Any Audiophile Discs in your top 50? Why not?

Why not? Well you get where I am going…

So… think of your top 10 discs you love for music… now your top 20… 30 …50… Where/when on the list do the “audiophile” discs start creeping in?

For me, it is only the 50s-60s Jazz recorded by Rudy van Gelder and others or other great studio works of the time… Brubeck, Miles, et al… I have a Chesky re-release of an anlog-recorded Beethonvan’s 9th that is great. Other than that… pretty slim stuff.

Another talking point: Beatles Abbey Road is one of those discs I refuse to listen to unless I can hear it start to end… well recorded but not an audiophile disc.

So… why so few audiophile discs in your top 50? Any audiophile discs that can induce tears?

Bruce in Philly

I’m an acoustic jazz lover, mostly stuff either recorded in the mid-late 1950s, or in a similar vein. Much of it is recorded well and gives me what I consider a realistic look into the music. Many praise the RVG recordings, of which I have many, but I don’t really dig the piano sound. Too thin and tinkly compared to the works of other recording engineers.

As far as pop/rock goes, I find myself listening to either folky stuff (Joni Mitchell, CSN…without the Y!) or hard rock (Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and a recent, joyous find, Greta Van Fleet). Probably not audiophile quality, but how could you? Just turn it up!

I listen to no current pop music, 'cuz it sucks. Paul posted a link to a video I’d seen that explains why.

Happy listening.

Hey Bruce—I was just thinking the same thing. I listen first because I love music, second because I love audiophile-osity.
My secondary question here is: What are the discs you use as your standard for SQ when making changes/tweaks?

How does one identify an “audiophile” disk?

Back in my day, there were two (there were more of course, but…): The Weavers at Carnegie Hall, and the soundtrack to Casino Royal engineered by Phil Ramone. Prices for the Ramone disc was in the hundreds of dollars for used back in the late '80s… if you could find them. I own a European copy and now the CD is out and the CD sounds amazing. There is one tune on there that is infamous… Dusty Springfield doing Look of Love. If you were an audio nerd in the '80s and 90s… this was the holy grail of recordings… no kidding there were all kinds of analysis done… that she spun around at one point in front of the mic… that the tape was actually an experiamental tape that was red… lotsa weird crap about this one. Get it.

Audiophile discs: Known for their super, above breed, recording, production, mastering, pressing quality. Music or musicianship is not on the list. These are discs you hear at shows or the disc O’the month for retailers to show off their equipment.

I have a short stack of them… If your read the press back then, a few discs would continue to pop up… Sonny Rollins Out West… etc… I never enjoyed any of them. Not a single one.

Paul, you should remember a few from back in the day eh?

Bruce in Philly

This is what I assumed you meant: “I know it when I see it” definition.

There are many superb sounding recordings which also are of excellent music. Sonny Rollins’ Out West is one of these.

Most disks used for demos do not interest me. Not because the music is poor, but because I listen to little pop (rock, hard rock, soft vocal jazz, etc.).

I met Joe Grado at a dealer in NYC one time… he was playing a handful of his own recordings… I asked him what one of the pieces was … he said he didn’t know! The sales guy said it was Handel, Enter the Queen of Sheeba if IIRC.

Bruce in Philly

Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, from Handel’s oratorio Solomon

A wonderfully fun piece.

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It says, “Sheffield Lab” on it somewhere. :rofl:

“Way Out West” achieved some of it’s notoriety due to the novel, tongue-in-cheek cover photo, and the inclusion of a seemingly incongruous tune, “I’m an Old Cowhand”, but it is an excellent recording and the music is sterling. It certainly stands as an audiophile chestnut in that it’s been remastered and reissued in myriad formats 6.02×10²³ times.

Part of me considers an audiophile disc a recording made and pressed or otherwise distributed with sound quality as part of the intention of the recording. But another part of me considers audiophile discs to be meticulous reissues of recordings with attention paid to sound quality. I really don’t have any of the former in my top fifty. But I do have examples of the latter: Mobile Fidelity releases of Duke Ellington’s “Jazz Party,” Miles Davis “Sketches of Spain,” and the Classic Records release of Charles Mingus “Tijuana Table Dance” for example. . . .

More of my top fifty are not exactly audiophile quality discs however. I love the music on them.

Most (all?) recordings are made with sound quality part of the intention of the recording, including those which are intentionally recorded in a basement on modest equipment to capture a grunge/punk sound.

There are few (any?) recording engineers who grab a random mic, place it anywhere, connect it to anything, and push record.

I agree wholeheartedly that the intent is good, but that doesn’t translate to doing a good job… or even if they know what they are doing. If intent was the main ingredient, no restaurant would fail… etc. etc. etc.

Further, sincere intents can be damaging to good sound… define good sound? I remember an interview with Grace Slick about 100 years ago where she noted they produced their music to sound good in a car (remember car radios back then?). No kidding. I also read (and can hear) a ton of these pop recording purposefully compressed and shoved all the way up on the mastering to sound “loud” “'cause that is what the kids want”.

Bruce in PHilly

Well I should have said “ultimate” or “superior” sound quality as a motivating intent with the recording and pressing. Few engineers intend to sound bad, I’ll grant you that.

I don’t think Bruce Springsteen wanted “Born to Run” to sound bad (he spent an insane amount of time recording it) but sound bad it does. I know he wanted a Phil Spector, AM Radio sound. He got it. I liked the sound of it in the 70s but sure don’t anymore.

The production of pop recordings often includes affirmative decisions as to the type of sound desired, such as the Springsteen example. The use of compression is another example, as is the push in the bass around 120Hz in rap recordings. And then there is grunge, basement tapes, etc.

In this sense, these recordings not only sound good, but it took a good amount of effort to achieve it the sought after sound.

In the audiophile world, I find Mapleshade recordings interesting. I do not find they necessarily sound good, although some do. I additionally am intrigued by his choice of recording values. It is not uncommon for his recordings to exhibit analog distortion, typically a mic pre being driven to hard, as well as tape saturation, etc. I do not find this appealing. He however is proud of his “raw” sound. It is often raw, in a roadkill sort of way.

I very much enjoy some of the Inakustic CD’s even though they might not be “audiophile quality” to some (“mere” 44.1/16). They sound phenomenal in my space anyhow.