Author: humorem

Vivaldi / The Four Seasons – Societa Corelli – Reviewed in 2009

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This AMAZINGLY QUIET RCA Shaded Dog has SUPERB SOUND. It’s also without a doubt one of the finest small string ensemble recordings on this site. Which is only fitting for the most famous string music ever recorded.

For those with better tube gear, the string tone on this record is sublime, with that rosin-on-the-bow quality that tubes seem to bring out in a way virtually nothing else can, at least in my experience.

The spaciousness and three-dimensionality of the recording here is also exceptional. Through the efforts and skill of the RCA engineers, that striking openness in the recording is somehow combined with an immediacy in the sound of the lead string players, no mean feat. One rarely hears both, except of course in live performance.

There may be other performances of merit, but I know of no recording of this music with better sound. Truly a DEMO DISC. (more…)

Felipe De La Rosa – Flamenco Fever

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  • With two Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, this copy of Flamenco Fever is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner
  • The sound is breathtakingly real – you are there in the club with the flamenco guitarist, his drummer, and a trio of stomping, clapping dancers
  • This is a Direct to Disc Demo Disc like nothing you’ve heard – when you turn up the volume on this bad boy the natural acoustic space in the room becomes huge and palpable
  • If you have the power to drive big speakers, the dynamics and bass transients of this copy might just rock your world, literally

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David Gilmour – David Gilmour

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  • You’ll find superb nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides of this wonderful pressing – just shy of our Shootout Winner – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • The bass is killer, tight with real weight, and the drums are punchy – exactly like the better Pink Floyd albums
  • For my money, this is a better sounding recording than The Final Cut or the Roger Waters solo debut
  • “By the time of Gilmour’s solo debut, he had not only established himself several times over as an underrated, powerful guitarist in Pink Floyd, but as a remarkably emotional singer…”

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Phil Manzanera – Diamond Head – A Truly Awesome Feat of Engineering by Rhett Davies

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You may recall reading this bit about RHETT DAVIES engineering on Dire Straits’ debut:

“…until something better comes along, THIS IS HIS MASTERPIECE. It has to be one of the best sounding rock records ever made, with Tubey Magic mids, prodigious bass, transparency and freedom from hi-fi-ishness and distortion like few rock recordings you have ever heard.”

Well, something better has now come along, and it’s called Diamond Head.

It has some of the BIGGEST, BOLDEST SOUND we have ever heard. Diamond Head isn’t known as an audiophile album but it should be — the sound is GLORIOUS — wall to wall, floor to ceiling, and as rich and dynamic as it gets.

It’s clearly a BIG SPEAKER album. Play it one as loud as you can. The louder you play it the better it sounds.

The best copies have ROOM SHAKING DEEP BASS with the kind of WHOMP FACTOR that can drive this music to practically unexplored heights.

It’s also super TRANSPARENT, with a large, deep soundfield that really allows you to hear INTO the music and the studio space in which it was created. The clarity is SUPERB with all the detail and texture one could hope for, but the real kicker is the amount of ENERGY and musical DRIVE that this side has going for it. This is what the Master Tape is really capable of — Mind Bogglingly Good Sound.

Looking for TUBEY MAGIC? Rhett Davies is your man. Just think about the sound of the first Dire Straits album or Avalon. The best pressings of those albums — those with truly Hot Stampers — are swimming in it. (more…)

Miles Davis – Sketches of Spain

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  • This outstanding Columbia 360 Stereo pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • The good copies capture the realistic sound of Davis’s horn, the body, the breath and the bite (and not a little of the squawk as well)
  • Balanced, clear and undistorted, this 30th Street recording shows just how good Columbia’s engineers were back then
  • A couple of marks play, so this copy is being offered at a much lower price than it otherwise would have been for those of you who can tolerate the pops
  • 5 stars: “Sketches of Spain is the most luxuriant and stridently romantic recording Davis ever made. To listen to it in the 21st century is still a spine-tingling experience…”

*NOTE: On side two, two marks make 24 moderate pops one-quarter inch from the end of Track 2, Saeta, and 15 moderate pops one-quarter inch into Track 3, Solea.

On the best pressings of this masterpiece, the sound is truly magical. (AMG has that dead right in their review.) It is lively but never strained. Davis’s horn has breath and bite, just like the real thing. What more can you ask for? (more…)

Paul Simon and Judy Collins Finally Turned Me Against DCC

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I remember being a bit taken aback by how much better my original Artisan pressing sounded when I finally got around to comparing it to the supposedly superior DCC, pressed at high quality Heavy Vinyl at RTI to the most exacting standards possible.

What finally turned me completely against DCC were the awful Paul Simon solo albums they remastered.  Two were released, two I had as unreleased test pressings, and all of them were at best second-rate compared to the good original pressings I had on hand.

So much for believing in DCC. Since that time we have learned that placing your faith in any record label or cutting operation is a mistake.

You have to play the records to know how they sound. Nothing else works, and nothing else can work. (more…)

Steve Miller Band – Fly Like An Eagle

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  • With a Triple Plus (A+++) Shootout Winning side two and a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side one, this copy had some of the best sound we have ever heard for the album
  • The sound is rich and clear, with tremendous space, critical to reproducing the recording’s spacey (and pretty cool) effects
  • The title track and Take The Money and Run both sound amazing (but so does pretty much everything else)
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The key is focus, even on an album as stylishly, self-consciously trippy as this, since the focus brings about his strongest set of songs (both originals and covers), plus a detailed atmospheric production where everything fits.”

On this copy, you get richness and warmth, front and center immediacy, extension up top and down low, and loads of energy. The synths have texture, the guitars are full-bodied and the bottom end is nice and meaty.

The soundfield is especially open and transparent, with three-dimensional space that brings out the trippy effects the band threw in all over the place. When they sound this good, they really work some Seventies Analog Magic. (more…)

The Moody Blues – On The Threshold Of A Dream

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from first note to last
  • You will not believe how punchy, lively, dynamic, and exciting some of these tracks sound here – this is one of their best albums for both music and sound!
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this wonderful album, a vintage UK pressing is the way to go
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… [I]n 1969 this was envelope-ripping, genre-busting music, scaling established boundaries into unknown territory, not only “outside the box” but outside of any musical box that had been conceived at that moment…”

Both sides give you silky highs, surprising clarity, amazing openness and transparency, real weight to the bottom end, lots of air in the flutes, wonderful texture to the strings, and so much more. The acoustic guitars sound impressive, with the proper balance between pluck and body. The vocals are shockingly clean and clear throughout.

Copies like this bring all the psychedelic Moody Blues magic to life in your living room. The richness, sweetness, and warmth on this one give you exactly the sound you want for this wild music. You get lovely Tubey Magic and clarity. The sound is cleaner, clearer, richer, sweeter, and more present that you could have imagined.

It has been my experience that, as good as the British originals of the Moody Blues records are — and I think they are the best sounding pressings of their music that can be found — their one consistent shortcoming is an overly smooth top end. We managed to find a handful of copies that break with that tradition, and the results are wonderful. (more…)

David Bowie – David Live

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on all four sides of this Bowie classic
  • One of our favorite live recordings – a great overview of Bowie’s career through 1974
  • 1984, Rebel Rebel, Sweet Thing and Rock & Roll With Me come ALIVE in performance like you have never heard before
  • A-List players of the day deliver sonic treats, including multiple horn players, multiple percussionists, all-male chorus background vocals, the searing fuzzed-out guitar leads of Earl Slick, piano and Mellotron by Mike Garson, and the amazing Herbie Flowers on bass

*NOTE: On side one, a group of light marks makes about 15 light ticks one-half inch from the end of Track 4, Sweet Thing. On side three, a mark on the edge makes 4 light ticks at the beginning of Track 1, Rock & Roll With Me. On side four, two marks make 8 light ticks during the intro to Track 3, Jean Genie, and 8 moderately light to light ticks during the intro to Track 4, Rock & Roll Suicide.

What can we say? RCA vinyl in 1974 was ticky. Most copies of this album are a helluva lot noisier than this one.

When you listen to an incredible copy of this Bowie classic, you will have no trouble picturing yourself in the audience with a front row center seat. And the great thing about a record like this is that you can be in the front row of this very concert whenever you want!

The other top live album is, of course, Waiting For Columbus, and the two have much in common. Most importantly, the songs played live on both albums are consistently better than their studio versions. (This is especially true on the Little Feat album. Little Feat was not a studio band and their live arrangements — with the Tower of Power horns — just murder the studio ones.)

For us audiophiles, the other reason to own a Hot Copy of David Live or Waiting For Columbus is that the sound is much improved over most of the studio albums in which the material was originally found. Have you ever heard a good sounding Diamond Dogs?

But David Live is full of great sounding material from the album. 1984 is much better here than on the original album. Rebel Rebel, Sweet Thing and Rock & Roll With Me also come alive in performance. They rock! (more…)

Janis Joplin – I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!

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  • This outstanding 360 Stereo pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This copy has the ideal combination of openness and transparency, coupled with the richness and solidity of vintage analog
  • When Janis starts singing, watch out – her voice positively JUMPS out of the speakers, something we didn’t hear her do on many of the other copies in our shootout
  • Features Try, one of Janis’s All Time Classics — and with these grades you can be sure it sounds positively amazing here

This Columbia 360 Stereo pressing is THE CURE for Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues!

Drop the needle on the great song Try and just listen to how crisp, punchy, and BIG the drums sound.

The bottom end has real weight and the top end is silky and extended. The overall sound is rich, full, and smooth.

ENERGY is the key element missing from the average copy, but not on this bad boy (or girl if you prefer). The electric guitars are super Tubey Magical and the bass is solid and punchy.

On many copies — too many copies — the vocals are pinched and edgy. Here they’re breathy and full — a much better way for Janis to sound. There’s a slight amount of grit to the vocals at times and the brass as well, but the life force on these sides is so strong that we much preferred it to the smoother, duller, deader copies we heard that didn’t have that issue.

On copy after copy we heard pinched squawky horns and harsh vocals, not a good sound for this album. Janis’ voice needs lots of space up top to get good and loud, and both of these sides have it in spades.

Few other copies had this combination of openness and transparency on the one hand, and full, rich tonality on the other. (more…)