To that end we have created exercises, experiments and tests that you can do at home for fun and profit. We can all agree that the better our stereos sound, the more enjoyable they become. Learning how to get better sound from the equipment and recordings you own doesn’t cost a dime. It simply requires that you improve your critical listening skills.
Those skills develop through practice, by challenging yourself to understand what is really on your records — to figure out, to the best of your ability, what is right and what is wrong on every record you own. Same with your stereo. You can’t fix a problem that you haven’t yet recognized is a problem, right?
Here’s a fun one for Queen’s Jazz album
Rockin’ Out with Fat Bottomed Girls
A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.
There is a tendency in the recording to be a little “hot” tonally on the vocals and snare. The better copies like this one keep it under control, with the lesser copies getting much too lean and gritty to play loudly. What good is a raver like Fat Bottomed Girls if you can’t turn it up and really rock out with it? (more…)
- This early pressing on the rainbow label earned excellent Double Plus (A++) grades for its wonderful sound
- Both sides here are BIG, rich and Tubey Magical, yet clear and not the least bit thick or opaque
- Turn down the lights and drop the needle to hear a living breathing Nat King Cole singing right in your very own listening room
- “Highlights include “The Very Thought of You,” “But Beautiful,” “This Is All I Ask,” “For All We Know,” and “The More I See You”.
We are HUGE fans of the album at Better Records, but it’s taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make the shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble.
The presence and immediacy here of Nat King Cole’s vocals are ’50s Capitol Recording Magic at its best. Set the volume right and Nat is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. The selection of material and the contributions of all involved are hard to fault.
The sound is big, open, rich and full, with loads of Tubey Magic. The highs are extended and silky sweet. The bass is tight and punchy.
Midrange Magic to Die For
This Rainbow Label Capitol LP also has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from the DCC reissue (and no doubt any others that will be coming down the pike). As good as some think that pressing is, this one is dramatically more REAL sounding. (more…)
- The best copy to hit the site in close to two years, with both sides rating at or near our top grade of Triple Plus (A+++)
- Huge, spacious and three-dimensional with plenty of rich Tubey Magic – who knew it could sound this good?
- 75% of the songs on both sides are absolute Little Feat Classics. What other album can boast such consistently good songwriting?
- Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt and Fran Tate (the future Mrs. Billy Payne) contribute the lovely background vocals
- “If Dixie Chicken represented a pinnacle of Lowell George as a songwriter and band leader, its sequel Feats Don’t Fail Me Now is the pinnacle of Little Feat as a group, showcasing each member at their finest.”
It’s getting mighty hard to find clean copies of practically all the pre-Waiting For Columbus titles.
The good news we have to offer this time as opposed to last is that we can now clearly say that Feats Don’t Fail Me Now is the best sounding album of the first four the band recorded. We think the songs are great too; we would hope that goes without saying. Waiting For Columbus — their live masterpiece and inarguably the definitive recording statement by the band — has at least one song from this album on each of its four sides. That ought to tell you something. If only we could find good sounding copies! But enough about that album. Let’s talk about this one. (more…)
Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.
Want to hear what the best copies of Mr. Tambourine Man can do? Play Chimes of Freedom, one of the best sounding tracks on side two, if not THE best. Listen to how breathy Jim (later Roger) McGuinn’s vocals are. Byrds records almost never sound like that.
I Knew I’d Want You is another one that sounds amazingly Tubey Magical on the best pressings. (more…)
In which case you are in for an unending string of dull moments (see below).
We were thrilled when we dropped the needle on side one and heard sound that was AMAZINGLY airy, open, and spacious.
It’s got all the elements necessary to let this music REALLY ROCK — stunning presence; super punchy drums; deep, tight bass; and tons of life and energy. Rod’s voice sounds just right with lots of breath, texture, and ambience. The sound is clean, clear, smooth, and sweet — that’s our sound.
Side two here is nearly as good and dramatically better sounding than most. Listen to the percussion on Angel — you can really hear all the transients and the sound of the drum skins.
On the same track, the meaty guitar in the left channel sounds mind-blowingly good. The bass is deep and well-defined, and the sound of the drums is awesome in every way. Who has a better drum sound than Rod Stewart on his two best albums? (more…)
Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.
This album has some of the BEST SOUND Crosby and Nash ever recorded, but you’d never know that listening to the average pressing. You need plenty of deliciously rich Tubey Magic if this music is going to work, and on that count this copy certainly delivers.
BILL HALVERSON was the engineer for this album, the man behind the first CSN album and many others.
We asked ourselves: Where in the world did all the midrange magic we were hearing on Graham Nash / David Crosby come from?
On a song like Where Will I Be the sound is so unbelievably transparent, open and intimate, it sounds like an outtake from David Crosby’s first album, one of the ten best sounding rock records ever made. How did Bill Halverson learn how to record as well as Stephen Barncard all of a sudden?
This Copy Is Killer
When you drop the needle on side one, you’ll know very quickly why we went so crazy for it — especially if you’ve been playing the kind of copies that we tend to run into, with veiled, hard, gritty voices — the kiss of death for a record that lives or dies by its vocal reproduction. (This is true for all CSN albums of course.)
This one is a whole different story, with wonderful clarity (listen to the acoustic guitar transients throughout) and silky sweet vocals. It’s got the kind of weight down low and extension up top needed to give the midrange the space — the room, if you like — to present itself properly and not get lost in the mix. The transparency is incredible, with richness and sweetness you have never heard on this album, guaranteed or your money back! (more…)
These two sides offer bigger brass, more transparency and more presence than every other side we played save one!
This may become one of your favorite big band albums to demo or test with. Or you can just enjoy the hell out of it if you prefer. So transparent and tonally correct, this is a killer sounding copy. We put this one right up there with the best of the Verve jazz titles we’ve done to date.
This album sounds like a big room full of musicians playing live, which it surely was. The Tubey Magical richness of the 1962 recording is breathtaking – no modern record can touch it.
The best copies recreate a live studio space the size of which you will not believe. (more…)
to Hear It on Vintage Equipment
Our good customer Roger wrote us a letter years ago about his MoFi TEA FOR THE TILLERMAN, in which he remarked, “Sometimes I wish I kept my old crappy stereo to see if I could now tell what it was that made these audiophile pressings so attractive then.”
It got me to thinking. Yes, that would be fun, and better yet, it could be done. There are actually plenty of those Old School systems still around. Just look at what many of the forum posters — god bless ’em — are running. They’ve got some awesome ’70s Japanese turntables, some Monster Cable and some vintage tube gear and speakers going all the way back to the ’50s.
With this stuff you could in effect travel back in time, virtually erasing all the audio progress of the last 30 years. Then you could hear your MoFi Tea for the Tillerman sound the way it used to when you could actually stand to be in the same room with it.
Schubert / The Trout Quintet / Curzon
What I hear on this pressing is sound that is absolutely free from any top end boost, much the way live music is. There’s plenty of tape hiss and air; the highs aren’t rolled off, they’re just not boosted the way they normally are in a recording.
A few years back I had a chance to see a piano trio play locally; they even performed a piece by Schubert. The one thing I noticed immediately during their performance was how smooth and natural the top end was. I was no more than ten feet from the performers in a fairly reverberant room, and yet the sound I heard was the opposite of what passes in some circles for Hi-Fidelity.
This is the OPPOSITE of those echo-drenched recordings that some audiophiles seem to like, with microphones placed twenty feet away from the performers so that they are awash in “ambience.” If you know anything about us, you know that this is not our sound.
I have never heard live music sound like that and that should settle the question. It does in my mind anyway. The CHESKY label (just to choose one awful audiophile label to pick on) is a joke and always will be. How anyone buys into that phony sound is beyond me, but any audio show will prove to you that there is no shortage of audiophiles who love the Chesky “sound”, and probably never will be. (more…)