The very best sound: Direct to Disc

Since I got a new cartridge (Clear Audio Virtuoso) i’ve rediscovered the Sheffield and RR Direct Disc albums in my collection.  
Wow! they put everything else to shame.  I picked up about twenty Sheffield D2D’s when Tower Records went out of business for a song (no pun intended.) I’m just now listening to them and find there’s nothing that sonically compares.  They’re just more real sounding than anything else.  Not spectacular but realistic.   
You have 20??! Color me jealous. I have one or two of these myself, and know what you're talking about.
But is it music? That’s a LOT of pressure. Just kidding. Not trying to bring you down. 🤗 There’s a Nakamichi cassette of I’ve Got the Music in Me on eBay as we speak for $60.
Dear @rvpiano : You are rigth D2D is the best LP recordings where there are not R2R insertion there but direct cut from the play session.

I own too all the Sheffield's and the M&K too that are outstanding too but not all D2D are that good it depends of the realeased enginnerings down there.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
One of my favorite albums is Amanda McBroom's Sheffield recording of "West of OZ". If you don't have it, you should get it.
Is it music ? Gosh that seems like a Swiss Army knife unlimited question... keep asking yourself that. 
3 of them, 
Thelma Houston & Pressure Cooker- i ve got the music in me
Jim Keltner/Ron Tutt - The Sheffield drum record
Amanda McBroom & Lincoln Mayorga - West of Oz
As in op not spectacular but real fun.

I have a D2D Charlie Byrd on the San Francisco based Crystal Clear label. Good sound and music
I have a bunch of them as well - bought them when they first came out on vinyl!  Beware the CD of "Growing up in Hollywood Town", it sounds like someone did the smiley face on the EQ.

There is quite a bit of difference between the original records and the 96/24 FLAC copies available on HDTracks and elsewhere.  The records are more dynamic with a significantly deeper and more impactful bottom end.  Listening to the Amuseum cut on the Track Record - the difference in the bass is night and day in favor of the vinyl.
True dat.
I just I just put on a Sonic Arts Direkt to Disc today.
Nothin 'beats Discovered Again!
Grusin and Sax. One take.
I bought Thelma Houston & Pressure Cooker- "I've got the music in me" when it was released and it's still like new. It's always been a go-to-album after I've upgraded something in my system... Fantastic musicians,  great engineering  and Thelma's flawless, beautiful voice. Doesn't get any better than this!
@yogiboy I picked  up a pile of D2D today including a minty copy of LA4 for $1.82
Are Mapleshade recordings the digital equivalent of Direct to Disk recordings? 
I have a Rough Trade album and a Amanda Mcbroom album which are very good.Amanda won an Academy Award for writing the song”The Rose”which was the motion picture Bette Middler stared in.
here are some direct to disc labels that are very good.....i have some of each of these.

also a recent full orchestral Bruckner 7th direct to disc from DG......

to order....

then there is the whole Toshiba Pro Use Direct Cut series.....i have all of these.....

and the Jeton direct to disc series....i have all of these....

that ought to keep you busy for awhile.

I have a bunch of them. Whether I like them or not depends on the music.
The Best Sheffield disc is Tower of Power Direct. JVC did D2D's with Lee Ritenour. They are excellent. The others I rarely listen to. Generally the sound is much better as there are fewer analog steps and the Mastering engineer is hearing the real thing while he is mixing. Today with digital recording once the music is in numbers you can take all the steps you want without degradation. The only problem left is that the engineer is remote to the recording and how he mixes it depends on his own interpretation and the system he is listening on.  
Are Mapleshade recordings the digital equivalent of Direct to Disk recordings?

not really, since they are mastered to tape, then CD’s cut from tape. but Pierre’s process is very pure so is his sound on his CD’s. the result is quite ’like’ direct to disc.

CD’s analagous to ’direct-to-disc’ would be where the recording format is 16/44 and the CD is a direct result without a higher rez step in between.

i have a Starbucks CD called ’Artist Confidential’ that is a collection of acoustic versions of pop songs that was recorded to 16/44 and then a CD made from this. it’s very good and one of the better digital recordings i own.

better yet woutd be owning a higher rez file the same as the source file; like the Reference Recordings HRx’s. they are the source file 176/24 and you can buy that source file. i have many of those.

the lesson learned is to get as close to a native format as you can. but still......the musical performance is still king. great music has to come first, then we hope it sounds good. if the recording process stifles the musical flow then it’s just sound. but mixed into all those direct-to-disc are some magical performances. so the process does allow for more music to come through.
I agree that the Mapleshade CDs are similar to the Ref Rec LPs (also available on HDCD, SACD, and I guess downloads) in that they are recorded to tape in a purist microphone setup and then the production to CD is tightly controlled. The sound is good, but the groups recorded may not be to everyone's taste.

Raul, with all due respect, I'm an electronics technician and I have to take exception to "MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS". That sounds good, and at one time that was my bible, until I discovered that if you can hear the music, disregard the distortions.

I was 100% specifications until my prized SS Pre bit the dust, and I decided to try tubes. I got a loaner PV-10 that had seen better days, there was apparent both noise and distortion in that unit, yet it was more musical than my SS gear.

Enjoy the music with as little noise and distortion as possible is my new motto.

With tubes there is always some noise, although it can be "inaudible", noise and tubes go together, even when the noise is so low that you can't hear it; consequently, Raul is saying always use SS without saying it.
Check out 2L for great sounding digital

i do have maybe 10 2L high rez files on my server. they do sound very good.

have not acquired any in a while. i'm streaming new music mostly, or acquiring vinyl. not much actual digital media ownership pondering.
Mike - both Tidal and Qobuzz have 2L content :-) O Death is a reference for me
I have most (but not all) of the Sheffield D2D albums.  I bought them as they were released, back in the mid 1970s and early 1980s.  A couple that haven't been mentioned here, but are exceptional both musically and in the recording, are Dave Grusin, 'Discovered Again' and the James Newton Howard Quintet which featured David Paich, Steve Porcaro, Jeff Porcaro, and Joe Porcaro.  Those guys were mostly from the group Toto and James Newton Howard went on to be quite the Hollywood musical score master.  Here's an interesting story.  Back in my early days of working in the CE industry (which I worked for 40 years and have now recently retired) I had a nice acquaintance with Andrew Teton, the General Manager & Sales Director for Sheffield Labs.  At CES, back in 1983, he was kind enough to get me the Special CES Preview Edition of the James Newton Howard forthcoming D2D release.  This was produced and engineered by Bill Schnee, who did a marvelous job with it and other D2D recordings.  Andrew gave it to me as a gift.  How kind of him.  To this day it is probably my number one, best SQ album in my collection.  Very, very musical with bass that is as real as it gets and the kick drum will hit your chest with authority.  Its absolutely phenomenal!  The music is progressive jazz/fusion and is very appealing to most anyone. Every time I make a change to my system, even just a new "tweak" item, I use this LP to test out any perceptible change to the SQ.  If you can find a clean copy I highly recommend it.  It's a real "WOW" event for your listening experience and pleasure.
Enjoy the music!
I still have a sealed copy of Dave Grusin Discovered Again.  Also have an unsealed copy I have listened to.  I did sell one of two copies of the original Lincoln Mayorga DtoD with the Scully lathe on the cover for over $300.  I can't understand why anyone would have paid that much for it.  As impressive as it was when it first came out, musically it is pretty stiff and that is understandable given what's involved in making a DtoD. Interestingly, when that first one came out, a good friend of mine invited me over to his house to listen to a new recording.  He cued up a 15 ips tape on his ReVox and hit play.  My jaw hit the floor.  I asked when he recorded that and asked if he could make me a copy.  "I'll do better than that" he said.  "I'll give you the master".  That's when he handed me a copy of the record.  That was in the early 1970's in a college town hungry for audio equipment.  More crappy speakers were sold by means of using that DtoD as a demo source than you can imagine.  All the audio stores had a copy and I swear you could hold them up to the sky and see light coming through the grooves, they were played that frequently.
Dear @rvpiano and friends : I own both versions opf the Sheffield " Discovered again " . The D2D and the one from the recorded tape.

With this LP samples you can be perfectly aware of the high degradation that the recording signal suffers when the information goes/pass through the recording R2R machines.
Differences are not small ones but higher that any one of us could think.

Unfortunatelly for LP manufacturers and musicians the D2D alternative is no more an alternative and as a fact never was. To much stress everywhere with no chance of editing or record a take 2 . Everything in D2D is as in a live evnt: we can change nothing and the errors down there stays there for ever but with out doubt is the best way to make LP shines if the D2D recordings were made by truly good engineers.
As I said before there are many D2D recordings that are bad recordings but not because the " media " but something wrong with the engineering down there during the recording process.

Between other things digital has the advantage that the recording machines does not affects the digital signal because the signal are only 0 and 1 and be readed as 0 and 1. No degradation to the signal.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,

I have several of the Sheffield Labs - love them - Lincoln and Amanda on Hollywood Town with The Rose - love her version of it and did not know she wrote that; a Mozart violin concerto; Dave Grusin mentioned by others; Marni Nixon - she had an incredible voice; Harry James. Also one M&K and a RR and a Crystal Clear with Charlie Byrd. 

One of my all time favorites is a D2D pressed on Umbrella label of Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass. If you can find it, then grab it. Sound is incredible on all 4 sides. My go-to discs to show off my system. Its Big Band music and yes, it sounds like you are in the studio with the band.  It sounded great on my SS system and sounds way better with tubes - fuller, wider soundstage, I can hear all the saxes, trumpets, trombones, bass, guitar, drums... Just WOW.

Also have the 45 RPM versions of The Doors and Miles Davis Prestige box set. If you like those two artists, they are well worth the price. Again, its like you are in the studio. Not as good as D2D, but still very very realistic. 
I'm glad someone remembered Umbrella.  The recordings with the Toronto Chamber Orchestra are some of the best recordings I've heard, from both a sonic and musical perspective.  

I'm familiar with those Sheffield D2D's but never heard one.

Anyone have any of the late 70's Angel 45 Sonic Series? 
If you have BOTH, how do they compare sonically? Are the 45's anywhere near the quality of the Sheffield's?

I have several of these 45 rpm albums of some classics:
Holst-The Planets
Gershwin-Rhapsody in Blue
Ketelby-In a Monastery Garden 

These LP's are pretty impressive. Probably even more on a very good system. Every time I have Bolero spinning at 45 RPM, I can see Bo jogging in slow motion towards me.
I have a few discs  of the Angel 45 Sonic Series,  including the Ketelby.  Also, Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Symphony with Previn conducting and a few others.
On my system, it’s no contest; the direct discs are much better.
I keep mentioning these in my posts but no one, until now, seems to have mentioned them at all.

Thanks for reminding people that these are the vinyl items that show what can be done when people try to excel.

Dear @rvpiano : """ and friends i’ve rediscovered the Sheffield and RR Direct Disc albums in my collection. """

I own all RR ( Reference Recording LPs. ) and if you are refering to that label those are not D2D LPs, very good but not at the Sheffield or M&K true D2D ones.

@mikelavigne I own the Elio Villafranca " Dynamic Resolution " LP that it’s a D2D one but for me it’s weird that no where in the disc jacket makes mention of that instead to that it’s a half-speed master. I love Elio great composer and an artist as a player. The recording is very good but for me not at the same level of the other two D2D labels I mentioned. Same with the first 12-15 D2D LPs by own Acoustic Sounds label.

Now, what could be the nearest recording alternative to the D2D one?. I’m a full ignorant on the whole recording process but even that I think that the digital recordings, where the tape recorder has no influence, ( not all ) like some of the Telarc’s that are really extraordinary or something more comtemporary coming from WindMusic label as its sample " Paramita " , this one you have to listen it to know what I mean about because it’s down there in the land of D2D quality performance or at least the nearest I experienced: the MUSIC is extraordinary and even a true challenge/test for any room/system on reproduction of it.

As the D2D the digital LPs have not the same quality performance, the Teldec or Philips and almost all DG and many others are not only good but really bad recordings. I own one D2D Telarc that’s way bad.

Other very near to D2D recordings are the ones " Live to two tracks " as the ones by Sheffield Labs or Audioquest, both labels very good. It depends too of the engineering skills on the whole recording process.

Yes there are several labels with great recording quality but nothing like the D2D recordings.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,


I realized just after posting that the RR I was referencing was not a D2D, just a fantastic sounding Reference Recording.  
I also have several RealTiime D2D’s.
As a side note, not all the Sheffields are D2D. More specifically, there was some Sheffield  Lp's that came out of their earlier stuff called "Treasury Albums." These were made from the back up reel to reel tapes of the D2D sessions. I compared one of those titles, Dave Grusin Discovered Again! To my ears, the D2D was superior to the back up tape session.
Dear @rvpiano : Yes, RR are very good even that are not D2D. Due that you own the M&K too do it you a favor and listen Flamenco Fever and Earl " Fatha " Hines recordings.The Flamenco Fever sale price is between 600.00 and 1K dollars.


good that you confirmed it.

rvpiano, This is a great thread idea, and so much so that it prompted me to purchase the Canadian Brass D2D. I have the CD version and Love their rendition of the Little Fugue! 
I’d also like to mention some Original Masters LP’s are pretty impressive.  Maybe not as transparent as D2D’s, but worth listening to.
 i’m right now listening to the OM copy of Holst’s “The Planets”  with Solti conducting.
Fairly awesome!
Dear @tablejockey  : I own too some Angel 45rpm recordings but you need to listen the Toshiba 45rpm on a Steinway demostration. One of the best piano recordings I own.

The M&K D to D of Flamenco Fever is an extraordinary album, not only is the SQ demonstration quality, but the music is very fine as well. There are other great D to D's, but this particular album is at, or very near the top, IMO. 
I think many of the Sheffields are great from a SQ perspective, but some of the music is ...tepid.
Problem with most direct to disc is music, because 99% of the artists available only on conventional records where the source is the tape. Normal records (original pressing) can be mind blowing too, especially Japanese pressing from the 70's (SAL74 series for example).