The finest technically recorded album. LP or CD

My two favorites: Nora Jones LP and Willie Nelsons " Star Dust" LP
Count Bassie "Bassie Jam", Janis Ian "Breaking Silence", most of Steely Dan's releases and Rickie Lee Jones debut album and "Cowboys". "Stardust" is killer too. The nice thing is all these albums have great content.
A few of my favorites are the remastered lps of Goodbye Yellowbrick road, Houses of the Holy, Physical grafittti, Louis Armstrong St. James Infirmary, Some of the MFSL CDs are amazing like Honky Cheateau, Madman, and many others Most of the above mentioned tiltes (NotLA) deliver low end like you may never have heard. I also like the LP recording of Rumors, Tusk, and Every Picture tells a story (Mandolin Wind is amazing) also there are a few great remastered Stewart LPs too.
Lindsay Buckingham's "Out of the Cradle" on cd is one of the best I have ever heard. It is 10 years old and has never been remastered.
The original vinyl copy has to be the best, I have 3 different copies, all but the CD remastered, and still the original is the best, even better than the MFSL version.

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I agree with Viridian. Because the direct to disc recordings are made in "realtime", some "clams" are heard also. That's the charm of some of these LPs. I don't listen much to Big Band, but the "King James Version" by the Harry James Band is astounding. Talk about "presence". It will transform your speakers into a pair of horns. And if you own horns, it would be "off the chain"!
I'm so surprised anyone else would know about Lindsay Buckingham's "Out of the Cradle"! Great catch Kira.

I also agree with Lugnut about Rickie Lee Jones debut album. The original vinyl, the mofi vinyl, and the cd versions are all excellent.

But most of all, my original West German pressing of Joni Mitchell's "Court In Spark" really blows everything away. I've recently purchased the DCC gold version but haven't opened it. I truly can't image it getting any better.

Side note: Most records by Ladysmith Black Manbazo sound great. Especially soundstage.
Viridian is "dead on" with his comment about the Charlie Byrd D-to-D recording on Crystal Clear. When I was a high school student in suburban Maryland in the late 1950's, I took some guitar lessons from Charlie Byrd, and heard him perform live many times at his regular gig at the Showboat Lounge in Washington, DC. I know the sound of Charlie's guitar very well, and the Crystal Clear LP is so realistic that it is startling.

There are some other D-to-D recordings that also have amazing fidelity: some of the big band recordings on Century Records; the recordings of the L.A. 4 on the EastWind label (owned by Yasohachi Itoh, who is now producing jazz LP's on the "EightyEights" label); many of the Sheffield Records titles (although not all have great music); and the limited edition D-to-D LP's on Concord Jazz of the "Great Guitars" trio (Charlie Byrd; Herb Ellis; and Barney Kessel).
My Opinions:
Best Live Rock LP - Hands down - "Paul McCartney Unplugged: The Official Bootleg"
Best Studio Rock LP - Again, no contest - Roger Waters's "Amused To Death"
Best Studio Folk/Rock CD - Tie between John Hall's "Recovered" & The Roadbirds "From The Wilde"
Best Remastered CD - By THE master, Steve Hoffman - Phoebe Snow's first album "Phoebe Snow"

Honorable mentions to LPs "Stardust", Steve Milller's "Born 2 Be Blue", Willy Deville's "Miracle" and Dire Straits's "On Every Street"

Wow, there are lots of really well done albums to choose from. I'll stop now. :-)

Firin' up the old LP 12 as we speak,
Weiserb, sorry to disagree, but the MFSL gold CD of "Madman Across the Water" SUCKS! If you hear this album on a DCC vinyl pressing, you just will not believe the difference in fidelity! This is not a vinyl vs. digital or bad master tape issue. I have 3 other E.J. CD's on MFSL ("Honky Chateau", "Goodbye Y.B.R.", and "Tumbleweed Connection"), and they all sound quite nice. Someone really "f**ked the pooch" when remastering "Madman"! In general, MFSL was hit or miss with many of their CD's and LP's. Some sound excellent, others are sonic turds! DCC (the ones mastered by Steve Hoffman) are better sounding than MFSL. I have two gold CD titles released on both MFSL and DCC (Queen "A Night at the Opera" and 10CC "The Original Soundtrack", although this title was never available as a general release, just a few test pressings with no J-card; something with licensing issues). It's a "no brainer" for both titles...the DCC copies sound SO MUCH BETTER, and I don't mean by just a little bit!
If SACD recommendations are allowed, I'd have to nominate "Live Recordings at Red Rose Music, Vol. I." This is a disc of minimalist recordings (no electronic gimmickry) made in the Red Rose store in New York City of unamplified instruments in pure DSD (Direct Stream Digital--the native SACD format).

This recording is head and shoulders above any other "little shiny disc" I've ever heard: the quality of the sound is in a completely different league, and the difference is obvious from the very first note!

One caveat: while the audio itself is mind-boggling, it is essentially an "audiophile" recording (one you might not purchase for the music itself, although the music is mostly pretty good). But if you’ve been dubious about the merits of SACD--and who wouldn’t be, considering the vast majority of the PCM dreck that’s been released so far--you MUST check out this disc!!
Don't mean to sidetrack the thread, but I have to comment on Viridian's observation about live broadcasts:
Technically, as close as you can get to live with the exception of live FM broadcasts which are not subject to the violence done to the music by any storage media at all.

I used to think the same thing, but have had to revise this idea after talking to a broadcast engineer at our local public radio station. While live broadcasts are certainly not subject to degradation by any storage and retrieval scheme (analog or digital), I was surprised to learn that at least in the case of remote broadcasts, the audio feed is relayed to the studio via high-quality ISDN [Integrated Services Digital Network] telephone lines. And even if the broadcast were to originate right in the studio, in most cases the signal is then relayed to the transmitter via ISDN.

I am not a broadcast engineer, so would welcome comments from anyone more familiar with these matters, but it seems to me that even though a live broadcast is able to evade the whole storage/retrieval bugaboo, what we are likely listening to these days (maybe not in days of yore) is audio that has been digitized and reconverted to analog at least once!
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I second Egoss on Amused to! Waters does it like no other in the rock world.
"Technically recorded" What does this mean? I meant to say recording with the most "presence". Why esle would we buy Hi-end equipment? I thought it was to recreate the actual preformance in our own listening rooms as close as possible.
Lugnut, Count Basie "Basie Jam" The album name Jam #3 is a killer! I just bought it last night along with Janis Ian and Joni Mitchell's "Court and Spark", also I got in mint condition Kenny Barron's "Scratch" on Enja label. WOW what recordings! Thanks for some great leads!
Champtree, I too have #3 as well as #2. By far, the content and realizm of the original is best. It's readily available on Pablo records for next to nothing. It's also avilable from Analogue Productions (the same company that did "Breaking Silence) and is the absolute best. While I agree with Viridian and others that 45 rpm D to D is the ultimate way to go, generic recording technology, especially when you judge content, can so good it's spooky. I've said for years that a good recording is equal or better than thousands of dollars in new equipment. Glad you like my suggestions. You are most welcome!
Please try and excuse me for posting a dissent I'll probably regret ever having let out of the cage:

The majority of these responses ably demonstrate why one should never trust an audiophile in matters of music - or sound...Not only do most of the nominations - including the thread-head's - show little-to-no relation to the question (which I'll acknowledge and as Viridian rightly points out requires some interpretation, but Champtree's subsequent attempt is not far off), even if we take the question merely in the spirit in which it's answered...Well, all I can say is Man! What a laughable parade of missing the forest for the trees. (Hint: Reread SDC's response.)

My apologies. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled audiophool programming...

I don't think I've ever taken issue with one of your posts but if I am reading you right, then you don't believe any of the recordings offered by myself and others were technically done right. Would you please explain yourself?

Like most Audiogoners I compare my system and my music library to live music. Granted, I have very little experience listening to live classical due to lack of interest and opportunity. If rock, jazz, blues or bluegrass listening qualifies then I believe I probably have as much seat time at live events as almost anyone here.

For myself, a recording is technically right when it offers presence, realizm and emotion far above others. I would submit that anything recorded or broadcast in stereo has been subjected to some sort of violence but, in the real world, very few audiophiles even recognize mono as being a legitimate medium. I don't find mono recordings have the emotion to satisfy my listening needs.

I believe all the offerings above are included in the thread "Audiogon recordings to die for". Was this list all wrong too?
"Audiogon recordings to die for" the problem with this thread and Sterophile's "Music to die for" is too many people vote on the kind or style of music, rather than how good the recording is or should I say, how much "presence" it has. I have bought many of the recomended albums and found them to be horrible in quality. The ones you and others have recomended, is what I'm looking for!
I am going to assume that Zaikesman's comment about my post implied his general agreement with what I wrote. In my experience as an audiophile over the past 40 years, I have heard only a handful of recordings that were "technically excellent" (i.e., actually sounded like live music). Since it is virtually impossible to reproduce the live sound of a rock band (electric instruments, high SPL's) or a symphony orchestra (hall acoustics, wide dynamic range, etc.), about the best that one can hope for is accurate recordings of small acoustic ensembles or a singer with minimal accompaniment.

Like Zaikesman, I mean no personal criticism toward the posts that nominate recordings by popular groups. Quite simply, however, there is almost no way for those recordings to be "technically excellent" since the original master tapes were usually heavily processed, were 2nd or 3rd generation multi-track mixdowns before being pressed or digitized, etc. The ONLY storage medium that can get close to true accuracy, and therefore meet the "technically excellent" criteria, is direct-to-disk analog recording, and not even all of the D-to-D disks are equal in quality. I have a large number of D-to-D disks that I acquired in the late 1970's (multiple copies of each), and I believe they are the "gold standard" for technical excellence. Their "technical" sound quality, although usually not the quality of the musical performance itself, substantially exceeds even the best of the other recording media, such as SACD, CD, etc.

The only recording medium that is close to D-to-D in sound quality is analog tape at 30 ips, but its utility is severely limited because can only be one master tape (even 2nd generation copies have a noticeable reduction in fidelity). Most of the LP's on the Reference Recordings label, for example, began as 30 ips analog tapes. (One of the best "technically excellent" LP's on this label is Professor Keith Johnson's "Amazing Sound Show". It's sure as hell not an LP that you will want to play over and over, but it's got startling fidelity.)

While there are many recordings that people enjoy for their musical content (some are listed above), the standard of "techical excellence" is an entirely different matter. For those who have not had the chance to listen to the best D-to-D LP's, try to find some in good condition to hear what a high-end audio system can really sound like.

Your years in this hobby exceed mine by only a couple. I'll admit that my system isn't anywhere on a par with yours. That being said, I've got somewhere around ten examples on LP that would meet your criteria for technicality and the content isn't worthy of my time. I have a hard time including those records as something I would recommend. As a novelty yes, but not for repeated playing.

Direct to disc has been around since the days of the Edison Gold Moulded cylinders but wasn't used for audiophile cosumption until the 70's as far as I can tell. I'll concede that in a perfect world I would agree with the premise that "finest technically recorded" software would forgo interim storage devices. The problem with that reference is that there is almost no selection and, in a practical sense, these recordings aren't available for purchase.

I apparently read the thread question differently than you and Zaikesman. I stand behind my recommendations. Those involved in each album I suggested pushed the technical envelope to the extreme given that they were making records for mass consumption.

I do understand your position and respect it.
Lugnut: I certainly agree with your point that a lot of the "technically excellent" recordings in D-to-D format are, more often than not, musically boring after a few playings. Wouldn't it be great if there were more really excellent recordings of musically exciting material?

BTW, you have my condolences on approaching geezerhood. My first serious exposure to "hi fi" actually occurred in 1958, when the father of my high school buddy across the street bought a Marantz preamp and power amp, a Garrard turntable, and a pair of KLH speakers. Man, was I impressed. It's interesting in retrospect to realize that so many of the LP's of that era (RCA, Mercury, Decca) offered such high quality when high-end playback gear was still in its infancy. Seems like the situation has reversed itself today: lots of great gear, but fewer and fewer recordings that do justice to the audio system.
Even more than just the storage medium and generation aspect (significant, but less so in my mind), I am refering, from just the audio perspective, to the number of nominations of electric-instrumented, multi-track mono (they're not true acoustic stereo guys - they're just panned individual mono tracks), and highly produced (meaning altered after recording) studio rock and pop records above. Lugnut, that goes for Steely Dan too (I never understood this band's records' sonic rep among audiophiles, and never will). Whatever one's opinion of the musical content (I'm thinking of myself here), a strong case can be made that Elton John's albums, for instance, are very successfully recorded from an artistic standpoint, a fine "technical" achievement to be sure if the effect is to your taste, but this is not at all the same thing in audiophile terms as what Champtree calls the "presence" of the musicians - nor should it be. We should know better than to confuse the two things.

It is very telling that there are no classical music nominations above, but Rel, Viridian, and SDC all know what I am talking about. Folks nominating Joni, Willie, Lindsay, Janis, etc. apparently don't, no matter how 'great' they think those records sound, but as self-professed audiophiles they ought to. Everybody in the second catagory, go back and freshen up on Harry Pearson's definition of what the 'Absolute Sound' means.

However (and more importantly, to my way of thinking), my comments about the forest and the trees are not intended to denigrate the validity of rock and pop studio recordings. Quite the contrary, I am of the John Lennon school, who said that THE RECORD was the thing - meaning in his field, there WAS NO 'original performance'. All that mattered was when you slapped down that slab was how it made you FEEL. So what I find sadly (but in our hobby, typically) ironic is that these audiophiles - so obviously raised on rock, the music Lennon was speaking of - not only don't get the HP definition of what makes a recording an audiophilic reference, but are, if they are to be believed, all sitting around listening to the same 15 hackneyed warhorses because they believe the sound is so clean'n'pristine or something (and because they don't get into those genres, like classical, where the real answer to this question applies). I mean, legitimately liking some of these artists is all well and fine, but don't try and tell me you guys are all such huge Janis Ian and Willie Nelson fans that you wouldn't really rather be listening to "Tumbling Dice" or some other record where the way it sounds MEANS something, in the impressionistic sense and no matter how 'bad' in audiophile terms, in relation to some fuckin' great rock music! (Or say the same but about a Rudy Van Gelder primitive living room recording of some fuckin' great jazz music, whatever.)

My point is, if this way of listening is what becoming an audiophile has done to you, you've been screwed on both fronts: You don't know the natural sound of music, only of reproduction systems, AND you've sacrificed the feeling that music you loved as a kid gave you in your gut in order to learn this.
Wow! Where do I start? First of all, you make an interesting point, about the "natural sound of music". Would you rather see a black & white, grayed, muddy mess of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night? You would see the "Natural look of a painting”; it would capture a mood but it would be missing artist intent. Or .... If you had two recording of Wagner's Tannhauser, one was recorded so the French horns were muddy and not there, and the other recording was alive and you could hear everything including all the extra brass that Wagner uses. I know what I would rather listen to.
The biggest mistake you made was to assume because that I liked Willie Nelson's "Stardust" I did not like Classical Music, or I had a limited view of music. Sorry I didn’t give reference to a classical album. The truth is, I don’t know of one that has as much presence as do jazz or others such as “Stardust”. Isn’t too difficult to get the presence with classical orchestral music because of the large number of instruments and the large size of the hall, room, or theater?
I really don't like Willie Nelson and I do like classical music, and I have a low threshold for Rock. Because of the quality of the stardust album, I can tolerate Willie. What I enjoy on the album, is the song he sings. I like the song "Georgia" sung by him or any one else and I enjoy it more if it's recorded well.

What bothers me most about high-end stereo, is all anyone can talk about is their gear and you hear very little about the music. For me it’s simple, I love quality (that’s why I like high end equipment). Quality is the only thing the artist has in his or her control. So what’s wrong with me wanting it to hear it thru a good recording?

I really don't know quite how to start this reply being as low brow as I am. First, Willie Nelson is one of the most prolific song writers in the history of music and his album Stardust was definitely a minimalist recording. Yeah, there are amplified instruments but remember, he plays a classical guitar and was acompanied by, primarily a harmonica. This album hardly qualifies as rock. Regarding the Janis Ian album, you might want to actually read how this magnificient recording was made. Analogue Productions knows how to do it and do it right. Period. If you don't agree then please disect the recording proceedures as shown on the back of the album jacket and tell us how it should be done. Steely Dan has taken a lone approach to recorded music. If you would read the book "Reelin In The Years" you would get a grasp on how technical these two are in so many of the aspects of recording their tunes. This way of doing things was by design on their part from the very beginning of their joint venture as the Dan. There incredible efforts shine through in the vast majority of their work. Mark Knoppler, who I love as a unique guitarist, spent two weeks in the studio trying to measure up "technically" and left with apologies to Becker and Fagan for his failed attempt. Just reading the names of the artists that have contributed to their body of work speaks for itself. Highly produced isn't "technical" by its own definition?

How can I really appreciate a Ferrari if I've never even seen one close up, let alone be able to drive one? I grew up in rural Nebraska, didn't live in a house with indoor plumbing until I was a teenager, graduated with a class of 38, lived before public television and radio and had no opportunity to ever hear classical music prior to college. While Willie and the Dan may do it for me I can assure you that I've heard them live and know what they sound like so by inference you're telling me I can't hear? Gimme a break.

I've discovered music (mainly jazz and blues) that I wasn't familiar with as a youngster. I've pursued accumulating those genre's with a passion. IF A FUCKING ORCHESTRA WOULD PLAY IN A BAR MAYBE I WOULD HAVE FOUND CLASSICAL. Some of our roots aren't planted deeply in metropolitan areas. We lived and worked in the areas that raised the food and resources city dwellers consume.

Classical isn't the be all and end all. Hell, I'd include Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" if I would have thought of it earlier. Acoustic, live, minimalist recording techniques and an execution to die for without a weak cut on two LP's. Low brow stuff for sure but in my mind these artists are as meaningful as any of the examples you give.

I've tried to appreciate classical in the broad sense and can't wrap my emotions up with most of the offerings. I guess that makes me a mid-fi listener.

Your last paragraph is simply wrong. Like I said before, I've got more seat time as a listener than almost anyone else I know. The genre's I've listened to LIVE include rock, jazz, blues, reggae, folk, bluegrass and classical. From the age of 20-23 I worked as a tour director with the likes of the Kingston Trio, Diana Trask, Johnnie Ray, Jeannie C. Riley, Lou Rawls, The Supremes, The New Christy Minstrels, J.P. Morgan, Johnny Rodriguez and Tanya Tucker. This was through 1970 to 1973. Opening acts too. Two shows each day on 21 day tours. I attended practice sessions, hotel room jam sessions and a takeover of the bar after hours, not to mention the hours on the road listening to them play and sing while I drove. I've been in a bar at a Holiday Inn in Oklahoma City in 1971 when Leon Russell and George Harrison came in and played with the drummer of the house band, taking over the keyboard and guitar.

I sat up sound systems in these small club venues with the exception of The Supremes (without Ross), Tucker and Rodriguez. These were large events which failed monetarily and led to the demise of Star Attractions, the San Antonio based company I worked for. I also had to operate the Quartz Follow spots on occassion. It's been a long time but I once was familiar with every club in the Midwest from country clubs, oil clubs, officers clubs, nco clubs and the occassional private (Kansas) bar. Reproductions of music? I think not.

As if I didn't love music prior to this experience enough, afterward, in spite of not working with artists any longer, I was a live music junkie. It was only in 1982 with the birth of our child that I put less emphasis on going to live events. Now that she is on her own my wife and I have pursued this passion full tilt boogie again rather than the occasional typical concert. Minimum listening time twice per week and I don't know the natural sound of music? Gimme a break.
Champtree, let me see if I understood your last post. You listen to an artist you don't particularly like because the recording quality is high. I think it's situations like yours that prompted Zaikesman's orginal forest for the trees comments. Furthermore, recording artists only occassionally have control over the sound quality of their recordings. Usually that element is handled by the producer, recording/mastering engineers and the record label. What the artist does have control over is the quality of their performance and I notice that despite repeated references to "Stardust", you never comment upon the quality of Mr. Nelson's performance. "Stardust" is a well produced/recorded record, but what makes it memorable is that it's a collection of very fine performances of first rate songs. Worrying over the technical merits of a recording is really no different than obsessing about the technical merits of equipment. Neither really addresses the music.
OK, im going to get kicked around on this on pretty good, i already feel the 'gon'ers lining up for a punt....

EMINEM "SHOW", and EMINEM "The Marshal Mathers LP".

The job done in recording these albums was nothing short of phenominal.

Please dont kick my butt untill you had a chance to listen to it.

Im not talking content here, (which i like as well or i wouldnt have listened to it) but Technically, these are the finest recordings i have ever heard.

Has anybody else listened to this? remember, this is not a forum of weather or not rap is music, or musical taste, this was strictly about the finesty technically recorded album.

I know a couple audiophiles on this board with 20 years into this hobby that use these CD's for reference, because of how well they are recorded. as well as alot of reviews in magazines ive read

almost sounds like a DVD-A or SACD recording more than a CD recording.


Wow, i just finished reading though all the posts...

I think you all are going a little deeper than the forum asked...?

It said the finest technically recorded album.

It did not say the most lifelike creation of accousical sound possible.

i see notes on accoustical guitars, and weather or not electric guitars should be counted etc etc...

who said anything about accoustic? as far as the forum title is concerned, it could be techno. It says nothing about a live audience or live preformance, it says nothing about accoustical or synthesized...

i still think eminem is one of the best recordings ever. there is other music i like more, but i havent heard anything as clean and crisp as those eminem albums..

im really asking for it this time arent i? :)
That's my point. The artist HAS control of his or her gig and not the recording. But it takes a great recording to bring it forth. Yes I will always put merit on quality over if I like or dislike the artist. I have purchased some other albums and CDs of Willie's and I don't care for them or Willie because they are not of quality. If it's not for quality why do you have high end stereo?

"Worrying over the technical merits of a recording is really no different than obsessing about the technical merits of equipment. Neither really addresses the music" Then why don't you listen to music on a walkman radio? This is not crap in crap out?
You tell them Slappy!!!!!!!!!!!

No disagreement from me although I haven't heard any of the Eminem CD's you mention, just a few cuts here and there. Unless it's available on vinyl it won't get an audition in my system because I don't have a CDP. And, you're right this isn't about the merits of rap.
Slappy-Im glad you mentioned the "Is rap and hip hop music?" thread.
Has anyone noticed its gone??
It was getting very interesting and lots of 'goners put alot of effort into it only to have the censor police yank it! Shame!!
Anyone else get pissed when they contribute to threads and watch the thread grow only to have it deleted?
p.s. Is this one next? Why bother??
Lugnut-Eminem releases are avaliable on vinyl and sound EVEN BETTER than the CD versions.
Here another I just bought today; it is unreal how good it is! It's Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, and Tony Rice called the Pizza Tapes. It's bluegrass/newgrass and it will blow you away!

And yes..... everyone I LOVE bluegrass!!!!!!
Stand proud ChampTree!
Champtree, Onhwy61 correctly applies the second part of my critique to your comments re the Willie disk. Let me put it this way: I believe that many audiophiles originally arrived at their interest in the quality of reproduced sound through their prior love of classical music in particular, and indeed that the whole hobby evolved largely because of this motivation. But today this is no longer true so much. I do NOT believe that many Janis Ian fans (not to pick on her for any pejorative reason - she's an estimable artist in her own right) found their way to the high end because of their need to better hear Janis. Rather, many audiophiles found their way to Janis because some reviewer said the sound was awesome. If you really like her and discovered her as a result of being an audiophile, great. But if what you really like is the Stones (not to pick on them either, but at least everybody will get what I'm talking about when I bring them up) and you're sitting around listening to Janis because she's 'recorded so well', you get no sympathy from me. Any audiophile who has stopped listening to ANYTHING they love - even one record - strictly because of its sound is a loser in my book. To do so is to utterly pervert the reason we presumably (hopefully!) got into this stuff in the first place.

Lugnut, I know Willie and Janis aren't "rock" with a capital "R". I mentioned rock AND pop recordings, but said it was obvious that many responding here were RAISED on rock - true in your case, apparently, and I hasten to add in mine too. This is a telling factor for me about what I believe are misguided nominations FROM AN AUDIOPHILE STANDPOINT. This matters to me (to a degree - everybody's entitled to their opinion, and we can't make everyone who's opinion we think we have good reason to believe is wrong our personal crusade) in theory for two reasons: People are apparently listening - and by inference also NOT listening - to stuff for (what I say) are all the wrong reasons, and they are also sinking money into a hobby they don't yet have a fundamentally informed grasp of. Neither of these things precludes some degree of genuine enjoyment in this pursuit, but it will probably be short-lived, and followed either by frustration and disappointment - Or with luck and perseverence, by greater learning and a future personal breakthrough that allows them to continue happily, poorer but wiser and refocused on what's really important, their music.

My point wasn't so much that these may not be fine recordings in some sense, although I'm sure they were close-mic'ed in a studio. I am also not a big classical guy myself, but I realize that this is the main genre in which the challenge of capturing a live acoustic event being recorded in true stereo-mic'ed fashion, from the audience perspective within a genuine performance space, is frequently attempted (more or less, but let's not digress needlessly). Moreover, it is arguably the genre where the importance of being able to successfully approach achieving this difficult goal is of the most paramount importance to the proper communication of true musical event and intent. Champtree's observations about the Wagner example show he intuitively and intellectually understands this. Now - according to me - he has to go back and relearn that this understanding DOES NOT necessarily apply equally to great rock recordings (to pick an example out of the air to support John Lennon's view on this subject, think about Elvis' seminal recording of "Hound Dog" - think about how the SOUND of that record affects you, what it makes you feel inside, minus all audiophile preconceptions).

As far as the Dan goes, you'll get no argument from me about how 'technical' these studio performances were (for better or for worse), but I maintain that the RECORDING quality of their albums is neither that extraordinary from an audiophile standpoint, nor that amazing or unconventional from an artistic production one. They sound like what they are: competently but ordinarily recorded 70's studio pop played by competent studio musicians. The Dan's songwriting, lyrically and musically, and arranging were much more interesting than anything about the way their stuff sounded recording-wise.

Again, I think we're probably running into some semantic trouble with the question posed in this thread, specifically with the words "finest" and "technically". This being an audiophile forum, I tend to assume that SCD's and Viridian's interpretation is the logical one. The music you mention seeing live, just like the music I see live, is almost always being brought to your ears courtesy of a PA system - compare that against the classical concert hall live experience. I happen to think that any informed audiophile should appreciate this important distinction, EVEN IF they are not big into classical music, because it is important to understanding some sort objective standard for recording and replay fidelity (this is what HP means with the title of his mag). Even small club acoustic jazz is often mic'ed up through a PA during live performance, but not always (bluegrass either, for that matter), and this would also be a fair - if not exactly equivalent - substitute for classical in this paradigm. The artistic significance of the hall acoustic in classical music (or the church acoustic in choral music) - until very recently always and still mostly unaided by electronic amplification - is basically unparalleled for most other musics.

Lugnut, you and I are talking at cross purposes without agreeing on the meaning of the question, which is valid. On the other hand, some of the nominations (Physical Graffiti, which is just poorly recorded from any standpoint, or Eminem, which is mostly samples) bear no discernable relation to any probable interpretation of the question I can conjure up. Instead, what these responses are likely to represent are the posters' preferences for production jobs (and performances) they enjoy and find compelling from the arual and emotional perspectives - and many non-audiophile would agree judging by their popularity. Personally, I think those sort of responses are much more defensible from a music-loving viewpoint than those that parrot what some high end reveiwer said was a 'reference-quality' disk.
Should mean that it sounds good and you forget about the wires, the cables, the amps and just hear the music. I have found that if we do our job as audiophiles, when the Lp plays or cd plays you just hear music, maybe you pick up the remote and sing along or grab your air guitar! An album should be a trip to the recording studio for 45 minutes!