Let’s get the music out of the way. It sounds like you think a (good) new Tom Petty should. It’s got a mix of his deceptively simple well-crafted rockers, mid-tempo songs, and a really cool smoky ballad. Even my wife likes that song. This album won’t create many new fans (besides my wife) but old fans certainly will enjoy it. Audiophiles who think Petty is OK should buy this because…
The Blu-ray is fantastic. Don’t let anybody tell you can’t hear the difference. You can!
It contains stereo and 5.1 mixes of the album and very limited video content. Both mixes contain the same bonus track that is on the LP.
The stereo mix is the same as the CD, but the Blu-ray allows for 256 times greater resolution than the CD. That means that the more complex sounds such as distorted guitars and Petty’s gravely voice have a lot more presence and detail. Can you hear the difference? Yes, you probably can, if you listen on a half-decent system and pay attention. You don’t need fancy equipment or special training.
It’s also more dynamic, meaning that the subtle changes in volume human musicians make are better reproduced. You shouldn’t notice that. Most likely you will think that the music is really expressive, and rocks when it needs to.
There is a huge difference between the blu-ray to the mp3 album preview streams you can find online. The blu-ray has way more bass and power. Petty’s vocals jump out at you. The drums sound much better, etc. It’s night and day.
Some 5.1 mixes have the music swirl around you. That’s prefect for Pink Floyd and Beck, but for a rock record, surround sound should be much more subtle. Here most of the action is in the front three speakers. Some of the instruments creep towards the sides a bit, but that sounds very natural, like you’re in the studio with them. Petty’s vocals and some guitar solos sometimes come out of the center channel. This nicely emphasizes his singing without having to actually make him louder. Sometimes it sounds like he is singing directly to you.
Don’t think for a minute that you can’t appreciate the better sound. You will feel like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are giving a private concert in your living room. Trust me. If you plan to buy the CD and have a Blu-ray player, consider getting the Blu-ray. You’ll be glad you did.