I may be exaggerating here when I say that Dark Side of the Moon has received the most reprints in a variety of formats and editions. Some of these are welcome, while others purely seem like a money grab. It was just a few short months ago when the massive 50th Anniversary Box Set Edition was released at over double the price of the 40th Anniversary Immersion Edition. The most compelling part of that box set was the new Dolby Atmos mix that James Guthrie had recently completed. Yet, for many of those who had already collected the previous anniversary box, the price didn’t justify double dipping.
Of course, fear of missing out reigned high, and for many, including yours truly, spatial audio listeners streamed the Dolby Atmos mix on Apple Music. Still, this high-resolution audio enthusiast is truly a fanatic, and I was anxiously awaiting a stand-alone Blu-ray release to be issued. I desired a lossless version of the Dolby Atmos mix versus the compressed version streamed online, and now my dreams have come true!
Even better, instead of spreading the various mixes out over two Blu-ray discs as in the box set, this stand-alone single disc edition features the brand-new Dolby Atmos 48kHz / 24-bit mix, the 2003 5.1 DTS 96kHz / 24-bit, and the hi-res remastered stereo 192kHz / 24-bit mixes. Still, to some fan’s disappointment the Quad mix, which was included in the 2011 Immersion box set, is not included on any of the 50th Anniversary Editions.
Now, if this single disc is not enough for your deep dive experience, and you are ready to set the controls to 1973, then the box set is your best choice. Read more about that version here. Unfortunately, the box set is truly out of reach for many fans, leaving the stand-alone Blu-ray as your best option for a physical copy of the Dolby Atmos mix.
Here is why a physical copy of the Dolby Atmos mix is a must have. I have even based this on only listening to the mix on Apple Music while I wait for my physical copy of the stand-alone Blu-ray. I found the mix reveals a completely new aural experience that is revelatory. Certainly, not only is this a massive expansion from the stereo mix, but a dramatic immersive experience that is all encompassing. Even the heartbeat on “Speak to Me”, envelopes the sweet spot and gives me a sense of being inside the body. Catching up to “On the Run” is a perfect demonstration for why Atmos is so essential. Announcements soar from the height channels, and the shimmering synth moves across the ceiling as they spread out allowing for the footsteps to run around the floor.
I can hear clearly now, each part has been diffracted and disbursed across the soundscape, much like the light is converted into multiple waves on the iconic prism cover. Arriving at “Time”, the surround and height speakers reproduce the ringing of bells and subsequently focus is shifted slowly to the front of the room. Meanwhile the remaining channels are used to discreetly bring openness and depth to the music.
Although I am noting that this is an entirely new aural experience, each song still carries a deep respect for the original version. Instead, the Dolby Atmos mix provides the perception of even the slightest nuances and by virtue of the object based technology creates a truly enveloping soundscape. Following the 5.1 surround mix, the introduction to “Money” throws the cash register, coins, and money counting machine from one channel to another. David Gilmour’s guitar moves through space, captivating one’s ears. Throughout the album there is plenty of tasteful use of the height channels, making this one of the best Atmos mixes I have heard.
As minor as it may be, the seamless flow between songs is smoother, possibly aided by Atmos or improved mixing technology. Given that the 5.1 surround mix is now already 20 years old, I sense that a quantum leap in digital audio workstations has made this possible. While the various transitions were very good on the 5.1 surround and good on the stereo mix, they unfortunately suffered on the quad mix, certainly due to the lack of mixing automation back in 1973. Now on this new 2023 mix, when it comes to transitions, perfection has been reached on the new Atmos version.
By far The Dark Side of the Moon is an absolute requirement to include in anyone’s Dolby Atmos collection. Progressive rock enthusiasts and collectors of classic rock will surely find this to be an engaging set of mixes. With the release of the stand-alone Blu-ray, there should be no excuses, just go out and get it.
Released October 13, 2023.
50th Anniversary stand-alone Blu-ray edition featuring Atmos, 96kHz / 24-bit 5.1 surround and 192kHz / 24-bit remastered stereo mixes by James Guthrie. Also available in a deluxe box set and on CD or vinyl.
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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.