With over 25,000 records and CDs,, including many half speed mastered, direct to disk and SACDs, I've come to the conclusion that if it says "audiophile recording" on the cover, odds are it it a second rate performance with fancy recording techniques. There are one or two exceptions, but on the whole, they're performers or performances that couldn't get signed to a real label. Gergiev conducting Impressionism, Peter Gabriel recording an album of contemporary covers, boring Carl Davis live radio broadcasts with the LSO, another Rostropovich recording of Shostakovich 5 when there's a perfectly good one on Telarc... There really isn't much point to stuff like this. There's a good reason they're "limited editions"... They're of limited interest.
The truth is that there are plenty of fantastic sounding recordings that don't have "reference recording" printed on the cover. The regular old $7.99 CD version of Donald Fagan's "The Nightfly" or Dutoit's Ravel box on London sound just as good as any super high bitrate digital download and have first class performances too. I have recordings from the mid fifties that sound as good as fancy audiophile recordings, but they were just regular commercial products in their day. CDs can sound fantastic, and there are an awful lot of them that sound as good as audiophile recordings. In fact, bad sounding classical music is the exception, not the rule. There is absolutely no reason to seek out audiophile classical.
I remember visiting an audiophile friend's home once to hear his system. He played a Mannheim Steamroller audiophile LP for me. After about ten minutes, I asked him if he really liked Mannheim Steamroller. He admitted that he really didn't. I plugged my iPod into his system and listened to Fats Waller and his Rhythm records from the late 30s. It sounded great and we enjoyed the music a lot more.
It's better to listen to great music than great recordings.
Edited by bigshot - 5/26/11 at 12:47pm