Somnium is back
by on April 26, 2008 in Recent Activity

The Somnium DVD is back in print. You can buy copies directly from us Here. Many thanks to Mike Griffin at Hypnos for managing the re-build. The new DVDs are identical to the first edition. It’s still a single sided DVD-V with the same compromises needed to fit the format. -Robert

12 Responses to Somnium is back

  1. Joe says:

    Maybe in the future you can make a blue ray version; then you won’t have to compromise. Not that I have a player yet.

  2. Pete says:

    Robert, does the version of ‘Somnium’ that is available on have Part II in stereo, or 5.1? I’m sure the MP3 files are stereo based on the sample on the site there. Are the FLAC files actually 5.1? As I recall, that was the thing you were miffed about on the DVD due to some technical issues at mastering time. It’d probably play back gaplessly and sound a whole lot better (i.e. fantastic) if that’s the case (assuming the fade transitions are gone). That alone may be worth the purchase of the FLAC files… Any additional info for us to help us make up our minds which to get? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks, dude!

  3. admin says:

    A bit of clarification: All of Somnium is Stereo, none of it is 5.1 surround. The fades are the same between DVD and download; but since I chose them to occur in the most silent spots, I still think of them as continuous. The stereo FLAC version on Musiczeit does sound better than the DVD in the middle chapter, which is compressed on the DVD. You can make the Somnium DVD sound good in surround if you use certain surround effects on a home theater amplifier, but these are synthesized effects rather than part of the original spectrum, which is really in stereo at the source.

    A bit more detail:
    The center chapter keeps haunting me. Most of the Somnium DVD is stereo 16 bit, 48 KHz stereo uncompressed audio (not 5.1), except for the second chapter. To fit on the disk, the center chapter is AC3 encoded, not uncompressed PCM. That middle chapter shows some errors in the compression by the original authoring house 8 years ago (which now avoids discussion about fixing it, because they had so many troubles with this project. They seem to have washed their hands of it now. I couldn’t get a call back from them.)

    When we needed to reprint the disks, I wanted to re-author the DVD to a two-layer disk, so the middle chapter didn’t need to be compressed, but that would have added at least $2000 and 6-12 months delay for the reprint, which we never could have earned back. We chose to duplicate the original master.

    Don’t even ask about BluRay – it’s not part of this equation. Remember, I recorded Somnium during the 1990s, before 7 hours of surround audio was an option; not to mention the authoring costs for BluRay would far outweigh the potential market to offset such expense.

    If you are an audiophile and want the purest possible expression of the 7 hour piece, then download the FLAC from Musiczeit. This should be equivalent to a 16 bit 48 KHz stereo file. If you want the real artwork and convenience of playing on a DVD player, as originally intended, then buy the DVD and hopefully the compromised quality of the middle section won’t bother you. In neither case is the audio 5.1 surround. It’s only stereo. Sorry about that.

    A quote I love: “Standards are great, that’s why we have so many of them.”

    Wish it were simple. – Robert

  4. Joe says:

    Actually, I recently learned that if your receiver has pro logic II, it can turn a stereo recording into surround sound. The volume ends up being lower, though.

  5. Pete says:

    Thanks, Robert! Actually it is simple — we just have to buy both the DVD (done) and the FLACs on musiczeit (hopefully soon – but money is super tight for me at the moment).

    No to add to any confusion, but the audio on my Somnium DVD sounds monaural. Is that an effect of the compression, or is that my receiver (and computer) not rendering the compressed AC3 properly, and spitting out one channel (or maybe two of the same)?

    I’ll have to save my milk money to buy the FLAC files then, I suppose… ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. admin says:

    Very kind of you to offer to buy both. If I knew of an elegant way to give away the download to previous DVD purchasers, that would seem most fair, but someone has to pay for the server bandwidth over at Musiczeit, and that download takes a huge amount of bandwidth. As for your mono experiences, I doubt that you’re referring to the whole DVD – only the middle chapter uses any compression at all. At least 5 hours of the disk are completely uncompressed stereo PCM, not AC3. If you experience chapter 2 in mono… yes, that was an encoding error that occurred during authoring 8 years ago, and while the original data is in stereo, for some reason most decoders aren’t handling the stereo information correctly. It’s not your receiver’s fault. The error happened in the encoding. I wanted to fix this on the second printing, but after all the problems getting the first version to work at all, the extra time and expense prevented that option. – RR

  7. Pete says:

    Yes sir, you are correct; I was referring only to Chapter 2 of the DVD sounding monaural. The rest is pristine, and sounds wonderful. (So, I guess I DID add to the “confusion” – DOH!)

    Yes, I can imagine that the FLAC version of Somnium is HUGE — I figure it has to be over 2GB total. That’s quite a hefty download, and probably well worth the price.

    No worries, I will find a few $$ somewhere — maybe cut out my kids’ shoes from the budget or something; stinkin’ kids always wearin’ out their shoes… Either that or I’ll eat tuna-fish sandwiches for a week. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. JAcK says:

    Sorry to interrupt all this technical discussion for a real basic question. What kind of media player do I need to play this disc? Would Window’s Media Player work? I would ideally like this for work where I don’t have a DVD player and I am not authorized to add software to my computer. Will I be able to play it? thanks

  9. admin says:

    If you can currently play other DVDs on your PC, you should be able to play Somnium. My wife Dixie is the PC owner here, and she’s pretty sure that – at least on her W2K system she needs to download 3rd part software to play a DVD. I presume Vista or whatever has a player built in, however. On the Mac, OSX’s DVD Player application works fine with Somnium. However, if you don’t have a hardware DVD player you might consider the big download from Musiczeit instead of the DVD. Just a thought. All the best – Robert

  10. Greg says:

    If you want to be super-geeky, you can buy the DVD and the FLOC file, extract the video from the DVD, and then make your own 2 DVD set featuring uncompressed sound and the original videos.

    If you only want to be geeky, you can play the FLOC file in sync with the muted DVD.

  11. Hi, good post. I have been wondering about this issue,so thanks for posting.

  12. scott says:

    Hey Robert, I purchased somnium back when it was first released, I absolutely love this album. I use it to turn on people to your music, and as ambient music for meditation, etc.

    been a long time fan, anyway, Thanks.


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