Tracking Surround: Dream Theater and Opeth CD+DVDs

Dream Theater: Systematic Chaos Roadrunner
Music •••• DVD Mix •••½ Extras ••••½
Opeth: Ghost Reveries Roadrunner
Music •••• DVD Mix ••½ Extras •••½
Progressive-metal brothers in arms: Each act's current album for new home Roadrunner is a career high that is also available in a Special Edition CD+DVD, featuring a making-of documentary and a 5.1 mix by the original engineer. In Opeth's case, Jens Bogren does just an okay job, cranking up some guitars in the surround channels while downplaying both the center and the subwoofer. But for Dream Theater, Paul Northfield treats all six channels equally and dramatically, which includes placing solid bass and drums in the center. There's some excessive panning, but overall this mix is both more atmospheric and more powerful. And whereas the Opeth doc runs 40 minutes, the DT one - by drummer Mike Portnoy himself - is 90 minutes of remarkable dissection.

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