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Sweetwater Forums [Archived]

After 15 years of great discussions, the Sweetwater Forums are now closed and preserved as a "read-only" resource. For discussions about current gear, check us out on Facebook, YouTube, inSync, and our Knowledge Base.

What do you think is the best sounding recording of all time?


Notice we’re not asking what you think the best recording of all time is. We’re also not asking what your favorite song is. Essentially, we want to know what recording you use to test out a system. You might even think the song stinks, but you love the sound. Why does it rate?
October 5, 2001 @10:10pm

Supertramp, Breakfast in america. I don't like em' but that album sounded great.:)
October 5, 2001 @11:51pm
Aubrey Litvack

Not neccesarily the best song of all time but definately a great system test song, by Fiona Apple from her album "when the pawn..." first track called "ON THE BOUND". The song has probably the nicest sounding snare on it, and her vocals realy reveal the stereo image of a pair of speakers, as well the sonic characteristics of the song show how clear the bass on a given system is and really show off how accurate the mid and highs , both through her vocals and the piano, as well as the aformentioned snare and cymbals
October 5, 2001 @11:58pm

I like "IGY 1959" from Donald Fagan's "Nightfly". For sonic purity and clarity of the mix.
October 6, 2001 @12:20am

Steely Dan's Bad Sneakers, from the Katy Lied album.
This is one of the standards I use to audition and evaluate speaker systems. The recording is crystal clear, and the drums are beyond belief. I pay special attention to the side sticks, as they have a transient response that most engineers only dream
Considering that this recording is quite old, it's amazing what was
done with the available equipment. I'd be interested if any other
person uses this 'tune' for evaluation.
When used with a flat and uncolored repro system, you can close your eyes, and feel like you are standing in the studio during the
session. To me, that's what makes this recording so outstanding.
October 6, 2001 @12:37am
John Ince

Fascinoma by Ry Cooder and John Hassell.
Clarity and you hear the natural acoustics of the room.
Recorded with 2 hand wound mics and custom built tube
pre amp and amp and no compression and no mixing!
the sound is well , so amazing that the breathing is clearly
heard as well as the notes rising vertically and bouncing off the
church walls giving a sound that is deep and not muddy.
The incredible presentation has the balance left to right
and front to back that you can tell when someone moves to
a new spot or is gone from a song.
All of Water Lilly Records are recorded the same but this
is one where the musicians play the room ( consider its
properties ) while playing and so there is a sense of relaxed
and perceptive listening. There is alot of space presented in this
recording, filled with sensitive playing. Excellent recording
and engineering to produce a modern equivilent to the
direct to disc records with those wonderful dynamics of
yesterdays analogue d to d vinyl.
October 6, 2001 @03:02am

My favorite recording right now (it changes periodically, depending on what I'm listening for) is a John Coltrane compilation. I think it's on CBS records. There are better recordings if you want pin-point imaging, but the tonality and general sense of space are the best I can remember hearing. That cd has the ability to make just about any sound system sound incredible. My car stereo is pretty mediocre and has lousy imaging characteristics, but when I listen to that disc, it sounds like a million bucks. It's definitely an inspriation to hear when I'm getting ready to record.
October 6, 2001 @05:22am
Dan Popp

I use James Taylor's "Never Die Young" because I'm very familiar with it, and all the instruments sound good. I have a ton of CDs that qualify as "great" recordings, but when you listen carefully, the piano is kinda honky or the drums seem small. Taylor's NDY and "That's Why I'm Here" sound marvelous. The mix is well-balanced, and the individual instruments sound polished and full, with a lot of space, yet the overall effect is coherent and "musical." Plus, these were mastered to CD before the loudness wars killed the sonics on everything.
Less is more!
Dan Popp
Colors Audio
October 6, 2001 @09:50pm

Hootie's 3rd cd has a certain sound to it that is incredible.
Second is the Counting Crows "August and..." cd, it was recorded in 1993 usinf analog gear, and that says alot.
October 7, 2001 @05:22am

I'd have to say two (well three) discs by Ottmar Liebert
Opium:Wide Eyed+Dreaming double discs for studio based work. This is a great example of sonic experimentation in the studio.
Second would be his Viva! disc for best sounding live recording. It's an excellently balanced live mix. The only thing I think I have that ties that is the live Bowie at the Beeb BBC 2000 disc.
October 7, 2001 @07:38pm

Y'all are wrong. :) Believe it or not, HARRY CONNICK, JR., has a track on his 'She' album with two admirable qualities. #7 (Joe Slam and the Spaceship) not only has one of the funkiest yet relaxed grooves in modern music, but is sonically amazing. The drums sound great, the guitar runs the same riff as the bass, and Connick's organ smoothes it all out. If you need a clean EQ in a hurry, get this CD.
October 7, 2001 @08:01pm

Listen to the new Jimmy Eat World CD. Great punk sound, not to polished but clean.
October 8, 2001 @05:05am

I'd have to say that I think this is a wonderful band to try out monitors with. They have such dynamics and a great transparent recording. If you haven't listened to them before, try them out soon. I don't personally like their style but a friend of mine turned me on to the great sonic sound I had to have the cd in my collection for this purpose.
October 8, 2001 @12:33pm

I agree with Blacko3788 on the <u>Flim and the BBs</u> -- This is an OUTSTANDING recording -- I 'm referring to their 'BIG NOTES' disc....
<b>However</b>,..... I use Kenny Loggins' 'Leap of Faith' disc to test systems/speakers. I can't count the number of times that a rep was busy bragging on his system, then I pop in Leap of Faith, track #2, --- You'll see everyone in the immediate area gather around and listen intently. Powerful sound, and and excellent recording.
The contrast of Kenny's 'high' end vocals with the driving and tight bottom end brings out the absolute best and worst in a system -- (read: truth).
Also, beginning fairly mellow and building to a near-frenzy at the finish, this takes the listener/system through it's paces dynamically....
This is one of the Cleanest Recordings ever made, many great tracks here.
Check this one out, I'm confident you'll add it to your top ten for Quality Recording.
-And Thanks to all who have posted their faves, this is a tremendous resource for ALL of us!
October 8, 2001 @07:19pm

There are three reference CD`s I use to compare my mixes, test monitors/speakers.
According to the music I mix and work with, these CD`s are often turned to for comparison.
These are top 3:
1.) SADE, love deluxe (overall mix)
This album has some of the best overall bottom end I`ve ever heard. The panning and tonal accuracy of each instrument amazes me every time. Good job Mike Pela (co-producer/engineer) and Chris Lord-Alge (mixer).
2.) JOHN COLTRANE, A Love Supreme (drum mix)
When it comes to an overall drum sound, I turn to Elvin Jones solo that begins Pursuance (track #3). The drums are panned to the right but just listen to the naturalness of them, nevermind his incredible dynamics and chops. Besides this being a great jazz reference CD, it`s an incredibly beautiful one to say the least.
3.) SHAWN COLVIN, A Few Small Repairs (vocal mix)
Vocally, Shawn Colvin does not have the prettiest voice but recording wise, her lyrics are completely understandable, while her harmonies are set just right to enhance the fullness but never get in the way of the main vox.
If I`m looking for inspiration "Production Wise", these 3 albums completely inspire me and always get me to shake my head in amazement, while smiling in admiration...
SEAL, 2nd album (Bring It On, Prayer For the Dying, Don`t Cry, Kiss From A Rose)
U2, All That You Can`t Leave Behind
Sarah McLachlan, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
Peace and Happy Music Making,
October 8, 2001 @07:23pm