The best classical recordings of the ’50s and ’60s, like the wonderful Mercury you see pictured, were compromised in every imaginable way.
Yet somehow they manage to stand head and shoulders above virtually anything that has come after them. How is that possible?
Well, having taken advantage of scores of Revolutionary Changes in Audio that have come to pass since those days, finally we can hear them in all their glory on the kind of high quality playback equipment that exists today.
The music lives and breathes on those old LPs. Playing them you find yourself in the Living Presence of the musicians. You become lost in the performances captured in the grooves of these old records.
Whatever the limitations of the medium, they seem to fade quickly from consciousness. What remains is the rapture of the musical experience.
That’s what happens when a good record meets a good turntable.
We live for records like these. It’s the reason we all get up in the morning and come to work, to find and play good records. It’s what this site is all about — offering the audiophile music lover recordings that provide real musical satisfaction. It’s hard work — so hard that nobody else seems to want to do it — but the payoff makes it all worthwhile. To us anyway. Hope you feel the same.
The One Out of Ten Rule
If you have too many classical records taking up too much space and need to winnow them down to a more manageable size, pick a composer and play half a dozen of his works. Most classical records display an irredeemable mediocrity right from the start; it doesn’t take a pair of golden ears to hear it.
If you’re after the best sound, it’s the rare record that will have it, which makes clearing shelf space a lot easier than you might think. If you keep more than one out of ten you’re probably setting the bar too low if our experience is any guide.
Plenty of Vintage Pressings Don’t Make the Grade
Bad sounding vintage classical pressings on collectible labels are more common than you might think. We should know, we’ve played them by the hundreds. To do listings for them all would be a full time job. Here is just a small sample of some of the ones we’ve auditioned, broken down by label.
- London/Decca records with weak sound or performances
- Mercury records with weak sound or performances
- RCA records with weak sound or performances
- Advice – What to Listen For on Classical Records
- Best Classical Performances with Top Quality Sound
- Demo Disc Quality Orchestral Recordings
- More of Our Favorite Classical and Orchestral Recordings