This week’s letter comes from our good customer Roger, who did a little shootout of his own among three very different sounding pressings: two Half-Speeds, one by MoFi and one by CBS, probably the two most popular pressings among audiophiles, and our very own Hot Stamper LP. Here are his findings. Keep in mind that Roger bought a copy priced at $125, half the price of the best copy in our shootout.
I got your Boston hot stamper today and enjoyed comparing it to MFSL and CBS half-speed versions in a shootout. I had long since given up on listening to this record since it became part of a communist ploy to brainwash us by playing Boston repeatedly on the radio until we would give up any information they desired. “Deep Purple Lite” was what my college buddies and I used to derisively call it. Now I only wish we had this type of music still around. So I had fun reliving my college days and listening to this LP.
For a pop recording, it is a pretty good recording soundwise, and all 3 pressings were indeed good, if not interesting. I tried the CBS half-speed first, and it was tonally lean with good speed and detail, and bass was extended and quick. However, its Achilles heel was that it had too much energy on top and excessive brightness, something that couldn’t hide from my speakers’ ion tweeters.
Roger, you seem to be using the phrase “tonally lean” unpejoratively (if I can make up such a word), whereas for us here at Better Records, that is the kiss of death for Half-Speeds, and in fact Audiophile Records of All Kinds. Lack of weight down below, lack of Whomp Factor, is the main reason half-speed mastered records are so consistently and ridiculously bad. If not bad, certainly wrong. You can be very sure that Boston would not want, nor would they put up with, that kind of anemic sound for a minute.
The CBS is cut clean from a good tape, so it easily beats the bad domestic pressings, of which there are many. But it can’t rock. What good is a Boston record that doesn’t rock? It’s a contradiction in terms; the band, as well as their debut album, have no other reason to exist.
So the MFSL was somewhat of a relief in that regard, being more sweet and rolled-off on top. However, it sounded bland, blah, slow and murky by comparison. It was still OK sonically with a fuller midband, but didn’t have the midrange energy or dynamics of the CBS and it just seemed slow and plodding, no other way to put it. Bass on the MFSL copy was weightier but more midbass than the quick and extended bass on the CBS.
Agreed. The MoFi Anadisc had the same problems that plagued that whole series: turgid, thick, blobby, murky, mucky sound. A real slogfest. In short, audiophile trash of the worst kind.
Now for the hot stamper, it was closer in tonal balance to the CBS, tending to be leaner, but the bass was quicker and more impactful, and the treble, while still as extended, was more balanced with the rest of the sonic spectrum. There was more instrumental detail, like on the rimshots on More Than A Feeling, better dynamic range, and a more transparent soundstage than with either half-speed copy. I actually had a great time listening to Smokin and the other cuts on side 2 that I actually haven’t heard in a while.
I would highly recommend anyone who can still stand this record to get a hot stamper and get their feet tapping.
Here here. Thanks as usual for your insights in these matters.