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Reviews » Audio Reviews » Santana: Abraxas
Santana: Abraxas
DTS // DTS // October 26, 1999
List Price: $23.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted August 13, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Music:

1. Singing Winds, Crying Beasts
2. Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen
3. Oye Como Va
4. Incident At Neshabur
5. Se A Cabo
6. Mother's Daughter
7. Samba Pa Ti
8. Hope You're Feeling Better
9. El Nicoya


The DVD

SOUND: "Abraxas" is presented in 20-bit DTS 5.1 audio. According to the insert, the audio has been remixed to 5.1 and restored (it does not give any details on what kind of restoration has been performed) by David Frangioni, who is not one of the "familiar names" that I usually come across when reading about who performed the remix for a particular album.

There are several concerns when discussing this edition of the album. First, the album is slightly over 20 years old, so it will likely not provide the same sort of smooth high-end audio quality that DTS releases of newer albums usually offer. There's also likely a limited amount of flexibility from an older musical release like this one when it comes to distributing the material around the 5.1 platform.

In terms of the way that the music has been remixed for surround, the results and placement are inconsistent and rather unsuccessful. First off, Santana's guitar work is rather randomly mixed around the speakers. On some songs, the guitar is placed in both rear speakers, while on other tracks such as "Oye Como Va", the guitar is offered only from the left surround speaker, while the percussion is spread out around the rest of the room and the vocals offered from the front. "Black Magic Woman" ends with the guitar rather awkwardly bouncing between front and rear.

Audio quality is a mixed bag, but certainly not too bad. The presentation seemed to be free of any background hiss or other flaws - possibly this was cleaned up during the restoration. Yet, the instrumentals can occasionally sound on the thin or strained side, but I wouldn't go as far as to call the overall sound quality "shrill".

Overall, I thought this was a decent effort. I was pleased to hear these classic rock tunes opened out into the room in 5.1, but the way that the music was positioned around the room was, in my opinion, not optimal, especially simply positioning the guitar in the left surround during some songs, when Santana's stellar guitar work should have gotten more of a focus. Audio quality was decent, but I've heard better from DTS presentations of albums from around the same age (Marvin Gaye's far more pleasant sounding "Forever Yours").

Extras: There are no extras on DTS CDs.

Final Thoughts: "Abraxas" is really a fantastic album, but the DTS CD release is not one of the better examples of the DTS CD format. Those looking to complete their collection of Santana's works might want to seek this edition out, but should go in with lowered expectations.
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