The Noisy Audiophile
More About Buying New CDs for the Price of
Since the last CD club installment I've received several
EMAILs from people with feedback and info that are worth sharing
with you to further enhance your CD Club experience. In addition,
I rejoined Columbia House recently making extensive use of their
web site. So here are some things that came from SoundStage!
readers and some things I've discovered since the first
- If you get tired of mailing back selection cards every
month, you can request being put on a 'no card to return'
service. Here you order what you want, when you want it.
You have to have completed your enrollment agreement to
be able to do this. Some clubs may have 'rules' about who
qualifies for this kind of membership (minimum annual
number of CDs purchased or something like that). I'm not
too crazy about this option though. I'd rather just quit
then wait for the attractive "We wish you would
rejoin" offers because these are often better than
the 'public' offers in advertisements.
- You can reply to the monthly mailings via the clubs' web
pages, saving the cost of a stamp every month.
- If you get a monthly mailing and the offer is not good
enough (I recently got one from Columbia House, 'buy 1
get 2 at 75% off', forget about it, not a good deal at
all), SAVE the booklet for another month or two when the
offer is better and order the CDs from the older booklet.
This definitely works. This lets you maximize the good
CDs you get and maximizes your opportunity to get the
best prices for every CD you order.
- If you use the club's web page, you can order ANY CD in
their database on any selection card you return to them.
So if you get a monthly mailing with a 'buy 1 get 3 free'
offer, you can order CDs from any booklet you got in the
mail and you can order any CD the club carries from their
web page database. Very cool.
- If you are joining a CD club... you are not restricted to
the titles that appear in the advertisement. You can
order any title in the club's web page database as part
of your initial order. I recently did this with Columbia
House and it worked like a charm.
- I am beginning to suspect that Columbia House gets more
CDs direct from the original recording label than BMG
does. This is because Columbia House CDs are packaged
more like the original CDs more often than BMG's CDs. For
example: Lou Reeds 'Set the Twilight Reeling' has a
unique dark dark blue jewel case. The Columbia House Lou
Reed CD comes with that dark blue jewel case. Neil
Young's Mirror Ball came in a cardboard sleeve in stores,
but the BMG Club version was in a standard clear jewel
case. Likewise, Columbia House CDs that came from their
original record company with special tinted CD carriers
come with those same colored tinted CD carriers, like the
orange one used on Dada's 'American Highway Flower'.
- One correspondent noted that BMG Classical CDs do not
sound as good as store bought copies of the same CDs. I
have to admit to finding BMG Classical CDs to sound very
uninvolving also. But I have never had an opportunity to
compare BMG versions directly to commercial versions.
Note that there is variation in commercial versions too.
I have multiple copies of several CDs and it is just as
common for them to sound different as it is for them to
sound the same. I do not get the same sense than BMG
pop/rock/etc CDs do not sound as good as originals. I
have done some comparisons of several random titles and
find the BMGs sound the same most of the time. When they
don't sound the same, it's a tossup as to which one
sounds best, sometimes the store copy, sometimes the BMG
- Columbia House's web page is working now, apparently,
mostly... there were some problems in January and
February, but it seems to have settled down to a great
extent at www.columbiahouse.com. You can find CDs by
category, title, artist, or alphabetically. Columbia
House wisely crosses over many titles into multiple
categories. For example: Los Lobos appear in adult
alternative, rock, and Latin/Tejano.
- Best intro offer seen from Columbia House recently : 12
Free now (no shipping charges), buy 1 more for $6.95 now
and get 2 more Free now. Total of 15 CDs for a total cost
of $15 ($6.95 plus tax and shipping/handling on 3 CDs).
Membership obligation is to buy 4 more CDs at full price
within 2 years. Of course if you buy those full price CDs
when the sale offer is 'buy 1 get 3 free' or 'buy 1 get 2
free' you get more free CDs when you buy the 4 required
to fulfill your membership. In the end, you have 27 to 31
CDs for about $113 to $123, $3.65 to $3.95 each (plus
some sales tax). Not bad for CDs a bit more identical to
what you buy in stores. BMG's prices are only a tiny bit
lower for a similar number of CDs built around a BMG
introductory offer. The Columbia House web page can be
used to join but you get 11 CDs Free instead of 12. I did
not notice if you could reduce the number of full price
CDs you have to buy later buy one if you buy 1 more now
for 1/2 price (plus 2! more free). You also pay shipp ing
on the web site's intro offer which increases the cost of
each 'free' CD by about $2.25.
- Using Columbia House's web site, you can purchase CDs if
you live in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Enjoy your cheap CDs!
Click here for Doug Blackburn's previous
article: New CDs for the Price of Used CDs