Sonic Grade: D
This was one of only three Classic Records 180 gram (later 200 gram) titles that I used to recommend back in the day.
Now when I play the heavy vinyl pressing, I find the subtleties of both the music and the sound that I expect to hear have simply gone missing.
It may be tonally correct, which for a Led Zeppelin pressing on the Classic Records label is unusual in our experience (II and Houses being ridiculously bright), but it, like Physical Graffiti and some others, badly lacks resolution compared to the real thing, the real thing being a run-of-the-mill early pressing.
You can adjust the VTA of your rig until you’re blue in the face, you’ll never get the Classic to sound better than passable.
The average original pressing is better, and that means Classic’s version deserves a sub-standard grade of D.
Achilles Last Stand
For Your Life
Nobody’s Fault But Mine
Candy Store Rock
Hots On For Nowhere
Tea For One
We have a special section for especially bad sounding records that have been marketed to appeal to audiophiles, and you can find that section here.
It currently has 266 entries, but if someone wanted to audition more of them — that person is definitely not me, although I cannot imagine anyone more qualified — the number could easily hit 500, and probably many more than that.
If one were simply to include Japanese pressings, the kind many audiophiles regularly bought in the ’80s and ’90s for their quieter vinyl and supposedly higher quality mastering, our bad audiophile record section would contain multitudes. Multitudes I tell you!
In a recent commentary we went into some detail about Bernie Grundman’s shortcomings as a mastering engineer.
To be fair, he has cut some wonderful records. We survey more of his work here.
- New to the Blog? Start Here
- Heavy Vinyl Commentaries
- Heavy Vinyl Disasters
- Heavy Vinyl Mediocrities
- Heavy Vinyl Winners
One final note of honesty. Even as recently as the early 2000s we were still somewhat impressed with many of the better Heavy Vinyl pressings. If we had never made the progress we’ve worked so hard to make over the course of the last twenty plus years, perhaps we would find more merit in the Heavy Vinyl reissues so many audiophiles seem to prefer.
We’ll never know of course; that’s a bell that can be unrung. We did the work, we can’t undo it, and the system that resulted from it is merciless in revealing the truth — that these newer pressings are second-rate at best and much more often than not third-rate or worse.
Setting higher standards — no, being able to set higher standards — in our minds is a clear mark of progress. We know that many of our customers see things the same way.