Abba: Gold The Greatest Hits DVD Review
PictureWell this was never going to come with a THX logo stamped on it, and the quality of video on offer is consistent with the source material. Framed entirely in 4:3 (aside from a couple of 1.85:1 moments in the 1992 Dancing Queen video), the video transfers are a mixed bag of average and poor. Actually "poor" probably isn't a fair description, as considering the age of the majority of the videos, they've held up relatively well.
Grain is apparent throughout most of the songs to varying degrees: certainly the least obtrusive evidence of grain is Chiquitita - track 11 - which sports the best transfer of all the videos, crisp with a noticeable lack of grain or colour bleed. Whilst the graininess itself isn't too distracting in the other tracks, other areas where the DVD struggles is with black levels, which are murky and on the whole lacking detail. Colour bleed is also apparent, particularly in "disco" scenes where red clothes appear bloated against black backgrounds.
Edge-enhancement is generally not apparent due to the soft-focus approach of many of the videos, although the beginning seconds of Lay Your Love On Me exhibits some of the worst haloing I've seen in any DVD transfer to date. Thankfully it's only on-screen for a few moments.
I expected the 1992 Dancing Queen video to hold up under scrutiny on my large display - with it being the most up-to-date material on the DVD - but in fact this turned out to be one of the worst transfers of all the videos. Aside from problems with detail in shadow and general clarity, I noticed some horrible vertical bands on the extreme left of the picture, present throughout the entire video and noticeable particularly on darker scenes. Disappointing.
Add in a few scratches (very obvious at the beginning of Super Trouper but otherwise the scratch count is surprisingly low) and no-one would disagree that this transfer isn't going to win any awards. However, that said the source material has held up reasonably well given the age of some of it, and at the end of the day most people won't be buying this expecting a stunning transfer.
SoundPresented in 192kbps Dolby Digital 2.0 throughout - and sounding better in pure two channel stereo I might add - the soundtrack can best be described as clear and crisp as the source material allows. Vocals are well-defined with the female voices strikingly clear. There is little happening in bass department, and the mid-range can occasionally sound "fuzzy" to my ears, but thats probably more the music itself than any issues with the soundtrack on offer.
The audio quality is also consistent across all of the tracks, and there are none which stand out as particularly worse or better than the others.
In Pro-Logic, the rears are active and lively, with the overall volume of the sountrack jumping noticeably, but purists will prefer the more cohesive stereo playback: engaging the surround channels simply muddies the soundtrack.
ExtrasNone to speak of, the 1992 Dancing Queen video and Abba - The History documentary are listed as "Bonus Tracks" but are covered in the "film" section above. Also of note is a small booklet which accompanies the DVD, offering a relatively detailed history of the group. One would have thought for the DVD edition that the producers could have pulled together some more material of the group, there must surely be lots out there.
VerdictIf you're an Abba fan and the retro music videos are all that you're looking for then you won't be disappointed - put the DVD in, press play, lean back and enjoy a blast from the past.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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