Originally Posted by Mark Hoepfl
For sound quality - what would your top 3 RBCDs and top 3 SACDs be???
Yikes! Tough question...
I just like to listen to music. If the sound isn't good, I work on the stereo system until it is good. With our current lineup and some decent speakers and properly set up, just about anything is going to sound pretty darned good.
If your system isn't doing that, spend $50 on the book "Get Better Sound" by Jim Smith:www.getbettersound.com
Don't underestimate set-up. This includes cabling, equipment supports, AC power orientation, and even odd tweaks like our "Irrational But Efficacious" CD, as well as the standard things like speaker placement and room acoustics. I would say that set-up determines 50% of the performance of your system.
Think about Formula One racing. Do you think that Ferrari would win the World Constructor's Championship if they took the exact same care to each course? Of course not! They have a guy whose job it is to select the gear ratios for each course, another guy who selects the tire compound for the course, the temperature, the weather, and the driver's style, another guy who tunes the engine for that course, another guy who adjusts the suspension for that course, another guy who adjust the aerodynamics for that course, and on and on.
Each of these guys is not only an expert at what he does, but he has records going back for 40 years or more telling what they used at that course in years past; what worked and what didn't. The driver works closely with each of these guys, giving them feedback on what needs work and what is working.
Audio is the same. You need to spend some time getting the details right. When everything is dialed in with a good system, every single disc you own will sound enjoyable and engaging.
But that's not what you asked....
I only have a handful of SACD's so my opinions would be very limited there.
For CD, there are hundreds of discs that I love that also have excellent sonics. On any given day you would probably get three different answers, depending on what popped into my head.
One that almost frightening in its verisimilitude (it's an acquired taste) is the out-of-print gamelan recording that is on HP's "super-disc" listing. (I forget the name of it.) I played in a gamelan for a few years, so I am more comfortable with that style of music than most Westerners.
Another one that is hard to find in the US but probably fairly common in Singapore is the Hong Kong-made disc "White Snow in Early Spring".
Both of these discs are fairly spectacular in nature. It is easy to make an impressive recording with percussion instruments because most speakers smear the transients of drums in the same way that the drums themselves do, thereby hiding their shortcomings. It is more difficult to fool the ear with something it is familiar with.
Some musicians and music lovers become very familiar with certain instruments. But everyone is familiar with the sound of the human voice. So I would have to include a well recorded folk album -- just vocals and guitar, sung in a natural style (unlike the specialized vocal style of, say, opera). So one of Joni Mitchell's earlier albums, Suzanne Vega's debut, or David Wilcox's new disc "Open Hand" (recorded basically live in the studio to 2" analog tape and mixed down to 1/2" half-track!) are all fun ones.