1. Thank You
2. All Around the World
3. U Know
5. I Sit Away
7. Khalil (Interlude)
8. Trying Times
9. I'll Make Love to You
10. On Bended Knee
11. 50 Candles
12. Water Runs Dry
SOUND: A few days ago I was reviewing a DVD-Audio release of "Take 6", a gospel band with terrific vocals. I thought that the sound was quite good, although the surround-sound presentation could have taken more risks with the material and put the surrounds to better use. A passerby while I was reviewing the title wondered whatever happened to "Boyz II Men". I wondered as well; after a couple of multi-million selling albums, the group seemingly has dissapeared. The 20 bit/5.1 dts presentation of their second album "II" will likely be a thrilling recollection for fans of how good this group can sound. This project was re-purposed for DTS 5.1 surround by Robert Margouleff and Brant Biles, famed for their contributions to the audio for many of New Line Home Video's DVD presentations and they've done a marvelous job with the entire album.
The presentation shows that risks can be taken with this kind of material to present it in an agressive nature without going overboard. The surrounds come alive with both main and backing vocals (such as the "just take a minute and catch the vibe" of "Vibin'") as well as instruments. The effect is tremendously enveloping, often seeming as if all of the members of the group were singing from all sides of the room, but very distinctly, not as if the same sound was coming from all sides. Although the main vocals are consistently anchored in the front speakers, I was pleased to hear how often and how well the backing vocals were placed in the surrounds. There's a great moment in "Jezzebel" when the vocals come front the front speakers, then the rest of the band "answers" with another set of vocals in the surrounds. The best example of how well the vocals are positioned though would have to be the final song "Yesterday". An a cappella tune, the vocals sweep beautifully around the room as if the band members were singing all around the viewer. It's an incredible performance that's taken to an even higher level thanks to an absolutely splended surround-sound presentation.
If the exceptional way that the music is presented in surround-sound wasn't enough, the audio quality is remarkably good. The vocals from all of the members sound impressive, with better warmth and clarity than a CD version could probably ever hope to provide. The backing music and instrumentals also sound crisp and full, able to share space suprisingly nicely with all of the vocals. There's even some rich, deep bass on occasion throughout the album.
Although the DTS CD format doesn't deliver the sound quality that DVD-Audio is capable of, it still often stands up quite well on its own terms and "II" is definitely an example of how good the format can sound. I definitely wouldn't complain if a DVD-Audio re-issue came from DTS, though - I'd definitely buy it in an instant.
Extras: No extras are included on DTS CDs.
Final Thoughts: "II" is a terrific album and it often sounds unbelievably good on this DTS 5.1 CD; I'd definitely consider it demo material when it comes to the DTS CD format. Highly Recommended!.