Blu-ray Pure Audio Review: John Lennon “Imagine”

Recorded and released in 1971, John Lennon’s second album Imagine is now available in the Blu-ray Pure Audio format. One of Lennon’s premiere solo albums, Imagine is a welcome addition to the small, but growing Blu-ray Pure Audio catalog. “Imagine” is such a famous song that if you haven’t heard the original then there is no doubt you have heard one of the many covers. Artists like Elton John, Stevie Wonder, and Cee Lo Green along with over 140 other artists have given their personal touch to “Imagine.”

Specs
Album Artist: John Lennon
Album Title: Imagine
Format: Blu-ray Pure Audio
Tracks: 11
Review Date: March 4, 2014
Price: $28.47

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With so much space on a Blu-ray disc, it would be a shame to only fill it with one audio track. Included on this disc are three versions of the same data: 24bit/96kHz LPCM 2.0, 24bit/96kHz DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, and 24bit/96kHz Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Universal could have only included the LPCM version, as both DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD are lossless codecs and produce identical LPCM streams. There is also a code included for a digital download version of the album. Unfortunately, this is not in a high resolution format and is instead 320kbps compressed MP3.

As predicted, when cycling through LPCM, DTS-HD MA, and Dolby TrueHD tracks I hear absolutely no difference. I chose the LPCM and left it there. Background noise is non-existent which allows for an extremely clean presentation. In fact it sounds very much like the 2010 remastered CD and I wouldn’t be surprised if that source is used to produce this Blu-ray Pure Audio disc. This is interesting as the included mp3 digital download is clearly not the 2010 remaster. Volume levels on the mp3 download are cranked and the dynamic range is crushed compared to the 2010 remaster. The digital download, although better than nothing, can essentially be ignored if you are picky enough about audio quality to have purchased the Blu-ray.

Imagine Blu-ray Pure Audio

Often with high-resolution audio, a multi-channel surround version is included, but that is not the case with Imagine. All you get is a 2.0 track, and can you blame them?  There is no logical reason this recording should ever be mixed into multi-channel surround and I am glad they didn’t slap in some surround reverb and include a 5.1 track. The opening piano on “Imagine” has a ghostly presentation with a bit more width and depth to the soundstage than you can hear on the CD. John Lennon’s voice is planted discretely in the middle with excellent clarity. Guitar on “Oh Yoko!” is crisp and detailed, the added resolution exposing each string on the instrument. Imagine on Blu-ray Pure Audio sounds very good, yet it may not be the format’s prime example of its potential.

Currently, Imagine is not available as a hi-res audio download, so Blu-ray Pure Audio is the only game in town. For those that must have every release of Imagine, or you just want the best possible version, the high resolution Blu-ray is a solid purchase. There is a bit of added depth to the soundstage and a touch of warmth over the CD version that indeed make it the best version currently available. One caveat: ignore the included digital download. If you are looking for a high quality version of Imagine that can be enjoyed in CD form and copied into a lossless format for a music server, then I recommend the 2010 remastered CD. It is only $10 and sounds very good.

Review Summary
Product: John Lennon "Imagine" Blu-ray Pure Audio
Reviewer:
Pros: The best digital of Imagine currently available
Cons: No hi-res lossless download
Summary: Although this album doesn’t show off the ultimate abilities of the Blu-ray Pure Audio format, it is still the cleanest and best sounding version you can buy of John Lennon’s classic album, Imagine.
Value: 3/5
Performance: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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  • Intruder

    Great review. I thought this album got a quad mix in the 70’s?

    • It looks like there is a Quad mix from the 70’s, but a very non-aggressive one as it sounds like Lennon wasn’t a big fan. Most likely producing a quad mix because everyone else was, just like 3D with video today.

      • Intruder

        Thanks for the info. Still would have been cool to have that on the disc as there would have been plenty of room and a nice bonus for us Lennon completists. Buying mine today. Cheers!