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… I felt the earth move under my feet with this record …
Our good customer Roger (and, if he keeps this up, a future editor-at-large) recently purchased the cheapest Hot Stamper Tapestry ($150) from our mailing. As is his wont he proceeded to do his own shootout with the CBS Half-Speed. We told him in our listing it wasn’t any good but we’re glad to see he didn’t take out word for it. There is no subtitute for hearing a record on your own stereo, good or bad. (The record, not the stereo.)
I heard your Carole King Tapestry Hot Stamper over the weekend and compared it to the CBS half-speed version. I always thought CBS did a pretty good job on this record, at least as compared to a standard US pressing I had, and I avoided buying hot stampers because of this.
So I didn’t expect much when I put this on my turntable, but it was obvious within the first, oh, 2-3 seconds that the hot stamper completely eclipsed the half-speed. I don’t think even a 1/4 speed or 1/100 speed would have sounded like this record. Instruments were startlingly immediate and stood out from the mix, whether it was pianos arrayed in space with weight and body, or the drum rim shots in It’s Too Late, or guitars, or even Carole’s voice. I was amazed, I mean amazed, at the fireworks display type bass on Home Again and Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.
I definitely felt the earth move under my feet with this record–it is rare to hear this kind of bass on any recording, no less a pop record. I used to pride myself on not being a bass whore, but I admit I am hopelessly in love with the kind of bass heard on this record. If you like transparent soundstaging you will love this record and there is tons of detail, but not the type of hyper-detail that will drive you screaming from your room.
I have heard the songs on this record literally thousands of times but never like this. And this was the cheap $149 version. Fabulous!
Roger, thanks as always for the insightful review. We haven’t liked the Half-Speed since the Classic came out more than a decade ago. Although it’s tonally much more correct, the Classic just doesn’t cut it. Here is the relevant commentary from our review:
The Reissues Won’t Get You There
The CBS Half Speed is ridiculously bright — can you imagine a worse way to present this intimate music? Bernie Grundman’s heavy vinyl pressing isn’t terrible, but it isn’t all that musical and never really comes to life. We dropped the needle on it for a few moments and were bored to tears.
Which prompted us to promulgate the following axiom of audiophile record collecting, which we are calling
Better Records Record Collecting Axiom Number Two
The better your stereo gets, the fewer Heavy Vinyl and Half-Speed Mastered pressings you will own.
That pretty much sums it up for us around here.
What’s axiom number one? Ah, so glad you asked!
Better Records Record Collecting Axiom Number One
No two records sound the same.
If that weren’t true we’d be out of business. It is in fact the foundation of our business.
And it’s equally true for Half-Speeds — they’re records, right? — so we have a few entries in our We Was Wrong section about those rare copies that actually have sounded good to us over the years.
The chances of there being Hot Stamper CBS Half-Speed Mastered pressings of Tapestry may be vanishingly small, but we can’t say the number is zero. There could be some, but considering how bad an idea Half-Speed Mastering is, would they have much chance of beating our Hot Stampers? As a practical matter I would have to say the chances are zero.