Are laserdiscs worth getting or am I better off with DVDs?

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by AxC., Feb 15, 2014.

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  1. bamaaudio

    bamaaudio Forum Resident

    There's probably little margin at this point when you factor in shipping. I had some hugely common popcorn flicks that I offered locally for a dollar each and no one wanted any of them. A small niche of folks do still collect horror movies, Criterion releases, cartoons, and music titles on that format, though. Some of the DTS releases and titles towards the end of the format's lifespan still have a few folks collecting as well. But the majority of stuff out there would be tough to even give away now. And as mentioned, interest would probably be more from folks looking to collect/frame the artwork more than anything. There have been some surveys suggesting around half of the current vinyl buying public does not listen to the records they purchase and it wouldn't surprise me if the current LD demographic is similar.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2017
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  2. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    I gave away hundreds of them a long time ago, feeling no one would want to buy them. I was just happy to get rid of them. I kept all the Star Wars films, inc that big box set.
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  3. TheVU

    TheVU Forum Resident

    Sometimes it's nice to watch a film that hasn't been digitally scrubbed.

    Or you go on Netflix and try to watch Jurassic Park, and the audio sounds totally flat and lame. You pop in the LD, and all of the sudden you haven't theater quality sound that shakes the house, and the dinosaur snorts scare the **** out of you. Then halfway through the film, you realize your PS4 is still streaming. You switch back and see that visually they're not all too different. Maybe a bit more sharpness and the colors are slightly more vibrant.

    I think the quality of laserdiscs hold up very well, given a good transfer.
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  4. MikeJedi

    MikeJedi Forum Resident

    Las Vegas
    Got a bunch of them (multiple Star Wars versions) , Jim Cameron films and probably have about 200 discs or so in total movies and music. I gotta say, watching the original unaltered Star Wars films is great. The sound is still the best IMO. Top Gun sounds great too..T2 or Jurassic, the sound is amazing.. just like the poster above states, no compression on these older films.. , even some of the Blu Rays (Star Wars films sound pretty awesome on Blu-ray but the wonderful John Williams score is still jacked up in in some spots on Star Wars.. like being in the surround channels) So LD is still nice to have on some stuff... :) I like having both Blu Ray and LD for my movies, for different reasons.. i don't watch DVD's anymore.....Thankfully i still have my Panny Plasma 60" that looks amazing on BluRay and has a nice analog look for my LD's...I will only upgrade to an OLED 4k that is similar, which i believe they are in a lot of ways.. waiting for the prices to come down ..
  5. Leepal

    Leepal Forum Resident

    Swindon, UK
    A few years ago I saw quite a few laserdiscs for sale in a thrift shop....I have to admit I initially did not know what they were! They never really took off in the UK, at least I don't remember anyone owning a laserdisc player. I was drawn to the LP size artwork though.
  6. Kyle McCullough

    Kyle McCullough Well-Known Member

    Los Angeles
    Over the past 10-15 years I've gone through periodic bouts of being extremely nostalgic for Laserdiscs -- bought and sold multiple players and collections -- but there's a familiar pattern:

    1. The initial romance of being able to buy so many Criterion Collection LDs, a Pioneer Elite player -- all for pennies on the dollar -- to indulge my adolescent fantasies and longings as I amass a collection that would have made me drool back in 1992 or so.

    2. Actually putting on the Laserdiscs. Folks, these things look like absolute dreck compared to DVDs to say nothing about Blu-Rays (and what about 4K now?). I mean, it's like looking at video shot through one of those old Fischer-Price cameras that recorded to audio cassettes! IF you have a great old Sony CRT / Trinitron, focus on the Star Wars films or the best Criterion transfers etc... you can still have enjoyable experiences but it's going to take up a lot of space. And there are not many films that are not available in superior formats.

    3. The player starts acting up or breaks. Not fun. You realize this has been a melancholy and somewhat pointless trip down memory lane. You purge the collection through a combination of dumpsters, thrift stores, and eBay (if you are lucky).

    Hardly anyone fixes old players anymore and they are "prone" to breaking. Many LDs rot. A collection takes up an enormous amount of space. Laserdiscs are like a lot old girlfriends that are best left in the past. However, there are a few things that are really spectacular about them... The covers and the liner notes, and some of the printing on the jackets are among the nicest treatments of beloved films that we'll ever see. It's also wonderful to be watching something like an old Disney film without any enhancements, uncompressed, unaltered, not larded with obnoxious supplements, and remembering what it was like to love these movies before the DVD market went crazy. There are also some supplements that never made it to subsequent releases -- but this can be grossly exaggerated.

    I would also caution people about getting too romantic about Laserdiscs and the community which they spawned. Some of the biggest jerks I've ever known in my life were my old "Laserdisc buddies" -- most have turned into real kiss-ups / sell-outs nibbling at the edges of the entertainment industry; this format was more often than not the stomping ground of insecure film geeks. I also met one of the original Criterion liner note authors at a bookstore in Manhattan one time and he was insufferable. And let's not forget how overpriced these titles originally were, how lax the production standards were to prevent laser rot and other manufacturing flaws. And lastly, the fact that the players are almost all dead or dying speaks to the compromised technology / engineering of the format.
    supermd, goodiesguy, DaveySR and 3 others like this.
  7. MikeJedi

    MikeJedi Forum Resident

    Las Vegas
    Still running my Yamaha CDV-870 whenever I feel nostalgic.. great sound and pic for the day .. original Star Wars films unmolested ;)
  8. gojikranz

    gojikranz Forum Resident

    I had always been tempted to get into laserdiscs owing to the amount of unreleased criterion commentaries and some other items. finally made the plunge a few years ago when I found a player for 20 bucks at a thrift store that remarkably was still working perfectly. my mom since found me a second player from someone in her town that was passing theres on that has more functionality then my old one so feeling pretty set with two working players with very little monetary investment.

    its a lot of fun to find stuff that is still unavailable elsewhere and enjoy it as best you can.

    if you like David Lynch a laserdisc player is key to get on the air and hotel room two brief tv shows he did post twin peaks only available on laserdisc in japan (I have seen bootleg dvds of them every so often but they are just rips of the laserdisc so no different in quality). also the twin peaks visual soundtrack which is a weird video of scenes shot in washington set to the soundtrack album. additionally a film he acted in zelly and me has not been released on dvd or blu ray which was a quite nice movie.

    of course the star wars trilogy not just the original versions but also the first special editions are available in the best official quality on laserdisc.

    the godfather trilogy edition although the laserdisc has a odd error where one scene from godfather 2 is presented later in the movie (like it was in the theatrical version) and this issue is not present on the VHS version of this release if memory serves me.

    loads of music releases most key for me Kate Bush released a few laserdisc titles that have never come to DVD.

    Godzilla 1985 the American version still not on dvd or blu(sadly the laserdisc is pan and scan but still best available) similarly there was a very cool Godzilla laserdisc boxset released in japan that had the champion film festival edits of the movies (each one is closer to an hour in length). main issue is no subtitles but a unique curiosity.

    I have a 32 inch hd tv so I don't get too much of a issue watching them especially if it is a 4:3 ratio. so if I go to a store see a movie I kinda wanna see on laserdisc for a buck why not?, obviously if it is something I care about I will invest in a blu ray but if it is just some movie that piques my interest it is fun to have that option and most often cheaper than finding a dvd or streaming option. and compared with VHS much more watchable I have yet to find a truly unplayable laserdisc due to laser rot a couple with some minor speckling but nowhere near how often a VHS is garbage looking.

    theres no big reason to get into laserdisc but if you have the inclination I'd say go for it just know what you are getting into.
    Al Kuenster likes this.
  9. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    City of Angels
    I agree with so much of what you wrote in your post that I was about to just give you a pass on the entire thing. But I must state where our experiences differ.

    Laser rot is over-stated. Sure MCA Discovision is sure fire rot by now. But I have never seen a Japanese pressed LD with any rot. Never seen a Criterian title with one spec of rot. None of those later MGM / 20th Century Fox wide-screen titles (you know those really beautiful transfers you forgot to mention in your long but excellent post are showing any rot by now, nope.

    Also the players are not dying. I had four players and am down to two. Sold the lesser Panasonic on Craig's List just cause I felt like making more shelf space and liked having an extra $75 spending cash that week. And a friend dropped a cheap Pioneer unit hard to the ground that I loaned her. Busted some of the cheap plastic parts for the tray mechanism, that's all she wrote on that unit.

    So I am down to two higher end one, a Denon and a Pioneer. They will require a clean and fresh lubrication of the loading tray rails, etc. but they are not dying off - or showing signs they will anytime soon. These are going to last I can tell. I mean if they lasted this long? And I treat them gently!
  10. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    I have held on to my Denon player that flips the disc, and about 50 discs, since they were new. No idea why, and I don’t even know if the player will work but it did ten years ago. I was in my local music store today. I guess someone probably literally gave a huge collection away because suddenly they had a bunch of discs for sale. I doubt any sold. Today all of them were marked $1.99. Made me cringe...Beatles Criterion Hard Day’s Night and tons of others. If people knew what those cost! I doubt most even know what they are, but you could have about $3000-$4000 of discs for maybe $100.
  11. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    City of Angels
    That's an easy fix you should do rather than only relying on using it regularly to keep it smooth running. Silicone greese applied after cleaning up the track and rails will do wonders for the longevity of these units.
  12. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    City of Angels
    Can you link them here. I have my two top of the line LD units that are running perfect now, but must be due for their lube change to keep them in top shape for another ten years at least.

    And I want and need to know exactly where to clean them up and dab on the new greese.

    Love my Japanese concert discs!!!!!
  13. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    City of Angels
    Fix the Sticky drawer before it fails - very easy fix!
  14. weaselriot

    weaselriot Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL

    OK. You say very easy fix. Magic wand? HOW? Pray tell.
  15. Jack Lord

    Jack Lord Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    When I was 15 or so, I dated this girl whose parents had money. The old man had a ... Laser Disc player in the TV room. This being around 1981, it looked like something out of the future. She said the picture quality was excellent. And so we spent time fooling around while watching Xanadau and Cheech & Chong movies.

    FF to around 10 years ago, I was stunned that these things were still around yet were going for pennies at the thrifts. I procured a player for cheap and grab a title here or there if it is no more than $2.oo.

    It's mostly for grins, but I do have the unmolested Star Wars trio. And I did get the Beatles Budokan Concert.

    I will say watching Apocalypse Now on LD is pretty cool.
  16. mdm08033

    mdm08033 Senior Member

    Delete if needed.
    But listening to the uncompressed stereo PCM track on Apocalypse Now is amazing. The dynamics and bass are system testing.
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  17. Jack Lord

    Jack Lord Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    Agreed. Using headphones is an atmospheric experience.
  18. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits, Abbie & Mitzi: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
    I loved the disc break for the last LD of "AN".

    I've always disliked the Brando scenes, and the last LD ended at a point that seemed like a perfect conclusion.

    I'd watch Disc 1 Sides 1 and 2 and just skip Disc 2!

    I also loved the side break for the widescreen "Raiders of the Lost Ark". Indy says "that's it" and the side ends! :laugh:
  19. Time Is On My Side

    Time Is On My Side Forum Resident

    Madison, WI
    DVD. But my choice is still for Blu-ray. The picture and audio quality is better and they usually don't cost much more used.
  20. quadjoe

    quadjoe Senior Member

    I haven't been on in quite some time. so here's a quick update: About a year and a half ago we moved into a new home, and I decided to get rid of the LD player and my discs. My nephew took the player and discs off my hands. He has a TV with a CRT, and enjoys watching the discs. I believe he had a friend lubricate the drawer mechanism and so far it's working without a hitch. I don't really miss the format, however. It never looked good on my 60" plasma set.
    mdm08033 likes this.
  21. LeBon Bush

    LeBon Bush Hound of Love

    The japanese Twin Peaks box is a great addition for the bonus LD 'Clue to the Mystery' and the fantastic booklet which includes a town map, a diagram explaining the relationships between every single character of the show, biographies of people involved... a friend got it for me in Osaka. Set him back exactly 15 bucks in stunning condition. Looks like it was never played. Has a special place on my shelf ;)

    Other than that... some music LDs are not available on any modern medium. Kate Bush's Hammersmith show from 1979, for example. The Laserdisc from 1981 is likely the best-looking and sounding version you're going to get if you manage to find an unrotten copy.
  22. Rachael Bee

    Rachael Bee Miembra muy loca

    All the Laserdiscs made in 1981 and 1982 have rotted. They had to change the process because the one they were using was worse than DiscoVision. If they printed more copies in 1983, or later, the Kate Bush LD would be safe to buy.
  23. LeBon Bush

    LeBon Bush Hound of Love

    Yeah, that's what I thought... the LD was reissued in Japan in 1983, 87 and 90. Sadly, the only PAL release was in '81.
  24. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    City of Angels
    The Paul Weller Live Wood Japanese LD is quite the stunner. Picture very nice and sound just rocks like hell. And LDs look ok on my Samsung big screen tv.

    The only DVD issued of this concert was a UK PAL. I should someday search one out and see if it could look better than the LD. But I have seen reissued material looking no better than what was on LD. And we know the sound won't be richer/better.
  25. The Hud

    The Hud Go Royals!

    I don't know why they didn't put "Godzilla 1985" on the "Return of Godzilla" Blu-Ray. It would have easily fit. I prefer Return of Godzilla, but I would like to have both for a complete collection.
    gojikranz likes this.
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