Speakers and system for compressed recordings?

I started this crazy hobby hoping to improve the sound of my stereo. After ten years of throwing money into the wind I finally come to a realization. Okay I am a little slow, but damn it if only good recordings sound listenable on my system. Is there a way to make compressed vintage rock recordings sound good? Do you need a separate system or can you do a combo compromise?
I feel your pain!! Compression is a fact of life for most music. Darkside of the Moon and Crime of the Century are riddled with compression. What to do? Consider some vintage gear. A good Marantz reciever from the 70's might be a good starting place. I have the humble 2216b Marantz reciever. It was my first stereo and recently had it restored. It sounds pretty good. It's no Krell but I enjoy listening to radio programs on it and on occasion records on my Thorens 125mk2. It's not lo fi you are after but hi fi. Even your local estate sales might turn up some surprising results. Happy hunting!
It is part of a second system, the Marantz. The other stereo is full blown audiophile.
Welcome to the club! You definitely need a second system for classic rock etc.. I have an old Marantz 2270 and Cerwin Vega CL-215's for the music of my youth.
interesting topic. my experience has been it should not be a problem with the right setup and realistic expectations. without the second, you may be doomed to dissapointment.
It is part of a second system, the Marantz. The other stereo is full blown audiophile.
Forgive me if I don't understand the issue at hand.

I just listened to Dark Side the other night (24/96 version) and it was stellar! This is not a remixed version, just a new transfer to digital. (Some of the other Floyd LP's have recently been remixed from the multi tracks.) I also have the UHQR LP. Other than compression limiting how much dynamic peaks there are, why does it not sound good? Is it possible you are listening to LP's that are beaten up or mistracking, or on a phono cart combo that needs updating or isn't set up right?
Remember playing a Van Halen disc and frantically checking if something was broken. Solution was keeping that disc in the car.
FWIW, I find that I enjoy music from a certain period more when reproduced on a system relevant to that period,when possible. Aerosmith and Black Sabbath never sound better to me than when cranked through Altecs' ,JBL, or large Advents. Motown sounds incredible on an AM transistor radio. Same thing for 78's- just better to my ears thru a Victrola or mono tube set-up. For my money more resolution is not always better. The original engineer on Pink Floyd's Dark side stated that he and Alan Parsons argued vociferously about how much compression was to be used. Parsons won. IMO FM radio is the worst offender these days-adding compression to already over-compressed recordings. The power meters on my receiver barely even move on most broadcast music.
"Motown sounds incredible on an AM transistor radio.'

Gotta disagree on that one. Motown never sounded better than remastered and on a good modern rig.
Mapman, try again, with platforms and bell bottoms, the out-dated love beads and big medallion necklace. Live it again, man. HA
Gee, I remember the only thing that sounded good via transistor radio was the rare morning report of local school closing on snow days!!!!

Funny you say that because as I recall that is exactly correct!

Before I owned a real stereo, I would operate on the transistor radio and run the internal wire to the speaker to an external bigger speaker, whatever I could find. That was one of my first big steps up in sound! True story!

Seriously though, its only in the last few years I've actually discovered how good some of those old recordings heard mainly on am radio as a kid can really sound. Surprising good and very enjoyable!
Classic rock sounds great on my high end system. I was in your situation for years until I found the right combination of amp and speakers. Almost any kind of music now souinds good on my system. The Blu-Ray version of DSOTM is absolutely mind blowing on my set up.
I said it somewhere else on the forums, but that is why I have Reel To Reel, LP, CD, Sacd....each era has its own sound and media to be played on.....so you need more systems.....no ONE system can do it.
A revealing system can easily highlight a poor recording's flaws. However... it'll also highlight it's strengths. You may have to look/listen a little harder for them, but I've found even some of the worst recordings have a good trait or two.

There are very, very few recordings I can't listen to through my system. I don't buy music to listen to my system. I bought my system to listen to my music. There's a difference, believe it or not. If you can't listen to a great album because the recording's horrible, you may want to reevaluate your priorities.

Again, there are a few albums I just can't listen to on my system. They're very few and far between. I listen to more rock/classic rock/metal than anything else.
"Crines of the Century" compressed? My Speakers Corner LP sounds amazing. I do understand your pain with compression but I find that some recent rock music is compressed and a fair amount of late 70's to 80's stuff is really hard to listen to. Some Kansas and Journey fore example is really hard to listen to even though I love the music.
Of what I listen to Dead Can Dance - Spleen and Ideal, Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds of Fire and even more Yngwie Malmsteen with Japanese Orchestra sound really bad on everything. The last one is digital recording, I just can't tolerate it on my stereo and believe it or not prefer to listen to it on computer through monitor's! built-in piece of junk plastic kind of speakers or through headphones.
Other than that eveything is listenable.
It could be a coincidence, but nearly everybody who is complaining about the sound of the recordings hasn't listed their system here on Audiogon. Could it be that those who have listed know something about putting together satisfying systems that the unlisted don't? Just harmless speculation.

The sonic variability of "classic" rock is well documented, but compared to any pop/rock recording of the past 5 years the earlier recordings possess a good dynamic range and sound only mildly compressed.
Perhaps, a dynamic range expander might work for you? DBX, RG and Rane are some that have made them.
Crime of the century suffers from compression especially in the drum kit. It happened in the studios. I have the uhqr, mfsl regular half speed, a&m Canadian half speed, and the gold mfsl c.d. four audiophile versions. All show the same studio compression. It is used to control or restrict dynamics and distortion. And to give the listening public what they want: a uniform sounding product. Vocals forward not drums. Hate it or love it compression is a fact in most studio recordings. You just don't notice it when it is done right. Morph the cat by Donald fagan is very controlled and compressed. I still love the record and try to tune out the compression.
Opened a can of worms did I? Listen, I did not say darkside or crime are bad recordings. They are a product of their time, studios, producers, engineers, and record companies. A uniform good sounding product that speaks to the masses not audiophiles was the intention. My background is the music industry. I hear what I know. Compression is there. Most people don't notice it. It should not be noticed. I look for the flaws and the good in recordings. That is part of the history or DNA of a recording.
Just saw this:
A different approach: I am with you, Bigwavedave! I like the music I like and will not be forced into listening only to audiophile-approved records. Plus, while some remasterings are indeed great, who can afford $40 to $60 for an LP or remastered CD? Here is one idea: When I upgraded my speakers from my Vandersteen 1C to Ohm Walsh 2000s, I got something I did not expect. While good recordings do indeed sound wonderful, the bad ones have become much, much more listenable. Numerous times, CDs that I had thought were unlistenable have become enjoyable over my new Ohms. I have often thought, "oh, so this was what the engineer was hearing in the control room. Not great, but okay."

Why the change? I dunno. I am guessing that inexpensive crossovers at exactly the frequencies to which many are most sensitive, 2.5-5kHz, add to the badness of bad recordings. My Ohms run full range up to 8kHz (I have subs that come in under 80Hz as well). So, without a crossover to mess up the sound in that crucial range, the bad recordings are only as bad as they originally were, and the edginess is not increased by the loudspeaker. This, of course, does nothing to restore the flattened dynamics that you complained about, but at least I can enjoy these recordings again.

Try some speakers without crossovers, or no crossovers in that upper-mid to lower-treble range, like Ohms, Martin Logans, etc., and see if those horrible recordings are a bit more tolerable.
I can echo Bondman' experience with lesser recordings and some of the design attributes of speakers that can help make even most lesser recordings very enjoyable on the terms that the engineers and producers who created them intended. Even holds true for 80-90% of modern loudness wars type CDs that many audiophiles may find unlistenable otherwise, although these offer some additional challenges in terms of power and clarity needed to deliver lots of loud dynamics and transients clearly and in a digestible manner that can often actually be quite tasty.
Bondman, be carefull, it's easy to confuse coincidence with correlation. Despite some other wonderful qualities, I've heard the full range ESL ML's exhibit just the opposite phenomenon. It could just as easily be due to one speaker providing more or less detail than the other, or something else all together.
I am fully convinced that many of these modern pop recordings are fundamentally flawed, and without some kind of electronic manipulation, an accurate system will expose them as such.
I agree with Kbarkamian...I think it's somewhat dependent on your system. Poor recordings were more problematic on past systems I've owned. I lucked into not having as big a problem with my current rig and there are very few albums that I cannot listen to. Not sure what it is about the system that helps...but it has a knack for making music sound coherent, where the timing and balance are just bang on, so you hear where the music is going and that kind of overshadows other stuff. I guess you have to find a certain strength that pulls you in regardless.

That said, any decent hi-fi will probably make some of the worst recordings sound pretty bad. As long as music has some room to breathe then I'm usually good. When that's gone and all you have is a big wall of sound, that makes it a lot tougher.
Donald Norths speakers were very very good and made in a sense even compressed recordings very much pleasing and lively. It seemed as the compression was lesser in a way.
However, lately it seems his page is down when it comes to loudspeakers:-(
Personally, i would like to live with the Studio.
I don't know how to rectify the problem other than starting a second system, and throwing money at it. I just wish there was a magic switch on my preamp for 'return to the psychedelic sixties'. A guitar player friend of mine did mention setting up a P.A. system, and the range expander idea might apply to that set up. I have listened to a couple of P.A. systems that sounded okay but fell far short of giving me goose bumps.
Also, I have listened to the same sound qualities at audio shops with systems far exceeding my own. Good recordings sounding breathtaking and compressed recordings making the mega-buck systems' sounding like a clock radio. So I know it is not just my system that sucks at rock music.
Like I said earlier, I was in the same boat as you. I bought the Odyssey Kismet Reference floorstanding speakers and never looked back. Almost all of my beloved Classic Rock from the 60's and 70's sound good, some sound incredible. Classical and Jazz sounds wonderful too.

Mine are paired with their Stratos amp with all their bells and whistles, and an Audible IIllusions tube preamp. SYNERGY is the word that comes to mind with my components. Send me a private message if you want more detailed information.