Internet Record Shops Review

Discussion in 'Drum & Bass' started by sli, Aug 30, 2004.

  1. sli

    sli Member

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    As there are loads of internet record shops these days, I though I would write a guide for the shops I have had experience with (obviously from a dnb perspective) for both newbie’s and veterans. It gives you an idea on all aspects: prices, delivery charges, selection (back catalogue, dubs and new releases), music clips, site layout and service. These will be the criteria I will be marking them all on. I will me marking them from personal experience as I’ve used all of them, but if any of you who read the reviews have any other comments about my review or from your own experience please don’t hesitate to add them below. Also I would like to make this a comprehensive list of all the sites people use so please add your reviews.


    Red Eye Records (www.redeyerecords.co.uk) – Thought I would start off with the one everyone knows…..well if you don’t you should do. They do live up to their reputation as stated in their advert “The best records & service – ask anyone that knows…” and you’ll find the majority of people use this site. You ask most people these days and I find that most people in the dnb circles have bought or regularly buy off Red Eye.

    Most people probably use Red Eye as they always get the most upfront promos every week from the biggest labels, but unfortunately because of all those trainspotters sitting online all day on Thursday pressing refresh you have to be damn lucky to get the biggest promos (don’t worry I’m not slating it, we’ve all been there…). Though I have noticed recently Red Eye have been changing the times they’ve been putting up the promos to give everyone an equal chance and limiting everyone to one per person (nice one boys!). They’ve even been spreading them out so not all of them are added in one go and are put up on 2 separate days. Even if you do miss them you can make sure that when it gets a full release that it gets to you as quick as possible by pre ordering a copy.

    As you’d expect they sell just about every single vinyl from all the possible labels here, which is better than any high street shop I’ve ever been too (Red Eye have their own high street shop in Ipswich that I haven’t been to yet) and they always have masses of stock and rarely run out (apart from promos!). Also if they do run out you can usually ask them to order it in for you which is pretty cool of them. They also have a comprehensive back catalogue of old classics from back in the day to the present day. For all those with cd decks or those who listen to mixes there’s a good, but not great cd and tape pack selection.

    Red Eye gives very competitive rates for vinyl and delivery, until recently I didn’t actually realise that you could buy a single vinyl from them with delivery for about £6! The delivery prices are on a slanting scale starting at a quid for a single increasing a little till 10 vinyl’s and then decreasing after that (details available on the site). This is great as often I’ve ended up buying too many vinyl’s just to make it worth buying them off the net. They also have sales quite often which is good for picking up that track you weren’t quite prepared to pay full price, but will happily pay a couple of quid for.

    They have clips of all the tunes on their site including all the pre order tracks so you can make sure that promo you’ve pre ordered is the right one! They’re mostly around the 1:30 time and give you a bit of the intro the first breakdown (if there is one) and the first drop then the lead up to the second break. Its not the best quality and its not as long as other sites but it is mostly what I prefer as it gives you an instant idea of what the tune is like because its so quick (hence the lower quality), and when you’ve got a whole page to get through it’s a god send!! (especially at work : P). But technically this won’t be for everyone and you don’t get to hear the second break and the quality is not great plus albums only have at most 4 track to listen to.

    The layout of the site is my favourite out of all of them: it’s simple, intuitive and very easy to use. The menu is piss easy and really obvious (you’d be surprised how many sites, not just record sites can get this wrong!), all the tunes are sectioned into logical sections so again piss easy to find what you want. And if you fail through this the search engine is quick and searches the entire site for any match possible. The pages where the tunes are listed are very nicely compact so you don’t have to scroll forever to look at a single page of tunes but is large enough to read with all the info you need on the tracks.

    The service is very good: order your tunes at 1pm on wed receive them the next morning (as long as they aren’t Monday shipping), about as fast as you can get. Plus on the odd occasion they send you the wrong vinyl (does happen) send it back and they will refund you with the return postage and either send you the correct one or refund you the cash.

    Prices 4/5
    Delivery charges 4/5
    Back catalogue 4/5
    Dubs 5/5
    New releases 5/5
    Music clips 4/5
    Site layout 4.5/5
    Service 4.5/5


    Chemical Records (www.chemicalrecords.co.uk) – Chemical Records is, through my experience and from what I’ve heard, the next best shop on the net. This is usually the second site I visit if red eye has sold all their promos as I’ve found there’s slightly less people using it so the promos stay up a little longer! They do get pretty much the same promos as Red Eye so it’s a relief sometimes that if Red Eye is sold out there still maybe a chance that you can get it on Chemical, but (don’t quote me on this) I don’t think they get as many as Red Eye (sorry guys if you do!).

    Again they get all the brand new releases from all the labels. They also have a good back catalogue that is regularly added to, pretty much every week so there’s always something worth buying (unfortunately!). Other than vinyl again there’s a good (but not great) selection of cd’s and tape packs, you can get all the new artist albums and mixes but the back catalogue has quite a few gaps.

    The rates for vinyl’s and delivery are again very competitive. The price of a single vinyl is about the same after VAT, little bit more as usual for promos. Delivery is not great unless your buying more that 3 or more as the delivery is £2, the great bonus though is that this is a flat rate so it you buy a load you can save some money which is always puts a smile on my face.

    The clips of the tunes are by far the best on any site I’ve been on. Quite often I find myself listening to tunes off the site while doing work, surfing or posting as the quality and length are outstanding. The clips are about 3.30 so you get a proper listen to the intro, first break, first drop, second break and second drop and the quality of the clips are very good for streaming. Even works well without broadband which is surprising, does take a little longer to buffer though. My only gripe is that because of the higher quality it does take a little longer to buffer than other sites. For albums you get clips of every single track, which I find very useful as won’t buy one unless I hear all the tracks. This is even done for the artist mix cd’s which is very rare on any site.

    The layout of the site isn’t my favourite, but obviously that’s my own personal opinion. It not as quick to use as Red Eye, I have my favourites go straight to new releases on my PC which means I can instantly look to see what has been released (very useful on my Pocket PC as time is money). With Chemical there are a number of pages to scroll through as its all flash based. As the site is set to a 800x600 resolution I find it does not make use of the space provided, as most people these days have it set higher. However you can still clearly see all the information clearly and its set out alphabetically on the back catalogue so is easy enough to find a track…..when it loads up! As the entire back catalogue is loaded on a single page so can take a while, without broadband your better of searching for it. The search engine is fast and effective apart from the slightly irritating fact that when searching the search engine excludes all tracks in the forthcoming section. I do like the fact that all the brand new tracks added for that day are placed in the “new in” section, makes it quick and easy to check what’s brand new, though after that day they get placed in the new release section which is pretty big so the same problems as above apply. I knows doesn’t seem like a massive deal but the colouring of the site is not right, it is not good web design ethic to use a dark background with light coloured text.

    The service from Chemical is very good though they are processed pretty much instantly and will deliver your tunes for the next day, though they don’t always arrive the next day. They also keep you informed of all the stages of processing via email so you know exactly what the score is, so if royal mail make another f**k up you know who to blame! They are also very friendly when dealing with miss orders too and again will reimburse you with any postage and vinyl cost.

    Prices 4/5
    Delivery charges 4/5
    Back catalogue 4.5/5
    Dubs 4.5/5
    New releases 5/5
    Music clips 5/5
    Site layout 3/5
    Service 4.5/5

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    Last edited: Aug 30, 2004
  2. sli

    sli Member

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    Re: Internet Record Shops Review pt1

    Input Records (www.inputrecords.co.uk) – This site I have not had as much experience as the others, but has been a welcome addition to my dnb records favourites. These guys don’t quite have the reputation as the other two above do, but they should definitely not be dismissed at all. Although its not my first port of call I quite often find myself looking on here for some promos that have escaped my clutches from red eye or chemical. They don’t get the high profile promos that chemical or red eye get but they do get enough to keep me happy and as a lot of people don’t seem to look around there on there for quite a while so you don’t have to rush.

    The selection of new releases is as good as any of the other sites and I haven’t had a massive search through their back catalogue but there seems to be a large collection there, but not the biggest I’ve seen. What they do have is the best sales out of all of the sites, they quite frequently sell of old stock for a £2 a single vinyl and £4 for an EP, and it has the most sale items out of the lot too.

    The rates for vinyl and delivery are average though, it is not very cheap when buying a small amount of vinyl so it’s best to buy at least 3 or more to make it worth it. I was confused over the delivery prices as the site stated that it was £1.10 for a single then 80p extra for more. But when in the checkout it seemed to be a flat rate of £2.50 which was not amazing value.

    The clips on the site are definitely not the best I’ve seen. Firstly to listen to the tracks you have to register which is a pet hate of mine for any site. Secondly both tracks for a single are put together in the same clip which gets a bit frustrating when you only want to listen to a single track. Lastly the clips are pretty short and seem to take longer to load than they really should, I recommend using your default player to listen to them as the build in player is awful.

    The layout is very simple, only 4 categories: New Releases, Back Catalogue, Forthcoming and Sale items. I found once entering one of the categories that the site again did not use all the space available to it. It is a bit frustrating the way that you have to click on each record to access all the information and sound clip. Also when adding to the basket you are redirected to the basket and there is no link to get back to exactly where you were, but you have to navigate back to the home page and through to the desired section. I do like the way that you can change the list of tunes in each section from released to either title, artist, price, and label giving you more options to search through the list. This is welcomed as, for some reason, you can only search the title of a track.

    The service is good, I’m glad to say, they do try to get the records to you the next day but unfortunately this is not always the case. They are very friendly over returns as I ordered the wrong records accidentally once and they happily refunded me the money for it which I was very happy about!

    Prices 3.5/5
    Delivery charges 3.5/5
    Back catalogue 3.5/5
    Dubs 4/5
    New releases 4.5/5
    Music clips 2.5/5
    Site layout 3/5
    Service 4/5


    Intense Records (www.intenserecords.co.uk) – Intense is another site that I have only recently been using. Unfortunately I doesn’t compare with the others or new releases, it does get in a lot of the major tunes but does not have the massive selection of releases from all the labels. But despite this, what it lacks in variety it makes it up in other departments.

    Even though the new releases don’t compare they do get a lot of good promos in there. Again there’s a lack of high profile promos but there are a lot of good tunes there and there’s even some that I don’t see on Red Eye or Chemical so its always worth a look. The best bonus of checking this site out is because they always get exclusive promos of all the defcom (kryptic minds and leon switch) releases, I’ve been able to get their promos at least a couple of weeks, sometimes longer, than Red Eye or Chemical. I have not really used their back catalogue, but at a quick glance it is definitely worth a look as there are a load of good tunes in there, some I have not seen on other sites. There are quite often sales in the different sections to look out for, usually £2.30 a single and £4.70 an EP. They do have a selection of the latest cd’s and tape packs but not a really a back catalogue of them.

    The second best thing about this site is the price. The delivery doesn’t exceed £1.50 on any order, so you can order as much as you like and they’ll foot the cost (cheers guys!). Also become a member (absolutely free and then send you a useful email with the new releases), and you get a 10% discount on each order you make.

    The clips of the tunes pop up in a windows media window and each side gets its own 2 minute clip. Its not dissimilar to Red Eye with albums only getting only a maximum of 4 tracks to listen to. Not ideal but still functional.

    The layout of the site is well designed, although its only 800x600 it still manages to display all the information on the tracks without cluttering the page. When ordering the tunes your basket pops up in another window so your can easily monitor how much you’re spending. It’s easy to navigate the site through the well organised menus and sections, with the ability to sort each section by artist, title, etc. This is my favourite site to use after Red Eye.

    The service is great from them with next day delivery as long as the order is made before 5pm, with communication via friendly emails. Returns are also possible if a mistake is made at no cost.

    Prices 4.5/5
    Delivery charges 4.5/5
    Back catalogue 3.5/5
    Dubs 4/5
    New releases 3.5/5
    Music clips 4/5
    Site layout 4.5/5
    Service 4.5/5


    Hard to Find Records (www.htfr.co.uk) – I have visited the actual shop here on more than one occasion, not just for vinyl but for equipment too. I have always dubbed this place the “toy ‘r us” of record shops. It has the biggest back catalogue of vinyl I’ve ever seen in my life! There are literally stacks and stacks of it from every single vinyl. This is the biggest strong point of this store as it is the best place to start if your looking for classic vinyl such as that early Moving Shadow or old Foul Play vinyl. This is mainly due to the fact that they buy a lot of second hand stuff from collectors and simply people who want to sell their back catalogue for one reason or another. Their new releases are awful if you look on the new releases section most of them are out of stock. They do get promos in but I’ve never seen any in the shop let alone online, I think they get a very small amount, about 4 or 5!! (I dunno it may be more). I would even bother with their dnb cd collection.

    The vinyl costs are pretty expensive around £6 a vinyl and then when you put the postage on top of that its not worth it for a small amount. The postage is pretty poor too with £1.50 for the first and then 75p for everyone there after till the fourth. This only gives you a 2-6 day service though, I wouldn’t bother about the next day its £5.50 and still 75p for extras! Talk about pulling you pants down.

    The clips are pretty shoddy too you only get to hear a single clip of a tune, so that’s one clip on a whole album! Ridiculous. The quality is terrible too.

    The layout of the site is very good considering the amount of content on the website. All the menus are easy to find and use, there’s a load of drop down boxes to find exactly what you what and its all quick too. The search engine is quick and effective so no problems finding what you want from the vast amount of tunes. All the important info is presented to you instantly after you search with the option to click on the track for more info if required.

    I personally don’t like the service with them at all, in the shop it feels like you’re shopping at sainsbury’s and online it feels like your ordering food off tesco’s home service! From my experience, from friends and myself, they’re not consistent at sending you the right vinyl.

    Prices 2/5
    Delivery charges 1/5
    Back catalogue 4.5/5
    Dubs 2.5/5
    New releases 2.5/5
    Music clips 1.5/5
    Site layout 5/5
    Service 3/5


    Label Sites – There are increasingly a large amount of record labels that are releasing their tunes through their own sites, I have made a list of the ones I use plus others I’m aware of:

    • TOV - www.tovmusic.com
    • Hospital Records – www.hospitalrecords.co.uk
    • Infrared – www.infraredrecords.co.uk
    • Moving Shadow – www.movingshadow.com

    The bonus of using these is that they all sell their promos much earlier than any of the regular stores, you can quite frequently get releases up to a month (!) before they’re even promoed on the major sites. Also its worth checking out exclusives such as the Limited Edition Remix EP Renegade Hardware released recently, only available from their site and also J-Majik & Wickerman – Sandstorm which is never to get a proper release. They also have probably the best back catalogue of their own releases than any shop, the hardware back catalogue all present bar 4 or 5, which is pretty damn impressive!

    This all comes at a price though, as their exclusive promos they are pretty expensive….but I think its worth it! Plus with other tunes to choose from their back catalogues you can always make the package worth while. Can’t really comment much on their delivery, from experience they are not extortionate but not massively cheap either.

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    Last edited: Aug 30, 2004
  3. sli

    sli Member

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    MP3 Sites – These are sites that have been popping up recently all over the place, though there still aren’t a lot of them comparatively. I’ve made a small list of those that I know, hopefully others will be able to add to this.

    • Beatport – www.beatport.com
    • iTunes – www.apple.com/itunes
    • Connect – www.connect-europe.com
    • Good Looking Organisation – www.glo.uk.com
    • TOV – www.tovmusic.com

    After seeing a recent post on DNB forum turns out even record labels are ditching vinyl in favour of high quality mp3s, Majik Vinyl are now not producing their tracks on vinyl but only selling their tunes through Beatport. There is obviously a large amount of trust placed in the consumer not to share the tunes on soulseek, kazaa, etc, but who would need to when you can buy a track for a quid!!

    Just looking on Beatport there are labels such as: Black Sun Empire, Violence, Nerve, Proper Talent, and Emotif and all priced at 99c a track (around 50p with the current exchange rate). Pretty impressive really, and with Good Looking leading the way by selling a lot of their back catalogue on mp3, saving them loads of money but providing the customer with an amazing selection for £1 a track. The quality of the mp3s are apparently 320kbps after 23 aug and 192kbps, the music clips must be about 2kbps as they are awful!

    There are also the more corporate mp3 sites such as Apple’s itunes and Sony’s connect service. You can use the service provided you download their player to download the tunes with. They are well priced at 99c a tune, but you don’t get a massive selection at all, though DSL has some of the Human Imprint releases on there, and I’ve seen bring it on there too.

    A bit off the topic but still on the cd theme is tov’s new cd creator service. It isn’t actually running yet but I’ve noticed the cd creator tab on the website that give a coming soon message. I’m assuming that this is a service where you can pick from their back catalogue and they send you a cd with your chosen tracks on.

    thats about it for now, took me bloody ages to write all this!! :typing: Please feel free to add anymore info to this thread.

    :miss_rep:
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2004
  4. sdm

    sdm This is Dog Fort

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    Excellent reviews here bro, I like it! (y)
     
  5. Reapa

    Reapa Member

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    woah!!!! god damn it man!! how long it take u too write that shit? haha fair play man, gotta agree with all of it but i would say chemical records receive more promos and get them quicker. Peace.
     
  6. sli

    sli Member

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    Ha! long time, had nothing else to do at home this bank holiday. starting my job tomorrow and wanted to be on form so havent been out at all weekend :violin:
     
  7. xen

    xen ...innit

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    You can't forget www.classictrax.ltd.uk - I buy just about ALL of my vinyl from there, and their prices just CANNOT be beaten. Absolute quality. Not the widest selection of stuff, but they get a fair amount of quality.