High quality CD recordings


Over the last 55+ years I've spent significant time and effort trying, as we all do, to get the best sound from our systems as practicable. I'm quite happy with my current setup so the weakest link many times is the quality of recordings themselves.

I was reminded of this while using a test CD that I've used off and on for about 15 years to evaluate some recent changes I made. On this CD, after the more technical part of frequency testing is ended, examples of various instrumental and vocal presentations are given. While listening I was reminded of just how significant a difference in recordings themselves can make.

I've used advice given on these forums regarding superior recordings but these have been recommendations for specific single CD's like, for example, "Jazz at the Pawnshop" and many more. What I'm looking for, though, are recording entities that are dedicated to producing high quality recordings across the spectrum of music genres. It would be nice to have a source of recordings that we could generally depend on for good quality. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
broadstone
for CD I highly recommend MA Recordings for the quallity of music, sound, and packaging.
XRCD s......

Google for specs , various brands, various hi-Rez recording engineers and available recordings.

Ebay and a Elusive Disc are two sources to start with

Highly recommended
I've found that albums that have been remastered for high resolution formats sound better. That is, the benefit of the remastering is very much present in the 16 bit 44 kHz recording. Now this won't make a poorly recorded album sound great but it can result in significant improvement.
Reference Recording cd's are very well done.
A great CD is often the work of a great recording engineer. Please check out the 'Tears' album of the Chieftains. I think this is one of the best recorded album's of all time.
MA Recordings are superb. The Bach Cello Suites are wonderful. Linn also does great work as far as recording quality. Bach on the Lute is excellent. Opus 3 is good. Water Lily is so good that you wonder about the supposed limitations of the CD format.
As to XRCDs, I have never been overly impressed, but worth a try.
Thanks. I've already ordered several CD's using these recommended sources and am looking forward to trying them.
Chesky records are excellent. Try the Ultimate Demonstration Disc, the Rebecca Pidgeon Spanish Harlem track is my reference sound check.
Heads Up, Telarc's jazz label is good.
Stockfish CDs are also excellent. Try Sara K. CD/SACDs from this label.
Ok, I already received several of the CDs that I ordered based on these recommendations. Listening convinced me, once and for all, that assessment of and adjustments to one's equipment needs to begin with recordings that can be relied on for quality. I, for one, will pay more attention to recording entities when buying CDs in the future. What took me so long, you ask.
You should add some Mapleshade records to your collection as well. Pierre Sprey does a wonderful job of capturing a natural acoustic with minimal artifice on many of these recordings.
Hew, I will. Thanks
Xkg_ca + 1
JVC XRCD , excellent quality and superb sound reproduction ,
I've now received 9 of the CDs that I ordered based on recommendations here and am convinced that finding recording entities that have a reputation for quality is worth the effort. Buconero, one of your recommendations that I'm enjoying is one by the Chieftains, but not just for its quality. Discovering that singers with which I'm familiar in other genres such as Diana Krall and Bonnie Rait, are surprising to hear and enjoy in this venue.
I meant "Raitt"
Anything on Jazz label Pablo... Count Basie..."Basie Jam."For blues...muddy waters..."Folk singer"(mofi)...Lighnin Hopkins..."going away"(xrcd)...For vocals... Eva cassidy..."live at blues alley"....
Dave Gruisin - "Homage to Duke". Exceptional recording quality, very dynamic with sparkling highs! Features Clark Terry's (RIP) famous "mumbles" on a couple of tracks. Truly a reference quality CD, currently available new via Amazon for only ~$8 delivered!
Hi Broadstone. Record guidebooks and reviews can be an excellent resource for finding quality recordings. Have you ever checked out the PENQUIN RECORD GUIDE or GRAMMAPHONE ? In my opinion they are a must!! I've found the specialty labels are in no way the only source for quality; and thank goodness - their catalogs are "so" limited. My experience is you 'can' find excellent recordings on many labels, but the specialist labels like Reference Recordings and Chesky, to name only 2,are consistent in their quality.
There are hundreds - no 'thousands' of excellent Deutsche Grammophon, RCA, Telarc,etc classical recordings; and "countless" good jazz recordings on a great variety of labels. It's a matter of finding them. For example I've got STINGRAY MUSIC on my TV via cable and just heard, while typing this, Anthony Spiri on CPO RECORDS playing a Piano sonata by Edward Marksen from the album Klavier Works? Even though it's low res through the TV I found the sound to be very nice, natural and nuanced. Of course the CD or DVD through my ref Spectral system will provide a far clearer and much more emotional view of this album; but just that listening has encouraged me to request my library bring it in for me -and they probably will. I can discuss finding good recordings more if you like. I also like recordings from South America and European countries. I've had some excellent recordings from Russian labels totally unknown to me and not reviewed outside Russia! It's a big world and I've found that in the Classical and Jazz music fields a love of providing good sounding music is pervasive. Great for us! Just reread your post. Sorry I strayed off your request. Will send some labels later.
Thanks, Ptss. I'm looking forward to your recommendations. I've been spending hours auditioning some of the CDs suggested in this thread and have been pretty consistently happy with them. Right now I'm listening to sound that is at least equal to the best I've ever heard from my system which inspired me to look at the case to determine who did the recording. When I looked up, though, I saw that the blue HDCD on my player was lit. This raises another question; could the excellence I'm hearing in this instance be at least partly a result of the format or is it simply the quality of the recording independent of the format?

I know there are arguments, even here on Audiogon, which differ on the subject but I would like to hear from you on this thread who obviously pay significant attention to the importance of recording quality.
I 2nd. Reference Recordings and Chesky. Formerly, Telarc were considered in that league, now, although I still enjoy many of the Telarc CD's that I own, I no longer consider them as having the same recording qualities as the former two.
Hello again and thank you Broadstone. The co-inventor of HDCD, Keith Johnson, is the same genius behind the Spectral gear and Reference Recordings. He has been fanatical about every step of his recordings--he can afford to as I believe one of his early innovations was a major factor in cassette duplication-probably providing a decent income! His partner at Spectral, Richard Fryer, is also simply "fanatical" about leading the pack. Briefly, I feel the quality of REFERENCE RECORDINGS offerings is definitely due to Johnson's genius and his design work with Spectral as he hand built some recording equipment used in recording for Reference. Thanks to Richard Fryer, of Spectral Audio, for the repetoire of Reference Recordings, and thanks to KEITH JOHNSON, true Polymath, for bringing the recordings to life.
I feel their recording quality is unsurpassed, and they have introduced real genius players, for example Kronos Quartet (I'm lucky enough to have their first Reference Recording with a piece called "Funky Chicken" if my memory serves me, so their ears are good). IMHO one could do well to acquire ALL their recordings-I know they will stand the test of time. Philips (hope my spelling is right-I've had some fine rye tonight celebrating that I go in for more heart surgery at 6am tomorrow((if I don't post again you know why :-) . My friends say I'll be fine as only the good die young; and 65 is the new 40)) label also has countless beautifully recorded albums by fabulous artists. I'll post more if I'm not busy talking to Twain, Dickens,Poe, Orwell, Kafka,Carroll, Huxley, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven,Matisse,Monet, Van Gogh, Rembrandt,Cezanne, Titian (my grandfather, a Norwegian whaler owned a Titian and gave it to the catholic church-who guaranteed him a seat in the first row, oh yeah..) on & on and hopefully all their interesting friends). There are many fine labels out there. (Hope I'm hear to post tomorrow). Cheers.
when it comes to high quality recordings it really matters to me the recorded material/musicians. don't wanna hear same things alloveroveroveragain as well so don't bother testing samething morethantwice. ECM label is the right match for me all the way on CD.
Ptss, We all wish you the best, and will see your next posts very soon.
As I do for all advice solicited on these forums, I'm usually just looking for good starting points toward particular and, in the end, adjusted personal goals. In the past, though, I've not paid sufficient attention to recording labels which has resulted in continued failed attempts to get more out of them than they could provide.

I don't have a purpose designed and built listening room, have suffered some age related hearing issues and have been advised that my equipment is not reference grade but it works well for me and seems to be quite revealing of upstream issues. Just so you know, these components are: Shanling Cd S-100, CAL Alpha DAC, Peachtree Nova as preamp, Peachtree 220W amp, Martin Logan Ethos speakers and misc not too special ICs and speaker cables.

Btw, Ptss, assuming my math to be correct, if 65 is the new 40, 72 would be the new 44, except I'm conviced that the effect on physical aging, including hearing acuity, beyond 60 is not as linear as we might wish.
Thanks Isochronism. (Glad that you're "on the beat, or on time, or regular :-) , just had to look that up!).
When they confirmed my name ,etc just before op I said yes, that's who I've been- and hope I still am tomorrow!
I was lucky. Great Doc,upbeat team,hospital-+ lucky I'm here in B.C.,Canada and didn't have to pay!
Doc says everything went perfect and previous stents are in great shape. Figures I'm good for anything I want to do,walk,swim,yoga. Yahoo! But, I'll spend more time with music than all those put together. Glad to be back to the great group in this forum.
Broadstone, I agree, but I also think life is not as linear as we might like. We must do the best we can to enjoy what we have. I especially like your Martin Logans. My hearing acuity is assisted by surgery and implants in both ears! I still remember when I heard the high frequencies of alarm systems when I was about 16/17 and others did not hear them. I was raised in the country--mainly peace and quiet-and certainly no loud noise, other than our rifles! Dad gave me a 22 rifle when I was 12- bless him for allowing me to grow. I had a crystal radio, the antenna of which I attached to my brothers toes! No battery even. Not loud but I listened to the powerful U.S. stations even though I was in southern Nova Scotia. I feel I was very lucky. And I'm lucky now to be part of this forum.
A number of excellent suggestions, MA, Chesky, Reference Recordings, ECM etc. The problem with many "Audiophile" labels, is they produce wonderful recordings of c--p music, step up to the Podium, Naim and Linn. There are always one or two redeeming artists on the label, Antonio Forcione on Naim, Blue Nile on Linn.

So what label would I buy music from, without audition first, Stockfisch?. Great recording and artists, Sara K, David Muyon, Allan Taylor and Chris Jones, to name few.
Ptss, I also grew up in the country so, for the most part, experienced the same serene quiet that you mentioned. On the other hand, though, because it was a working farm there were many times when machinery noise was overwhelming for hours on end, day after day, and on and on, which probably started my hearing decline. I, too, had a crystal radio which I could only listen to in one exact spot in my room. Another parallel is that one of our most memorable vacation experiences was in Nova Scotia at a particular Scottish Highland games which featured music over field competitions.

Anyway, by now I've received quite a few CDs that I've been ordering since the beginning of this thread. Listening to them has been enjoyable and the recordings that I've ordered most of are under the Chesky, RR and Gramophone labels; they're all good and I appreciate the advice. As it turns out, quite a few of my existing recordings were also under these labels; I just hadn't previously paid attention to that aspect of my choices.

Just to make sure that I stay true to form and deviate from the subject of this thread, Ive noted your obvious considerable appreciation of great artists' genius based on your list of future chat partners. Because my education and work background has been in the sciences, my appreciation of genius was was relegated primarily to works in physics and mathematics. I've come to the realization, though, that genius in music composition is at least as remarkable and, possibly more rare.
Hello again Broadstone. My choices were influenced by the fact I'm on this forum on music and reproduction art. I think you're right about it being more rare; and to me it seems especially so these days, but I don't think it's more remarkable. I find Physics fascinating but math is simply out of my reach (especially since a head injury in an '89 car accident :-( I feel lucky I can still appreciate the arts!) Cheers!
For Redbook AM+ has never disappointed.
Supertramp,The Police,Joe Jackson.AM+ Cd's just
sound good.
Amina Alaoui
"Arch Iris" 2011 (ECM)
Anouar Brahem
"the Astounding Eyes of Rita" 2009 (ECM)
Jazzfan, both are excellent and feature instrumentation matching my personal tastes. In the process of auditioning I also discovered another artist on ECM, Ralph Towner, that I enjoy and just ordered his "Anthem" album with which I imagine you're familiar. Thanks
Broadstone-

my reference disc;
Jamie Cullum- Twentysomething CD/SACD (2004) Verve.

For somewhat newer releases;
The Bruce Springsteen Albums Vol 1.
The Best of Grateful Dead (2015).
-both of these releases utilize the Plantgaent Process and sound excellent- Keep me posted & Happy Listening!
Broadstone- My personal favorite Ralph Towner cd (originally on vinyl) is "Solstice". Jan Garbarek is on it. Very enjoyable (IMO).
nice newton...like ecm label...wheeler,stenson,Erskine.

The bobo stenson stuff is really nice...unique artist as well