What is your favorite reference CD? [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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06-24-2004, 02:31 PM
Witch CD produces the ultimate dream sound on your system?

06-24-2004, 08:52 PM
Witch CD produces the ultimate dream sound on your system?

That's a tough question because I'll prefer different things depending on my mood at the time. I can definitely say there isn't just one but some of my favorites are:

Hovaness, "Mt. Saint Helens"
Peter Gabriel, "So"
John Mayer, "Room for Squares"
Sheffield Labs "James Newton Howard and Friends"
Count Basie Orchestra, "The Count Plays the Duke"
Dave Mathews Band, "Crash"
Tears for Fears, "The Seeds of Love"
James Taylor, "October Road"
Oscar Peterson, "...and friends"
Pink Floyd, "A Momentary Lapse of Reason"

There are probably a ton of others that I can't think of off hand but all of these are really, really clean, well engineered recordings that seem to shine on my rig. They seem neither overprocessed nor compressed and sound great at both low and high volumes.

Richard Greene
06-28-2004, 08:51 AM
Doreen Smith - A Tribute To Julie London
Fidelio CD FACD006
Released: 2001
by John Crossett

Why is it that a well-recorded sultry female voice singing classic songs with sparse instrumentation seems to stir something within the souls of audiophiles everywhere? Darned if I know. All I can say is that Iím as big a sucker for that kind of recording as the next guy. So, as I was strolling the crowded halls at the Montreal audio show this past spring, I was drawn into the room where this disc, A Tribute To Julie London by Canadian singer Doreen Smith, was playing. Ah, now this was more like it! (Of course, the fact that the electronics were by Nagra and the speakers by Sonus Faber didnít hurt either.)

Iím familiar with Julie London (mostly as an actress, though), but the singer, Doreen Smith, and label, Fidelio, were new to me. But -- pause here while I give away the ending -- if the rest of the Fidelio catalog is anywhere near as good as this disc, Iím going to be the poorer for it. This is one fine album, both musically and sonically.

Most of the songs are recorded with only Smithís voice, an acoustic bass and either an electric or acoustic guitar, joined occasionally by an alto sax and percussion. Ms. Smith has one of the most sensual voices Iíve heard in a long time -- and, as for the sound, well, Iíll get into that in more detail later, but itís right up there with the best Iíve heard. So all the parts seem to be here. But do they all fit together and make a complete album? Letís see.

We all have our fair share of albums that feature female vocalists doing songs in this vein, so why should this disc excite attention? Because there is a great deal of love and respect shown here by Ms. Smith for Londonís work. And because Ms. Smith has a way with these songs, as well as a vocal style that will grab you right from the get-go and make you cry when this disc ends. When she opens this album singing "That Old Feeling," sheíll give you that old feeling, easily.

Julie London covered all of the songs recorded here during her ten-year, 31-album career except for one, "Route 66," which was written by her late husband, Bobby Troup. Yet, when Ms. Smith reaches that song (itís number eight on the hit parade), you'll find it hard to believe that London never sang it -- it fits in so well here both stylistically as well as vocally. And the cover of Londonís biggest hit, "Cry Me A River," will have you scurrying to your local used-vinyl emporium looking for any of Julieís albums. (Ha ha, I already got there -- you're too late!)

As for the sound of A Tribute Ö? Superb, top rate, one of the best Iíve heard, very natural, yada, yada, yada. Whatís that? You want more of a description? OK, but beware, superlatives are about to roll.

Letís start with the vocals. Theyíre up-front and very three-dimensional -- so much so that, as you listen, Ms. Smith will be joining you, singing to you alone. (What do you mean, you listen with others? What are you reading this part for? Youíre no true audiophile!) You can hear her breathe and feel the way her voice caresses the mike as she forms the words. Fidelio only used two custom-made microphones for this recording, one hung above the room and one for Ms. Smith.

The bass is deep, appropriately wooden, and plucky. Youíll be able to follow the bassist as he plucks each string; you can practically hear the rosin flaking off the horsehair as he draws his bow across. The guitars are easy to follow, and youíll be able to identify each of the three different ones used (two electric and one acoustic). Transients are excellent. There is air aplenty around both the instruments and Ms. Smith, giving the sense of the performance inhabiting a real space. My only complaint is that there isnít much in the way of ambience here. The acoustic is rather dry. I know that may sound contradictory, based on what I just wrote above, but if you listen, youíll hear what Iím talking about. But thatís a pretty minor one problem, given the overall quality of the recording.

This is a demo-quality disc. Itís also a wonderfully musical disc. Itís two, two, two discs in one; and how rare is that, brother audiophiles? Iíd love to hear this on vinyl (hint, hint, nudge, nudge). Fidelio has a winner here. A Tribute To Julie London offers excellent vocals and superb sonics, both being about as good as CD gets. Youíll want this disc for its sound alone, but you'll listen to it over and over for its musical content. And isnít that what this hobbyís supposed to be all about?

06-28-2004, 09:15 AM
I'm going to get that disk, very curious.

06-29-2004, 09:05 AM
you know I really don't need you people forcing me to go out and spend more of my money on music I seem to do that just fine on my own. Yet here you are once again forcing me to head out to my local store in hopes of finding yet another recording.

damn those female vocals

good review thanks I'll tell you what I think after I pick it up

06-29-2004, 10:04 AM
These sound really terrific on my system (and previous systems/car/walkman):

Prince - Diamonds and Pearls
The Tubes - What do you want from live
Kruder & dorfmeister - The K&D sessions
Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach - Painted from memory
Boy George - A night with Boy George
Roby Robertson - Music for the Native American
Level 42 - Level 42
Radiohead - OK Computer
Tosca - Dehli9
Don Juan Demarco - Soundtrack
Tears for Fears - The seeds of love

06-29-2004, 11:05 AM
Hey Walker,
Another Level 42 fan! Mark King is a god on the bass, brother. If you don't already have it, pick up Physical Presence. This is their live album and if you have ever seen them live, you know they like to jam quite a bit. Chinese Way and Hot Water have a groove that is simply infectious. Check it out.

06-29-2004, 11:24 AM
Hi Topspeed,
I don't have Physical Presence, but I'll get it. Hot Water is the ultimate song to get a party started.
Today I'm expecting my new CA Azur 540, I'm not sure witch song
Iíll use to initiate it. Any suggestions?

06-29-2004, 11:33 AM
Something you don't like because it's not going to sound very good anyway. Maybe some Brittney or Backstreet Boys. Hey you're an '80s guy, got any Menudo lying around?

Seriously, anything is fine just don't go judging it until it has a chance to break-in. It really does make a difference with this particular amp. I'll be interested to see if you can also hear a change.

06-29-2004, 11:47 AM
I'll let you know, thanks.