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teh_Foxx0rz
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Joined: Tue May 20, 2014 9:38 am
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Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 10:58 am 
 

I wanna support my favourite artists but at the same time I want to get all those special tracks. I'm aware that they cost more of course, but other than that, there's only the neat obi strip that I know of. Is there anything I should watch out for or be careful of when buying them? And, just so I know what I should expect, is the rest of the packaging usually pretty much the same as the Western release, just accounting for the extra track(s)?

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Perdition666
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 11:45 am 
 

I guess there's the entire collector-itis thing (for whatever reason). Japanese CDs do retain their value better, in case you need to sell them.

With packaging, its really a case by case basis and is really dependent on what label is releasing it. On smaller labels, the packaging will probably be the same as stuff over here. I do notice stuff on bigger labels like King, Victor, Nippon Columbia, etc seem to have nicer packaging. Sometimes you get those extra thick jewelcases that hold a thicker booklet with glossy paper. Sometimes the CDs are thicker and just seem better made. The Japanese pressing of Stratovarius' "Polaris" is one of the nicest digipacks I own.

Then you get the entire SHM/Bluespec/etc thing... now I don't know if those actually sound better or if its just a marketing gimmick.

I have noticed some mastering defects on Euro pressings were not present on the Japanese pressings (eg, Rage "21", Therion "Sitra Ahra", Kalisia "Cybion")

If you're willing to spend more for a bonus track or two, make sure to research what you're getting first. Some bonus tracks are useless, and some Japanese editions don't even have bonus tracks. On the other hand, I've seen bonus tracks being just as good as the album tracks. Also, I've seen it where certain albums went out of print over here, but the Japanese pressing was still in print (and ultimately cheaper in the end).

[edit] Also, there's often differences between first and second pressings. Like first pressings often have slipcases, sometimes nicer packaging, and even bonus tracks. I'll use Stratovarius' "Nemesis" as an example. The first pressing has 3 bonus tracks: 1) Kill it with Fire (Japan exclusive) and 2) Fireborn and Hunter (the international bonus tracks). The 2nd Japanese pressing only has Kill it with Fire as a bonus. Much to my dismay, I just learned it got reissued again over there in SHM format with a 4th bonus track "Old Man and the Sea" plus a bonus DVD. Not sure I want to break down and rebuy this album again because I'm not even that huge on it. But if I do, I'm sure I can sell my 1st pressing off for whatever I paid for it. If I was a greedy cunt (which I'm not), I probably could even turn a profit. :P

I'm actually really baffled they reissued this album so soon, it didn't even chart that well over there. I kinda wish they would reissue Elysium with Lost Shore and Hallowed. Castaway was a nice bonus track, but I'd take Lost Shore and Hallowed over the Darkest Hours EP as a bonus any day of the week.
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teh_Foxx0rz
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Joined: Tue May 20, 2014 9:38 am
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 12:55 pm 
 

I more just want to get the additional tracks I find interesting while I'm buying the album anyway, since usually you can't get those elsewhere, not so much collecting the individual releases and certainly not to sell per se. I can download them sure, but I enjoy having my stuff on an official physical release as much as I can. But yeah I guess it's cool that they'll likely still be more sought after if I ever did need or want to sell them someday down the line.

It's interesting that there are those minor quality differences but I suppose not too surprising if firstly they're being packaged by a different company and secondly that they're sold for a lot more. Guess that's something to give a bit more confidence though when I get around to buying some. I've not heard anything about those "SHM/Bluespec/etc." things, but I guess I'll know when I do? Mainly, I just want those exclusive tracks.

And yeah, I certainly research things; the main reason I'm looking at the Japanese releases anyway is because I know I'd like the exclusive content.

I guess the last major query is that does there tend to be that much Japanese outside of the strip and stuff? Like if much of the booklet might be in Japanese or something? I don't think it'd be too much of a bother for me if it might be, but I'd like to know what to expect and stuff since I tend not to like surprises. Maybe it might depend on how big the band is and how much they want to pander to their Japanese fanbase, if that even tends to be done.

And to edit for your edit:
I see, I'll definitely make sure to research stuff like that when I'm looking into buying one. Quite the frustration heh. But especially for big bands I usually see stuff like that in the additional notes in their MA pages at least.

Oh and of course, thanks for all the info too.

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Dudemanguy
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Joined: Tue Mar 30, 2010 7:19 pm
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 1:22 pm 
 

There's a few variations on the traditional CD in Japan since Sony, Universal Music Japan and other such major companies reside there. Luckily, none of these things are really that important. SHM-CD stands for "super high material CD" which just means that the CD is made out of different plastics and whatnot. While it is technically better, it's a level where nobody is going to notice anyway (the traditional CD already has tons of error corrections from rips and all that, it doesn't matter). Bluespec CD is similar. Essentially, they use a process akin to making a Blu-ray using a blue laser instead of the traditional red. While it is again more accurate, it's not going to matter for the same reason as before, you're already correcting errors when you rip this stuff with EAC, cdparanoia or whatever tool you use. There's no real downside to either of these other than perhaps the increased price since they're otherwise just completely normal CDs.

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teh_Foxx0rz
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 1:36 pm 
 

I see, thanks! The Japanese and other parts of Asia always seem to be more keen on alternate technology than us.

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Perdition666
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 1:47 pm 
 

I guess SHM and the like are only as good as the master they're using. If its a shitty brickwalled master, its going to sound like crap regardless of what its pressed on. I noticed there's a "platinum SHM" out now (and its pricy). Fucking pisses me off too - I bought the HQCD pressing of Judas Priest's "Sad Wings of Destiny" last year and there's a platinum SHM pressing out this summer (and its pricey). The version I have DOES sound a lot better than any international pressing I've heard, mainly because it uses a different master. Going after every different version of an album is out of my price range though - I'll leave that stuff for the guys on the Hoffman forums :lol:

To answer some of your questions, Japanese pressings of international titles usually come with a second booklet (lyrics in Japanese). If you pre-order first pressings, they sometimes come with novelty items (this is dependent on what store you order from, what label they're on, etc). Sometimes you get posters, transparent plastic folders, postcards, or other novelties. They seem to be really big on novelty items over there. However, this is usually for Japanese bands... but sometimes licensed stuff gets it too. Don't be disappointed if you don't get any external pre-order bonuses though. I think the last Hibria was the only one I got one with (slipcase + transparent folder - the CD's packaging is nicer than the music on it! lol) I think the latest Gamma Ray had a pre-order bonus, but I didn't bother ordering it.

Just for future reference, if you're intending on buying a lot of Japanese stuff, not all CDs have obi strips. Very few of my Galneryus CDs do (I guess they're too good for obi strips :P). Stuff in slipcases won't have them (but sometimes you'll have a slipcase with an obi affixed to it). Stuff from Japan's independent scene sometimes doesn't have obis either. Also, some singles over there don't have tray-cards (its like they take a regular jewel case, but package the CD up like those slimlines). This is just to prevent you (or anyone else here) from having a panic attack in case you run into this somewhere down the line.
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teh_Foxx0rz
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 4:07 pm 
 

Perdition666 wrote:
I guess SHM and the like are only as good as the master they're using. If its a shitty brickwalled master, its going to sound like crap regardless of what its pressed on

Yeah, and I'm not too fussed about sound anyway, so long as it sounds "normal" and not muddy or like it was taken from Youtube or whatever.

A second booklet? That's neat, and cool that they'd do that and keep the original packed booklet as it was. And would make it feel like you've got more stuff in there! But yeah I'm not expecting anything other than just the CD and stuff anyway, though it would be neat to have more if I come across it heh. Mainly the stuff I want has been out for a few years now anyway.

And okay then, it's not like I'm too bothered about them at all really, I'd probably end up just putting them all in a draw so I can put the CDs in the rack or on a shelf easier, like I've done with slipcases so far. Just seems like a distinctive feature. I kind of assumed it was mainly just on international stuff anyway, since that's where they translate (and advertise it, heh) the CD info. But yeah, at least I know I won't necessarily be missing something now. And thanks for that about the singles too, I didn't know anything about that (though I'm not entirely sure how you're describing it still, though I guess I'll know if I come across it heh :) ).

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Perdition666
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 4:41 pm 
 

With some Japanese bands (eg, Onmyo-Za, Aldious, etc), the first pressing often has an additional photo booklet. I'm fortunate to own the first pressing of Onmyo-Za's "Kishi Bojin" - its one of the nicest looking CDs I own. Galneryus' CDs all have really nice packaging, esp. Reincarnation. I'm not sure if any western band gets such lavish treatment... Helloween maybe.

If you're ever ordering anything by Japanese bands, sometimes they come with pre-order bonuses like CDrs or DVDrs - these range from useless to really fucking cool. Like that last Dragon Guardian came with a CDr with an alternate version of a song which IMO is better than the regular one (Vocchang supplied additional guest vox, the narration was removed, and the guitar solo was different). Longinus' CD "World" had a bonus CDr with an exclusive song (and each store in Japan like HMV or Disk Union had a different CDr with a different song). The live DVDrs which are an actual performance are nice, but the ones with live video with the studio song played over top kinda suck.

Since you're in the UK, be mindful of duty. If you're ordering from places that ship via EMS (eg HMV Japan), you'll likely get stung duty with every order. Some places like S.A. Music and Disk Heaven can ship via air mail and are good at evading customs charges. CD Japan has multiple shipping methods (but their stock isn't as big as HMV Japan). I have a friend from the UK who unfortunately gets drilled with duty frequently (like 100% with EMS orders). If you're not too concerned about duty, medium to large orders are probably the best way to go - esp. to make the most of the really high shipping rates. On the plus side, EMS is really fast (4-7 days) and has tracking/insurance. If you ever opt to order from HMV Japan, I'd advise doing it when they have rebate coupon promotions.

I'm fortunate that customs Canada *rarely* charges duty. People in the US won't get charged at all.
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teh_Foxx0rz
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 5:15 pm 
 

Ooh, that's neat. I've actually ordered Dragon Guardian's Seimaken Valkyrias, so we'll see how nice that one looks when it arrives. And Galneryus is certainly on my radar to get material of, when I can afford it. :lol:

Right, I'll be sure to try and research that kind of thing when I do, at least if I can find (understandable) info on it. And songs by Japanese bands seem to be hard to find on Youtube as it is, let alone this promotional bonus material heh, so I guess buying it will be the only way I'll be able to hear a lot of stuff like that. Or just hope I'm lucky! And a different song in every shop? Man, ha.

And yeah, I've heard that, though I've mostly been looking at what I can find on (the UK's) Amazon so far. Still looks kind of expensive, but only up to ~£20 usually, and only £1.26 for postage. When I get more experience (and money) then I'll probably look further afield. And I'll bear this stuff in mind!

And try to take advantage of if I ever manage to go on holiday to Japan or the US or somewhere, heheh. :-P

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NewVogueChild
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Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:58 pm
Posts: 111
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 6:00 pm 
 

Perdition666 wrote:
I'm actually really baffled they reissued this album so soon, it didn't even chart that well over there. I kinda wish they would reissue Elysium with Lost Shore and Hallowed. Castaway was a nice bonus track, but I'd take Lost Shore and Hallowed over the Darkest Hours EP as a bonus any day of the week.

It might have been reissued quickly as the original pressing sold out maybe, I know a lot of Japanese labels only print so many copies of a title and once it sells out they'll either re-issue it with bonus tracks or some other minor differences.

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Perdition666
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 6:22 pm 
 

@ teh_Foxx0rz:

The one practice I really hate is when the Japanese and Euro (usually limited edition) pressings have different bonus tracks. When that's the case, I'll usually get the Japanese pressing and download a FLAC of the Euro version and call it a day. I don't like owning two copies of the same album unless there's a damn good reason (eg, Machinae Supremacy "Redeemer", Orden Ogan "Vale", etc).

If you need any help/tips with ordering from Japan, let me know. Getting stuff from there will be expensive, period... no way around that. But its certainly possible to reduce costs somewhat if you shop smart. Ordering direct from Japan will always be cheaper than getting someone domestically to import it in. Taking advantage of multibuy discounts (HMV Japan has that on most titles, except new ones - it can saw 15% off items) and coupons can make prices a bit more bearable.

Shipping sucks, but overseas shipping is bad, period. The value you get from EMS is probably a lot better than its equivalents elsewhere. Like 6 CDs via EMS would cost 2260 yen ($22 US). If I tried sending 6 CDs via Express Post (Canada's equivalent) to Japan, it would cost over $70 US.

I guess ordering direct from Japan, CDs will range from £12 to 17.50 (pending on the title), before shipping. Domestic titles are usually more expensive than licensed ones.

NewVogueChild wrote:
Perdition666 wrote:
I'm actually really baffled they reissued this album so soon, it didn't even chart that well over there. I kinda wish they would reissue Elysium with Lost Shore and Hallowed. Castaway was a nice bonus track, but I'd take Lost Shore and Hallowed over the Darkest Hours EP as a bonus any day of the week.

It might have been reissued quickly as the original pressing sold out maybe, I know a lot of Japanese labels only print so many copies of a title and once it sells out they'll either re-issue it with bonus tracks or some other minor differences.

That's quite possible. I bought my copy in 2012, so the 2011 pressing probably sold out long before then. Obi strips are useful because they usually tell when the CD was pressed.
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carnival_corpse
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 8:34 pm 
 

If someone is looking for Galneryus CD's I currently have Advance To The Fall on sale on Ebay right now.
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Perdition666
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 8:44 pm 
 

This is going a tad off topic, but which version of "Advance to the Fall" has "Under Threat" on it? The one sold at HMV Japan (where I got mine) doesn't have it.
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Dudemanguy
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 8:47 pm 
 

Huh, I didn't even know that track existed. My "Advance to the Fall" doesn't have it either (bought it used off of Amazon).

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teh_Foxx0rz
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Joined: Tue May 20, 2014 9:38 am
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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2014 5:00 am 
 

Perdition666 wrote:
The one practice I really hate is when the Japanese and Euro (usually limited edition) pressings have different bonus tracks

Yeah, that is a pain. At least that's not as bad as Epica's new album, but still. I'd normally just pick the one with the more interesting bonus track, but if they're both of similar quality...
And man, I've just seen one album I really love where the Japanese bonus replaces a track in the normal release. Oh well!

And thanks, I'll be sure to remember that! It will be, but hopefully worth it. I'll look into ordering from elsewhere, such as HMV Japan, if it's cheaper! Though obviously if it's better to order in bulk, maybe I'll try to reserve doing so for more special occasions :-D

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