Big box sets of CDs

The recent thread on the Brilliant Classics Couperin box sets set me wondering: who buys these?

I discover that I have a few Brilliant Classics box sets:

The Complete Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (Pieter-Jan Belder), 15 CDs
Johann Pachelbel, Complete Keyboard Music (Simone Stella), 13 CDs.

I also have a BC box of the Russian cellist, Daniel Shafran and one of all the Shostakovich symphonies conducted by Rudolf Barshai.

All these are extremely cheap at around €2-3 per CD.

More expensive was the Sweelinck Complete keyboard works on Glossa (6 CDs).

We live in an age when big box sets are common and many of the prices are low. I also have large sets of Rostropovich, Barbirolli, Boult, Stravinsky conducts Stravinsky, Boulez, Klemperer, Landowska, Leonhardt, Scott Ross, Helmut Walcha’s JSB, etc.

I suspect that, like me, most people who have such sets have not sat down and listened to every work. (I have far too many!) As far as the orchestral recordings go, I already know the works and often just want to sample sections.

But I got the early keyboard CDs with the aim of playing them in the car and identifying pieces that I want to explore at the instrument. As far as that is concerned, the quality of performance is not totally important: I am listening to the notes.

Am I unusual within this group? Do others here buy these big box sets and wade through them?


It happens to the best of us: I must have over 300 LPs from the 70s and 80s of Classical and Baroque performances, by far most of which have never been opened.

My colleague worked in a retail classical CD store for twenty years or more, so I heard a little about this. A lot of customers have the ‘completist’ syndrome and just want to have, nay, must have, complete sets of everything. It’s not uncommon. Since the recording companies have now pretty much recorded everything, pulling recordings from the back catalogue and boxing them all together is a good way to generate more revenue, in this time of declining sales of CD’s.

I have the complete Bach cantatas on Brilliant, have listened to them repeatedly, even ripped them for portability. But I guess not everybody does that. I was disappointed to see them on the shelves at a friend’s house still in their original cellophane wrappers.

Recently I bought the complete organ works of Johann Ludwig Krebs. Not in a CD box but as .FLAC files which I then could download. FYI: FLAC is like MP3 but without quality loss. My goal is not to listen from the beginning to the end but rather to get to know these works as I’m learning these pieces as well.
For me it’s a quick way to “scan” through the music. By the way: the download was extremely cheap: something like 0,50 EUR for 1 CD.

When I really want a good recording, I’m much more pickier.

Apart from that, I listen a lot to the concertzender: This is a free internet radio where you can choose which style of music you want to hear: no annoying talking in between, no commercials, …


I rarely listen to my 700+ music CDs, also because the CD player in my car is broken and in the Toyota Auris any type or repair or replacement would cost me in the region of €300. Ridiculous. However, when I was living in Ireland I got the 60CD Brilliant box of Bach Complete Cantatas and I listened to ALL of them (and found that the average performance quality was quite good, certainly better than what the reviews led one to expect).

All these cases of unlistened-to boxes of complete works make me think there is something good in Spotify and similar platforms…

If I were to subscribe to Spotify or similar, I should have access to even more unlistened-to recordings.



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Newer vehicles dont have CD players at all. Maybe, like me, you have a socket into which you can plug a small portable CD player. I bought an excellent “new old stock” Sony Discman player for this purpose for about $60 on Spanish Ebay.


I have a couple of thousand CDs at least, and several hundred have been ripped into my computer network. I can listen to these at work, in the car on AppleMusic via my phone, or when traveling via my laptop.

I also have many LPs, old and new, and in fact am getting a new cartridge installed in my turntable this morning. As for boxed sets, I have lots of them, and all have gotten a complete listen at least once. I’ve never bought a complete set of the cantatas, though.

In addition to Apple Music, I also subscribe to Qobuz and Tidal. Almost anything, no matter how obscure can be streamed through one or more of these services. I’m guilty on occasion of buying long-discontinued LPs that were never released on CD from That’s how I got my copy of the Leonhardt Ottobeuren record. I’m a hopeless addict.

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Hi James and others,

I have also used with success. They give quite complete info about recording dates, release dates, catalog#, opus#, personnel &c. for each item, so that it’s possible to be sure that you’re ordering what you wanted to order.

They also provide clear indications of the condition of the item {mint, near mint, very good +, … down to fair & poor}, with definitions of what these terms mean.

Good luck with your hopeless addiction :wink:


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My 13 year old car has such a USB socket, but for some reason inside one of the two glove compartments, one where not even the smallest CD players fit, and the connection is defective in many ways: useless.

No, I dont mean USB: I mean analog audio. The D/A comverter in the Sony is better than that in the car.


Oh of course there is also somewhere in that mini-glove place an analog audio socket. But then, if you cannot possibly reach the player while driving, you need somebody else to keep the top of the compartment open to operate the CD player: not practical really, what were the car designers thinking?

What do you mean, Claudio? You just need a long enough audio cable – easily acquired or made – and you can put the player on the passenger seat or somewhere. Although mine will also get power from the cigarette lighter, it works perfectly and for a long time on two internal AA batteries.


Yes I can, but then I cannot close the glove compartment, unless I drill a hole in the glove compartment cover!.
Need to replace the car …

With old cars, I find the best way to rehabilitate the music situation is to obtain a line-in jack (either through soldering one in if not already present, or by using one of those cassette player inserts that provides a line-in, if the car is so old as to play cassettes). Then, I use those really cheap and available mini MP3 players (as opposed to a CD player). Much smaller, can fit in any small compartment that is available, and can hold dozens of CDs worth of content. Rip the CDs (or vinyl) to the player’s flash memory ahead of time. We’ve got a nice collection of Bach “complete works” and suites, etc.; many hours of good listening. Great for road trips when the radio pickins get slim…
The little players can usually play uncompressed formats too.


The problem with my Toyota Auris is that the CD and radio player is custom-designed and embedded and, when it breaks, Toyota has run out of the replacement part. There is nothing you can do with it unless you dismantle the whole “instrument panel”: a garage will charge me hundreds of Euro for this. It is not really worth for a car that, hopefully, I may no longer have in 2 or 3 years.
In summer I will park the car where I can plug my drill and see if I can drill a 1cm-diameter hole in the glove compartment: this is the only viable solution I see at present.

Moving the car audio topic to a new thread. See

I have this. I can highly recommend it, from Brilliant Classics:

160 cd’s! All top notch performances.

[No, I have not made it through yet! Do I win the competition for the biggest set? :slight_smile: ]