Anne Bisson – 2012’s Best Audiophile Pressings

2012 proved bountiful for remarkable audiophile-grade releases. SACDs, CDs, LPs, and high-resolution downloads were all represented by titles worthy of repeat listens on the best stereo systems money can buy.

In particular, Mobile Fidelity, Speakers Corners, and Analogue Productions stepped up their respective games in terms of quality and quantity. And while Music Matters halved its Blue Note series to two pressings per month (compared to the four titles its released over the past few years), the selections stayed strong. How much more gold is available to mine in the Blue Note catalog? Only Joe Harley and Ron Rambach know for sure.

And digital? While Neil Young’s hints a ta a new format via Pono, it remains in the distance, and a few boutique labels have started to release DSD downloads (which few listeners have the hardware to decode at this point), 24/96 and 24/192 files grew closer to the mainstream – at least to the audiophile crowd.

The best news of the year? HD Tracks and other high-res download services gained access to a broader spectrum of titles. Classic rock albums, ECM catalog fare, and even a few current releases are now pouring from the imprint’s tap.

Below, you’ll find my favourite audiophile pressings of 2012, in no particular order of significance other than alphabetical. With rare exception, all are chosen for their combination of fun and sound quality.

Anne Bisson Blue Mind, Fidelio, 180g LP

Elvis Costello Imperial Bedroom, Mobile Fidelity, 180 LP

The Doors L.A. Woman, Analogue Productions, 200g 45RPM 2LP

Bob Dylan The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Mobile Fidelity, 180g 45RPM 2LP

Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway, HD Tracks, 24/96 download (not the LP)

Lynyrd Skynyrd Street Survivors, Mobile Fidelity, LP

Jaco Pastorius Jaco Pastorius, ORG, 180g 45RPM 2LP

The Rolling Stones 12×5, HD Tracks

Horace Silver Finger Poppin’ With the Horace Silver Quintet, Music Matters, 180g 45RPM 2LP

Weather Report Heavy Weather, ORG, 180g 45RPM 2LP