Month: July 2023

Letter of the Week – “Nothing I’ve done has ever offered a more DEEPLY SATISFYING audio improvement than Hallographs.””

More Audio Advice

Revolutions in Audio, Anyone?

Many years ago one of our good customers had this to say about the Hallographs he had purchased.

They are no longer made, but if you have a chance to get hold of a pair, take it. You may find yourself as knocked out by the sound as Dan was.

Hey Tom, 

Man, you weren’t kidding. Hallographs, utilizing a process as comprehensible to me as voodoo magic, have got to be the most AMAZING sonic upgrade ever. Hallographs allow my stereo to induce not just pleasure, but euphoria. That’s not hyperbole.

I don’t know how these tall sticks of wood, albeit expertly crafted, do whatever it is they do, but the sound emanating from my speakers reached a whole new league of sonic reproduction.

Edginess to the highs? Gone.

Bass bloat? Gone.

High volume distortion? Gone.

Meanwhile, it adds rich tones, warmth, detail, clarity, dynamics, life-like three-dimensional sound, and a wonderful ease and naturalness to the overall sound. To top it off, I’ve been able to calibrate focus and immediacy vs. soundstaging and depth. Did I mention it adds a beautifully rich tone?

That I could achieve such wonderful sound with Hallographs in my mid-sized room should be an encouragement to any of your customers who, like me, are still working their way up to a large listening room. I was worried that I might not get much out of the Hallos in the absence of a full range of placement options, and nothing could be further from the truth.

Despite the tens of thousands of dollars of stereo equipment I’ve purchased, nothing I’ve done has ever offered a more DEEPLY SATISFYING audio improvement than Hallographs. When can I get a second pair?

Dan L.


Thanks so much for your letter. We are as enthusiastic about the Hallos ability to improve the sound of the stereo as anyone, as can be seen from the photo below. Three Hallos can be seen in the picture surrounding one old man, but we actually use a total of six of them, with two in the back corners of the room.

Discovering these room treatments right around 2004 completely changed audio for me. I’m glad you had the same experience. Unfortunately, they never caught on the way they should have,so finding them in the secondary market is difficult, but some of our customers have managed to do it.


Michael Jackson – Bad

More Michael Jackson

More Soul, Blues, and R&B

  • With two excellent Double Plus (A++) or BETTER sides, this copy will be very hard to beat – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound here is huge, full-bodied, punchy and relatively smooth throughout, with real space and ambience around the vocals and instruments
  • Includes some of Jackson’s biggest 80’s hits, “Man in the Mirror,” “Dirty Diana,” “Smooth Criminal,” and of course, the title track
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… essentially taking each portion of Thriller to an extreme, while increasing the quotient of immaculate studiocraft. He wound up with a sleeker, slicker Thriller, which isn’t a bad thing…”

Michael Jackson’s records always make for tough shootouts. His everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to recording make it difficult to translate so much sound to disc, vinyl or otherwise. Everything has to be tuned up and on the money before we can even hope to get the record sounding right. (Careful VTA adjustment could not be more critical in this respect.)

If we’re not hearing the sound we want, we keep messing with the adjustments until we do. There is no getting around sweating the details when sitting down to test a complex recording such as this. If you can’t stand the tweaking tedium, get out of the kitchen (or listening room, as the case may be).

Obsessing over every aspect of a record’s reproduction is what we do for a living. This kind of Big Rock Recording requires us to be at the top of our game, both in terms of reproducing the albums themselves as well as evaluating the merits of individual pressings.

When you love it, it’s not work, it’s fun. Tedious, occasionally exasperating fun, but still fun. And the louder you play a record like this the better it sounds.


Rachmaninoff – Symphony No. 1 / Previn

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

  • Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 1 returns to the the site with outstanding sound throughout this original British EMI pressing
  • These sides are clear, full-bodied and present, with plenty of space around the players, the unmistakable sonic hallmark of the properly mastered, properly pressed vintage analog LP
  • The only Rachmaninoff symphonies we know of with the potential for audiophile sound are those Andre Previn made for EMI in the ’70s
  • However, we have quite a large number of reviews and commentaries for Rachmaninoff’s piano concertos


Boston’s First Album on MoFi Anadisq

More of the Music of Boston

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Boston

Sonic Grade: F

The MoFi Anadisc of Boston’s first album has the same problems that seem to have plagued the whole of the Anadisq 200 series:

  • thick,
  • opaque,
  • blurry, and
  • murky.

A real slogfest. Audiophile trash of the worst kind. If this isn’t the worst version of the album ever made, I cannot imagine what would be.

Many of the worst releases from MoFi in this era were mastered by Ken Lee. If you happen to come across a record in a store with his name in the credits, or his initials in the deadwax, you are best advised to drop it back in the bin and keep moving. Anything else is just asking for trouble.

Do people still pay good money for this kind of awful sound? Yes they do!

Go to ebay and see the high prices these kinds of records are fetching. This is in equal parts both shocking and disgusting. 

Here is what is available for the MoFi pressing on Discogs today (2/2/2022). If you have $400 you can order one there.

Marketplace 3 For Sale from $399.99

And people complain about our prices? At least we send you a great sounding record for all the money we charge.

The typical album MoFi remastered on Anadisq suffered from many or most of the laundry list of shortcomings you see below. If you want to avoid records with these faults, you would be well advised to keep a safe distance from any of the records we’ve linked to here.

We play mediocre-to-bad sounding pressings so that you don’t have to, a public service from your record loving friends at Better Records.


Letter of the Week – “I get a lot of buyer’s remorse when I purchase records from you.”

More of the Music of Led Zeppelin

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Led Zeppelin

Aaron sent us this email not long ago

This email to you reminds me of a thought I’ve been having recently: I get a lot of buyer’s remorse when I purchase records from you. The best antidote to my buyer’s remorse is to play the record. For all the records I’ve kept, whenever I listen to them, I’m glad I purchased them. The only remorse I’ve felt, actually, is when I went super hot instead of white hot. Or when I put something in my cart, but it vanished while I dithered.

This happened to me last night. I was feeling pretty bad about the money I spent on the Zep 1 WHS I just purchased. It didn’t help when you posted that favorable review of the Classic Records Zep 1. I just sold that record, sealed, as part of a box set. I got $2000 for the set, having paid $500 just four years ago, but that $2000 is a fraction of the cost of getting them as white hot stampers. If the Classic Records Zep 1 sounded nearly as good as the Zep 1 WHS I just purchased, then I’d have a lot of remorse. Because I sold it sealed (having disliked 2 and 4 from that set), I couldn’t compare, so I’ll never know.

With all these thoughts swirling through my head, last night I put on my headphones (everybody else was asleep) and gave an end-to-end listen to the Zep 1 WHS. It is perfect. Hard to imagine any other mastering and pressing coming even close to it. I shut down my stereo happy, buyer’s remorse obviated, at least until the next one.


As you surmise, there is not a chance in the world that the Classic reissue comes close. We know because we have played both, but you don’t have to take our word for it. When you hear sound as good as the sound on that White Hot Stamper pressing we sold you, it’s simply not the kind of sound you can find on any modern reissue.

You were wise to leave those Heavy Vinyl pressings sealed and sell them. New records such as those Classic Records pressings don’t do what the copy you now own can do — leave you happy after spending a ton of money on a single record.

You’re not the first person to tell us how good our Led Zeppelin Hot Stamper pressing sound either. We actually hear it a lot.

As always, thanks for your letter,


Further Reading

Loggins & Messina – Self-Titled

More Loggins and Messina

More Country and Country Rock

  • A superb copy of the duo’s sophomore release with Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • This pressing allows the music to be totally involving, with breathy voices; clear, natural picking on the strings of the guitars and mandolins; choruses that get good and loud – everything you want from this band is here and more
  • L & M are famous for putting plenty of bass on their recordings, but the trick is to find the pressing that actually keeps that bass tightly under control, like this one
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The first full-fledged L&M album found the duo in good form as songwriters, with Messina turning in the sparkling ‘Thinking Of You,’ and the two collaborating on the hit single ‘Your Mama Don’t Dance’ and ‘Angry Eyes.'”
  • If you’re a Loggins and Messina fan, any of the first four albums are Must Owns. This, their second album, released in 1972, is clearly one of their best, and a record I have never tired of in the fifty years I’ve been listening to it.
  • The complete list of titles from 1972 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

We’re big fans of this band, not only for their music but also because their recordings are so good. We know this album about as well as anyone can, having done countless shootouts for it over the years. When it’s good, it’s really good, and it doesn’t take a pair of golden ears to hear it.

What we have here is the perfect example of a top quality analog studio pop recording. It’s rich, sweet, and dynamic, with the kind of sound that has practically disappeared from the face of the earth. Not to worry though; it can still be found on certain pressings from the ’70s, the ones that we put so much time and effort into auditioning. Why shouldn’t we? It’s where the BEST SOUND is. (more…)

Miles Davis / In Person – Friday and Saturday Nights

More Miles Davis

More of Our Best Jazz Trumpet Recordings

  • This 2-LP Six-Eye Stereo pressing boasts relaxed, full bodied, three-dimensional Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on sides two and three, and excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on sides one and two
  • These four sides are huge, spacious, lively, transparent and above all real – you won’t believe how good the live sound captured on this album is (until you play it anyway)
  • If you want to hear a healthy dose of the Tubey Magic, size and energy of these wonderful sessions, recorded at the Blackhawk in April 1961, this copy will let you do that
  • Marks and problems in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these vintage LPs – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Though short-lived, the unique character of this group was its sheer intensity and diversity of attack. Because of the departure of Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane, Davis had to rely as much on a muscular attack in playing his instrument as his considerable gift for melodic improvisation. For his part, Mobley had the shoes of two monster players to fill, and he does so elegantly with a ton of fire in his playing. But it is Kelly and Chambers who really set the pace for this band.”
  • If you’re a jazz fan, this classic title from 1961 belongs in your collection
  • The complete list of titles from 1961 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.


Graham Nash / Wild Tales – A Forgotten Classic

More Graham Nash


  • Nash’s underrated sophomore solo album returns to the site boasting two incredible Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, just shy of our Shootout Winner – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is Classic 1973 Analog – smooth, rich, warm and tonally correct, with real energy and the kind of natural sound that’s a hallmark of the better Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young recordings
  • Filling out the band: Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, Dave Mason, Neil Young, David Lindley and too many others to list
  • “Nash speaks from his heart on Wild Tales and those that are willing to get past its sparse arrangements will be able to accept it for the masterpiece of folk-rock that it is.”

This is a criminally underappreciated album, and perhaps that has to do with just how poor the average copy sounds. When you get a copy like this one you cannot fail to appreciate how powerful and deeply emotional these songs are. Drop the needle on the title track or “Grave Concern” to see what we mean.

The sound has the life and energy of rock and roll. This is Graham fronting a band, and on the better copies the recording and the music both work together to make them sound like these guys have been playing together forever. This is not the Big Production that Nash’s first album was. Been there done that; who needs the headache?

Working Their Magic

This is an album where top players got together and worked their magic on a bunch of good songs, playing for the most part live in the studio, which is practically the only way to communicate the feel of a real band (cf. Almost Cut My Hair).

What happens when you clean and play a bunch of copies? You come to recognize what the better ones are doing that the average ones aren’t. And the effect of that understanding on this particular title was simply to recognize the nature of this project, that these are a great bunch of well-crafted songs played with energy and enthusiasm by a very talented group of top flight musicians, totally in sync with each other. This is what they were trying to do, and really, what more can you ask for?

This copy had the kind of transparency that allowed us to really hear into the soundfield and pick out every instrument and recording effect. If your stereo is up to it you can hear some of the band members talking during the music and before the songs.


Where Cheap Turntables Fall Flat – The Music of Franz Liszt

More Classical and Orchestral Music

Best Orchestral Performances with Top Quality Sound

Classical music is unquestionably the ultimate test for proper turntable/arm/cartridge setup.

The Liszt Piano Concerto record you see pictured is a superb choice for making small adjustments to your setup in order to improve the playback of these very difficult to reproduce orchestral recordings.

Here are some other reviews and commentaries touching on these areas of turntable setup.

One of the reasons $10,000+ front ends exist is to play large scale, complex, difficult-to-reproduce music such as Liszt’s two piano concertos. You don’t need to spend that kind of money to play this record, but if you choose to, it would surely be the kind of record that could help you see the sound quality your tens of thousands of dollars has bought you.

It has been my experience that cheap tables more often than not collapse completely under the weight of a mighty record such as this.

As for the music, I don’t know of a piano concerto record that more correctly captures the relationship between the piano and the orchestra. The piano here is huge and powerful, yet at the same time, the percussive and lighter qualities are clearly expressed in relation to the entire orchestra. In addition, there are places on this album where the brass is as powerful and dynamic as I’ve ever heard on record.

Many of these would make great test discs.

Lately we have been writing quite a bit about how pianos are good for testing your system, room, tweaks, electricity and all the rest, not to mention turntable setup and adjustment.

  • We like our pianos to sound natural (however one chooses to define the term).
  • We like them to be solidly weighted.
  • We like them to be free of smear, a quality that is rarely mentioned in the audiophile record reviews we read but is easily audible on the smear-free equipment we use.

Skip the Mercury

The title originally came out as a Mercury, the work of Robert Fine and Wilma Cozart, mastered by George Piros, the legendary Mercury team of renown. It is instructive to note that this Philips mastering is clearly superior to the mediocre Mercury mastering, which may be counterintuitive, but is demonstrably true nonetheless.

Which is why we actually listen to the records we sell here at Better Records, because you can’t judge a record by its credentials — you must play it.


Lena Horne – These Two Living Stereo Releases Didn’t Make the Grade

Hot Stamper Pressings of Vocal Albums Available Now

What Exactly Are Hot Stamper Pressings?

The words “Living Stereo” on the cover are apparently no guarantee of good sound.

We have never played a copy of either of these two albums that was especially good sounding, certainly not good enough to charge the kind of money we charge.

We love Female Vocal recordings, but these two just did not make the grade.

There are a great many male and female vocal albums that actually did make the grade, most often by going through a shootout, and here are some of the categories we have separated them into:

We’ve Played ‘Em

We play mediocre-to-bad sounding pressings so that you don’t have to, a public service from your record-loving friends at Better Records.

You can find these two in our Hall of Shame, along with others that — in our opinion — are best avoided by audiophiles looking for hi-fidelity sound. Some of these records may have passable sonics, but we found the music less than compelling.  These are also records you can safely avoid.