Month: May 2019

Letter of the Week – London Calling, Led Zeppelin and Chicago

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom, 

Thanks so much for London Calling. Despite having a fair few brilliant records with magic ability to release prodigious amounts of energy (Led Zeppelin, Chicago, BST etc.) I was blown away by the energy captured on this double set and I never thought it would sound soooo good sonically.

I was living in London from 1978 and remember well what a noise this album made. I had it on double cassette and played it constantly, never bought the vinyl at the time but did buy the CD later. I never got the same buzz from the CD and to be honest they didn’t really sound all that good which I put down to the recording. One of my mates at the time was Nick Simonon, the bass player’s younger brother, so I knew they could play really well when they wanted to.

You get to thinking that you’re just getting old and things like London Calling were heard through the heightened emotions of youth and, well, sex and drugs and rock and roll as Mr Dury said. The absolutely brilliant, and I imagine rare, White Hot Stamper has put paid to that, witness a 58 year old singing badly at the top of his lungs as he pogos around the living room! (more…)

Carole King – Tapestry – CBS Half-Speed Debunked

More Carole King

xxxxx

Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame Pressing

The CBS Half Speed is ridiculously bright — can you imagine a worse way to present this intimate music?   

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.

Van Morrison – Astral Weeks

More Van Morrison

More Astral Weeks

xxxxx

  • This WB Green Label pressing has STUNNING Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides for Van The Man’s 1968 groundbreaking, introspective classic – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This record lives or dies by the quality of its Tubey Magical Midrange, a sound modern records rarely begin to reproduce
  • It takes us years to find enough clean copies to do a shootout – these originals are not sitting in the bins at your local store anymore, they’re displayed behind the counter for a hundred bucks or more a pop 
  • 5 stars: “Astral Weeks is a justified entry in pop music’s pantheon. It is unlike any record before or since; it mixes together the very best of postwar popular music in an emotional outpouring cast in delicate, subtle musical structures.”

The original cover is actually in the original shrink!

I don’t think there’s too much I can tell you about Astral Weeks that’s going to convince you to buy it or not. It’s obviously one of the man’s (many) masterpieces, his most unique and original contribution to the music of his time, and one of the most beloved albums in his canon. (more…)

Leroy Vinnegar Sextet – Leroy Walks!

More Leroy Vinnegar Sextet

More Leroy Walks!

xxxxx
xxxxx

  • Leroy Vinnegar’s debut album finally arrives on the site with a KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two and a truly oustanding Double Plus (A++) side one 
  • The Contemporary LP stereo sound here is completely natural in every respect, yet still rich, warm and smooth
  • Roy DuNann and Howard Holzer engineered some of the best sounding records we have ever heard – here’s a textbook example of what the audiophiles at Contemporary were able to achieve in the studio
  • 4 stars: “…Vinnegar generously features his talented sidemen… A fine, straight-ahead session.”

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are wonderful. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good an 1958 All Tube Analog Contemporary recording can sound, this killer copy will do the trick. (more…)

Steely Dan – The Royal Scam – Turning Aggressive Energy into Pure Excitement

More Steely Dan

The Royal Scam

xxxxx

Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

We really went overboard with the track commentary for this one. This should make it easy for you to compare what we say about the sound of these songs with what they sound like to you on your system, using the copy you own or, better yet, one of our Hot Stampers. 

If you end up with one of our Hot Stampers, listen carefully for the effects we describe below. This is a very tough record to reproduce — everything has to be working in tip-top form to even begin to get this complicated music sounding the way it should — but if you’ve done your homework and gotten your system really cooking, you are in for the time of your Steely Dan life. (more…)

Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks – What To Listen For

More Bob Dylan

More Blood on the Tracks

xxxxx

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.

Many copies have no bass, while other copies are bright, a combination which ruins the sound of the acoustic guitars that dominate the album. On the better Hot Stamper pressings the bass will be deep and well-defined and the tonal balance will be correct.

The copies that fared the best in our shootouts were rich, warm, tubey and full-bodied — in other words, analog sounding. 

What To Listen For

It’s nice when the copy in hand has all the transparency, space, layered depth and three-dimensionality that makes listening to records such a fundamentally different experience than listening to digitally-sourced material, but it’s not nearly as important as having that rich, relaxed tonal balance. A little smear and a lack of resolution is not the end of the world on this album. Brightness, along with too much grain and grit, can be. 

What To Listen For — Side Two

The harmonica on the second track is devilishly difficult to get right. If there is any aggressiveness or grit in the sound of your copy, you will have no trouble recognizing it when that harmonica starts to play. (more…)

The Doobie Brothers – Minute By Minute

More The Doobie Brothers

Minute By Minute

xxxxx

  • Incredible sound on both sides and the first “Triple Triple” (A+++) copy to hit the site in years!
  • Open Your Eyes, What A Fool Believes and the title track all sound wonderful here
  • The sound is dramatically bigger, richer, livelier and smoother than every other copy we played it against   
  • An Audiophile Quality Pop Music Production as close to perfect as one can ask for, thanks to Ted Templeman and Donn Landee  

This is undoubtedly the band’s masterpiece, assuming you’re a Michael McDonald fan, and we very much are fans here at Better Records. We can now definitively say that the quality of the sound matches the quality of the music. What a wonderful sounding pop record. This is Donn Landee at his best — tonally correct, spacious, clear and sweet, with big bass and vocal choruses that can really take off when called upon. With Ted Templeman running the show this is an Audiophile Quality Pop Music Production that’s as close to perfect as one has any right to expect. (more…)

The Recordings of Zoot Sims – Four that Didn’t Make the Grade

More Zoot Sims

More that Didn’t Make the Grade

xxxxx

xxxxx

xxxxx

xxxxx

These are just some of the recordings by Zoot Sims that we’ve auditioned recently and found wanting. Without going into specifics we’ll just say these albums suffer from poor performances, poor sound, or both, and therefore do not deserve a place in your collection, and may even belong in our Hall of Shame.   

Free Service provided to the Audiophile Public, courtesy of Better Records.    

 

Tchaikovsky on Vinyl – These Didn’t Make the Grade

More Tchaikovsky

More of that Didn’t Make the Grade

xxxxx

xxxxx

xxxxx

These are just some of the recordings of the music of Tchaikovsky that we’ve auditioned and found wanting. Without going into specifics we’ll just say these albums suffer from poor performances, poor sound, or both, and therefore do not deserve a place on our site, in your collection, and may even belong in our Hall of Shame.  

Free Service provided to the Audiophile Public, courtesy of Better Records.    

Pink Floyd – A Saucerful of Secrets

More Pink Floyd

More A Saucerful of Secrets

xxxxx

  • Two stunning sides, each with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound, making this one of the best sounding copies we’ve ever heard!
  • The sound here is incredibly big, rich and Tubey Magical with a huge punchy bottom end 
  • Good sound for early Floyd is a very tough ticket which is why you don’t see many copies hit the site

The first White Hot Stamper copy of A Saucerful Of Secrets to ever hit the site! We’ve been at this quite a long time so that should tell you something about how tough it is to find good sound for this album. If you’re a fan of the band’s early prog-psych freakouts, I imagine you’ll be very impressed with the kind of sound we were able to find here. (more…)