I remember looking up the DualDisc version of Back In Black a few years ago and, of course, Mike Ladano had a review up for it. Seeing that came out in 2004, was out of print, and slightly pricey online, I put the idea of getting it out of my mind.
Some weeks later, I found a copy while flipping through used CDs at a store… and it was priced the same as a regular CD version of Back In Black. Someone didn’t do their homework!
The disc is a flipper (or a “2 sided disc” if you want to get technical) with side A holding a remastered version of Back In Black in CD format. The idea being you can play the disc on any old CD player. Side 2 is a DVD that contains a higher quality PCM audio version of Back In Black with extras.
I’m not going to get into review the album itself. Everyone and their grandma already has a review of it somewhere… including me. All I’ll say about the CD side is it is the exact same as the 2003 remaster of Back In Black.
For the DVD side, we’ll start with the extras.
There is a 22 minute plus change documentary on Back In Black with sound bites from all of the band members. Yes, you do even get to hear Cliff and Phil talk, so that’s nice. It is decent with the band members talking about the loss of previous singer Bon Scott right before work on Back In Black was to begin, then hiring Brian Johnson as a replacement. Eventually they get into the writing process of the tunes which I found very enlightening. Thing is, most of the doc is available for free and bumped up to 720p on AC/DC’s Youtube channel. Here is part one:
There is an on screen discography. It is the same one that you can find on the Live at Donington DVD. Kind of neat. Mostly out of date. Slightly useless in 2004 but even more so today.
So, that leaves the PCM audio version of the Back In Black being the disc’s only exclusive content. It boasts on the back cover that this version is of “superior sound”. So I took it to task.
I compared the PCM audio to the disc’s CD side, a 2003 remaster, and an original 1987 “A2-16018” which many claim is the “best version of Back In Black” on CD. All the discs were played on my Sony Blu-ray player to my 5.1 home theater. And I have to admit, the PCM version did very well in comparison. More bottom end, better clarity, and Brian’s voice lifts over the guitars. Heck, even Cliff bass has some major presence.
I’d rank them in this order:
- DualDisc PCM-DVD audio
- Tie – DualDisc CD audio and 2003 Remaster
But only on the home theater. I also played the discs down on my computer, which I have hooked up to a stereo amp and bookshelf speakers. I could not hear a difference between the Remastered CD(s) and PCM audio if my life depended on it. A2-16018 was noticeably flat. I think people who love this version have just become accustomed to the way it sounds. Fair enough.
The packaging is quite nice. The disc comes in a unique jewel case where you press a button on the front to open it and it felt like both sides of the disc are secure. It comes with a hefty booklet, but it is very close to what you get in the 2003 remaster CD or if you to buy the album new on vinyl today.
I’d say go for it if you are into unusual formats or have a high end system to truly enjoy it on. You are not going to notice a difference otherwise. I see the prices online for this are just a bit more than a new copy of Back In Black on vinyl, which is by far a better investment. But, far be it from me to tell you what to do with your money, honey.