Best Sounding Records on vinyl

January 18, 2017
52 Essential Albums to Own on

I often get emails from people who have taken the plunge into (or back into) vinyl and want to know what records they should buy.

Let’s start with some general advice:

1. If you’re buying new, go with the new 180 gram reissues. The heavier, thicker vinyl is worth the extra expense.

2. If you’re buying used, avoid edition of an album released after about 1974 and before 2000. That was the era of thinner records that used recycled vinyl in the wake of the 70s oil crisis. Crap material equals crap sound.

3. The only exceptions to Rule 2 are those records produced as “audiophile editions.” Most of them (but not all, so beware) tended to come on thick, virgin vinyl. Some were even mastered at half speed for additional fidelity (or so they claimed).

4. Don’t disregard LPs from the 1960s. Some of them sounded better than the records were were buying in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

5. And finally, don’t bother buying any vinyl regardless of age or expense until you invest in a proper modern turntable. And spend at least $400.

I would add the following:

–Steely Dan, Aja: Stunning fidelity. Gaucho is also a good pick.

–Peter Gabriel, So: Fantastic bass response

–Dire Straits, Love Over Gold: Recorded at 30 inches per second. Listen to the crispness of “Telegraph Road.”

–AC/DC, Back in Black: Analogue awesomeness. Listen to that kick drum!

–Paul Simon, Graceland: Excellent definition in the vocals.

I could go on, but I want to know what you think. What are the vinyl records that everyone should own?

About the Author

Alan Cross is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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