Most of the Naxos stuff I've heard is junk (it's technically not for sale in the US yet a lot of it
seems to be floating around in the CD shops of major US cities). People who think this is any good
obviously haven't heard anything close to the master tapes. LPs and 78s, and for that matter
mass-duped quarter-track reels, are simply inferior to the masters, for a whole variety of obvious
technical reasons. To suggest that an over-processed dub of an LP is anything close to the quality
of the master is, I am afraid, an indication of poor hearing or misunderstanding of the technical
limits of the media.
Now, it's another matter whether the major copyright-owners have a spotty record of quality
regarding remasters (and for that matter original issues and in many cases, original recordings
themselves). Recording quality and end-result production and manufacturing quality have always been
spotty when the industry is taken as a whole. That's why certain recordings stand out -- they are
better. Where a mass-production approach has been taken to remastering, the results have generally
not been good. In some cases, companies went back later in the CD era and did a much better job. In
other cases, bad old remasters have simply been repackaged at a lower price point.
The fact that the Naxos and even worse-quality gray-market stuff is out there SHOULD be a huge
impetus to the copyright-owners to put everything in print in superior quality for similar discount
prices, which can be accomplished with direct-download models. Inferior 3rd-party trash diminishes
their brands and devalues their entire catalog (not to mention that every sale of a Naxos dub of an
LP is money not made by the owner of the master tape). If they can't make money by directly issuing
their vaults, they should aggressively license full-quality transfers to people who can make money
with that business model. They seem more intent on losing market value than fighting back, sadly.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Richter" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, August 08, 2008 10:19 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Sony, BMG and the health of the music biz
> Tom Fine wrote:
>> The whole problem with these non-standard copyright limits is that the major music companies use
>> the U.S. standard with their vaults. So, sure you might be able to buy some two-bit semi-pirate
>> version of something elsewhere in the world but it's a POS made off a dub of a commercial release
>> and it's not even worth owning due to the crap sound quality. For instance, compare the old
>> Bix/Tram/Big Tea stuff on the Mosaic set, which is properly remastered from the best sources
>> available, to the junk floating around cheap outside the US (most of it obtainable via Amazon).
>> The other versions aren't worth owning if you care about sound quality.
> The above argument may apply to some material and to some reissuers, but it does not fit well in
> the world of classical recordings. When dipping into their vaults, the major publishers have a
> mixed history seldom reaching competence (but occasionally delivering excellence). On the other
> hand, some engineers have achieved remarkably fine results working from released copies. The Naxos
> historic series is one example - and is clearly marked not for sale in the U.S.. I would rather
> cite Ward Marston's work for his own label, Marston Records. Another approach on even older
> material (e.g., Bettini cylinders) has been highly successful for Chris Zwarg at TrueSound
> The major labels habitually provide fancy packaging on releases which are incorrectly pitched,
> oddly equalized and inappropriately denoised. Frequently, they choose titles for marketability
> without concern for musical value. Indeed, their processing is so poor that occasionally listeners
> come to me for help in making CDs from my 'catalogue' recordings - 32 Kbps MP3 - because my own
> amateur efforts sound better than commercial reissues.
> [log in to unmask]