating sound of this release on Blu-ray, resurrecting the album's magic with unprecedented clarity and depth, making it an essential addition to any audiophile's collection.
Emerging from the ashes of the band Jefferson Airplane, the 1974 album "Dragon Fly," was Jefferson Starship’s debut release that hinted at their evolving sonic identity. Characterized by a grittier rock edge powered by the blazing guitar prowess of Craig Chaquico, original Airplane member Marty Balin joined the ranks, contributing the reflective ballad "Caroline," which may not have scaled the charts but undoubtedly played a pivotal role in propelling the album to an impressive No. 11 position on the Billboard charts. This marked a crucial shift toward a more pop-oriented direction, laying the foundation for the monumental success that would follow.
"Red Octopus" was the band’s sophomore release and stands as a crowning achievement in their discography, encapsulating a transformative era for the band. The album unveils hits like "Play on Love" and of course the timeless "Miracles," a chart-topper that dominated the Billboard Hot 100 for three consecutive weeks. With a skillful blend of heartening ballads and electrifying rock infused pieces, this album truly marks the pinnacle of Jefferson Starship's creativity. For hi-res enthusiasts it is clearly the Quadio Blu-ray Audio release featuring DTS HD Master Audio 192kHz / 24-bit quad and stereo mixes, which have been meticulously transferred from the pristine half-inch masters that makes this release so compelling.
Diving into the auditory landscape found on the Blu-ray edition of "Red Octopus" one is immediately swept up by the engaging quadraphonic tracks. As if the audio engineer had a crystal ball into the future of immersive audio, the mix offers a captivating front-focused presentation, all while placing the lead vocals into the very heart of the listening space. As with other Rhino quad releases, the sound quality is a revelation, with a distinct lack of tape hiss or any distracting imperfections that might mar the experience. Even with the focus weighted toward the front, I still found myself pleasantly cocooned in aural bliss with discrete moments where guitar and violin solos elegantly dance across the rear soundstage.
As a word of caution, and depending on ones speaker setup, when delving into the realm of the Rhino Quadio Blu-rays, a minor adjustment may be required. When utilizing the HDMI output to the audio processor, consider disabling bass management to preserve the pristine integrity of the pure 4.0 quad mix, especially if the four floor speakers are full-range and matched. This minor adjustment could aid in having an unadulterated bass heavy aural encounter, in turn leaving one with the brilliance that Red Octopus has to offer.
While the stereo mix may occasionally exhibit a touch of compression and muffled highs, for my ears the true gem still lies in the radiant clarity of the quad mix. This isn’t to say that the stereo transfer is unlistenable, as it certainly is very good and likely exhibits the actual best detail available to date. However, my preference now has become the quad mix, which does an excellent job at mirroring the original mix, while expanding on the space, dynamics, and vibrance of the overall aural experience.
When I think about recordings from the mid 70’s, Red Octopus emerges as a triumphant sonic marvel. This Blu-ray edition is a masterful resurrection of a beloved album, and its aural landscape is truly ecstasy to the ears. Even if some songs may have not stood the test of time, this release boldly asserts its overall enduring charm, especially the hit "Miracles" with its flawless sound quality that continues to transcend generations. Strongly recommended for quad enthusiasts, popular music fans, and audiophiles seeking fantastic sounding mixes for their collection.
Released June 23, 2023.
Blu-ray Audio featuring DTS HD Master Audio 192kHz / 24-bit 4.0 Quad and 2.0 Stereo mixes. Also available for streaming as an earlier edition.
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About the Author
Wesley is a lifelong music enthusiast. He started his career in the recording industry in New York City as an audio engineer, producer, and studio manager. Subsequently he toured across America as a guitarist with the short-lived band Land's Crossing. After many years in the technology sector and amassing a substantial vinyl and CD collection, he delved into immersive audio and created Hi-Res Edition to share with other listeners about the sound quality and discrete mixes available on many formats. He recently upgraded his system to 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos and continues to seek out and share about the best sounding releases.