Classic Records Gala Performances. I am sure the analogue production version is very good.
There are many.
There are many.
Jennifer Warnes The Well, especially the numbered 45 edition, is awesome. Tubey magic, richly holographic, and with just about the most heart achingly real and present voice you will ever hear. Its got real presence without ever being grainy or etched, effortless fatigue free dynamics, superb extension at both ends. The 33 is a gem but the 45 is to die for. None of which would matter if the music wasn't great, which thank God it is. I put this on one time for a friend. After the first cut he sat there as if in a trance, then finally said, "Please play another. Please." The 45 has a couple extra songs, which the first time I heard I don't know how they decided to cut them from the 33, they're that good.
Ditto Famous Blue Raincoat. Although technically I give the edge (just barely) to The Well.
Another superb tubey magical record, Janice Ian Breaking Silence. Just get it. Then if you can find the Sheffield Michael Ruff Speaking in Melodies you will be in analog heaven. Possibly the most "you are there", almost all of it recorded live, with a couple tracks live to two-track. The music has a sort of jazzy LA studio vibe that is somehow unique, familiar, crafted and spontaneous all at the same time. If you ever hear a better trombone solo than on Poor Boy let me know. I will not be holding my breath. Worth it just for that. Hat tip the great Robert Harley turning me on to it. Oh and the XLO test CD? Poor Boy is one of the well recorded reference tracks. I actually learned to recognize good audio from bad audio just from listening to this one track. (So maybe CD was good for something after all.)
Mel Torme Swings Shubert Alley, if you get the import, whatever you think of The Velvet Fog instantly will be replaced with "Oh NOW I get it!" The dude was just freaking awesome in his prime and this recording puts you right there. Or if you can find his Live at Marty's, Michael Fremer recommended that for the sound and I can see why. As a bonus there's a beautiful duet of Silly Habits with a guest appearance from Janice Ian. Love it!
On a budget, Bruce Springsteen The Ghost of Tom Joad is really well done, probably the only Springsteen record I would say that about! A lot of the songs are quiet, personal, and almost entirely just Bruce, guitar and harmonica. Right there in your room.
Quite simply there is nothing on CD to hold a candle to any of these. One thing you must keep in mind though, these are records not CDs. You could get a killer copy or a crap copy. That's why Better Records are totally worth it. As good as all the ones I mentioned are- and they are awesomely good! - they are not quite in the same league as a White Hot Stamper. Hot, yes. White Hot, no. Not all Better Records are super expensive. They price by both quality and demand. Sometimes White Hot Stampers go for under $100 simply because they aren't the popular artists. They also tend to mark them down if they don't sell after a while. You can sort by price too. Keep an eye out, be patient, you might just find one that hits the spot. And remember you can always send em back.
In any case you are on the right track. It is, lets face it, a whole lot of time and trouble learning and doing everything it takes to play a record back really well. To me it makes little sense to go to all that trouble only to play average run of the mill recordings. Or to put it another way, exceptionally good records are what its all about.
It is not the pressing that is important although quiet is always better but the quality or the recording and mastering which for most popular music generally sucks. Being able to blow someones doors off may be fun but it is not the hallmark of the best systems. With the exception of Waiting for Columbus all of my pet demo records are either Jazz or classical.
It is not the pressing that is important although quiet is always better but the quality or the recording and mastering
Nope. Wrong. Its the pressing. One White Hot Stamper and you will know.
Mingus? Miles? Name your poison.
Any Analog Productions album. Janis Ian's Breaking Silence is a nice start. It is hard to believe how good the Buddy Holly recordings are. These are handily the best quality vinyl made in the States. Substantially better than regular Mobile Fidelity discs and easily the match for their UltraDisc pressings. wakethetown is very right with Dreams and Daggers.
Cecile Mclorin Salvant may be the modern Ella. Her control is that good. I have the high def version so I can speak for the vinyl but buy it anyway. There is no modern jazz vocalist that is this good and I am including Cassandra Wilson in that comparison.
millercarbon I do not know about you but I have no problem listening through a rather crude pressing to the quality of the recording, engineering and mastering. It would be nice if all records could be Analog productions pressing but that is not life. One of the best recordings I have ever heard an early McCoy Tyner disc called Asante came during the period that Blue Note pressings were typical American crappy. I love that record. The music is incredible along with a fine engineering job. Hopefully one day they will release his catalog in high def but for now this is what I have. Modern engineers seem to want everything in your face.
You have the sax on the right, bass in the middle, Piano which goes from the left all the way past the sax with the high hat in front on the sax and the bass tom in front of the piano all the way on the left. I have yet to see a drummer with 12 foot arm and a piano keyboard that is 20 feet wide. Unless you are modern King Crimson drummers are usually in the rear. This is the stuff that drives me crazy. A lot of it may be do to the monitors they are listening to. Whatever, they actually engineer the reality out of the recording. I want to able to close my eyes and hear the band in front of instruments located and sized correctly. Asante does this beautifully. I'll live with a few pops and clicks.