When it was released, Tubular Bells brought a lot of critical acclaim to Mike Oldfield. Virgin Records has recently re-released the album on multichannel SACD. The results are outstanding.
The multichannel SACD mix is presented in 4.0 channel sound (rather than the usual 5.1). This is because the original multichannel track was developed for 1970s quad. While usually transfering a quad track to modern multichannel is bad, in this case it works very well. There is no LFE or center channel included in the recording.
There is a very detailed description of the history of Tubular Bells in the CD booklet that accompanies the disc. The disc also contains the original two track Tubular Bells as an SACD layer and a CD layer. Interrestingly enough, some of the original Tubular Bells was re-recorded in the 1970s for the multichannel version. So the stereo and 4.0 mixes truly are different.
While I would normally not recommend taking a quad recording and releasing it in any modern format (see Paul McCartney's "Venus and Mars" on DTS CD as an example of what not to do), Tubular Bells sounds fresh and clean.
For those who have not heard the album before, it really defies categorization. While very "listenable", it is also very experimental in the use of instrumentation and creating an environment of interesting sounds. There are only two tracks on the SACD.
The SACD is playable on CD and SACD players. For high definition sound, you'll need an SACD player. For multichannel high definition sound you'll need a multichannel SACD player, such as Sony's SCD-CE775.
Overall this is very enjoyable music that luckily is now available in 4.0 channel surround sound.