Best Sounding LPs

Well, after years of chasing a truly satisfying digital sound to little avail, I've finally taken the vinyl plunge. Boy, is it great! It's like listening to music for the first time again.

I have found, however, that LP quality varies widely and unpredictably. When they're good they're magical. When they're bad you might as well be listening to crummy redbook.

Can anyone recommend great sounding lps to search for? I listen to everything, especially rock, jazz, folk, county, acoustic music, plus symphonic and chamber music.

Recommendations would be greatly appreciated!
#1 For Duke-Bill Berry
#2 Jazz at the Pawnshop
#3 Art Pepper-Smack Up
#4 Holly Cole-Temptation
#5 Dire Straits-Love Over Gold
Your musical tastes vary so much I think you will enjoy these albums for musical content & they are all A+ in sound quality, Have fun
There are too many. Here are some just off my head.

All 24 Sheffield Lab direct-to-disc recordings, particularly:

The King James Version; Harry James and his big band; (Lab-3)
Dave Grusin: Discovered Again; (Lab-5)
Stravinsky: Firebird Suit, Debussy: Afternoon of a Faun; (Lab-24)

Saint-Saens: Organ Symphony, EMI HMV Greensleeve ESD 7038 (1973)
Itzhak Perlman Encores, EMI ASD 3001 (1974)
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.3; Philips audio clinic series Japanese pressing FH-12 (1978)
Schubert: Piano Quintet, Op. 114 “Trout”; Philips 9500 442 (1978)
Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez; Philips 9500 563 (1979)

Nojima Plays Liszt; Reference Recordings RR-25 (1987)
Dafos, Reference Recordings RR-12 45rpm (1982)
Anne Murray: Let’s Keep It That Way; EMI Capital ST-511743 (1978)
Kitaro: “Ten Kai” Astral Trip, Zen ZEN-1001 (1978)
Kitaro: Silk Road, Kuckuck 051/052 2LP (1980)

And some newer pressings:

All nine concertos played by Heifetz remastered by Classic Records 200g
Norah Jones: Come Away With Me, Classic Records/Blue Notes 200g
Ray Brown Trio: Soular Energy
Jacintha: Lush Life, Groove Note 180g
L.A. 4: Just Friends, Groove Note 45rpm
For lowest suface noise, choose audiophile pressings or imports.

For recording quality, audiophile pressings are often best, but not always. And they are expensive.

I have found for my wide range of music tastes, and budget, that imports have been the best combination of quiet background and good quality recordings, as they were originally done, and not re-mastered.

If the original master tapes were poorly done, there is nothing you can do about that, but live with it, unless a better re-master was done by an audiophile company later.

Digital re-masters are a mixed bag, and I have found that I didn't like them personally.
My reference for acoustic Jazz and Folk
Ry Cooder's "JAZZ" WB, German pressing.

...for Rock
Don't remember the labels of these but both pressed in Holand...
My primary focus is on classical music, so that's what I'll focus on in answering your request. In my experience, you can rarely go wrong with the sound quality and musical aesthetic from the following record labels. It's well worthwhile to explore their catalogues.

..Decca (any of the Speakers Corner reissues)
..EMI (avoid Angel LPs)
..Harmonia Mundi
..Mercury (the Speakers Corner reissues are superb)
..Nonesuch (especially Aubort/Nickrenz productions)
..Opus 3

Recording engineers who almost always deliver outstanding sound quality, and whose recordings I will buy without hesitation, include:

..Mark Aubort (Nonesuch and others)
..Bob Auger (CRD, ASV, Hyperion and others)
..Tony Faulkner (Decca, Hyperion and others)
..Antony Howell (Hyperion and others)
..Peter McGrath (Audifon, Harmonia Mundi)
..Jean-Francois Pontefract (Harmonia Mundi)
..Kenneth Wilkinson (Decca, Lyrita)

As to some specific recommendations of excellent performances in superb sound, I'll offer the following random recommendations for you to consider:

~ Vivaldi, Flute Concertos, McGegan/PhilBarO/J.See, Harmonia Mundi HMC 5193
~ Mozart, Horn Concertos, McGegan/PhilBarO/Greer, Harmonia Mundi HMU 7012
~ Stravinsky, Firebird, Dorati/LSO, Mercury SR 90226 (Classic Records reissue)*
~ Sibelius, Sym 2, Barbirolli/RPO, Chesky CR3
~ Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique, Freccia/RPO, Chesky CR1 (one of the great symphonic recordings, and greatly overlooked)
~ Rachmaninov, Piano Concerto 3, Dorati/B.Janos, Mercury SR 90283 (Speakers Corner reissue)*
~ Respighi, Ancient Airs and Dances, Dorati/PhilHung, Mercury (the Golden Imports pressing sounds just fine)
~ Holst, The Planets, Previn/LSO, EMI ASD 3002
~ Charpentier, Te Deum, Christie/Les Arts Florissants, Harmonia Mundi
~ Prokofiev, Scythian Suite, Dorati/LSO, Mercury Classic Records reissue)*
~ Mendelssohn, Sym 3 (Scottish)/Hebrides Overture (Fingal's Cave), Maag/LSO, Decca SXL 2246 - 45 (Speakers Corner reissue)*

...* Currently available new; the others you'll have to find used.

Also, for an extended listing of recommended LPs based on sound quality, I agree almost point for point with Aurthur Salvatore's "Supreme Records" list. This list matched my record collection to a very high degree and I think he hits the mark consistently with his recommendations:

For Jazz, look at the reissues coming from Analogue Productions, Speakers Corner and Classic Records.

Sidssp has presented a good list of recordings; I concur with his recommendations as well.

Good luck in your explorations.
Oh, I almost forgot these.

If you could find some mint JVC CD-4 records from the 70s’, you might want to get them at once. No, they have nothing to do with CD or digital recording. CD-4 was JVC’s failed multi-channel format (4 channels to be exact), very similar to today’s Dolby Pro Logic. They played beautifully in stereo as well. In fact, I consider the engineering quality of those CD-4 records amount the best of the best. They are so quiet and durable. I bought a few 20 some years ago and I play them regularly. Some of them have been played probably close to a hundred times and still there were at most one or two pops. I don’t know how they did that. They are true engineering marvels, great stuff.
I have a number of the CD-4 records and, while some are good, most of the SQ records beat them by comparison - at least the ones I have. The grooves on the CD-4 records were very thin and some cartridges do not do well with them.

Some stated correctly that there are too many good ones (if that is possible) and there are also so many variations, even within labels, that it is somewhat hard to generalize. I would always take the "audiophile" label on an LP with a grain of salt. Some are truly audiophile, while others, a good example of which are many MFSL's, just aren't and you are much better off with the original first pressing.
Getting away from specialist and legendary pressings, try Chris Rea's "The Road to Hell"; Jennifer Warnes' "Famous Blue Raincoat"; Tracy Chapman's first album; Robbie Robertson's "Showdown at Big Sky" solo LP; Suzanne Vega's "Solitude Standing"; Steely Dan's "Gaucho"; Dire Straits "Love Over Gold", and anything by Kraftwerk or The Art of Noise for those cool-o special bass effects!
Jean, if you like "Raincoat" try "Shot Through the Heart". IMHO, a better album if just SLIGHTLY less "audiophile" than Raincoat. Or, "The Hunter"! :-) A couple more well recorded female artist LP's are "Between the Lines" (original CBS recording) and "Breaking Silence" by Janis Ian. And, the Bernie Grunman re-mastering of Linda Ronstadt hits on "A Retrospective" - or anything mastered by Grundman, for that matter.

One that might never be mentioned - War - "The World is a Ghetto" on the original UA label. "Cisco Kid" takes on a whole new flavor if the only place you ever heard it was AM radio and "City, Country, City" is just outstanding. Someone was wondering the other day about LP's used to set VTA. There's a good one!
Thanks for that 4yanx, they're on the list. Female artists, I love the genre! One female singer whose single LP is extremely interesting and fun in a pop-jazzy kind of way, but which either sounds good (really just acceptable) or muddy depending on your system's balance is Rosie Vela, a stunning beauty from the '80s: worth the photo on the cover alone! Anyone have her? Anyone find a system in which she sounds good? And for audiophile-type sound quality (but ordinary pressings) with extremely interesting music, let's not forget Laurie Anderson, "Strange Angels" and "Mister Heartbreak", featuring the voice of William Burroughs pretending not to be Thomas Pynchon! Excellent music, excellent recording, and Burroughs tweaking the nose of those who believe that he and Pynchon are one and the same man (personally, I think so). This is fun! Any more off-beat suggestions? Are you taking notes, Bsal?
The best sounding LPs are the ones that bring you great joy when you listen to them...regardless of surface noise ;)
Dire Straits "Brothers in Arms" works for me.
The best sounding jazz-pop lp, which I use as a reference, is Donald Fagen's "The Nightfly." I have the Quiex-2 version. Terrific.

Jazz - Coltrane's Blue Train on 45rpm.
You mentioned folk and country . Jazz and classical seemed to be pretty well covered here so I will list some great folk, bluegrass, rock recordings. All of which can be found new.
In folk:
Greg Browns "Poet Game"
Doc Watsons "Southbound"
Alison Krause and Union Station
Joan Baez's "Angeline", "Diamonds and Rust"
The Weavers "Live at Carnegie Hall, 1963"
Harry Belefonte "Live at Carnegie Hall"
In Blues:
Muddy Waters "Folk Singer"
The Anne Arbor Folk and Blues Festival
Doug McLeod "Hard to Find" (this one you will have to get used)
Pink Floyd "Dark Side of the Moon"
Any of the Led Zepplin reissues
All the Bob Dylan reissues
All the Peter Gabrial reissues
Beach Boys "Pet Sounds"
George Waters "Amused to Death" (nothing to compare with, #1)
Purim,Moreira "Dafos"
Pink Floyd "Final Cut" Japan
Dire Straits "Love over Gold" and "Brothers in Arms"
and a look to:
Many thanks to all who replied. My shopping list is long!
Man-oh-man, don't know how I missed this thread. My mouth is watering...
About all I can add to the fabulous responses above:

Any jazz on Japanese label Three Blind Mice
Another Canadian Holly Cole LP - Romantically Hopeless, this one includes a bonus 12" 45rpm w/amazing cover of Paul Simon's "One Trick Pony"
Louis Armstrong - Satchmo Plays King Oliver reissue (45rpm or 200g CLassic Records)
Best cheap domestic folk/rock beachy,happy hour music: Jack Johnson - Brushfire Fairytales
Cheers, Spencer
The Speakers Corner reissues of the Decca and Mercury classical catalogs is not to be missed by classical music listeners. And all are currently available. In another forum I offered my thoughts as to the best of the Speakers Corner Decca reissues. Since Sbank reactivated this thread, I thought I should come back and add those thoughts here for any who might have an interest.


Then, for the Speakers Corner Decca reissue series, you can literally scroll through Speakers Corner's website picking out the music you like and order that. You simply will not go wrong. But asked to chose those that I consider at the very "top of the pile" both musically and sonically, I would chose the following:

Mendelssohn, Sym 3 (Scottish), Maag/LSO, Decca SXL 2246-45rpm
...(one of the great Decca recordings - Wilkinson at his best)
...(an absolute "must buy")
Chabrier, Espana, Argenta/LSO, Decca SXL 2020
...(a beautiful Kingsway Hall recording by Gordon Parry)
Debussy, Images pour orchestra, Argenta/OrchSuisseRom, London CS 6013
Debussy, Prelude a l'apresmidi d'un faune, Monteux/LSO, Decca SXL 2312
...(a Kenneth Wilkinson, Kingsway Hall recording)
de Falla, El Amor Brujo, de Burgos/NPO, Decca SXL 6287
...(a Kenneth Wilkinson, Kingsway Hall recording)
Grieg, Piano Concerto, Boult/LSO, Curzon -pf, Decca SXL 2173
...(a Kenneth Wilkinson, Kingsway Hall recording)
Kodaly, Hary Janos Suite/Galanta Dances, Kertesz/LSO, Decca SXL 6136
...(a Kenneth Wilkinson, Kingsway Hall recording)
Prokofiev, Sym 6, Weller/LPO, Decca SXL 6777
...(a Kenneth Wilkinson, Kingsway Hall recording)
Rossini, Overtures, Gamba/LSO, Decca SXL 2266
Schubert, Sym 9, Krips/LSO, Decca SXL 2045
...(a Kenneth Wilkinson, Kingsway Hall recording)
Shostakovich, Str Qt 8, Borodin Qt, Decca SXL 6036
Stravinsky: Le Sacre Du Printemps, Solti/CSO, Decca SXL 6691
...(Kenneth Wilkinson, Medinah Temple, Chicago)
Varese, Ionisation/Integrales/Arcana, Mehta/LAPO, Decca SXL 6550

Good luck
I will echo Rushton's sentiments and add that the Decca Mendelssohn 3rd is not only a great performance but the sonics are of demonstration quality.

The Speakers corner reissues of the Mercurys:
Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No.3 Dorati/LSO/Janis (Mercury SR90283) and Stravinsky, Firebird Ballet Dorati/LSO (Mercury SR90226) are the two I have purchased to date. Great sound to go with legendary performances. I am planning on obtaining the Janos Starker Mercury recording of the six Bach Cello Suites as well
Classical has already been well represented here, so...

See if you can find a copy of 'Voyage 34' by Porcupine Tree. Awesome rock, ala Pink Floyd back when they were good (the 70s) but with a more timeless quality. Excellent guitar work- Porcupine Tree is the torch bearer for the Prog Rock Guitars That Destroyed the World.

Big bass, big sound. Best bet is eBay, but rumour has it that the LP will be reissued on premium vinyl along with the part 2 as a two record set.

Most of Porcupine Tree's material has been or is on LP. If you like any of it, you have to get it all. Some is available online at (which is a cool resource anyway). The recent reissue of Signify and Coma Divine are excellent.

See also

'bya' is for Bass of the Year awards. The discography is or was on LP except for years 1999 and 2001.

Have Fun!
Porcupine Tree on vinyl???