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Best Sounding CD Ever?

What is the best sounding CD available (any genre) in terms of recording and mastering job out there? I know opinions will differ, but I an wanting to buy a CD to use as a learning too (listening and learning about what I should go for in terms of sound).

Comments

Michael Fossenkemper Thu, 07/03/2003 - 21:04

It's too subjective. It's what serves the music best is what you should be striving for. You can learn just as much from bad sounding cd's too. Music is an art form, not a SAT score. Does it move you, make you listen, make you smile, laugh, cry, kill someone. Does it translate from system to system. If it accomplishes this then you've done your job.

anonymous Fri, 07/04/2003 - 15:12

I know what the worst sounding CD i've heard in a long time is,Metallica's new album,i think the recording engineer must have been drunk when he made this one,worst audio quality i have heard in a long time.I liked it better when recording studio's where analog,back then i think engineers took more time to make great recordings.Now i think they just crank up the levels push a button and walk away.I think studio's are in a hurry to get the things out to the public instead of taking the time to make a good product.Of course this is purely my observation or opinnion and your miliage may vary..PEACE and Happy 4th of July everyone..Keith H.

anonymous Fri, 07/04/2003 - 20:04

I agree that there is some pretty crappy CD's being put out there now. I have been listening to a few very successful new albums on some very good headphones lately and have noticed some distortion in places. Seems that a lot of folks are going for very "hot" albums (hitting the max limit button or something) and they don't seem to be worried about a few digital artifacts. Pretty careless in my opinion.

Pez Mon, 07/07/2003 - 18:02

Check out Coldplay. As far as older stuff I liked the Sadie productions and Miles Davis "Kind of Blue". I'm a big fan of most T-Bone Burnett and Brenden O'Brien productions (sp?). I find that things get really weird when I find myself enjoying really bad music just because of the production values. Then again some things sound so bad that they start to sound good. (some of the Frank Black stuff- very innovative or accidental?). Sometimes a really raw sound will deliver such an emotional impact that is easily lost with too much finesse. It can be a fine line to walk. Figure out the direction you want to go in before you start twiddling with the knobs.

anonymous Mon, 07/07/2003 - 22:10

Originally posted by Jamie Smith:
Sit in the sweet spot while listening to any track from Tool's Undertow for a great rock reference. The clarity in that album blows me away every time I listen to it.

Undertow has a very bright (something that sounds music man-esque) and very loud bass. The guitars almost take second seat to bass on this album. However, that could contribute to it's clarity (people who mix metal guitars know what i'm talking about). I personaly like the sound overall of the last two albums with the exception of the overcompression during mastering.

Staying in that same genre, the new deftones sounds amazing despite the heavy compression in mastering and as long as you dont mind megaphone vocals for a whole album. The kick drum sound rocks! The snare sound is way tight and high but still sounds good! Terry Date always impressed me for heavy rock albums.

As far as interesting production, Radiohead's OK Computer is amazing! Simultaneously mechanical and organic sounding. Never heard another album like it.

Second place for interesting production would be anything Tom Waits has done for the last 15 years. Very earthy, amient sound that gives you chills.

Aphex Twin's "Richard D. James" is a one trick pony as far as sounds but it also one of my favorites sonically. So basic it almost sounds like atari video game music.

I could go on all day. You can't compare the production of Tool to Aphex Twin or Tom Waits or another other genre to any other genre. It's like saying "who's better? michael jordan or tiger woods?"

anonymous Tue, 07/08/2003 - 09:01

For a nice South American CD, I'd suggest "Espiritu vivo" By Susana Baca. The recording is very well done and everything beyond it (mixing, mastering) seems to be spot on. Susana Baca does Afro Peruvian music, so you're going to get very organic music. This CD, however, was recorded in NY (Right Track Studios I believe). The deep tones that they got from the acoustic bass are incredible to hear. It's a very sparse record in many places. I credit the mastering engineer with gently massaging the CD rather than the typical squishing that is all too common these days.

For bluegrass/folk, I also like Dan Tyminski's latest record. A real nice recording and beyond job with great clarity for each part. They seemed to do a lot of hi-pass filtering (or low end reduction) on his voice to get it to fit, but it worked for this record. Very polished.

Es.

Alécio Costa Tue, 07/08/2003 - 10:13

I´m afraid the pancake squeezing starts happening with SACD´s and DVD-A´s also.

About crapy high end mastering, I prefer the ones I do with $1000plug-ins lol

I like Steve Vai´s "Passion and Warfare", Firegarden", Satriani´s Extremist, Toto´s Kingdom of Desire, Yes´s 90125, Fragile, Big Generator, Rush´s Counterparts, Power Windows, Hold your fire and so and so..

lol :p:

Davedog Tue, 07/08/2003 - 17:04

John Hiatt's Crossing Muddy Waters...

For massive production values....don't laugh....Shania Twain's Come On Over..its The Mutt at his best...actually the one before it is just as good....

Joan Osborne's Relish....guitars are right in yer face and you can hear every note.

Find a good copy of the album, not the CD, the PLASTIC and make your own copy of Hendrix...Axis Bold As Love and listen to Eddie Kramer use great big old tube gear and four tracks...its also a guitar primer.The clean rhythm is the best that ever was and still is.

[ October 06, 2003, 10:56 AM: Message edited by: Davedog ]

CARY Tue, 07/08/2003 - 19:09

Originally posted by Alécio Costa - Brazil:
I´m afraid the pancake squeezing starts happening with SACD´s and DVD-A´s also.

About crapy high end mastering, I prefer the ones I do with $1000plug-ins lol

I like Steve Vai´s "Passion and Warfare", Firegarden", Satriani´s Extremist, Toto´s Kingdom of Desire, Yes´s 90125, Fragile, Big Generator, Rush´s Counterparts, Power Windows, Hold your fire and so and so..

lol :p:

Alecio,
I see you have an ear similar to mine. I would have named those cd's also.

Guest Tue, 07/08/2003 - 21:53

Oh yeah, Tom Petty's Wildflowers has been jumping to the top of my list since it came out. Talk about an amazing sounding album. The balance is amazing, the drums are perfect, and the vocals sound oh so good.

My top three:

1. Tom Petty - Wildflowers
2. Radiohead - OK Computer
3. Sgt. Pepper. I know, it's outdated, but the sound is so unique, and I love the old school panning. If you listen to some of the individual sounds on that album...they're so cool sounding. The production is also top notch.

vinniesrs Tue, 07/08/2003 - 23:33

Undertow by tool was a fantastic sounding record, but just a little synthetic. In their case, it suits them well.
Fiona apple's Tidal was great.
Paul simon's graceland.
Throwing copper by live
Tom petty, full moon fever
Blue rodeo lost together
Pat methany letter from home(a touch brittle though)
Santana Spirits dancing in the flesh.
Slayer god hates us all
Chilies Blood sugar sex magic

jdsdj98 Wed, 07/09/2003 - 22:26

OK. How about some GREAT sounding "classical" acoustic recordings?

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet - "LAGQ" and "Air & Ground"

John Williams (no, not the composer) - "The Guitarist"

These three definitely set the bar for classical guitar recording. I've searched for technical info regarding the John Williams album, but can't find anything. If anyone knows of anything, let me know.

vinniesrs Thu, 07/10/2003 - 08:06

I wanted to clarify my comment about tool sounding synthetic, as another member pointed out to me that this could be taken a couple of ways.

In no way at all was I making a point at the engineer of the record. Primo job engineering!!
I simply didn't think that the bands sound is natural. That doesn't mean that the studio is faking their sound. I have seen tool live, and it does sound just like the record. I like them very much and they influence my music.

To me, if you are going to look at the best sounding album, I think it's simply a matter of preference. Most of the time I would rather listen to tool, but I think the graceland album sounds better.

Just my opinion! Thanks for listening. :D

e-cue Thu, 07/10/2003 - 12:02

Steve,
I'm supirsed you listed "God Hates Us All" by Slayer. That record sounds like garbage to me. Try a/bing it with "South of Heaven" and tell me what you think. I think GHUA sounds very musched like a finalizer was put on every channel and then the mix bus was hit too hard. It also sounds very closed to me, where as South of Heaven, or even Reign In Blood sounds much more open, on the top end AND bottom end.

anonymous Fri, 07/11/2003 - 05:26

I don't know if I'm doing this right, posting my vote as a reply...

...but I have to tune in to Alécios and Carys list. ;) recorded 1970 with a clear, punchy sound. though the bass is very prominent on this record (which, in this case is a positive thing) the overall sound is razorsharp.

Rush has always managed to produce good sounding albums, especially on the drums. Can it be that Neil Peart is in control of his drums? ;)

Another album that made a great impact when I heard it the first time (and still does) is "I Robot" by Alan Parsons Project.

Great Site this is...Learn alot :tu:

anonymous Wed, 07/16/2003 - 13:59

rush's more recent album "vapor trails" was mastered to death, in my opinion. it's pretty obvious when looking at in a wave editor - tons of big cliping.

There is a more recetnt album by Placebo that many rave about.

Of course there is Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.

A new Chick Corea album "Rendezvous in New York" - this was actually recorded using the newer DSD technology and the disc is a hybrid (SACD/CD) I'm really interesting in this, as converting down to PCM from this high quality is like using 32-bit/352.8mHz or something crazy like that. I've not yet heard the SACD version as I don't have the player, but my friend is wearing in his B&W monitors so it may be soon. I can't wait for this technology to take over and get down in price.

Of course, by the time it does get down, Blue-Ray will probably be popular, and perhaps the 3D-holographic storage units as well - who knows for sure!?

anonymous Thu, 07/17/2003 - 10:31

Led Zeppelin IV.

Great acoustic instruments (mandolin, guitar) and badass electric. One of the best drum sounds (When the Levee Breaks) ever. Not to mention awesome vocals.

Listen to the guitar on Stairway. It's so sad that this song, and the entire album, is going to be overlooked by so many just because the song was overplayed into the realm annoyance. It's an amazing song (that I used to hate) if you can manage to get fresh ears and listen to it.

And if you really want to hear a good album, it has to be on vinyl. CDs just don't come close.

anonymous Thu, 07/17/2003 - 22:40

Rick Rubin and Brendan O'Brien did Blood, Sugar. I worked for the company that supplied the studio gear they used to record, a company called Clubhouse. Unfortunately I started about 8 months after the album was finished. I don't remember if they mixed at the house in the hills, though. We built Perry Farrell's system, and supplied the gear for the first Counting Crows album (T-Bone Burnett and Pat McCarthy !!!). I was just running gear and setting up mics (hey, I still do that now!), but it was terrific to learn from people at that level. I wish I had been more experienced when all that was happening- I had some golden opportunities that I couldn't take advantage of because I just didn't have the knowledge and maturity- I was 20 years old. Those were exciting times... Doc

Tungstengruvsten Fri, 07/18/2003 - 11:27

I can't choose just one:

Red House Painters - Songs for a Blue Guitar
Ranges from Neil Young style amp-cranked guitar tones to spacious and open alt-country type songs...'Have You Forgotten' and 'Song for a Blue Guitar' are two tracks I use to familiarize myself with stereos, mixers, rooms etc...intimate vocals, lush verbed out pedal steels, brushes on snares, lotsa sonic goodies. Also, the cover of the Cars 'All Mixed Up' is gorgeous

Butthole Surfers - Independent Worm Saloon
Produced by John Paul Jones, he wrangled every little ounce of music from these Texan crazies.
Tons of guitars not just layered but woven together to make a kick ass sound. Some wacky intros/segues/nonsense tastefully used(well, except the song about puking...)

Melvins - Houdini
Huge room sounding drums and pounding guitars-vocals are a bit whacked but it ranges from the very fast to the very slow in tempo and song development. Some cool varispeed/half speed trickery and crazy doubling schtuff. the drums in "Honey Bucket" sound like a Harley idling at times...killer.

Mercury Rev/Flaming Lips
I'm a sucker for Dave Fridmann's production, and it's changed throughout both these bands career(as has his contribution..) but I can find perfection-fully realized productions, songs, albums etc within their catalogs. Look to FLaming Lips "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" and Mercury Rev's "All is Dream" for the newest schtuff.

Cake - Comfort Eagle
Like the friggin blueprint of how drum machines and pop bands should interact at times. Some wicked hooks, and 'mid-fi' production make it rawk.

Red Snapper - Prince Blimey
It seems cliche for bands these days to want to emulate their electronic brethren....these guys were way ahead of the pack and this 1996 album to me is still the best hybrid of amazing musicianship/electronica styles and production.

honourable mention:
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
shit I already used the word gorgeous....uhh...it's really really frigging good!!!

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anonymous Mon, 07/21/2003 - 06:54

Originally posted by Keith H:
I know what the worst sounding CD i've heard in a long time is,Metallica's new album,i think the recording engineer must have been drunk when he made this one,worst audio quality i have heard in a long time.I liked it better when recording studio's where analog,back then i think engineers took more time to make great recordings.Now i think they just crank up the levels push a button and walk away.I think studio's are in a hurry to get the things out to the public instead of taking the time to make a good product.Of course this is purely my observation or opinnion and your miliage may vary..PEACE and Happy 4th of July everyone..Keith H.

I agree with you , but Metallica's records have always sounded bad ( especialy the drums )

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