Oldest Recordings that sound “audiophile”

Wondering what older recordings people have heard recently that they think to be “audiophile” worthy?

For example I just listened to “You Keep Coming Back Like a Song” by Dinah Shore from 1946 and it sounded like Dinah was in the room with me.

Probably remastered but so what, that counts!

When was the first “audiophile” worthy recording made, I wonder? How far back can it be?
4b9c724a 509c 4bb1 a384 a61b6782a9d0Ag insider logo xs@2xmapman
I bring these 2 to audio shows.

Julie London
Julie is her name 1958 Liberty records-mono

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers-Moanin
1959 Blue Note mono

Checkin em’ out on Spotify....
Professor Johnson's Astounding Sound Show recorded in the late 50's is just that, an amazing sound show. I can bring the house down with the cut of African Drum(ing).  Amazing what could be done back then. 
Sinatra, Songs For Swinging Lovers, its just breathtakingly great!
In the late 50s, stereo hifi was a big thing and record companies competed to put out good recordings to capitalize on that. There are many from that golden era.

Even prior to that, in the mid 50s, many excellent mono recordings on the popular new 331/3 record format.

It’s when I hear good recordings prior to that that I am a bit surprised.
Although again, many rereleased these days are digitally remastered to accomplish that.

Its only in recent years have I learned to appreciate recordings made in the pre- Beatles era. Growing up, all that “old” music was deemed uncool by the likes of the rock music press and few young people then ever gave it a serious listen. 
Something "newer"

Frank Sinatra and Count Basie
Might as well be swing-Reprise mono 1964

Swingin' album my parents listened to.Very uncool compared to the Beatles or Stones, but It takes 50 years to "get it"

’Its only in recent years have I learned to appreciate recordings made in the pre- Beatles era. Growing up, all that “old” music was deemed uncool by the likes of the rock music press and few young people then ever gave it a serious listen.’

As much as I love the Beatles I also came to love that in-between period between the decline of first wave rock and roll and the emergence of the Fab Four.

I guess we’re talking roughly 1959-63. This just also happens to be when this following album was apparently recorded, though not released until much later.

The Wonderful World of Nursery Rhymes by Vera Lynn and Kenneth McKellar.

As far as clarity of vocals goes, I can’t think of any better example in my collection. It seems to have been recorded perfectly flat and it doesn’t take much to imagine the performers right in front of you.

Thankfully it was one of those pieces of music I could enjoy almost as much as my kids did.

What’s funny is that my daughter now tells me that children’s TV is rubbish today, far inferior to what it was when she used to watch it regularly (2006-10).

Back then I remember saying the same thing to her!
Masterpieces by Ellington (1951)
I'll stick to non-classical here.  Cannonball Adderley and Nancy Wilson on Capitol.  Any of the Sinatra or Nat King Cole Capitol recordings will do, too.
From 1947 to 1950, excellent sounding mics were available, but they were expensive to make and uncommon and tended to be first reserved for high-profile, big-budget events.

I have two fine-sounding CD soundtracks, both in stereo, that were Hollywood films made in 1947:

The Ghost And Mrs. Muir   (Bernard Herrmann)
The Captain From Castile   (Alfred Newman)
Interesting. On the Dinah Shore recording I mentioned from 1946, it sounds like a very detailed microphone was used very close up for the vocal which seems to have tremendous texture.
Yes Nancy Wilson albums wonderful voice lush recordings.
Elvis Is Back, released by RCA in 1960, rereleased by DCC on LP, mastered by Steve Hoffman, pressed on 180g vinyl.

anything done with tubes all the way through the ENTIRE chain, including the cutter head amps.

As a properly applied tube is LINEAR gain, with is CRITICAL regarding the proper HUMAN interpretation of micro and macro transient edge PLACEMENT in LEVEL and TIME. To add, silicon transistors are the worst at this. Worst. As they’re natively non linear and their generated distortions are ALL non linear.

Which is the reason that old audio sounded and sounds so dang good, to those that have the wherewithal to understand these points about how human hear,

and why a modern single bit delta-sigma ADC/DAC is just a godawful turd in comparison, with it’s ’vanishingly low distortion’. Jebus.. it’s difficult to be more wrong than that.

As those residual tiny distortions of the delta sigma systems, and the silicon transistors.. are the critical subtle bits that both items leave on the cutting room floor, when it turns out those tiny bits, to the human ear... are the ENTIRE ENCHILADA. Those missing tiny bits are the exact way the human ear hears. Essentially, 100% of your hearing is in that area of signal distortion that delta/sigma ADC/DACs and silicon transistors have as a residual.

Linear gain triode tubes distort the signal, in this area..the LEAST of all gain devices.

Do you see it now? Do you get it now? Then... maybe we can stop this going backward that’s been going on for the past +30-50 years? Chasing the wrong things?
Take 5.  Dave Brubeck Paul Desmond
The three Prestige mono LPs that the Miles Davis Quintet made in 1956.
Relaxin', Steamin', Cookin'! Great band!
Also Sprach Zarathustra - Fritz Reiner and the CSO in stereo - 1954! RCA Living Stereo!
This post got me thinking (a rare occasion) and I dug out some of my old Mercury Living Presence recordings which I haven't listened to in many years. The first recording was the Liszt PC's recorded in Moscow. Was this a SOTA recording? I don't think so. Was it a recording for audiophiles? I don't think so. Was is a true replication of a live performance, i.e. a great engineering effect? I don't think so.

What was it then? An in your face, exciting performance which brought into clear focus the piano contribution to the Concerto. To hell with 'audio'  I say! This really draws me into the music. Love it!!!!! Now I have a project, i.e. listening to all my old Mercury recordings. There must be more like this one. :-)

Good stuff.  Lots to lookup and stream online.  Keep ‘em coming. 
This is just a FWIW follow up on my post above, but the CD version of The Ghost And Mrs. Muir I have is Varese Sarabande - VSD 5850 and The Captain From Castile is the one from the Screen Archives Entertainment label.

For The Ghost And Mrs. Muir, there is a 1975 rerecording made by Elmer Bernstein, but I have not heard it.

In looking up the materials for these two soundtracks, I found this:

"The uncovering of long-stored Hollywood archives have shown that the studios were experimenting with multiple angle, or dual channel, sound as early as M-G-M’s Meet the Baron in 1933."

The Captain From Castile: "Tony Thomas wrote in his notes for an LP reissue of the original music in 1975, '[The discs were] considered so hi-fi in their day that record dealers often used the ‘Conquest’ side as a demonstration record.'"

and even

"Newman was famous for his swooning, romantic tunes and the lushness he could obtain from the strings came to represent the epitome of “the Hollywood sound,” a sound Bernard Herrmann, for one, famously did not want."       Possibly a bit ironic here, given that the very word "swooning" is an apt description at times of Herrmann's own score for The Ghost And Mrs. Muir, but admittedly is perhaps a rare concession from him on that point nonetheless.
Ray Charles put out an album called "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music" that was recorded in Feb 1962 and has an amazing sound stage.
@ivan_nosnibor ,

'From 1947 to 1950, excellent sounding mics were available, but they were expensive to make and uncommon and tended to be first reserved for high-profile, big-budget events.

I have two fine-sounding CD soundtracks, both in stereo, that were Hollywood films made in 1947:

The Ghost And Mrs. Muir  (Bernard Herrmann)
The Captain From Castile  (Alfred Newman)'

Those years from 1947 to 1950 were probably the most critical in all of audio.

In just a couple of years the industry went from live recordings on 78rpm shellac to taped ones on the 33.33rpm LP introduced by Columbia in 1948.

The move from heavy iron needled gramophones ploughing their way through a mere 4 minutes a side of  78rpm shellac to turntables with diamond stylii featuring up to 22 minutes a side of 33.33rpm vinyl with diamond stilli changed everything.

Even diehards like RCA and EMI, not to mention UKs Gramophone magazine were quickly forced to bow before the new fangled vinyl LP before long.

German WW2 tape technology soon took out most of the enormous labour of live recording. Recording live perfectly for 4 mins in one thing but 20 odd was nothing any performer fancied. 

Funny but this is the second mention of the Ghost and Mrs Muir I've seen recently (a friend had recommended it as lockdown fare).

Maybe I'll check out the movie.

Thanks for your post and the history info. I’d have to agree with you, those 3 years were maybe the most crucial for rapid changes in audio - some bridges crossed and some others burned, if you will. I enjoyed your synopsis, I like learning about this period. And evidently the increased bandwidth of lp’s helped to greenlight the implementation of stereo, too.

I have enjoyed The Ghost And Mrs Muir soundtrack, but I haven’t seen the movie in so long now I scarcely recall much from it, but it seems like I remember it having some interesting humor sprinkled through it. FTM, I have been meaning to see it again myself.
Fiedler Gaite Parisienne. First stereo shaded dog. The sonics are still unsurpassed.
any of the Reiner / Chicago / RCA.".unreal SQ
Dean Martin alblum Dream with Dean exceptional clarity and recording
Miles Davis: Kind of Blue. I know this goes without saying. Been issued and reissued many times, each saying this is the best. Vinyl is the best, but I'm not sure of best quality issue. (question for Michele Fremer) Have it on recent digital reissue. Recommend for even people who hate jazz. 

"Vinyl is the best,.."

If one record has persistently eluded all of the best efforts of digital to get close to the original vinyl release, it’s this one.

I’ve heard far too many digital versions and none of them, not even the Sony SBM remaster came close to capturing the warmth and body of the 200 gram Classic Records Reissue.

Apparently it was mastered by Bernie Grundman, and for once with success.


The original 1959 ’6 eye’ pressing is almost as good sonically, just a touch less vivid, but certainly not worth the usual asking price.

The Mo-Fi reissue is also highly rated as is the 45rpm 2 disc version of the Classic itself, but I’ve not heard either. To be honest I don’t particularly want to, for me the 209 gram Classic is more than good enough.

Here’s Mike from theingroove.com sharing his knowledge. As a caution he mentions that there are many damaged copies knocking about.