Sound Quality of Music Club CD's vs. Non Music club CD's

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by CD Heaven West, Jul 17, 2009.

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  1. Mr. Wizard

    Mr. Wizard New Member

    Back in the mid 90's I had a subscription with BMG. I stopped after the first batch because the artwork was different. I didn't like their "custom" bar codes. From then on it was the record store for me, and now since record stores are vanishing, I stick to amazon.
  2. Mr. Wizard

    Mr. Wizard New Member

    What he said.
  3. ShawnX

    ShawnX Forum Resident

    Detroit, Michigan
    I agree! Never like those record club copies and avoid them whenever possible. In a few rare cases I will take a one if...1) I cannot find the title, or 2) If there is a big price difference. Otherwise, I don't like'em. They just look "cheap" to me.
  4. seed_drill

    seed_drill Forum Resident

    Tryon, NC, USA
    I wouldn't have 1/3 the cds I now have if it weren't for record clubs. It made them cheap enough to buy in volume when I was a student, and to take chances or go after an album for one or two songs even when I wasn't budgetarily constrained.
  5. bdiament

    bdiament Producer, Engineer, Soundkeeper

    New York
    Hi CD Heaven West,

    I have sent copies of the same exact CD master to plants for label production as well as to record clubs (for the labels).

    Assuming the record club CD used the same master as the label production CD, what remains is the manufacturing stage. This is includes the LBR (laser beam recorder used to create the glass master), speed of glass master cut, plating and duration of injection molding cycle, among other things.

    If the record club CD is made on the same line as the label CD, they stand a good chance of being sonically identical when played on a CD player. Outside of this however, my experience has been that CDs from the same master, made at different plants (sometimes at different lines within the same plant) all sound a little different from each other and none sounds indistinguishable from the master used to make it.

    If properly extracted to hard disk, they will sound exactly the same. But when played on a CD player though a high resolution system, differences can be heard (ranging from very subtle to not-so-subtle, depending on the manufacturing).

    Which is better (i.e. closer to the master)? It depends. Sometimes the record club version might be a better pressing. Sometimes the label version might be a better pressing. It will vary from CD to CD.

    All that said, a lot of folks do not hear differences between pressings. Most experienced mastering engineers I speak with do, as do many listeners who are not pros.

    As to determination of value, that probably varies with the buyer. Some will go for the better sounding pressing, regardless of the source. Others will want the artwork, devoid of "record club".

    Best regards,
    eric777 likes this.
  6. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident

    I'm not saying that my bias is justifiable, but it is how I feel. Decent chance that I could learn something new to change my mind.

    Anyhow, here is that thread I was recalling. Hope the link works. It's from the SlimDevices (SqueezeBox) Forum, which has some interesting discussions.

  7. billnunan

    billnunan Forum Resident

    Cleveland, Ohio
    I don't want to buy a used CD for $6.99 when I know the original buyer got it for $3.99.

    In the used bins, I always avoid the club issues.

    Retailers who buy and sell used CDs pay less for club editions, if they are smart. The only store I have ever sold my used CDs to is Amoeba and they pay less for club editions.
  8. I can tell no difference.

    BTW, there is a Nonesuch target with a 'Columbia House' variation that I'm still trying to track down.
  9. billnunan

    billnunan Forum Resident

    Cleveland, Ohio
    Really? Now that is interesting. What is the variation?
  10. Design. And thanks again to ralph, otherwise I wouldn't have known.

    Regular issue:

    Columbia House:

    According to ralph:
    Note that the disc is a much darker bronze than the commercial version.
    Note also the DIDY 002740 under the new catalog number, E2 79037, both of which indicate a Columbia House pressing.

    .... ok,ok, you don't have to spell it out - I know this forum has turned me into a geek. :D
  11. billnunan

    billnunan Forum Resident

    Cleveland, Ohio
    Thank you for posting that. Tell you check Florida and Australia stores and I'll cover the midwest. Good luck!
  12. CardinalFang

    CardinalFang New Member

    I pass on club editions in the used bins because I will usually find a regular pressing in time.

    That said, I've waited a long time to find a regular pressing of Songs In The Key Of Life. I'm gonna break down soon. :)
  13. Andrew T.

    Andrew T. Out of the Vein

    Tamla TCD 6115, CRC edition. It's as good as any. :thumbsup:
    telepicker97 likes this.
  14. David R. Modny

    David R. Modny Forum Resident

    The other thing to keep in mind is that there is the occasional anomaly of a club disc that *isn't* bit-identical to its stock counterpart. I've actually come across a couple of those along the way.
  15. Steve and others have opined that identical masterings pressed in different cd plants
    will play differently from each other (this has to do with the signal/hardware chain used).

    So if your Warner Brothers title is pressed in a Polygram plant "only for the
    record club issue" then there may indeed be a difference. Better? Good question.
  16. This seems silly to me. If you want the disc and it's in good shape then $7
    is not too much to ask, even if it is a used record club copy.

    $7 won't buy you lunch most places.
  17. This factoid makes the record club version more desirable to me because I usually prefer the older mastering (but not always)

    ATSMUSIC Forum Resident

    MD, USA
    That is kind of how I feel too.

    When I see a record club version at a used record/cd store selling for a normal used price I feel like that is kind of lame though. I would always choose the non record club version all else being equal.
  19. That may have been true at one time but quite honestly having bought my fair share of record club releases, they standardized them unless the packaging was really deluxe in some unusual way.

    As someone else mentioned the differences can be cosmetic or they can be imagined. I've never seen a big difference and if I want to buy a collectable I would have bought it in a store.

    As for sound...they're digital clones. One advantage of record club pressings is sometimes better, superior older non-remastered CDs were still available when they were already out of print elsewhere. For example, I got Jethro Tull's "Songs from the Woods" before BMG changed and it was an earlier, non Mew mastered pressing. It may have been from a higher generation tape or safety copy but it still beat the Mew remaster because of the thrill tremble used to off set the use of noise reduction.
  20. Not anymore. I sold some recently (I had two copies of a CD one a BMG pressing and the other retail) and got what appears to be the same price for both.

    Stock is stock to them. Now they may CHARGE more for the non-club edition but they paid the same.
  21. I go for the one that looks like it's in the best shape unless there has been info out there about a pressing error.
  22. David R. Modny

    David R. Modny Forum Resident

    As I noted earlier, I've personally come across a few exceptions to that rule. :)

    Going from memory, the BMG club pressing of "There's Gonna Be A Storm" by The Left Banke (vs. a stock copy) was one of them. *Not* digitally identical.

    I remember another case too (the title escapes me at the moment) where the channels were simply reversed. Though, I don't recall if there were any other digital anomalies with it.
  23. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    Columbia House Who's Next - similar to the original Japanese version, but lower in level
    BMG Who's Next - similar to the original Japanese version, but at a slightly different speed.

    I want to say that some other Columbia House CDs have been lower in level as well.
  24. mrt2

    mrt2 Active Member

    Milwaukee, WI, USA
    I agree. What difference does it make to you how much the original owner paid for it? Would you say the same of, say, a Mint condition original pressing Blue Note lp from the 50s that sold originally for $4 or $5? Of course not, because in the used market, the prices reflect the market, or what people are willing to pay for a used item, not how much it cost new.

    If it is a title you are looking for, and the mastering you want, what difference does it make?
  25. I've compared 3 US versions of Who's Next (original MCA). 2 of them definitely are BMG, the other may or may not be (I borrowed it a long time ago). One BMG and the unknown were Steve's mastering (43:24), one BMG wasn't (43:12). I have a Steve-mastered BMG: MCAD-37217, DIDX-152, D170350, inner ring: 9/96 4DA2, althrough the "6" may be a "b".
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