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The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

The Beatles Box Sets – the Packaging

I received my Beatles Box sets by FedEx today.  I haven’t had a chance to listen to them yet – and I only really care how they sound – but I did open them and want to share a few impressions on how they are packaged.

First some background.  There are two Beatles box sets (i.e., The Beatles Stereo Box Set and The Beatles Mono Box Set).  One contains the stereo mixes, and the other the mono.  Several people have asked me why I would want the mono recordings.  The mono mixes are interesting because they were the top priority back when these recordings were originally released.  Great care was taken to get these mono mixes right.  The stereo mixes took a backseat.  They got less attention, and the Beatles / George Martin weren’t always directly involved.  So does this only matter to audiophiles?  I don’t think so.  In many cases, the stereo mixes involve different source tracks – e.g., the vocal or guitar are just different.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, the mono set is way nicer than the stereo one.  Remember though, these are non-audio opinions – I’ll post those later. 

Stereo Set

I first opened the stereo set and was struck by a few things:

  1. The whole box is inside of a paper sleeve that looks just like the box.  My first thought was “am I supposed to put it back in that sleeve or throw the sleeve in the recycling?”  I’d rather there were no sleeve.
  2. Inside the box, the discs are stacked in two piles.  You can’t get any but the top one out without pulling out the whole stack.  Kind of lame.
  3. Each disc is in its own shrink-wrap.  Why?
  4. The covers have a white stripe and the Apple / The Beatles logo on them.
  5. No extra book, though there is a documentary disc.
  6. No Sgt. Pepper cutout sheet (though included as a page in the booklet).

All in all, I’m thinking they should have done better. 

Mono Set

  1. The sleeve is sturdy cardboard and slides off of the inner box.
  2. Once the sleeve is off, all of the discs’ spines are available to pull out the one you want.
  3. Each disc is in its own resealable wrapper. 
  4. The covers are replicas of the original releases.  No superfluous Apple logos on pre-Apple records.
  5. A nice book that talks about the mono recordings and goes into details on the “Mono Masters” disc that is included.
  6. The Sgt. Pepper cutout sheet.

Simple, yes, but much nicer than the Stereo.

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When will the M-Audio Drivers be available?

Last week I got one of these:

Fast Track Pro

I plan to podcast with it and use it to feed my headphone amp at the office.  I set it up with no problem and it sounds great.

This week I got one of these (on the left) running (on the right):Dell Latitude D820

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, I am using it as a door stop:

Joking aside, I knew the drivers were unavailable before I bought it.  As a long-time owner of an M-Audio Delta 1010, I bought it having the faith that they would deliver drivers soon.  They did a terrific job getting WDM drivers out back when Microsoft first started supporting them (remember Windows ME?), and I bet they will do the same now.

They are clearly late this time (and some of their competitors are notably on time) and I do have a beef with their public statement (from their site, emphasis mine):

M-Audio has been keeping pace with changes to the Windows Operating System since the release of Windows 95 nearly 12 years ago.  We are very excited about the opportunity to offer continued support to our Windows customers as the Windows Pro Audio community begins the gradual transition to the Vista era.  Over the past year, we have worked directly with Microsoft’s Vista team to prepare for this release.

Currently, M-Audio does not offer Vista drivers or Vista software updates (beta or otherwise).  As soon as Vista drivers or updates for any product are available, this FAQ and other portions of our Web site will be immediately updated to reflect this.  Due to the nature of software and driver development, we are not able to provide exact dates or timeframes for when specific drivers will become available—but please rest assured that supporting Vista is a top priority for us.

If they have worked “directly with Microsoft’s Vista team” for the past year, then they should be able to tell us when the drivers will be available.

When, M-Audio, when?

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SlimDevices Acquired

Logitech has acquired SlimDevices.  Announced here.

SlimDevices will greatly benefit from the greater marketing and manufacturing capabilities of Logitech. 

I do have a couple of concerns about the acquisition.

Hardware

Logitech is a consumer electronics company, not an audio(phile) products company. 

Looking at the SlimDevices SqueezeBox 3 and their new Transporter, it seems to me they were heading in the direction of mid to high-end product.  These products are well-built and solid and  sound great (at least the squeezebox does — I  haven’t heard a Transporter).  Consumer electronics tend to the light-weight, mass-produced, just cheaper. 

I hope that Logitech / SlimDevices will continue to build a great product.

Software

I chose SlimDevices because of the open nature of their platform.  I just can’t stomach an all-Windows, all iTunes, all anything approach to my music collection.  I am just too particular about inane details.  The SlimDevices SlimServer did (pretty much) everything I wanted it to do from the get go (not the least of which is native FLAC support).   And even better: the entire platform is open. 

Logitech has committed to continuing to support the open platform.  I hope so.

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