Doncha get bummed?

We put a lot of time, effort, and money into getting really nice systems.

And then we have to deal with crummy recordings made by inept engineers.

Yes, many of the older recordings suffer from being from the early days of stereo, but I've gotten a couple of recent recordings that are really bad.  One even had miscellaneous noises (like scraping chairs and ruffling music pages) at the ends on numbers that weren't even edited out.  Poor mic placement resulting in bloated bass.  Bad microphone choice on the piano making it sound muffled.  These are all well-reviewed recordings, too.  Huh?

Piano in the middle with no width or depth.  Bass out of the right speaker, drums out of the left.  Ho hum.

And microphone choices for female vocals!  Terrible more often than excellent.  Veiled, compressed, metallic.  Blecch.  Sucks the testosterone right out of me.

I have one relatively recent recording where the drums are clipped in every track.  Clipped.  Awful-sounding.

If it weren't for Manfred Eicher at ECM I'd probably shoot myself.

Bums me out.  Maybe I'll go back to a Japanese transistor radio from the 60s.
Many of the older recordings were made before the variable panpot, so you either got hard right, hard left or center.  Brubeck Time Out for example.  It's a great recording though and Morello's drums sound terrific. Some of the Bill Evans stuff has the drums pretty much hard left with the hihat hard right, which is very strange sounding.  But to tell the truth, most of the vinyl I buy sounds really good.  So maybe it's your system to some extent causing bloated bass or bad-sounding vocals.  Just do what everyone else does, but vehemently denies doing - only play records that sound good. :)
Buy some of the reissues of recordings on the Contemporary label reissued by Fantasy in Berkeley. 
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I suggest you stop listening to the recording and start paying attention to the performance. Also learn to embrace the faults and humanity in the discs -- I love squeaks, ticks and scraping chairs -- they mean that there were real human beings in a real room making the music! I've got discs were there's a clock ticking in the background that you hear as the level fades down, Ive got discs with creaking floorboards and A/C pumping away -- it's all part of what makes you hear the room in which the artists were present

A quality system will without exception allow you to engage with the performance irrespective of the recording. I cannot number how many CDs and LPs that I had given up as irredeemably bad recordings, nigh unlistenable that now yield new pleasures as my system now digs into murky and bloated recordings and unveils the real artistic intent below

The same is true of the wealth of mono recordings from before stereo which also have so much to offer

There’s something dreadfully wrong with any system that can only play the most pristine/audiofool approved of recordings
A more resolving system will reveal some of the nits and picks mentioned but that's not a fault, as I see it. I love it when I'm startled into thinking someone is actually in the room when they play. One recording, in particular, does it to me every single time. How much better can that get?

As for music cut off and bad mixing, there's not much one can do but keep calm and carry on. Yes, we could all benefit from better quality recordings, but there are enough great ones out there (even ones done the wrong way) to make up for it.

All the best,
I like that my system is revealing enough to hear the extraneous noises and faults in a recording session. It's much better than recordings with different takes edited together, or recording single instruments then mixing and overdubbing them together.

Can't do anything about bad engineering or limitations of the technology.
As far as bloated bass and loss of depth and imaging, sometimes it could mean a system or room needs a few tweaks.

I have found so many good sounding records, old and new, that I’m not deterred by the ones that sound bad. Yeah, there are some records that I love that sound kind of terrible, but I’ve gotten more open minded about more different kinds of music (not suggesting you aren’t open-minded, only that I was locked into an audiophile rut that came from the ’sonics’ school of what to play). Standard issue records that sound killer and aren’t expensive! Decent reissues, sometimes pulled from a digital file that are great! New records that I enjoy. So much out there.
Pricing and condition in the used record market is all over the place so part of the adventure is finding the gems. Sometimes they are pricy but if I’m shelling out for something that’s spendy, I will have verified with others I trust that what the sonics are like- comparing different pressings, etc. Condition is a whole other issue, but I usually have a dialog with a seller in advance, so neither of us waste time or effort. I've been pretty lucky on that front. 
I’m not a thrift store buyer, but I still like to find stuff that isn’t crazy money. There was a guy that salvaged a bunch of sealed, fairly rare jazz records made in Pittsburgh by Nathan Davis in the early ’70s- still sealed. Even though approaching three figures, these were a bargain in my estimation, given the quality of the music and the sonics.
There’s so much out there, in the used and new market, on LP that it’s a question of getting enough time to listen, not what to listen to-- and when I’m at a loss, like hmmm, what next, I’ll pull out something I haven’t heard in years. If it sucks or I’m bored, next! (Some of it is mood, too).
Record buying is an adventure to me and a journey into the history of the music, the artist and the pressings.
And when you find those gems where the music and sonics coincide, that’s about as good as it gets. But, I guess part of it, to me, is the hunt.

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Try making a SOTA piano recording, that will humble you......

ask me HOW I know....


OP,  Can you give us song titles of tracks that fall into your categorical examples? Maybe some of us can listen and chime in.  

I do, however, agree with you on one level--what is going on with many modern recordings?  I hear more problems on modern stuff than vintage..generally speaking...yet the problems exist on all genres across 50 plus years of recording history. 

On another level, I have to say I never thought I'd be in my mid forties using a 300B SET amp, horn speakers, and all tube sources (vinyl and DAC).  The SET amp promotes a different style of listening in my opinion.  What was interesting in moving to this setup is that I found many recordings sounded superb, which once sounded dull, flat and lifeless.  Nonetheless, I still have recordings that irk me.  

So in addition to giving us some example tracks, can you explain your system and how you like to listen?  Great post BTW. fact I never get bummed about any of that.

I did my homework and invested in things like "noise-floor reduction", "power treatments", "room treatments", etc. 

The percentage of "bad recordings" in my collection is about 1%. The rest are stellar sounding.
+1 on the ECM sound - I think most of their recordings are better than those advertised as audiophile, whatever that means.
+1 moofoo! ECM recordings are worth seeking - both LP and CD! Underappreciated, for sure! I have collected and listened to them since the late 70's!

Don't have an issue with any of this.  My system has evolved to sound decent with poor recordings and fantastic with good recordings.  But I have been where you are.  I always say I wish all recordings were great, it would solve so much.

Happy Listening.

As System Builder the more superior a system is, the more that will be retrieved from the source. If you wish to have less of the extraneous noise, then you are wishing for a poorer sound quality. Imo that’s not very desirable.

When my system is set up optimally all recordings sound fantastic, and if they don’t then there needs to be more work done on it. I have no desire to enjoy a system where only some recordings are worthy or listenable.

Further, I suggest that if your goal is to make most recordings homogenous, then you are building a mediocre rig. 
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