For the new multichannel SACD-only release, Filipetti prudently resisted adding any surround sound gimmicks that might detract from the simplicity of the music. In "Ananas," for instance, most of the sound remains in the front L/R channels as in the original mix. The center carries dry lead vocals (but not backup vocals) to help solidify the center image, and the surrounds are lightly used, with a little delayed and reverberated snare mixed in to add a sense of space. During the chorus, a few keyboard licks and some shouted lead-vocal phrases are added in back to liven things up. The kick drum and bass chugged along in my subwoofer. "Up from Your Life" has a similar mix but ends with a powerful bass line and low drum hits in all four "corners" as well as from the sub. To get the full effect, you'll need surround speakers with good bass response. In any case, the SCD-CE775 conveyed all the subtleties of these recordings with utter transparency.
For some more aggressive testing, I rotated the platter to the Guano Apes' Don't Give Me Names (a Supersonic/BMG import). This hybrid disc did not agree with our preproduction review sample of the player. With both the multichannel SACD mix and, to a lesser extent, the two-channel version of this disc, but not the CD layer, its output muted again and again. (Our review sample's firmware wasn't quite complete; by the time production units hit store shelves this summer, this shouldn't be an issue.)
Despite the periodic muting, I persevered. On "No Speech," the lead vocals (and some keyboards) are isolated in the center channel, while the drum set and lead guitars are mainly placed in front and, of course, the bass guitar in the sub channel. The surround channels often erupt with backup vocals, powerful guitars, weird effects, and unidentifiable sounds. Yet at other times, they fall completely silent. The SCD-CE775 seemed oblivious to all this mayhem and simply delivered whatever was on the disc without complaint.
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