Frequently Asked Questions

Well, these are coming together as computer speakers improve, and increasingly people are connecting their computers to their Hi-Fi systems to enjoy music of great quality in the recreational areas of their homes. Find out more about connecting your computer to your Hi-Fi.

What is the Subscription offer?

Two free albums each week and unlimited streaming for the price of a glass of wine per month.
Our membership offer has been created to help you better satisfy your wide ranging musical tastes, and enjoy music in great new ways. Become a member (pay monthly or annually) and you will have unlimited listening (streaming) of our entire collection of 750,000 tracks instantly, plus two Editor's Choice Albums per month to keep forever. At less than the cost of a mid-price CD, a monthly membership to the music service is great value for money and a fabulous way to expand your classical music knowledge. Of course all visitors can buy downloads of any track on an a-la-carte basis, as usual. The price is on the Subscriptions tab

Do you mean that Members listen to all they want and get two Editor's Choice Albums per week?

Yes, Members get two FREE Albums each week to keep forever, plus they can stream entire operas and symphonies. A remarkable offer. Remember that the annual cost of a Subscription for unlimited streaming and also gives you TWO albums each week for the cost of a glass of wine each month!

Will you tell me the main points about streaming vs. downloads?

You can use your computer to stream music by clicking on the 'play' button and listening to the music immediately in real time - you listen but do not own the recording. You can also download  the recording you want to hear onto your computer and play the recording stored on your computer - you listen only after copying the file onto your computer. Whilst downloads are paid for at a price per download, streaming is charged for as a Membership fee (rather like a subscription to a cable TV channel). You can then listen to an unlimited amount of music from our collection. The music plays in real time through speakers connected to your computer (or headphones).

Why would I become a Subscriber to a streaming service with free downloads?

For music of our cultural heritage (classical, jazz & blues, nostalgia, world music) most people want to listen to a lot of different recordings. Unlike pop where you only need a few fashionable songs at a time to download, classical and jazz lovers want to hear a lot of music. So membership of the streaming service solves this problem at a great pricepoint - plus you get FREE albums each week! You can burn the downloads onto CD to enjoy them furter.

Tell me again, where is the value in the Subscription offer?

Well, it's as simple as we could make it. You want to hear a lot of music. You want to listen to alternative performances of great works. You want to experiment and listen to composers you never heard of before, or composers you have heard of but never had a way of hearing their music. Or maybe you don't have the CD with you. To purchase these recordings on a download service like iTunes costs hundreds of dollars to hear hundreds of tracks. But our members pay just the cost of a mid-price CD each month to listen to hundreds of thousands of tracks, and they also keep FREE albums each month. And they keep them forever - they will not 'expire' like downloads on the other subscription services.

How good is the sound of a streaming service?

These days more and more computers are being connected to good speakers, or to the Hi-Fi system which greatly enhances the sound quality. Read more here. We offer you streams at 192k/sec which is between FM Radio sound and CD sound. This means that you can really enjoy the Hi-Fi quality of recordings as long as your computer speakers and soundcard are reasonably good. The quality is just as good as if you purchase standard downloads from iTunes!

Will streaming quality improve?

Yes, it certainly will. It simply depends on bandwidth - how big the pipes are to carry information we send you in real time over the internet network. The more information sent, the better the sound. Which means that as internet access improves, and bandwidth becomes more plentiful, we will be able to stream higher quality encodings of the recordings to you. We are committed to remaining at the forefront of quality, and will increase streaming quality as soon as bandwidth generates demand for further quality increases.

So how exactly will the quality improve?

Well, we keep the original digital files of all the recordings on our servers. We currently compress the sound like all the music services such as iTunes, MSN Music, Yahoo Music and the others. We currently stream at 64k/sec which is becoming something of a standard for high quality sound on the internet. But we wil re-encode the original full quality files at higher 'bit rates' in due course when internet standards improve and make it possible to stream to many users at increasingly high quality.

How do I download?

To download all you need to do is click on the icon to the right of each track with the arrow that points downwards. When you click it you will need to register (if you have not already done so). This is because we need to be able to identify you so that we can make your download available to you. It only requires your email address and password - very simple. You can also select the currency of your country. Then go through the process to pay for the track with your credit card. 

Download a playlist:

If you play a playlist or play a complete work, there is are also the download icons in the player. If you click the download icon for the playlist it will take you through the steps to download all the tracks in the playlist.

Download a track:

If you click on the icon opposite the track which is currently playing, it will take you through the steps to purchase that particular track. You then need to download it to your computer.

Where are the recordings I purchase for download?

The recordings you buy are saved in 'My Downloads'. Simply click on the download icon and you will get a smal window to select the format (MP3 or WMA) and quality (128k or 192k). Simply click on the format you want to start the download.

To save the file manually please 'right click' on the format you want, then go to the menu 'Save Target As...' which will allow you to specify where the music is saved eg. to the My Music folder. Then the music will be downloaded where you want it, without it being intercepted by windows media player or other software on your computer.

Can I download into iTunes?

Yes, you can download inro iTunes and move the files onto your iPod. Simply register on the music service, then purchase the downloads of recordings you want. When you have purchased them, you will see them in the 'My Downloads' section of the site (link below the tabs).

From there, simply click on the download icon (arrow pointing downwards) and you should then save the MP3 version to a file on your computer. From there you can drag and drop them into iTunes and enjoy the music!

What can I do with my downloads?

You can copy each download to five devices, whether different PCs or different digital players (iPod, MP3 players etc.). You can play the downloads an infinite number of times for your own use, and you can play the download to your friends. You can also burn them to CD. However, you may not give your friends the download - if they wish to own the recording they should purchase it themselves. This is the arrangement we have with the record labels we represent. 

What is the download quality?

You can copy each download to five devices, whether different PCs or different digital players (iPod, MP3 players etc.). You can play the downloads an infinite number of times for your own use, and you can play the download to your friends. You can also burn them to CD. However, you may not give your friends the download - if they wish to own the recording they should purchase it themselves. This is the arrangement we have with the record labels we represent. 

We offer downloads at 128kb/sec and 192 kb/sec which is generally accepted as near-CD quality by Abbey Road and other studios which employ sound engineers with 'golden ears'.  (Please note that about 6% of the database featuring our earliest labels is not available at the higher quality level, and these will be re-encoded in due course.)

What are the download formats?

Downloads are made available in both WMA and MP3 files. The MP3 version can be 'dragged and dropped' into iTunes, where it will be converted automatically into the Apple proprietary standard, to play on iPods and iTunes.

Tell me about Major label repertoire?

The major labels are becoming more confident about the online market, and are more willing to license their recordings to online shops like ours. We are now offering major label recordings from companies such as Sony Music including artists like Glenn Gould, Vladimir Horowitz, Murray Perahia, Yo Yo Ma, Leonard Bernstein and many others.

How do I assemble playlists?

We 'unbundle' each work from the CD it was issued on, and offer you each work, or in some cases tracks from a work if it is a recital programme of lieder or opera extracts. This way you can assemble the versions and works you want into your own Playlists. Simply register, and then using the 'Add' button [+] next to each track you can create your own playlists. You can also 'Add complete work' to your playlist [+], so for example, all three hours of Don Giovanni can be added to a playlist with a simple click. You can then find the playlists you have assembled in 'My Playlists'.

Why are some works listed several times?

We believe that music is refreshed by being performed in different ways by great artists. Therefore we offer you multiple performances of most works played by carefully selected artists. You can listen to samples, and choose to purchase downloads of the one you like best.

Downloading tracks and albums

We try to offer the simplest solution - one that is easy to understand and works for everyone. Therefore you do not need to download any special software to manage recordings you purchase from our music service (like iTunes or Windows Media Player). You simply save each track into your 'My Music' folder (or whatever folder you use to keep your music in) and then play the music with whatever player you like most. Albums are downloaded in a .zip file, which you can open on your computer, and then store the tracks of the album in your Music folder.

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We believe streaming is an important part of the future for listening to music of our cultural heritage.

Listen instantly to unlimited music and enjoy Editor's Choice downloads of two albums each see with a subscription that costs just a glass of wine per month. You will love  access to ALL the repertoire instantly and listen to complete recordings, not samples.

We focus on delivering unlimited streaming music as well as downloads - plus information about the music. Read a recent article from The Times of London:

March 18, 2006
The big website
Sounds in the suburbs
The British website provides a one-stop shop for all your classical, jazz and world music needs

Which site can boast the largest online classical collection in the world? The UK-based, of course. It aims to be the biggest and best classical music online store there is. While pop music download sites are geared towards selling separate tracks, this subscription-based website gives its members instant on-demand streaming (the environmentally friendly option) so they can get the full flavour of a complete work or a whole back catalogue. Members are also allowed eight free downloads a month, and all visitors can buy the (iTunes, PC and iPod compatible) downloads à la carte.

The founders care enough about what they call our “cultural heritage” to have widened the scope of the site to include jazz and blues, nostalgia and world music. It now has more than 50,000 tracks available from more than 30 specialist labels, with “multiple performances of most works played by carefully selected musicians and ensembles”. The track samples are one minute long rather than the normal 30 seconds, too.

Music can be browsed by composer, artist, conductor, instrument, ensemble, genre, period and record label. Collections of playlists with themes such as “Unwind: tracks for relaxation”, “discovery concerts”, featured composer biographies of such stalwarts as Antonio Vivaldi (left) and recommendations such as the “Top Ten classical recordings you should own” (and divided further into sub-Top Tens such as concerti and choral works) further enhance the visitor’s experience and go beyond just selling a few tracks. The editorial team has taken care to differentiate itself from the more impersonal and wholesale methods adopted by iTunes.

Monthly membership for all this costs £7.49 a month or £70 a year [$11.99 monthly or $115 per year; €11.99 monthly or €115 per year]. If you are not sure about making the investment, you can always try the 15-day free trial and get a free download.
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Environmentally Friendly

Environmentally friendly - streaming involves no plastic CDs and packaging, no need to wait for the music to download - just pure music streaming instantly from your computer to your Hi-FI or your headphones.

Computers and music - do they go together?