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Are we in a Catch-22 scenario with Box Sets?

J. PUPSTER

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There have been many here on the forum complain about the increase in Box Sets we’re offered in order to get what most of us want; which is the surround aspects of the music. For the most part I also don’t care for these bloated packages of remastered stereo CDs, LPs and unnecessary baubles. My main concern with this trend is that we have entered an era where in order to procure these mainstream legacy titles in a surround format, we’ll be forced to pay higher and higher prices. The Catch-22 is, if we don’t buy these expensive Box Sets providing sufficient profit margins for the labels, then the incentive to produce them is gone and we’ll end up getting nothing. However, if we continue to pay up for these large sets, then they’ll just keep making more.

Of course, there are various levels of excess baggage and pricing, along with the quality of the production of the music, additional mixing, mastering, and the final resolution offered. If an important title i.e. Abbey Road were to be presented in a quality package like the “White Album” and priced similarly; I don’t believe there would be too much resistance. So, the music (content) matters tremendously in all this. This also helps the labels as to the popularity of the title, as they can initially produce more, ensuring a healthy profit just through sheer numbers and pricing power. What happens down the road with these titles after the initial sale may matter to us, but not to the labels; they’ve made all the money they’re going to when sold new.

Another consideration other than voting with our wallets is what influence do we have in deciding the future of all this? We’re not part of a large consolidated buying union with any real influence on the business of these labels. So, are we stuck in this ever-increasing Catch-22 spiral into more bloated and expensive Box Sets with little to offer us than a mediocre title, with sub-par resolution and questionable mixes?

I actually believe Sony has the right idea with these newer 7” SACDs; they give us what we want with quality popular titles, little bloat and charge a healthy price in return. I’m sure some here won’t like that prior statement, because of the pricing and the fact that it’s in a format that some are averse to. However, the larger labels like Sony, are the ones that own the rights to the masters and have the power to decide to release them at all. A producer like Dutton-Vocalion provides excellent value but seem limited (so far) as to the popular titles they’re able to procure.

All this may soon be a moot point as we get faster and faster download speeds and processors. If you’ll remember Netflix started out by mailing DVDs in those red envelopes and needing us to mail them back. The whole initial idea behind Netflix is represented right in their name “Net” Flix. They’ve had delivery of movies via the internet ingrained in their business model the whole time; waiting for the delivery technology of more fiber-optic lines, along with integration into T.V.s and other devices that can handle the increasing bandwidth via cheaper and more powerful chips to catch up. Whether you receive the music over the internet live or downloaded ala-cart or perhaps even in bundles of varying quality is already well underway. These technologies also enter into the overall business equation of music delivery. Perhaps this Catch-22 of Big Box sets will be short lived, and we’ll only be offered surround titles in an online delivery method, and how does that affect the pricing. Worse yet, they offer us the music, but only in a downloadable Big Bundle of choices that we really don’t want. So how would that Sony multi-channel SACD seem then?
 

Old Quad Guy

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At this point, it's fairly simple; buy what you like, and don't buy what you don't want. The market has matured enough that enough people will buy boxes outside of this community. Yes, it can make it tough when we just want the Quad or 5.1. I would prefer just a CD/DVD-A, CD/BR or SACD release.

The thing is, it's Not just the labels IMHO, but the Artists themselves that are apart of the final product. So, blame your favorite artist for not having a clue. But in all fairness, it must be difficult to figure out how and what to release that people want to buy. Our energies should be put forth to explain how and what we want to buy.

At some point, 5G technology might give us a Netflix type of surround experience. But I still like the books and crap that comes with these boxes. But just the Discs with the surround should also be offered. I still have not looked at the "White Album" book or listened to the CDs yet, but I'm glad I own it. Streaming doesn't make me feel I own anything. And Movies come and go away at the whim of Netflix, or their license agreement is over. I don't want that with Music.

So, the bottom line is, we get what we get, when it's offered. Nothing we can do about it except enjoy the music we have. At least we're getting releases now, something that seemed impossible in 2007 when DVD-A and SACD titles quickly went away. And there was no hope in hell for getting any surround release. Now we have all kinds of stuff to buy.
 

4-earredwonder

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There have been many here on the forum complain about the increase in Box Sets we’re offered in order to get what most of us want; which is the surround aspects of the music. For the most part I also don’t care for these bloated packages of remastered stereo CDs, LPs and unnecessary baubles. My main concern with this trend is that we have entered an era where in order to procure these mainstream legacy titles in a surround format, we’ll be forced to pay higher and higher prices. The Catch-22 is, if we don’t buy these expensive Box Sets providing sufficient profit margins for the labels, then the incentive to produce them is gone and we’ll end up getting nothing. However, if we continue to pay up for these large sets, then they’ll just keep making more.

Of course, there are various levels of excess baggage and pricing, along with the quality of the production of the music, additional mixing, mastering, and the final resolution offered. If an important title i.e. Abbey Road were to be presented in a quality package like the “White Album” and priced similarly; I don’t believe there would be too much resistance. So, the music (content) matters tremendously in all this. This also helps the labels as to the popularity of the title, as they can initially produce more, ensuring a healthy profit just through sheer numbers and pricing power. What happens down the road with these titles after the initial sale may matter to us, but not to the labels; they’ve made all the money they’re going to when sold new.

Another consideration other than voting with our wallets is what influence do we have in deciding the future of all this? We’re not part of a large consolidated buying union with any real influence on the business of these labels. So, are we stuck in this ever-increasing Catch-22 spiral into more bloated and expensive Box Sets with little to offer us than a mediocre title, with sub-par resolution and questionable mixes?

I actually believe Sony has the right idea with these newer 7” SACDs; they give us what we want with quality popular titles, little bloat and charge a healthy price in return. I’m sure some here won’t like that prior statement, because of the pricing and the fact that it’s in a format that some are averse to. However, the larger labels like Sony, are the ones that own the rights to the masters and have the power to decide to release them at all. A producer like Dutton-Vocalion provides excellent value but seem limited (so far) as to the popular titles they’re able to procure.

All this may soon be a moot point as we get faster and faster download speeds and processors. If you’ll remember Netflix started out by mailing DVDs in those red envelopes and needing us to mail them back. The whole initial idea behind Netflix is represented right in their name “Net” Flix. They’ve had delivery of movies via the internet ingrained in their business model the whole time; waiting for the delivery technology of more fiber-optic lines, along with integration into T.V.s and other devices that can handle the increasing bandwidth via cheaper and more powerful chips to catch up. Whether you receive the music over the internet live or downloaded ala-cart or perhaps even in bundles of varying quality is already well underway. These technologies also enter into the overall business equation of music delivery. Perhaps this Catch-22 of Big Box sets will be short lived, and we’ll only be offered surround titles in an online delivery method, and how does that affect the pricing. Worse yet, they offer us the music, but only in a downloadable Big Bundle of choices that we really don’t want. So how would that Sony multi-channel SACD seem then?
And with all this chatter, Pupster, you're about to enter into a new [but really old] arena with your acquisition of a 'quality' turntable and the newly minted Surround Master v. 2 from 'Aussie Chucky....' Do you already have a large selection of SQ/QS and CD~4 discs or are you going to start from scratch?

As Old QUAD GUY affirmed ...... buy what you like regarding these box sets. Personally, I'm already tired of them .... take up way too much space and I can't be bothered rummaging through all those RBCDs of outtakes, etc. or 'vintage video' in SD resolution.

Perhaps the major music conglomerates should adapt NETFLIX's older business model of 'mailing' us those 5.1 remasters and then when we're finished listening to them .... we'll mail them back. Postage Paid, of course! 🐶
 

markshan

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I look at it like this. Many of the old Quad mixes get released on SACD. Many of the old DVD-A mixes are being released on Blu. It seems there is much more interest from the labels in releasing existing mixes than there is in creating new ones. So if Appetite gets mixed in 5.1 to give the label another goodie to add to their obscenely overpriced box set then I am all for it because that mix likely wouldn't happen otherwise. Now it is an existing mix that can be quickly authored to whatever the next big push is.

Plus, perhaps a few on the non-surround buyers of the box sets have home theatres and decide to give that surround Blu a spin and become converts to surround music.
 

4-earredwonder

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I look at it like this. Many of the old Quad mixes get released on SACD. Many of the old DVD-A mixes are being released on Blu. It seems there is much more interest from the labels in releasing existing mixes than there is in creating new ones. So if Appetite gets mixed in 5.1 to give the label another goodie to add to their obscenely overpriced box set then I am all for it because that mix likely wouldn't happen otherwise. Now it is an existing mix that can be quickly authored to whatever the next big push is.

Plus, perhaps a few on the non-surround buyers of the box sets have home theatres and decide to give that surround Blu a spin and become converts to surround music.
To REITERATE ...... BE SELECTIVE ...... TO AVOID EXPLETIVES!:ROFLMAO:
 

Circular Vibes

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I have to admit that I have bought a few box sets and rarely play them. I remember getting an Eric Clapton set for the surround disc at Costco. It had a "pressed in Germany" LP inside, but no inner sleeve. The LP was only played once. It had gunk from the glue the box wasn't held together well with on the cardboard sleeve and badly designed box. I didn't buy anymore sets until Sgt. Pepper showed up second hand at my LRS. The other two were an ELP box and Miles Kind of Blue 50th anniversary. I keep forgetting to play them. No marbles yet, but the boxes are too rich for me to buy and LP's in a box with dirgital is just plain dumb to me. I'll just have to give my surround bux to DV for now.
 

ar surround

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Yes, these big box sets contain way more than I want. But what really pisses me off is when vendors like Amazon UK et al offer a set at a price substantially below that in the US and then refuse to ship it to the US. If they can sell the product cheaper overseas than it isn't worth the US asking price.
 

4-earredwonder

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Yes, these big box sets contain way more than I want. But what really pisses me off is when vendors like Amazon UK et al offer a set at a price substantially below that in the US and then refuse to ship it to the US. If they can sell the product cheaper overseas than it isn't worth the US asking price.
AR, I've noticed that AmazonUK is refusing to ship more and more items to the US as I believe the cost of s/h has increased exponentially. I just placed an order with Dutton Vocalion, mainly for the Tomita Firebird QUAD SACD and added 5 additional RBCDs from their 'Winter Sale' [all were £.99 each] and my order came to just under £17 ..... and s/h to the states was almost £14! Hey, it's D~V and I want to support them 100% ....... but really?
 
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edisonbaggins

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...my order came to just under £17 ..... and s/h to the states was almost £14! Hey, it's D~V and I want to support them 100% ....... but really?
I don't recall shipping for Tomita/Bartok costing very much. Even tracked. Maybe the weight of your package crossed some threshold?
On the topic of boxsets, Baggy finally found, tonight, the SDE Layla box at a tolerable [subjective] price! What was it retail, anyway?
Can't wait to compare the DVD to the SACD and maybe do a "Clapton in Surround" video soon!
 

sjcorne

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It's an interesting topic. I'd agree it doesn't really make sense to bundle optical media with vinyl, but the bottom line is these sets are a steady source of new surround material and I have to get behind that. I do enjoy reading the essays and other info in the hardcover books as well.

Plus, as with most surround material, if you don't spring for it at retail you'll just regret it down the line. How many missed the Layla and A Farewell To Kings boxes?

I'd really love if future box sets followed the example of the recent Imagine set: priced under $100, smaller size, no vinyl, tons of surround content (outtakes!), the cool 'surround maps' and mixing info in the book, etc. I won't hold my breath though...

box_sets.jpg
 

windhoek

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Record companies are in the business of making money and it's just a question of how much we're prepared to get shafted. Take Rolex watches, for example: try buying stainless steel Submariner or a batman GMT from an authorised dealer and see how deep you'll get screwed because unless you're a regular customer who spends a helluva lot of money on watches on a regular basis - or you're extremely lucky - you'll simply get your name added to a list and told it could take up to a year or two before your name's at the top of the list. I kid you not, if you want a brand new Rolex, you either have to wait years for the chance to buy one from an authorised dealer or pay an extra two grand on the secondary market to get one. Rolex could easily increase the supply, but they won't. High demand, low(ish) supply is good for their business and brand.

Back to these premium box set. Record companies know there are music enthusiasts and collector/investors with money who'll cough up to get their hands on the goods so why on earth should they knock out lots of cheap stuff for a niche market when they can make more money selling less product that will sell because it's exclusive due to pricing and availability. Its how it is and it's up to us to decide for ourselves which battles we're prepared to pay the highest of premiums and which battles we're determined to maintain our integrity
 

esimms86

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I have no idea as to what it might cost for a record company to produce and rerelease discrete digital downloads of a recording in original quad and remastered stereo FLACs. If the economic model is feasible for the company, however, I would be so in favor of a nativedsd.com type model whereby a company like Sony, for example, could sell their back catalog as download purchases. Like nativedsd, they could offer the buyer the choice of stereo, quad or both. Shipping would be nonexistent and delivery would be instantaneous(not to mention, bypassing the need to produce a physical product in any quantity). Following this type of model would be potentially very bad news for Dutton-Vocalion(I was going to say “a company like Dutton-Vocalion except there’s no other company like it), however, it could be one way to get the lion’s share of Sony’s quad back catalog to the marketplace. Likewise, extras(e.g., the outtakes on some of the Robin Reels) could be added for those collectors who choose to buy them. Yeah, you’d miss out on all of the extras currently showing up in the big boxes but that’s a price that I would be willing to pay(and yes, you could also include beautifully illustrated and informational pdf files a la nativedsd).

BTW, Sony could do this for the Sony/Columbia quad back catalog and D-V could still continue to work on releases for everyone else(think RCA quads).

This approach wouldn’t affect the Abbey Road type releases, of course, which would continue to receive the big box treatment. It also would not apply to any material that needed to be remixed for the very first time in (typically) 5.1. Nor would it affect new release remixes a la Steven Wilson.
 

jimfisheye

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I don't know... Maybe if we stopped buying all low budget releases that only get a stereo release and/or only a CD release, artists would be motivated to step up their game?

Pretty sure a lot of you around here would be on board but the masses are just too damn easy to please!

I don't have a solution - besides releasing surround masters independently and making the major labels look like amateurs - but I just want to say, there are box sets and then there are King Crimson box sets.
 

Old Quad Guy

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What is missing in the conversation is that there is no music industry anymore. At least not like how it was in the 1970s and 80s. It's music subscription or free stuff off of YouTube. That's why the script is flipped and Ticket prices are so high for live shows. We also don't know what these record labels are having to deal with, in terms of making their money back on these projects and keeping an Artist happy, or for an Artist to even allow surround on a title.

One famous Artist recently blocked a Quad release, if I understand correctly. I'd like to hate the music industry, but that was so long ago, and everything has changed now. I'm not the same 1980s Punk rocker and the Music industry isn't the same either. I just want to enjoy my life and be happy with what I have. I don't buy every single box out there, and not everyone can afford everything all the time. I've seen folks sell Box sets for a little less, than what they paid, minus the Disc or two they wanted to keep, on Amazon secondary market. So, there are options with dealing with these boxes if they're not your thing.

I like the under $100 bucks sets that has all the Quads or new 5.1 of an Artist's career, like the Chicago box, or the Talking Heads. Not everything is for everyone.

Maybe the Multi-Channel streaming thing might be great, if done right.
 

J. PUPSTER

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What is missing in the conversation is that there is no music industry anymore. At least not like how it was in the 1970s and 80s. It's music subscription or free stuff off of YouTube. That's why the script is flipped and Ticket prices are so high for live shows. We also don't know what these record labels are having to deal with, in terms of making their money back on these projects and keeping an Artist happy, or for an Artist to even allow surround on a title.

One famous Artist recently blocked a Quad release recently, if I understand correctly. I'd like to hate the music industry, but that was so long ago, and everything has changed now. I'm not the same 1980s Punk rocker and the Music industry isn't that same either. I just want to enjoy my life and be happy with what I have. I don't buy every single box out there, and not everyone can afford everything all the time. I've seen folks sell Box sets for a little less, than what they paid, minus the Disc or two they wanted to keep, on Amazon secondary market. So, there are options with dealing with these boxes if they're not your thing.

I like the under $100 bucks sets that has all the Quads or new 5.1 of an Artist's career, like the Chicago box, or the Talking Heads. Not everything is for everyone.

Maybe the Multi-Channel streaming thing might be great, if done right.
I was thinking about those same two box examples myself just this morning and how great they are. Definitely different types of box sets available. I've bought plenty of box sets and I hang on to them, but that's why I thought about this issue, is because it seems to be getting more prevalent and I'm getting tired of dealing with it all just to get the surround out of it. Almost all of this popular legacy material I already own in an LP, CD or SACD format, that as far as stereo goes sounds fine with me, I don't need another stereo version because I'm happy with what I've got. Seems to me the last couple of generations of music fans don't want to own the material items; they are OK with mp3 quality streaming. Some resurgence for LPs though which is fine.

I do believe they should just put out separates for the LP fans or CD buyers and surround enthusiasts; but they seem to want to soak us with everything all at once. Or better yet if they'd just sell this stuff like you buy a new car at the dealer; if you want optional anything just tack on more expense, but start with a basic stripped down model and go up from there. But because they don't do that, it makes me believe they've calculated all this out with the bean counters somehow and choices be damned.

The reality is streaming is already here and will only become more entrenched, so what will it look like for surround enthusiasts like us?

After reading the posts here so far I feel we're all saying similar things, just with slightly different points of view.
 

Old Quad Guy

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I was thinking about those same two box examples myself just this morning and how great they are. Definitely different types of box sets available. I've bought plenty of box sets and I hang on to them, but that's why I thought about this issue, is because it seems to be getting more prevalent and I'm getting tired of dealing with it all just to get the surround out of it. Almost all of this popular legacy material I already own in an LP, CD or SACD format, that as far as stereo goes sounds fine with me, I don't need another stereo version because I'm happy with what I've got. Seems to me the last couple of generations of music fans don't want to own the material items; they are OK with mp3 quality streaming. Some resurgence for LPs though which is fine.

I do believe they should just put out separates for the LP fans or CD buyers and surround enthusiasts; but they seem to want to soak us with everything all at once. Or better yet if they'd just sell this stuff like you buy a new car at the dealer; if you want optional anything just tack on more expense, but start with a basic stripped down model and go up from there. But because they don't do that, it makes me believe they've calculated all this out with the bean counters somehow and choices be damned.

The reality is streaming is already here and will only become more entrenched, so what will it look like for surround enthusiasts like us?

After reading the posts here so far I feel we're all saying similar things, just with slightly different points of view.
How would a Streaming service work for Multi-Channel? Good question, and above my pay grade, but worth exploring before some software or equipment gets released that nobody wants.

It would need a small Roku like divice (maybe put in new AMPs) with the latest WI-FI and HDMI and at least 5.1 RCA outputs for under $100 bucks. Software could be used for the Computers we already own, maybe, instead of this imaginary box. And just as with Mastering Disc releases, the streaming content would have to be excellent. So, someone, some company would have to invest in the careful transfer of Tape to digital. That takes money.

This gets to the heart of the matter, Music preservation, while we can still do something about it. Unexpected fires, tape rot, etc., destroy music content. So, time is not on our side here. But something can and should be done.

If these Boxes are slowing down the pace of getting new vintage Quad releases or 5.1, then that's no good. Also, I can see the Catch 22 if record labels are holding off releases until Christmas and loading them up with the wrong extras, that have nothing to do with music. Also, stop with the download codes that expire when selling Discs sets. Author another Disc with the content! After a box is sold out, it would be nice to get a stand alone release of the surround content with a CD, or put it on the Multi-Channel streaming service.

These discussions tend to drift to the abstract, because we just don't have the numbers it takes for a title to break even, or make money or what sort of demands an Artist ask for. But fortunately something must be working due to the amount of releases we're getting these days. Would like to see more titles released. Still waiting for Aerosmith's and Santana's Quadraphonic titles to get re-released.
 

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We’re the canary in the coal mine. If we’re not interested then it means that no one’s interested. With all due respect, who outside of QQ put money down on Paul Mauriat or Ray Conniff in quad?
 

J. PUPSTER

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Funny, we've had the same thoughts, you just beat me to it Old Quad Guy.

Since I'm so OVER with all the mega box sets and their representative prices; I've got an acronym for them:

40305

Tired Of Mega Box Sets

What I'd really like as a serious aside; would be an eclectic on-line radio station, or maybe as a service through an IOT device with a dedicated station playing only surround music. Someone could even devise a USB stick that is wired or wireless and pull the station right into our AVRs (Involve-Chucky???). I'd be all over that! And if the labels wanted a piece of the action, they could, via a button on the corresponding remote, that takes you to various purchase sites on your TV that signs you in to your account and lets you purchase the title (by track or entire album) with just a couple of clicks. The rights for airing the songs would be the only questionable deterrent; but given that it would be tied to a potential stream of income from sales for the labels, seems like it would be an off setting factor for the airing of the songs. It would also be another avenue for surround sound discover by music lovers that presently have no clue. Hard to believe the major labels haven't already come up with something like this.
 
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