Top Ear

The budget series phenomenon: The Ugly

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Jeremy Lee writes

The ugliest thing, however, is the truth that strikes you when you buy it:  the price.  Sure, single CDs are all under $100, but depending on where you buy it, the price range for a single CD can be as wide as $20–certainly a lot of money in comparison to the (inexpensive) price that you buy it for.  DISCLAIMER:  All the prices and price ranges listed below are just for reference–don’t come finding me if ever you can’t find it less expensive than the top of the range I suggested!

Eloquence CDs are normally priced around $55 to $70, although I got my only Eloquence disc (Karajan’s Mozart Requiem) for $30, and that was during sales.  Virtuoso’s price range is very wide:  Abbado’s Mahler 5th is yours for $55 at Prosound, with a possible 5% discount; it’s $75 at HMV.

EMI’s Encore series can be bought for $45 at Win Win, but you’re looking at $60 at the top of the price range.  Classics for Pleasure discs are yours for $55 at Prosound but my Rattle Mahler 10 was $65 when I bought it at HMV (that was a long time ago).  Old Red Line discs are also $55 at Prosound, and the new ones range from around $45 to $60.

Sony/RCA’s Classical Masters’ single CDs can be bought for $59 at DiscPlus and $69 at Hong Kong Records.  The box sets, however, are scarier.  Take Levine’s 10CD Mahler set as an example:  while it’s yours for $239 at Hong Kong Records, it can be $539–twice the price–somewhere else.

However, possibly the ugliest truth of the whole budget label phenomenon is when you realize you can buy the performance on your full-priced CD, complete with fancier packaging and booklet notes–at half the price on a budget series.  Imagine how cheated those who bought Solti’s Verdi Requiem in its 2CD incarnation on the mid-to-full-priced RCA Classic Library series would feel!  And imagine how smug those who bought it on Classical Masters at a 1CD price would feel!  It’s the same thing with my Previn Gershwin:  it’s available on Decca’s flagship Originals mid-price reissue series, and even though I bought my Virtuoso at the top of the price range, I still saved myself at least $20.

So then, all bases covered:  good, bad, and ugly.  That’s useful Top Ear Consumer Advice to you!

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Author: Top Ear

Musical hooligans.

One thought on “The budget series phenomenon: The Ugly

  1. Pingback: The budget series phenomenon: The good, the bad, the ugly–An introduction « Top Ear

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