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Records for listening tests

not only the audiophile ones work well...

Nels Ferré's choice

[Italian version]

  1. LP- Paul Simon- Paul Simon, DCC Compact Classics #LPZ-2060
    I can hear it already, and I know what you are thinking..."Paul Simon? You are kidding aren't you?" I myself am no great fan of Paul Simon's solo work.
    I actually bought this for my wife, when I recently came out of my digital fog and started listening to vinyl again. I was in for a big surprise....this is a great album! Every track, without fail, sounds tremendous.
    The sound of the pick against the guitar strings is clearly audible, and by the way, I can hear that the strings are new. If my system had more resolution, I'm sure I could identify the brand of guitar and used on the recording as well.
    On "Papa Hobo", the fiddle sounds especially lifelike, and the imaging is excellent, with the fiddle clearly out in front of the guitar. Metal against metal is reproduced properly on the slide guitar on "Hobo's Blues"

  2. LP- Pink Floyd- Dark Side of the Moon, Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs #MFSL 1-017 OUT OF PRINT
    There's nothing more that can be said on this landmark album that hasn't been said by someone, somewhere.
    I have owned all three available versions of this recording, the original Capitol/Harvest standard issue LP, the CD, and the MoFi, and all I can say here is that this is by far the best sounding of the three. Highly recommended, assuming you can find one.

  3. LP- The Eagles- Hotel California, DCC Compact Classics #LPZ 2043
    I have heard this album so many times that I refused to listen to it for years. A great album, to be sure, but every time I turned around, I heard the opening notes yet again to one of the many hits on this album.
    Purchased at the same time as the Paul Simon LP, I had no idea that this recording was done so well. Drums sound like drums- full and lifelike, with a definite bite to them.
    Vocals are in the room, instead of in the speakers. The original Electra/Asylum recording did not have the resolution and realism that this recording does.
    Maybe Steve Hoffman at DCC is on to something with his all tube cutting system, which uses VAC electronics.

  4. CD Tchiakovsky- 1812 Overture, Mercury Living Presence #434 360-2
    I first discovered this recording in my Mom's record cabinet, on vinyl, as a child. Although her version was the "High Fidelity" version and not the extra cost "Stereo" version, I dearly loved it.
    As you all know, the originals are long out of print. Thankfully, it was brought to CD for those who don't "do" vinyl, or those who can't afford the large sum of money the vinyl demands. This recording was made on all tube equipment and microphones, is simply glorious in its ability to draw you into the performance. I have only found two faults with the recording.
    Firstly, the recording is that like many made in the late 50's, this recording suffers from what I term as "severe stereo", that is a slightly unnatural separation of the instruments in the recording to emphasize that the recording was done in stereo.
    The other fault I have is that the cannons are not the last word in realism, like the famous Telarc version.
    On the other hand, I doubt this recording will blow fuses and destroy both electronics and speakers as the Telarc undoubtedly will. This CD, unlike most, also includes excellent liner notes explaining about the recording sessions and the equipment involved.
    Track 2 on the disc is a documentary track where one can hear the differences that mic placement will make on the recording. If I could only locate the original vinyl LP, lost long ago in a move....

  5. CD- Jethro Tull- Roots To Branches, Chrysalis Records Ltd. #7243 8 35418 2 9
    In the 1970's Chrysalis Records became known as "the house that Tull built", and with good reason- they sold millions of LPs. Ian Anderson and Company are still producing great music, while never resting on their laurels.
    They are always experimenting with new ideas, and the new ideas usually sound very good indeed. This album is excellent.
    The music is entertaining, and very thoughtfully excecuted with a definite nod towards the music and culture of India. As far as the recording goes, all recording techniques are stellar. Dymamics are wonderful, and all instruments are recorded to make them sound their best. This CD has good front to back imaging, and also fairly good height.
    Beware, however of Anderson's voice, it has a rather nasal quality, which on a speaker or system which favors the midrange, can be irritating at times.

  6. CD- Jazz at the Pawnshop, Prophone #PRCD 7778
    I had a musical experience with this album. I was at a showing for industry people when I used to sell hi-fi, in the Krell/ B&W demonstration room, and I was prepared for another one of those "Audiophile Recordings"- you know- the ones that technically sound great, but do nothing to stir the soul.
    They put his in the CD instead, and I was amazed. These Swedish guys cook!!!!! Recorded in 1976 in Stockholm, this instrumental album is one of my jazz favorites. The cohesiveness of the recording just sounds "right". The vibraphone is at least 2-3 feet into the room . The stand up bass is authoritative and yet delicate at the same time.
    The sax is just right, and the brushes across the drum heads sound soooo good!! If you have never heard this recording, do yourself a favor and find it.

  7. LP- Harry Belafonte, Belafonte at Carnegie Hall, Classic Records #LSO6006-45 (8 12 inch 45RPM's)
    I have tried to stay with music that I know very well on this list, and although I've only had this set for 2 months as I write this, I feel it qualifies.
    My wife and I both enjoy this immensely, and have listened to it countless times since its arrival. Pressed at 45 RPM on single sided 180 gram vinyl, this set is beautiful to look at as well as listen to. This set is a high quality reissue of the 1959 RCA Living Stereo Recording. And let me tell you, this record is fun!!
    If you close you eyes, you are in Carnegie hall, 20th row, center. The soundstage is not just "lifelike" it is life. You are there.
    Point in fact: during the audience participation number "Matilda", Belafonte addresses both the band and the audience. You can actually tell when he turns around!! He also stalks the stage from side to side during certain numbers, This set includes the hits "Day-O", "Jamaica Farewell", and others.

  8. CD- The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Parlophone #CDP 7 46442 2
    I believe this to be the best rock album of all time. It's amazing that this was able to be recorded on 4 track equipment. The album is nonetheless recorded very well, with lots of detail.
    On a good system, this recording has the ability to make me forget life's difficulties, and transport me to another place and time. To me, that's the wonderful thing about music.

  9. CD- Jewel, Pieces of You, Atlantic #82700-2
    This was a blockbuster album in the U.S., and rightfully so. Brilliant songwriting, excellent musicianship, and those vocals. I believe that Jewel is probably the most talented young women in popular music today.
    The sound quality is very good, with only one exception. The first track "Who Will Save Your Soul", is horribly recorded, dark, muddy, and bass heavy.
    The rest of the album is great, with her Taylor acoustic guitar shining. And her voice? It draws you into the songs with a quality that I cannot explain, but find irresistible.

  10. CD- Barry Manilow- Paradise Café, Arista # 07822-18945-2
    I am no fan of Barry Manilow, purveyor of smarmy Top 40 love songs. I actually dislike the music of that Barry Manilow I am however a big fan of this Barry Manilow, master musician and vocalist.
    This set recorded in one session in 1984 is excellent. Imagine yourself in a small smoky jazz club circa 1950, and you get the idea. On a good system, one can almost hear the tinkle of glass as the bartender performs his tasks.
    Its recorded that well, rich, vibrant, and alive-another "you are there" recording. This set also includes duets with Mel Tormé and Sarah Vaughan.

  11. CD- Muddy Waters, Folk Singer, MCA/Chess # CHD-12027
    This set, which includes a young Buddy Guy, is my favorite acoustic blues album. It has been released by many other companies, among them Mobile Fidelity, on both vinyl and CD, and also Vivante Productions, on 180 gram vinyl.
    The balance on this recording is perfect, with the drums, stand up bass, both guitars and vocals meshing in a sea of oneness. This recording is not a group of players playing just together, but playing as one, with no one instrument taking center stage. It's kind of like the perfect casserole: all the flavors mix to make a sum greater than their individual parts.
    I haven't had the pleasure to hear any of the "hifi" versions of this album yet, but I can guarantee this, when I do, I'll probably buy it.

  12. CD- Loreena McKennitt, The Book of Secrets, Warner Brothers 9 46719-2
    I had never heard of Loreena McKennitt until her U.S. hit "The Mummer's Dance" captivated me a couple of years back.. I can tell you this: Ms. McKennitt is a very talented lady. If you like Celtic music, this is a must have collection of wonderful music.
    This album includes many exotic instruments, some of which I have never heard of, nor heard, that add texture to the mix.
    Along from the vocals, which are dark and moody, the instrumentation blends perfectly, for a captivating listening experience.

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Copyright © 1999 Nels Ferré - http://www.tnt-audio.com

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