Month: April 2020

Rush – 2112 – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

More Rush

More Prog Rock

We just finished our first ever shootout for the classic 2112, and here’s a wonderful copy with two impressive sides! We’ve collected a bunch of these over the years — it took ages to find pressings that delivered the kind of sound our customers expect from a Better Records Hot Stamper. Most Rush records sound godawful, but this one actually has the potential to be amazing — as long as you’ve got the right copy. (more…)

Nirvana / Nevermind – A Perfect Record? But Was It Really?

Reviews and Commentaries for Nirvana

DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND on side two! It’s got the big, uber-punchy, hard rockin’ attitude we demand from a Nevermind Hot Stamper. Side one is no slouch either folks, with A++ sound! Only one other copy had better sound for side one — THIS ONE ROCKS!

Side two on this Nevermind has MASTER TAPE SOUND. We found the most amazing clarity and transparency on this copy. You will find the sound so rich and full-bodied that at times you’d swear it was tube mastered! Check out the presence of the vocals on side one. The WHOMP factor is out of control all over this pressing. 

Now don’t get me wrong: the average copy is still a pretty darn good sounding record. I might even go so far as to say it’s better than practically anything recorded during the entire decade of the ’90s.

But man, when you’ve heard this record at its best, there is NOTHING like it. For the true Rock and Roll Audiophile Connoisseur, the man who will settle for nothing but the very best, we humbly offer this Nevermind Verified Hot Stamper, the ultimate head-banging experience.


This is our old commentary, which obviously now applies to only the best copies.

A PERFECT recording, the best of its kind, ever. The drums are perfect. The bass is perfect. The guitars are perfect. The vocals are perfect. Now how in the world could that be, you ask?!

Allow me to explain. (more…)

The 3 Sounds / Moods – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

This Blue Note LP has GREAT SOUND. The top end is Right On The Money and the drums sound wonderful — punchy with lots of ambience. The piano is full-bodied and weighty allowing you to really appreciate the percussive qualities of the instrument. The bass is deep but not quite as tight as the very best sounding copies.

Those of you who are familiar with Yamamoto’s playing, especially on albums like Midnight Sugar, should have fun with the second track on side two, Li’l Darlin’. I think this is where Yamamoto “found” a lot of his style. It’s actually even slower than his arrangements of similar material, and I’d be tempted to say it works even better on this album.

Gene Harris, the piano player here, is one of my favorite jazz pianists. I saw him live with Ray Brown a few years back and he was wonderful. Most of his albums are long out of print and very hard to come by, so this is a real find, one that gets a Top Recommendation from Better Records.

Tom Waits – Small Change

This is a wonderful album, considered by many to be Waits’s masterpiece. He’s backed with a real jazz combo here, including Lew Tabackin on sax and the great Shelley Manne on drums. Bones Howe does a great job gettin the kind of beatnik-jazz sound out of these songs that they need. On a copy like this, the presence and clarity are absolutely stunning!

According to Wikipedia, when asked in interview by Mojo magazine in 1999 if he shared many fans’ view that Small Change was the crowning moment of his “beatnik-glory-meets-Hollywood-noir period” (i.e. from 1973 to 1980), Waits replied:

Well, gee. I’d say there’s probably more songs off that record that I continued to play on the road, and that endured. Some songs you may write and record but you never sing them again. Others you sing em every night and try and figure out what they mean. “Tom Traubert’s Blues” was certainly one of those songs I continued to sing, and in fact, close my show with. (more…)

Rod Stewart / Every Picture Tells A Story – Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2016

More of the Music of Rod Stewart

More Reviews and Commentaries for Every Picture Tells a Story

A knockout Top Copy, with a side one so jaw-droppingly amazing that we awarded it the rare Four Plus (A++++) grade. The sound is incredibly rich, full-bodied and open with excellent clarity — you will be FLOORED.

Please note that we do not have a graphic for the above chart to indicate the Four Plus grade, since we award it so rarely. Our rating system usually only goes to three pluses, but this side one was so amazing we had to give it a fourth!

This is a superb recording, and on a pressing like this it is true Demo Disc material! Not too many of our Hot Stamper titles are going to ROCK you the way this one does. We put it in a class with Led Zep II, Sticky Fingers, Nevermind, and Back In Black — elite company to say the least! (more…)

Aerosmith – Self-Titled

  • A stunning copy of Aerosmith’s debut — Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last
  • With plenty of energy, killer rock bass, and clear, present vocals, this pressing has all the key qualities we look for in an Aerosmith record
  • Dream On sounds incredible on this one – worth the price of admission alone
  • “In retrospect, it’s a bit shocking how fully formed the signature Aerosmith sound was on their self-titled 1973 debut… Aerosmith clearly showcases all the attributes of the band that would become the defining American hard rock band of the ’70s… “

KILLER sound for this copy of Aerosmith’s debut album! Mama Kin, a perennial staple of the band’s live performances and arguably the best rocker on the album, sounds fantastic here, huge and open with some serious presence. As you might expect from a debut, the sound here is a bit rougher and rawer than later albums like Toys in the Attic, but that’s not altogether a bad thing for this kind of loose, greasy hard rock! (more…)

Gabor Szabo / More Sorcery – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Guitar

Reviews and Commentaries for Gabor Szabo

This is a Minty looking Original Impulse Stereo LP with EXCELLENT sound and quiet vinyl.

This is a live recording that’s got that small jazz club feel. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds runs almost ten minutes and gives everybody involved a chance to stretch out. People is also exceptionally good here.

It’s hard to find a recording Szabo did that isn’t full of Tubey Magic, huge studio space and right-on-the-money instrumental timbres. This album is right up there with the best of his recordings, courtesy of the two top engineers noted below. (more…)

The Weavers – The Weavers At Carnegie Hall

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This is a wonderful Weavers album, recorded in Carnegie Hall on Christmas Eve, 1955 — when and if you can find one that’s properly mastered and not too scratched up. This is not easy, as most copies of the album — now fifty plus years old — have not survived in very good condition. This copy is the exception to that rule, with reasonably quiet surfaces (Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus, about as quiet as they come) and EXCELLENT SOUND.  

What do we listen for on this album? Pretty much the same things we listen for on most albums (with the exception of Whomp Factor I suppose; acoustic guitars, banjos and voices don’t produce much whomp in real life).

You clearly need transparency to make all the vocal and instrumental parts clear. There is not a trace of phony Hi-Fi sound anywhere to be found on the album, so bringing out as much information as possible from the record has to be an important goal. (On phony records a bit of smear or opacity can actually be a good thing.)

Those of you with very highly resolving speaker systems — electrostatics, screens and the like — will find this record much easier to reproduce than others. (Including us: Our big dynamic speakers do many things well but no speaker can do everything right. We have had to sacrifice some transparency for other qualities necessary to play the wide range of recordings we must evaluate.) (more…)

Bob Dylan / Blonde on Blonde – A Joke on Sundazed in Mono

More of the Music of Bob Dylan

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Bob Dylan

Flat as a pancake and dead as a doornail, like most of the Sundazed records we played all those years ago.

Sundazed is clearly one of the worst record labels of all time. This record is just more evidence to back up our low opinion of them.

There is an abundance of audiophile collector hype surrounding the hundreds of Heavy Vinyl pressings currently in print. I read a lot about how wonderful their sound is, but when I actually play them, I rarely find them to be any better than mediocre, and many of them are downright awful.

Music Matters made this garbage remaster. Did anyone notice how awful it sounded? I could list a hundred more that range from bad to worse — and I have!

Audiophiles seem to have approached these records naively instead of skeptically.

(But wait a minute. Who am I to talk? I did the same thing when I first got into audio and record collecting in the Seventies.)

How could so many be fooled so badly? Surely some of these people have good enough equipment to allow them to hear how bad these records sound.

The embrace of one third-rate Heavy Vinyl pressing after another by the audiophile community has rendered absurd the pretense that their members ever developed anything beyond the most rudimentary critical listening skills.

Sadly, the Dunning-Kruger effect, the best explanation for the sorry state of audio these days, means they simply don’t know how little they know and therefore see no reason to doubt their high opinions of themselves, their equipment and their acumen.

Progress in audio is possible, but only if you know that you are not already at the top of the mountain. You should recognize that a lot of serious climbing remains to be done.

Letter of the Week – “Your discovery is easily the most amazing thing of all the amazing things this audiophile has come across in 30 years of amazing things.”

More Fleetwood Mac

Reviews and Commentaries for Rumours

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

Hey Tom,   

Friend over recently, played Fleetwood Mac Rumours, 45RPM. He says that’s gonna be awful hard to beat. “With one arm tied behind my back! Watch this!”

Wow, that was more open….!

Your discovery is easily the most amazing thing of all the amazing things this audiophile has come across in 30 years of amazing things.

Keep at it, no one else can, we are counting on you.