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TDR reviews the Rox Box: A great package, well worth buying, that could have been even better

Written by tevensso on October 29, 2006 to , and .

LJUSDAL - So finally it is here, the mystical, mythical and long spoken about RoxBox – full name: The RoxBox - Roxette 86-06. I have it in my hand, it is a hefty piece, very well manufactured. The box contains four fully-crammed CDs, a thick, attached booklet and a DVD of "all Roxette's videos" (which certainly can be debated…) and the legendary MTV Unplugged show from 1993, in full!
Let's start with the box itself. It's made like a book, with the four CDs attached two to each cover, with a very lovely booklet in-between. So where is the DVD? It's in a cardboard sleeve at the very back of the booklet. Not a good place to put it, I would say, as the DVD is double-sided and DVDs are easily scratched. The booklet is written by well-known reporter Janne Gradvall, who has a definite stamp-of-approval from Per. Gradvall is a Swedish pop journalist with a long and genuine background, respected by many of Sweden's pop stars and music business people. The text has been translated by Sven Åke Peterson. The text itself is very informative and has tons of bits and pieces of nice Roxette trivia. I also like the translation, most of it at least. What is a "dropping-bottle" really? I would call that a "drip" or "drip-feed," but hey, that's me! The photos in the booklet are both familiar and unfamiliar, all in truly nice quality. What I miss in the booklet is an explanation from Per and Marie why they selected the tracks that made the box.
Now we get to the DVD(s) and unfortunately I can't say that I'm overjoyed about them. I say "them" because in reality there's two. The disc is a "flipper" (two sided). Don't get me wrong, it's absolutely fabulous to finally get the missing tracks of the Unplugged concert. I'm glad that someone convinced MTV to let Roxette use them. But why, oh why, do it in this poor quality?? I'm sure the original Beta masters were used to render the DVD, but the Mbit/s is only 6.16 which is VERY poor (and it gets worse). The sound is available in both Dolby Digital and DTS stereo, which is fine, however the bonus tracks have plenty of audio clicks and glitches. That may come from the original source material though. Oh well, the Unplugged concert looks decent on a regular 29" TV, but is hard to view at all on a 42" plasma.
Regarding the "video" side of the DVD, it contains 37 Roxette videos, not all videos ever made. And frankly, I doubt we'll ever see that compilation. The bitrate of the video side is an appalling 3.57 Mbit per second! That, my friends, is about as low as you can go on a DVD. And it's quite noticable while watching; for instance in "She Doesn't Live Here Anymore," where the whole picture is pixelated most of the time. I can buy perhaps that the earlier videos have low quality sources, but this is way beyond that. It's not acceptable for a company to release the third lousy (quality-wise) video compilation in a row… Other companies release good DVDs all the time, why not EMI?

Enough nagging now. The CDs are brilliant! They even seem to be made in HDCD (high definition) sound! (My Windows Media Player sometimes shows the HDCD symbol, sometimes not). Sadly, I don't have any HDCD compatible equipment so I can't tell you the difference to normal CD sound.
As I've previously mentioned we get four CDs with more or less all of Roxette's singles, b-sides and odd tracks, interjected with the occasional demo and unreleased track. All in all we get 78 songs, which can be compared to Bon Jovi's 51 songs on the box "100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong…" (the difference being that all of Bon Jovi's tracks were demos and previously hard-to-get songs). Best track of the box? There are two: the acoustic "Help!" from the Abbey Road sessions in November 1995 and "I Love How You Love Me," the Paris Sisters' hit, mixed with "Anyone."
Voices have been heard that this box didn't have enough rare tracks on it, and God knows I was one of them. However, having listened to the whole box, over and over again, I now understand why they did it like this. And with Per and Marie's upcoming holiday season gift on Roxette.se, I'm sure that you fans will find this as great as I do.
The box jumps right in at #20 on the Swedish album chart while "Hits!" starts off at #2.
Speaking of "Hits!," listening to that CD makes me, once again, realize just how great Roxette is. Track after track makes you go "wow, this song was so good, and this and this…" Funny enough, the DVD that comes in the bonus package has the highest bitrate of them all - 6.64 Mbit per second.
To sum it all up, the Box is very well worth its price, if not for the 14 previously unreleased tracks (well, 12, as "7Twenty7" and "Always Breaking My Heart" in all honesty have been released before), then for the Unplugged concert. I'd like EMI to remaster the whole concert and re-release it, but if this is what we get, it ain't all bad.
I give the Box 4 out of 5 (the DVD gets only 2) and "Hits!" 3 out of 5. "Hits!" would've gotten more, but I think the greatest hits packages come a bit too often lately.

PS. "All Videos Ever Made" has a bitrate of 3.4 Mbits per second while "The Complete Video Collection" won't even be measured.

40 comments

Good.
Does anybody know what happen with RoxBox in Spain?
I can’t find it in Seville!!!!

Neither in Coruña. A salesman of El Corte Inglés has told me that they have reserved five copies of it. One for me. No dates, thought.

Thanks for the review.

As i expected the video quality for the DVDs would not be anything impressive at all.

However, the songs in HDCD audio quality is just amazing! I have a really nice sound card for my laptop with a 5.1 speaker set, now i have to find out if it decodes HDCD audio quality. I know it decodes DVD Audio music CDs. Does anyone know if HDCDs and DVD Audio CDs are the same thing ? I know both have high quality audio.

After all, the box seems to be a nice addition, not for the horrible quallity of the videos, but for the high audio quality of the songs, the full unplugged and of course, the history within each and everyone of the songs and booklet pages.

Take care!
Carlos E. New York.

HDCD and DVD-Audio are not the same. :)

Thanx for the review. How is the quality of the videos on a 15,4” laptop ?

Probably more than OK, the smaller the screen the better the quality.

i can’t believe that the quality of the dvd is so nasty!!.

i was regretting of buying the box , but then i thought about the mtv unplugged. so i wanted to buy it again. and now i don’t know what to do...in addition i live in argentina so to get it will be very dificult...i don’t know but i’m having second thoughts about buying a product of such a bad quality.

i there a way you people could let per know about this matter. i mean he talk about the box...but could he have done anithing in order to “control” this poor quality on the product.
don’t know what else to think.

ps: I agree with bunny2. this news doesn’t belong here.

Great and honest review.

I’ve watched the Unplugged on my 50” Plasma and have to say you are right - the picture is terrible. They could have done a better job with this. We’ve waited long enough for it, so it is a real shame that the quality is not better.

I have to say however, that I am really pleased to finally hear the previously un-aired tracks, especially Fading Like A Flower and Spending My Time - both should have been on the original show as the performances are by far the best of the whole in my opinion.

I’m looking forward to the roxette.se demos (Christmas Presents!). It’s a shame we’re not getting them to download - bah humbug Mr Gessle!

At least we get to hear some! Fingers crossed that there’ll be some we’ve never heard as b-sides or on the various bootlegs circulating.

I would love a better quality version of “Do You Wanna Go With Me” and “Always The Last To Know”.

Per - take note if reading!

RoxBox = 4 out of 5 (due to the DVD quality)

Hits! = 4 out of 5 (due to missing Church Of Your Heart and putting in Stars - shame on you!). Reveal is a stunning track. Marie has never sounded better and Per’s lyrics - simple but beautiful.

Saying that though - I’ve bought lots of copies of the Hits CD/DVD for Christmas presents :-)

I’ll be playing some Rox tunes at my upcoming Wedding at the end of November!

i have to ask does this really belong on the front page? i thought we were shifting away from using the tdr front page as a personal platform of opinion? that being said I still don’t get the complaints about the quality, so what viewing it on a 42 inch tv isn’t the best, who cares, the fact they secured the rights from mtv so we can get the concert is enough for me, and it eclipses any bootlegs out there, or are we going to grip that bootlegs are better now? ...and the assertion that we haven’t seen all the rox videos ever made, well cummon guys every time they oput a hits package out they make new songs with new videos that miss the compilations..it’s a story of life, would you have rathered the make nothing new and put out another comp so we can get all the videos? thats absurd...i did get the big feeling tho from the booklet in hte box that the ” show is over.” it’s a nice if not completely fulfilling way to go out

“bitrate of 3.4 Kbits per second” What the hell is this..??
At least my DVD-player uses term Mbps not kilo which by the way is with k not K (=Kelvin)... ;)

It’s kinda sad to think that EMI gets our money again if Unplugged show is been remastered... But that’s business..

Of course it Mbit, I just had a brain meltdown! :)

A great, in-depth first report. It’s funny, though, that you mention the quality of a translation - I’ve often found your translations a little complicated and un-English...

Just as my Swedish translations would be ;-)

watched the videos on my little television and they were fine. although i have to agree that the sound of the dvd is not great. then again i have my dvd hooked to proper speakers, i refuse you will notice any difference in the sound quality of the dvd whiles listening on average tv speakers.
after all there are 37 videoclips on that dvd it takes a bit of compression to fit all that.

HDCD

“HDCD (High Definition Compatible Digital) is a digital encoding and decoding process for compact disc and DVD audio recording. The HDCD process manages to encode 20 bits of audio information into a conventional CD 16-bit channel, yielding a greater dynamic range and a more true-to-life sound when decoded. HDCD was developed by Keith Johnson and Pflash Pflaumer between 1986 and 1991, and made publicly available in 1995. Johnson and Pflaumer went on to found Pacific Microsonics, which was later acquired by Microsoft. Since 1995, more than 5,000 HDCD recordings have been released and more than 175 of those have been nominated for GRAMMY awards. An article in Wired Magazine hailed HDCD technology as “the greatest single advance in digital reproduction to date.”
Audio chip manufacturers including Motorola, Sanyo, and Zoran have developed HDCD chips for audio products, such as CD and DVD players and receivers. HDCD-encoded media will play on machines that don’t have the chip, and HDCD-equipped machines can play traditionally recorded media. Because the decoder chips include a high-precision digital filter, HDCD-equipped players will improve audio quality for even traditionally recorded CDs and DVDs. Conversely, because of the recording process, HDCD-encoded media will also sound better than traditionally CDs and DVDs on players that don’t have the HDCD chip. Nevertheless, the best audio quality is yielded by HDCD-encoded media on an HDCD-equipped player.”

@tevensso: Could you tell me what are the specifications (sampling rate) of the audio quality when you are playing one of the songs straight from one of the Box CDs? I’d appreciate it. Want to know if i will be able to enjoy the HDCD sound quality.

My sound card can play audio files of 24-bit (EAX Advanced HD) up to 192 kHz/104db SNR and 96 kHz (sampling frequency).

Thanks!
Take care!
Carlos E., NewYork.

it really does not belong on the front page. I think it’s nasty always being so unsatisfied ! Why we can not be happy about getting such a great box ? C’mon it’s a gift for us (THE REAL FANS!) by Marie and Per ! I am so glad about it and I love the stuff ! It’s a whole box with so much music and fun !
This here is not the right place to give less points out of whatever how many ! This is a fan page !

Rox Box finally came to Moscow. It is a bunch of emotions”: from “Wow!” to “Well..?”
I mean that Demos, Help! from Abbey Road Sessions and New 2006 tracks are great. Marie‘s voice is wonderful. Guitar rocks. But still questions are risen: how the songs were compilated and where is the DVD quality?
Do not wanna be a nasty boy, it is cool, but can‘t put more than 4 out of 5.

P.S. The new album chapter would be hell great!

I totally agree about the quality of the DVD, I was really dissepointed about the soundquality of the unplugged concert!

And with Per and Marie’s upcoming X-mas gift on roxette.se............

I believe you know what kind of gist would it be.. =))) Could you tell us?

it really don´t care if it does belong on the front page. I think it’s nasty always being so unsatisfied ! Why we can not be happy about getting such a great review ? C’mon it’s a gift for us (THE REAL FANS!) by tevensso ! I am so glad about it and I love the stuff !

@bunny2
This is not a gift. We pay for it. And (I don’t know how many times I have to say this) you don’t HAVE TO be 100 % satisfied with EVERYTHING that Mr. G & Co release.
There’s a huge difference between complaining and giving constructive criticism.

nice article, im still waiting for sale price lol.

I agree with this review. The booklet of the “Box” is really great! The MTV bonuses are cool (with some glitches..). But the print of the “Hits” booklet is very poor quality, at least here in the Czech Republic. And maybe there are some differences between the “TitsAndAss Demos” and “Demos” of 7Twenty7 and Always Breaking My Heart, don´t you think?

@Roxrider_USA I think you need to play the CD with Windows Media Player (HDCD belongs to Microsoft) and set your sound card to 24-bit (HDCD is 20 bits but the sound card is either 16 or 24)...

Great review! I don’t mind someone else’s opinion as long as it doesn’t effect the rest of the fan base–which I think is harmless here. Again, of course, the “quality” issue came up and to be honest what do we expect from Every Mistake Imagineable!?! You knew this was bound to happen w/ their past history. We’ll all make are own decisions either way on the ROXBOX. Again, the biggest bonus of it all is the MTV Unplugged. You hear so many artists that performed on MTV Unplugged and have done a brilliant job (Nirvana, Oasis, Eric Clapton, etc...) and now ROXETTE. And Per’s comment is quite true...”We are quite good..” My answer to that comment: Yes, yes THEY are! We love Roxette for a reason.

@roxlad: Yes. I understand what you mean. When i get the box, I will try the CDs on my sound card player software and also on Window Media Player 10.

After doing some research, i’m pretty sure my sound card we decode the full HD quality encoded in the CDs.

Take care!
Carlos E., New York.

Received the RoxBox yesterday. Great booklet. The extra tracks are nice. The bonus videos of the Unplugged session are great. I miss the Fireworks single in the tracklist of the songs? Nevertheless, it’s absolutely worth buying for a Roxette fan. Reveal is nice as the menu background music. The box makes me long for a complete new album. Maybe one day, he-he-hey!

@Roxrider_USA hope it works fine for you!

About the box... I think the sound quality is very good, the volume of the songs is very high but they did a great job with the remastering. Even songs from Have a nice day sound better.
The videos will never ever be of a good quality until they use at least 2 dvds and I think the MTV Unplugged show is great. I don’t have a big Plasma TV to try it but after all it is a 1993 recording and we cannot expect it to look as good as a contemporary one. This box is making me listen to Roxette more and more as I did in the old days. It’s great although I do miss I Call Your Name from the tracklist.

It’s really a great review.

I’m counting the days till I come home and buy my copy of the RoxBox :)

Great article. Thanks for the info on the DVD quality. I am not surprised by this. However, I still had a bit of hope that I would be proven wrong and EMI would have actually invested in upgrading the music videos for their 3rd release (and putting out a high quality MTV Unplugged to match).

My RoxBox is apparently shipping this Tuesday, October 31 from cduniverse.com. I’ll then get a chance to hear/see just how bad it is and will then be able to comment from my own perspective.

Nonetheless, based on this information, I really don’t understand the problem with EMI. I own several music video DVDs released by EMI from a variety of acts: Duran Duran - ’Greatest’, John Lennon - ’The Very Best Of’, The Human League - ’The Very Best Of’, Pet Shop Boys - ’PopArt’, Simple Minds - ’Seen The Light - A Visual History’, David Bowie - ’Best Of’, Culture Club - ’Greatest Hits’, etc. Every one of these DVDs has remastered 2.0 stereo audio re-synced with the original music video. EMI went the extra mile with the John Lennon one and included both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. (That’s one of my favorite DVD releases for the sound alone!) They all sound and look fantastic, regardless.

Then I pull out my Roxette DVDs and am totally let down. What is going on? I don’t understand why EMI invests in upgrading video releases for what seems like all their acts except Roxette. Perhaps someone can clue me in on this. It’s a shame that EMI has yet again put this low quality material on the market. While asking for 5.1 audio may be a bit too much I do not understand why the audio could not have been remastered and re-synced to fit the videos in 2.0 stereo.

And what’s with the picture? People can blame age on poor quality but when I look at the clean image of Human League’s 1982 “Love Action” video, as one example, I realize that age probably has nothing to do with it.

In comparison, Pet Shop Boys ’PopArt’ DVD release has 41 videos yet is nicely re-synced with digitally remastered audio. I see no reason why the same could not have been done for Roxette who have nearly as many promo videos. Keep in mind that the Pet Shop Boys release is only 1 DVD (and no, it’s not double-sided either). ;)

As for just being happy to have ’MTV Unplugged’ on DVD, sure it’s nice. But should we have to accept poor quality just to have it? I’m sure many of us would have been willing to pay a few dollars more to get a full quality release. If the original masters have been lost then I can understand. More than likely this is not the case, however, considering the look and sound of the music videos that accompany the package. Compress! Compress! Compress! It’s just another half-ass job done on EMI’s part.

On a more positive note, at least EMI got the CD audio quality right! It sounds fantastic.

I don’t rant here often, but this topic prompted it. Just something to think about. ;)

“Speaking of “Hits!,” listening to that CD makes me, once again, realize just how great Roxette is.”

I think it really is important not to lose sight of just how high Roxette set the bar for quality pop music back in the early ’90s... we’re constantly arguing about whether they continued to meet their own high standard, but I think the more important question is, has any other pop act met it? Collections like “Hits!” make it really hard to imagine that anyone else could.

I will see what I get for Xmas... The RoxBox might appear on my wish list ;)

I haven’t received my RoxBox yet, but from what i’ve read in the forums etc. that seems like a pretty fair review.

I agree with everyone that we should be happy getting a superb release like it is, but it could have been that much better if the videos were of a better standard.

If they do at some later stage decide to release Unplugged Remastered, i’ll be the first one to put my order in :-)

I still can’t wait to get my RoxBox :-D

[email protected]
In Media Markt Santa Justa is the Rox Box 39.79€.

I miss ROCK in Roxette.
One Wish , is a nice song, but it’s to much produced.
Keep it simple!
Why do you think ppl like your demos more nowadays?!!!
Reveal, I am sorry to say, nice song, crap arranging.
Don’t start to get a lame performance of coldplay!! ( no offence to them, they ” were” good too!)

Moi wants more 7twenty7 ( demo) stuff!!!

p.s Is it just me or are the Pearls of Passion more uptemp?

2 questions.... The cd’s are HDCD’s or seem to be? Cause I think it’s usual to label them with th HDCD logo when they are like that... (not every player may be able to play them...) The 2º: the dvd is encoded both dts and dd stereo???? No 5.1? If so what a pity.... they should have done the same as Bjork who re edited all her albums in a box (all in dd 5.1 and dts....) Maybe next GH. LOL

I forgot one more. May some of you that have the box by now check if the remastering of the songs had solved the problem of saturation in the tracks... (it’s been like that since 1º GH...). Just to make it clear I know for sure that in TCOTH and in JA the peaks levels go plain (which is not good...), and i’ve checked it in the albums and singles editions and it’s always the same...maybe they have solve the problem in this edition (hope it’s not a problem in the master)... If anyone could be kind enought to check it, i’d be so nice.... Thanks in advance.
The joyride continues.... c’om be a joyrider.
By the way: great review tevensso, thanx

Thank you. No 5.1 sound. And my WMP says that the tracks are HDCD, but there is no HDCD logo on the covers.

Ok. I’ll try to check it when i get the Box. Anyway it’s great to have some material with new encoded soundtrack!! Perhaps the hdcd codification was made”by accident” like the stero encoding in the Look Sharp! album.... (as it’s said in the booklet of LS!) LOL.
Greatings from downhere (ARG) to all of u up there...

aaaaah, I thought it is my DVD player, but it is really the DVD itself. thank you for explaining!!! so I will go back watching the videos on my VHS ;o)
isn´t that weird???!
can´t EMI explain??

I got my RoxBox and i must say it is a very well put together package.

As was mentioned in the editorial/review, what really lets it down is the quality of the DVD. I’m quite happy with MTV unplugged. But the vids is appalling, I thought AVEM was bad but this is much worse. 3 times and they still can’t get it right.

Maybe one day...

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