This cost a lot of money for a set that's been out for such a long time, so my three stars reflects value as well. For anyone wishing to mark Wagner year and honour this famous recording, this box is worth having. It's packaged in four heavy books, each about the size of an LP set. In one you'll find the full text of Culshaw's marvellous account of the recording of the Solti Ring, The Ring Resounding. If you have the original book you'll have clearer print and far better reproduction of the photographs, which are rather poor here, but if you don't, this is wonderful to have. Another volume very usefully prints the text and music examples of Deryck Cooke's An Introduction to Der Ring des Nibelungen, which you also get on two CDs; this is another strong incentive to buy this set. The reproduction of extracts from Solti's conducting scores, including several pages from the opening of Die Walkure, Act III (Ride of the Valkryies) is fascinating for the light they shed on the way Solti communicated with the Decca production team. Another huge bonus.
I also enjoyed the fine reproduction of pages from the Gramophone relating to the Ring project, including Decca's detailed advertisements, all with wonderful pictures. But the large-format photographs given separately are not of high enough quality to get me excited.
The librettos are given, of course, in another book, but the question a lot of people will ask is whether the latests CDs and blu-ray disc give us a significant improvement over the last version, which is now available very cheaply indeed. The answer is not enough. Decca didn't do a new transfer for this edition; they merely had another crack at the digital tapes made in 1997, because the analogue tapes were found to be unplayable. This is a tragedy, reflecting little credit on Decca, for I am not convinced that we are yet hearing the full potential of those famous master tapes. There is certainly some improvement, but I listen to a lot of Decca recordings from around this time, and many sound better than this. I also play the LPs of the Solti Ring, which also have a bite and warmth that seems to be missing in these CDs.
The 24 bit, 48000 blu-ray files certainly sound impressive. They undoubtedly reveal a little more than the CDs, but the improvement on my system was fairly modest (I was listening on Music Fidelity power amps and B&W 802 Matrix speakers). Just before listening to some of these Ring discs I had been overwhelmed by the beauty of the Sofiensaal sound in Brahms, Symphony No. 2 conducted by Kertesz, which has just appeared on Eloquence. It's a fair comparison because it's the same venue, the same year as the Gotterdammerung (1964), and same orchestra. The Brahms sounds far more like I feel the Ring should sound -- warm, enveloping, massively detailed, punchy at climaxes, etc.
It's hard to know what to recommend. If you just want the Solti Ring and are not too cranky about sound quality, the new Solti Wagner package is incredible value (Solti, Wagner: The Operas). If you want the last drop of sound quality that Decca is prepared or able to get out of it, get the limited edition, but don't expect too much: the print is not always easy to read (compared with the LP booklets and Culshaw book) and the sound isn't revelatory. This is around £200 after all.