Cleanest CD recording to test with

... hello to all...

I'm sure this has been a topic of discussion from all different perspectives, regarding well-recorded music that although it is sudio produced (as opposed to a recorded live event) is so clean and "real soundin" - you close your eyes and the artist/musicians are REALLY THERE IN FRONT OF YOU!

For me the following exhibit what I'm talking about: the 1st disc of the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS 'STADIUM ARCADIUM', NORA JONES ' COME AWAY WITH ME', JONI MITCHELL 'BLUE', MILES DAVIS 'KIND OF BLUE' and DAVE BRUBECK 'TAKE FOUR'...for Older recording the brand/issuer seems to make a major difference.

Your suggestions/recomendations would be greatly appreciated - please help me expand my repertoire of what I term EXPERT STUDIO RECORDINGS.   
you may laugh but try Tool Lateralusvery good recording
... not laughing - smiling; had this CD in what seems like a lifetime ago, and forgot how great it really is. Can hardly wait to blast it with my MARANTZ SA-8001 SACD into my JOB INT Integrated amp, and out thru my GERSHMAN 20+ year old AVANT GARDE RX-20s. 


Best Wishes Bud - ENJOY YOUR TUNES!
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... well thanks blueranger for your obituary about my opinion on that Nora Jones CD; now - do you have any suggestions for me to check out? I'm sure you do - YOU obviously have a critically listening ear...
The Hunter - Jennifer Warnes
Pink Moon - Nick Drake
Don't Smoke in Bed - Holly Cole
Forget About It - Alison Krauss
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... blueranger: don't think this supposed to be personal - now bordering on trolldom...
... blueranger: if you have anything to offer other than criticism, please do.

The point of my inquiry is to find more great recordings - please either offer or bug off.
Ok I will police my self better. Sorry, I meant no harm
... thank you blueranger, for your courtesy.

do you have anything to offer?
hifijunky: Thank you for your listings/suggestions.

I am not familiar with any of them now, but will investigate...
Recently I have rediscovered Tears for Fears Songs from the Big Chair. Japanese CD. Outstanding! So good I bought the 180 gram German Pressing and the CD sounded just as good or better.
Also Telarc CDs are my go to. Just bought a re-recording of Victory at Sea and its excellent. Paid  25 cents from a flea market.
Trombone Shorty : Parking Lot Symphony 
Check out the Wolfert Brederode Trio on ECM, recent recording entitled "Black Ice." Available on CD for reasonable cost. Stunning sound, and great, spare music, well-produced and played. 
THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS - except for Tool, I've heard none of these but looking forward to the adventure...
Oregon - Beyond Words, Chesky Records is not bad. That acoustic bass is something.
+1 for Oregon, on Chesky.
It's important to note; CD quality can vary widely, between discs.   ie: My son has a copy of Roger Waters' Amused To Death, that presents a phenomenal amount of ambient info and imaging tricks(via QSound algorithms), when played on my system.  I bought the same disc(same Columbia release/number) and it possessed none of the first's qualities.
...exactly: I have several 'copies' of KIND OF BLUE by Miles Davis, by different issuers and the resolution (if I can use that term) varies widely.

I've pulled out CRYSTAL SILENCE and have made that my wake-up music - great piano and vibraphone...

 Great thread, here are my choices:

 Mark Murphy, Love is what it Says

 Sara K, Waterfalls, on Stockfisch,

Both just grab you with the first bar and you know you will always love the CD. To qualify that, the first track on Waterfalls is a recording of a busker, so maybe the second track.  Incidentally, Stockfisch is pretty much my favourite label, great artists and recordings


this subject matter for a thread never gets old nor outdated. It is still a wonderful topic open for discussion and interpretation anytime. Now, to address your initial query;
My reference disc: Jamie Cullum- Twentysomething- CD or SACD (2004) Verve label.  Piano Jazz Trio music that is very well recorded, minimalist approach. An excellent disc to test both melodic and percussive nature of the piano.

I concur with your other selections as above. Let me know your impressions if you decide to pick up this title.  Happy Listening!
... my CD go-to tracks for small jazz groups are Lars Erstrand and Four Brothers (track 7 - un-named, off 'OPUS 3 Test Record 3' CD) and "PLAYED TWICE" by The Fred Hersch Trio (off Chesky Records 'The Ultimate Demonstration Disc')...


Second, Fred Hersch on Chesky Records. Anything from Telarc label as well.  Happy Listening!
I forgot all about Oregon.  I need to try and pick up another copy.
Thanks for reminding me. 
I agree. It is a good topic. And yes there are many variations of it going in various active threads. But that's okay.

Most new music is being recorded in sloppy, low DR high loudness format so it is good to hear what is out there that is well produced and well suited to demonstrating what a good hi-fi system can do.

My two recommendations: Steely Dan's "Two Against Nature" and Mark Knopfler's "Tracker" are both sonically outstanding. I am anxiously awaiting Knopfler's new album due in November.

I use the dynamic range database to vet various CD releases and have found it to be a valuable resource. DR isn't everything when it comes to SQ but there is not much you can do with a narrow DR recording.
Stumbled across your post just now and will throw in the three that I am listening to this morning.  Was in the mood for that sourcery that you are referring to - no walls to be found type of sound.  Music and musicians placed across and deep in their specific venues.  Today's three are....

Dave Weckl Band - Live (and very plugged in)

Melody Gaedot - My One And Only Thrill

Acoustic Alchemy - Against the Grain

+1 Jamie Cullum. Discovered myself earlier this year. 

Listening right now to The Teskey Brothers "Half my Harvest". Sounds very promising. Try "Hard Feeling" and then "Honeymoon". Great NEW recording. Like Leon Bridges. THEY ARE STILL MAKING FANTASTIC WELL-RECORDED MUSIC. 

Theres so many. Roseanne Cash made an acoustic "demo" a long time ago. Don't miss Radka Toneff, Eva Cassidy, Nancy LaMott.

Maybe they don't count but studio acoustic lives from Lynherd Skynherd, Nirvana, Alice in chains.

Guy Davies - Sweetheart like you
Bill Evans - Waltz for Debbie
Joss Stones - Soul sessions (first track is CLOSE)
Eric Bibb - Spirit and the blues
Jazz at the pawnshop
Featuring Norah Jones
A lot with Leonard Cohen
Cowboy Junkies - Trinity 

Need to stop. Will be back. 
Did I forget
Muddy Waters - Folk singer 
and naturally:

Chuck Mangione - Childrens of Sanchez ...probably high om DR List :-)

Lou Reed - Berlin: Live at St. Ann's ...Men of good fortune (Live but needs to be mentioned)
Dear justvintagestuff,
Some of the 'cleanest' recordings I have heard are these:

1. Bach's Goldberg Variations played by Ito Ema on MA Recordings (

2. 6 Suites a Violoncello Solo Senza Basso played by Martin Zeller, also on MA Recordings

3. Evangelion 1.0: You are (Not) Alone OST (, except tracks 1, 31 and 36-38. Before any classical music fans clobber me with their spare Mahler and Rachmaninov records, of course I will say that this soundtrack is by no means one of the very 'cleanest' classical recordings in history, but to me the instruments are conveyed very convincingly. For that matter, Utada Hikaru's voice on track 31 is similarly charming, the 'pop' quality of the recording and production notwithstanding.
If you're into Classical music. Look out for the record company BIS (e.g. Gothenburg Symphonic Orchestra). The often have a warning for huge Dynamics that might hurt your system on their records.
For testing purposes, I prefer live recordings. Since you mention "Jazz at the Pawnshop", I will add "Trio Music-Live in Europe" on ECM with Chick Corea. Also Patricia Barber "Companion", Allison Krauss "Union Station Live" and Diana Krall "Live in Paris".For small venue recordings the Opus 3 are excellent, even on CD.
I add Radka Toneff - "Live in Hamburg", Cécile McLorin Salvant "Dreams and Daggers" and Cécile Vemy Quartet - "Memory Lane". All live and natural. 

REM - "Automatic for the people" - don't miss demo tracks.
Yes...REM - "Automatic for the people" - don't miss demo tracks. DRIVE (demo).
Better I think would be to do the testing with music that you feel have the potential to sound "better" than it does with your existing components. The best recordings sounds perfect on anything. 

Right On!  Another +vote  for Joss Stone.

Happy Listening!
Greg Brown - The Poet Game
Andy Gravish - New York/Rome Hookup
+1 Greg Brown

Hans Theessink - Call me

Too obvious to mention? Bass tuba!
Did not find Andy Gravish on Tidal but a cd by Kimiko Itoh where he participates a little. Smooth jazz you heard before but quite refreshing and very well recorded (as it appears in my phones).

Thanks for recommending Jamie Cullum. I checked it out on Spotify and just ordered it off of Ebay. Nice. $3.19 w/free shipping. :-)

Here you can snag Andy's CD
So good! You shan't regret! 
Black Light Syndrome, Bozio, Levin, Stevens


Dixie Dregs - Dregs of the earth

Martyna Jakubowicz - Patchwork
oregonpapaMy pleasure suggesting the Jamie Cullum disc.  Happy New Year!
As above,I will second- Tears For Fears (TFF) Songs from the big Chair CD -original Mercury "atomic" from 1985. An 80's masterpiece.
  • Andreas Vollenweider - opening track, Book of Roses
  • Nils Lofgren - Keith Don’t Go, Acoustic Live
  • Tori Amos - Icicle, Under the Pink