Month: August 2020

10cc – Compare the Gold CD and the Vinyl

More of the Music of 10cc

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of 10cc

This commentary was written sometime around 2004 I imagine. It references my old Whisper Speaker system, which I had replaced by 2005 or so.

As good as the DCC Gold CD is, this record has all the MAGIC of ANALOG vinyl — and then some. It’s the kind of sound you will never hear coming from a CD or digital source of any kind, trust me.

If there isn’t a huge difference in sound between the Hoffman DCC gold CD and your LP, I can tell you without fear of contradiction that you:

A.) Need a better front end (turntable, arm, cart, phono stage — which of course we are happy to help you acquire) or,

B.) You have a bad copy of the vinyl. 

Most likely it would be a combination of the two, which, if I can say it without sounding too smug or arrogant, is the most likely scenario.

I haven’t run into too many audiophiles who own a hot copy of The Original Soundtrack, or have the kind of system that can play a record like it. As I am fond of saying, this is the kind of record that is guaranteed to bring any audiophile stereo to its knees.)

The recording itself is a Tour De Force, one reason I’ve been demonstrating my stereo with it for more than thirty years. The extended suite that opens side one, One Night in Paris, has ambience, sound effects, and incredibly dynamic multi-tracked vocals at its climax that will make your jaw drop.

My Personal Brit Copy

I bought my reference Brit copy at Beanos when I was in England many years ago, for those who have been record shopping there. Not too many of these came across the Atlantic, so British pressings of 10cc are quite rare. It should be noted that most record buyers in England do not take very good care of their records. I found this out the hard way when I got home with suitcases and boxes full of LPs, only to find that many were noisy and groove damaged.

Actually that’s not fair; Americans don’t take very good care of their records either. It’s just that American records are quite common and so we expect them to be treated poorly. By the way, the same guy cut both the Brit copies and the domestics, so don’t expect the country of origin alone tell you what to expect from a given pressing. There are Super Hot copies from both countries and the only way to know how one sounds is to play it. (more…)

Ben Webster – The Warm Moods

Hot Stamper Jazz Recordings Featuring the Saxophone

Reviews and Commentaries for the Recordings of Ben Webster

  • An excellent copy of this great jazz “plus strings” album starring our man Ben Webster – Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • The sound is rich, warm and full-bodied, with you-are-there immediacy and impressive dynamics – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • With a wonderful combination of material, performance, and sonics, this is a record you’ll want to play again and again
  • If your collection could use some romantic jazz ballads, look no further, this is the album for you

This is calm, relaxed jazz performed expertly by Webster backed by a small orchestra conducted by Johnny Richards.

The sound is TOP NOTCH. We’ve managed to acquire a number of these specific pressings over the years and this copy just could not be beat. It won our shootout hands down with its amazing transparency and remarkable separation between instruments. In addition, most copies we played weren’t nearly this rich or full-bodied.

Drop the needle on any of these great ballads and appreciate how relaxed, natural, balanced and warm the sound is. I imagine this is going to be a record you return to over and over. It’s hard for me to imagine this record ever getting old with such a wonderful combination of material, performance, and sonics. (more…)

Mozart / Symphonies Nos. 40 & 41 on Speakers Corner

More of the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Mozart

Sonic Grade: B?

One of the better Speakers Corner Deccas. They released this title on Heavy Vinyl in 1998. In those days, it was one of the few Speakers Corner classical recordings we used to carry and recommend. 

We knew it sounded good, but up until recently, when we started collecting and playing the better Deccas and Londons, we sure didn’t know it could sound as good as the best of those vintage pressings do.

Below are some thoughts from a recent classical listing that we hope will shed some light on our longstanding aversion to the sound of modern remasterings. 


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 no one alive today is capable of making records that sound as good as the vintage ones we sell.

Once you hear this 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. (more…)

Prokofiev / Peter and the Wolf – Sargent

More of the music of Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Sergei Prokofiev

This is a very old review. We are no longer big fans of the recording, although if you can pick one up cheap, which is very doable as this record should be sitting in the bins for under ten bucks, you might want to give it a try. We recommend you look for the earlier STS label, Silver and Black, not Orange and Black.

SUPERB SOUND! This Orange and Black label British pressing has sweet strings, powerful dynamics, plenty of depth and a wide soundstage.

It’s major faults are a lack of deep bass and some congestion during loud passages.

Sir Ralph Richardson makes a wonderful narrator — the sound of his voice is priceless.

But the real attraction is the First Symphony, commonly known as the Classical Symphony. Sargent plays it with VERVE! He brings energy and excitement to this work. The London Symphony is at the top of their game as well; they play with the precision required to bring the work off with aplomb.

It’s hard to find a good Prokofiev First, and since this is one of my all time favorite pieces of classical music, if you don’t have one, this is a good place to start. 

[We prefer the Previn on EMI but this one is very good and easily found in record stores.]

Jimmy Smith – Open House

  • Open House makes its Hot Stamper debut here with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish  
  • An RVG live-in-the-studio recording from 1960 is hard to beat for you-are-there immediacy, and this pressing delivers that quality like no other copy you’ve heard – we guarantee it
  • We wish more records had this kind of sound – natural, full-bodied, and REAL in a way that no modern Heavy Vinyl pressing seems to be
  • 4 1/2 stars: “For this superlative outing, the innovative organist is teamed with trumpeter Blue Mitchell, altoist Jackie McLean, tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec, and his regular sidemen. The musicians all seem to be inspired by each other’s presence, making this a highly recommended set for straight-ahead jazz collectors”


Beethoven / Symphony Nos. 4 & 5 / Leibowitz

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

This single disc, taken from the 7 LP Readers Digest Box Set, contains THE BEST sounding recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony we have ever played at Better Records. And that makes it something very special indeed, with nothing short of White Hot sonics and a top performance by Rene Leibowitz conducting the Royal Philharmonic.

Produced by Charles Gerhardt and engineered by Kenneth Wilkinson, to my mind this has always been one of the finest groups of recordings of the complete symphonies of Beethoven , held back only by the usual pressing variations (and the RDG ’60s vinyl). Until we amassed a pile of these sets and got them sparkling clean we had no idea that the recordings could sound this good, good enough in fact to beat all comers — from every major label and then some — in our shootout!

You may have noticed that Beethoven’s symphonies rarely make it to the site. There’s a reason for this: most of the recordings of them don’t sound very good. We are happy to report that, at least when it comes to the Fourth and Fifth, that problem has been solved.

Side Two – Symphony No. 5

A+++. The hall here is HUGE; your speakers will simply disappear. The sound is rich, Tubey Magical and clear, all at the same time. (It’s not quite as clear as the Solti on CS 6092 we will be listing but in every other way it’s better than that record.)

The string texture reminds me of the finest Living Stereos I have heard. The overall sound is as dynamic and exciting as one could hope for, yet Leibowitz manages to make it more lyrical and flowing as well. I know of none better.

One other copy, competitive in most ways with this one, was somewhat more lush and tubey. We felt in the end that the sound on this pressing was actually more correct and lifelike. We like our recordings to have as many Live Music qualities as possible, and those qualities really come through on a record such as this when reproduced on the full-range speaker system we use. It’s precisely this kind of big, clear sound that makes audiophiles prize Decca-London (and RDG!) recordings above those of virtually any other label, and here, unlike in so many areas of audio, we are fully in agreement with our fellow record lovers. (more…)

The Kinks – The Great Lost Kinks Album

  • An outstanding copy of the band’s 1973 release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • This one knocks it out of the park – it’s lively and rich, with plenty of deep punchy bass, a nicely extended top and a huge three-dimensional soundfield
  • If you enjoy the classic late ’60s Kinks albums such as Village Green, Arthur, and Lola, you are going to love this album
  • 4 1/2 stars: “An aptly titled collection; out of print for many years, there are even some Kinks cultists who have never been able to hear this ragtag but worthy collection of late-’60s and early-’70s outtakes and rarities… Kinks fans will find it quite worthwhile, and should be on the lookout for it…”


A Guide to Finding Hot Stampers: Make the Same Mistakes, Only Sooner

Basic Concepts and Realities Explained

What You Can Learn from Experimenting with Records

Wise men and women throughout the ages have commented on the value of making mistakes.

Here is one of our favorite quotes on the subject.

If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.

We can thank Tallulah Bankhead for that one.

When I think of the 20-odd years (early ’70s to early ’90s) I wasted trying to figure out how audio works before I had discovered how to develop my critical listening skills, it brings to mind the old Faces’ song, “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger.”

The more mistakes you make, the more you learn.

The more you learn, the easier it is to recognize good records.

Like many of our customers who’ve found their standards raised by our Hot Stamper pressings, you may be so exhausted and disappointed by the mediocrities churned out these days that you finally make the pledge to swear off bad records for good.

Acquiring better sounding pressings and getting rid of those that are no longer satisfying will result in a collection that is a joy to own, a collection that will provide a great deal more satisfaction than one made up primarily of collectible records.

There is only one true test for records:

Which ones do you want to play?

Collect those and get rid of the rest.

Further Reading

Prokofiev / Concerto No. 3 – A Very Old Review

More of the music of Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Sergei Prokofiev

Good piano tone and dynamic too. Side two is not as good. It’s more compressed and smeared, but not too badly. If side one gets a 10, side two gets a 7 or so.

Performed by Van Cliburn, pianist, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Walter Hendl. This performance also includes MacDowell’s ”Concerto No. 2”.

This is an Older Classical/Orchestral Review

Most of the older reviews you see are for records that did not go through the shootout process, the revolutionary approach to finding better sounding pressings we developed in the early 2000s and have since turned into a fine art.


Wired Investigates the World of Hot Stampers

Check out our Wired interview.

Why Audiophiles Are Paying $1,000 for This Man’s Vinyl

Collectors of so-called “Hot Stamper” LPs think a thousand bucks is a bargain to hear a classic rock opus sound better than you’ve ever heard it before—stoned or sober.

Go to the comments section and read the 300 plus postings that can be found there. The writers of these comments appear to be offended by the very idea of Hot Stampers. They also decry the obvious shortcomings of analog vinyl itself, as well as the ridiculously expensive equipment some credulous, misguided audiophiles are using to play it, as if you didn’t know already!


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