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ARSCLIST  December 2010

ARSCLIST December 2010

Subject:

Re: The TV thread...

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 9 Dec 2010 13:22:13 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (103 lines)

Boxed wine is actually a great metaphor, Karl. One trend going on with Universal, Sony and EMI is to 
take a group of CD's that were once packaged singly and priced anywhere from $12 to $15 and put them 
in a many-disc box with as cheap packaging as they can get away with, priced as low as a couple 
dollars a disc (and sometimes less than a dollar during inventory-clearance sales). In most cases, 
they are working with the last go-around remastering, so the sound quality can be good or excellent 
but sometimes is poor because the last go-around could have been the one time (circa 1985) that 
recording was mastered for digital. I should put in a plug for Mercury here, because at least some 
of the many-CD reissue sets are still in print. Those CD's are just re-packagings of the same 
remastering that was done for the original 1-CD packages. Unfortunately, most of the booklet notes 
are eliminated, but the technical information remains. Some of the "themes" used to group the CDs 
work better than others. In general, the first generation of discounted multi-CD sets (back then 
they were 2-fers and 3-fers) were grouped around composers or soloists. Nowadays they are grouped 
around conductors and/or soloists. So for instance an early 90's Philips 2-fer was "The Best of 
Weber" whereas a more modern 5-CD set would focus on all of Monteux's recordings for Decca and then 
Philips.

By the way, box wine isn't the rot gut is was once. There are some decent brands in the box and the 
box technology has improved. Tip -- the bag can be somewhat rinsed out and then can be used as a 
very comfortable inflatable camping pillow. My wife taught me that trick, and the wine-bag in a 
pillow case beats my costly camping-gear "pillow." It smells mildly wine-y when it's being deflated.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Karl Miller" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, December 09, 2010 12:18 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] The TV thread...


--- On Thu, 12/9/10, Melissa Widzinski <[log in to unmask]> wrote:


Speaking as one from "the younger set," I will say that I always purchase
new recordings in CD form.

******************************************************
As a member of "the older set," and one with a record label, may I say, I wish there were more like 
you out there. However, now that we sell downloads, and by comparing my sales reports, it appears 
you are increasingly the exception to the rule. People don't even bother to buy a download, they 
stream.

*******************************************************************
I see mp3 or any other compressed digital file as
a devaluing of the art.

****************************************************************
Not having followed this thread, I should probably check the back postings to see if my concerns 
have already been expressed, but putting in my two cents... it just isn't the mp3, but it has to do 
with the entire art of recording, something you address later in your posting. My interest is 
classical music. For whatever the reason I find it frustrating that "noise" reduction is used so 
freely in modern recordings of classical music. For me, there is an unearthly quality when ALL of 
the room noise and ambiance is removed.

And with all of the great equipment that is available, even some respected engineers do a lousy job. 
I am reminded of a recent Naxos release of the Harris Symphonies. It sounds like the engineer had a 
separate microphone for the bass drum and the rest of the microphones were in the balcony. I miss 
John Eargle.

***********************************************************

Additionally, with a digital file, one doesn't get a
physical product or any details of the recording along with the file besides
basic metadata.

*********************************************************
According to my information, notes are rarely consulted. It was with that thought in mind, that we 
will begin offering a series of historic recordings with no notes, and available only as downloads. 
The performances will all be from broadcast sources. Our thinking was that there will be minimal 
interest in these recordings, and the added expense of liner notes could not be justified. Only 
basic information like performing group and date of performance will be included. Our thought was 
that you can probably find some notes about a Beethoven Symphony by checking the web. By the way, 
everything will be 50+ years old and older and will not be available for download inside the US. 
Naxos will be carrying our offerings.

So my point...in addition to giving a plug to our new series, is to show that while the physical 
object, even in classical music, where collectors seem to prefer their "objects" and good sound, it 
is difficult to justify the expense of pressing something that has a limited potential for sales. 
Unless your recording features a Lang Lang or another hot musician du jour, you can't press 
something and do layout and notes unless you want to lose money. That said, about half our small 
number of releases had grants or donations to support the pressing...and we only pay musicians once 
our costs are covered....and we have no employees...we are a 501 c 3

In short, it seems to me that FLAC or even WAV downloads are our only hope for quality. Also, I 
should add that places like the Naxos library provide good access for classical music. Librarians 
who catalog know that classical music is the most difficult subject to deal with. With all of the 
multiple forms of title, number of recordings, arrangements etc., it can be a nightmare. That is why 
it seems likely that specialization in vending for classical music will be with us...at least as 
long as there is an adequate customer base to support it. Classical music specialists are rarely 
found in record stores these days...perhaps we need an online chat help.

As for what younger people don't know...I believe that many don't know they should be paying for 
their recorded music...but then...here I am...a 60+ year old who downloads a CDR of mp3's of recent 
classical music broadcasts every week. I would buy them, but they aren't for sale! Go figure. So, if 
I want to hear the latest piece by Dalbavie, I have to listen to an mp3.

As for the comment about fine wine...during my days in graduate school I got used to cheap wine. Now 
I get mine out of a box...not bad, not great, but less expensive...kinda like how I get my music. 
Sad to say, it looks like we are going to see more boxed wines. Fine wine, like great audio, has 
always had a small market.

Karl

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