Top 10 must-have DVD-Audio/SACDs
Santana, Supernatural (Arista)
The good: State-of-the-art DVD-Audio 5.1 surround sound and high-res 2.0 stereo mix; Dolby 5.1 mix will play on standard DVD players; all-star band; five videos; photo gallery.
The bad: We wish Carlos had eased off the heavy production on a few tunes.
The bottom line: Santana's Supernatural CD sounds supercharged on DVD-A.
Favorite tracks: "Do You Like the Way" features Lauryn Hill and Cee-Lo, and their collective groove is irresistible. And we can't get enough of "Primavera" because it reminds us of Santana's original '60s band. Supernatural was Santana's megaselling CD, but it sounds so much better on DVD-Audio. Too bad the CD's dynamic range was squashed flat in postproduction and mastering, but it's restored on this DVD-A. The percussion and Santana's guitar now sound incredibly alive and present.Dr. Chesky, Dr. Chesky's Magnificent, Fabulous, Absurd & Insane 5.1 Surround Show (Chesky Records)
The good: Thirty-eight tracks of music and sound effects; DVD-Audio 5.1 mix; Dolby 5.1 mix will play on standard DVD players; separate stereo mix; also available on multichannel/stereo hybrid SACD.
The bad: No video; ho-hum menus.
The bottom line: Dr. Chesky's überaudiophile sounds will test the fortitude of any system.
Favorite tracks: "Fire Drums" puts you inside a ring of massive drums. If you don't have big speakers all around or your system's bass management isn't up to snuff, this disc will let you know in a hurry. Pop on "Music for Cello, Helicopter, and Cars," and you'll find yourself on a busy city street with cellos coming out of every speaker--and yes, a helicopter takes off at the end of the track. Most DVD-As are sourced from stereo recordings and remixed to 5.1 surround, but Dr Chesky's music was composed and arranged with 5.1 in mind. When you hear it, you'll know what a difference that makes.T. Rex, Electric Warrior (Reprise/Rhino)
The good: Easily the finest album from '70s glam-rock pioneers T. Rex; DVD-Audio 5.1 mix and advanced-resolution stereo mix; Dolby 5.1 mix will play on standard DVD players; one video.
The bad: No bonus tracks.
The bottom line: T. Rex's chugging beats and sexuality went on to impact punk and new wave.
Favorite tracks: You can't miss with the countdown to ecstasy "Bang a Gong," which features a very up-front bass and drum sound topped off with leader Marc Bolan's hot 'n' breathy vocals. Despite the implication of the title, Warrior is built on an intriguing electric and acoustic framework, with edgy string and brass underpinnings--now sounding much better than ever, thanks to the original producer Tony Visconti's carefully crafted 5.1 mix.Medeski Martin & Wood, Uninvisible (DTS Entertainment)
The good: MM&W's jam/funk is trippier than ever; DVD-A 5.1 and stereo mixes; 6.1-channel DTS ES Discrete mix will play on standard DVD players; one video.
The bad: Chris Wood's electric and acoustic basses might blow out your center speaker's woofers!
The bottom line: The masters of low-down funky jazz will exorcise any evil spirits lurking in your speakers.
Favorite tracks: "Ten Dollar High" is a high point, but every track on this disc features an innovative 5.1 mix strategy: Billy Martin's drum kit spreads between the left front and rear speakers; Chris Wood's muscular bass does its business in the center speaker, and John Medeski's sprawling keyboards sit between the right front and rear speakers. If your speakers are first-rate, the trio's instruments will sound almost life-size. Warning: if you're using a small center speaker or your player's bass management isn't redirecting the center channel bass to the sub, this DVD-A may prove dangerous to your center speaker's health. Proceed with caution!Crosby-Nash, Another Stoney Evening (DTS Entertainment)
The good: A vivid concert recording; DVD-Audio 5.1 mix; stereo and DTS 96/24 5.1 mixes will play on standard DVD players; photo gallery.
The bad: Minimal extras.
The bottom line: David Crosby and Graham Nash serve up their very best hippie music.
Favorite tracks: The duo's masterful harmonies are on display in "Triad" and "Wooden Ships." Recorded on October 10, 1971, these tunes hearken back to hippiedom at its most psychedelic; you can practically smell the clouds of ganja hanging in the air. The surround mix and the freewheeling dynamics enhance the concert feel to the sounds.