Month: April 2021

Pink Floyd / The Dark Side of the Moon – 2003 Heavy Vinyl Reviewed

Pink Floyd Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

Reviews and Commentaries for Dark Side of the Moon

Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and a Heavy Vinyl Disaster if there ever was one (and oh yes, there are plenty).

The 30th Anniversary Heavy Vinyl pressing is TOO BRIGHT. There is a boost in the top end, probably right around the 12K region, which is a very poor mastering choice the late Doug Sax apparently made, a choice that is surely not doing this recording any favors. In the case of this new pressing in fact, it’s positively ruinous. (more…)

Bill Withers – Live at Carnegie Hall

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  • KILLER Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on sides two and three and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the other two sides
  • These sides are incredibly spacious, clear, rich and chock full of analog Tubey Magic – exactly the right sound for this surprisingly well recorded live album
  • 4 stars: “A wonderful live album that capitalizes on Withers’ trademark melancholy soul sound while expanding the music to fit the room granted by a live show… One of the best live releases from the ’70s.”

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John Lee Hooker – Endless Boogie

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  • This original ABC pressing has Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on ALL FOUR SIDES! 
  • These sides are out of this world — rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical with a big punchy bottom end and lots of energy
  • “… the timeliness of Endless Boogie is an unmitigated plus, and producers Bill Szymczyk and Ed Michel get a relaxed groove out of a cast of supporting musicians who can boogie Canned Heat right out of the studio.” – Robert Christgau

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Canteloube / Songs Of The Auvergne Vol. 2 / De La Roche

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This original Vanguard Black Label pressing (VSD-2132) has a side one that’s simply OUT OF THIS WORLD, A Triple Plus all the way. Why such a high rating? Of all the copies we played, this side one was the perfect blend of Tubey Magical richness coupled with Clarity and Presence.

Miss Devrath is front and center, live in your living room, as natural a human voice as you will ever hear on record. Of the six sides of this music we are offering today, this was the only Triple Plus side. There is simply nothing to fault; side one on this copy sounds right in a way that no other side we played did. And some of the other sides were quite good; you wouldn’t think the sound was lacking in any way. But after playing this side one it’s clear what the best copies are really capable of — completely natural Demo Disc Sound.

I believe Volume One used to be on the TAS Superdisc List, and for a time the Classic Heavy Vinyl reissue may have been as well. I remember playing the Classic years ago and thinking the sound was not bad, not as awful as most of their stuff, but still far from what it should be.

How anyone can take Classic Records seriously is beyond me, yet HP has many of their records on his Super Disc list and he is certainly not alone in praising their remastered pressings. In our opinion you should be able to hear what’s wrong with their records from another room, a test we would happily submit to.

That dark, hard, smeary, transient- and texture-free sound one hears on all their records is pretty obvious to those of us who listen to vintage vinyl all day. (Vintage vinyl has its own share of problems, just not those.) How the vast majority of audiophile reviewers can be fooled by such second-rate fare is frankly beyond understanding. Check out our Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to read reviews and commentary concerning the abysmal Classic catalog. (more…)

Every Label Made Bad Sounding Records – Reprise Released this Fleetwood Mac Album in 1969

Never heard this album sound good, on domestic or import vinyl. If you know of a good sounding pressing, drop us a line, would love to know what it is.

We play mediocre-to-bad sounding pressings so that you don’t have to, a public service from your record loving friends at Better Records.

You can find this one in our Hall of Shame, along with more than 350 others that — in our opinion — qualify as some of the worst sounding records ever made. (On some records in the Hall of Shame the sound is passable but the music is bad.  These are also records you can safely avoid.)

Note that most of the entries are audiophile remasterings of one kind or another. The reason for this is simple: we’ve gone through the all-too-often unpleasant experience of comparing them head to head with our best Hot Stamper pressings.

When you can hear them that way, up against an exceptionally good record, their flaws become that much more obvious and, frankly, that much more inexcusable. (more…)

Motley Crue – Theatre of Pain

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  • A superb sounding copy with impressive Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish and the first to ever hit the site!  
  • Both sides here are clean, clear, full-bodied and present with tons of energy and a much nicer bottom end than most copies we played
  • “Mötley Crüe really began to hit their commercial stride with Theatre of Pain, which broke them on MTV with the power ballad “Home Sweet Home” and a remake of Brownsville Station’s “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room” – All Music

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The Cars / Candy-O and 1979: The Year in Music

More of The Cars

Albums from 1979 in stock

We’re big fans of this album, and a Shootout Winning Hot Stamper copy like this one will show you exactly why. It’s a favorite recording of ours here at Better Records for one very simple reason: Candy-O has got The BIG ROCK SOUND we love!

Drop the needle on Let’s Go and check out the sound of the big floor tom. When the drummer bangs on that thing, you FEEL it! It’s similar to the effect of being in the room with live musicians — it’s the difference between hearing the music and feeling the music. That difference is what you get from our best Hot Stamper copies when you turn them up good and loud and let them ROCK your world.

A New Wave Classic

What other New Wave band ever recorded an album with this kind of demonstration quality sound? The sound of the best copies positively JUMPS out of the speakers. No album by Blondie, Television, The Pretenders or any of their contemporaries can begin to compete with this kind of huge, lively, powerful sound, with the possible exception of the Talking Heads’ Little Creatures.

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Bonnie Raitt / Nick Of Time – What to Listen For

Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of Nick of Time.

One of the biggest problems we ran into over and over again with this album is a lack of top end. The sound gets a bit smooth and some of the ambience and spaciousness of the studio disappears. (This, to a much stronger degree, is the problem from which the DCC suffers.)

On the best copies note how silky the cymbal crashes are; not too many copies get them to sound that way. 

The sound has the potential to be POWERFULLY BIG AND BOLD, with meaty, deep bass (such a big part of the rockers here, Thing Called Love being a prime example) and some of the sweetest, richest, most ANALOG sound we’ve heard from any record Don Was has been involved with.

When you hear it like this — something probably pretty close to what he heard during the control room playback for the final mix — it actually makes sense. It works. It’s not exactly “natural”, but natural is not what they were going for, now is it?

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Listen especially for how all the elements of the recording are clearly laid out and audible, never forced or hyped in any way. The sound can be so 3-D!

Key note for side two — listen for the sibilance on Bonnie’s voice on Too Soon to Tell. Some copies have really gritty spitty sibilance, others keep it well under control, with a much more silky quality.

We play albums like this VERY LOUD. I’ve seen Bonnie Raitt live a number of times and although I can’t begin to get her to play as loud in my living room as she did on stage, I can try. To do less is to do her a great disservice.

More Bonnie Raitt

Reviews and Commentaries for Bonnie Raitt’s Albums

Charles Mingus – Three Or Four Shades Of Blues

  • An incredible sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last
  • These sides are KILLER — clean, clear and full-bodied with a big bottom end and lots of space around all of the players
  • Robert Christgau called it the best composed bebop he’d heard in 1977; if you’re a bebop fan, we’re sure you’ll agree!

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Dave Brubeck – Bossa Nova USA

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More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Piano

  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies we played in our recent shootout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Clean, clear, spacious and present yet still super rich and full, this is Columbia All Tube Sound at its best
  • So rich, clear and resolving this copy in some respects best even the legendary Time Out
  • “With the popularization of bossa nova in the early ’60s, practically every recording artist had to have at least one bossa nova album. This effort by the Dave Brubeck Quartet is better than most due to the high quality of the compositions, of which the title cut is best-known.” – All Music

Believe me, we were as surprised to hear the stellar sound of this copy as you no doubt will be when you play it.

Who knew?

Not us and not anybody else it seems. We are not aware that any of the audiophile cognoscenti have ever taken this recording seriously, but that just goes to show how uninformed — or perhaps more likely underinformed — they have always been.

Gems such as this sit undiscovered even after thousands of pages of audiophile-oriented record reviews have been written. Then, along come a handful of guys in Thousand Oaks, California many years later, 52 to be exact, and reveal to the world a heretofore all but unknown yet nonetheless amazing Brubeck record.

And they actually back up everything they say with pressings that sound every bit as good as they say they will. Imagine that.

But wait just a minute. We sold an early pressing ourselves back in 2010 for $30 as a “nice sounding” record, nothing more, so who are we to talk?

Which simply goes to show that the decade we spent perfecting the Record Shootout has finally paid off for Bossa Nova U.S.A. Now we can clean them better, play them better, hear them better, and, with a big stack to work with, find one that sounds as good as this one does. (more…)