Well, it certainly can be, but sometimes it isn’t, and failing to appreciate that possibility is a classic case of misunderstanding a crucially important fact or two about records. Audiophile analog devotees would do well to keep these facts in mind, especially considering the prices original British pressings are fetching these days.
Simply put: Since no two records sound alike, it follow that the right label doesn’t guarantee the right sound. A shootout years ago illustrated both of these truths.
We had a number of Pink Island British pressings to play — if you hit enough record stores often enough, in this town anyway, even the rarest pressings are bound to show up in clean condition from time to time — along with Sunrays (aka Pink Rims), Brits, early Two Tone domestics and plain Brown Label Reprise reissues. All of them can sound good. (We do not waste time with German and Japanese pressings, or any of the later Chrysalis label LPs. Never heard an especially good one.)
What surprised the hell out of us was how bad one of the Pink Label sides sounded. It was shockingly thin and hard, practically unlistenable. Keep in mind that during our shootouts the listener has no idea which pressing is being played, so imagine hearing such poor reproduction on vinyl and then finding out that such bad sound was coming from a copy that should have been competitive with the best, on the legendary Pink Island label no less. (Of course the other Pinks were all over the map, their sides ranging from good to great.)
Hearing one sound this bad was completely unexpected, but hearing the unexpected is what we do for a living, so I suppose it shouldn’t have been. Having dubious looking reissues and the “wrong” pressings beat the originals and the so-called “right” pressings from the “right” countries is all in a day’s work here at Better Records.
The audiophiles who collect records by label are asking for trouble with Stand Up. Assuming you want the best sound, that is.
Still, a Pink Label Stand Up sounding this bad? I have to admit I had a hard time wrapping my head around it.
But we don’t let our heads, or our eyes, tell us which pressing sounds the best, an approach that most audiophiles to this day subscribe to, if my reading of their reviews, forum posts and such like are correct.
We find blind testing using our ears works much better.
This approach has the added benefit of regularly leading us to amazingly good sounding “unknown” pressings.
The flip side, in the case of Stand Up, it helps us to see clearly the amazingly bad well-known ones too.