Garbage In - Garbage Out


Been reading a tremendous amount of information and opinion on what makes up a great stereo system, and all the ways to improve the sound.  Seems we give little attention to the music going into the system.  There are certain tracks that just make my stereo come alive.  I think yeah, that's where the money went!  Other tracks are limp.  Since some music sounds terrific, the not so much stuff can't be the fault of my equipment, but must be the recording itself.  So many recordings suffer from poor engineering, mixing, pressing etc....  I would be interested to hear what your favorite tracks are when you really want to show what your system is capable off.  Limit of two selections?  Artist - Album - Track.  Like:
Miles Davis - In A Silent Way - Shhh/Peaceful  (Side One)
Grant Green - Idle Moments - Idle Moments (Title Track)
128x128bigtwin
The point of the question is clear.

Looking for a Home - Keith Greeniger and Dayan Kai
Recat -- Max Lodebauer/Ricardo Villalobos

Special mention: Shelby Lynne, Little Bit of Lovin'

I listen both to my hifi and the music. Because I'm an audiophile, I love sound as well as music. There's no tension for me between these kinds of listening. (Also, I like many other arrangements of sounds and symbols: dramas and comedies, puzzles and poems, art and math.)


+1 Hot Tuna
Better Think Twice - Live Dan Fogelberg from the Something Old,Borrowed, New,and some Blues disc
Good Morning Mr Blues - Otis Spann 
I think the OP's point is perfectly valid and in no way a reflection of some lack of quality within his system.

I have never bought into the idea that a really great system will make anything sound good. It really is preposterous. In fact, across my 3 or 4 different systems of various levels, poorly recorded stuff often sounds worse on the best of the systems.


Nor do I think there is any validity to the suggestion that there are not different levels of production quality. That is not even historically supportable. If nothing else dynamic range is a perfect example. Most of the time you can hear compressed DR easily and in many cases you can see the measured DR. And when the DR is narrow, nothing in a playback system can get back what isn't there. And on my primary system DR deficiencies are glaring.


So to the OP, yes, having set up my system(s) the way I want them I now spend time looking for the best recordings and sources. It is tricky business and requires a bit of research but the rewards are there. And those rewards, in my opinion, beat a constant cycle of equipment upgrades and dissatisfaction.


I also agree with the idea that there is no de facto conflict between appreciation of music in general and appreciation of well produced music. I enjoy music in my truck, on crappy ear buds, on mediocre headphones, on my low end system down at my cabin and on my high end systems at home. And  a good song, at the right time and place can be enjoyable regardless of the system. But a well preformed, well recorded and well produced work on a good system is also a special joy.



I had started a thread a while back saying that my newly upgraded system made a lot of recordings sound worse, although well-recorded ones sounded better then ever. It even Made it hard to listen to a few old favs in fact. Another vote for the acoustic Hot Tuna album. For Jazz the live Modern Jazz Quartet. Can’t pick one song, sorry. 
OK, let me clarify my statements. The OP describes "tracks" as sounding great or sounding poor. I listen to albums. so to say one track sounds good and the next bad seems wrong to me. But I have been in exactly that situation and it changed with an upgrade to a belter CDP.
I also notice one poster who says its preposterous to say that a great system will make anything sound good. I agree. That's why I mentioned the White Trash album sounding bad. And I agree that there are different levels of production. I look for RL in the dead wax because Bob is very good at  mastering. And I understand good better best. 
But as I read the OP post it sounds as if half 0of the music he has sounds "limp". I take that as sounding bad. I have some bad sounding albums & CD's. But they are a vast minority. But it wasn't always that way. I have music that was unlistenable that I now listen regularly. What happened? I have been building this system for years. And as it has developed, more good sounding music has emerged. Is it all meet the TAS list of must haves? NO. But I love the music. And most a'phile music IE female vocals and a lot of jazz leave me wanting for something that moves me. 
It comes down to a matter of measure. If you don't mind having a system that only half the music sounds listenable or reasonably good then that is your choice. I won't have that system. I've had it before and moved on. But I had to satisfy me, not you, and vice versa.
BTW I am also a musician who has played for 50+ yrs so I have an understanding of what music should sound like.
Alums that sound good
"Will the Circle Be Unbroken" Nitty Gritty Dirt Band & Guests
"The Wall" Pink Floyd
"Waiting For Columbus" Little Feat

Can't think of any particular songs. Depends on my mood