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!



There is no Audio Gear that sounds like live music. There’s no video that looks like being there. There is no resolution that approaches real.

Pretty sure we're all in agreement on this thought.

With everything I've learned, I don't doubt that it is possible to recreate a sound like live music, though. In other words, it gets the listener close enough. That doesn't it mean it is exactly like live music. I get that. That's what prompted my initial question. I was curious to hear from others who have been doing this longer than I if they've ever had an experience that ever resembled a live sound. Our brains are clever enough that we can "suspend disbelief" if we let it and it can feel live.

Will we ever get to the point that a system absolutely fools me into believing that real life musicians playing real instruments and singing are there when they really aren't? I guess we'll see. It feels like we have some ways to go yet. With the feedback I've gotten here, it sounds like some people have nearly had such an experience and that's pretty exciting to me. Live sound is a full-body experience, not just an experience for our ears. I think it would be cool to experience that from a sound system just for the fun of it.

@lordmelton several newer servers can do higher than 128 DSD, by my S10 can’t. Do you hear much difference higher than 128 DSD?

There is something about the “Hypnosonics” album “Drums Were Beating: Fort Apache Studios 1996”. If you like “Horns & Drums”, checkout the song “Living With You”. I like to turn this one up, just a little! To me, it sounds like the instruments are coming straight from the Mic’s. There is a 10 page insert with the album that has some interesting info, about the Band and the Studio. If anyone would care to listen to this, I would appreciate your thoughts on it.

Karl Richter's recording of Bach's Mass in B Minor combines great music with great recording. Some might say it is the pinnacle of Western Civ.  It is on Qobuz in CD quality. Better is Blu Ray AUDIO if you spring for the $260 Complete Karl Richter. This is a massive 100 CD collection with some Blu Ray AUDIO thrown in. The Mass in B Minor is not released separately on Blu Ray, only on CD. And LP of course. 

* I condemn blanket condemnation of Deutsche Grammophon. Some of the older recordings were great. Exhibit A above.