Badly recorded albums needing upgrading

My new music system is in place, fairly well burnt in, and speaker placement and other tweaks are coming along. In the process I’ve been learning how much variation there is in the quality of both CD and vinyl recordings. This range in quality was not apparent on my old equipment.

For example, as I go through my old records, I’ve noticed a couple of favorites that are terribly recorded. A well known sub-par recording, Eric Clapton’s (Derek and the Dominoes) "Layla and Other Love Songs" is virtually not listenable. The Stones "Let It Bleed" I’ve had to replace with a Japaneses SACD as Jagger’s vocals sounded like he recorded them with a garbage can over his head. That SACD does sound considerably better, although the vocals on "Gimme Shelter still sound muffled. After some research on site and elsewhere, I just ordered another Japanese SACD of Layla out of the myriad available, which the reviewers said made Layla at least listenable.

Here’ the obvious problem. Both replacements were expensive as CD’a and records go, and I only want to spend that kind or resources on absolute favorite records. I am filling in the rock and roll and R&B portion of my record and CD collection of artists ranging from the Beatles up through the Sex Pistols. Are there any other well known albums like "Let It Bleed" or "Layla" I should avoid, or might already have, that will need to be purchased or bought again in upgraded formats. I’m not asking about obscure groups, but instead more well known artists like the Dead, Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, anything Motown, Janis Joplin, Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Bowie, Roxy Music, The Clash, Talking Heads, etc.

I’ve also been purchasing a lot of vintage jazz, from Ellington through the Weather Report and would like to avoid bad recordings there too. In the jazz realm I’ve been acquiring economical Redbook CD sets like Bill Evans’ 12 Classic Albums, and most recently Wayne Shorter’s entire Blue Note recordings made with RVG (Rudy Van Gelder ) remasters. What I’ve learned so far I to do when purchasing these sets it to avoid those that are made of re-recorded MP3 files. Those sets don’t advertise they are MP3 file based, so I dig around reviews by purchasers who after after getting bilked, expose these recordings labels on Amazon,com Music . If you’ve any of these classic jazz sets or albums or reissue labels I should be avoiding, please let me know.

For example, I’m currently looking to purchase economical multiple album sets of Billie Holiday’s Commodore, Verve, and Decca recordings and would like to know which sets to avoid or conversely which sets are well done.. I like among others Miles Davis, Coltrane, Lester Young, Mingus, Charlie Parker, John McLaughlin, Art Blakely, Chet Baker, Ella Fitgerald, Gerry Mulligan and the like. Again, not obscure recordings or artists. I’d really like to not get burned on substandard recordings too. Si Iif you could forewarn of any particular recordings, or any reissue labels to avoid, please do. Next year I might start to get more Classical Music recordings, but that’s another ball of wax for another day

Maybe this question is too broad or poorly defined but I’d appreciate any help you could provide to avoid disappointment or throw any more cash in the garbage. Thanks, and I’d be pleased to answer any questions to clarify this rambling post.

The best place to read about the quality of different releases of albums that I know of is the Steve Hoffman Music Forums.  You'll have to search around to find the right threads and the conclusions will not always be unanimous, but that's where people like to discuss sound quality.
Well I try to make note of SQ on the lps I listen to/post about,  on "What's on Your tt Tonight" thread. Be glad to have you there.
The first 4 Overkill CDs need a huge SQ overhaul!
  Especially “taking over”:such a great album, yet the thin 80’s production, while amazing, as I love the 80’s thrash, a small remaster of so,e early albums would do wonders to the first 4 albums.  


Absolutely! I love 80's Thrash as well- too bad those guys did not take better care of those recording sessions. Thin sounding indeed.

Happy Listening!


I hear you- this is the advantage/disadvantage of owning high end gear.

As you are learning, some of our fave albums were not engineered/recorded well. I do not mind a little tape-hiss though.

Happy Listening!

For Stones CDs the 2002 ABKCO DSD releases are wonderful and can be gobbled up on eBay readily. A good tool to screen out those wretched overly compressed CDs is the UNOFFICIAL Dynamic Range Database.
The OP is one of those audiophiles that listen to the sound of their system rather than the music. Sure, we wish all recordings were top notch and also would like there to be no stinkers in our collections. Sadly, that will never be so. A good system will certainly tell you the difference between the two, but at the same time it won’t render half your collection unlistenable. If it does, you have chosen poorly.

So accept the good with the not so good. I can listen to less than stellar examples of music that I like and enjoy them for what they are. Don’t be one of those guys with a 50k stereo and 50 “audiophile” recordings.


Some great advice posted so far. 

I would argue that the digital Sex Pistols back catalogue leaves a lot to be desired - especially The Great  Rock 'N' Roll Swindle. (Best comp might be Kiss This).

In fact a lot of music cut for vinyl often never made it into great digital form eg Kinks, Hollies, Herman's Hermits and though it pains me to say it - even the Beatles. Overuse of digital compression is a near constant bugbear.

Of course there are always differences in opinion as to what is the best.

Should it be an accurate (recording blemishes and all) representation of the original vinyl release? Preferably one made from the best source tapes available.

Or should it be a transcription of what someone now thinks the original artist may have wanted eg mono into stereo? Or even what some executive thinks might currently sell.

Or would you prefer a Giles Martin type of remix which is something different altogether?

In terms of jazz some of the best re-issues I've found are the K2 and RVG re-masterings. I also find the sound quality of MPS recordings to be outstanding. Also since the OP mentioned Let it Bleed, the Stones just released a 50th Anniversary edition that sounds great.
Agree with Ozzy62.  Something is wrong with you system if you think many recordings are unlistenable. 
I’m an original, period press buyer.Some of those titles listed, I hear the opposite. This of course is my subjective opinion.

Eric Clapton:Layla-yes, that recording even on record isn’t the greatest, but as long as you have a quiet press, the music makes up for sonics.
Stones:LIB- my domestic London stereo press sound fantastic. Punchy and dynamic. I’d like to find the Brit mono press. Tough find.
Ella- I have several mono presses that I take to shows to hear the latest uber setups. Very nice. "Let No Man Write My Epitaph" "Clap Hand Here Comes Charlie" are two examples.
Art Blackey: Moanin - I have the period mono and an 80’s stereo reissue. Both great. The 1959 mono sounds more convincing.

The original press "stamper" copy is a debatable subject, like digital vs analog. I stay away from reissues.

Have you heard a period 1955 mono press of Julie London’s "Julie is her name? You don’t even need a mono car setup to hear the amazing sonics of that recording. The track "Laura" is hypnotic in a decent setup.
I like reading threads like this- particular albums are mentioned, which I haven't played in awhile.

I pulled out the Sex Pistols-NMTB(1978 period press) while eating breakfast, before hopping on my bicycle for a spin.

That album sounds great. Plenty of  guitar, bass and drums. Not in an "audiophile" way-but perfect for the type of music it is. It wouldn't be the same if it were "perfect"

It 's ROCK AND ROLL, for heavens  sake!!
Tomcy6, thanks for the heads up on the Steve Hoffman Forums being a good source for discussions of different album releases. When doing a search on "Layla" that was one of a numberof sites that popped up. Next time around I’ll follow your advice and go there directly and search on their site. Thanks.

Slaw, I’ll look for your notes on that thread. Thanks for the invite.

Geoffkait, that Dynamic Range Database looks like a good source of information. I’ll have to go back and figure out how he’s coded that information for each album. It wasn’t obvious at first glance but didn’t look complicated.. He’s probably got that information on another page on his site somewhere. Thanks for the referral. I’ll be sure to check it out more thoroughly.

Ozzy, onhwy61, and noromance, I must have given you the wrong impression. I’ve maybe 1,500 recordings, most of which are fine so far. I have come across the two unacceptably poor recordings mentioned above, and a Joni Mitchell German CD remastering that was mediocre.

There are many more thousands of CD’s and records I would like to get in various genres. If I was a millionaire I’d spring for all audiophile releases, but that’s not the case. I have no intention of buying any audiophile recordings, except when absolutely necessary to make an indispensable album listenable. Audiophile recordings are for the most part quite expensive and inhibit purchasing in the quantities and prices preferred. I won’t even buy new vinyl as it’s exorbitantly priced.

What I would like to do is avoid getting any more unacceptably poor recordings, and to upgrade any other indispensable recordings yet to be uncovered in my current collection. And only those that are "must haves" as bad as the original "Layla" and "Let It Bleed" pressings in my possession. I need to find better ways to winnow out poor recordings before making purchases and finding out the hard way. So, if you have any suggestions along those lines or could mention albums I should avoid that would be appreciated.

CD318, thanks for the suggestion on the Sex Pistols. I’ll give the old "Never Mind the Bollocks" a spin today to check it out. And I’ll listen to my old Kinks and Hollies vinyl record albums too since you mentioned them. My sister kept our old Hemasn Hermits album when I left for college in 1970. Since you asked, I think I like remasters that are true to the originals, but more revealing and with less background noise or tape hiss when possible.

Jond, I’m familiar with the RVG remasters and we both like them. I’ll look up the K2 and MPS reissues. I’m unfamiliar with them, and will try some out. Thank you much for that recommendation. Would you mind naming one or two of those K2’s and MPS’ reissues you like to try out. Thanks.

Tablejockey, it could be my original London pressing of "Let It Bleed " was simply worn out. I bought it when it came out, and played it every day on my folks suitcase style "stereo" then, and lots after that over the years as my favorite record.

I got Layla too when it came out, but hadn’t played that nearly as much for it to be similarly worn out. I put it on the other night after watching Ron Wood interview Patti Boyd (Harrison), on TV. It sounded so bad I honestly I was scared I’d broken the stylus on the Ortofon 2M Black cartridge. Now that is bad. The band and the producer Tom Dowd, must have all been loaded when that all-time classic was recorded.

Thank you for the Ella Fitzgerald recommends and the Art Blakey Moanin’ one too. I just got a five CD Blue Note reissue set of his a few weeks back, but still do’t have the classic Moanin" album. I’ll look for a mono copy as you recommend.. I’ll check out the Julie London. you mention on Youtube if possible. I’ve heard of her but am unfamiliar with her work. Thanks for your recommendations.

If anyone else has any advice on which recordings to avoid or those that are preferable in the categories mentioned above I’m all ears. Thank you for all your replies.

Mike, Do searches for stuff like "best sounding" "worst sounding" in addition to specific titles over on the Hoffman site.

It’s sometimes funny how fanatical some people over there are about the sound quality of various releases. I mean, they can list every flaw on a given release. I know that’s not what you’re interested in, but it can be entertaining and educational.
Tomcy6, actually that is very interesting and I’ll do just that. I enjoy reading about things like that by people who know what they’re talking about. Over the past year or two I’ve stumbled across some sites and Youtube videos where people like Michael Fremer and others have talked about different pressings, reissues and the like. I filed away some of that information, and now see what they were talking about and can put some of that information to use.

I went out and bought three of Fremer’s recommendations on the hundred best recorded album reissues recently, "Duke Ellington Masterpieces", the "Columbia Sound of Jazz" reissue and some Art Blakey CD’s. All of them were well worth every penny. I don’t like to get nutty about it, and bought a cheaper boxed set of Art Blakey than the one recommended, but the recordings were all terrific. So it’s really fun and useful to read up on things like that from those in the know, even if you don’t go crazy with it. Appreciate your feedback,

@jafant yup, grew up with he birth of thrash, still love all of it,
maybe a thicker sound of so,e of those older records might not be good?
 I love the early stuff, sodom. Dark Angel, nuclear assault, and the other 1000’s thrash bands from 83-90. 


Dark Angel, darkness descends is one of my top albums ever released, it’s just amazing, as is hell awaits, first 3 Bathory albums,
heck, I can list 3000 bands.

 I’m a diehard metalhead!
i bleed metal
I totally sympathize with the OP.  Yes, listening to some of my LPs I bought way back in High School and beyond just don't sound very good.  So many variables in these pressings.  Was the master used? What pressing Plant?  reissue based on what source material? And So on.

Anymore, I focus on the reissue itself and what it brings to the release. So much of it is what company is doing the repressing, were the master analog tapes used for the pressing, and what vinyl is being used at what speed.  Just takes a little reading to figure out if it was done right.  I tend to purchase some reissues simply for the sound quality. Like the QRPs release of the Dusty Springfield's Dusty in Memphis. Or Hugh Masakela's Hope. Or Shelby Lynne and Diana Krall.  These pressing are excellent and make quality HiFi systems shine.

I just over indulged on the QPRs reissue on 6LPs of the Bach solo Cello Concertos.  Now I enjoy classical, but not excessively.  I read about it and I know these LPs are going to sound superb and put me in the front row of symphony hall when I listen to it.  It will provide immense pleasure.

More or less, I have decided to stop purchasing used vinyl unless it is something really rare and special.  I just don't enjoy the sub par sound that many used LPs bring to my speakers.
Pgaulked, it sounds like you are on the right track and some research is required prior to making any album or CD purchases anymore. Years ago you simply bought what was in the racks at the record store. With Layla alone there are an incredible number of reissues to wade through. I’d rather not have to deal with that, but there it is and it can’t be ignored. Maybe geoffkait’s recommended DSD reissue of "Let It Bleed" would have provided a better Jagger vocal track on Gimme Shelter.

Funny you mentioned getting some Bach. I don’t have a ton of Classical recordings, maybe a dozen or so, but am developing an interest. I’ve
been similarly thinking recently that Bach may a good place to start. I remember enjoying some of his works from a course taken in college back in the seventies. Let us know how the QPR reissues turn out and if they’re good as you anticipated I’ll give one a try too.

I’m off the used vinyl too. It’s too expensive, judging from a used record show recently attended, and too often used records look in good condition, but are not. I’ve thought about building an ultrasonic record cleaner to see if that’s the issue, but right now am going with CD’s and trying some pricier SACDs for occasional splurges. Thanks for your interesting reply.

Avoid most all records from late 70’s and into 80’s and 90’s. Unfortunately the quality started going down significantly, especially 80 and 90’s cd’s were the main focus. Plus they began making the records much thinner and started using the scrap vinyl remnants and recycled them into the new pressings. The quality or SQ went down from there. Most of the records pressed today $uck as well....unless you grab a decent mofi or something from maybe acoustic sounds or the like. Buy used, quality, well taken care of records from the 50, 60 and early 70’s, preferably 1st pressings, and you will find that the quality of sound is much better, and the engineers actually knew what they were doing and enjoyed doing it! Today, most records are engineered and pressed with little care...
Also, forgot to mention, for cd’s try MArecordings.....they are among the best recorded. Just one example. On their webpage there are both stereophile and audiophiliac recommended selections...I would also highly recommend to you to try the Hana el or sl cartidges... they have Alnico magnets and sound absolutely wonderful with most anything at reasonably sane prices. 

Do not forget Anthrax.  Hell Awaits,  is considered the 1st great thrash album. Agree on Bathory. I will check out Dark Angel.

Happy Listening!
When it comes to badly recorded CD's, I'm more likely to listen to them in the car instead of my home system. I agree about "Layla" and I always thought the Blind Faith album also sounded terrible.

I recently read Richard Barone's (Bongos) autobiography: "Frontman, Surviving The Rock Star Myth" and it contained the following:

"There was now a difference in mixing an album primarily for CD (even though "Primal Dream" would also be issued on cassette and vinyl).       In the past, when mixing primarily for vinyl, one had to exaggerate the effects a little. Tape or digital delay effects, and especially reverb, would often be eaten up by the vinyl surface noise. So we would always add a little extra. That's why, when you hear CD's of albums made pre - 1987 or so, they sometimes sound a bit too "wet." Those mixes were intended to be heard on vinyl. Digital reproduction gives a much more "literal" reading of the mix when played back.

When recording for a CD or any other digital format, we use the actual amount of effect that sounds right at the time of mixing. Paradoxically, when recording digitally, it is wise to add a little natural ambience or room sound when tracking, because the digital recording seems to eat up, or discard an unnecessary, much of the "natural air" in a recording (the way vinyl did with effects on playback). It seems to seek just the signal, ignoring the "space" as undesirable. The sound is often more "in your face" and, again, more "literal" than you would want. In my opinion, many current recordings are spoiled by this effect. For that reason, I make lavish use of room mics. Remember, when making a recording, we are creating an illusion. Use your ears and know the rules so you'll know when to ignore them..

The mastering, at the recommendation of Lou Reed during a lengthy and wonderful phone conversation about guitar tones, was by the legendary Bob Ludwig, and raised the end result to a new level for me. At one point, Bob even came downtown to my Perry Street apartment in the middle of a session uptown to hear how it sounded on my home system. That kind of dedication to one's work is what inspires me most."      [Page 134]

Maybe this is the right time to ask.

There is a dynamic range of records database:

Is it possible to just look there for the widest dynamic range for either the CD or vinyl if that is what you want?

For example, there are 24 entries for Derek and the Dominoes "Layla and other Love Songs."  The maximum range goes from 10 which is rated a bit mediocre to 15 which is rated excellent.

For some people, yes. I think georgehifi from this forum picks his cds that way. Other people, including me, believe that there are other factors to consider.

As the post from mitchagain states, often early cds, which have higher dynamic range numbers, were mastered for vinyl. A new mastering for cd can sound better in spite of lower dynamic range numbers. If the bass is turned up in a remastering, it will lower the dynamic range numbers even if the album sounds better with a little more bass, for example.

It is generally agreed that a dynamic range difference of a couple of points is not significant. Albums with really low dynamic range numbers like dr 5, 6 or 7, should be avoided. dr 10 and above are generally OK, but you have to find out where your tastes lie through experience.

The dynamic range numbers for Lps are not directly comparable to cds. In other words an Lp that has higher dynamic range than the album on cd is not necessarily more dynamic. I can’t explain why but I have read this in discussions on the matter.

Often times Lps are more dynamic than cds because of the loudness wars though, which started in the 90s. Cds were and are often dynamically compressed because people listen to them in cars and through ear buds in noisy places.

@jafant dark angel - darkness descends
its amazing!
i still have the LP new and sealed in my collection.

Gene Hoglan is the time keeper!

I think it’s one of the greatest thrash albums of all time.
it gets played at least once a week.

ALSO if you haven’t heard it.....give Onslaught -The force a listen. And their newer stuff is equally wicked good! They have been out since the mid 80’s. Great band.

I agree with comments about Layla - I sold it - just a rank recording.

Here are my surprises on SACD:

Clapton - Slowhand
Roxy Music - Avalon
Dylan - Slow Train Coming

All of them I never expected to be so incredibly superb.
Skyscraper ...

I've been collecting jazz records since high school, and that was many moons ago. I can recommend some labels that recorded jazz very well and very few will disappoint.

Look for anything from the middle 50s to the middle 60 on the following labels:

1.  Contemporary.
2.  Pacific Jazz.
3.  Bethlehem.
4.  Savoy.
5.  Dot.
6.  Columbia.
7.  Roulette.

The early Blue Notes are well recorded, however, a lot of them were dual mono. You may want to look for the mono versions, but they are collectibles and can be expensive. 

Don't pass up jazz records on these labels because they are mono recordings. So many of them are so good that they will have you wondering "who needs stereo."

I have found many of the comments in this thread align with my findings but disagree with some.
Where to start with my ramblings?
Let’s take “Layla and other ...” - I have several copies and the while the recording is undoubtedly murky, I rather like it, and imo a good copy on a good system will allow you to thoroughly enjoy the music making. But what constitutes a good copy? And this is where it comes to some key points; what is your individual preference? And what level of acceptance do you have for particular traits? and this goes for your choice of system as well.

Personally I am happy to listen to recordings that could be better sonically but still allow me to listen to the music. But I am not happy to waste my life listening to any recordings, however good, that don’t grab me emotionally. Now the problem is finding out what elements of a recording are critical for your enjoyment ( why can I listen to Aurora Backseat but not Beak Positive or the Lp but not Cd of Electrif Lycanthrope?). And then finding what record companies suit your taste. I can listen to some MP3’s through my system and enjoy them, cheap Cd’s not, hi-Rez files sometimes, recordings pre 1956 rarely, some vinyl gets one minute of play and goes to the resell box, while other vinyl is stunning. I also can’t listen to good music if the recorded medium has removed some undefined critical element - and this maybe links back to some people’s experience of “Layla..”

While the best reissues use the original tapes in mastering, there are some pretty good results in vinyl from digital sources.

Then some records require cleaning to make them enjoyable - the Tim Buckley live in Chicago ‘68 vinyl set being a recent example where a Kirmuss clean turned listening from, ok but boring and maybe bin, to captivating and must keep.

My rule of thumb for vinyl is that first pressings can often be best, having an “air” that alludes reissues. However some old vinyl can be crappy  quality. Sealed old albums can be a minefield - industrial vandalism - third pressings in an original sleeve etc ..

Many modern reissues are better in definition and have lower distortion and are stunning. But there are few absolutes, as some modern reissues I have had have sucked the life out of the recording.

How to choose?

Click around. Do some research on the source used and where the records are cut and pressed. Some companies are transparent and some aren’t. So tip one is avoid record companies that aren’t.
Looking at new vinyl - there are many options out three and normally Kevin Gray and Ryan Smith cuts do it for me, then you have Bernie Grundman and Chris Bellman (don’t quite gel with me) and then mo-fi (not a great fan) and then you have various teams in London and and and. at the other end for I tend to avoid Mastered by Capitol (good but not great IMO) and have given Doxy and Waxtime a miss after experience.

But to start with choose the music.

Analogue Productions
Blue Note Tone Poem
Vinyl Me, Please
Speakers Corner
Neil Young Archive Vinyl Releases
Testament (really liked some of there recent releases)
Some from UME (Sound of Vinyl)
and some of the recent Craft releases have been top notch.

As for CD’s who knows? well we have known for years that one cd isn’t the same as another even when they have the same title but different issue. I have found SHMCD’s a step up. And avoid cheap complete album sets as in my experience they are dire.

Jeeps there are quite a few variables to work your way around - sometimes I wish it didn’t bother me - but it does

Layla AOLS...never thought it was so bad relative to its time, but you want a great band that was really ill-treated by their label, try Jefferson Airplane.  The first release that sounded good was the "Worst of" compilation, where the remasters had some life to them.  Sleeper classic with excellent big open sound...Traffic's "Low Spark", especially the title track.  Let's give kudos to WB/Reprise, whose SQ for Joni, The Dead, Little Feat, Ry Cooder, Zappa, Van Morrison, Arlo Guthrie, and Randy Newman were excellent.  Listen to Jimi Hendrix' posthumous release, "Rainbow Bridge" and check out the low end and dynamics on "Pali Gap" and " Hey Baby".  My original 1971 pressing still sounds outstanding on highly resolving modern speakers!
It all started to go to h**l with the New Wave.  T-Heads and Blondie were good, but Elvis Costello???  Compressed to death.  As for Punk, Grunge, Thrash...whaddaya expect?  I am a crusty old coot after all!

By the way...MA recordings are fantastic.  My fave is "The Old Country"
by Howard Levy, Miroslav Tadic & Marl Nauseef.  The track "Kucano Oro" is a breathtaking performance and a reference recording.
I accept that recording quality varies by the release. If the music is wonderful and compelling, poor sound reproduction won't keep me from listening. I really get a kick out of how well some recordings made in the 50's and even 40's sound great. I've accepted that some artists i.e. U2 and Springsteen don't present as good recordings but the music is just terrific to me. To each their own. If someone wants to spend substantial money on a system and only utilize it for "audiophile" recordings then so be it.

Unfortunately finding good issue pressings (vinyl or CD) is not a straightforward business - like much else in audio.

As others have said I'd agree that vinyl pressings generally went downhill after the mid 80s and also current vinyl issues often exhibit way too many clicks and pops.

Even worse, whilst dynamic range is always desirable, it's not everything. Care in sympathetic mastering and cutting is also required.

As the OP wisely said, don't get nutty about it or go crazy with it. Sometimes it's enough to just avoid the worst pressings.

The perfect ones simply may not exist.
Ozzy wrote:
The OP is one of those audiophiles that listen to the sound of their system rather than the music.
Sure, we wish all recordings were top notch and also would like there to be no stinkers in our collections.
The first seems rather needlessly judgemental, and the 2nd pretty much sums up why.  I mean, this place exists because we do strive for better sounding music, right?  And -- like HD lenses revealing flaws, this is simply an unfortunate fact -- a highly resolving system is more likely to accentuate some of the problems. In fact compressed eq'd music is often reverse engineered to sound good on crummy systems. Others are just over produced, alas.
The other unfortunate fact is that the most popular music is often the worst recorded - shrill, compressed, 32 tracks mixed down in pro-tools, etc.
The two largest contributors to sound are also largely out of our control - 1-the recording/mixing and 2-our rooms.  Yes, the latter can be addressed but its often either impractical or financially unrealistic. or maybe unacceptable to other members of the household.  So the room soften remains a "gravity issue".
I think the OP raises great questions and issues:
  1. let's listen to good music, not just good sounding music. Too often its not the case.
  2. If better alternatives exist, let's learn about them.  In the digital domain pressings matter little, so its really about re-masterings. And good for us, lots of artists realize this and have gone back, many times with excellent results.
Do some "hgih end" do more than reveal what's on the record, and in fact make them worse?  No doubt: anything with a rising top end will contribute to shrill sound, and there are MANY such cartridges.  Why? because on some recordings they "enhance" (ahem) the sound.  Its fascinating to hear about how un-flat pro microphones are -- with artists selecting a mic for "presence" or "sizzle" or "snap".  Which, if the arist already has hearing loss, is one of the many sources of bad recordings to begin with :-) or is it :-(  ?

Audioguy. I'll add MA recordings and Acoustic Sounds to a growing  list of sources for well recorded music.Maybe I'll even give Mobile Fidelity a second chance. I still get aggravated by their original "high (actually low) quality" Dark Side of the Moon pressing , which I still have from decades ago. I wasn't aware that the quality of vinyl records fell off so precipitously in the late seventies and eighties into the nineties. Thanks for that info.

Mitchagain, I'll have to dig out my old Blind Faith album today and see if its another recording disaster. Haven't played that in eons. Must be a first pressing since it was purchased right after it was released. Update: Playing it right now. It's definitely not an audiophile quality recording, everything sounds a bit muffled especially Stevie ?Winwoods vocals, but at least it's not in the unplayable, unlistenable Layla league.

The Richard Barone material you quoted was quite interesting too. The anecdote about Lou Reed brought to mind another current thread about about imaging where one of his recordings, "Street Hassle" maybe,  was recommended as a good example of well done imaging. I happened to have the recording mentioned   and was able to listen to how well it was done. 

The_treble_with_tribles, and tomcy6, I'll have to become more familiar with that site, and check out albums before making a disappointing purchase of ones that fall into lower dynamic range categories of 5,6 and 7. I need to start paying more attention to dynamic range as a significant part of the sound quality picture. Carver had designed some technology to address this issue on my old Phase Linear 4000 preamp. It was called a "peak unlimiter". I always left it in the "on" position. I wonder if that technology was any good or if it has simply disappeared for no reason.

Interesting too about dynamic range figures not being absolutely comparable between LP's and CD's. I'm definitely learning some new things here. Thanks

Plaw,  thanks for the recommends on the SACDs. I havn't much in the way of later Dylan and post Layla Clapton, although it would be interesting to compare my LP copy of Avalon with the SACD version.

Oregonpapa, you're absolutely spot on about the mono recordings. The Masterworks Ellington Masterpieces CD mentioned earlier is  mono and recorded superbly. I was afraid I'd bought a dud when I saw it was a mono recording, before playing it that is.

Glad to hear you recommend all those jazz labels you listed. I've many older jazz LP's on many of them and feel more comfortable getting more of the same knowing  they maintain high recording standards. That's good news for sure.

William 1957, I've had good luck with some of the multi-album sets so far, but I've researched each one beforehand. there a numerous ones to avoid thoufgh as you point out. That's one reason I started this thread, to winnow out the culprits on these sets. You mention some labels are not transparent. Would you mind saying which ones you are disappointed with in this regard to save me the work of having to find this info out the hard way.  

Thank you for the label recommendations. I've added them to my list, which is coming along quite nicely. Thank you for your well thought out and interesting post. I've read it twice now. You're right, there are a lot of variables to work out, but that seems to be the name of the game that keeps Audiogon going. It's great fun though when you do find a recording
that moves you, is well recorded, and you the gear to play it to it's best advantage. It doesn't have to be the case to enjoy good music , but it's hard to beat when it all falls into place. Appreciate your thoughtful response.

Crustycoots, I've all the records you mentioned, except the last and will take a listen to each as I revisit my collection on my new equipment. I'll especially check out the Hendrix Rainbow Bridge as we both have the 1971 pressing. Appreciate the recommendation on MA recordings that Audioguy likes too. 

Tuberist, I agree with you the music comes first, then the quality of the recording with the exception of real dogs like Layla which make the music unlistenable on good equipment. No reason not to get the best recordings you can reasonably afford, if it doesn't impinge overmuch on your overall number of purchases. I've so many recordings I'd like to acquire before I amble off into the great beyond, so I'm trying to find a reasonable balance.

In a lot of cases I'm finding the poorly made recordings cost the exact same as far better ones, especially in jazz reissues. So far the balance is the greatest albums have to be at least listenable In a good system, and the rest have to be both affordable and not second rate reissues or remasters. That sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Another thing to consider is, if you've spent a small fortune on equipment, it's kind of a waste to not have source material that brings out the best in your investment. 

Thanks again for all your thoughtful comments. And an aside to Jafant: If you're turning into a thrasher or metal-head, it's not too late. There's still hope.  


skyscraper,Some of my favorite K2 jazz re-issues are:
Miles Davis Quintet:
Bag’s Groove
Collectors Items

Bill Evans
:At Shelly’s Manne-Hole
California Here I Come
Everybody Dig’s Bill Evans
New Jazz Conceptions

Sonny Rollins Way Out West

Thelonious Monk:
Monk’s Music
Thelonious Alone in San Fran
Plays Duke Ellington
Thelonious Monk Trio

I could go on there are so many but that’s a good start I think.
For MPS they have some great Oscar Peterson recordings:
Hello Herbie
Reunion Blues
Walking the Line
Cd318, it is a shame vinyl records have declined in quality and almost went the way of the dodo. But finding reasonably good recordings in any medium is still something most of us can shoot for without heading towards bankruptcy if out current systems haven't already put us there. 

Itsjustme, there is a lot to sort out and understand about why any recordings sounds the way it does in any given setting, or because of what went into it while recorded or remastered. It's been interesting to learn about that here and other places from those more intimately involved or knowledgeable about the recording process, and those who know the ins and outs of various pressings and mediums.

I only want to spend that kind or resources on absolute favorite records. I am filling in the rock and roll and R&B portion of my record and CD collection of artists ranging from the Beatles up through the Sex Pistols. Are there any other well known albums like "Let It Bleed" or "Layla" I should avoid, or might already have, that will need to be purchased or bought again in upgraded formats.
... there is a lot to sort out and understand about why any recordings sounds the way it does in any given setting, or because of what went into it while recorded or remastered. It's been interesting to learn about that here and other places from those more intimately involved or knowledgeable about the recording process, and those who know the ins and outs of various pressings and mediums. 

Okay so here's the deal. There's some really bad offenders in the recording quality area like the Rolling Stones, but even they managed to get a few things right here and there, or so at least I am told. Springsteen is another major offender in the Hall of Fame for Great Music Recorded Badly. 

But mostly this is one to take on a case by case basis. A better approach if you really care about recording quality is to start paying attention to the recording and mastering engineers. If you see Doug Sax The Mastering Lab you know its gonna sound good no matter if its Styx Equinox or Linda Ronstadt and Nelson Riddle.

Its a shame you seem only interested in CD because the only foolproof means I know of obtaining ultra high sound quality is to buy from which although insanely expensive are also insanely good sound quality. Which has so much good solid info on recordings and sound quality its worth a visit even if you only buy CD.
Jond, we’ve similar tastes in jazz. I’ve all the Miles Davis albums you listed except the Collectors Items. The ones I have on CD aren’t K2 issues. They’re only identified as RVG remasters on Prestige. The Monk Plays Duke Ellington is similarly identified not as a K2, only as a Orrin Keepnew’s Collection remaster on Riverside. I recently got Sonny Rollins "Way Out West" as part of a set of his complete Blue Note, Riverside, and Contempory recordings. The Bill Evans 12 album set I recently acquired only overlaps your Everybody Digs Bill Evans recording.

All the above sound really good. I’d be interested in acquiring some of the rest of your list of K2 reissues to make comparisons. I’ll try pulling those up online to get pricing. Same with the MPS Oscar Peterson of whom I’ve unfortunately no recordings with him as bandleader. Thanks.

Millercarbon, I’ll take a look at the site if only to get tempted. I’d love to have my cake and eat it too, but with so many recordings I desire to acquire I don’t want to get into the "insanely expensive category". I’d rather be able to significantly increase my record and CD collection to encompass many more musical styles and genres. But a few treats now and then from Better-Records would not be out of the question.

Maybe my thought on on the matter will change after a while, but I’ve been looking forward to being in a position to fill out my record collection and (book) library for many years. Now that that day is finally arriving I don’t want to put it off by spending only on the finest recordings, even though they’d be great to have. I don’t buy first editions of books either for similar reasons, and similarly set a budget for excellent, but certainly not the finest available, stereo equipment.

I also tried getting used records locally and there is still one remaining store locally selling them, but it was a crap shoot finding decent condition ones. Are there any other recording engineers other than Doug Sax whose records you like and would recommend, that would help someone to identify well recorded music. I’ve got Layla’s recording engineer, Tom Dowd, permanently blacklisted.

By the way my new Japanese SHM SA-CD 2013 Layla remaster came in the mail today and is playing at this moment. It’s not great, but manages to be listenable as advertised. The bass is boomy and Clapton sounds like he’s singing in an echo chamber next door, but it’s a significant improvement. Turning up the volume while decreasing the bass is helping a bit. It’s such a lovely album though. Kind of like viewing DaVinci’s Last Supper, where even though over half of the original paint is missing you can still appreciate you’re looking at a masterpiece. Take it easy,

Revisiting Derek and the Dominoes-Layla

If you're serious about record play, cut to the chase
If my table alone, were a $50K+, I wouldn't think twice buying my favorites from here.

The owner of this establishment  used to send his scouts to scoop up potential "stampers" from one of my neighborhood stores.

I have the $500 Pretzel Logic, (found after several $3-5 buys)$300, $600 Stones LIB etc.

I played my copy of Layla...clean, but yeah,some of  what Tom Port describes of a typical copy. Some of his descriptions are IMO, a little much, but he does a good job of "selling the copy"

I forgot how wonderful the entire album is.The cover of Little Wing is cool.

If you are looking for the early Rolling Stones (up to Let it Bleed), buy those 2002 SACDs and that is it. As geoffkait mentioned, they are relatively cheap (eBay, etc.) but the prices have actually gone up recently. Just make sure you get SACDs and not DSD remasters on CD. Digipak (cardboard) is what you are looking for, not the plastic jewel case. Both will say DSD on the back.

Talking Heads had DVD-Audio (ouch, I mentioned it) of Remain In Light and Fear Of Music. They were as good as they could be, especially taking into consideration the original sound signature of Fear Of Music. Otherwise, buy a good record and be done.

As plaw mentioned, Roxy Music’s Avalon SACD is good, and I would say that all Bob Dylan SACDs from 2003 are a great bet.

If you do listen to Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska from 2014/2015 is strangely good. Really good.

And last, if you are a Procol Harum fan, or even if you are not, their first album on Classic Records re-release from, I believe, 2003 is what you want to buy today. You want the copy with a 7" single of A Whiter Shade Of Pale stereo included. It should have three records in the package. Album, 12" A Whiter Shade Of Pale mono (33 and 45 rpm), and this 7" single. It will not be the cheapest record you have ever bought, but you will like it. The only problem is that you may start considering buying a mono cartridge.

Actually I always get the DSD CDs, not the SACDs. Did I make a boo boo? The DSD sound great. Am I going deaf? Is the CD layer on hybrid DSD SACDs also DSD?


No, you did not make a boo boo, at least not this time.

skyscraper has a SACD player so buying SACDs would enable him to get full SACD benefit, if there is one, while also having a CD layer.

In your case, it was wise to skip SACDs, unless you did snatch that secret SACD Discman prototype I used to dream about once upon a time.

Sorry, but anyone mind if we take a break from the usual waste of time banter and BSD measuring and return for a minute to the OP and the subject at hand? No? Because you two will sadly, inevitably return. Just give the adults a moment here, if you please.Thanks!

Millercarbon, I’ll take a look at the site if only to get tempted. I’d love to have my cake and eat it too, but with so many recordings I desire to acquire I don’t want to get into the "insanely expensive category". I’d rather be able to significantly increase my record and CD collection to encompass many more musical styles and genres. But a few treats now and then from Better-Records would not be out of the question.
Okay, but you got me confused here. Surely you can see it? Started a post, ostensibly the point of which is all about sound quality. Finally someone comes along tells you the one place on Earth you can be assured of finding sound quality and you say well, maybe, but I'm all about sound quantity.

See what I mean? Sad fact of life, you can have one, or you can have the other. The vast majority of what is out there is absolute dreck. If quantity is what you want get a streamer and tell yourself you're not just blasting noise all day. Quantity is easy. Any of the bantering boobs above can do quantity. Look around, my bet is there's quantity coming out of speakers all around you this very second. You can't go shopping or stand in an elevator without quantity. Heck they even have a name for it, elevator music. You know where quantity leads? Quantity leads to a great guitarist like Carlos Santana creating unlistenable dreck like Africa and Supernatural. 

Needless to say I am not here to help anyone with quantity. You decide you are back to seeking quality, if ever you were, you know where to go.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled pointless misleading banter.
Just to backtrack (i.e., interrupt) for a sec, there is a current modern Walkman CD player for around 4 Grand that should play SACDs, but I’m not 100%.
What company? Any other detail? I have never noticed anything about it and I have been on alert.


Does it take a lots of effort, or you are really that way?


I apologize for poaching your thread. Just this one thing, please.


I know about that one, I actually played with it. It is a hard/flash drive based machine. It does play DSD but not SACD as discs. It is a nice little gadget, cute in some way, but actually middle of the pack in the current Walkman hierarchy.