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Neil Young Archives: Volume 1 Blu-ray

United States
1963-1972 / Blu-ray + CD Warner Music | 1963-1972 | 1200 min | Not rated | Jun 02, 2009

Neil Young Archives: Volume 1 (Blu-ray)

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080i
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

English: LPCM 2.0 (192kHz, 24-bit)
English: LPCM 2.0 (96kHz, 24-bit)
Note: Journey Through The Past,...


50GB Blu-ray Disc
Twelve-disc set (10 BDs, 1 DVD, 1 CD)

Region A, B (C untested)

List price: $349.99, Price history

New from: $659.99
Available from Amazon sellers

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Blu-ray rating
Video 4.0 of 54.0
Audio 5.0 of 55.0
Extras 4.9 of 54.9
Based on 3 user reviews

Movie appeal 

Neil Young Archives: Volume 1


Neil Young Archives: Volume 1 Blu-ray delivers great video and reference-quality audio in this must-own Blu-ray release

This is the first volume of the Neil Young Archives series of box sets, produced by Neil Young himself. This series is the definitive, comprehensive, chronological survey of his entire body of work. Volume I covers the period from his earliest recordings with the Squires in Winnipeg, 1963, through to his classic 1972 album, Harvest and beyond, including studio and live tracks with the legendary Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and Neil Young with Crazy Horse.

For more about Neil Young Archives: Volume 1 and the Neil Young Archives: Volume 1 Blu-ray release, see Neil Young Archives: Volume 1 Blu-ray Review published by on where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.

Neil Young Archives: Volume 1 Blu-ray, Video Quality

  4.0 of 5

Archives Volume 1 is first and foremost a music project, meant to serve up Young's early output in high-definition audio. The idea of analyzing the video seems a bit beside the point. It is only meant as a companion to the music, and is mostly cobbled together from old film footage of concerts and road trips presented in 1080p. Newer camcorder footage from 1997 is also included to provide interviews. But due to the scope of the archive, imagery does play a big role. Most notable on the video front is the inclusion on disc 9 of Young's film, Journey Through the Past, made available for the first time in more than 35 years. The film is pretty much what you'd expect, and while the picture quality will never win any awards, it appears absolutely film-like on Blu-ray. Great care was taken in transferring all the video content and for much of the footage I actually forgot I was watching 1080p on a plasma. It felt more like film projected onto a screen.

Contrast and color heat seem perfectly tuned. Black level is deep and dark enough to provide a dramatic sense of depth even on the sequences taken from horrible sources, bad lighting and amateur shooting. The original production values are raised a touch for Young's feature film, Journey Through the Past. The film sets Young's concert footage and backstage atmospheres alongside more unconventional footage. The images of his shows--often with Crosby, Stills and Nash--generate intensity and excitement. The source material is soft and often poorly filmed, but overall it appears above average in its debut on Blu-ray. The grain and analog noise maintain their organic qualities and never morph into digital sheen, pixelation, black crush or other artifacts. For a musician, Young went beyond the pale in demanding the best video performance of his archival material. His eye may be as discriminating as his ear.

The picture smoothness and color timing seem to be taken to another level of accuracy because motion, color and shapes unfold in a lifelike way on the screen, as elements of the picture move and change with time. This is not to say the video is perfect. Far from it. There is a softness of varying degrees to all the footage--especially the dark concert sequences that are often afflicted with noise, haze and blur. But these problems are remarkably analog and organic. One could never call the video content "defined". But I was pleasantly surprised by the minimal flicker, strobing and banding I initially feared would plague the majority of content. Even on the NTSC material in 1.33:1, there is clearly a dedication to video excellence--an attempt to do justice to the picture and an attention to detail that is easy to see and appreciate, regardless of the merits of the source material. Several of the photos, menu images and the timeline feature of each disc show good detail and definition. The rest--not so much.

Neil Young Archives: Volume 1 Blu-ray, Audio Quality

  5.0 of 5

Overall, the sound of Neil Young Archives: Volume 1 is detailed, refined, open, extended, warm, airy, forward and generally fantastic. This set marks the first Blu-ray content I have encountered--and one of the few examples of digital audio anywhere--that made me feel like I was listening to audiophile-caliber, heavy vinyl. The remastered material has a holistic or organic quality that is almost always lacking in digital audio. This commitment to quality and detail benefits the entire spectrum of sounds throughout the dynamic range and pays off instruments to their fullest. A large part of the reason for the audio performance of the set is that a Pacific Microsonics Model Two A-to-D converter was used to produce every track.

Pacific Microsonics, the company behind HDCD, had a team of important engineers, most notably Keith Johnson, who won multiple Grammy awards for recording and coauthored several patents covering optical-disc technology that are the basis of digital video and audio discs. The Model Two provides 192 kHz sampling, and is considered to be the best converter ever made in terms of neutrality and linearity. In the case of Archives Volume 1, tremendous care was taken in remastering each track. For example, the live material on disc 3 was compiled from the original 2 track, Ό" master tape reels, which were recorded at 15ips. Tape speed was found to vary by 4% overall and as much as 2% during playback of a single song. Unfortunately, this problem couldn't be solved in the 192 kHz realm and audio restoration techniques had to be used to solve these inconsistencies and bring the audio to the correct pitch.The HDCD 24-bit 192-kHz digital transfers were edited and then sample-rate converted to 24-bit 96-kHz for audio restoration. Finally, for Blu-ray, the audio program was upsampled on the Pacific Microsonics Model 2 processor, resulting in the 24-bit 192-kHz Blu-ray master.

The real triumph of the remastering is that it allows the music to shine through whether Young is performing solo, with just his voice and guitar, as on the live in Toronto discs, or with backing musicians. Thanks to his phenomenal ear, Young knows innately the type of band he needs to support his material. When he first jammed with Danny Whitten, Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina, they were with another band, but Young immediately knew he wanted to record with them and lured them away to form Crazy Horse. That same ear that brought together Crazy Horse has assured the highest quality of the remastered material some 40 years later on Blu-ray. The dense sound and hypnotic rhythms they created are showcased with great definition in 24-bit 192-kHz PCM. The clarity and detail of the dual guitars, drums, bass and harmonies of Young and Whitten are a revelation. Their work together is showcased anew in the high resolution remaster on several of the discs, most notably the intense "Live at the Fillmore East" concert on disc 5.

The analog-like resolution allows dense passages to breathe with new life. Check out disc 8 when the full backing of the London Symphony Orchestra backs Young on "A Man Needs a Maid". The midrange appears especially open and lush, spotlighting the flutes in a sea of strings, with bells and other percussion popping out in 3D fashion. This song will never make it to anyone's top 10 list, but it is far more enjoyable in high definition. Like the video content, there is some variability in the audio quality as a result of varying recording efforts and source material. In one or two cases, the rare 45 B side tracks appear to be sourced from vinyl itself. The quality and source material of the first two discs featuring Young's work with The Squires and Buffalo Springfield are especially spotty.

Since the HT crowd adopted Blu-ray and even DVD for multichannel audio, there may be some complaints that Young did not include 5.1 mixes of his music. I am glad he didn't. There is no reason to reinvent the soundstage of this classic material by remixing it for multichannel. Young, an audio purist and vinyl aficionado, thankfully focused his efforts on remastering the music the way it was originally recorded and mixed, ensuring maximum quality and minimal gimmickry. This set will do just fine on your average HT system with satellite speakers for the front left and right, but it's best to get your stereo up to snuff with front speakers that can run full range.

You will notice the audio improvements even with bookshelf or satellite speakers, but those with serious floorstanders and quality amplification, cabling and attention to power issues will get the most from the set. Much of the content has tremendous detail to mine, so Archives Volume 1 is a good test of your system's ability to flesh out some reference quality material, from guitars heavy on reverb, sustain and the "fuzz box" used on disc 2's "Mr. Soul" to the intoxicating harmonies of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young on the previously unreleased live version of "Tell Me Why" that can be found on disc 6.

Neil Young Archives: Volume 1: Other Editions

10-disc set

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Neil Young Archives: Volume 1 Blu-ray, News and Updates

Neil Young Archives Sell Out on Blu-ray - June 11, 2009

'Neil Young Archives, Volume 1: 1963-1972', released on June 2, has already sold out of its initial shipment, to the surprise of Warner Music, according to Young's producer Larry Johnson. As the reasons for that success, Johnson cited the ongoing addition of content ...

Neil Young Archives Gets June Date - March 23, 2009

According to the man himself, 'Neil Young: Archives Volume One' will hit store shelves on June 2nd, day-and-date with both the DVD and CD releases. Pegged as more of a biography than a box set, this 10-disc set covers 10 years of the artists life, including previously ...

Neil Young Archives: Volume 1 Blu-ray, Forum Discussions

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