Month: January 2021

Frank Sinatra – I Remember Tommy

More Frank Sinatra

Another Record We’ve Discovered with (Potentially) Excellent Sound

  • This vintage Reprise pressing offers the critical listener incredible Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) on the second
  • We were shocked to hear how good the originals can sound on this album, and just as shocked to hear other copies that can actually beat the best of them
  • The richness of these Tubey Magical Reprise pressings makes them the clear choice for the heavy-on-the-brass sonics (if you have the right stampers)
  • “… there are a handful of gems included on the record, making it worthwhile for dedicated Sinatra aficionados.” – All Music

You’ll find relaxed, rich, natural big band reproduction on this copy, with the trombones and woodwinds sounding especially good. Those of you who have a good selection of recordings from this era will recognize the glorious sound of vintage tubes, a sound that has been lost to the world for decades now, but one that is in full flower on this very record.

Frank is of course in top form and his voice on this album sounds about as good as it does on any recording you can find on our site.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top (to keep the brass from becoming blary) did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we heard them all. (more…)

The Mamas and The Papas – The Papas and The Mamas

More of The Mamas and The Papas

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  • An outstanding pressing of The Papas and The Mamas with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • Both of these sides are cleaner, clearer, more present and more Tubey Magical than many of the other copies we played against it
  • “An often misunderstood album, this album was the final record by the Mamas & the Papas. It has held up incredibly well over time, and sounds better today than when it was released in mid-1968. The centerpiece of the album is “Dream a Little Dream,” which very well may be the finest cover version that the group ever recorded, and in the end, was a very nice way to end the group’s short but incredible career.”

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Johnny Cash – The Fabulous Johnny Cash

More Johnny Cash

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  • An outstanding vintage stereo pressing with solid Double Plus (A++) sound throughout for Cash’s first Columbia album – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides are Tubey Magical yet clear, with plenty of performance energy and a lovely musical quality that’s noticeably missing from many of the copies we’ve played over the years (and no doubt the Heavy Vinyl pressing)
  • For a country album from 1958, “Fabulous” is very well recorded, with consistently engaging songs sung from the heart
  • 4 1/2 stars: “What makes it so entertaining are the songs themselves. From ‘Don’t Take Your Guns to Town’ and ‘Frankie’s Man, Johnny’ to ‘Pickin’ Time’ and ‘The Troubadour,’ the album is filled with first-rate songs.”

We had a wealth of different pressings to play — original 6 Eye stereos, one mono (with a crude and unappealing side one but excellent side two), some later Columbias, and even some of the Special Edition brown label editions which appear to be from the ’70s.

This was one of the better copies we heard. It has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings cannot BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.).

The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real Johnny Cash singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now 61 years old), I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide. (more…)

Talking Heads – Little Creatures

More Talking Heads

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  • An outstanding pressing of Little Creatures with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish – this one has the BIG BEAT sound we love
  • I ask you, what record from 1985 sounds better than Little Creatures?
  • These sides are rockin’ on tracks like Stay Up Late, Road To Nowhere, And She Was, Creatures of Love and more
  • Surprisingly big, punchy and open sound for this ’85 pop classic – a Top 100 album and longtime Better Records favorite
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Ear Candy …a pop album, and an accomplished one, by a band that knew what it was doing.”

We’re huge fans of Little Creatures, and when you hear a copy like this you’ll know exactly why. Not many records from this era sound as amazingly rich as this one, not in our experience anyway.

On the better copies, the sound is punchy, smooth & so ANALOG, with an especially beefy bottom end, the kind a good Big Beat Pop Album record needs. For a good reference think Get The Knack or Parallel Lines.

Tight, punchy, surprisingly deep note-like bass absolutely makes or breaks the sound on Little Creatures. Without the proper bass foundation this funky beat-crazy Talking Heads album can’t BEGIN to do what it’s trying to do: get your feet tappin’ and your body rockin’ to the music.

The better pressings are surprisingly dynamic, with a sweet, often silky top end. The drums are very well recorded throughout — you can really hear the room around that big kit. You will also find that the higher-rez pressings give David Byrne’s vocals the presence and breathy texture they need. The overall sound will be open, spacious, and sweet — even three-dimensional. (more…)

Letter of the Week – “…modern records are “recessed” and “veiled” and “murky”, and the records you sell are “present” and “transparent” and “lively.”

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

Hey Tom, 

I’m always eager to learn from you guys (i.e., The Masters!) on how to improve sound reproduction when listening to records at home. Can you refer me to additional resources on 1) room treatments and 2) having good electricity?

Any assistance you could provide on these subjects would be greatly appreciated!

Jonathan Reeve

Jonathan,

Happy to give you some pointers:

Here is a bit of help from the blog:

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Records – A Step By Step Guide

More of the same:

The Brahms Violin Concerto – Unplug or Suffer the Consequences!

The only room treatments we recommend you buy are these:

Hallographs

We know a lot about room treatments but sharing that knowledge is difficult, it’s too “case by case” to generalize.

Hope this helps! (more…)

Orff – Carmina Burana – Thomas

More Orff

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This Super Hot Stamper pressing has an amazing side one, with the kind of BIG BOLD sound that a work of this scale demands. It has the energy that’s missing from so many pressings; the life of the music really comes through on this side one, let me tell you.

The right pressings of this recording played on the right stereo take you at least as far as you need to go, to the point at which your suspension of disbelief can take over and let you believe it’s real music, not a recording. (Side two of this copy was not nearly as good I’m sorry to say. Like so many we’ve played it’s dark and recessed.)

Large Scale

The recording itself is as DYNAMIC as they come. Unless your stereo can play very loud, the quiet voices after the intro will not come alive the the way they would in actual performance. If you set the volume properly for those quiet voices, the loud passages are going to be VERY LOUD. But that is precisely the way this music is written. Small speaker owners are never going to be able to reproduce this music with much fidelity. But wait a minute: neither are big speaker owners, truth be told. This kind of large scale work just can’t fit comfortably inside a listening room; it needs a concert hall, and a capacious one at that. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Diamond Dogs and Hunky Dory

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

Hey Tom,   

I want to thank you so much for the Diamond Dogs I received from you. It is in a whole different league to the best I have ever managed to find and it is so satisfying to hear something how I always thought it should sound and at a very reasonable price. This is my favourite Bowie album.

Interestingly I bought a Hunky Dory recently that is out of this world. I know one is not supposed to give away stamper numbers and such (blame my compulsive honesty on my Aspergers!) and you probably know this already but the pressing is German RCA International with E 0014A -2 II and E 0014 B 1 II. It is seriously one of the best records I have and by far the best Bowie.

Thanks again Tom and everyone at Better records!

Cheers,

Peter

Peter, glad to hear you liked our Diamond Dogs! Those are indeed very special pressings.

Best, TP

[We happen to know the German pressing he references above. It can be good but not great. They are not competitive with the copies we sell.] (more…)

Mendelssohn and Prokofiev – Violin Concertos / Heifetz / Munch

Hot Stamper Pressings Featuring the Violin

Superb Recordings with Jascha Heifetz Performing

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  • This wonderful Living Stereo pressing makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • A truly superb recording with huge, spacious, dynamic, lively sound – Tubey Magical richness is a big plus too
  • These performances by Heifetz and the Boston Symphony under the baton of Charles Munch are some of the best we’ve ever heard – Heifetz is on fire with passion for these exciting pieces

No violin concerto recording can be considered to have the real Living Stereo sound if the violin isn’t right, and fortunately this violin is very very right, with the kind of rosiny texture and immediacy that brings the music to life right in your very own listening room.

The Prokofiev concerto is a longtime member of the TAS Super Disc List. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Adventures Of The Heart

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  • This wonderful Columbia Sinatra album finally arrives on the site with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish on this early 6 Eye Mono LP
  • Sinatra’s voice is fuller, sweeter, breathier, and just plain less artificial here than on every other pressing we played
  • Three-dimensional space and ambience, Tubey Magic by the boatload – this All Tube recording shows just how good Columbia’s engineers were back then
  • Not an easy record to find in audiophile playing condition – it took us about ten years to find enough clean copies to get this shootout going., but this bad boy made all that effort worthwhile

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Holst – The Planets / Previn

More of the music of Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

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  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sonic grades or BETTER on both sides, this early EMI pressing is guaranteed to be the best copy of Holst’s Magnum Opus, The Planets, you have ever played
  • Orchestral power like practically no other music on vinyl you may have heard, and Previn’s and the LSO’s performances are without peer in our estimation
  • These sides are rich, clear and dynamic, with weighty brass, and the kind of dynamic power that lefts the energy level right into space
  • A TAS List Super Disc, with a performance that’s as spectacular as the recording by the two Christophers

These sides have some of the best sound we have ever heard for the work, and that’s saying something considering the scores of recordings we have played of this famous and famously well-loved piece.

Fortunately for audiophiles who love The Planets but are disappointed by most performances, a group that includes us to be sure, the amazing sound found on this copy is coupled with a superb performance.

As you might imagine, on a big system this would make for a powerful listening experience, which is exactly the experience we ourselves had during our recent shootout. This copy actually deserves its place on the TAS List.

Both sides earned strong grades for their powerful energy and orchestral excitement, especially from the brass section, a subject we discuss at length below. (more…)