Sonic Grade: C
What’s an easy way to recognize the better pressings?
They’re the ones with textured strings in the orchestral arrangements.
The string tone on the average copy is hard and steely.
The Classic 200 gram pressing suffers from a case of somewhat steely strings. When the strings are blasting away at the end of the title song, you want to be able to hear the texture without the strings sounding shrill and edgy.
This is no mean feat, for the record or the stereo.
Here are some of the other records we’ve discovered are good for testing string tone and texture.
Cecilia can only rock when the bass is full and deep; we call it whomp. (Those with equipment and/or rooms that can’t play bass properly call it slop.) The best copies give you the low-end foundation you need to make that song come to life.
And last but far from least, Simon and Garfunkel records live and die by the quality of their vocal reproduction. Transparent, breathy, sweet, warm, rich, tonally-neutral — these are the comments posted on our notes for track after track on the Hot Stamper copies.
No heavy vinyl reissue or later pressing is going to give you what the real Hot Stamper 360 Label pressings can in this area.
Here are a few commentaries you may care to read about Bernie Grundman‘s work as a mastering engineer, good and bad.