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Billie Eilish – Hit Me Hard And Soft - comparison between digital, Vinyl eco-art yellow and black, Dolby Atmos

Jean.Francois

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Hello,

“Hit Me Hard And Soft” is the title of Billie Eilish’s third studio album, released on May 17, 2024.
HIT ME HARD AND SOFT - small .jpg

With over 32 billion streams and 71 million albums sold, Billie Eilish continues to make her mark on her generation with powerful tracks and an introspective approach to music.

Not surprisingly, we find a dynamically compressed stereo album with a DR6 for the digital version, compared to the DR13 of the Doby Atmos version!
waveform - HIT ME HARD AND SOFT - Tidal Max -- small.jpg

Waveform of the Tidal Max Stereo version


The Dolby Atmos version focuses primarily on expanding the sound space, with intensive use of the side speakers. The result is a front and large spatialization that immerses us in the music, with some spatialization effects for instruments and voices.
HIT ME HARD AND SOFT (Atmos) - Spatialization 5.1 (3.7 -- 6.4) -- small.jpg

Global spatialization


As far as vinyl records are concerned, there's a big difference between versions in terms of surface noise, as shown in the graph below:
Noise vinyl  - HIT ME HARD AND SOFT - yellow vinyl (white) vs Vinyl (blue) -- small .jpg

There is more than 10 dB difference at 300 Hz between the yellow vinyl record (white curve) and the black vinyl record (blue curve).
The records are made from recycled vinyl. There's also a burn level 6 dB lower than on a normal vinyl record, due to the duration of more than 20 min per side, and also to the use of a dynamically-compressed master.

You can listen to the different excerpts to make up your own mind HERE and find all the measurements.

Enjoy listening,
 
Subjectively I found this album to have some of the largest sound stage of any album I’ve listened to on my system. I’m referring to the stereo digital release and playing back on a two channel setup. Is this the result of a spatial mastering being down mixed to stereo? Is it something that can be quantified? My setup usually has decent imaging and a pretty flat stage, but on this album I am getting a sense of width (instruments sounding as though they are coming from far left or right outside the speaker positions), height, and even a bit of depth (maybe more of a sphere around the listening position) that seems more than a fluke of acoustics (e.g. some off reflection can give the impression of sound emanating from somewhere other than between the two speakers, but in this album there are coherent pans across the entire stage)

Anyway, I’m wondering if others have had similar subjective experiences with this album, might be able to recommend other albums that produce this sort of effect, or can offer any objective insight into what I’m experiencing.
 
Is this the result of a spatial mastering being down mixed to stereo?
You know, I don't think there is anything special about mixing down from one format to another, but maybe mixing in a 3D space in the first place does help the engineers create a more spatial stereo mix.
Is it something that can be quantified?
Yes and no. Very hard to quantify the realism or spaciousness of a mix as you hear it. However, there are metrics you can use to measure how correlated the L and R channels are(n't) which is a hint toward stereo width. It doesn't tell you whether the impression of a stereo image is convincing or not, just how far apart things are in the mix, basically.
 
Subjectively I found this album to have some of the largest sound stage of any album I’ve listened to on my system. I’m referring to the stereo digital release and playing back on a two channel setup. Is this the result of a spatial mastering being down mixed to stereo? Is it something that can be quantified? My setup usually has decent imaging and a pretty flat stage, but on this album I am getting a sense of width (instruments sounding as though they are coming from far left or right outside the speaker positions), height, and even a bit of depth (maybe more of a sphere around the listening position) that seems more than a fluke of acoustics (e.g. some off reflection can give the impression of sound emanating from somewhere other than between the two speakers, but in this album there are coherent pans across the entire stage)

Anyway, I’m wondering if others have had similar subjective experiences with this album, might be able to recommend other albums that produce this sort of effect, or can offer any objective insight into what I’m experiencing.
I've experienced the same spatial sounding experience on my system prior to adding BACCH-dSP but with the BACCH-dSP it is much more pronounced. I'm not sure what her brother Fineas does but he seems to be a master at sound production. I also find the same experience with a lot of James Blake's recordings.
 
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