Hot Stamper Pressings of Living Stereo Recordings Available Now
200+ Reviews of Living Stereo Records
This Super Rare, Highly Collectible copy of LSC 2400 has vintage RCA Golden Age sound, for better and for worse. Even though the album was recorded by Decca, it’s got a healthy dose of Living Stereo Tubey Magic. There will never be a reissue of this record that even remotely captures the richness of the sound found here.
And the hall is HUGE — so spacious and three-dimensional it’s almost shocking, especially if you’ve been playing the kind of dry, multi-miked modern recordings that the ’70s ushered in for London and RCA.
(EMI is super spacious but much of that space is weird, coming from out of phase back channels folded in to the stereo mix. And often so mid-hall and distant. Not our sound, sorry.)
Big and lively. The Tubey Magical colorations are a bit much for us, with too much tube smear on the strings and brass to earn more than a single plus. [Note that we almost never put records with a grade this low on the site these days.]
Even bigger and more spacious, with some smear caused by the serious amounts of tube compression being used, of course, but the quiet passages are magical. [Which is precisely what heavy tube compression is designed to accomplish.]
The Victrola Reissue
We much prefer the sound of the Victrola reissue, VICS 1206, which came out in 1966.
As for the Victrola pressing, we’re guessing — how could we possibly know for sure? — that less tube compression was used in the mastering.
It’s still plenty tubey, but more to our taste for not being overly tubey.
Price Versus Quality
Speaking of cheap reissues, we are on record as being fans of a great many Budget Reissue Classical LPs for decades. My catalogs from the ’90s were full of reissues with exceptionally good sound.
Now that we do things differently, we’ve discovered some budget pressings that are so well-mastered they have the potential — accent on the word potential — to win shootouts.
Plenty of the records we audition suffer from Bad Tube Mastering, a quality we have no trouble recognizing and criticize at length all over this very blog.
In that respect we have little in common with the True Believers who seem to want to defend analog regardless of its shortcomings.
We don’t hesitate to criticize new records that have bad sound and old records that have bad sound. Bad sound is bad sound no matter when the record was pressed.
Vintage classical records with weak sound can be found here.
Modern records of all kinds with weak sound can be found here.
Too Many Tubes?
With too many tubes in the mastering chain, you end up with mud pies, and nobody, outside of this guy and the customers who buy his wares, wants those.
But is it just a matter of having too many tubes in the mastering chain?
If it is, then how to explain the awful sound of this Analogue Productions reissue, which was mastered using no tubes whatsoever?
Or this one?
Did Kevin Gray screw up, or does Chad just like murky sounding records?
Hey, why not crowdsource the answer? Please go to your favorite audiophile forum and start a thread with that question. Once you have done so, please send a link to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Verdi / Aida
1. Act II – March & Ballet
Saint-Saens / Samson & Delilah
2. Act III Bachanale
Rossini / William Tell
3. Act I Passo a sei
4. Act II Soldiers Dance
Moussourgsky / Kovantchina
5. Act IV – Dances of the Persian Slaves
This is an Older Classical/Orchestral Review
Most of the older reviews you see are for records that did not go through the shootout process, the revolutionary approach to finding better sounding pressings we started developing in the early 2000s and have since turned into a veritable science.
We found the records you see in these older listings by cleaning and playing a pressing or two of the album, which we then described and priced based on how good the sound and surfaces were. (For out Hot Stamper listings, the Sonic Grades and Vinyl Playgrades are listed separately.)
We were often wrong back in those days, something we have no reason to hide. Audio equipment and record cleaning technologies have come a long way since those darker days, a subject we discuss here.
Currently, 99% (or more!) of the records we sell are cleaned, then auditioned under rigorously controlled conditions, up against a number of other pressings. We award them sonic grades, and then condition check them for surface noise.
As you may imagine, this approach requires a great deal of time, effort and skill, which is why we currently have a highly trained staff of about ten. No individual or business without the aid of such a committed group could possibly dig as deep into the sound of records as we have, and it is unlikely that anyone besides us could ever come along to do the kind of work we do.
The term “Hot Stampers” gets thrown around a lot these days, but to us it means only one thing: a record that has been through the shootout process and found to be of exceptionally high quality.
The result of our labor is the hundreds of titles seen here, every one of which is unique and guaranteed to be the best sounding copy of the album you have ever heard or you get your money back.