Month: November 2019

Mussorgsky et al. / Night On Bare Mountain CS 6785 / Solti – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

More of the music of Modest Mussorgsky

Night On Bare Mountain CS 6785 / Solti

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

Released as Romantic Russia by Decca in 1967, this London can also be found with a different cover and a different catalog number, CS 6503.

DEMO QUALITY SOUND on side one — in some ways. Don’t go looking for the Tubey Magic of an earlier era. What you get instead is super-low distortion, full-bandwidth sound with deep powerful bass and more transparency than most later Londons.

Solti is clearly the man for this music! He’s on fire with this fiery material. THIS is the way you want to hear Russian Orchestral Showpieces — played with verve and dynamically ALIVE.  (more…)

Takemitsu – Percussions in Colors – Reviewed in 2010

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

Superb sound!

“Rare 1978 audiophile limited edition Japanese lp with Sumire Yoshihara on percussion performing experimental works. The Ichiyanagi work has a unique graphical score and allows the performer to select different classes of percussion. Takemitsu’s piece is based on a work of art in the form of a book made for the composer by Italian artist Bruno Munari. Takemitsu’s score consists of this book and an accompanying set of musical instructions on how to interpret its abstract collages and designs. Includes extensive notes inside the gatefold cover.” (more…)

Deja Vu in (Awful) Mono Sells fror $1200 and People Complain About Our Prices?

 

A mono copy of Deja Vu (which no doubt sounds terrible; I had one once) went for $1200 on ebay a few years back!

Oh, but it’s an auction, so I guess that makes it all right. The seller didn’t set the price, the market did.

But the market sets our prices too. We can’t sell a record for more than what the customer is willing to pay. What exactly is the difference?

Man, I sure would love to get $4k+ for one of our killer Hot Stamper pressings of Deja Vu. I guarantee our copy sounds a whole lot better. And the music is the same, right? So what did you get for your additional three thousand dollars?

A nice record to put on the shelf.

Which you could get from us for three thousand dollars less.

 

 

Henry Mancini – A Warm Shade of Ivory – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

With THE BEST side one we have ever played, backed with a side two that’s very nearly as good, this is a very special copy indeed! This copy was getting everything right on side one. Wide and deep stage, smooth but textured strings, background vocalists who take breaths, room around the piano, clear attack, it’s all here. 

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs. More about that later.

As for the sound of this copy, warm is right. This is some of the smoothest, most natural sound we’ve heard on a Mancini record. Listen to the cello on side 1, track 4, to hear the kind of tubey magic we rave about on old records. Those of you with good tube equipment (and/or the right transistor equipment, truth be told) know how rich and sonorous bowed string instruments can sound — this is a perfect example of it. Those with with more transistory sound in their systems will not be able to fully appreciate the lovely sonority, but if you take this record to a place that has top quality equipment, whether it be a friend’s house or a stereo store, you will undoubtedly hear what I mean. It’s a sound you can’t forget, and it’s all but disappeared from modern recordings and modern (read: heavy vinyl) pressings.

Classic Records, now thankfully defunct, has been producing records for fifteen years that are almost completely devoid of the tubey magic we’re talking about. Records like this show you precisely what the Classic pressings are getting wrong — if your stereo can reproduce the difference. (more…)

Beethoven/ ’Kreutzer’ Sonata & Bach/ Concerto… / Heifetz – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven 

More Beethoven/ ’Kreutzer’ Sonata & Bach/ Concerto… / Heifetz 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

This beautiful 1S/1S first pressing in excellent condition has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND — on both sides!

This is the kind of record on which the RCA reputation is based. They’re not kidding — this is truly LIVING STEREO SOUND at its best.

The immediacy and clarity of the violin are state of the art. I don’t know of a better sounding violin recording. And on this copy both sides are out of this world. (more…)

Berlioz / Symphonie Fantastique / Monteux / Vienna Phil

More of the music of Hector Berlioz 

More Symphonie Fantastique / Monteux / Vienna Phil 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

Gorgeous Golden Age Tubey Magical strings, lovely hall acoustics. The size and power of a large orchestra in Living Stereo sound. One of our favorite performances of Berlioz’s masterwork.

One of our favorite performances of Berlioz’s masterwork debuts on the site in spectacular fashion, with Super Hot Stamper 1960 Living Stereo sound on both sides. The vinyl is lightly ticky, typical for RCA from this era, with no scratches and no Inner Groove Distortion.

This is a piece that’s difficult to squeeze onto two sides of a single LP, clocking in as it does at around 45 minutes, which means that the mastering engineer has three options when cutting the record: compress the dynamics, lower the level, or filter out the deep bass. The RCA mastering engineer for this pressing managed to hold on to the powerful dynamics captured by the Decca (as far as I know) recording team, seemingly without doing harm to dynamics, levels or deep bass. How, I have no idea. (more…)

Chopin / Various Works / Badura-Skoda – Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)  

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

TWO SUPER HOT SIDES for this collection of solo piano works by one of the instrument’s foremost composers. Big, clear and solid on both sides, this is superb music performed and captured with honesty.

If you can handle a bit of noise, this is an excellent way to hear some of the finest piano music ever written, beautifully laid out on a big soundstage. (more…)

Skip Martin – Perspectives In Percussion, Vol. 2 – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Absolutely the best “Crazy Percussion Extravaganza” we have ever heard. The sound JUMPS out of the speakers like you will not believe. The best of its kind bar none? That’s exactly what this record is.

It is my belief that no one with an up-to-date, highly tweaked big system, a properly setup front end (with the VTA adjusted specifically for this record), and a carefully treated listening room can fail to have his mind blown by the sonics of this pressing.

The second image gives you the rundown on all the percussion instruments played on the album. I count 22! The recording is so good that if you listened to it enough times you might even be able to spot them all.

And it’s not just percussion. Click on the third image to see the many woodwinds and horns. Joining them are an organ, piano, electric guitar and of course bass.

Soundfield, Timbre and Dynamics

The spaciousness of the studio is reproduced with uncanny fidelity, with both huge depth and width, but there is another dimension that this record operates in that Bang, Baa-room and Harp, just to take one example, does not — the instruments here are capable of jumping out of your speakers, seemingly right into your listening room.

The effect is astonishing. I have never heard these instruments sound more real than they do here. The timbre is perfection. The dynamics are startling. As it says on the back cover, “the world’s greatest percussionists, soloists and section men [yes, your read that right, “section”, not “session”] recorded in HOLLYWOOD without attenuated dynamics…”

Add to those clearly unattenuated dynamics high and low frequencies that are also not the least bit attenuated, and microphones capable of deadly accuracy, and you have yourself a recording of unparalleled fidelity. I know of none to equal it. We’ve played these kinds of records by the score but I have never heard one do what this one is doing. (more…)

Dave Mason – Split Coconut

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

TWO EXCELLENT SIDES, including a near-White Hot A++ to A+++ side one! We just finished our first-ever shootout for this album, and we were shocked at just how good it can sound. Bruce Botnick did the engineering, and this record has his signature sound all over it. Nobody captures deep, punchy bottom end like he does! Crosby and Nash are here too, providing excellent backing vocals to a few songs. (more…)

Led Zeppelin – IV – With This Copy You Better Be Ready to Rock

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

We did a massive shootout in 2012 for Zep’s beloved fourth album and this British pressing earned a nearly perfect score with some of the BIGGEST, BOLDEST, HARDEST Rockin’ sound we have ever heard on the album. Without a doubt this is the best sounding IV side two we’ve ever played, with the biggest bottom of them all.

When the Levee Breaks, a problematical track on even the best copies, finally sounds the way you’ve always heard it in your head — relentless and so powerful it’s downright scary.

But the best copies are so good, and so much fun, that it was definitely worth the trouble. Because the best copies ROCK, and it is a positive THRILL to hear this record rock the way it was meant to. If you have big speakers and the power to drive them, your neighbors are going to be very upset with you.

Let’s get right to why this copy is SO DAMN GOOD.

Side Two

The biggest, boldest, most dynamic, punchiest and liveliest of them all. Zero smear, live-in-your-listening-room presence, with a beautifully extended and amazingly natural and correct top end, nothing could touch this one.

Note that the vocals for the first track are always somewhat edgy on even the best copies. After playing scores and scores of copies, having adjusted the VTA every which way we could, no copy did not have at least some edge on Plant’s vocal. We’re pretty sure by now it’s that way on the tape. Our job is to find the copy that reproduces it as accurately as possible. (more…)