Quality of recording vs Musical tastes

How many of you have ended up "expanding your horizons" musically simply because:

A) you were tired of the poor recordings that "popular music" typically has to offer ?


B) you bought something because it was a known good recording even though you don't normally listen to that type of music ?

I have to say that i am "guilty" on both counts and glad of it.

Before you start nodding your head in agreement, how about passing on some of the "gems" that opened your eyes to a "whole nother world" and how you ended up selecting them. Sound like a way to share some good yet "hidden" music ??? I hope so : ) Sean

PS... Thanks to Craig aka Garfish for the idea : )
I think you are close to the defining lines of what makes the difference between an audiophile and that of a music fan.
I think the path you have taken is fine personally I try to veer away from that stance but I've flirted with it,to me really well-produced or recorded music that doesn't entertain,excite or produce an emotional response in me is pointless.
Having been on this forum for a while I find some of the stuff that people like in terms of modern stuff to be frankly a bit bland and dull.
Of course this is only my opinion but it does strike there is an element of finding music that sounds great on your system rather than any real musical investigation in terms of finding exciting new or even old stuff.
It appears to me a rather technical approach to music than an emotional one.
I really can't agree that all modern popular recordings are bad but then I'm more interested in the musical content than the recording.
Sometimes there is new great stuff that isn't as well recorded as I would like.
I approach my musical investigation from a different and in my opinion more productive stance and that is I read about it.
I buy all the music mags,sometimes I read about obscure lost classics that I feel I need to buy and sometimes it's new stuff..............
To honour the spirit of your post I would highly recommend Point by a Japanese guy called Cornelius,it's not exactly mainstream but it is very musical,it's not unlike a Brian Wilson type thing meets modern cutting and pasting,it is melodic and beautiful in an ambient way in places.
It's on Matador records,just released and the bonus is (imho)that it is one of the best recordings I have ever heard.
The album is segued together,with many sonic tricks not unlike what Floyd used to do although the music is more on an avant-garde pop level.
An excellent point Craig, Sean! As a pure Classical and Jazz fan, some other titles come to mind though:
The Dire Straights LPs (all)
Joni Mitchel, whose "Blue" LP brought me on to her.
Chet Atkins " in Hollywood" brought me on to his other RCA LPs
"Pyramid" brought me on to the Alan Parsons Project.
Brad Mehldau -but forgot the CD through which I caught fire-
"The Road to Ensenada " made me want more of Lyle Lovett.
And the title of "They don't make Jews like Jesus anymore" got me high on Kinky Freedman!!
The're probably much more, but can't think of them right now.
My angle, perhaps blending previous views. Often, recordings that I have acquired to try (curiosity, recommendation, etc) do not initially meet with my approval; that is, I don't care for them! However, if the recording is outstanding in some way, I am motivated to listen again for that reason and often learn or grow to appreciate or even like the album. :)
I'm with Sndsel on that. Once I've asked my friend why he doesn't like Mireille Mathieu(french femal singer) even if it was his type of music. He explained to me that she hasn't any good recordings, and it doesn't makee a sence to have a high-end rig if you want to listen to her.
I do worship music and I've always been faithful with it. Music is my religion and if it well performed I would listen to it despite the recording quality and the other way: I would never listen even for top-noch recording with something I dislike.
sh*t...I'll buy a cd if the girl on the cover is hot!!! Yes I have also bought simply due to quality of recording, and it has paid off serveral times over...check out Alana Davis. She has 2 cds out, but the first, "Blame It On Me" has several tracks I concider reference tracks, and she is just an amazing singer.

Also Meauve (spelling???) has a cd that will make your heart jump. She is an Irish "folk" singer.

btw: no B.Spears cds in my collection!!!!!!!!!
You should buy LP records with Amanda Lear(a hell of a hot girl back then) and besides she's a great singer.
How many of you purchase remastered versions of CDs that you already own? I find myself doing this often, most of the time the newer remastered versions have better sound quality, sometimes not. One of the most improved remastered versions that comes to mind is Miles Davis "Bitches Brew", a HUGE improvement over the orginial CD release. I am considering purchasing the Creedence Clearwataer Revival remasters that Fantasy released a few years ago. Any opinions on these remasters?
I am guilty of both sins, and I'm damn glad of it. I was, early on, a big rock and roll and progressive music fan, and I still like to blow it out once in a while - when everyone else has left the house. But I do find that I am drawn more and more to live performances of classical and acoustic music simply because I want to hear what the instruments and voices really sound like, not what some engineer cobbled together in the studio.

I heard a most remarkable two-CD live set just the other day, a friend turned me on to it - Bela Fleck and the Flecktones "Live Art". This is one of the better recordings I have ever heard, and the music was very smooth, pure, and engaging - my wife even remarked how nice it sounds, and she usually doesn't spend more than 5 minutes listening to anything. What is it with women, I've rarely seen one sit still long enough to really "listen" to an entire album? Me, I can (and do) sit there for hours at a time, lights dimmed, eyes closed, head swaying, digging it all. I guess it's a guy thing...
The expansion of my musical tastes, particularly in jazz, usually occurred for one of two reasons:
1. a good friend laid something new on me that I liked;
2. the guy who manages the jazz section at my local Tower Records either suggested or played something that I liked (yes, it makes sense to cultivate a relationship with someone in a retail record store).

Like others, I also subscribe to a number of audio mags, and sometimes try recordings they recommend. Interestingly, some of the best ideas for new recordings to try have come from "The Sensible Sound" magazine.

Most recently, I got hooked on the Naxos label, and have subsequently acquired a number of CD's of 20th Century classical composers that I probably would not have otherwise tried. At $6-7 per CD, it was inexpensive to try some new material. On the whole, I've been quite pleased with the Naxos label -- and did a post about a month ago of about 45 of the CD's that have gotten multiple, positive critical reviews.

I wish that more people who read this forum regularly would take 10-15 minutes every month or two to post an informative review of a recording they think has particular merit -- older recordings as well as new.
Yes, I would not have discovered the MA Recordings label and their exquisite music, both artist and quality.
Sean; an interesting thread, and if I gave you the idea idea for it I don't know how-- but thanks for the "nod" anyway-- been having those "senior moments" more often these days.

I have done what both of your points suggest, but mainly I have tried to build my stereo system so that it would sound good with typical "run of the mill" CDs. But I do have my share of "great recordings" of music that I don't particularly care for, ie P. Barber's "Cafe Blue". But OTOH, I really do like J. Warnes "Famous Blue Raincoat"-- doesn't everyone have that CD? BTW, Leonard Cohen's new CD "Ten New Songs" is very well recorded and also good music/lyrics.

I think Stbhorn nailed it for me too. I often buy remasters of music I like, and already have, in hope of getting better recordings-- but as he states sometimes they're better and sometimes not.

Stbhorn; I can highly recommend the newly remastered (about year 2000) CCR CDs using the JVC K2 20 bit Super Coding process-- much more natural sounding than the originals and a lot of the glare, excess brightness, and electronic sound is gone.

Also, I have found that the major labels that record C/W music in Nashville are almost always very good to excellent. I like some C/W music, and the good quality recordings are quite a bonus to me. I just picked up "Waylon Jenning's GH", and was pleasantly surprised to hear an excellent recording.

I have found good re-masters of Buddy Holly, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry-- these may not still be great recordings, but they are much better than the original CD recordings. I suppose looking for re-masters is especially important with older music. Cheers. Craig
I don't know if this falls into the same category, but a long time ago I bought Steve Winwood's "Arc of a Diver" LP. Loved the music, but I also found the production to be remarkably good. I bought his previous releases and made sure to pick up a copy of the new records he released. Same thing happened to me with Dire Straits and Blue Rodeo, bought 'em all. I figure even if the songs aren't ideal, the production quality will make the listening session pleasant.
I'm totally into the remaster side of things,I've ended up with multiple versions of certain artists releases because of it.
I think that is a seperate point from Sean's original post though.
I also think regarding remasters it's nearly always stuff we've been familar with for a long time.
I hope my original post didn't infer that the quality of production wasn't important to me, it is and was even before I got into hi-fi on a serious level,even a basic system will reveal differences on production/sound quality.
However it isn't how I approach finding new music.........
I'd like to plead guilty, too. I listen to a lot more classical (Mozart, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Rossini, etc.) because of the beauty of the recordings. I also listen to more jazz, but prefer pre-60's recordings. I too have Patricia Barber's Cafe Blue and Companion (XRCD). I like about half of her stuff. More so her own originals, than her covers of other music. Jennifer Warnes, The Hunter and Famous Blue Raincoat. Jennifer's voice does a wonderful job of complimenting the lyrics of Leonard Cohen. David Byrne (formerly Talking Heads) produces very well recorded music. So does Joe Jackson. His latest recording of Heaven and Hell combines, classical, jazz, opera, and rock. As strange as that sounds, he makes it work and the soundstaging is awesome. Other good recordings are from the groups Pink Martini, and Barefoot. Barefoot is out-of-print, but if you see one of their two cd's in a used record shop, get it. It's world beat at it's best.
I am guilty of both things as well, and better off for it. Some of the ones I got on a whim/review/recommendation and ended up loving, for both musical values and recording quality:

Jennifer Warnes, Famous blue raincoat, the hunter, the well
Patricia Barber: Everything she's done. (Saw her live too.. very cool!)
The Chieftans: most of their stuff, esp. the most recent album.
Lorenna McKennitt - Irish(?) female singer, sort of like Enya.
Susan McKeowen (sp?) - Similiar to McKennitt - Irish singer, great voice, very moving traditional and new songs.
David Byrne - Look into the Eyeball - excellent album! Highly recommended, best of his solo work IMHO.
Betty Johnson - I did a web site for her, and ended up loving her music as well. (www.betty-johnson.com). Swing/Jazz stuff mostly.

Also got into some of the older classics too, like Ella, Miles, Frank Sinatra and even Elvis(!)... Elivs is Back is a good album with a stunning rendition of Peggy Lee's 'Fever'.

Remasters: have had some good luck with these, I admit I am a sucker for them too, esp. if I already have the original version. the Dire Straits ones are good, though their original versions are very good too. Also have been buying stuff on SACD that I have on CD already, like Santana's Abraxas (another great album I got on a recommendation from a friend).

Let's keep this going....it's more refreshing than talking about gear incessantly...

Most of Miles Davis stuff from his "second great quintet" are great improvements on the remasters. ESP, Miles Smiles, Miles in the Sky are all great improvements from the orginial CD releases. I have also had good luck with some of the older blue stuff that has been remastered, mostly from the Chess label.
Ben, i think that you misunderstood my post or i was not real clear in what i wrote. I listen to ALL kinds of recordings, good and bad. Obviously, i prefer "good" recordings as i'm sure that everyone else here does too.

My point was that i have found "good" ( yet different than what i might normally listen to ) music and "new artists" ( at least to me ) simply because i bought discs that i knew or suspected were good recordings. I was not advocating buying and listening only to "audiophile approved" recordings, although some people obviously do that.

As such, i now have a collection of classical, jazz and blues that most of my friends think is "strange". Had i not been an "audiophile" and been seeking out good recordings, i might not have ever been exposed to or enjoyed different yet specific types of music or artists.

In my collection of discs, I also have a quite a few that were recorded excellently but do not move me. As such, i don't play them much. As your comments suggest and i do agree, a great recording of a poor performance is just a great recording that i really don't want to listen to. On the other hand, a great performance can overcome a mediocre recording. This is not to say that some recordings or performances don't grow on you, but i will typically play or listen to what i prefer without having to "work at it".

I do have to admit that i have a HARD time listening to recordings that are horribly done though. Not only does it sound like "crap", i tend to be overtly critical due to my background and experience in working mixers and pro sound reinforcement. As such, i sometimes end up critiquing the recording engineer / producer instead of listening to the music. I find myself doing this at live performances also, which can be a big drawback to my overall level of enjoyment.

Craig, you gave me the idea by stating that you had several XRCD's that you thought were good recordings but that you did not enjoy the performances on . As such, you provided the spark that led us here.... : ) Sean
I don't think we are that far apart in our views really,I think there are subtle differences between us.
I think we have arrived at the same destination-a wide collection of various musical styles and quality of recordings but have got there by slightly different motivations...however I do find that in some ways and I don't mean this as an offensive statement,that the pursuit of audiophile quality recordings seems to lead to quite conservative music or established musical forms in my opinion,now quite clearly a lot of members have very wide tastes in music but it is seldom I read about music that I want to buy from Audiogon members....there are exceptions CFB recently recommended the Zero 7 CD which I went out and bought.
To back up my argument I haven't seen too many interesting recommendations from your post which I think is a great post-it raises many interesting questions.
What it is also clear from being on this forum is that I am the exception it is quite obvious the number of members that have turned each onto a lot of music is massive.
I believe this is down to similarity in thinking and approach to music but also trust because this forum has become something of a community.
I do also remember that this site is about the pursuit of audio excellence and I have had a great amount of advice both on and off list from much more experienced people than myself.
Since I come from a slightly different angle at times I like to throw in my tuppence worth in the hope that the odd member might be interested in some music that I have come across from my different journey and I believe the album I recommended on my previous post Point by Cornelius is both interesting musically and of audiophille quality.
This has been a stimulating and provocative thread for me because several posts have prompted me to identify the key variables that determine my satisfaction with recordings. By way of background, though I did work for a couple of years on a "mixing team" for a small producer of high quality choral recordings, most of my experience has been as a double reed player and choral singer.

As of today, here are my variables of determination:

1. Recording quality. This to me means overall production values. Recording technique, mixing decisions, quality of equipment etc. This for me is a dissatisfier rather than a satisfier in the sense that good production (which is what I think some of you mean when you speak of an "audiophile" recording) does not really turn me on to a recording but poor production really turns me off.

2. "Goosebump factor". This is an undefinable something that has to do with listening context, my own history, and the particular characteristics of the performer. It is the emotional impact of the performance on me; definitely a satisfier rather than a dissatisfier. I listened to Willie Nelson sing Bridge Over Troubled Waters at the Olympics closing ceremony through the built-in speakers of a neighbor's 27 inch Magnavox. Production values and sound quality were shit but WOW did it give me g'bumps. An evocative performance of the Hindemith 2nd organ sonata can have the same effect. So can a well-conducted rendering of the last four minutes of Gotterdammerung, or a well played verson of Piano Man, or Alison Kraus and the Cox Family.

3. Technical performance quality. This is the variable that I hear mentioned least often on audiogon and similar fora. I sometimes listen to a recording just to see if the performer can play/sing it right. For example, Nicholas Harnencourt's style of conducting and interpretation tend to rank quite low on my goosebumps scale but I sometimes listen to his recordings just because he is so technically demanding. No wrong notes, no sloppy entrances, no crappy intonation, no out-of-tune passages. On the other hand, if the g'bump factor is really high, performance quality can be overlooked, else no one would ever be able to tolerate Janis Joplin. This is highly individual, of course. I can listen to Johnny Cash for an hour and his rotten pitch and absolutely terrible vocal production won't bother me at all but five minutes of Charlotte Church and I'm going nuts because the girl just can't sing. Sometimes either will satisfy me. I enjoy hearing Dale Clevenger hammer out the Strauss 1st horn concerto because he makes it alive and exciting. I equally enjoy my old mono recording of Dennis Brain playing the same work. Brain's interpretation is much less evocative but I really enjoy the pure precision of his playing.

Anyway, I'm not sure what all this drivel means but thanks for helping me try to clarify it in my own mind. If anyone has a clue what I'm be talking about, please write and explain it to me.

Well, it's been 'NO' for me on point 1 -- but I *did* buy a (performance-wise indifferent) cd of a Symphonic poem simply because the recording has dynamics. Great way to blow speakers! As many others, I buy content rather than sound quality (if so, why have I invested in equipment...right?)

But, as you say, Sean, I do enjoy a good recording -- who doesn't. When I get it -- which is rare.
Lately, I purchased some Lassus cds (ECM) where the recording is top notch.
Dire Straits offer good enough sound.
Archiv's productions of the Koln Consort are quite good.
John Zorn also offers good sound.

I guess anyone who has been addicted to music for a couple of decades or so is likely to have expanded or changed their musical tastes to some extent.
Alot of times before buying if I suspect good (or poor)recording quality I'm influenced as a consumer. Sometimes that's a drag and can limit what gets underneath the skull. Pristine fidelity is nice, but isn't always necessary to make a great record. Who Live At Leeds, Capt. Beefheart Mirror Man and gobs of live Hendrix records are poorly recorded but offer tremendous rewards to the connected listener. The search for new and voluptuous sounds has only made things better. Trombones, Bass Clarinets, Tablas, Cellos, Oboes, Acoustic Basses and Trumpets are often better recorded and as adrenal and intoxicating as the best King Crimson or Mahavishnu Orchestra releases.

Definitely not guilty on point A. Somewhat more guilty on point B. I have, however, definitely expanded my musical tastes. My method, though, is usually through www.allmusic.com - I hear something I like, and go out and research it. Pretty soon I'm following all the Similar Bands links, etc. and I've got a list of CDs to buy. Then, when I have bought a CD by several different groups, I find that some of them are better recordings than others. I am MUCH more likely to buy other CDs of a groups I find this way when the first CD I listen to is of reasonable (or great) recording quality, and much less likely if the recording quality is poor.

I definitely admit to picking certain CDs to listen to occassionally based a great deal on their recording quality, but it's in a genre I like. Sometimes I just want to hear the rig do it's thing. -Kirk