This is the perfect example of everything we look for in a recording here at Better Records: it’s dynamic, present, transparent, rich, full-bodied, super low-distortion, sweet — good copies of this record have exactly what we need to make us audiophiles forget what our stereos are doing and focus instead on what the musicians are doing.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the album, Pink Floyd managed to record one of the most amazing sounding records in the history of rock music. The song Wish You Were Here starts out with radio noise and other sound effects, then suddenly an acoustic guitar appears, floating in the middle of your living room between the speakers, clear as a bell and as real as you have ever heard. It’s obviously an “effect,” but for us audiophiles it’s pure ear candy.
On a copy like this one, it’s MAGICAL.
Size and Space
One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.
Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.
We often have to go back and downgrade the copies that we were initially impressed with in light of such a standout pressing. Who knew the recording could be that huge, spacious and three dimensional? We sure didn’t, not until we played the copy that had those qualities, and that copy might have been number 8 or 9 in the rotation.
Think about it: if you had only seven copies, you might not have ever gotten to hear a copy that sounded that open and clear. And how many even dedicated audiophiles would have more than one of two clean British original copies with which to do a shootout? These records are expensive and hard to come by in good shape. Believe us, we know whereof we speak when it comes to getting hold of original pressings of Classic Rock albums.
One further point needs to be made: most of the time these very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy do what this copy can, it’s an entirely different – and dare I say unforgettable — listening experience.
Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Pts. 1-5
Right from the dynamic intro you can tell this is going to be a wild ride. David Gilmour’s haunting guitar line that comes cutting from out of the abyss should be warm with tons of room for his phasers to do their phasing.
After the band comes in and the vocals begin (listen for the man chuckling in the left channel) you should pay attention to the balance of the mix. Most copies tend to be very midrangy which can make the guitars aggressive and harsh, often times taking emphasis away from the vocals. The good copies have lots of transparency and allow everything to sit in their respectively places. This is probably most noticeable during the saxophone solo.
The tenor that starts off this section needs to be breathy, full-bodied, and sitting delicately in the center of your speakers. It does NOT need be be honky and hard sounding without any top extension. As the solo slowly crescendos, notice the guitar line spread across the soundstage that actually bookends the saxophone. The more dynamic copies really let you hear the intricacy and delicacy of his picking that foreshadows the time signature shift about to come.
When the time does change to 6/4, the saxophone player changes to alto, totally changing the sound of the solo! You can clearly hear on the better copies that he is further away from the mike than during the previous section, but if you listen closely, it sounds as though he is moving on and off axis. Whether this is part of his mike technique or him just dancin’ and groovin’ to the music, we may never know. I certainly hope for the latter.
Welcome to the Machine
Have a Cigar
Wish You Were Here
Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Pts. 6-9
AMG 5 Star Rave Review
Pink Floyd followed the commercial breakthrough of Dark Side of the Moon with Wish You Were Here, a loose concept album about and dedicated to their founding member Syd Barrett. The record unfolds gradually, as the jazzy textures of “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” reveal its melodic motif, and in its leisurely pace, the album shows itself to be a warmer record than its predecessor.
Musically, it’s arguably even more impressive, showcasing the group’s interplay and David Gilmour’s solos in particular. And while it’s short on actual songs, the long, winding soundscapes are constantly enthralling.
Most copies of the CBS Half-Speed lack deep bass, and for that matter bass in general. They’re also consistently brighter. The upper mids and highs call attention to themselves at every turn. When you switch back to a good domestic copy, you might not notice as much detail, but everything will sound correct and balanced: less like a recording and more like music.
Phony highs cause listener fatigue for the same reason that bright CDs get tiresome. (Just listen to the sax break on side one. If your pressing is too bright that sax will tear your head off.)
Obsessed? You Better Believe It
Wish You Were Here is yet another record we admit to being obsessed with.
Currently we have identified about 50 that fit that description, so if you have some spare time, check them out