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25 of the Best Audiophile Albums - Broaden Your Sonic Horizons

25 of the Best Audiophile Albums – Broaden Your Sonic Horizons

 

Do you consider yourself an audiophile? Are you here to discover some new music? Read through our Best Audiophile Albums list and see how many you already have in your collection. Hopefully there are a few here that you’re not already familiar with. Ultimately, our goal is to broaden your sonic horizons. After all, who doesn’t love discovering new records to add to your collection or digital library? 

25 of the Best Audiophile Albums – Broaden Your Sonic Horizons

If you’re asking yourself “What Is An Audiophile?“, you can read about it there. Keep reading if you’re ready to explore some new music. Our 25 picks will be listed in no specific order. Here they are, I hope you enjoy!

 

Broaden Your Sonic Horizons - Best Audiophile Albums

 


1. Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)

 

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here - Best Audiophile Albums

 

Wish You Were Here (released in 1975) is the follow up to Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. Carrying on the tradition of their previous releases, you can expect to be serenaded by long, psychedelic guitar solos, Roger Waters’ vocal melodies, and the rest of the accompanying instrumentation. 

This record was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, England – which is also where The Beatles honed their own groundbreaking recording techniques during the 1960s. If you’re still not sold on Pink Floyd, start with this album first, then listen to some of their other records. (You won’t regret it.)

 

Stand out tracks include: “Welcome To The Machine”, “Wish You Were Here”, and “Shine On You Crazy Diamonds (Pts. 6-9)”. 

Click here to stream or download it.

 


2. Dr. Dre – Chronic 2001 (1999)

 

Dr. Dre - Chronic 2001 - Best Audiophile Albums

 

Dr. Dre is one of the most iconic producers in music. Chronic 2001 was his genre-defining album. It has timeless allure and the production is phenomenal. Hear the masterfully crafted instrumentals accented by verses from some of hip-hop’s most talented artists.

This record can be enjoyed by hip-hop heads as well as fans of other genres – really anyone who enjoys great music.

 

Stand out tracks include: “The Watcher”, “What’s The Difference”, “Forgot About Dre”, “The Message”, and “Still D.R.E.”. 

Click here to stream or download it.

 


3. Radiohead – OK Computer (1997)

 

Radiohead - OK Computer - Best Audiophile Albums

 

It’s hard to only pick a few favorites from OK Computer – it’s that strong all the way through. If you haven’t listened to this one, you’re doing yourself a major disservice. It deserves a spot in any audiophile or melomaniac’s music library, no questions asked. 

Grab a copy or stream it, just listen and enjoy the sonic excellence that Radiohead has become notorious for producing. 

 

Stand out tracks include: “Paranoid Android”, “Karma Police”, “Exit Music (For a Film)”, “No Surprises”, and “Lucky”. 

Click here to stream or download it.

See it on vinyl here.

 


4. Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)

 

Nirvana - Nevermind - Best Audiophile Albums

 

Nirvana needs no introduction. Nevermind has gotten praise from the mainstream and underground crowds. There’s a reason it’s still in heavy rotation on our turntables, smartphones, and wireless speakers. 

It was the first Nirvana album to feature David Grohl (Foo Fighters) on drums with Krist Novoselic on bass and Kurt Cobain (RIP) playing guitar and performing vocals. It’s a must-have album for any audiophile’s library. 

 

Stand out tracks include: “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, “Come As You Are”, “Lithium”, “Drain You”, and “Something In The Way”. 

Click here to stream or download it.

See it on vinyl here.

 


5. John Cale – HoboSapiens (2003)

 

John Cale - HoboSapiens - Best Audiophile Albums

 

HoboSapiens by John Cale (previously of Velvet Underground) is a sonic journey with twists and turns that force you to pay attention. This record will definitely push you out of your normal comfort zone – in the best way possible. 

(You’ll definitely want to make sure you’re listening with some hi-fidelity speakers or headphones.)

 

Stand out tracks include: “Zen”, “Cleo”, “Bicycle”, and “Over Her Head”.

Click here to stream or download it.

 


6. Tool – Lateralus (2001)

 

Tool - Lateralus - Best Audiophile Albums

 

Every member of the band shines on Lateralus. It often gets classified as a “metal” record, but there’s too much going on to lump it into a single classification. There are moments of calm, chaos, and everything in between. 

It’s widely accepted as being one of Tool’s most seminal records to date. Chances are, you’ve probably heard at least one of the tracks from Lateralus on the radio or elsewhere but were unaware that it was from this record. A must have for fans of hard rock, metal, alternative, and other experimental music. 

 

Stand out tracks include: “Schism”, “Parabola”, “Lateralus”, and “Ticks and Leeches”. 

Click here to stream or download it.

 


7. Enya – Watermark (1988)

 

Enya Watermark - Best Audiophile Albums

 

This was the first Enya album that had the Enya logo that we all know and now recognize on it’s front cover. Watermark is a world-renowned masterpiece of Celtic and (some have called) New Age influences.

A good time to enjoy this one would be before bedtime, when you wake up in the morning, or anytime you want to sit back and relax. Let the angelic voice of Enya serenade you into complete relaxation and calm. 

 

Stand out tracks include: “Cursum Perficio”, “Orinoco Flow”, “Exile”, and “River”. 

Click here to stream or download it.

See it on vinyl here.

 


8. My Bloody Valentine – Loveless (1991)

 

My Bloody Valentine - Loveless - Best Audiophile Albums

 

Loveless is a record that was sonically ahead of it’s time. Even almost two decades after it’s initial release, it paints the picture of a futuristic soundscape (think of Blade Runner as an album). The dreamy musical experimentation and risks that were taken definitely paid off in the end. 

You’ll love this album if you’re a fan of deciphering obscure lyrics in your spare time. Put this record on when you want to kick back and enjoy some relaxing tunes while you’re winding down or sipping a warm cup of coffee. 

 

Stand out tracks include: “Only Shallow”, “When You Sleep”, “Sometimes”, and “I Only Said”. 

Click here to stream or download it.

See it on vinyl here.

 


9. Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966)

 

Beach Boys - Pet Sounds - Best Audiophile Albums

 

 

Pet Sounds has been called “The most progressive pop album ever” and is still regarded as one of the most influential albums of all time. Brian Wilson arranged and produced the entire record. Throughout your listen, you’ll hear a wide range of instruments being used in combinations that were previously unheard of. 

 

Stand out tracks include: “That’s Not Me”, “God Only Knows”, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, “Caroline, No”, and “Pet Sounds (The Stereo Mix)”. 

Click here to stream or download it.

See it on vinyl here.

 


10. The Black Keys – Brothers (2010)

 

The Black Keys - Brothers - Best Audiophile Albums

Brothers is a heavily blues-inspired rock album. In 2010, it was nominated for several Grammys and landed a number 3 spot on the Billboard 100 during it’s first week release. Serving as The Black Keys commercial breakthrough album, it continues to be an essential record to have in your collection. It was also included in the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die book.

 

Stand out tracks include: “Tighten Up”, “Sinister Kid”, “Too Afraid To Love You”, and “Never Gonna Give You Up”.

Click here to stream or download it.

See it on vinyl here.

 


11. Queens of the Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf (2002)

 

Queens Of The Stone Age - Songs For The Deaf - Best Audiophile Albums

 

Songs For The Deaf has become a definitive album for Queens of the Stone Age. There is some speculation that it’s a concept album where you’re taken on a drive (from LA to Joshua Tree) –  with each song representing a different city’s radio station. 

There is absolutely ZERO speculation about whether or not the album has survived the test of time. It still holds up and has a timeless feel that will probably never go out of style. 

 

Stand out tracks include: “No One Knows”, “You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, I Think I’m Worth A Million”, “Go With The Flow”, and “God Is In The Radio”. 

Click here to stream or download it.

See it on vinyl here.

 


12. DMX – It’s Dark and Hell is Hot (1998)

 

DMX - It's Dark and Hell Is Hot - Best Audiophile Albums

 

The production on It’s Dark and Hell is Hot will leave you wanting more. Perfectly-placed harpsichord arrangements, the samples used, and the harsh vocal style and delivery from DMX truly represent the album title perfectly. 

Listen to one of hip-hop’s most influential artists of all time blasting out of your speakers or headphones and try not to nod along. 

 

Stand out tracks include: “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem”, “Damien”, “Stop Being Greedy”, and “N****z Done Started Something (ft. The LOX & Mase)”.

Click here to stream or download it.

See it on vinyl here.

 


13. Michael Jackson – Thriller (1982)

 

Michael Jackson - Thriller - Best Audiophile Albums

 

One of, if not the most well-known albums of all time is Michael Jackson’s Thriller. His music continues to be a cited influence for current artists spanning a broad range of genres. The music video alone (for the title track) has over 500 million views on YouTube. 

From it’s first week release until now – it’s sold over 66 million copies across the globe. This makes it the best-selling album of all time. Whether or not you think it’s the best-sounding album, you can’t deny the influence it’s had (and continues to have) on music.  If you want some additional background on the recording process of this album – use the link here to see our review of the microphone Michael Jackson used to record Thriller

 

Stand out tracks include: “Thriller”, “Beat It”, “Billie Jean”, and “Human Nature”. 

Click here to stream or download it.

See it on vinyl here.

 


14. Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995)

 

Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness - Best Audiophile Albums

 

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness has 28 tracks with a playtime length of just over 2 hours altogether. It’s also been included on the Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. All accolades aside, this record will take you up and down – then down and up again. 

Any album that’s managed to remain relevant more than two decades later deserves at least one listen through. You’ll love this record if you’ve already enjoyed some of Smashing Pumpkins’ hits before and you want to explore their sound in full-length form. 

 

Stand out tracks include: “Tonight, Tonight”, “Zero”, “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”, and “1979”. 

Click here to stream or download it.

See it on vinyl here.

 


15. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN. (2017)

 

Kendrick Lamar - DAMN. - Best Audiophile Albums

 

It’s really no surprise that DAMN. took the Best Rap Album Grammy home in 2017. Sometimes they drop the ball (especially in this category) but this time they hit the nail right on the head. Follow Kendrick along the musical journey studded with well-placed features, extraordinary production/instrumentation, genre-bending samples, and the stand out lyrical content & delivery. 

We also included this record on our Top Ten Albums of 2017. The general consensus seems to be that you need this record in your collection – that is, if you want to be taken seriously as an audiophile. 

 

Stand out tracks include: “DNA.”, “LUST”, “Humble”, “LOVE. (ft. Zacari)”, and “XXX. (ft. U2)”.

Click here to stream or download it.

See it on vinyl here.

 


16. Bon Iver – Bon Iver (2011)

 

Bon Iver - Bon Iver - Best Audiophile Albums

 

Indie folk band Bon Iver took a slightly different direction with their self titled release Bon Iver. Each song represents a different place on the map. Each track also has a unique soundscape ranging from saxophone-laced tunes to Civil War drum-inspired instrumentation. 

Once you start listening, you won’t want to stop – it’s that good. The subtle electronic elements underlying the impressive vocal range will have you hooked from track 1. 

 

Stand out tracks include: “Perth”, “Holocene”, “Michicant”, and “Calgary”. 

Click here to stream or download it.

See it on vinyl here.

 


17. Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile (1999)

 

Nine Inch Nails - The Fragile -

 

The Fragile is extremely sonically spacious and complex. Each track is pleasing to the ear and will tickle your stereocilia (making them stand up on end like you just woke up with bed head from hell). The entire album pushes the limits of your audio equipment and/or headphones.

On some tracks, the alternating whispering in the left ear, contrasted by the instrumentation makes for a very aesthetically-pleasing listen. The instrumental tracks serve as a nice bridge in between songs where you can catch your breath and reflect on what you just heard. 

 

Stand out tracks include: (From Disc 1) – “Just Like You Imagined”, “Pilgrimage”, and “The Great Below”.

(From Disc 2) – “Where Is Everybody?”, “The Mark Has Been Made”, and “The Big Come Down”.

Click here to stream or download it.

See it on vinyl here.

 


18. Outkast – ATLiens (1996)

 

Outkast - ATLiens - Best Audiophile Albums

 

Your collection isn’t complete until you have at least one Outkast album. ATLiens (released in 1996) features Organized Noize on production. Take some elements of soul, dub, psychadelic rock, and gospel – mix them up in the same bowl and what you get is ATLiens

Big Boi and Andre 3000 trade verses back and forth creating ultra-catchy hooks that will be stuck in your head for hours. The diverse production plus the intricate vocal deliveries from both rappers make for an unforgettable, out-of-this-world sonic experience. 

 

Stand out tracks include: “ATLiens”, “Elevators (Me & You)”, “Babylon”, and “Elevators (ONP 86 Mix)”.

Click here to stream or download it.

See it on vinyl here.

 


19. Sigur Rós – Ágætis byrjun (1999)

 

Sigur Rós - Ágætis-byrjun - Best Audiophile Albums

 

Ágætis byrjun post-rock, ambient, and orchestral project is a testament to the musicianship of Sigur Rós. Judging from the album artwork, they were aiming to simulate a musical womb (and succeeded). The ultra laid-back vocal presentation – layered on top of the ambient backdrop, adds dimension upon dimension to the overall atmosphere of tranquility. 

Granted, the lyrics are in Icelandic, but you can see the English translation of the title track here. One of the best things about music is that you can enjoy it even if you don’t know exactly what’s being sung. (Music and empathy are innately intertwined for that exact reason – you feel the message.)

 

Stand out tracks include: “Ágætis byrjun”, “Svefn-g-englar”, “Ný batterí” and “Viðrar vel til loftárása”.

Click here to stream or download it.

See it on vinyl here.

 


20. Deftones – White Pony (2000)

 

Deftones - White Pony - Best Audiophile Albums

White Pony is an enjoyable ride from start to finish. Deftones’ signature alt-metal style instantly hooks you in and demands your full attention. The opening track is only a small preview of what to expect from the rest of the album.  

The alternating vocal delivery styles switching from super-melodic singing to unclean screams will keep your ears in suspense – listening for what’s around the next corner. 

 

Stand out tracks include: “Digital Bath”, “Knife Prty”, “Passenger”, and “Change (In the House of Flies)”.

Click here to stream or download it.

See it on vinyl here.

 


21. Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense (1984)

 

Talking Heads - Stop Making Sense - Best Audiophile Albums

 

Stop Making Sense is the soundtrack from the live 1984 concert film from Talking Heads. Some consider it as being one of the “best rock movies ever created” and “…close to perfection”. The now disbanded Talking Heads set the 80s on fire and left their mark on rock music forever. 

Take the journey through the interwoven punk, art rock, and ultimately pioneering new wave genre that was forged on this record. 

 

Stand out tracks include: “Psycho Killer”, “Life During Wartime”, “What A Day That Was”, and “Girlfriend Is Better”.

Click here to stream or download it.

See it on vinyl here.

 


22. My Morning Jacket – It Still Moves (2003)

 

My Morning Jacket - It Still Moves - Best Audiophile Albums

 

It Still Moves has a country-infused rock feel throughout. The guitars, bass, drum patterns, and vocals swing back and forth creating a unique, enjoyably apathetic atmosphere. Jim James’ soft vocal enunciation of each lyric adds to the laid-back feel of the musical backdrop. 

 

Stand out tracks include: “Mahgeeta”, “One Big Holiday”, “Golden”, “Steam Engine”, and “Run Thru”.

Click here to stream or download it.

See it on vinyl here.

 


23. Thomas Giles – Velcro Kid (2016)

 

Thomas Giles - Velcro Kid - Best Audiophile Albums

 

Velcro Kid from Thomas Giles (Between the Buried and Me) has both retro and future vibes written all over it. After you press play on the opening track (“Immersion Highway”), you’re instantly taken to a futuristic soundscape that’s reminiscent of the recent video game Ruiner – but less violent. This record is hard to pin down as being one genre or the other. 

There are heavy electronic elements, screamed (unclean) vocal passages, and thought-provoking lyrics that will leave you scratching your head (wondering if you’re still on planet Earth). The playtime lasts for an hour and 17 minutes altogether. Each track can play as a stand-alone so the respective instrumental version (for each song) is also included. 

 

Stand out tracks include: “Immersion Highway”, “Strangers In A Paranoid Mind”, “Velcro Kid”, and “Acid Test”. 

Click here to stream or download it. 

 


24. Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)

 

Arcade Fire - Funeral - Best Audiophile Albums

 

Arcade Fire’s debut release Funeral started their careers off with a bang. The indie rock outfit’s first record landed a spot on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It’s been included in too many decade-end top 10 lists to name and usually just trails behind Kid A from Radiohead. 

The often upbeat and fun-sounding atmosphere might make you forget that you’re listening to an album called Funeral (maybe that was the point). Either way, the various musical instruments used to record this record range from synthesizer to guitars – all the way down to a xylophone. With that in mind, you can expect to be taken on an extremely enjoyable sonic journey throughout the 47 minute duration. 

 

Stand out tracks include: “Neighborhood #1”, “Wake Up”, “Rebellion (Lies)”, and “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)”. 

Click here to stream or download it. 

See it on vinyl here.

 


25. The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed (1969)

 

The Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed - Best Audiophile Albums

 

We’ve mentioned some albums making Rolling Stone’s 500 Best Albums lists – but haven’t mentioned the actual band who partially inspired the name. Let It Bleed features some of their most memorable songs and marks an iconic time in history. Blues-inspired rock n roll tunes like “Midnight Rambler” (and the tracks listed below) will make your mind time travel back to the late 60s. 

The now classic-rock defining melodies plus Mick Jagger’s signature vocal style and delivery remind you why The Rolling Stones’ music remains relevant to this day.

 

Stand out tracks include: “Gimme Shelter”, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, “You Got The Silver”, and “Let It Bleed”. 

Click here to stream or download it. 

See it on vinyl here.

 


Did You Find Some New Music? – Which Album Was Your Favorite?

 

Broaden Your Sonic Horizons - Best Audiophile Albums

 

What do you think? Which one’s do you already own? How many of the Best Audiophile Albums on this list were you familiar with? Which records would you add? Did this help broaden your sonic horizons? Sometimes it can be hard to branch out and listen to new music – unless it’s undeniable (like most of the records here). 

Overall, I hope you enjoyed checking out some new music (or revisiting some of the classics). Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments below! I’d be happy to get your opinion or answer any question that you have! Also, feel free to share this with your friends on Social Media. I’m sure they’d be more than happy to jam out to some high-quality music too! 

If you enjoyed this list, you’ll also like our Calming Music For Stress or Best Hip-Hop Albums of 2017. Thanks for stopping by to hang out for a few!

 

Sonic Elevation: Ride The Waves. 

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6 Comments

  • Darren says:

    There is certainly an eclectic mix of music here, which I guess is the whole point.

    I miss the days of actual records and CDs. It was all so much more interesting. Especially records, where you would often get things like song lyrics and posters of the band. While I love the digital age, it’s all a bit impersonal in many ways.

    The Talking Heads album from the 80s is one of my favourites.

    • Dom says:

      I tried to include albums from multiple genres because ultimately good music is good music, right? 

      Those days are still around for some of us – there are pretty inexpensive turntables like the Ion Audio Max LP that are great for entering (or re-entering) the world of vinyl. 

      One of my favorite parts of collecting vinyl is exactly what you mentioned – following along with the lyrics and checking out the beautiful artwork. When you buy vinyl it’s basically a “two for one” every time because you get two great pieces of art. 🙂

      I agree to a certain extent, streaming and digital files can have a more impersonal feel, but they sound pretty good too. They have their place just like vinyl does in my opinion.

      Stop Making Sense definitely has some solid tunes – I haven’t seen the actual DVD version, but apparently it’s pretty good too. 

      I appreciate you stopping by and checking out our Best Audiophile Albums!

  • Tim Bennett! says:

    Hi Dom,

    Out of your list I know about half of the list and you indeed have a wide range of different styles on your list.

    I would not consider myself an audiophile (I had to look at see exactly what that was) but music is a key part to my life…

    …but you have ruined the next few days for me (in a good way) as now I have to go and listen to the other 50% I don’t know!

    My favorite: Pink Floyd and Nine Inch Nails!

    Just like Darren, who also left a comment, I come from the days and age of black vinyl and really miss those turntables and reel to reel tapes!

    Thanks for a great post !

    Tim

    • Dom says:

      As you mentioned Tim, even if you don’t consider yourself an “audiophile” there’s still a lot of great music to enjoy here. 

      Sorry to “ruin” the next few days for you (in the best way possible). I can relate to spending way too much time (or just the right amount) listening to music and sifting through the sea of options out there. As a side note, it sounds like you’re probably more of a melomaniac than an audiophile. 

      Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd and The Fragile from NIN are two of my personal favorites as well! I’m glad you found our list, it sounds like you enjoyed it! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by to check it out, hope to see you here again!

  • Sukumar Thingom says:

    You’ve got a list of albums that are varied in style and spanning different generations. I loved it and there are many albums there that I would surely be adding to my collection. 

    I’ll be trying out John Cale’s HoboSapiens, Bon Iver’s Bon Iver and Tool’s Lateralus especially. I’m happy that Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie album made it to the list. 

    The list is supposed to be an audiophile’s must-have albums. Which means an album’s recording and its overall production quality must have been important criteria for it to make your list. Music is a highly personal experience and when one brings up a “the best” list, one’s personal tastes and preferences are bound to be found there. 

    Personally, if I’m asked to add some more albums that can make the cut in the audiophile’s best albums list, I will surely have A Night at the Opera by Queen (1975), Breakfast in America by Supertramp (1979), Drama by Yes (1980), Pyromania by Def Leppard (1983) and Crest of a Knave by Jethro Tull (1987). These albums were marked by awesome engineering finesse. Sonic-wise, I mean. Lovely article.

    • Dom says:

      Thanks Sukumar, I’m glad you were able to find a few albums to add to your collection! 

      Great choices, Bon Iver self titled, Mellon Collie and Lateralus are a few of my personal favorites – I’m sure you’ll enjoy them too. 🙂

      You’re right about that, not considering those factors would’ve been a big mistake. Recording and production quality were definitely considered when we made our selections for some of the best audiophile albums

      I’m of the opinion that although production quality plays an important role, it doesn’t always make or break the entire body of work. (Another great thing about music is the level of subjectivity and most of us have our own specific criteria for what we love listening to.)

      I will definitely check your suggestions out, Def Leppard is one of the greats for good reason, and we actually included Tales From Topographic Oceans by Yes on our Best Headphone Albums list. (You’ll probably enjoy browsing that collection too.) 

      Thanks for your suggestions, now it’s my turn to broaden my sonic horizons! Hope to see you here again. 🙂

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