With Apple finally landing the Beatles for the iTunes Music store, I wondered if the competition was going to do anything in response. For example, at the iTunes Music store, the full Beatles Boxed set — obviously misnamed, as it is 1. digital and b) minus the physical materials (which are terrific) — is priced at $149.

What is the price of this elsewhere? Its $189.10 at Best Buy, its $169.99 at Walmart and Barnes & Noble  $199.99.

Jeff Bezos has fired a shot across Steve Jobs’ bow: Amazon slashed the price of the Beatles Box set — 14 CDs plus a DVD containing a short “making of” each album — from a list price of $259.98 to a sale price of $129.99. The mono version is same price. And, it ships for free.


Here is what I wrote about the Beatles Box Set in our 2009 Best of Music:

“The sound quality is revelatory. A team of engineers from Abbey Road Studios spent four years using both state of the art technology plus renovated vintage studio equipment to maintain the authenticity and integrity of the original analog recordings. And it shows. The vocals sound like Paul and John are singing from the middle of your living room. The guitar three-dimensional, with resonance of buzz and acoustics of a real guitar. The songs come alive, full of small details not heard before. It sent me off to buy a new pair of front speakers.”

As sound quality gets worse as files get compressed ever more small in the age of the iPod, this is a delightful throwback. A memorable sonic experience.”>

I have no idea how long Amazon will be running this special. If you are even thining aobut getting this for yourself, snap it up now. If you are close to any Beatles fans who don’t own the set, now you know what you are getting them for the holidays . . .


Amazon’s Price War

A Different Kind of Top 10 Music List for 2009

Category: Music, Retail

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

29 Responses to “Amazon to Apple: We Got Yer Beatles Right Here!

  1. Ace says:

    I love your music recs — I have been waiting to buy this, but refused to pay $200.

    Thanks for the heads up

  2. cognos says:

    You dont seriously have CDs lying around your house?

    Do you flip through the book? Or have them in a obtrusive, grosteque “rack”? Maybe on weekends you consider going to Tower records to flip through the stuff in the sale bin?

    Ah technology. It is a massive deflationary force. And the idea that CDs (cassettes, records) and right now movies have been completely eliminated, instant, on-demand, 1,000s of selections in your pocket. Its quite amazing. I remember looking through my CDs a few years ago… that got dragged out of the closet bc of some apartment move and just thinking, wow… those went from “relevant” to “ancient” in about 5 yrs.

    My overall point — if the CDs were 1/2 the price it would still be a bad deal. You’re time-cost of digitizing them is > price.

  3. I still do! I’ve already cut the CD pile radically — from over 3,000 to under 2,000.

    Most new CDs I get are used, so they are about $5. But I still will occassionally pay full boat for something I really want. I rationalize it by telling myself I am supporting the artist.

    I am waiting for a way to transfer these lossless to a drive. There are lots of solutions now, but none are ideal. In fact, most are either bad compromises or way too expensive.

    I have a very sweet setup in my man cave, and MP3s wont cut it. The next cave upgrade are to these B&W speakers.

  4. K-man says:

    Its a very different experience perusing thru CDs than it is to flip thru them on iTunes.

  5. Bob is still unemployed   says:

    @BR – my CDs have been ripped to lossless format, and I am in the process of doing the same for my vinyl. I agree that MP3s really don’t cut it when you want to do some serious, or even semi-serious, listening. Check out this site, there is some good stuff there if you rummage around a bit.

    Nice choice of speaker. I always liked their 801′s back in the day…. :)

  6. PurpleGanga says:

    I miss double albums —

    Yes Relayer was how I cleaned the pot seeds from my stash during college

  7. Bob is still unemployed   says:

    Regarding the Apple Apple price war, I think Apple may be at a disadvantage here.

    Apple is really just a front for the record companies. The record companies dictate the price that Apple is allowed to charge customers. Whereas Amazon appears to have a lot more flexibility in setting the selling price. Either way, the record company comes out ahead, as I suspect the royalty payment per unit sold remains fixed, regardless of how much Amazon discounts. Since the discount results in a higher volume, the royalty revenue goes up.

    Brick and mortar stores used to do the discounting that Amazon is doing as a loss leader to get you in the store. Is the tactic worthwhile for an etailer such as Amazon to use?

  8. whskyjack says:

    Well, that makes my christmas shopping easy.

  9. louiswi says:


    There’s a new band out there called “Quitter Palin and the electronic douche bags.” Any thoughts how far up the charts they will be in two years?

  10. MayorQuimby says:

    Rolling Stones baby. Rolling Stones…

  11. beaufou says:

    Nice present for mucic lovers

  12. Brad says:

    I have a crazy friend who insists that the mono edition is better — what is your take?


    BR: I understand what the purists are suggesting — much of this was recorded mono, etc. But you are listening to COMPACT DISCS DIGITAL RECORDING — haven’t the purists been eclipsed by that . . . ?

  13. bulfinch says:

    I never understood the people bashing CDs, especially later generation re-masters. I’m not a big fan of jewel cases, but I still find CDs as the most convenient high-fidelity storage medium and they are still a going enough concern that I don’t worry about the obsolescence factor too much. There are still super Hi-Fi CD transports and D/A converters being manufactured (in the USA at that!)I have thousands of discs, stored in a very nice, innocuous, low-profile Boltz rack. It lends the room a library-like air.

    Beauty was never arrived at when convenience was the impetus for any given invention. MP3′s are the perfect example. I remember when I first heard an MP3 back ’98, I could hear the tizz and the squirrellies with headphones and figured it would never take off but for the cheapskates or convenience addled – the same guys I knew who had libraries full of cheezy VHS tapes with Sharpie’d titles on their spines – not for the serious listener/collector.

    I still own LPs and 45s, too; all played through my Quad ESL57s/Marantz 8B. I’m not pumping MP3s through these dudes.

  14. Bob is still unemployed   says:

    @Brad & @BR —

    The early Beatles were not recorded in monaural, but were mixed down tomonaural for release, i.e., the master recordings were multi-track, not single track.

    One of the reasons why some folk prefer the monaural release is that the mono mix down is different than the stereo mix down, giving some instruments more prominence than stereo release and resulting in a different overall “sound”. I have an alternate mix of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon that I enjoy listening to from time to time because you hear instrument solos that you cannot hear on the original release.

    Speaking of Beatles rereleases, though… the DVD-A version of the album Love shows the excellent quality of the Beatles master tapes. My DVD player pulls the 96/24 bitstream off the DVD-A and sends it to my DAC. It is very difficult to believe that the recordings are nearly 45 years old.

  15. MayorQuimby says:

    I buy used cd’s and lps still. I digitize the cd’s and have thousands of recordings. But with sites like grooveshark and others out there – even $2 a cd is starting to look expensive.

    You can’t beat free.

  16. Andy T says:

    Amazon got at least one sale off because of this thread. I bought this for my Mom this afternoon.

    Thanks for the tip

  17. NoKidding says:

    Yawn. No longer relevant.

  18. bulfinch says:

    “You can’t beat free.”

    That trough-style, smash-n-grab sensibility is what perfectly encapsulates the demise of quality in every sector of manufacturing and even the service industries. It’s why what was once off-the-shelf quality from Sears Roebuck forty & fifty years ago is now considered boutique exotic goods, reserved for only the most discerning buyers. Back in the fifties words like Vanguard, Paramount and Pinnacle were very bijou words to affix to your product, and there was a reason for that: durable goods were set apart by how conceptual, how well-made and well-designed they were. There was an audience for the best, or for companies who strove for perfection.

  19. bulfinch says:

    There’s more to life than relevance. There is pleasure.

  20. Bob is still unemployed   says:

    @bulfinch Says: I never understood the people bashing CDs, especially later generation re-masters.

    My view is that it is not so much the CD themselves as the process that the music is subject to, before it gets to the CD. Lemme explain…

    I have the ‘back in the day’ vinyl version of Sticky Fingers. The song Brown Sugar on that album starts out a bit on the quiet side and slowly builds in volume until the end of the song when it is really rocking.

    Now, on the CD version of that album that I bought a few years back, Brown Sugar starts out at full compressed high volume, and the volume does not change at all throughout the duration of the song.

    imho, an important part of the song was lost with the CD version, the volume building up as the lyrics progress.

    Pulling this comment back on topic… it is like those who prefer the monaural mix downs of the old Beatles songs, that is the way the song originally sounded before it was remixed for subsequent [stereo] release.

    My point, to restate it, is not that CDs inherently sound bad (listen to this one for a fun ride), but that the processing of the music for the CD release affects the sound quality in a non-positive manner.

  21. Joe Friday says:

    BR: “I understand what the purists are suggesting — much of this was recorded mono, etc. But you are listening to COMPACT DISCS DIGITAL RECORDING — haven’t the purists been eclipsed by that . . . ?”

    Tell the purists to go listen to their precious “mono” while they’re around back sitting in their outhouses.

  22. bulfinch says:

    “Tell the purists to go listen to their precious “mono” while they’re around back sitting in their outhouses.”

    Er, yeah — because it’s somehow just as primal and atavistic to listen to music in the manner which most closely approaches the original recordings as it is to wipe your ass with a Sears catalog.

    By the way, listening to the original recordings in mono on CD is not such a gross contradiction; you’re actually getting much closer to the original recordings than you would with an original mono LP, as the signal was necessarily compressed for the cutter head.

    CD vs original mono R2R is another story…

  23. MayorQuimby says:

    I wish SACD had made it. SACD sounded phenomenal.

  24. philipat says:

    Excuse my ignorance, and I crave indulgence for going slightly off-topic, but I still have all my old Vinyl albums, about 2000 in total, which I kept mainly for the artwork. I’m planning on decorating a room with album art and the albums themselves all over the walls.

    Several of these albums are not even available on CD let alone MP3. Can I ask for suggestions as to the best machine available to transfer direct to digital, via USB I guess. Also, cleaning routine before playing?

  25. bulfinch says:

    Philipat: Lots of great information out there on the web for how to clean and transfer old recordings.

    Reminds me of a story, though: a guy came into my friends record store many years ago who used to be a DJ back in the early fifties and sixties, and, as such, had amassed a trove of promo and mint 45 records over the decades. The DJ, dyed hair and big gold rings on each finger, invites my friend, the record store owner, to come and evaluate his extensive collection and leaves his card, ensuring my friend that “I kep’ all da hits! I got ‘em all!”

    Always on the lookout for inventory and for fleshing out his own collection, my friend stopped by the guy’s address one afternoon, which happened to be a 50′s themed diner, with the requisite hot rod ’57 Chevy parked out front and glittery Naugahyde booths lining the inside. As soon as my friend gets in the door he looks up and notices that every square inch of the joints ceiling is decorated with otherwise mint, rare as hen’s teeth records shellacked to the asbestos tiles. There were three and four hundred dollar discs — totally destroyed. The DJ emerged and greeted my friend, who asked the DJ whether he had anymore such stock stashed away. “Naw, these are all the garbage (gaw-bidge) rekkids! Nobody cares about these. I tol’ you, I kep’ all da’ hits. I still got da hits!” Explaining that he can’t use the f-in’ hits, my friend, his heart breaking, turned on his heel without a goodbye. I think he felt a little disappointed.

    So…my advice to you, Philipat: Decorating with out of print records. Don’t.

  26. jdjed says:

    @ bulfinch & philipat…

    bullfinch, great story

    philipat could display them on walls using conservation frames designed specifically for vinyl albums.

  27. Joe Friday says:


    “Er, yeah — because it’s somehow just as primal and atavistic to listen to music in the manner which most closely approaches the original recordings as it is to wipe your ass with a Sears catalog.”

    Whatever blows your skirt up.