“Signals” follows up on Rush’s critically acclaimed “Moving Pictures” album, going on to be a fan favorite over the past four decades. Now, to celebrate its impressive 40-year anniversary Mercury Records has released a special super deluxe edition that caters to both devoted fans and curious listeners. This massive edition offers a comprehensive package that explores the album in various formats, providing an immersive and nostalgic journey into the band's music and artistic vision.
At the forefront of this re-release is the striking new cover art by Hugh Syme, breathing fresh life into the album's visual representation. The attention to detail extends to the vinyl edition, where the LP has been meticulously cut at half-speed using Direct Metal Mastering (DMM) which is perfection for analog audiophiles. Pressed on 180-gram black vinyl, the album's sonic quality is elevated, inviting listeners to immerse themselves in a rich and vibrant aural experience. Yet, here at Hi-Res Edition, we certainly wish labels would separate bulky analog LPs from the digital formats that are favored by high-resolution audio enthusiasts.
The album is duplicated on CD, and digging a bit deeper we find the Blu-ray audio disc which is the standout feature of this 13.3”x 13.3” x 2.4” inch six-pound box set. The Blu-ray contains a brand-new 48kHz / 24-bit Dolby Atmos and 5.1 surround Dolby True HD mixes of the album by Richard Chycki, which breathe new life into the album's sonic landscape. The immersive audio experience broadens the album's intricate layers, allowing the listener to discover nuances and subtleties that may have previously gone unnoticed.
The Atmos mix naturally offers improved instrument separation, with excellent use of immersion throughout along with tasteful panning moments. Plus, all the parts are well defined, the bass is nicely smoothed, and vocals are extremely clear. These transparent adjustments literally give Signals the sounds of a modern-day recording and is likely to become one’s preferred version. So distinct is the mix that it almost sounds live and omnipresent.
On the other hand, the 5.1 surround mix has met with some head scratching due to level inconsistencies. While it is great to have this version included on the Blu-ray, it seems that immersionists will be pressing play more often on the Dolby Atmos mix.
Honoring Rush's enduring musical legacy, this edition goes beyond the various audio enhancements. The addition of animated visualizers for each song on the Blu-ray disc adds a visually captivating dimension to the listening experience. Furthermore, the bonus inclusion of two music videos for "Subdivisions" and "Countdown" provides a nostalgic trip back to the early days of MTV, when Rush's artistry and musicianship captivated viewers around the world.
Complementing the audio and visual components, the 40th Anniversary box includes a wealth of bonus items that collectors and fans will undoubtedly cherish. A 40-page hardcover book offers a glimpse into the Signals Tour, featuring new song illustrations and previously unreleased photos. Additionally, the set includes four 7-inch singles with new artwork, three lenticulars that seamlessly transition from the original black and white band headshots to the iconic "Digital Man" color headshots, plus four Signals Tour band lithographs.
Additionally, among the bonus items, one particularly special inclusion is a double-sided 24-inch by 24-inch poster. On one side, fans can marvel at Hugh Syme's new art, capturing the essence of Signals' anniversary. On the other side, an outtake photo from the original album cover shoot serves as a captivating snapshot of Rush's early years, transporting fans back to the time of its initial release.
While the 2023 super deluxe edition of Signals is undeniably comprehensive and impressive, it is not without its minor shortcomings. One notable missed opportunity is the absence of a live recording from the Signals tour. Including a live show performance would have further showcased Rush's prowess on stage, allowing listeners to relive the energy and magic of their live performances during that era.
Nonetheless, for deep pocketed diehard fans the Signals Super Deluxe Edition remains a must-have and those seeking to delve deeper into the band's timeless musical catalog. With its new Dolby Atmos and Surround Sound audio enhancements, visually captivating elements, and an array of collectible items, this re-release is a fitting tribute to an album that solidified Rush's status as one of rock music's most influential and enduring progressive acts.
Released April 26, 2023.
Super Deluxe Edition with Blu-ray, CD, Vinyl, and 7" singles. Box set includes 48kHz / 24-bit Dolby Atmos and 5.1 Dolby True HD mixes. Also available for download and via streaming sservices.
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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 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos and continues to seek out and share about the best sounding releases.