WHERE: In the bedroom of my apartment in Portland, ME (Isla Nublar)
FORMAT: iTunes digital copy on an iPhone 4S, wearing Numark Red Wave professional mixing headphones
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Trying to make the best of a bad situation.
So, if you didn’t know, Cinemanaut Becca and I live together, because we’re big fans of each other. Unfortunately, on the day I planned to do my mandatory weekly viewing of Back to the Future (for science), she came home early from her job at a preschool with a hairy problem; she had picked up a very lousy infection from a child and I had to be quarantined so I didn’t catch it or pass it along.
In the mad dash to get all of my stuff into the bedroom and all of her stuff into the living room, I could not find my Sony clip-on earbuds that I usually use for watching movies on my iPhone. So, I grabbed my Numark Red Wave headphones from my pile of DJ equipment on the kitchen table.
They come in a bag, so you know they’re good.
For the record, I’m brannoo to the world of DJing, so feel free to crap all over the audio quality of these cans in the comments, but they’re the best headphones I’ve ever owned and I’m not made of money. (At least I didn’t buy Beats, amirite?) The bass is nice and bass-y and the hi-hats are the hi-est, so why not turn a potentially infectious frown upside down and enjoy a crisp use of the word “crisp” to describe the audio in Back to the Future, eh? Every playbook has a silver lining.
Speaking of Oscar nominees, Back to the Future was nominated for four Academy Awards, but the only category it won for was Best Sound Editing, beating out the tonally squidgy Ladyhawke and the aural nightmare that is Rambo: First Blood Part II. Okay, I haven’t actually compared the sound on all three, but I will. In the future.
Right from the beginning, all those ticking clocks sound great. I was completely immersed in a world of time. Also, the clocks keep ticking the entire time we’re in Doc Brown’s place. I guess I assumed they would fade them down once they were off the screen, but nope, they’re always present.
I was a little terrified when Marty was jacking up all the dials on the giant amplifier. That hum is ominous. As a kid, I used to be scared that Marty was going to blow out my TV. Wasn’t I pwecious? Today, it bugs me that the guitar riff isn’t louder, but, you know, if they cranked it up, they might destroy my headphones. Right? Is that how sound works?
“The Power of Love” sounds, um, “good.”
I remember hearing on the commentary that one of the sound editors was a big fan of always adding barking dogs to any rural setting, and to add more dogs if any sort of commotion happened. This time around, I was hearing dogs left and right. Your brain doesn’t focus on those things until somebody points them out, but they really do help.
Pretty much any of the DeLorean sound effects are hardwired into my DNA. They’re just so– you know what? I don’t think words are really going to work in this article. This is like that clichéd scene in a bunch of crappy indie romcoms where somebody passes the headphones to somebody else and the twee music just absorbs into their love zones; if you, in the audience, don’t actually like that song, the effect is completely lost on you.
“Yeah, wow, that flux capacitor, that’s… that’s neat, I guess.”
So, I’ll wrap this one early and just say that professional headphones can really change the way you enjoy a movie, so buy or borrow a pair and throw on that childhood favorite you haven’t checked out in a while.
OKAY, HERE’S A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA:
I’ve fiddled with electronic music since I was in middle school. Mostly programming in digital audio workstations like ACID Pro, with no actual musical training or any technical experience. Well, watching High Fidelity with Cinemanaut John last year gave me the DJ bug, hence the new headphones. While I’m currently trying to focus on doin’ it live for the first time, this viewing gave me a flashback to my youthful programming days… one of the very first songs I ever tried to make, when I had just been handed this wonderful new software seemingly from the gods themselves… was a mind-numbingly terrible dance song full of Back to the Future samples.
I’d like to play that for you now.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is “BTTF Remix,” by one half of that famed 1999 rural New Hampshire techno duo Your Friends at SCAMM, from the album (wait for it) The Invasion of the Radioactive Undulating Tectonic Gerbil Zombies from the Planet SCAMM. Oh, if I could go back in time and change one thing…
If you couldn’t make it through the first thirty seconds, just know that it’s repetitive, it ignores basic concepts like “keys,” “transitions,” or “music,” and shockingly dirty words like “damn” and “hell” have been censored from its seemingly endless supply of out-of-context quotes from the Back to the Future trilogy. I remember recording this song onto a cassette tape for my grandmother as a gift. It’s a wonder she didn’t put a pillow over my face in the dead of night.