How to go about collecting Classical Music

At age 68 I’ve started to like Classical Music. It’s been mostly Jazz, Rock n Roll, and R&B up to now. I’m familiar with those genres, know their history, artists, and how to best and most economically acquire their recordings. Not so the Classical repertoire which covers a much longer time period and encompasses so many styles and forms.

What genres and/or periods of Classical music should I be exploring? I’m not looking for recommendations on particular composers or artists, only genres or periods. In Classical music there is orchestral music, chamber music, opera, church music and who knows what else to try out. Maybe you could advise me, if you wouldn’t mind, of some types to try? Or maybe you could recommend a book on the subject that would help a rookie get a start understanding what’s out there.

In buying classical music, for any one work, there may be innumerable recordings by various artists, orchestras and ensembles. How do you sort out which recordings you want in that respect. For example, I looked up Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring on Ebay last night to get some idea of pricing and what classical music available there. There were so many recordings of that work, I would have no idea how to sort out which would have been a good choice. Are there web sites where there are recommendations on which recordings are most exceptional? Or alternately, are there classical record labels you can rely on routinely to provide superior quality recordings? I’ve heard Deutsche Gramophone may be a reliable label for one, but that’s about it. Could you recommend any other labels to look for?

There seems to be a lot of Classical music in SACD format relative to Jazz or Rock n ’Roll. Is there some reason for that? Should SACD be the format of choice for purchasing Classical music, or is there good classical material in Redbook format to be found? I prefer to stay away from used vinyl due to condition issues, or new vinyl due to cost. I’m guessing the better dynamic range of CD’s lends itself to orchestral music. Is there any market for used classical SACD’s? Are there any sites you prefer to purchase your Classical CD’s, either new or used?

I grew up on Long Island. On one trip to midtown Manhattan I walked into an old church not too far from St. Patrick’s to view its’ magnificent stained glass window. Once inside I heard some equally magnificent classical organ being played. I discovered the church’s incredible organ was being played by some of New York City’s finest classical organists who would book time to practice on it. That large church was always deserted, and I went back many times for what amounted to free private concerts. I’d like to know what kind of music that was to try and replicate that experience to some degree at home, From what I’ve read here and elsewhere there surely is a plethora of other wonderful Classical music to explore and enjoy. Thanks in advance for any advice,


If you have a tt there are several great direct to disc Lp's of organ music check eBay
don’t collect it, stream it.

i’m 69 years old, and love Classical Music. i do happen to own plenty of Classical CD’s, SACD’s, and vinyl.

but if i was jumping into it now i would absolutely put streaming Roon + Quboz + Tidal at the top of my list. there are thousands of Classical recordings on Quboz and Tidal, and Roon makes searching and learning simple and fun. you will be able to search by composer, or artist, and you will see linked similar titles suggested that will lead you to new types of music. many of the titles have information about the recording, and there is info on the composers too.

the sound quality can be top notch with streaming if you invest in high level gear. which is a whole different question for a different thread.

why limit yourself to physical media?

btw; Quboz has high resolution Classical up to 192/24 and that is what i would be targeting as the ultimate in streaming sound quality. MQA on Tidal can be good, but personally i prefer the high rez on Quboz.

you can see on my system page, i have lots of turntables and tape decks. but my most frequent listening is to streaming classical. it’s wonderful.

Good luck.
If you are not streaming already, I would recommend an inexpensive streamer like the Node2i. That's what I did and it enabled me to listen to all genres of classical music and then add to my lp or CD collection when I wanted the physical media.
When I started looking into classical music, one of the things I found that I really enjoyed was "How to Listen to and Understand Great Music" from The Great Courses (used to be called The Teaching Company).  It serves as both a For Dummies and as a college course introduction.

One thing I'll say, the "full price" for these courses are ridiculous, and they're often "75%" off.  Also, Audible (Amazon) has them for more reasonable prices. 
Mike, for orchestral music I can suggest you look for just about anything that performed by Berlin, Vienna and also by London Philharmonic orchestra. Von Karajan, in my opinion, is the very best conductor there is and was.
If you want to hear cello you will want performances by Rostropovitch.
Opera: Carmen by Bizet, Peer Gynt by Grieg, La Boheme by Puccini,
Handel - Messiah ( orchestra and chorus ), powerful stuff. 
Having ruled out vinyl then stream, absolutely, and MikeLavigne nailed it.
Streaming is the way to go,  Qobuz beats Tidal with it's classical selection. There's also Primephonic which is a classical streaming service.

"Classical" is a term used to describe a number of different genres and music periods. Basically, the early music is from the Baroque period (Bach), next is the Classical period (Haydn, Mozart), followed by the Romantic and late Romantic periods. Beethoven has roots in classical and led us into the romantic period. Others include Mendelssohn, Schumann, Bruckner, and later Mahler and Shostochvich, just to name a few.

Wikipedia has a basic description of the timeline...

 On one trip to midtown Manhattan ..................... Once inside I heard some equally magnificent classical organ being played. I discovered the church’s incredible organ was being played by some of New York City’s finest classical organists who would book time to practice on it. ................... I’d like to know what kind of music that was to try and replicate that experience to some degree at home
Let me suggest that the best way to replicate that experience at home is with multichannel SACDs (or the equivalent downloaded files) and a well-constructed multichannel system.  IMHO, stereo can't do it.
Regarding determining which classical recordings are *best* - - for many years the go-to source was The Penguin Guide - the most recent edition I have is the 1986 iteration titled *The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs, Cassettes and LPs*. It's a paperback of more than 1,200 pages and provides a wealth of comparative information.

  True, it's dated in that it was published over 35 years ago, but so many of the recordings reviewed are timeless and still available today in LP, CD and, probably, some of the streaming formats.

A quick check on eBay shows several Penguin guides for sale, including an edition that "only" dates back to 1997.  You can get one for just a few bucks, and in it you'll find a exactly the sort  of the information you are seeking.

I meant to add - - the Penguin Guides are organized alphabetically by composer, and for each composer categorically by type of composition (symphony, concerto, chamber, vocal, etc.) Versions of the same work are graded, more or less, in descending order. Very convenient and easy to use. 
OMG, you'll never get consistent advice.  Buy what you like.  (or borrow it from the library!)  I don't know anything about streaming; but you can get "Brilliant Classics" recordings for $2-3/disc and the quality and performances are excellent.  You'll never replicate an organ performance unless you happen to live in a church.  Even orchestral music has compressed dynamics in commercial recordings.  That's why I started with chamber music--mostly quartets, so that you can really hear and (at times) understand what's going on in there.   I don't need any new music--I'll never live long enough to hear what I have already!
Thank you all for your replies. I enjoy the physical media and will be likely sticking with CD's for the forseeable future. I've, for me, a fairly expensive stereo system and don't wish to invest in any more expensive equipment, cables, or monthly charges for streaming. I really enjoy the collecting aspect too. It's a lot of fun, I appreciate your suggestions in that regard and may be foolish in avoiding streaming, but what the hey. Getting and listening to records, and now CD's, has been one of the joys of my life since I was a kid so I don't want to give that fun up now that I can afford to indulge myself in purchasing them. 

Inna, thank you for the suggestions on the  Berlin, Vienna, London Philharmonic orchestras. I'll keep them in mind as well as the conductors and pieces you recommend. Are there any Classical record label you or anyone could name that are consistently good, say as Blue Note might be for jazz.

Jdane, trouble is I don't know or haven't been exposed to enough classical music to know what I like or don't yet. I've mostly had random exposure by picking up a few recordings at library sales or by listening to NPR on the radio while driving. If the local library wasn't closed due to the pandemic I'd go check out a book or two on the subject. I did take an elective course on Classical music in college. but that was close to fifty years ago. The only thing I can recall from that course was that  the professor had an enormous "pumpkin" head . He's probably long gone now so hopefully that isn't too mean-spirited a memory to bring up.

Rshak, thank you much for the advice on the Penguin guide, I will get one ordered ASAP,  I've found similar guides on rock an roll indispensable. Excellent idea. I'll do a little research and find out which is their most recent edition is and track that down.

Kr4, you're undoubtedly. right,, but I'd like to see what my Magico A3's can do. I recently purchased an Erykan Badu recording that had some very deep bass notes on it the Magico's did a nice job reproducing, so I'm wondering how they'd do on some sonorous classical organ pieces. I don't know what pieces to order though, as I have no idea who wrote them, played them, or when they were written. My lack of knowledge on classical music is fairly comprehensive.

My mom on the other hand could actually play classical music on the piano, but preferred to try and dope out boogie-woogie type jazz piano pieces instead, which she could sadly never master. She could play Rachmaninoff however without blinking an eye, Go figure.

Mikelavigne, if I stick to physical media do you find the SACD;s preferable to the degree Redbook CD's should be overlooked for orchestral pieces or is there good Redbook material out there for that type of music?  

Thanks again all,

Redbook classical is very high quality in most cases. DG CD's from the 1980's are pretty terrible. They were way behind other classical labels when it came to perfecting digital recording and mastering. You'll see that all these CD's from DG were eventually remastered.

"Jdane, trouble is I don't know or haven't been exposed to enough classical music to know what I like or don't"

Skyscraper, streaming will open up a easy way for you to find new (to you) classical music. You can buy a used Node 2i and subscribe to Qobuz for a year. Qobuz offers a discount if you prepay for a year. After that, sell the Node and cancel the subscription. I don't mean to beat a dead horse, but streaming has opened up a whole new way for me to find classical music that would have taken many years to otherwise discover. With that knowledge, I am able to buy LP's and CD's that I actually like.    
+1 @mikelavigne
Qobuz has 50 million songs while Tidal has 60 million songs which I believe is the most economic way to hear various songs. Many songs come with significantly higher resolutions files compared to redbook (CD) files which sound significantly better on highly resolving audio systems. If you want to do in-depth research such as which albums does a particular artist contributes to, try searching on Metadata and Roon.

Perhaps starting with the top 100 classical songs may help:
There are some very good labels to be on the lookout for: Telarc, Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Harmonia Mundi, RCA Living Stereo, Tacet are a few that consistently put out very high quality recordings. 

Now, whether or not you like the music is another matter...

I tend to buy classical music in either SACD or DSD digital file formats, although if a particular recording is only available in CD, I’ll buy that too!

 One way to go about collecting classical music that I highly recommend is to go to live performances. That way, when you listen to a recording of the same piece, you’ll be able to tell what it should sound like.
The field is so vast and diverse that you should sample as much as you can to get a handle on what kind of music, period and styles you like the most.  I would suggest listening to the radio, particularly internet stations, or even the classical music offered on cable tv channels. 

The guides mention above, such as the Penguin guide, are good resources for finding specific recordings of compositions you are interested in, but, you would have to know the piece of music you are looking for; it is not a guide to the music itself.  I like a book called "1001 Classical Recordings You Must Hear Before You Die."  It is arranged in chronological order and it is good for finding specific composers and pieces of music as well as the particular recordings of that music that the editors favor.  I think the selections are quite good.
Lowrider, thank you for the info on 1980’s DG CD’s. I’ll look for the later remastered copies only from then. Good to here Redbooks from other sources are good. That’ll make shopping on the used market lots easier. Thanks for the Wikipedia link to a the brief outlines of periods too.

Ericsch, you are twisting my arm. I will look up what a Node 2i is anyway and what they cost, as well as a yearly Quboz subscription. I would prefer to remain ensconced in the 20th rather than 21st century. I did throw away my cellphone when I retired.

KennyC, thanks for that link and the places to do some research. I’ll check both out.

Nordicnorn, thanks for the heads up on the Telarc, Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Harmonia Mundi, RCA Living Stereo, and Tacet labels. That is good information to have in hand. Once the pandemic ends it would be a good idea to take in some live classical music too.

LarryC, I went ahead and purchased off Ebay a hardcover copy of the "1001 Classical Recordings You Must Hear Before You Die." book you suggested. I really need to find a guide to the various periods and types of classical music out there, to know what to sample to find what I like best. I should have kept the textbook from that college class on classical music. I’ve got to track down the Penguin book now.


A big +1 @nordicnorm. 
It's unfortunate that early DG digital doesn't measure up to other labels. DG had many of the great conductors/orchestras under contract.

Lowrider, that really is unfortunate. After reading about the poorer quality 1980s Deutsche Grammophon material, I was wondering if any of that lesser material is in the massive DG Beethoven "complete works" boxed set they sell. I happened to stumble across a mention of that set on the classical music aficionados thread on site and looked it up on Amazon. I was thinking that might be a nice set to have, but not if it contains some of those inferior quality CD’s.

Rshak, I found and purchased on Amazon a "Like New" condition 2009 version of the Penguin Guide you suggested. Apparently that was the last year they published the full guide, not just an annual update. Thanks again for the suggestion. It should be useful.

Everybody here has good suggestions.  And yes, Herbert Von Karajan and the Berlin or Vienna Philharmonic is a good bet for a first stab to find a performance of a particular work.  Leonard Bernstein might even be a better bet.  Or any conductor/performer with a Russian name.  If you have a soft spot for good tunes and lush textures, try one of Tchaikovsky's ballet scores. 

I gotta say, too, that I love Primephonic to distraction.  Sound quality of the classical only streaming service is, at worst, a half-a-hair behind Qobuz.  In other words, excellent. They have experts and guides on hand to lead you into the magic forest.
Used vinyl is the best way to go as many of them are in pristine condition nearly never played and in great pricing compared to anything else.
Decca, Archiv, Philips, DG, EMI, TELDEC, have great recordings and performances. Next would be SACD, big catalogue from Sony Classical.
Good hunting.


Lowrider, that really is unfortunate. After reading about the poorer quality 1980s Deutsche Grammophon material, I was wondering if any of that lesser material is in the massive DG Beethoven "complete works" boxed set they sell. I happened to stumble across a mention of that set on the classical music aficionados thread on site and looked it up on Amazon. I was thinking that might be a nice set to have, but not if it contains some of those inferior quality CD’s.
I want to clarify my point about DG digital. The rough sounding CDs are recordings from the early to late 1980’s when the music biz had transitioned from analogue to digital. DG as I’m sure you know has a long history of recording classical music. It’s only the stated period where they had issues with sound quality, ranging from harshness due to overmic’ing, clipping (distortion), a wall of sound presentation with no air between instruments. And not all recordings are bad, Abbado’s symphonies are very good whilst Karajan and Giulini’s are harsh and fatiguing to listen to. It’s really hit or miss with the sound quality on early digital.

Beethoven: The Complete Works

I assume this is the boxed set. DG has all the great conductors and historic performances, I’m sure they’re all remastered. It contains what I consider THE Beethoven cycle that anyone starting out should own; Karajan/Berliner Philharmonic,
1963. It’s a great introduction to Beethoven.
The 1962,63 recordings:

Warner Classics includes top-tier conductors and orchestras. Warner bought many of the great classical record labels which have excellent sound quality.

Naxos is a classical label that specialises in all digital recordings with very good sonics. They include lesser known artists, but still a good representation of Beethoven’s work.

I read the listing of recordings from the DG box and it looks to have the "greatest hits" from the DG catalogue. These are not audiophile quality but they are very enjoyable and are some of the greatest performances ever.

Another resource is the on-line classical CD seller Arkivmusic.  They have an enormous listing of available CDs searchable by artist, composer, label, etc.  They also offer recommendations on particular recordings that can be helpful.

I agree that much of the DG catalogue from the 1970s and 1980s were not particularly good as far as sound quality, but, many of their remastered CD offerings of those recordings are better.  Some of the performances in their catalogue are quite important, so, I would not rule out purchasing DG recordings (e.g. Carlos Kleiber recordings of Beethoven's 5th and 7th Symphonies).
To hear classical music and get a little history of the different periods and composers, try your cable TV music channels.   They play 24/7 and give you all sorts of personal details of the composers.

My cable system has "Classical Masterpieces" and "Light Classical" channels.  Very interesting and informative.   Also cheap.

Hit the goodwill, and similar resale shops.

 I flip through hundreds of classical records, and similar stuff just to find 1-3 good rock n roll albums.

 Most are 3 for a dollar, make sure to look at the vinyl, a lot are mostly new looking, still shiny.

happy hunting.
edcyn - larry1  mentioned internet radio in this thread, and that is an excellent resource you may also want to look into.  I've got a couple of freestanding internet radio table models (one in the kitchen and another in the bedroom, plus a small Grace digital tuner hooked up to my stereo system).

Other than purchasing the radio/tuner units, there is no additional cost as the devices stream from your router.  Sound quality varies, but I find it generally acceptable for casual listening, and after a lifetime of listening to classical music and amassing many 1000's of lps and cds, I'm still discovering new (to me) artists and compositions.

Just to give you a taste, there is a station in Los Angeles that offers eclectic classical programming and fairly knowledgeable announcers: - for starters you can go to the website and listen on your computer.  A couple of other classical stations I listen to are WFMT (Chicago) and KUAT (U of Arizona @ Tucson), but there are literally many dozens, if not 100's, more.
Yes, FM radio is another good source. I have an Accuphase funer in my office system and a very good classical station about 30 miles away. When I hear something I like, I go to their online playlist and get the details of the recording and can usually find it on Qoboz.
The timeline is a good idea to get you started, but the one posted above is too basic to be useful.

You need to discover what styles/periods and what genres of music you enjoy.  As you say, everything from solo instruments, piano, etc., through to full orchestra + chorus.

For initial toe-dipping, youtube will do.  There's a lot of classical music on there to be sampled.

Have a listen to:

Dowland, consort of viols
Biber, Rosary Sonatas
some Bach, or Telemann, or Handel
some Mozart
some Haydn
some Beethoven
some Chopin nocturnes
some Dvorak
some Mahler (symphony 4)
some Debussy
some Stravinsky
some Gorecki (symphony 3)
some Arvo Part

You'll get an idea of different periods/styles, and then you can start digging deeper.
Now is a great time to be interested in classical music because interest overall is dwindling so you can easily buy records and CD on the cheap an try things....not a big investment. Just go with your instincts and don’t even think twice about it.

Not to mention the calming influence on the soul classical music can deliver especially older souls capable of appreciating it..........

Then there is all the music one can stream for a reasonable monthly fee on Spotify, Tidal, you name it.

Just do it! Read up on things and just follow your instincts and enjoy the journey. Don’t make it complicated!

Free availble Internet Radio stations and even classical FM radio (gasp) stations if one in your area are also very good ways to get exposure with little or no risk.
Not to mention the calming influence on the soul classical music can deliver especially older souls capable of appreciating it..........
Heck no!!!!  I listen to classical music because it stirs my soul and my emotions to a degree that no other genre is capable of doing.  
Skyscaper,  I'm 67 and made the switch to classical at the tender young age of 19.  In effect, we are mirror  images, because I am trying to  reimmerse myself into popular music.  I also share a preference for owning physical media, although I am not opposed to streaming in principle.   You've gotten a lot of advice here.

For beginners, there is no substitute for a good radio station.  I'm not just talking about traditional over the airwaves broadcasts, but also radio stations that can be accessed by computer.  I frequently listen to Radio Swiss Classic while I am working at my computer.  Even with a music collection of about 1000 classical CDs and nearly 50 years of listening experience, I on occasion am treated to something I haven't previously heard or a performance of a familiar piece that offers something of interest while listening to RSC.

Don't spend much money fishing for something because it is on a particular label or by a particular orchestra or conductor.  It is really not a cost effective approach.  BTW, DG is one of the consistently worst sounding labels.  The early 80's stuff may be the worst of the worst, but I've heard some recent stuff that is shamefully bad.  Until you get your feet on the ground, don't waste time and money buying something you haven't heard.
Lowrider, the DG Beethoven box set I was referring to is the boxed set they put out in 2019 containing 123 CD’s and ostensibly all of his works, The Naxos and Warners sets do have some oddities the DG set doesn’t include from what I read last night. It may be out of print however per DG, although only of stock via Amazon. Getting that set would be starting off a Classical collection with a bang. Is that the set you were referring to in your above message.

Twoleftears, listening to classical content on youtube is an excellent idea and exactly what I’ve been doing the past couple nights. I will listen to the ones you suggest hopefully this evening. I’d really in need of a context for what I’m listening to in terms of periods, style, genres, types of presentation etc. as you say. I’ve an old reference book, the Encyclopedia of Music by Norman Lloyd, that’s primarily focused on Classical music that may be of some help in figuring this out.

Eric and Rshak, that’s a good idea to listen to some radio broadcast content. I do have a vintage Phase Linear tuner I could reinstall in my system fairly readily, Although I’m on the edge of their broadcast range out here in the countryside oftentimes I can pull in the NPR signal. They often broadcast Classical. Good idea and maybe I can pull up some internet radio stations as well on the computer.

Articdeth and Petg60, the local Goodwill and thrift stores are an excellent idea. Same as you, I’ve flipped through lots of old Classical material looking for some few and far between rock gems. Although out here in the western part of Virginia it’s primarily Country and Western filling the bins. A lot of the used Classical vinyl seems to be in way better condition than most older rock and roll records that were probably owned by teenagers. I don’t recall ever being one.

My late wife, who loved Classical, and I almost bought a collection of about a thousand classical records in beautiful condition about ten-fifteen years ago. They were consigned to a local antique mall, apparently from someone’s estate, and being sold for about a dollar or two apiece. I raced home that Saturday afternoon after spotting them, and we agreed on an offer to make for the entire lot.

That Sunday morning, all excited, I went back to make our offer, I walked to the back of the mall to take a last look, and was shocked to find the booth was empty. All thousand were gone, lock stock and barrel, sold and trucked off by some dealer who beat us to the punch the evening before. Oh well.

Roik2id, I’ll check what DISH Network has to offer. They do have numerous musical channels I’ve always had deprogrammed. Good thinking.

Larryi, I’ll check out the Arkivmusic site and keep in mind the suggestion on the remastered DG material.

Thanks again all, and I'll get back to the rest of you who posted while I was writing this later today.


Mike, it seems the DG boxed set has disappeared from Amazon. It listed the composers; Abbado, Karajan, Furtwängler, to name a few, and the historic performances.
I think we're talking about the same set...

You may only find it on Ebay or by using Google.

Listening to classical radio is a great idea. I have public radio programmed on my car stereo. Plus there's internet radio.

One last word about streaming. This week I checked Qobuz for Beethoven symphonies (I have many saved in my library) and I found a cycle I had never seen before. The performances are wonderful with outstanding sonics. It's a modern recording with audiophile-quality sound.
These discoveries are what streaming offers on a daily basis. Did I mention I also have 1000+ CD's?

Skyscraper, I believe one answer to your question is in your very own OP. You mention that you “know the history” of your, to date, favorite genres. Good for you. IMO, that is one of things most lacking for many music listeners....knowledge of the history. So, start with the earliest periods of the music and work your way to the present. You may or you may not like early “Classical” or some other period, but exploring those periods will certainly enhance your overall appreciation of the periods that will become favorites by putting things in a better perspective. “Classical” music, like Jazz and any other genre goes through an evolutionary process in which it builds on what came before. For starters, and the reason I just put Classical in quotes, the Classical period is but one of several main periods in the music. Enjoy!
Before classical European music there was classical Persian music and before that - various folk music. Anyway, things started in Africa, or so they say. How far do we want to go ?
No need to complicate matters.  It is obvious that the OP is referring to European “Classical”.  
Try thinking of streaming as being a 20th century feature with a twist. Treat your Node 2! as a radio. Only, a radio where you can make pretty much any request. A radio is a streamer where someone else decides what to play. A Node is a radio where you decide what to play. Easy!

And the latest update to Roon is designed to help exploration of classical music, and it looks more like a music magazine than ever. Cant imagine music without Roon now. 
Frogman and Inna, your correct that understanding the history of any art form should enhance your understanding and appreciation of it. There are other forms of classical music such as (east) Indian or Persian, as Inna mentioned, so that is another aspect of music appreciation to be considered with the use of that term. I'd love to own much more of those and other forms too, but one thing at a time. Today it's European tradition Classical Music under consideration.

Lowrider, we are talking about the same set it appears, If you click on the Amazon link towards the bottom of the page you linked to above it will take you to the correct Amazon ad for the item, where it's listed temporarily out of stock via a UK source that may still have some left. DG does say the item is sold out though.

1000+ CD's is an impressive collection.

Brownsfan, thanks for the heads up your estimation of DG quality of recordings. I'm not looking to pursue any particular label, only trying to get an idea of where the safe bets or better quality may be in the classical recording realm, since I really have no idea. One other small thing, you might want to change your username so readers don't consider your judgement suspect. 

Mapman and Kr4, i guess I'll get sedated or exhilarated as the case maybe depending on what's playing. It's fun to learn about the various aspects of any type of music so that doesn't complicate or take the fun out of learning about Classical Music for me, only adds to it. Mapman, that is good news there's a lot of good material out there on the cheap. That's exactly the best way to acquire lots of varied musical content, especially in CD formats.


I'm a long-time classical music consumer/collector and I seriously regret divesting all my old vinyl.  When I see what they sell for today!  Yikes.  Anyway, my experience is that SACD recordings tend to be superior even if you just play them on a normal redbook CD player. I'm in the process of shopping for an SACD player myself, don't know what direction to go exactly because $3000 is the absolute top of my budget.  I totally agree that streaming would be a great way for you to start and there are two streaming services devoted entirely to classical music: Primephonic and Idagio.  Just starting with these myself so limited experience. Anyone know more?
Again, you'll never get a consensus but I agree completely that listening to FM radio and going to concerts is invaluable ( even though I've done neither in the past year; I also think streaming is a good idea--having never done it myself!).   Just don't worry about consistent advice; in fact,  I disagree w/ all the particular suggestions here and despise some of the recordings/performers.  NO MATTER!  That's just the way it is.  I also despise the prissy Anglophilia of the Penguin Guide.  Hate it.  That said, I used that guide a lot maybe 30 years ago.  If you listen, you'll quickly find stuff you like.  If others don't like it?  too bad!  If you don't end up with tastes that reflect, say, Music 101, so what?  Like me, you're old enough not to care.
Mike/skyscraper, I'm an organ buff and recently had A3s also, they do fine with organ music - excellent low frequencies.  I didn't find need for a subwoofer.    EASY way to get a great sampling of great CDs: if you do Amazon, search on "Cavaille Coll" who was a French organ builder.  These famous organs are often well recorded and you will generally get tons of good examples of what is to me the second best genre of organ music, from the romantic period.  The best is the organ works of Bach.  There's tons of it out there but not always great recordings or performances.  There's a complete set by Hans Fagius that is a great place to start (on BIS label).  Feel free to PM me if you ever want more info on organ recordings.
@joanathanje $3,000 is more than enough for a SACD player.

Here’s a used Krell SACD MkIII on USAudioMart for $1,600:

It’s been upgraded at the factory and the laser mechanism replaced so it should provide you with many years of musical bliss!

About 3 years ago I bought a used Esoteric DV-50S that was 14 years old at the time. It’s still going strong. There are some very good deals on the used market if you’re patient.
rshack -- I listened to K-Mozart, KMZT(?) regularly when I lived in L.A.  Thanks for bringing it up!  I can't be sure of any of this stuff, but here's what I think I remember -- It was actually on AM! Rich Capparella,  KUSC's longtime former morning DJ, was one of the announcers.  What a treat!  Some oddball dude owned it, a guy with a decidedly conservative political bent.
The Living Stereo 60 CD collection first volume is quite good. It is fairly diverse and is audiophile approved, all tube recording from the late 50's and 60's. Also the Mercury Living Presence Edition 1 a 50 CD set is tremendous. Both of these collections have sold out, but you can find on eBay. Be patient as collectors have driven up the prices. You will also understand why so many of these recording were made into SACD discs. 
Bluemooddriver, appreciate your input , but I’m maintaining a streaming -free lifestyle for now for the reasons expressed explained up- thread.

Jonathanje, I would like to try some SACD’s if I can find some reasonably priced, possibly used, ones. I haven’t begun looking to see what’s available yet. I do have a nice CD/SACD player fairly recently acquired, a Marantz KI Ruby, but only two SACD’s to utilize the SACD function thus far. I’ve got to move on the Marantz SA8005 CD/SACD player it replaced that’s now languishing on a storeroom shelf. But I haven’t gotten around to doing so yet since I’m avoiding even going to the post office to ship things with the pandemic in full swing here.

Jdane, I like your attitude, Might as well find out what you like and stick with it at this point in the game. I simply need to explore what’s out there at this point and find what I do like. I honestly don’t know why I developed a taste for classical music now. I listened to Maria Callas singing ’"Ave Maria" on youtube last night and thought it was beautiful. A few months ago I might have done the same and been nonplussed. Now I cant live without it. Might as well be who you are and pursue what appeals to you when it does.

Jimmy2615, thank you for your suggestions on organ music, and sharing your experience listening with your A3’s. One of the reasons I did get the A3’s was hopefully not to need to supplement their bass response with subwoofers.

What are a few of your organ favorites if you don’t mind my asking here, especially nicely recorded ones. I will look up "Cavaille Coll" as you suggest and search out the Hans Fagius material. I’m really looking forward to finding some great organ recordings to listen to. I’ll need to learn the differences in styles to between periods too. Should be fun. don’t be surprised to get a pm once I get going on this. Thanks.

Georgreab. I’ll look up the Living Stereo and Living Presence collections you suggest. Appreciate the recommend.

Thanks again all,


Lately, I’ve been checking out better records site to get an idea of what classical recordings they think sound spectacular. Instead of buying them there as it can get quite expensive, I look to ebay or discogs. There, I locate the records that are in vg++, excellent, near mint, & sometimes even still sealed. Yes, there is no guarantee i will get my hands on a pressing that is deemed "the best sounding" as determined by better records, but I’ll take my chances to save money. This is not to say I do not buy from better records, as I have bought many.

Just to add, 68? That is a late start! Jeez, I was in my late teens when I started buying classical records lol, I'm 53.
California station KDFC recently published a list of their listeners' top 250 most requested classical pieces. You can download the list and listen to the stream on their website.  I listen to the station most mornings via the Tunein Radio app streamed on my Sonos Connect.  Likely not the quality of Qobuz, but it's free!