Something Phony This Way Comes


Here’s what we learned when doing our most recent shootout.

Many copies sounded like they were half-speed mastered.

They had a little something phony added to the top of Linda’s voice, they had a little bit of suckout right in the middle of the midrange, the middle of her voice, and they had a somewhat diffuse, vague quality, with sound that lacked the SOLIDITY we heard on the best pressings. These hi-fi-ish qualities that we heard on so many copies reminded us of the kind of audiophile sound we decry at every turn. We’ve played literally hundreds and hundreds of MoFis and other half-speed mastered records over the course of the last twenty years, and one thing we know well is That Sound.

But think about it. What if you only had one copy of the album — why would you have more than one anyway? — and it had that Half-Speed Sound? You would simply assume the recording had those qualities, assuming you could even recognize them in the first place. (Let’s face it, most audiophiles can’t, or all these companies would have gone out of business and stayed out of businesss, and their out of print records would sell for peanuts, not the collector prices they bring on ebay and audiophile web sites.)

It’s Not Really That Hard to Tell One from the Other

Fortunately our customers recognize those phony qualities and are willing to pay top dollar for copies that don’t have those phony audiophile BS colorations. If you have a good stereo and two working ears it’s not hard to hear right from wrong. It’s not rocket science. The records that sound right to us we call Hot Stampers. They’re the ones that get all the energy into the grooves, with correct tonality from top to bottom. Audiophile records are the ones that compress the shit out of the sound and have colorations and problems everywhere you look. It’s really not that hard to tell one from the other, for us and our Hot Stamper fans anyway. The rest of the world has a way to go in this respect, but we’re doing our best to convert them, one audiophile at a time.

Give It Up Again For Val Garay

Kudos must go to Val Garay, the man behind one of our favorite recordings, JT, with which this album shares much in common. That same super-punchy, jump-out-the-speakers, rich and smooth ANALOG sound is everywhere in evidence. I don’t think Mr. Garay gets anything like his due with audiophiles and the reviewers who write for them. This is a shame. The guy makes Top Quality Pop Records about as good as they can be made, and if you have the kind of Big System that can really rock out, you owe it to yourself to get to know his work.