Destination Stereo – A Living Stereo Demo Disc

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Your Destination — Stereo!

“Your passport to great music in new sound by the world’s greatest artists.”

This review was written about ten years ago.

This reasonably quiet RCA Shaded Dog LP has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND on BOTH sides. It is without a doubt THE best sounding copy we have ever heard*.

Side one is White Hot, with some of the best 1959 Living Stereo we’ve ever heard. Explosive dynamics, HUGE space and size, with unerringly correct tonality, this is a Demo Disc like no other.

When “in-the-know” audiophiles discuss three-dimensionalitysoundstaging and depth, they should be talking about a record that sounds like this.

Shockingly real – proof positive that the cutting systems of the day are capable of much better sound than many might think. 

(We admit that we have made the mistake of wrongthink in this regard.)

This record is designed to show off the Living Stereo sound at its best and it succeeds magnificently. The full range of colors of the orchestra are here presented with remarkable clarity, dynamic contrast, spaciousness, sweetness, and timbral accuracy.

If you want to demonstrate to a novice listener why modern recordings are unsatisfactory, all you have to do is play this record for them. No CD ever sounded like this.

Just play Gnomus to hear The Power of the Orchestra, Living Stereo style.

The fourth and fifth movements of Capriccio Espagnol, the second track on side one, sound superb, CLEARLY better here than on the Shaded Dog pressings we played about a year ago (which were terrible and never made it to the site. Great performance but bad mastering of what obviously was a very good master tape).

You can also hear the Living Stereo sound especially well on the excerpt from “The Fourth of July” performed by Morton Gould. It’s one of the best sounding tracks here.

I don’t think the RCA engineers can cut this record much better — it has all the Living Stereo magic one could ask for, as well as the bass and dynamics that are missing from so many other vintage Golden Age records.

This is as good as it gets, folks.

Played Versus Heard

*Please note that we should — but too often don’t — make a vitally important distinction between two words we tend to use interchangeably on the site. There is an important difference between the sound of records that we’ve played and the sound that we’ve heard.

The stereo, the listening room, our cleaning technologies and who knows what else are all undergoing constant changes. This means that we may have played a better pressing in the past but couldn’t hear it sound as good as it does now. The regular improvements we make in all areas of playback make sonic comparisons over time all but meaningless.


Artur Rubinstein, piano
Boston Pops conducted by Arthur Fiedler
RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kiril Kondrashin
Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Fritz Reiner
Morton Gould and his Orchestra
Symphony of the Air conducted by Alfred Wallenstein
Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Charles Munch


Side One

Gayne Ballet Suite: Sabre Dance 
Rimsky-Korsakoff – Capriccio Espagnol: 4th and 5th Movements
Mussorgsky- Ravel – Pictures At An Exhibition: Gnomus 
Adler-Ross – Hernando’s Hideaway (from the musical “The Pajama Game”)
Prokofieff – Lieutenant Kije: Troika

Side Two

Aaron Copland – Rodeo: Hoe-Down
Saint-Saens – Piano Concerto No. 2: 2nd Movement 
Morton Gould – Fourth Of July
Berlioz – Overture To The Roman Carnival

Further Reading

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