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For classical, I'm sure I have better but can't think of them offhand, but I find the sound quality of this one to be top notch.

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For non classical I think the sound quality of Billie Eilish's albums (I believe her brother does all the mixing and engineering) are fantastic.

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Purely on audiophile terms my best recording is not what one would expect. Not a classic Decca, modern Yarlung or Chasing The Dragon. Not a AP. My very best sounding recording is the DG cutting of Hilary Hahn with The LA Chamber Orchestra playing the Bach Violin Concertos. The 3d depth and resolution of this recording is amazing. That is for classical. And maybe I was lucky enough to get a hot pressing. I鈥檒l find out when I replace it.
My best sounding recording of all period is the Analog Productions 45rpm cutting of Billie Holiday, Body and Soul. A close second is thought to have been the first album ever cut to 331/3. The Analog Productions 45 of Masterpieces by Duke Ellington. Nothing in the modern era comes close. IMHO
I have the same Hillary Hahn Bach Violin Concertos but in sacd and it is really in amazing sound. Definitely one of my candidates for this thread.
 

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Left turn question: for those of you who chose a string quartet or solo piano recording as your "best ever recording," what criteria did you use?

Obviously can't be frequency range or dynamic range. Probably isn't imaging. Is it noise floor? Mid-range clarity? Close miking? Distant miking and thus hall resonance?
 

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This is a bit difficult when you have around 3,000 CDs and 6,000 vinyl LPs. However, after playing this box of the Mahler symphonies, I reckoned I could just about bear to part with the Haitink and Kubelik complete sets, if not the Bruno Walter recordings (the Sony CD box sounds awful so I'll keep all the Walter LPs, especially the stereo Lied von der Erde). I think these Tennstedt recordings really do supersede most other recordings. View attachment 168447
 

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Hard to pick one. My picks don't have anything to do with the recording quality for the most part:
Brahms - Julius Katchen playing the Handel Variations
Verdi Requiem - the Reiner version with Price, Elias, Bjorling, Tozzi
Beethoven Op. 131 - Guarneri String Quartet (1990 recording)
 

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I have not heard many recordings of Mahler's 5th symphony, so the recordings I have to chose from are limited. But for sonic quality, I was really impressed with Bernstein and the VPO on DG. Awfully hard to chose only one, though. Ask me tomorrow, and I'd probably come up with a different recording.

Design and presentation of classical music has been all over the place (often ugly or boring) but this series was really a beauty. I only have 4,5,6 of them (#1 with a different cover, musically only #5 and #6 are great favs, and the whole older Mahler with Bernstein on Sony) but I am tempted to get a few more of the DG series with the original covers because they are so nice.
 

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It was part of a series of budget boxes by DG which had a theme of packaging boxes. Some of them were perfectly nice but they got a bit wacky with a few of them.
 

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Left turn question: for those of you who chose a string quartet or solo piano recording as your "best ever recording," what criteria did you use?

Obviously can't be frequency range or dynamic range. Probably isn't imaging. Is it noise floor? Mid-range clarity? Close miking? Distant miking and thus hall resonance?
Primarily performance. Its just a wonderfully expressive, powerful account. The realistic miking, soundstage, etc just totally enhance what is already a brilliant performance. The combination of the lot makes it special.
 

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IMO/IME, the best audio quality involves modern performances/recordings (i.e., performances recorded in the last 15 years or so) that were captured and mastered in multi-channel hi-res digital (e.g., 24bit/192kHz PCM, or DSD), and delivered on a disc featuring DTS-HD MA 5.1 (e.g., Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray), or an SACD disc that features multi-channel DSD.

My main criterion in assessing audio quality of a recording is that the recording creates the illusion that I鈥檓 in a world-class symphony hall or opera house listening to a live performance that involves no use of electronics.

Here's my relevant thread about Blu-ray discs: Blu-ray Videos of Classical Concerts

If you want just one example of state-of-the-art audio, then I suggest the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track of the following Blu-ray disc:



There are many more examples of excellent Blu-ray discs in the thread I鈥檝e referenced above.

IMO/IME, the best-available Blu-ray DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio far surpasses stereo recordings (particularly Redbook CD).

P.S. Blu-ray classical music recordings often include high-definition video. High-definition video is particularly relevant for ballet and opera (i.e., seeing the actors, singers, dancers and scenery). Another major benefit of Blu-ray audio/video discs (Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray) is the ability to see the libretto of an opera on the HDTV screen. (For example, providing an on-screen English translation of an opera sung in Italian.) Additionally, I think that high-definition video is very enjoyable for classical symphonic concerts (i.e., seeing the conductor, musicians, and concert hall).
 

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The following modern recording that includes Biber鈥檚 鈥淢issa Salisburgensis鈥 is another example of a Blu-ray that has excellent hi-res multi-channel DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio, and high-def video.



IMO, the in-home experience delivered by this Blu-ray far surpasses what CDs are capable of delivering.
 

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There is no way I can answer this question. As I am listening to a recording, it becomes the best recording I have ever heard. I don't retain an auditory memory of a recording and don't compare one to another. Also, I am only interested in hearing a work and almost any performance will do.

I realize that I am probably an exception for the TC community, which seems to include members who are intimately knowledgable about recordings and can speak to good, better, best - but I'm not like that.
 

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I feel like like an outlier in this discussion (born in 1950) but I don't admire recording-quality as my most important criterion. For my money, what gets me is a superior interpretation of a well-known work. Arthur Grumiaux's lesser-known recording of the Brahms Violin Concerto from 1958 with the Concertgebuow leaves every other recording in the dust, including his own later rendition. Periodically it gets re-released. Standards? The orchestra is superb! Grumiaux's architecture, his taste, and intelligence put me on the floor every time! His double-stopping has an indescribable "royal" flavor. The moods and colors the generates are unusually varied. His ending of the work reminds me of the end of a tragic opera. He does all that by sheer timing mastery. I could go on, or did I already?
Hey, it's up on Youtube! (Turn it up.)
 

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For Bach's dense contrapuntal music, I recommend the "Oboenwerke" three disc series in SACD surround on Caro Mitis label. The playing of these concertos and suites is excellent but with surround you can clearly hear each part as they weave their magic around you. Really delightful. The ultimate Bach for me (Art of Fuge) is unavailable. There are very few recordings of the completed four-fuge conclusion and none in surround.
If you have surround, I strongly recommend the Mendelssohn Octet in DVDAudio on Tacet. You can clearly hear all eight instruments arranged around you just as Mendelssohn intended at his gatherings. Two string quartets and four string trios are playing in parts combined around you in the room. A good example of "hi-fi" serving the music!
 

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IMO/IME, the best audio quality involves modern performances/recordings (i.e., performances recorded in the last 15 years or so) that were captured and mastered in multi-channel hi-res digital (e.g., 24bit/192kHz PCM, or DSD), and delivered on a disc featuring DTS-HD MA 5.1 (e.g., Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray), or an SACD disc that features multi-channel DSD.

My main criterion in assessing audio quality of a recording is that the recording creates the illusion that I鈥檓 in a world-class symphony hall or opera house listening to a live performance that involves no use of electronics.

Here's my relevant thread about Blu-ray discs: Blu-ray Videos of Classical Concerts

If you want just one example of state-of-the-art audio, then I suggest the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track of the following Blu-ray disc:



There are many more examples of excellent Blu-ray discs in the thread I鈥檝e referenced above.

IMO/IME, the best-available Blu-ray DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio far surpasses stereo recordings (particularly Redbook CD).

P.S. Blu-ray classical music recordings often include high-definition video. High-definition video is particularly relevant for ballet and opera (i.e., seeing the actors, singers, dancers and scenery). Another major benefit of Blu-ray audio/video discs (Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray) is the ability to see the libretto of an opera on the HDTV screen. (For example, providing an on-screen English translation of an opera sung in Italian.) Additionally, I think that high-definition video is very enjoyable for classical symphonic concerts (i.e., seeing the conductor, musicians, and concert hall).
I know this is besides the point but that sure is an ugly sleeve. If only the sleeve on Rattles recording could be the standard
 
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