Originally Posted by C0rnholio
What's the point in having some state of the art music listening devices if the music playing sounds like it's an AM radio.
I totally agree with you but there must be certain distinctions that must be made.
There are some recordings that will NEVER be audiophile quality. These include all the historic blues recordings made by Robert Johnson, Blind Blake or Blind Lemon etc. There are versions that top others but even those are lackluster. In these cases, you just want to get the best versions available and enjoy the music for what it is. These are the absolute best versions of Robert Johnson's music I have found:
Robert Johnson - Legendary Blues (Vol. 1)
Robert Johnson - Legendary Blues (Vol. 2)
Then there are amazing recordings that have been released in lackluster ways. A prime example of this IMHO is Time Out by Dave Brubeck. It is a superb recording but the vast majority of the releases don't present it in the best light possible. Some do a great job like the standard Columbia (non-legacy) reissue from the late 90's. The best version of this can be made using the original SACD. Another example of this is Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis. The best version comes in the 2-disc Legacy re-issue but it still needs some EQ to sound its best.
Lastly there are the amazing recordings that are truly amazing but have NEVER been released that way. Prime example is Frank Sinatra's "Songs For Swingin' Lovers!". Every single release after 1961 has a layer of fake echo and bad post processing. Trying to find a mint gray label mono west coast pressing, which is the best release, is proving to be harder and harder as time goes by. In these cases, it really comes down to how passionate you are in tracking down your favorite recordings. I went through 28 vinyl pressings before I found a mint "Songs For Swingin' Lovers!" and none of the 29 were cheap.
So what to do?
I do one of two things.
1) DIY it. This is usually the course I take as I have a preferred sound signature preference and I am very nit picky when it comes to getting a perfect version of an album I love. However, it has taken over 10 years to learn how to properly do it myself and it has been an epic investment in time and money.
2) Research! This is the easy way out. Do your research! Make sure you find out who mastered the title you buying. Did it use the master tapes? Is it no-noised? Here is a list of good mastering engineers to look out for:
Top Tier For Me:
Lesser Tier but generally reliable:
AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!
RVG modern re-issues
NON-MASTERING NAMES TO LOOK OUT FOR!
Then of course, there are the "audiophile companies". Names to look out for are DCC, Audio Fidelity, GrooveNote, S&P Records, Cisco, Analogue Productions, Mobile Fidelity, Stockfisch Records, Clarity Recordings, Tacet and a few others.
Anyway, I hope this helps!
Edited by LFF - 4/26/11 at 7:01am