Which High Res releases are worth buying?

A number of A'goners have said they'd like to start a running database of releases that are worth buying. We've all discovered High Res downloads and discs that don't even live up to Redbook standards. Others are a definite improvement. Here's your chance to weigh in on the winners as well as the dogs. Inevitably, you may post a recommendation others may disagree with. Debate is good, but let's keep it clean and courteous. If we do, this could provide everyone with a great resource.
I've good luck luck with anything from the labels 2L and Chesky. Other stuff has been as mentioned, hit or miss.
blue coast records great sound. however a bit pricey or try MA recordings
This is a great thread and I do hope "we" can get some good suggestions here, because I agree that many of the 24/96 releases leave much to be desired.

I must agree that the Blue Coast Records stuff is always very good (some of the best). I especially like the Keith Greeninger and Dayan Kia releases from Blue Coast and all solo Keith Greeninger efforts (he is an excellent acoustic guitar/singer song writer "folk-type" artist).

The 24/192 DVD release of Muddy Waters’ “Folk Singer" (you can get it at Acoustic Sounds here) is outstanding, but I must say that the Reedbook version is also very good and some may feel that the $25.00 going rate for the 24/192 file isn’t such a bargain.

HDTracks does have some good choices and, for me, one of their very best recordings is the 24/192 version of Jen Chapin’s “revisions: Songs of Stevie Wonder, here

Anything produced by Kent Poon is done exceptionally well – look for his Jazz Prologue releases – learn more here

The hi-rez stuff by Sara K at HDTracks is a little dark-sounding, but the sound staging is really good (and her music is great)...Look her up.

Here’s some more:





Guys, this great! Keep 'em coming. I know some of you are wary about calling the " dogs" out but I think it's important...you can add as many provisos and disclaimers as you want to qualify a negative review such as " your mileage may vary" etc.

For me, one of the greatest disappointments was Raising Sand. The 96/24 dowload is not horrible, it just doesn't improve upon the Rebook, IMHO.

Thanks so much for all of the great links!
I really like the 24/192 release of the Stones' Greatest Hits vol. I available on HDtracks. It is finely detailed and very "vinyl" in its presentation...quite a bit better than the Redbook. Bare in mind though, that there are serious flaws in many of the original recordings...distortion, etc.

The first McCartney solo album download on HDTracks is better than the standard Redbook, but I hear it isn't as good as the Gold DCC master from a few year's back....but that can't be had for less than $200 anymore.
Linda Rondstadt "Whats New" on HD Tracks in 24/192 is absolutely spectacular.
great stuff Ben!. thanks for helping me part with $110 on hd tracks last night lol!
07-21-11: Levy03
great stuff Ben!. thanks for helping me part with $110 on hd tracks last night lol!

It's easy to do isn't it...!!?

In response to the OP's question, my suggestions are based primarily on the sound quality. I hope the style of music is to your liking.

If you like acoustic jazz (piano trios), then here is another nugget. It’s only 24/88, but it sounds good.

Wow…two new additions to HDTracks…And what additions they are!! here and here

Someone please tell me if these are the “real deal” (good hi-re mastering)…

I hope this thread will serve everyone, regardless of respective musical preferences, so my personal musical tastes are unimportant. What I *do* hope is that people will compare reissued recordings with the original Redbook before recommending the High Res version. The High Res version should be audibly better. If it isn't, I think we'd all be better off supporting new artists as opposed to supporting reissues that represent no improvement.

That said, I have no Redbook versions of the recordings posted so far but trust that most people buy reissues of recordings they've at least heard before and that their recommendations are based upon at least a comparison by memory. If *you* think it sounds "better" than how you've heard the recording sound before, then some improvement has probably been accomplished by those who produced the High Res reissue.

Posts like yours are extremely helpful, so please keep passing along your discoveries!
I recently compared the 44.1 CD of Beck's "Sea Change" to Mobile Fidelity's 44.1 remaster. The original recording sounded great so I was not prepared for the DRAMATIC difference in the Mobile Fidelity reissue. The recording's soundstage, bass response and midrange have all been unveiled due to the remastering work of those involved in the project. The biggest reason for the improvement is that no compression was used. This reissue justifies a $25 purchase. I want to hear the same level of improvement when I spend that much money for a High Res recording I can otherwise buy for $9 on Amazon. HdTracks is offering a 24/88 download of this title. If anyone's compared it to the MoFi version I'd love to hear what you think.
Alas, I can’t give a hearty thumbs-up to the recent HDTracks hi-res release of The Doobie Brothers, “Captain and Me.” I nearly forgot what a great recoding this is. Unfortunately, while the dynamics are there, the detail and clarity are there in abundance, there simply is no semblance of the warmth, dimensionality and air that the original vinyl version offered.

While analog/vinyl comparisons may be a high standard of reference for digital, some hi-res releases have come close to duplicating air, warmth, three-dimensionality and sound-staging (Blue Coast Records recordings come to mind).

I will be anxious to hear from someone else who has downloaded this otherwise excellent (album).
Neil Young's catalog has been re-mastered in 24/172 and the 44.1 releases of these remasters KILL the old CD releases. It'll be very interesting to see whether Neil eventually authorizes dowload sales of the high res masters themselves. If he does, we'll be able to do a direct comparison of Redbook's presentation of that material versus a high res dowload.
Oh I definitely want to get a hold of some of those. Let us know when/where to purchase hi-res files from Neil's 24/172 catalog...
How about a rating system ???
Ratings 1-10
10 being the best in sound quality and 5 meaning that it is equal to the Red Book version.

Based on that rating, SHM-SACD's I own so far.
Who's next. 6.5
Sticky Fingers 6.5
Its only Rock and Roll 5.5

High Rez Downloads
Paper Airplane- Allison Krauss 5

Hope that helps.
Excellent idea, Ozzy. I second the idea and will start using your system myself.
Does anyone know exactly what HDTracks does when processing/converting old releases to hi-res?

I went ahead and downloaded the Deep Purple, “Machine Head” 24/96 release even though I wasn’t that thrilled about the Doobie Brothers’, “Captain and Me” 24/192 release. Hey, it’s Machine Head, I had to try it. Any way the thing sounds like it’s been remastered (i.e.: altered). There’s a definite audible difference in clarity – the 24/96 being quite a bit more resolving than the 16/44 version that I ripped from the hybrid layer of the Machine Head SACD (which is truly a very good 16/44 file).

That said, I don’t know that the 24/96 version is “better.” During the first guitar solo in the song, “Lazy,” the 16/44 release portrays Blackmore in between the speakers (good central image…albeit slightly to the right), but during the same solo the 24/96 release has his guitar planted firmly in the right channel only…Odd...?? The snare drum sounds more realistic via the 24/96 release and Gillan’s voice is definitely more pronounced, but the 16/44 version, on the other hand, just has a better overall balance. It’s as if someone has literally remastered some of the original settings.

On a positive note, Blackmore’s guitar is audibly clearer via the 24/96 version.

I wonder what it is that the HDTrack guy(s) do during the process…??

Very interesting observations. I'm as curious as you are. I wish HDTracks would share the re-packaging details of all their releases. Many of them are merely downloadable versions of already available SACD titles or are merely upsampled from 44.1. Mr. Chesky, as far as I know, has never weighed in on this issue. I urge everyone to pester HDtracks to define their releases and to STOP putting a High Res badge on everything they make available. This should not be a crap shoot. I think they should use a quality designation such as "True High Resolution" for titles that are high res through the chain. Upsampled releases should be identified as such. Remember DDD, AAD and ADD labels for CD's? That's what you get when standards are set by legislation. The High Res world is the Wild West right now. Thar's gold in them thar hills partners! The problem is finding it.
Sorry about the 24/172 typos ...I also suffer from dyslexia and the 176 versus 192 throws me off. :-0
It sure would be nice if more people could find some high resolution worth bragging about. It's tempting to conclude that there just aren't many qualifying titles out there. The Absolute Sound has just now begun a "trial" feature highlighting high res files worth downloading. It's a short list and not many superlatives were used. Let's hope they can unearth more gems in the future and that the attention will spur other musicians and producers to use the new technology in their releases.
I have found the MA Recordings HiRez DVD-ROM titles to be of true reference quality. I'm a jazz fan and really like the release of Mathias Landaeus Trio's - Opening. It's stunning how it seemingly transports you to the recording studio. Other releases from MA are equally superb in quality and are taken from Todd Garfinkle's original digital masters - not upsampled!

I always appreciate your tips about things digital! The website looks good and I'll check out the rest of the music. Those Skandanavians *do* know great jazz!
Vhiner, I'm not happy to hear of your dyslexia but for comraderie, I suffered a head injury in a car accident long ago and there are many lasting problems; memory,organizing,what they call tangential thinking,spacial focus,etc. It must have been so tough to deal with dyslexia. Bravo.
I like the Blue Coast
and the Sound Liaison recordings.
I just posted this review on another topic but I do find that it fits this topic as well.
I've been among the prophets saying that high-resolution downloads are the future of audiophile music sales. Surely it will benefit the majors to make high-quality downloads a first choice rather than an MP3 extra, but I believe that individual artists can benefit as well. Most new-to-the-scene performers have little money for middlemen and disc manufacture, yet can get things together for the Internet.

Frans de Rond and Peter Bjørnild have taken this approach with Sound Liaison, producing recordings available only in 24-bit/96kHz downloads that mirror the master recording. And man, are they ever sweet. I've seldom heard recordings that were so successful in both performance and sound aspects.

De Rond hails from the Netherlands, where he studied double bass at The Royal Conservatory in The Hague while concurrently studying recording techniques. Bjørnild also studied double bass, moving to the Netherlands to continue studies at The Hague. Since graduating, he has played almost every type of music, from classical to jazz. Together de Rond and Bjørnild bring two pairs of golden ears to their label. Bjørnild claims that, "a recording should be as realistic and beautiful sounding as possible. As if, when closing your eyes, you find yourself in the best seat in the hall."

The partners discovered a fine recording hall (Studio-Eleven, Hilversum) and set out to record amazing musicians in this great acoustic place in front of live audiences. It's a daring feat; one take and no place to hide, but the abilities of the musicians involved make it seem easy. I chose to talk about the first album by Carmen Gomes Inc. It was a tough choice because all of the three current albums were worthy of review.

Carmen Gomes has won many awards in the Netherlands and surrounding areas. Like so many new European singers, she sings in English -- excellent English, I might add. She's formed a group called Carmen Gomes Inc., with Folker Tettero on guitar, Peter Bjørnild on double bass, and Marcel van Engelen on drums. Her style is bluesy and intimate with a sexy voice that's sweet as dark tupelo honey, and her interpretations are unerring. The musicians play to her and to each other, and the ensemble is so tight that the four musicians breathe and move as one.

There are some standards on the set that knocked me over with their fresh approach. Any singer can misplace a few accents and rhythms and come up with something that's original, but perhaps also uneasy and a little strange. Not Gomes, who has taken the songs to their bones and then restructured them to suit her style. Thus "Fever" doesn't sound like a cover of Peggy Lee; it sounds like a brand new take on a familiar song. You emerge from hearing it not thinking it's better or lesser than Lee's version, but that it's a valid new interpretation that could have come first.

The same approach works on "Angel Eyes," "You Don't Know What Love Is," and "I'm on Fire." Most of the rest, including the title song, "Oblivion," "Time Will Tell," "Gasoa Blue," and "The Sea," are Gomes originals that fit right in with the standards. The recording achieves exactly what Bjørnild set out as his goal. It can provide the best seat in your listening room. Go to the Sound Liaison site, listen to a few samples, download an album, and see if you don't agree that this intimate effort is one of the best and best-sounding jazz vocal albums to come along in many a day. By the way, the small audience applauds enthusiastically enough after the last chords of a song die away, but the attendees never interrupt or make themselves known while a song is going on. No doubt they were completely mesmerized into silence, as was I.

Be sure to listen to: On "Dock of the Bay," Gomes creates a languid, bluesy version that is a little bit reminiscent of Bobbie Gentry while still coming across as quite original. It'll cast a spell over you.
Thanks for the tip, Peter!
Has anyone downloaded Santana's Abraxas from HD Tracks?
I have, and I wrote a thread about it that I posted on HD Downloads compared to analog that's posted on the analog forum. It was the best download so far.

Enjoy the music.
I just got the new download from the Sound Liaison label,
''After Silence'' with Andre Heuvelman.
[http://www.soundliaison.com/products-from-our-studio-masters/71-andre-heuvelman]After Silence[/url]
Gorgeous Album.
Never heard of the trumpet player Andre Heuvelman before, but I saw that somebody called him the world's best trumpet player. Well I never liked the term 'best' for talking about music, but a marvelous trumpet player he is.
He definitely has that rare ability to make his instrument speak in all the colors of the rainbow.
The label is giving away a free download from the album, should anyone be interested. I personally find the album, and here I do like to use the term best,the best sounding album in audiophile terms I have heard so far in 2014.
It's nice to see this thread alive again.
I wish it could sustain a pulse, but that's up to Audiogon members. ;-)

I have recently discovered the following downloads which I think are better
than Red book: Chet Baker's "Baker's Holiday" 24/192, Norah
Jones' "Feels like Home" 24/192 and Joni Mitchell's "The
Hissing of Summer Lawns" 24/192.

I like Bob Marley's Legend in 24/192 but actually prefer the original Island
mix and vibe....wish they'd used that for the remaster. On the download mix
there is actually a guitar fill missing from the opening track that you can
clearly hear on the Island CD. Weird.

In spite of the tempest in a teapot over source material, I actually prefer
Beck's Morning Phase in 24/96 over the CD...but only by a narrow margin.
I kind of struggle with the pricing of High Res downloads. If it is new material the engineer selects the bit rate and sample rate with two clicks of the mouse. The only difference is more storage space for the recording vs. standard 16-bit/44.1kHz. Wouldn't you want to offer it at a redbook price to attract more users?

I completely agree and share your incredulity with respect to the price of downloads. I only download sure bets as a result.

We seem to be stuck in this tug of war between people who think music is free (ridiculous and greedy) and music distributors who gouge wherever and whenever they can (shortsighted and greedy)

My only solution is speak up about it and only buy the very best at the lowest prices available. I wouldn't blame anyone for boycotting the whole affair. Perhaps Neil Young's Pono adventure will bring prices down to CD level, but I ain't holding my breath.
Vhiner, what really gets me is there is a real opportunity to drawn in a whole new generation of listeners to support the music industry and for that matter the audio hardware folks. They have only been exposed to poor compressed MP3 music. I don't believe in free music either. If I was running the show, I would make high res downloads so attractive from a pricing point that you couldn't resist! However, at $18 to $25 for a high res download, I have a whole lot of CD's and vinyl to keep me happy.

In addition, there will be an equipment investment hurdle to get over for downloads as well as the availibility of titles being offered. I think there will need to be some consolidation and standardization before I will jump in let alone the "new generation".
The latest hi-res download from Sound Liaison is up to or maybe even surpassing their previous releases.
Batik; the Old Man and the Sea, featuring ECM recording artist Wolfert Brederode has an incredible vivid sound stage, clear placement, depth and a warm lush presentation of the instruments.
even the youtube mp3 quality shows the absolutely stunning audio quality of this, what must be, in my humble opinion, THE hi-res download of 2014.
You tube link.
I concur; the Sound Liaison downloads are all you could ask for in an audiophile recording. Very beautiful music and incredible recording quality.
And the service of this little label is unsurpassed.
I maid a stupid mistake when I was going to play back the one of the files and had already sent a complaint to Sound Liaison before I discovered that it was entirely my own fault that the download was not playing. Before I had the chance to send a second mail saying ''problem solved'' I received a wetransfer file with all the tracks I had just bought from head engineer Frans de Rond with a note asking not to hesitate to take up contact if the problem was still there.
That kind of service is truly remarkable.
Paul Simon's Graceland is outstanding.