I've been seriously collecting music for about 40 years now. My collection is massive... tens of thousands of records and CDs and a iTunes library with a year and a half's worth of music. I love digging up the good stuff.
The Rise of the Masters series is a repackaging of recordings from the BIS label. They are very highly regarded performances and the sound quality is top notch. The same recordings in these collections are available on CD and SACD too, but it would cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Hard to beat $1.99 for that much music. Thankfully, Amazon is offering these as 256 LAME VBR MP3 files, so they are pretty much identical in sound quality to the full price CD and SACD versions. I played the Grieg Peer Gynt through my big stereo and it sounded spectacular... much better than any CD version I have. No need to worry about sound quality. It probably doesn't make much of a difference, but the iTunes store has these same sets for more money in 256 AAC VBR. Theoretically, that would sound a little better, but in practice, probably not that much.
There is another series called "99 Most Essential Masterpieces" that includes composers that the Rise of the Masters doesn't, like Mendelssohn and Brahms. Those are worth picking up too. Another great series is put out by the Bach Guild. You can find those by searching for the terms "big box bach guild". They have a fantastic Mahler set with a symphony cycle by Abravanel. Great stuff.
I'll see ya at the wig store!
Edited by bigshot - 12/9/12 at 2:24pm