Is the ’50s original always better, is the ’70s reissue always better, is the ’60s 360 pressing always better?
The answer is “no” to all three.
Why? Because no pressing is always better. All pressings are unique and should only be judged on their merits, and you do that by playing them, not by looking at their labels. For us this truth is practically axiomatic. It is in fact the premise of our entire business. Over the course of the 28 years we have been selling records we have never found any compelling evidence to invalidate it.
The day that someone can accurately predict the sound quality of a specific record by looking at the label or cover is a day I do not expect to come, ever.
A Larger Point
But there is a larger point to be made. Let’s assume that the best original Six Eye Columbia pressings can be the best — the most Tubey Magical, the most involving, the most real. You just happen to have a clean pressing, and you absolutely love it.
But is it the best? How could you possibly know that?
Unless you have done a comparison with many copies under controlled conditions, you simply cannot know where on the sonic curve your copy should be placed.
Perhaps you have a mediocre original. Or a mediocre 360 Label copy. Since you haven’t done a massive shootout you simply have no way of knowing just how good sounding the album can be.
If that’s the case, even stipulating that the best early pressings are potentially the best sounding, that lowly ’70s Red Label copy that got tossed back into the record pond could very well have turned out to be the best sounding pressing you ever heard.
But Bad Audiophile Record Collector Thinking prevents the very possibility of such an outcome. A record never auditioned cannot win a shootout, even a simple head to head competition against the copy you already have in your collection. The result? Your Kind of Blue never gets any better. You’re stuck, at what level nobody knows, especially you.
Our advice is to turn off your mind, relax and float downstream, letting your ears, not your eyes, become your one and only trusted guide to the best sounding pressings.
And please consider us a trustworthy second in line, a source for the best sounding titles that you do not have time to shoot out for yourself.