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No B.S  Audiophile CD recommendations  


  CD Menu • Cream • Vocals • Classical • Jazz • Asian Spanish/Latin • Northern Europe • Over Hyped • Saxophone • Folk/Country • Rock • Others

1) Cream of the Crop  



Stereopal's Best Pick


Title:       Salmeskatt (A Treasury of Hymns)             Rating: 5 / 5

                 Oslo Gospel Choir


Label: KKV  FXCD-272

             Available through: www.cdroots.com or www.gramophone.ca


Genre: Choir - Church Hymns with Instruments


The mission statement of the KKV label, is to reproduce music to be as true as possible to the original sound of the voices and instruments.  The title consists of church hymns sung by the Oslo Gospel choir in a contemporary way.


I do not give this title the highest ranking without valid reasons.   The ability to reproduce Choirs combined with organ, piano and other instruments, demands the utmost recording and mastering skills from the producer.  After repeated listening, I rank this even a notch higher than "Now the Green Blade Riseth" (Proprius). 


This CD may sound ordinary at first.  None of the songs are ear catching or  "Hi-Fi" sounding.   The vocal presentation is presented

in the most natural form without any coloration or exaggeration, while maintaining ambience, clarity, and instrument separation.


Salmeskatt is also very demanding on audio systems. It combines choir, individual vocals, piano, organ and other instruments.   This calls for the ability to present the widest soundstage, while maintaining individual focus and separation.    In the wrong setup, you will immediately notice an uncontrollable bass boom, the voices will be forward and enlarged, incoherent and crumbled together.   You can be sure the bass boom is not coming from the CD.   I have listened to this title in many setups, and only those with proper bass control are able to present a clear picture.


Although less well known than Proprius and Opus3, KKV ranks up there with the best and will easily puts other so called Audiophile recordings to shame. 







Title: Rosa Fra Betlehem - Sondre Bratland                 Rating: 4.8 / 5


Label: KKV FXCD121

              Available through: www.cdroots.com or www.gramophone.ca


Listening Demo: http://www.kkv.musiconline.no/shop/displayAlbum.asp?id=8643



For many years, the infamous CD by Proprius, "Cantate Dominos"  has occupied the top spot on many audiophiles' best sounding list.      It has glorious vocal presentations, magnificent dynamic range combined with the utmost clarity, ambience and realism.  Cantate Domino excels in every aspect you can think of.       To find another live recording of the same caliber is a daunting task.................until now.


Rosa Fra Betleham was recorded live in the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem.  A  breathtaking recording of Christmas songs sung by the great Norwegian singer Sondre Bratland,


When I first pressed the PLAY button, I was stunned by its quality, as if my two channel system was giving off "7 channel surround sounds", or should I say my living room was turned into a church.     I was not listening to music, I was THERE.    


The quality of this recording matches "Cantate Domino" in every respect (ambience, clarity, realism, etc), but it also has an added emotional touch which was missing from the Proprius label.  Sondre Bratland has the ability to convey a deep stirring feeling which brings these songs to life.


While my wife has called this title "The spooky church recording", I am giving it a much deserved 4.8 out of 5.  











  Title:        Now the Green Blade Riseth                           Rating: 4.7 / 5

                 (Kornet har sin villa)

Label:      Proprius PRCD 9093 / PRXRCD9093 /

                 PRSACD 9093


Genre:     Choir - Church Hymns


This title is well known for it's ambience and clarity, which is unmatched by many audiophile recordings.  You can hear the voice of individual in the choir, as well as their positioning.     The hymns are quite enjoyable too !   Probably one of the best sounding CD in my collection.  I personally like the regular CD over the SACD version.  If I was to rank the SACD HYBRID version, it would not have made it onto the list.


In some of the songs, the flute sounds a little metallic, and the double bass sounds a little flabby, hence it is given a score of 4.7 instead of a 5.






Title: Cantate Dominos                                                         Rating: 4.6 / 5

           (Regular Non-XRCD Version)

Label: Proprius PRCD7762

Genre: Female Vocal, Organ, Church Music

The recording which made Proprius famous needs no introduction.
An album which has truly stood the test of time. This is holy grail of audiophile demo CDs.

The female vocal on track No. 9 is the popular track.   

It has been nearly 30 years since its initial LP release, Cantate Domino has been pressed into every format you can think of.  LP, Redbook, XRCD, XRCD2, SACD, and even pirated MP3s !

This title has been found in the homes of audiophiles more than any other title that I know of.






  Title: Jacob’s tracks                                                          Rating: 4.5 / 5
Label: Proprius PRCD 2004/5

Genre: Various Swedish Music (Vocals, Choir, Organ)

A double CD for the price of one, with 33 tracks chosen by the label’s founder Jacob Boethius. Most are chosen out of Proprius LPs and are otherwise not found on Proprius CDs. Certain tracks are recorded better than others, or else I would have given this a 5 / 5 rating.

All this for $ 27 CDN, from UHF magainze.   A double disc too !







  Title: Manger Test CD                                                        Rating: 4.3 / 5

Label: Manger - Germany Available through:


Genre: Various

Truly a test CD of supreme quality from the makers of the famous Manger Transducer. Light jazz, light pop, classicals, vocals, piano, a bit of everything.   Exceptional recording quality.  My favorite is the track by Livingstone Taylor, and the piano session on Beethoven's Pathetique.








  Title: Organ Treasures                                                       Rating: 4.3 / 5
Label: Opus 3 SACD22031

Genre: Organ

This CD is a true performance test for audio gears.   No other instrument can produce a sound spectrum as wide span as pipe organs.    Let the mighty roar of Toccata & Fugue in D Minor overwhelm you, and see whether your system can reproduce the low frequency sounds of deep organ pipes.  








  Title: Discovery & Music for Christmas                           Rating: 4.5 / 5
Label: Wilson Audiophile WCD-806/8419

Genre: Organ & Female Vocals

This title never achieved the status of Cantate Domino (below), but I think it is a recording of equal caliber.  If your system survived the Opus 3 recording, see if it can survive this one. Another beautiful recording with plenty of ambience.   You will hear a lot of hiss & sneezes, but you take the good with the bad.

Some people think they're bad, I personally like the hisses.






    Title: Leif Strands Kammarkor                                           Rating: 4.55 / 5

Label: Proprius PRCD 9035

Genre: Swedish Contemporary, Saxophone, Jazz, Chorus, Piano

Everyone who buy Proprius CDs seem to focus on Cantate Domino & Antiphone Blues.   This is a less popular title but certainly ranks up there with the best. 

A mixture of religious music, presented in a contemporary mixture of Jazz, Piano, Saxophone, and Chorus.   The soundstage is wide and deep, while the music is involving and emotionally charged.  This is one of my favorite titles.  


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