Regarding classical music in general my preference has been for vinyl versions. Typically the analog warmth comes through to these ears when playing back vinyl. Purchasing clean copies is essential, but typically not a problem. In my experience classical collectors tend to take good care of their vinyl. All copies get an ultrasonic cleaning followed by a VPI 16.5 drying and touch up. I have many RCA Shaded Dogs, Mercury Living Presence, Westminster, Columbia, DG, Everest, etc. Depending on where you are quality used classical vinyl may be available at reasonable prices. I’m fortunate as I am near a large metropolitan area where quality used classical vinyl is abundant.
I was an all-vinyl listener, principally to classical, up until three years ago when we downsized. During over 50 years of listening to vinyl, I found that surface noise dramatically decreased as the quality of my turntable, phono cartridge and tonearm improved. On my last (final) turntable, surface noise with a well-cleaned, well-cared for LP was virtually non-existent. When I switched to ultrasonic cleaning for my LPs, that also helped.
FWIW, my article on DIY Ultrasonic Cleaning can be found here. This process works as well today as it did when I wrote the article for Positive Feedback in 2016.
@Rushton, indeed your experience mirrors mine, and I enjoy it to this very day. Having started with vinyl in the early 1970’s it was rather easy and painless for me. Starting out today, I’m not so sure I’d jump in as deep into the classical vinyl waters. It’s a significant financial commitment.
As you, I was lucky to begin collecting LPs as people were dumping them in favor of those shiny spinning discs. Hated the sound of those things back in that era, so I always stayed with vinyl and just happily bought up all the LPs coming onto the used market. Then came the resurgence of high quality 180 gram reissues at 33 and 45rpm – those 45s were a wallet buster, but I filled my shelves with as many as I could manage.
I have a budget U-Turn with an Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge. For whatever reason, this Dvorak has given me a taste of something special, but don’t know if I want to go into the murky financial waters of turntable upgrades. I don’t have an ultrasonic cleaner. I do have the Pro-ject spinny contraption with the vacuum.
Vinyl is an expensive venture if done well. The quality used LPs are getting pricier and harder to find in good condition. Most used record shops don’t want to handle classical LPs because they don’t sell well. If you’re in a large metro area, like Weedeewop, you can have better success finding LPs. And, as noted, classical music listeners did tend to take better care of their LPs so the hit rate for clean vinyl is higher when searching for classical.
It is a big deep rabbit hole you’re currently circling.
You’re on solid cleaning ground with the Project. A good way to start is to hitthe local thrift stores on a weekly basis. With patience you’ll stumble into people off loading all their LPs including classical records. Typically you can pick tese up for a buck a piece or less. With some experience and a trained eye, you will be able to visually spot the good pressings. I’d also say the London Treasury Series can be exceptional without breaking the bank. Even the London Treasury series mono releases are worthy. Enjoy the hunt!
In SF you have wonderful access. Shouldn’t be a problem. Dip your toe in the water and experiment. I’l add one more, should you come across a copy do not hesitate to pick-up a copy. BTW, the sonic warhorses can be pricey as Rushton alluded to.
Too bad you were not on the East Coast four years ago when I finally had to clear the last several thousand classical LPs from my library shelves (down from over eight thousand). No used record store in my area was interested in the collection, the library was not interested in a donation, I’d offered to my local audio group as much as they would take. So the final van load went off with a wholesaler who planned to ship them off to buyers in South Korea on pallets. At least he hauled them out of the house and I didn’t have to.
I have quite a lot of classical on LP that sound terrific. One of my favorites is Horenstein/LSO’s 1970 2-record Mahler 3rd on Unicorn records. It has every quality one hopes for in analog, including dead quiet vinyl.