try Jason and the Argonauts on the "INTRADA" label. As far as labels, I still love many of the older Mercury cds.
34 responses Add your response
Well, the first thing I do is ask guests what they like and try to accomodate their tastes. Nothing more boring for a guest than to have to listen to music that they neither understand nor enjoy just so you can 'show off' your system.
Most of my favorite classical recordings (not necessarily performances of music) will appear on Hyperion, Dorian, Chandos, Harmonia Mundi, Reference Research, Mercury Living Presence, Telarc, Delos, and Dorian.
Most of my favorite Jazz recordings (same caveat as above) will appear on Verve, Blue Note, and Concord Jazz.
Now, if you want some specific recommendations of specific recordings coupled with performances, perhaps you could narrow your inquiry to genre.
Sheffield Labs Drum track on XRCD - cranked of course - jaw dropping dynamics - perfect for people who simply do not "get" or understand the audiophile hobby and never would from listening to something nice like Jennifer Warnes or Diana Krall (remember most people don't have the ears for it so they won't get it no matter what - these kind of normal folks will typically look at you and say "yeah it sounds pretty good - but so what?").
Half of track one is enough - it takes about two or three minutes and you are done and it works everytime - people generally go "OMG that was amazing! I never heard anything like that before".
Not something I would ever listen to for enjoyment but it gets the message across about what makes an audiophile system very very different from ordinary POS.
Re Shadorne's recommendation - Yep, that is a good one, but if your speakers are up to it, and your listeners are going to be impressed by 'big sound' get something with an organ substituting for a piano, playing the original version of Mussorgsky's Pictures on the Dorian label. That will shake the timbers! :-)
Most of my favorite classical recordings (not necessarily performances of music) will appear on Hyperion, Dorian, Chandos, Harmonia Mundi, Reference Recordings, Mercury Living Presence, Telarc, Delos, and Dorian.
Sheffield Labs Drum track on XRCD
I second these comments by Newbee and Shadorne enthusiastically (I have the original Sheffield Track Record on direct-to-disk vinyl; the xrcd includes both the Drum & Track records which were originally separate).
Also, quoting from myself in a recent similar thread:
Most of my listening has been on vinyl, but among the hundred or so cd's in my collection I would say Dvorak's "New World Symphony," Chesky CD31, conducted by Jascha Horenstein, and recorded in 1962!
I've had the following demo CD for the last few years and have to say that between the quality of the recordings, the range of types of music and variety of vocals, instruments and dynamics, it is one CD that pretty much beats everything else (songs aren't bad either for regular listening purposes) and I use it when I am changing equipment around or trying out new speakers for various purposes......also like Diana Krall - Girl in the Other Room and Ramsey Lewis - Time Flies.
Track 1: Dean Peer - UCROSS - Lord's Tundra
Track 2: Jennifer Warnes - The Hunter - Somewhere, Somebody
Track 3: Mary Fahl - The Other Side of Time - Una Furtiva Lagrima
Track 4: Doc Powell - 97th and Columbus - Thank You
Track 5: Ray Charles - Genius Loves Company - Fever (w/ Natalie Cole)
Track 6: Alison Krauss & Union Station - New Favorite - New Favorite
Track 7: Mario Frangoulis - Sometimes I Dream - Vincero, Ferdero
Track 8: Nils Loftgren - Acoustic Live - Keith Don't Go
Track 9: Ray Charles - Genius Loves Company
Do I Ever Cross Your Mind - (w/ Bonnie Raitt)
Track 10: Santana - Supernatural Migra
Track 11: Ray Charles-Genius Loves Company-
Here We Go Again (w/ Norah Jones)
Track 12: Jennifer Warnes - The Hunter - All Over Louisianne
Track 13: Lyle Lovet - Joshua Judges Ruth - She Already Made Up Her Mind
Track 14: Ray Charles - Genius Loves Company
Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word - (w/ Elton John)
Track 15: Blue Man Group - The Complex - I Feel Love (w/ Venus Hum)
Credit for this compliation goes to Jim Salk....makes some amazing speakers and so needs appropriate demo tracks to use for people to listen to his speakers....I actually bought a couple CDs from Dean Peer as a result and those are also quite well done and would have bought others if I hadn't owned them.
Ravel/Debussy Ameling de Waart/SFO Philips from I believe '79. It's an amazing recording and shows that careful mastering of a CD makes all the difference even early-on. The music--two Duparc songs, Ravel's Sheherazahde and Debussy's early but gorgeous Damoiselle Eleu. (sp)--is as good as it gets as well.
If there were ever a CD to fake out someone who only listens to "hi-rez," this is the one. What I would give to see their expression when you tell them that it's from the early '80's.
I've long enjoyed most of the releases from Reference Recordings, both on Vinyl and on CD. My favorites have been everything conducted by Eiji Oue. A real standout for me has been Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances on HDCD.
I also agree with those who like Sheffield. I have everything they ever produced on vinyl and CD, the Track Record kicks ass for sure but so do Lawrence Leighton Smith and Dmitri Kitayenko on the wonderful "Moscow Sessions".
A great question but way too many possibilities to narrow it down to less than a few hundred. It really depends on the mood, the wine, the time of day and most importantly for whom you are playing the system.
High Endition Society produces and distributes some phenomenal sounding CD's, my favorite manufacturer. They're rare and expensive, but soundstaging, nuances and musical content is superb. My favorite is Volume 9-Life Stories.
You can read more about this German audiophile group and their CD offerings here: http://www.highendsociety.de/english/society/ueberuns.php
Note- I am in no way affiliated with these folks.
To fulfill the 'jazz' category,an easy pick for best sound quality,'Dick Hyman-From the Age of Swing' on reference recordings,in HDCD.It is of such a calibre of quality that you,(or I do anyway)perceive that you can 'feel' the chuffing out the bells of the saxes on certain cuts,and I do not mean chuffing from the speakers.Cymbal work also is a clear indication of the quality of the recording. OT,I wonder how much 'ribbing' Mr.Hyman has suffered in his life with those names.
Imo the best CDs are audiophile gold-plated discs such as Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs (MFSL), Digital Compact Classics (DCC) and Sony Mastersound. Unfortunately, most of these are long out of print from the 90s, and carry some pretty hefty price tags on eBay. MFSL also pressed many jazz, classical and easy listening aluminum audiophile CDs in the 80s before they started pressing golds. Almost every one of the hundreds of titles from these three manufacturers are the best redbook CD recordings ever made. If you're interested just search eBay music category for MFSL, DCC or gold CD to see what titles are available at any give time, but beware of cost since many have become rare collectibles that keep increasing in value. Some of my favorites are the Pink Floyd gold CDs. Another great source of audiophile-quality redbook CDs is to look for the titles you want on discs made in Japan which are also quite collectible and can get expensive for various rare pressing. I've converted over 90% of my U.S. made disc collection to audiophile gold/aluminum and Japanese-made discs, most are rock and blues.
I typically reach for these to give me goosebumps:
1. Joss Stone - The Soul Sessions
2. Kate Walsh - Tim's House
3. Buddy Guy - Blues Singer
4. Brian Bromburg - Downright Upright
5. Joe Pass - Virtuoso
6. George Winston - December
7. Dave Brubeck - Time Out
8. Fourplay - Elixir
9. Johnny Hartman - John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman
10. Keb' Mo' - Keb' Mo'
11. Lyle Lovett - The Road To Ensenanda
12. Steely Dan - Everything Must Go
Anything Steely Dan is well recorded and will make your system sound great. Second Eva Cassidy Live at Blues Ally. Also I like Dave's True Story: Play "Miss Lucy" for your guests and see what happens :)
In all honesty, I'm in the camp that people who don't care about music before they showed up at your house won't care about the sound of your system. I've tried for many years with (non-audiophile) friends and family with no success.
The one time I really got through was when I played the MCH SACD of Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon." Only time I put on the disc, walked out of the room and the person listening didn't come out until the album was over. Roxxy Music's "Avalon" or Beck's "Sea Change" would probably work well, too. Oh, the stereo SACD Rolling Stones albums are revelatory - and I'm not even a Stone's fan!
Other than that, I get knowing smiles, nice compliments, nodding heads, and kind hugs from family members.
Fact is, this is a pretty small club. As a non-linear example, how about this: my wife's scrap booking blog has 5 times the hits of my system page on AudiogoN. OK, OK, it proves nothing, but still, it's a small club (and please visit my system page. If not for me, for the sake of the hobby :)
PS Don't usually do this but I bought the Ray Charles "Misery Loves Company" album on SACD and hated it. True enough, it sounds great (as in well recorded), but I thought most of the performances were just mailed it. There were a couple of exceptions, but no way would I use this disc to show off my system - unless it was as a sleeping aid. YMMV and no disrespect meant to Dgd123. In fact, if you want my SACD copy Dgd - email/pm me and I'll mail it to you free of charge - it should be enjoyed and I just don't.