Roy Orbison’s Greatest Hits – Mono? Original? None of the Above?

More Roy Orbison

More Roy Orbison’s Greatest Hits

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  • You’ll find oustanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides of this Monument stereo pressing
  • The phenomenally talented Bill Porter recorded many of Orbison’s classic songs from the early ’60s that are found on this compilation
  • Only a copy this good shows you how phenominal these timeless songs can sound – rich, open, clear, solid and musical
  • Among monster hits, like “Crying,” “Only the Lonely,” and “Running Scared,” this album includes new releases “Love Star” and “Evergreen” as well

If you think that buying original pressings of an album like this one is the way to find the best sound, you are sorely mistaken. The originals and most reissues on the Monument label are mostly dreadful sounding.

The monos sound bad and the originals sound bad, which means that all the conventional wisdom of record collectors and audiophiles alike has failed to produce the desired result: a good sounding pressing of the album. What’s a mother to do? 

Well, you could do what we did: try them all! If you keep at it long enough eventually you will run into the right pressing, and then you can focus on getting a large enough batch which will allow you to find one that sounds great and plays quietly.

Or you could just buy this one. We already did all that other stuff and this is the pressing that resulted from our labors. This vintage LP has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings cannot BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Tubey Magic Is Key

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real person singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now 50+ years old), I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Copies with rich lower mids did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural ambience and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to pressings from every era and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

Best Practices

If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the others do not do as well, using a few specific passages of music, it will quickly become obvious how well any given pressing reproduces those passages.

The process is simple enough. First, you go deep into the sound. There you find something special, something you can’t find on most copies. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings 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 pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, 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.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

The Crowd
Love Star
Crying
Evergreen
Running Scared
Mama

Side Two

Candy Man
Only The Lonely
Dream Baby
Blue Angel
Uptown
I’m Hurtin’

Allmusic on Roy Orbison

The listener is immediately convinced… that no one conveys pain and longing more sublimely or succinctly than Roy Orbison. But his songs are also masterpieces of production: so technically precise that his deceptively simple tunes and lush melodies flow even more smoothly behind his desperate baritone croon and quivering falsetto.

…don’t attempt to live without an Orbison collection in your possession; such a life would be as bittersweet and tragic as “Crying” or “In Dreams,” but lacking the rewards of listening to one of rock’s truly heroic geniuses.

Mono Vs. Stereo

Stick with stereo on this album. The Mono pressings — at least the ones we’ve played — aren’t worth anybody’s time (scratch that: any audiophile’s time).

Here are some other records that we don’t think sound very good in MONO.

Here are some we think can sound amazing in MONO.