In the Summer of 2021, Evolution Music Group (evoXS) surprised audiophiles and immersive music enthusiasts by issuing a 5.1 surround SACD of California hair metal band Mr. Big's classic 1991 studio album Lean Into It. The release proved to be an unexpected highlight of that year, with “To Be With You” and “Voodoo Kiss” earning a place on my Dolby Atmos demonstration playlist on Apple Music.
The Dolby Atmos mix – from which the 5.1 version was derived – was initially kept exclusive to the streaming services, but it later became available as a high-resolution Dolby TrueHD/MKV digital download via the IAA shop.
Naturally, fans began to speculate whether or not the band’s 1989 self-titled debut – which includes classic live staples like “Rock & Roll Over,” fan-favorite power ballad “Anything For You,” and the classic hit single “Addicted To That Rush” – would receive a similar deluxe reissue.
Such conjecture proved correct in January 2023, when evoXS announced a 5.1 SACD of the album with remastered stereo & new 5.1 remixes for release on April 21. Once again, remixing duties are handled by Grammy award-winning mix engineer Chris Bell with mastering from Michael Romanowski.
We at IAA are again thrilled to offer the album as an exclusive immersive digital download through our online shop, with high-resolution 5.1 FLAC files as well as Dolby TrueHD/Atmos MKVs. The digital download edition also features two exclusive bonus tracks, “Next Time Around” and “Want To Be Wanted,” in 5.1 surround & Dolby Atmos.
Immersive streaming is certainly a great way to audition the Atmos mix prior to purchase, but the Dolby TrueHD/Atmos MKV files from IAA’s shop provide an infinitely more rewarding experience for audiophiles. The height speakers tend to feature a lot of ambient drum sound, which often tests the limits of the 768 kbps Dolby Digital Plus/JOC codec. With lossless Dolby TrueHD, the detail and clarity from the ADM master file is much better preserved.
Bell and Romanowski’s immersive interpretation of the album is impressive, especially given the relatively limited number of elements in play. The album sounds quite ‘big’ in stereo, but in reality the core four-piece band’s studio performance is augmented only by the occasional background vocal, guitar, or percussion overdub.
The album opens with what is arguably the band’s signature song, “Addicted To That Rush.” One will immediately take notice of the bass guitar almost entirely isolated in the center speaker, while reflections from the drum kit hit off the side, rear, and height speakers.
That big ‘roomy’ drum sound was key to the original mix of this album and the Atmos rendition takes it another level, almost transporting you into the studio as the drum parts were being recorded. Eric Martin’s commanding lead vocal protrudes from the center, with the ‘woah’ backing vocals take up residence primarily in the rear height speakers.
As with the Lean Into It 5.1 & Atmos remixes, Bell and Romanowski aren’t shy about introducing a bit of fun movement with the guitar solos and even some vocals. It’s done particularly well towards the end of “Addicted To That Rush,” with the guitar slides shifting all around and above the listening space to great effect.
“Wind Me Up” again features the group backing vocal chorus in the rear height channels, while the tambourine appears in the rear surround speakers. Moving into “Merciless,” the call-and-response guitar parts alternate between the front and rear speakers.
“Big Love” reveals a previously-buried acoustic guitar part in the rear surround channels, while the guitar solo midway through shifts between the side and rear speakers. “Anything For You” then changes things with the chorused electric guitar appearing in the front height speakers, eventually giving way to the full band from below.
If I have one critique of the new 5.1 & Atmos remixes, it’s that the lead vocal appears to have been treated with more reverberation than in the original stereo mix and often seems kind of distant as a result. I’m also not 100% on board with the decision to confine the bass guitar almost entirely to the center speaker with the lead vocal, but other listeners may feel differently. That said, overall sound quality is good-to-excellent with plenty of dynamic range. If you enjoy this music, you won’t regret the purchase!
Purchase Mr. Big in the IAA Shop!