Starting a classical library is BMG an answer?

Love, but the CD's are expensive! Is the BMG classical club the answer? Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated. BTW got the CD list from the Stereopile R2D4 since 1996 'till now. Thanks!
No,BMG keeps sending me unsoliceted emails. They should be made to walk the plank.

Check out the Naxos label at your local CD shop. There are some decent recordings there and all are value priced.
An emphatic yes. BMG offers an impressive selection of classical music and frequently has deals that work out to under $7 per CD with shipping. I have a very substantial collection of classical CDs, and they are still introducing new CDs of interest. Columbia House's CD club for classical music just went under, and for years they had a meager and pitiful selection of classical-crossover garbage. And also, the whole paranoia that BMG manufactured CDs are inferior to full-priced CDs is just plain false. I've done head-to-head comparisons and there is no difference.

For classical CD reviews, check out and the newsgroup on google for advice on the best recordings.

For the best selection of classical CDs at a retail store, try:

For wholesale and cut-out CDs try:

Classical music is a great hobby. It is terribly intimidating at first, but ends up with years of wonderful discoveries if you keep an open mind.

i'm no pal to bmg but columbia house mostly carries an original versions of cds while bmg has only remanufactures i.e. typically cd-rom quality of pressing and recording if not worse. i realy try to avoid used cds with message "manufactured for bmg under licence..." since the quality is very different from the original version indeed.
FYI, Columbia House no longer carries classical music-- they've foisted all the classical memberships over to the Musical Heritage Society. BMG is a wonderful way to go. Naxos does offer some fine recordings at budget prices, but you have to be very careful-- the quality of performance and recording have improved greatly in recent years, but it's still deeply uneven, particularly for core repertoire, for which you''re almost always advised to stay with the major labels represented on BMG. For more out of the way stuff-- modern American, unusual chamber music, and particularly any and all of their guitar recordings-- Naxos can be terrific. Their piano recordings of the complete Mendelssohn, Messiaen, and Granados (with the exception of the "Goyescas") are competitive with the best.
The above is not true. The quality of the BMG pressings is not going to be different than the quality of an average mass-produced CD. The quality of individual plants can vary, but that's the case with all CDs and labels...not just the music clubs.
Don't worry about the manufacturing quality--that's a non-issue. If you can stand all the mailings, a mail-order club is a great way to get your feet wet. (I started my classical record collection with Musical Heritage Society 20-odd years ago.)

As for the quality of Naxos, there are bad performances on every label, and until you've really gotten into classical music, you're liable to pick up some dogs no matter how much you spend. So what? That's part of the learning curve. The great thing about Naxos is, it doesn't cost you much to experiment. And experimenting is exactly what you should be doing right now. Buy 'em by the fistful!
BMG is well worth belonging to because of the wide selection of classical music and the low prices; they are always offering sales and monthly specials that make their prices unbeatable. The story about their CDs being inferior to those bought in a store is absolutely false--an audiophile myth; their CDs are idential to the same title bought in a store, just cheaper. Their marketing is pretty aggressive but you can choose email only or postal mail only. On balance they are a very cost-effective way to built a classical music collection.

As for Naxos, I'm a fan and have and enjoy many Naxos CDs. Naxos has become the most ambitious and adventurous force in recorded classical music in recent years. Their catalog is extensive and is not free from some dogs. A good way to go with them, I believe, is to get a copy of their catalog, which identifies all their CDs that have received positive reviews. Some have received considerable acclaim. If you buy the CDs that have received several positive reviews, it's hard to go wrong; this makes it relatively easy to spot the Naxos CDs that are really outstanding. It's worked for me. (If you are an audiophile, I could give you a short list of Naxos orchestral CDs I have that have demonstration-quality sound if you're interested.) Good luck and happy listening.
Read this about BMG and decide whats going on! I think it's might be the poor quality CD's used because I'll be damned if I do not notice differences in the CD's. Then again most BMG CD's I have are pre 1992 CD's.

Eric Grunin wrote in message
> On Sun, 04 May 2003 10:35:01 GMT, "EDS" wrote:
> >Looking on Ebay (I'm a newbie ebayer), I noticed that there are a lot of CDs
> >that are branded with the BMG label even though they originally come from
> >other major labels. Is there any difference between these CDs and the
> >originals?

I managed the BMG Classical club from 1992-94, and I seem to answer
this question every two years or so, so here goes:

The club manufactures their CDs under license from the respective
labels. Masters and CD booklet film are provided by the licensor to
BMG. BMG usually removes the original barcode from the original film
and strips in a unique barcode and their legal language (ie:
Manufactured under license by BMG...") on both the booklets and the CD
label. One reason this is done is to keep the club CDs from coming
back through retail as returns. The club barcode won't be found in the
retail system. That doesn't mean the discs don't get sold off on e-bay
or at used CD stores. However, BMG and CH are prohibted by contract by
dumping their manufactured versions onto remainder (ie: cut-out)
dealers. They must destroy their overage. Sounds wasteful, but it's
actually a great incentive to manage inventory effectively.

The master used to press the recording is the same master used by,
say, Universal USA. BMG usually manufactures at their JVC plant, but
on some occasions, they simply go to the licensor's plant and
piggyback their run onto the end of the licensor's run, changing only
the CD label film in the process.

The BMG Club masterings are identical to the retail masterings, and,
in fact, the whole Club operation is set up for expediency. BMG would
NEVER spend the time or money to "ruin" a mastering by making it
inferior to the retail release. Believe me. It doesn't happen. If an
audiophile tells you differently, he's mistaken.

The CD booklets often look inferior to retail because 1) they are
usually printed on a lower-quality paper, and 2) expensive things like
gold leaf are replaced by standard 4-colour process CMYK tones. If a
multi-disc set doesn't really need a slipcase, that's discarded too.
Likewise O-rings on single CDs. BMG saves alot of money here and that
allows them to offer the CDs at low prices. This is the only noticable
difference between BMG Club and retail product. If it bothers you,
then buy from retail.

The licensee contracts that the record clubs have with the record
labels allow them to buy "finished goods" directly from the label's
warehouse. This comes in handy when you're buying expensive multi-CD
sets and/or discs that are only going to sell a couple of hundred
copies in a year. When I was at BMG, the rule of thumb was to buy
finished goods unless you projected selling 5,000+ units of a single
disc over a 2-year period. If a disc was going to sell large
quantities, we secured the parts and did our own manufacturing. If
there was less demand projected, we bought finished goods. I imagine
that rule still stands.

That's it.
I belonged to Musical Heritage in the 80's and early 90's and BMG still. I agree that you can not find better prices than BMG and it is an excellent way to build up a library at a reasonable cost, typically between 7-8.00 each including shipping if you buy smart. They market constantly buy 1 get 2 free or 2/3 off retail unlimited etc. What they do is charge shipping and handling AND your State sales tax for each CD which still works out to be a bargain. I also agree that the NAXO's CD's are hit or miss but typically very well recorded and there is much rare material from obscure composers as well as mainstream and at about 6.00 each a great deal as well.
The choice about BMG is a matter of opinion, listen for yourself and decide. Personally I do not buy BMG.
I chose do stick for the most part with major labels. Get a copy of the Penguin Guide and read some reviews before you buy, Grammaphone magazine is also good. I beleive the reviews are important. I also look at who is preforming and conducting and there are certain ones I like and dislike. I have also found that I sometimes sacrifice a bit of recording quality to get a better preformance.
Many thanks to Abex for setting the record straight and definitively laying to rest the audiophile myth that BMG CDs are sonically inferior to, or sonically different from, the same titles bought in stores. This isn't a matter of opinion; it's a matter of fact. There are still some loony, neurotic, obsessional audiophiles who want to believe this nonsense; they are the guys who have such incredibly sensitive ears that they can hear what isn't there. Those of us with common sense will do well to ignore them and enjoy the lower prices offered by BMG. It ought to be noted that in the heyday of the LP there really were significant differences in different pressings of the same title, depending on the master used, the pressing plant used, the quality and purity of the vinyl, how near the beginning or end of a pressing run a given LP emerged, etc. One notorious, well-documented case was Angel classical LPs in the USA, which remastered European EMI originals for American pressings and were consistently inferior. You have to wonder if the genuine differences of those days have given rise to the myth about the inferiority of BMG CDs. Anyway, this myth has been around for many years, and like many myths it dies hard.

Another good website and source for classical CDs is H&B Recordings Direct at I've bought a good many CDs from them over the years and never had a problem. They have CDs on sale by label monthly, and they put out a substantial monthly publication that comes by postal mail and describes the month's new releases and the labels on sale that month. Like they seem to deal only in classical music. Their website and monthly magazine give snippets from various classical CD reviews. Worth checking out.

Here are some books that will be of use to anyone getting started in, or well along the way in, building a classical CD collection, in terms of guidance to recommended versions:

1. The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs. A large, very thick paperback of about 1600 pages. Multiple contributors. Recommends recordings of just about all classical music and opera. My only quibble is that some of the brief reviews are too wishy-washy and some think this British publication tends to show a certain degree of chauvinism toward British performers and recordings.
2. The Gramophone Classical Good CD Guide. Multiple contributors. Another large, very thick paperback of about 1350 pages that recommends recordings of just about all classical music and opera. Again, some think this British publication favors British performers and recordings. There is a separate smaller publication, The Gramophoine Opera Good CD Guide, about 550 pages, although the bigger book does include opera.
3. Classical Music: The Rough Guide. Another large, thick paperback of around 500 pages of recommended recordings, with brief essays about each composer and his works. This too is British in origin.
4. The Record Shelf Guide to Classical CDs, Jim Svejda. Another large, fat paperback of about 900 pages. This is an American publication and is entirely the work of the author.
Any or all of these can be helpful in steering you to good versions of classical works and helping you to avoid wasting money on the dogs. I have a large classical CD collection I've been building for almost 20 years, and I make use of all of these books from time to time. But of course what they are all offering is opinion, and as you gain expertise in classical music and recordings, you will begin to form your own opinions as to which labels, performers, orchestras and conductors, etc. you prefer. Good luck and happy listening.
Abex: Thanks for that post. Key point: It would cost BMG *extra* to make the CDs worse.
Two more quick points about joining BMG:

1. I'd suggest not giving them your phone #. I made the mistake of giving them mine, and after a few unwanted calls from them trying to sell me CDs, I insisted that they put me on their do-not-call list.

2. When you join, you can opt for postal mail or email. In the past I've gone both ways. One of the advantages of going email is that their website has the complete catalog of everything they carry, available to you all the time, anytime you want to order something. The postal mailings are only partial listings of what they've got. And the search facilities of the website make it a lot easier to find what you're looking for.
In reading these responses I see that many here do not feel there is a difference in the recorded quality of cd's from various facilities.
One of the reasons I differ in this opinion is reading another thread talking about Japanese cd's and the overwhelming response was that people said that the Japansese cd's sounded better. Why is this the case?
Because many of the Japanese CDs were remastered (and often quite well). BMG was using the same master that was used in the initial release.
Rbtwsp55, Where this is true, it is because the Japanese CDs have different mastering from the domestic CD. For example, I have number of early Japanese classical CDs (formerly Columbia/CBS LPs in the USA) that were later released here as Sony CDs; in many cases the Japanese CDs do sound better.