Postage & Shipping
Quality of Recordings
This is not a secure website so
there is a slim chance that your order details might be intercepted by
a third party. Probably about the same odds of your being trod
on by an elephant. In over ten years of trading, there has
never been the slightest hint of order details misappropriation.
But one does not want to tempt fate so if you are really nervous about
transmitting your card details, you can send the numbers over split
emails an hour or so apart. Simply enter a string of zeroes in
the Order Form where the card numbers go.
Once I have your number, it is not required again until the
Just enter zeroes and the LAST four numbers,
and the expiry date on your Order Form.
None of this information is stored on the website.
secure is your credit card online?
The risk of your credit card details falling into the criminal hands
when you make an online purchase is real – but remote.
In fact, the risk is about the same as giving your details over
Amazingly, not using your credit card doesn’t
make you any more safe.
Criminals have had credit card number generator programs for years.
These programs use the same algorithms as banks to generate thousands
of potentially real credit card numbers. There’s a small possibility
that the software will eventually generate your credit card number,
purely by chance.
don’t let yourself think that small transactions are any less
important. A small debit may be one way for criminals to
‘test’ your card. Or it may be part of a much wider fraud. For
example, The US Federal Trade Commission uncovered scams that netted
some $50 million through thousands of $20 debits.
best way to protect yourself and your cards is to always check your
statements thoroughly as soon as they arrive (or more frequently
online, if your bank offers Internet banking services). It
is also a good idea to establish a card with a modest credit
limit and use that for Internet purchases.
Celestial Audio is not a record company nor a
private record label.
It is a service to opera collectors unable or disinclined to make
their own recordings and who appreciate quality
presentation and well-mastered recordings.
You get what you pay for. In most cases they are the
best-sounding editions available, apart from fully commercial releases
off the radio master.
Occasionally I am asked
about the sound of certain recordings in the catalogue.
The Audio Clips on site should give a good idea of the general level
of audio quality and inspire some sort of confidence in that the
recording you receive will be of
an acceptable listening standard.
The vast majority are far more than that, ranging from good to
I do not bother with poor quality recordings .... unless it were
a complete opera
sung by Caruso ....
or something that is very rare and there clearly is only the one
common source recording.
An exception is recordings in the LIMITED
These recordings have considerable importance or rarity value but may
current standards of audio quality for one reason or another.
Often they were made under difficult circumstances and usually no
better copy is available.
They are offered as Historical Documents in that they are worth
preserving to be appreciated by those who care about these
things. In essence, they are for those who can cope with a
bit of crumbly sound now and again.
But if you know Celestial Audio standards, you will anticipate
that it won't be too crumbly !
Web space is limited and audio clips take
up a lot of space. Where a recording or artist may be relatively
unknown or where the recording is significantly better than other
available editions, an audio clip is included on site. The
Catalogue Disk is updated yearly and contains a far greater
number of audio clips than is available on the website.
Ask for a disk if your copy is out of date.
There is no charge for it when included with an order.
conventional compact disc may be nearing its use-by date as a
Its playing time is not much more than two LP sides and its audio
performance can be bettered.
The CD specifications were set in the dawn of the digital age and
there has been a lot of progress made since then. Current model,
quality DVD players now sport 192kHz/24-bit digital to analogue
converters and are capable of playing just about every disc format.
(Super Audio Compact Disc) shows off the superiority of higher
As many of you know, the choice for the home recordist has not been an
easy one. Carefully adjusted cassette recorders gave good results but
there was always the awkwardness of judging appropriate spots to
switch tapes. VHS HiFi with its long tapes solved the problem of
playing time but cost-cutting measures whisked away the recording
level meters and if one was unable to replay the tape on the machine
on which it was recorded, there was often a nasty VHS bass rumble in
Currently, many home DVDs are variously affected by that artefact in
their audio output.
Some people took the mini-disc option but to my ears, that format
lacks a certain element of harmonic detail and of course, playing time
is again limited.
Others went with CD recorders and spend a lot of time hoping that the
aria would end before the disc did.
DVD recorders appeared that gave a similar audio performance to CD
when used in the High Quality mode and enabled one to record in linear
Many of the latest models have ditched that option and record their
audio in a compressed format (AC-3).
Keen ears notice the difference.
All of which begs the question of how best to record those opera
broadcasts we love to collect.
If your idea of good sound is a webcast at 128kbps then you don't need
to worry about this.
High quality analogue and digital broadcasts are best captured by high
Even if you are only vaguely computer literate, the answer is to use
Having a quality sound card installed is essential.
It will allow you to make high quality recordings at the higher
sampling and bit rate of 48kHz/24-bit rather than the lower resolution
sound of 44.1kHz/16-bit which compact disc delivers.
More "bits" captures the signal in greater detail.
These high quality recordings can then be burnt to an Audio-DVD.
The software required is cheap and easy to use.
Your recordings will play in your fancy new DVD player and
furthermore, take up a lot less shelf space as the complete recording
will fit on one disc.
At this high data rate, one has a playing time of about four and a
half hours !
Recording at the lower resolution of 48kHz/16-bit gives a disc playing
time of over six and a half hours. That's two whole operas on one disc
in CD quality sound! Or, if you've got cash to splash, you can
go for something like the Yamaha AW1600 Hard Disk Recorder which has a
USB connection that will allow your recordings to be transferred
easily to the computer to be burned to disc.
where I occasionally receive enquiries:-
On the matter of
What I am most interested in is good quality original source
recordings rather than ones that have originated from other
dealers, or semi-"commercial" editions that have circled the
globe many times and gone through several transformations ..... not
always to their benefit.
Definitely no webcasts, and minidisc sources only if they are live
inhouse and reasonably immediate in sound. Avoid
using the LP4 mode as this is a severely compressed format that loses
the harmonic detail in the sound and does not give a particularly
pleasant result. Keep to Stereo Mode.
Please remember that what satisfies you as a good aural souvenir of a
great night in the theatre, may not satisfy the general listener.
Incidentally, minidisc users may not be aware that a new breed of
portable minidisc recorders offer the option of recording in
uncompressed, linear PCM sound. Latest models have no moving
parts and store their data in flash memory. Extra high
quality 96kHz/24-bit recording is possible with these newer
machines which are now available at a reasonable cost.
Used in conjunction with a good microphone, these recorders promise
high quality sound on a par with and beyond compact disc, rather than the
compressed ATRAC format with its digital manipulations.
Good analogue sources like cassette and open reel tapes provide
excellent material for quality CD transfers. If you have
these and are unable to process them, I can do it for you.
Don't hesitate to contact me on the matter.
Some people are still uncertain about the
nature of the Audio-DVDs in the catalogue, mistaking them for
These are all AUDIO
recordings and NOT
videos. I do not
trade in video recordings.
stands for Digital Versatile Disc and
the discs can be used to store any sort of digital information: text
files, graphics, audio files or video files.
Regular DVD discs can have audio encoded in various formats.
Generally, the audio is compressed to allow room for better picture
The most common format and the one generally found on most DVD
recorders is Dolby Digital (AC-3).
It is a perceptual coding algorithm developed to allow the use of
lower data rates with a minimum of perceived degration of sound
quality. Another audio format is DTS which uses
less COMPRESSION than Dolby Digital, and has a lower bass extension,
so in theory it sounds better.
Bit Rate is the
term used when speaking of video or audio quality -- it defines
how much physical space one second of audio or video takes in
Linear Pulse Code Modulation (LPCM) is an uncompressed audio
On DVD it can use an audio sampling frequency of 48khz or 96khz
(which governs the number of audio samples taken each second)
and 16, 20 or 24 bits per sample (which is the number of bits
making up that sample).
Regular Compact Disc uses an audio sampling frequency of 44.1kHz
and a bit rate of 16.
Compressed Dolby Digital and MPEG audio can have a bitrate that is
as low as 10% of PCM audio.
The highest quality,
uncompressed audio on DVD is linear PCM at a slightly higher
sampling frequency than normal compact disc.
Audio-DVDs achieve even better than this, in that the
higher bit rate of 24-bits is used to capture the original source
recording. This results in finer detail in the sound and is
considerably superior to conventional compact disc. It is
the most efficient method of archiving source recordings since
you get higher quality sound and a vastly extended
playing time over CDs .
And when created with the appropriate software, Audio-DVDs
are playable in conventional DVD players.
But remember to select the PCM audio output stream from your DVD
and not Dolby Digital.
Audio-DVD recordings in the
Celestial Audio collection are all mastered from first or second
generation source recordings.
They are not copies of copies.
If you require CD copies of
your Audio-DVD (to play in the car !) .... a most
easy-to-use program called
DVD Audio Extractor can be downloaded from the Web. It
will rip the audio from any DVDs and convert them into CD
compatible audio files.
LONGEVITY OF CDR DISCS
CDR discs may not last "forever".
occasionally comes across requests from collectors who have found
their discs to have "gone bad".
Large, external Hard Disc Drives are now quite inexpensive and it is
a good bit of insurance to back-up your CDR recordings.
Using a burning program on the computer, you can copy the CDR disc
as a "disc image" - using the program's
"image recorder" and then you will have a vastly less
corruptible copy which can be burnt to a regular CDR at any time if
Many computer audio management
programs include a feature called "Normalisation".
It sounds like a sensible thing to do.
When a group of different items are compiled into a collection,
normalisation will bring each item up to a similar audio level so
that on playback, there is not a wild disparity between the volume
levels of the separate tracks. However, in continuous
concert music that has been split into tracks, normalisation can
have a quite adverse effect on the dynamics of the complete
It is best avoided. Especially within a CD burning
When making recordings, a degree
of 'headroom' is a very wise precaution.
Unlike mild analogue overload, digital overload (clipping) is not in
the least bit forgiving and is a distinctly unpleasant listening
experience. Avoid recording out to zero decibels
as most metering is not sufficiently accurate to do this with
complete safety. Especially on CD Recorders.
Unlike recording to tape, you
afford to record any distorted
input at all.
Tape can handle a little overload but digital recording can not.
You can tell a file that has been recorded at too high a volume when
the waveform is all squared off; the "crew-cut"
Use your level meters to make sure that you do not let the input
level go past the ' 0db ' mark.
In fact, try to keep it a decibel or two below this to be safe.
(On the fly)
Yes, I know it says 52X burn speed
on the disc label ! But there are other issues that need to be
taken into account. It's asking a lot of a CD burner to
produce its best results working at the outer limits of all its
tolerances. If you are burning direct from the Hard Disk, high
burn speeds can be set. However, if you are copying from a CD/DVD
Rom drive to a burner, then all sorts of other issues come into play.
It is not easy to guarantee an accurate burn because some CD-ROM
audio data reads considerably more slowly than "normal" data
(Mode 1 or Mode 2). For example there are modern 48x CD ROM drives
which read audio data slower than 10x!
If errors occur when reading the CD - because there is a scratch on
the CD for example - the error cannot possibly be eliminated by
reading the appropriate point of the CD several times because, unlike
the image file approach, there is no time (threat of buffer underrun).
In such a situation there is nothing else the burning program can do
but write the questionable data received or just null data. In other
words direct copies are very susceptible to read errors!
Many CD/DVD-ROM drives are unable to provide information about the
number and type of sessions. They can only give information on the
number and type of tracks. This means that an exact copy of the CD
may not be made. Audio tracks may contain index positions.
However these can only be identified if the appropriate point on the
CD is being read. When producing a "disc-at-once"
copy, this information does have to be available before the burn
process is begun. This means that with fast copies the burning program
may not copy audio index positions at the same time. These will
therefore inevitably be lost! The quality of audio data read in, may
The CD/DVD-ROM drive often reads at a higher speed than that at which
the recorder can write the data. This means it is possible for an internal
buffer to be unable to accept any more data. This can lead to a
situation where the CD/DVD-ROM drive has already read audio data in
its internal buffer (cache) but has not yet been able to
"deliver" to the burning program because the buffer is full.
This means that the CD/DVD-ROM is forced to reposition the reading
head. As the CD is turning continuously in the CD-ROM/DVD drive, the
reading head has to jump back to a previous position.
Many CD/DVD-ROM drives cannot adjust the reading head for audio CDs
accurately and therefore sometimes invalid audio data is transmitted.
So, the lesson from all this
"techno-talk" is to keep the burn speed LOW if you
require accurate, high quality disc copies.
A single 2CD set costs
the same to mail !!
Do take note of the
cost saving in postage when ordering two or more
Four x 2CD sets or Two x 3CD sets comes in at just under
costs $23 in shipping to Europe.
To order four sets singly could cost over $76 in postage !
I try to keep postage costs to the minimum and there is no inflation
of the total cost at this point.
Unfortunately, large packages have a way of
never reaching their destination, especially to some countries!
Airmail delivery to most countries should never take more than three
weeks and if it hasn't arrived in that time you can probably consider
it as lost or continue to wait patiently and hope.
That is extremely frustrating both for you and for me.
So please give some thought to structuring your order so that it can
be sent in a convenient package. For example:
2 x Box Sets OR...
1 x Box Set + 2 x 2CD OR
4 x 2CD ......
these combinations can take advantage of the
500gm weight step.
The next weight step is 1000gm with a significant increase in
Certain countries are extremely unreliable
in their delivery systems so if you are aware of postal delivery
problems, please take the Registered Post Rate
The cost of this is:
... up to 500gm $27
Over 500gm ... up
to 1000gm $49 ... e.g. 1
box set plus 3 x 2CD is just over 500gm.
Check with me if you are uncertain about
your packaging combination
and want to ensure a cost effective one.
method provides tracking of your parcel and at least returns the major
costs involved should it fail to arrive.
I can not replace items that fail to reach their destination
through no fault of mine.
Celestial Audio is a part-time business so
please do not anticipate immediate shipments.
However, if you have not heard anything about your order after four
weeks and it has not been billed, please enquire about your order
Available from Celestial Audio:
up to 4 x 2CD
Cardboard CD mailer which will hold
Provides firm and secure packaging.
Available in lots of 25 ($10) or
50 ($18) plus freight.
Please email for further details: firstname.lastname@example.org
to the computer:
digital audio from a DVD: