What are some good reference audio CDs?

Andrew W

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Most of my CD collection is classic rock dumped onto CD AAD and in general they seem like pretty poor recordings. I have few classical CDs, but they don't seem that great either, mostly just repressings of old vinyl stuff.
I did pick up two Sony Classical CDs:
John Williams Plays Barrios (guitar)
and
Arcadi Volodos Live at Carnegie Hall (piano)
The are allegedly 20 bit and 24 bit recordings and they sound far superior to anything else I currently have. (Perhaps I don't have an excuse to buy better equipment after all....)
Is there anything else I can pick up that is considered reference quality recordings? I'd prefer something that is just a few instruments or vocals.
Thanks,
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Andrew in Austin
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MikeH1

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I'm not sure if your into the country-rock-folk Nashville scene but my reference disc out of many hundreds is Julie Millers album Blue Pony. Its a standard Cd but very well recorded. It might be worth a check. At the very least, rent it from your public library.
Oh yeah shes originally from Texas too, maybe even Austin.
[Edited last by Michael Hein on July 17, 2001 at 04:58 AM]
 

KeithH

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A few CDs I use as "reference" discs:
1) Rebecca Pidgeon The Raven: Pidgeon records on the Chesky Records label, which is a smaller audiophile label. All of their recordings are excellent, and I love Pidgeon's voice. This album is quite good. "Grandmother" and her rendition of "Spanish Harlem" are wonderful. You can buy this album as a standard CD, a gold CD (no different from the regular CD to my ears), or as an SACD/CD hybrid disc.
2) Dire Straits Brothers in Arms: This is an all-digital recording, but it is still first-rate. It seems to make any equipment sound good. It even makes my car stereo (Sony CD head unit and ten-disc CD changer with Honda factory speakers) sound good. "So Far Away" is a pleasure to listen to, as are "Money For Nothing", "Walk of Life", and "Your Latest Trick". I still find that the original CD that I bought in 1988 sounds great. It was replaced by Warner with a remastered version earlier this year that is even better. The ultimate version of this CD is the JVC XRCD, which is a Japanese import. I bought a sealed copy on eBay for $45, and it was well worth it. Still, you can do well with either of the cheaper, domestic versions. Just last night, I was comparing the 1988 CD in a Sony ES megachanger to the XRCD in a Sony SCD-777ES SACD/CD player and found both appealing. The XRCD in the SACD player was certainly better, but the old disc in the megachanger still sounded quite good. As I said, I have found this album makes everything sound great.
3) Steely Dan Two Against Nature: Their latest album is well-produced and contains excellent music. It's another great effort from Steely Dan. The stereo track on the DVD-Audio disc (24-bit/96-kHz) is better, but the CD is quite good.
I could probably think of others, but these three immediately come to mind.
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KeithH: Saving the Home Theater World Before Bedtime
 
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The Volodos is a good recording, but if you like classical piano, try Evgeny Kissin's recording of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata (sorry, can't recall the label). This will really stretch your system. Unless it is up to handling transients, it will sound tinny and harsh. In the right system, however, this is an unbelievably thrilling recording.
 

Mark Lee

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Kissin's on RCA, ain't he?
I vote for (as I always vote for, whenever one of these queries comes up) the Aaron Copland disc on Telarc, with the Fanfare for the Common Man, Rodeo Suite, and Appalachian Spring Suite. If you don't expect those first, roaring drum beats at the beginning of the Fanfare, you'll probably jump out of your seat! For all I know, Telarc's done these pieces again more recently, but the recording I'm referring to has Louis Lane and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. A great recording that'll certainly give your system a workout.
There's also a recording of various Franz Liszt solo piano pieces (including the Mephisto Waltz) on Reference Recordings called Nojima Plays Liszt. Give that one a try -- you likely won't find better sonics.
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Mark K. Lee
"Life is like a sewer -- what you get out of it, depends on what you put into it."
- Tom Lehrer
 

Joe Tompkins

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Some of my reference standards are:
Marcus Miller - The Sun Don't Lie, Jazz, Fusion
Robben Ford - And the Blue Line, Jazzy Electric Blues
Lyle Lovett - Joshua Judges Ruth, Country, Delta
Les Dudek - Les Dudek, Japan Import, Classic Rock
Joe Satriani - Surfin' With The Alien, MFSL Gold, Rock
There's a variety of tastes and styles for ya!
The music is great, it just happens they also sound
great as well. What a bonus.
Regards,
Joe T.
 

Phil A

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Jonatha Brooke "Live" is well recorded as is Rosanne Cash "10 Song Demo," one of the good versions of Willie Nelson's "Stardust," Ricky Lee Jones' "Pop Pop," Sara K's "Hobo" on Chesky Records and I also like much of what I have heard on SACD including Stevie Ray Vaughan.
 

Lucas Hale

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An album that I use many times for reference is 311's "Transistor". Very well recorded with a myriad of instruments and sounds.
 

Alex Johnson

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if anyone was interested in some wicked electronic shite, i hearily recommend:
anything on the schematic label (miami - especially richard devine)
the new squarepusher "go plastic" (warp, uk)
the latest autechre "confield" (warp, uk)
a
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visit neverville
 

Andrew W

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OK, I picked up the remastered CD of Dire Straits "Love Over Gold" I own the old one, so I decided to give it the A:B test. Both my DVD and CD have optical out, so the receiver is responsible for all of the DAC work....
My wife was the test subject.
I swapped CDs from the DVD player to CD to confirm my results.
Results: First, the remaster does seem to be few dB louder overall, I adjusted volume while switching to make sure we weren't just hearing louder.
Still, we agreed that the remastered "Super Bit Map" CD definitely sounds better. More spacious overall, but the instruments are more distinct and and recognizable.
I guess switching to a better receiver is now starting to reveal the poor recording quality of my ancient CD collection, but the new ones sound pretty good.
 

Stefan A

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One of the great things about classical music is that many orchestras record the same piece. Certainly the recording company(label) is important but don't fail to consider what orchestra you are buying.
Personally, I like the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Many of there recordings are reference quality IMO - but then again, I really like their sound. There are few labels they could record on and me not like. Try some cso recordings on Chandos or Deutch Grammaphone.
Telarc is also an excellent classical label. Cincinatti, Baltimore, Atlanta are a few off the top of my head that record with telarc. Try "Russian Sketches" with Baltimore.
If you are into concert band, try the Dallas Wind Symphony on their Reference Recording label. Pomp and Pipes is one of the best sounding disks I own.
Chesky has some classical and a lot of Jazz. They are known for their high quality recordings.
I can't help you out too much with classic rock. But just keep in mind that more goes into the sound of a classical recording than just the label.
Stefan Antwarg
 

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