Copland – We Was Wrong about Billy the Kid in 2011

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200+ Reviews of Living Stereo Records

The rave review you see below was written in 2011. Recently we played a stack of copies of the album and realized that we was wrong about it.

As you may have noticed, this is a regular feature of The Skeptical Audiophile.

Live and Learn is our motto, and progress in audio is a feature, not a bug, of record collecting at the most advanced levels.

(“Advanced” is a code word for having little to no interest in practically any remastered pressing marketed to the audiophile community. If you want to avoid the worst of them, we will gladly help you do that.)

Our Review from 2011

Super Hot Stamper sound on BOTH sides, with side one so energetic and exciting it would easily qualify as a Demo Disc. This title is almost impossible to find in anything but beat up condition. Records like these got played over and over and few survived the ten grams of stylus pressure and mis-aligned cartridges of the day.  

The Big Sound

Side one is a bit recessed sounding at the beginning but it soon comes to life.

The drums and snares are HUGE in this recording, way at the back of the hall where they belong.

The sound just jumps out of the speakers — believe me, not many Living Stereo pressings from 1958 can do that.

If you like your exciting music to have exciting sound, this pressing will do the trick.

A++ is our grade. The loudest massed string passages can be a bit much, but they are tolerable. Many pressings of this album that we’ve played in the past have pretty much been unlistenable.


So dynamic! — you better have your stereo working at the top of its game or this side is going to be hard to sit through. The close-miked xylophone will give your arm and cart a real workout. If you have precise control over your setup, this may be a good record to fine tune it with. VTA is of course ultra-critical on vintage classical albums such as this.

The quieter passages fare best, showing off the Living Stereo Tubey Magic to full advantage.

Hoe-Down sounds like it may be slightly worn; either that or its got some compressor distortion problems.

With Big Bold sound such as this, the engineers had to walk a very fine line in order to balance the dynamic power of the music without letting the quietest passages disappear. (Nowadays loud orchestral music is either dynamic and shrill or compressed to death.)

Side One

Billy the Kid Ballet Suite 
Billy the Kid Waltz

Side Two

Rodeo Suite

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.

Further Reading

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