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Your Favorite "Audiophile" Recordings
Old 03-24-2014, 09:14 PM   #1
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Your Favorite "Audiophile" Recordings

This question was asked in The Audio Equipment Corner, I thought it could stand on its own:

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Originally Posted by Mr. Paul View Post
....

Here's a question ... what are some of your favorite high quality recordings?

Sinatra at The Sands ... w/ Count Basie
Mark Knopfler ... Sailing to Philadelphia
Bob Marley and The Wailers ... Uprising and Survival
Muddy Waters ... Folk Singer

Those are a few that come to mind right away.


Yes, performance comes first, but for the audiophiles - list some of your favorite recordings that have great performances, and great technical sound quality in the recording process.

I gave a partial answer in that thread, and I'll copy some of that here -

Quote:
... off the top of my head, several Doc Watson recordings fit that bill. Just clean and simple, and you are there. Same with a couple Norman Blake albums/CDs. In that same vein, I have an LP that does not have a title, just a long list of artists (including Norman Blake), and that is phenomenal in every way. The album and later CD are both out of print, and appear to be collector's items by the prices I see.

Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Norman Blake / Tut Taylor / Sam Bush / Butch Robbins / Vassar Clements / David Holland / Jethro Burns

Norman Blake/Tut Taylor/Sam Bush/Butch Robins/Vassar Clements/David Holland/Jethro Burns - Norman Blake,Jethro Burns,Sam Bush,Vassar Clements,Dave Holland,Butch Robins,Tut Taylor | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic


Norman Blake / Jethro Burns / Sam Bush / Vassar Clements / Dave Holland / Butch Robins / Tut Taylor

That's quite a mix, Dave Holland is a jazz bassist - played with Miles, and Abecrombie and DeJonette. Jethro Burns of "Homer and Jethro", but few realize he was probably the best mandolinist of his time, he could play any style. I used to regularly go out to hear his son Johnny, who played awesome electric guitar in some country-rock bands in Chicago, and Jethro would occasionally sit in with him and Steve Goodman (Jethro is on a few cuts of Goodman's 'Anthology' album). Jethro and his family lived in the near North Suburbs of Chicago. edit/add: Jethro and Chet Atkins (another great guitarist) were Brothers-in-Law, they married twin sisters.
And browsing my disk directory, here are a few that jumped out at me that are probably widely available (much of my collection is pretty off-the-beaten-path):


- Marian McPartland/Plays the Music of Billy Strayhorn
- Marian McPartland/Just Friends
- Marian McPartland Trio/Live At Shanghai Jazz


- Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea/An Evening with Chick Corea & Herbie Hancock

- Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Mark O'Connor/Appalachian Journey

- Cephas and Wiggins/Bluesmen

- Anoushka Shankar/Live at Carnegie Hall

- David Grisman and Martin Taylor/Tone Poems II

- Jeff Midkiff/Partners in Time

- Doc Watson/Elementary Doctor Watson

- Bill Monroe/Cryin' Holy Unto the Lord

- Vince Guaraldi Trio/A Charlie Brown Christmas

- David Berger & the Sultans of Swing/The Harlem Nutcracker


Yes, I listen to electric/electronic as well, but those don't seem to jump out for me as much in terms of recording quality - OK, here's a few:

- Wendy Carlos/The Well‐Tempered Synthesizer
- Wendy Carlos/Switched-On Bach II
- Wendy Carlos/Switched-On Bach
- Wendy Carlos/Boxed Set IV- Switched-On Brandenburgs
- Wendy Carlos/Digital Moonscapes
- Wendy Carlos/Beauty in the Beast
- Wendy Carlos/The Well‐Tempered Synthesizer

-ERD50
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Your Favorite "Audiophile" Recordings
Old 03-24-2014, 09:26 PM   #2
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Your Favorite "Audiophile" Recordings

A friend of mine who designs studios puts on James Taylor's October Road. He turns it up loud. I think he is interested in the spaces/silence between music as well as the instruments and vocals.
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Old 03-24-2014, 09:40 PM   #3
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I like my SACD of Allison Krauss and Union Station: Live
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Old 03-24-2014, 10:08 PM   #4
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Interesting connections - James Taylor and Allison Krause are on the 'Appalachian Journey' CD I listed, and one of the stand-outs is Taylor's voice on one track. In the same way as Doc Watson, there is just a little grittiness mixed in with the beauty of the voice - and it seems that good recording techniques capture that subtlety, while poorer ones it gets mushed in with everything else.


BTW, I hope I'm not stepping on the toes of that other thread about favorite recordings:

Sometimes itís just about the music

I took that one to mean regardless of (or even in spite of) recording quality. Hopefully people feel there is room for both.

-ERD50
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Old 03-24-2014, 11:52 PM   #5
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Norman Blake / Tut Taylor / Sam Bush / Butch Robbins / Vassar Clements / David Holland / Jethro Burns

This is a great record. Norman Blake's take on "Old Brown Case" is a classic. Most of these guys were on John Hartford's "Steam Powered Aereoplane" album that is a sparkling recording of groundbreaking performances. Aereoplane finally came out on CD in the late 90's. I didn't think the above mentioned LP ever came out on CD.

And yes that Cephas and Wiggins record came out on Chesky Records, a label dedicated to superior sound and it's a home run for sure.

The SACD of "Let it Bleed" really shows off what a fine recording that classic album is.

"Come Together" on Abbey Road is always a fun tune to showcase nice equipment.

The CD I always carried to audition equipment was Greg Brown's "Further In" ... Kelly Joe Phelps is all over that record and along with "The Poet Game" those are Greg's two best sounding releases.

The Mobile Fidelity pressing of the Door's "Waiting For the Sun" is a real ear opener.

I could go on ... and probably will.
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Old 03-25-2014, 07:05 AM   #6
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I haven't considered myself an audiophile for a long time, but I remember being one in my youth.

In those days, equipment makers and some high end stores would have "listening rooms" where you could do A-B tests to choose the component you wanted.

One of the things I would do is bring a vinyl (that's all there was) record of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" (you might know it as the opening theme of "2001, A Space Odyssey"). The cool thing was that it begins with the lowest note in all recorded music, so if that came through well, you knew you had some good speakers.
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Old 03-25-2014, 08:29 AM   #7
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In spite of all the crap recordings that came out of Chess Studios, one of my favorite recordings of all time is Muddy Water's "Folk Singer" recorded in 1964. This has been re released in every "new" format that comes out and for good reason ... it sounds great no matter what medium one uses for reproduction. Buddy Guy on acoustic guitar and Willie Dixon on bass sound like they are in your living room ... or car ... or ...

The MFSL vinyl and CD are both spectacular.
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Old 03-25-2014, 09:50 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Paul View Post
Norman Blake / Tut Taylor / Sam Bush / Butch Robbins / Vassar Clements / David Holland / Jethro Burns

This is a great record. Norman Blake's take on "Old Brown Case" is a classic. Most of these guys were on John Hartford's "Steam Powered Aereoplane" album that is a sparkling recording of groundbreaking performances. Aereoplane finally came out on CD in the late 90's.
One of my all-time favorites, and it seems hardly anyone is familiar with it. Some parts of "Georgia Brown" are a bit over-played and 'crowded' IMO, but every other track is pure magic from start to finish. I can't listen to "Sauerkraut and Solar Energy" without getting up and dancing around and 'playing' 'air-double-bass' and 'air-fiddle' That track always puts a smile on my face.

I saw Norman Blake in a small hall shortly after I bought the LP, and he played "Old Brown Case" - it was funny, because in my mind I pictured he must be all over that fret-board to make that much sound. Yet, it seemed that his hands didn't really move that much. I guess the key to something like that is getting the arrangement down so the notes tend to fall within the hand's reach so you can do a lot.

I'll have to get Aereoplane - also saw John Hartford in that same place (the old "Amazing Grace" coffeehouse in Evanston, IL. Right up my alley.



Quote:
And yes that Cephas and Wiggins record came out on Chesky Records, a label dedicated to superior sound and it's a home run for sure.
Ahhh, interesting to get some confirmation on that one. Kind of funny, because it's not the kind of thing that would likely stand out as an audiophile demo record, nothing 'bombastic' like the previously mentioned (and wonderful) "Also Sprach Zarathustra". Just two guys playing guitar, singing, and some harmonica - but the recording seems to capture every little nuance, and just rings clear as a bell. It stands out to me for not standing out, you don't 'hear the recording', you just hear these guys play.


Quote:
"Come Together" on Abbey Road is always a fun tune to showcase nice equipment.
I'm not a huge, huge Beatles fan so I don't think I've ever given that a serious listen on good equipment. But I can almost hear in my head that it could sound great technically - lots of quiet space, the bass, those little drum bits coming out of nowhere - I'll give it a listen later today, DW has the CD.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Paul View Post
In spite of all the crap recordings that came out of Chess Studios, one of my favorite recordings of all time is Muddy Water's "Folk Singer" recorded in 1964. This has been re released in every "new" format that comes out and for good reason ... it sounds great no matter what medium one uses for reproduction. Buddy Guy on acoustic guitar and Willie Dixon on bass sound like they are in your living room ... or car ... or ...

The MFSL vinyl and CD are both spectacular.
I think my library has that one. That's curious, I also am not picturing anything out of Chess to be 'audiophile' (though great in other ways). Hmmm, I just listened to some sample tracks from amazon, compressed mp3 and my lousy speakers on the computer, but it does seem like 'the room' comes across well. There seemed to be a fair amount of a low-level type of distortion in the voice, but not a grating type. I'll try to get the CD for a good listen.

Fun stuff.

-ERD50
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Old 03-25-2014, 10:41 AM   #9
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I have a slew of MFSL, DCC and Audio Fidelity discs that sound very, very good.

MFSL
The Cars-Shake It Up
Marc Cohn
Def Leppard-Pyromania
Coltrane-Blue Trane

DCC/Audio Fidelity
The Eagles-Greatest Hits AND Hotel California
Elton John-Greatest Hits
Bob Dylan-Hwy 61
Paul McCartney-Band on the Run
ELO-Eldorado
Bonnie Raitt-Nick of Time and Luck of the Draw

I could go on. Both are audiophile companies that frequently deliver.
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Old 03-25-2014, 11:45 AM   #10
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Aereo-Plain is one of my favorites of all time! Never really thought of it as an audiophile recording though...

Hard to beat Dark Side of the Moon on a good stereo.
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Old 03-25-2014, 12:46 PM   #11
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Maybe I just play Aereo-Plain (I've always gotten that spelling wrong) so loud that I'm fooled into thinking the recording is better than it is Also, looks like that has gone out of print.

On the other side of things ... I really like Santana's "Supernatural" but opening up the files on Audacity they look like a shoebox, compressed almost beyond recognition. Also the MFSL pressing of the Door's first record was a huge disappointment.

Yes, Dark Side of The Moon ... lost track of how many different times I've purchased that one to "upgrade" the sound. Great recording.

I am also a big fan of Wish You Were Here and David Gilmour's most recent release "On an Island" ... sparkling sound, great songs.
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Old 03-25-2014, 12:50 PM   #12
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On An Island does sound good. The live version is also spectacular. That's Live in Gdansk.

A nod to Porcupine Tree for making modern prog rock ala Pink Floyd, and also paying attention to sound quality. I particularly enjoy Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun.
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Old 03-25-2014, 01:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Paul View Post
....

On the other side of things ... I really like Santana's "Supernatural" but opening up the files on Audacity they look like a shoebox, compressed almost beyond recognition.
I think I mentioned this in another thread, but as much as I love Carlos Santana, and I actually do like the song 'Supernatural', the recording technique just makes me ill. I noticed that audio compression right away, it's like one constant volume all the way through. It just drives me nuts.

For clarity for those not familiar with the terms - this type of 'compression' is different from the 'bit-rate compression' that something like mp3 encoding does. This is 'audio level compression', essentially automatically riding a volume control so that loud sounds don't get too loud, and soft sounds are brought up close to the level of the soft sounds. So there isn't much 'dynamic range', and the differences in sound level is one of the things that makes a recording sound 'real' and the music interesting. But sometimes they do this, with the idea that it will come across better in noisy environments, or over the radio, or through cheap sound systems.



Quote:
Yes, Dark Side of The Moon ... lost track of how many different times I've purchased that one to "upgrade" the sound. Great recording.

I am also a big fan of Wish You Were Here
DSOM and 'Wish You Were Here' are great on many levels. The sound quality is a little different from what I get in something like Cephas and Wiggins - these have effects and other 'interesting' sounds, and maybe 'realism' isn't always the priority. But everything comes across clear, individual sounds stay separate rather than mushing together, and overall they are very interesting to listen to (separate from the excellent performance quality/content).

Going the other way - I was a bit disappointed listening to the Box Set CD of Layla and Other Love Songs over my system (sound-wise, the content is fantastic, esp the jams and out-takes which give you added perspective on the CD). It seemed too clean, and lacked the 'excitement' that I recall hearing Layla over a crappy car radio. I think some of those tracks need a little 'grunge' to sound live and raucous.

-ERD50
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Old 03-25-2014, 01:15 PM   #14
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A few that pops into my head:

Jazz at the Pawn Shop
Harry Belafonte at Carnegie Hall
Queens greatest hits, volume 1.
The Traveler - movie sound track
Northern Exposure - sound track vol 1 & 2

and many, many more.
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Old 03-25-2014, 06:48 PM   #15
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Three artists I've recently discovered I'm really enjoying in the sultry Jazz singer category are:

Melody Gardot - example "Worrisome Heart"

Madeline Peyroux - example "Half the Perfect World"

Lizz Wright - example "Dreaming Wide Awake"

Well recorded, they are in your room, performing just for your private enjoyment...
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Old 03-25-2014, 07:39 PM   #16
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You will not see me posting an album here proclaiming that it's an "audiophile" one.

You see, I do not mind posting songs, which are often offbeat to most people. It is after all a matter of taste, and many of the songs I like were popular once, not now but often in the distant past or a different continent. But when it comes to "quality recording", it's different. It is now a technical matter, and as a technically minded person I believe technical qualities can be defined and measurable. Well, not 100% in the matter of audio as it involves the individual aural acuity and perception. But then, that last matter is also problematic.

I do not want to post an album that I like, just to see people rolling on the floor laughing and say "Why is that guy spending all the time measuring and tweaking his vintage speakers as he went on and on in another thread? He could hear diddly squat anyway!".
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Old 03-25-2014, 07:56 PM   #17
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You will not see me posting an album here proclaiming that it's an "audiophile" one.

You see, I do not mind posting songs, which are often offbeat to most people. It is after all a matter of taste, and many of the songs I like were popular once, not now but often in the distant past or a different continent. But when it comes to "quality recording", it's different. It is now a technical matter, and as a technically minded person I believe technical qualities can be defined and measurable. Well, not 100% in the matter of audio as it involves the individual aural acuity and perception. But then, that last matter is also problematic.

I do not want to post an album that I like, just to see people rolling on the floor laughing and say "Why is that guy spending all the time measuring and tweaking his vintage speakers as he went on and on in another thread? He could hear diddly squat anyway!".
I would never ever say that about you Mr. NW-Bound... I'm always curious as to what other people enjoy listening to. Since I'm not an engineer you did loose me a bit with your postings on that other thread but I did enjoy reading about your speaker rejuvenating adventures and obviously you were having a great deal of fun so all is good!
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Old 03-25-2014, 08:04 PM   #18
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Audiophiles and music lovers can coexist, sometimes in the same head. ;>)

Some of the MTV unplugged CDs qualify for this thread. i like Eric's.
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Old 03-25-2014, 08:35 PM   #19
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I have been building a fairly substantial collection of SACD's and I believe those are the best for listening to whatever music you like....
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Old 03-25-2014, 08:51 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NW-Bound View Post
You will not see me posting an album here proclaiming that it's an "audiophile" one.
...

I do not want to post an album that I like, just to see people rolling on the floor laughing and say "Why is that guy spending all the time measuring and tweaking his vintage speakers as he went on and on in another thread? He could hear diddly squat anyway!".
How else will you learn?!

I promise to be gentle, and I'd expect others to be as well. Post away!


So now is as good a time as any to ramble on this particular subject - 'the room'. So one of the things I appreciate in what seems like a high quality recording is that you can be aware of the room it was recorded in. I've been told that a blind person will enter a room, and rap their cane or clap their hands or snap their fingers, and they can get a feel for the size of the room by listening to that rap/clap (impulse to the tech types). Now they are very conscious of this, and train their ears/minds over time, but I think we all subconsciously are aware of this.

So what does it take to capture 'the room' in a recording? What does the blind person hear? I'm guessing it is a combination of the reverb times, the number and time between echoes, and delays in the signal. It seems hard to believe we can pick up on all this, and process it, but most of us can locate where a sound is coming from - yet we are not really aware of how we do it. But those are the cues.

IIRC, 'reverb time' is measured in halls as the time it takes for the initial sound to decay to a millionth of its original energy, which is 60 db down. But when we hear a sound in a room, and can locate it, that sound is not always at full volume. We can even locate a fairly low level sound, say 30 db down from a peak sound, even w/o moving our head (our ears are directional, that would give us cues), so I'm guessing that we are sensitive to sounds that are around -90 db from full scale, maybe even more? So that is why I was thinking that 16 bit audio ( ~ 96db dynamic range) was maybe marginal.

I'll either make or download some sound files with a range of signals going way down into the noise to see just what I think I can detect.

-ERD50
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