Most Realistic Recordings

I was recently listening to my daughter practice the piano and I was enjoying quite a full-body sonic experience. I later went to my system and picked out a few piano recordings that I suspected were recorded well, but as I listened, I just didn't have anything close to the same experience. The piano just didn't sound right, nor nearly as full as I had just experienced while listening to my daughter. I know what pianos sound and feel like. I grew up playing many different types and understand their differences. I've done some research on recording pianos and have learned they are particularly difficult to record well.

As I've delved deeper into this audio hobby/interest and acquired more respectable gear, the more general question that keeps coming to my mind is this: How did this music sound at the time it was recorded? (presuming it was a person playing an instrument, not something "mixed" or electronic). Meaning, if I had been in the room, would I have heard or felt the same? Or is there something about the recording setup/micing/mixing/etc. that has failed to capture the moment? Or has the audio engineer intentionally filtered some of that out?

Now, being an audiophile (i.e., a music lover) has many paths and many goals. For me, I love lots of different kinds of music and am not too caught up in the ever changing landscape of audio gear and the need to try something new. I hope to get to the point where a well-captured recording sounds realistic in my room on my system. I like full-spectrum sound (i.e., if the note/sound is in the track, I want to hear it). I know that accurate, realistic reproduction through any system is depends a great deal on the equipment and the room it's being played back in. I don't expect my system to give me that jaw-dropping "I'm there" experience (yet), but some day I hope to get there.

So, to my question above, I would very much love to hear if anyone feels they have heard an album, a track, a recording of some kind that could be used to test out the "realism" of one's system. What would you say is a recording that more accurately captured the sonic hologram of the moment it was performed. Any genre is ok. And if you think a particular studio/company does this well, I'd love to hear about it!

And, please, I don't want the conversation to about gear or room treatment. This is about the recording itself, the source material, and how accurately the entire moment is captured and preserved. I respect everyone's personal experiences with your system, whatever it's comprised of. So, please don't argue with each other about whether a recording didn't sound realistic to you when it sounded realistic to someone else. Let's be civil and kind, for how can you deny what someone else's ears have heard? Thank you! I'm excited to learn from you all!


I heard a few albums from High Definition Tape Transfers when demoing the Taiko Extreme. Their Pure DSD recordings are direct transfers from the master tape with no editing or processing. As a result they are both very realistic, and also with "flaws" as a result of level mismatch between musicians, singers, and the audience, overly hot levels, etc.*+dsd*&view=ls&type=product

The three albums in 256DSD I heard at Taiko which were incredibly realistic were:

Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington The Great Reunion

Bill Evans at The Shelly Manne-hole

Billy Holiday Songs for Distingue Lovers

My Aurender server can only support 128DSD, so I downloaded Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Johnny Mercer Song Book, Bill Evans Interplay, and Blue Mitchell The Thing To Do. All are very good, although not as realistic as I heard on the Taiko system.

Check out the following:

1. Claudio Arrau: Chopin 21 Nocturnes

2. Helen Grimaud: The Messenger

3. Evgeny Kissin / James Levine: Schubert: Piano Music for Four Hands

4. Diana Krall: All For You (piano solo on Boulevard of Broken Dreams)