- Amazing Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on the second
- The sound is HUGE with WHOMP like nothing you have ever heard on this album – finally, the code has been cracked
- Bohemian Rhapsody is killer on this side one (if you’ve got the system to play it)
- 5 stars: “But the appeal of A Night at the Opera is in its detailed, meticulous productions. It’s prog rock with a sense of humor as well as dynamics, and Queen never bettered their approach anywhere else.”
We noted on the site last time around:
As we are fond of pointing out (although we wish it were not the case), for some reason it’s incredibly tough to find good-sounding Queen albums, which is why you almost never see them on the site. (News of the World and The Game are much easier to find with good sound.)
Most of the copies of this album we played weren’t even worth putting a grade on. We wouldn’t bother trying to sell a record that sounded as bad as those dogs. This copy gets it mostly right and that alone makes it exceptional. For Queen, mostly right is hard to come by.
All that is still true, but here’s the copy that has all of the Queen Magic you could hear in your head — and only in your head — while Bohemian Rhapsody was playing on the radio.
Here’s the pressing that finally can let you hear that BIG, BOLD sound in your very own listening room. You can even play it for your audiophile friends now.
One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.
Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.
And most of the time those very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy that does all that, it’s an entirely different listening experience.
What to Listen For (WTLF)
Here are some of the things we specifically listen for in a ’70s Pop/Rock record.
Our hottest Hot Stamper copies are simply doing more of these things better than any of the other copies we played in our shootout. The best copies have:
- Greater immediacy in the vocals (most copies are veiled and distant to some degree);
- Natural tonal balance (many copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; those with the right balance are the exception, not the rule);
- Good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful);
- Spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space);
- Tubey Magic, without which you might as well be playing a CD;
- And last but not least, transparency, the quality of being able to see into the studio, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this sometimes simple, sometimes complex and sophisticated recording.
Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage import pressing will play, and since only the right vintage imports have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later import or domestic pressings, or — even worse — the Heavy Vinyl reissue, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful originals.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.
Death On Two Legs (Dedicated To….)
Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon
I’m In Love With My Car
You’re My Best Friend
The Prophet’s Song
Love Of My Life
God Save The Queen