Doug MacLeod is always good and D2D is characteristically good at capturing dynamics and detail in a way even the best tape transfers find it hard to match.
But honestly, if what you're into is unbelievable quality then go check out Better Records. They're crazy expensive but I've got several now and you have to hear one to believe it. I've got several D2D and Doug MacLeod and other seriously good recordings and the best Hot Stampers like Nilsson Schmilsson and Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac blow them away. Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player, and Elton John I don't think has ever been considered an audiophile friendly artist, but even that one my Hot Stamper blows away all my so-called audiophile records.
In terms of D2D though if you're looking for that you want to be looking at Sheffield, they've done a lot of em, all killer good SQ. https://www.sheffieldlab.com/
Dear @pgaulke60 : As @millercarbon posted some of the best D2D recordings came from Sheffield Labs others from Crystal Clear and M&K and some of the Nautilius but not all D2D recordings are good enough.
The one you named Doug Macleod is good but not good enough, I own it and I own one D2D Telarc that’s average.
The tape recorders used in whole LP recording proccess makes a serious degradation to the signal and we can attest it when we listen to the D2D of Dave Grusin and listen the LP recorded in the same session using the normal tape recorder that every LP always needs: nigth and day fifferences for the better the D2D version.
Btw, that Sheffield link has no single D2D LP when the OP is talking of LPs.
Oops yeah I just assumed since Sheffield made lots of D2D their website would have them but no. Go figure. Oh well, search em out, DuckDuckGo makes it trivially easy to find. The Goolag, not so much.
Its true what you said, D2D is no guarantee of SQ. Better Records is more consistent if SQ is the only goal, but even there not all are created equal and if the recording and mastering engineers dropped the ball ain't nobody ever gonna be able to make up for that.
Still, D2D is a lot of work. Musicians have to be able to perform straight through one good take. Nobody ever made D2D to save money, its all about the sound. That tended to carry through to the pressings. So a much higher proportion of D2D are good relative to pretty much everything else.
Sheffield did some good D2D recordings. I like a couple of their Harry James records--"Still Harry After All These Years" and "King James Version"; also
Amanda McBroom-"West of Oz" and "Growing Up in Hollywood Town";
M&K Realtime Records did some really good D2D discs, such as:
Bill Berry--"For Duke"
Earl Hines -- "Fatha"
Dukas-"Sorcerer's Apprentice," Chabrier-"Espana", Debussy-"Nocturnes"
On Concord Jazz:
There are certain labels that did terrific sounding records that are not D2D but just as vibrant and alive as that type of records. Look for the Japanese Label East Wind, the original issues are better than the reissues, so pay more and get the originals.
The D2D that you refer to are probably from Blue Heaven Studios in Salinas Kansas and they offer up quite a few selections of seldom or never recorded artist which I have about 20 of and they are all well done. My favorite of theirs is a Pinetop Perkins recording at 45 rpm, check them out.
The albums I referred to above are D2D even the 45 rpm one by Pintop Perkins.
D2D's are somewhat hard to find, but if you live in a large city, or can get to a near by one, many of the larger record stores can and do have a fairly large collection of Sheffield Labs D2D's. Or other D2D labels for that matter. Just examine them very closely for condition. Some of the earlier Sheffield's I had developed a lot of surface noise, even though I handled them carefully and had a proper TT setup.
Dear @larryi : Even that are not D2D the ones I own from East Wind are very good recordings and a must to own.
I own the Sheffield Labs Harry James d2d LPs, and they are excellent. My favorite d2d record, however, is American Gramaphone's Glenn Miller Orchestra LP from mid to late 1970's. Outstanding in every respect. If you enjoy the Big Band sound, try to find a copy and give it a spin.
Sheffield labs. Thelma Houston "Pressure Cooker" is my reference album that I judge all others albums by.
M&K Realtime Records "For Duke" is my reference and has been since its release in the late 70's. Fantastic recording.
I agree, "For Duke" is on my short list for demo discs, along with "Fatha" another fantastic M&K D2D recording. If I put together my short-list of demo records, it would contain:
TBM-Yamamoto Trio-Midnight Sugar (1st pressing)
???-Clark Terry-Alternate Blues (Analogue Productions or some other company reissue)
East Wind-Great Jazz Trio-Direct from L.A.
Concord Jazz-LA4-Just Friends
Analogue Productions?-Doug MacLeod-Bring it on Home
King Records-Mozart Clarinet and Horn Concerto-Gervase de Peyer, Barry Tuckwell, Peter Maag (Japanese reissue of a Decca original)
Columbia-Duke Ellington-Blues in Orbit (1959 stereo recording-proof
that the state of the art in recording has not advanced much in 60 years).
Clarity Recordings-Claudia Gomes-Salamandra
Audioquest-Tuxedo Cowboys-Woman of the Heart
For those not familiar with the history of D2D LP records, this is what I read some time ago.
Doug Sax, and possibly Mayorga, was listening to some favored 78 records. He was impressed by the presence and sense of "aliveness" heard in many of those, but not typically experienced with LPs. Upon consideration Sax realized they were recorded directly, without the intervention of a R2R master tape copy as had become standard practice with LPs. So he experimented with a directly recorded LP, and the rest is history.
That history now includes the several wonderful recommended D2D LPs in this post.
Great Discussion Everyone - Thanks for the thoughts. I’ve done some more digging. Sheffield Labs simply doesn’t have a catalog that I am interested. I can appreciate a few of their recordings, but mostly it is not my preferred artist set. And I must be perfectly honest, I do indulge in a few things - good bourbon and my audio system - but I am hard pressed to spent upwards of $200 or more for a bloody LP. Better records has a great selection, but man-o-manicotti, that is simply beyond my price range. East Wind has a real good selection. The recordings from Blue Heaven Studios in Salinas, Kansas are affordable and wonderful.
Another question, that I am not familiar with the answer to, do 45rpm 12” LPs sound better that 33.3 LPs? My Henry Gray D2D recording is 45rpm. I’ve seen a few other box releases where all the LPs are 45rpm. Thanks in advance.
@pgaulke60, the musical content of a lot of direct-to-disk LP’s has not been their primary attraction (particularly true of the Sheffield’s), but their sound quality. As J. Gordon Holt once said, all too often the better the recording the worse the music, and visa versa.
D-2-D LP’s have for a couple of reasons long been used as reference material for evaluating hi-fi components. They will not be the limiting factor in the sound a system produces. To reproduce their transparency, dynamics, and true-to-life instrumental and vocal timbres is a real challenge. They all possess a startling "aliveness", a transient "snap" not found in most recordings made on tape (or in digits). It’s easy to hear when a component loses some of that characteristic.
Some D-2-D LP’s are common and not expensive, others rare and not-so-cheap. The For Duke album is, unfortunately, amongst the latter. It took me years to find a copy, and is not for sale!
I agree about the Sheffield catalog. For example Lincoln Mayorga may have been a part owner/producer (?) for the label and a good musician, but his tastes were far too schmaltzy for me. And while the Harry James Sheffields are great recordings, you need to have an appreciation for the big band music that transitioned the ’40s into the ’50s to fully enjoy those.
So one might ask, "why not more D2Ds available to choose from?" Well, once the cutter head is lowered onto the master disk there is no stopping the performance until the end of that record side. Not every musician is prepared to record under that pressure. Today’s artists are mainly accustomed to having any mistakes corrected on tape or file by the mastering process. And studio time can be expensive. If obvious fluffs happen in a D2D recording the side must be started over. How many times will the producer be willing to do that?
So each of us can hopefully find a few D2Ds with personal appeal and treasure those.
@pgaulke60- If you at all care for New Orleans style Jazz, Crystal Clear did a 45 RPM, D2D, titled ’San Francisco Ltd’. An excellent, dynamic, "crisp" and quiet recording/pressing, done in white vinyl. Regarding your last query: Whether, "better" than 33 1/3, I can’t say, not having the SAME music(in both speeds) for a VALID comparison. They’d have had to do the session over, at the slower speed, to release both. Never heard of anyone cutting/releasing the same music, as D2Ds, in that way. However- I’m not saying no one has. There are way too many variables, between any two D2Ds(of differing artists/sessions/producers/etc), to categorically determine one speed better than another, though my bias would be toward 45 RPM. https://www.discogs.com/San-Francisco-Ltd-San-Francisco-Ltd/release/2685500
@rodman99999 Thanks much for the post and your thinking. I too would bias toward 45 rpm. Thinking there must be a reason that they are doing it, otherwise they would put more music on a side of a LP. Those Discog prices for SF LTD are great. Should be a easy investment to hear the music. I'm a big Alberta Hunter fan!
A friend of mine has a quite large collection that includes a lot of very small label blues recordings. Often, it is something recorded in someone's house, not a studio, using only a few microphones. Some of these recordings are stunningly realistic. I know simply-made music is easier to record, yet, I don't hear anything like this in most other fancy studio recordings of any sort. Also, a lot of difficult to make orchestral recordings from the past are easily the match of what is recorded these days. Many Decca, Columbia, and RCA recordings from the 1960's are amazingly good when it comes to sound quality.
I do like current digital recordings of classical music and jazz. At least with these genre, producers haven't flattened dynamics and absolutely ruined the sound. Most of this music has not been issued on vinyl, so it is hard to make any sort of vinyl vs. analogue comparisons.
Holy Smokes! I have been posting about these for over a year or two and the posts have been completely ignored.
Listen to garbage if you want and then tell us all how good or bad your equipment "sounds."
Evidently audiophiles are not as bright as I thought; a BIG reason I got of the business years ago.
Tower of Power Direct, Sheffield Lab 17
Sugar Loaf Express feat Lee Ritenour, JVC Direct Disc VIDC 2
Friendship, Lee Ritenour, JVC Direct Disc VIDC 3
Gentle Thoughts, JVC Direct Disc VIDC 1