Month: January 2022

Tchaikovsky / The Nutcracker Ballet in Two Acts / Ansermet

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

More Orchestral Music Conducted by Ernest Ansermet

  • An outstanding copy of Tchaikovsky’s COMPLETE masterpiece with solid Double Plus (A++) sound on all FOUR sides
  • If you have never experienced a vintage top quality pressing of a Wilkinson engineered Decca Tree recording from Victoria Hall, this is your chance to hear sound that puts practically everything else to shame
  • A record like this lets you get lost in the world of its music, and what could be more important in a recording than that?
  • This is an AMAZINGLY well recorded performance of one of the most famous ballets ever committed to analog tape
  • Enchanting music and sound combine on this copy to make one seriously good Demo Disc, if what you are trying to demonstrate is how relaxed and involved vintage analog can make you feel
  • If you’re a fan of brilliant showpieces such as these, this London Box Set from 1959 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1959 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

There is certainly no shortage of Audio Spectaculars available on the site. A record such as this, so rich, natural and effortless, has distinctly different qualities that we feel are every bit as vital to the critical audiophile’s enjoyment of Tchaikovsky’s music.

Ansermet breathes life into this ballet as only he can and the Decca engineering team led by Kenneth Wilkinson do him proud. (more…)

Willie Nelson – Yesterday’s Wine

More Willie Nelson

More Country and Country Rock

  • This is a surprisingly well recorded album, and this pressing is rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical, just the way we like ’em
  • “Yesterday’s Wine should also take its rightful place among his best-loved works… “Family Bible,” “Me and Paul,” and the title track are all particularly fine examples of Nelson’s songcraft. As a whole, Yesterday’s Wine provides further insight into the development of his art during this prolific period.”
  • The complete list of titles from 1971 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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Fleetwood Mac – Kiln House

More Fleetwood Mac

Reviews and Commentaries for Fleetwood Mac

  • Tubey Magical smooth sound is key to the best copies, and this copy delivers, with the analog richness the music needs
  • Tubey Magical sound is key to the best copies, and this one really delivers, with the analog richness the music needs to work its Buddy Holly magic
  • Three of the best songs Fleetwood Mac ever did are here: Tell Me All The Things You Do, Station Man and Jewel Eyed Judy
  • Danny Kirwan is brilliant here on this grossly underappreciated album from Fleetwood Mac’s awesome post-Peter Green period
  • Kiln House is the last of the Mac’s grungy guitar-based releases, and more’s the pity
  • If you’re a fan of the band, this classic from 1970 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1970 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

This is a favorite Fleetwood Mac album of ours here at Better Records and one that’s very hard to find with anything resembling good sound. Grungy guitars and punchy drums in a huge acoustical space. The louder you play it the better it sounds.

This period Fleetwood Mac, from Kiln House through Mystery to Me (both are the kind of records I would take to my Desert Island), has always been my favorite of the band. I grew up on this stuff, and I can tell you from personal experience, having played a dozen copies of Kiln House practically all day at some pretty serious levels for our shootout not that long ago, it is a positive THRILL to hear the album sound as good as it does right here. (more…)

MoFi Mastering Variations – Will the Real Sgt. Pepper Please Stand Up?

More of the Music of The Beatles

Letters and Commentaries for Sgt. Peppers

This can be a pretty good sounding MoFi when it’s mastered by the right guy.

Say what?

Yes, dear reader, this album was mastered by two different engineers at Mobile Fidelity, and one of them, based on experiments we carried out years ago, did a much better job than the other.

This copy, which is far more rare by the way, has the better mastering — much less top end boost was added. As an aside, I used to like the other version better, but as I’ve gotten older and wiser, I realize that this pressing is superior, being noticeably less phony sounding, sounding much more like a good Parlophone and less like the typical Mobile Fidelity album.

Our Townshend Super Tweeters were probably helpful in this regard as well.

Having auditioned at least a hundred pressings of the album over the last twenty years or more, we know the right sound for this album like nobody’s business.

This copy will also sound better than the vaunted UHQR. That one has the same top end boost.


FURTHER READING

New to the Blog? Start Here

Hot Stamper Customer Reviews

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – A Guide to the Fundamentals

Important Lessons We Learned from Record Experiments 

Key Tracks for Critical Listening 

Roxy Music / Country Life – A Killer Arty Rock Album from ’74

  • This killer early British Island import pressing had two amazing sides, each rating a Triple Plus (A+++) or very close to it
  • This one is simply bigger, richer, more clear and more Tubey Magical than almost every other copy we heard in our shootout
  • As quiet as any Island original we’ve ever heard – Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus – they don’t come quieter
  • AMG raves that “…Country Life finds Roxy Music at the peak of their powers, alternating between majestic, unsettling art rock and glamorous, elegant pop/rock. Roxy Music rarely sounded as invigorating as they do here.”

Many of the best songs Bryan Ferry ever wrote and Roxy Music ever played are on this album. Musically it’s right up there with the first album and Siren. All three represent the high watermark of early- to mid-’70s Arty Rock. (more…)

Jonathan Edwards – Self-Titled

See more of our Singer Songwriter albums

  • If you’re a fan of superbly well recorded Acoustic Guitar Folk Pop (think James Taylor and Dan Fogelberg), this pressing is guaranteed to deliver the goods
  • 4 1/2 stars: “His brand of homespun tunes were perfectly matched to his emotive and soaring tenor… The acoustic and optimistic “Sunshine” struck a chord with listeners in the fall of 1971, climbing all the way to a lofty number four on the Pop Singles survey…

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Johnny Mathis / Heavenly – Testing For Sibilance

All copies have sibilance, some more than others. The best copies have the least amount and make the spit they do have much less gritty and objectionable.

We’ve known for decades how good a test sibilance is for tables, cartridges and arms. Sibilance is a bitch. The best pressings, with the most extension up top and the least amount of aggressive grit and grain mixed into the music, played using the highest quality, most carefully dialed-in front ends, will keep sibilance to an acceptable minimum.

VTA, tracking weight, azimuth and anti-skate adjustments are critical to reducing the amount and the quality of the spit in your records.

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Letter of the Week – “Honestly, these LPs make my system sound like I just dropped another $100,000 into it.”

More of the Music of Willie Nelson

Reviews and Commentaries for Stardust

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

Hey Tom, 

My July 4 weekend was great. I had lots of company this weekend for three days straight. I slayed a bunch of them with my new collection of Hot Stamper LPs from Better Records.

Honestly, these LPs make my system sound like I just dropped another $100,000 into it suddenly.

I played Harry Belafonte (Carnegie Hall Live Concert) and Willie Nelson (Stardust) for some guests that grew up in another part of the world who had never ever even heard of these people. They had no clue about what they were going to hear.

I watched them and they were mesmerized – leaning forward in their seats practically holding their breath – holding themselves still like a deer caught in the headlights. Not a sound spoken – even the females!

The sense of being live was so palpable that most were simply speechless. Confusion was rampant since all that sound was coming from OLD BLACK VINYL.

My smile was a mile wide. Thanks for that satisfying experience.

John R.

John,

Thanks for spreading the word and sharing the experience of hearing this wonderful music sound so good!

TP


John Sebastian Songbook – Somebody Sure Got Hold of Some Awfully Good Tapes

Great sound for some of the biggest hits of The Lovin’ Spoonful, a band I wouldn’t have expected to hear sound good on vinyl if I’d lived to be a hundred, and yet, here it is.

This is one of the rare cases where, in our experience, the hits compilation sounds BETTER than the original records. Why? Who knows? We don’t pretend to have all the answers.

What we do have (that no one else has, if that’s not too obvious) are the records that back up the claims we make for them.

How they came to be that way is anyone’s guess. All we know for sure is that, judging by the best copies of this album, somebody got hold of some awfully good tapes and somebody mastered them with uncanny skill to what sounds to these ears like near perfection. (more…)

Rickie Lee Jones – Self-Titled

More Rickie Lee Jones

More Singer Songwriter Albums

  • Exceptionally present, real and resolving, this pressing is guaranteed to murder any remastering undertaken by anyone, past, present and future
  • The superbly talented musicians and engineers deserve much of the credit for making this album a Grammy Winning Must Own Audiophile Favorite
  • 4 stars: “One of the most impressive debuts for a singer/songwriter ever, this infectious mixture of styles not only features a strong collection of original songs but also a singer with a savvy, distinctive voice that can be streetwise, childlike, and sophisticated, sometimes all in the same song.”

This vintage Warner Brothers White Label LP has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

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