Wow - this took a lot of thought. I'm not used to that!
Let me count down backwards with an explanation where appropriate:
10: Donald Fagen - The Nightfly (DVD-Audio)
This is one of two DVD-Audios on my list but it's my favorite 5.1 mix of any of the Steely Dan/Fagen releases (although Gaucho is reeeeeeal close). New Frontier gives me goosebumps.
9. Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (SACD)
8. Vince Guaraldi Trio - A Boy Named Charlie Brown (Stereo SACD)
This is a fantastic performance plain and simple, and when you consider that it's over 40 years old, it is just astonishing as to the resolution, the warmth, and clarity. What is it about piano that reproduces so wonderfully in SACD?
quick note: I don't have A Charlie Brown Christmas on SACD (or the Monster Super-Duper Disc version for that matter) so maybe one of those would replace this entry? I've been struggling with which one to get and my indecision is getting the best of me. Anyone have any insights? Did Monster nail it?
7. Oscar Peterson (SACD Stereo) Exclusively For My Friends Vol I-VI
This six disc collection has to be bought individually which is unfortunate, but well worthwhile if you're a Peterson fan. Again, we're talking about recordings from the 60's, but it feels like it could have been recorded yesterday. It's like getting a private concert, which was basically the venue for the recording.
6. Moody Blues - Days of Future Passed (DTS Audio)
Immersive orchestral-pop recording with great 5.1 Surround Mix.
5. Boys II Men - II (DTS)
Ok, there goes my street cred right out the virtual window.
This is a guilty pleasure to be sure, but let me frame it properly. This was one of the first DTS Surround Sound mixes/releases ever made. I remember playing this oh-so-many years ago on this ridiculously expensive Sherwood Newcastle receiver that I bought back in the day that was the first to offer BOTH DTS and Dolby Digital playback!! This was the demo disc that Sherwood used with DTS reps in the room to introduce the receiver. I was blown away then, and it's still a great demo disc because of the incredibly aggressive surround mix. Those that have heard it will understand. Drums stereo separated in the back surrounds; harmonies isolated vocal by vocal and sent to individual speakers; an unbelievable effort.
4. Queen - A Night at The Opera (DVD-Audio)
Need I say more? Great 5.1 mix.
3. Toy Matinee - Toy Matinee (DTS)
Cult pop fave with fantastic 5.1 playback. I wouldn't expect anything less from a pop band co-fronted by well known producer Patrick Leonard. The lead singer Kevin Gilbert died way too young and I just feel sooo lucky that I was able to see him live a couple of times before the end. This album is a great testament to his talents although I heartily recommend searching out his internet-only released posthumous album The Shaming Of The True or his incredible cover of Kashmir if you can find it. One more DTS-related tangent would to recommend Patrick Leonard's soft jazz release Rivers which also has a gorgeous soundstage in 5.1.
2. Beck - Sea Change (SACD)
This is about as defining an SACD release as I have ever heard. It is both state of the art (with original production by Nigel Godrich) and completely immersive. Kudos to those that have also placed it on their list because it is certainly not the most commercial, or accessible of Beck's catalog and yet is so rewarding for those that don't mind a more introspective, quieter Beck. Wow.
1 Talk Talk - Spirit Of Eden (SACD)
This is the reason that I decided to come out of the woodwork to post. This album was not on a single list, and I would either venture that it's because people didn't know it was available on SACD (it's a hard to find European only pressing along with The Colour of Spring) or because you all think Talk Talk was just that 80's band that sang the new-wave hit "All you wanna do is Talk Talk...Talk Talk Talk Talk.etc". For those of you in the latter camp, please look at the rest of my list and understand that I take this seriously and wouldn't put an 80's pop group as my #1. These guys took a redefining left turn when they were at their most successful and lost their recording contract with EMI as a result of this release! While this was an "Alternative" CD in only the most technical sense, it is the most beautiful, poetic, and challenging soundscape I have ever heard. To underline a point, their eventual followup (Laughing Stock) was released on Verve (although that was also an odd pairing)!
A psychedelic, organic, swirling 6 song opus that goes on for about 45 minutes with one song blending into the next, this has a very Dark Side of the Moon feel to it, and highly recommended for those that love that album or Sea Change. It's the perfect album to play from beginning to end on a quiet night with the lights out, candles lit and no distractions.
This is one of those rare recordings that takes the listener to another place and the elitest secrecy of knowing you're one of the few that know about this treasure makes it all the more special. Seek this out.
Cheers (and while I'm hiding under my desk, I welcome your comments)
P.S. As one quick aside, I would certainly have placed Pink Floyd's DSotM on the list but I have to be honest, I don't have a multichannel mix of it as yet so I didn't think it fair to include something I haven't heard. I have a Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs Gold CD version of it from many moons ago, and that has been the recording I have treasured of it thus far. I'm sure I will pick up the SACD eventually and especially with the validation now of seeing it appear on so many other's lists!!