Sonic Grade: D
Tonally correct, which is one thing you can’t say for most of the Zeps in this series, that’s for sure. Those of you with crappy domestic copies, crappy imported reissues and crappy CDs, which is pretty much all there is of this recording, will not know what you’re missing.
Compare this title to some of the better Classic Zep releases and I expect you will notice that hearing into the midrange is a more difficult proposition on these songs, with reduced ambience and space around the voices and instruments.
What is lost in these newly remastered recordings? Lots of things, but the most obvious and bothersome is TRANSPARENCY.
Modern records are just so damn opaque. We can’t stand that sound. It drives us crazy. Important musical information — the kind we hear on even second-rate regular pressings — is simply nowhere to be found. That audiophiles as a group — including those that pass themselves off as champions of analog in the audio press — do not notice these failings does not speak well for either their equipment or their critical listening skills.
It is our contention that almost no one alive today is capable of making records that sound as good as the vintage ones we sell.
Once you hear a Hot Stamper pressing, those 180 gram records you own may never sound right to you again. They sure don’t sound right to us, but we are in the enviable position of being able to play the best properly-cleaned older pressings (reissues included) side by side with the newer ones. This allows the faults of the current reissues to become much more recognizable, to the point of actually being quite obvious. When you can hear the different pressings that way, head to head, there really is no comparison.
A Lost Cause
The wonderful vintage discs we offer will surely shame any Heavy Vinyl pressings you own, as practically no Heavy Vinyl pressing has ever sounded especially transparent or spacious to us when played against the best Golden Age recordings, whether pressed back in the day or twenty years later.
This is precisely the reason we stopped carrying Modern LP Pressings in 2011 – they just can’t compete with good vintage vinyl, assuming that the vinyl in question has been properly mastered, pressed and cleaned.
This is of course something we would never assume — we clean the records and play them and that’s how we find out whether they are any good or not. There is no other way to do it — for any record from any era — despite what you may read elsewhere.
…along these lines can be found below.
Transparency, the other side of the Tubey Magical Richness coin, is key to the better pressings of this album as well as many of our other favorite demo discs.
Here are more records that will help you avoid listening for phony detail when evaluating equipment or tweaking your system.
The most important advice on the site can be found under the heading The Four Pillars of Success.
Record shootouts are the fastest and easiest way to hone your listening skills, a subject we discuss often on the site and directly address in this commentary from way back in 2005.
Here are more entries in our ongoing Shootout Advice series.