These are just some of the recordings we’ve auditioned recently and found wanting. Without going into specifics we’ll just say these albums suffer from poor performances, poor sound, or both, and therefore do not deserve a place in your collection, and may even belong in our Hall of Shame.
A Free Service provided to the Audiophile Public, courtesy of Better Records.
None of the pressings we played of this RCA were remotely competitive with Maag and the PCO on London. The sound of this recording was consistently boxy and congested, a case of the “old school” sound that is found on far too many vintage pressings.
No good either. Opaque, up front and completely lacking in layered depth.
Here is the kind of sound that makes Heavy Vinyl so unpleasant to those of us who have Big Speaker systems that reproduce space, depth and soundstaging well.
What We’re Listening For on Rossini Overtures
Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
Then: presence and immediacy.
The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.
The real stars here are NOT the 1812, but the three coupling works, which demonstrate, on this copy at least, The Real Power of the Orchestra. The remarkably rich, Tubey Magical and oh-so-rosiny Living Stereo strings and powerful, dynamic brass make this a real demo quality orchestral heavyweight. Lizst’s Mephisto Waltz, Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides Overture, and the Tragic Overture by Brahms are the Must Own 36 minutes worth of music on the record.(more…)
Another Heavy Vinyl pressing from Cisco / Impex reviewed.
It’s been quite a while since I played the Cisco pressing, but I remember it as being quite good. At the time we wrote: “The overall sound is smooth and spacious. The piano may lack the full weight of the live instrument, but that’s RCA’s fault, not Cisco’s. If you can look past that you will find this to be one of the better Living Stereo reissues available today.” and we’ll just have to stick with that for now, since we haven’t played the record in more than ten years.
1S RCA Shaded Dog. This is an exceptionally good sounding copy, full of that RCA Living Stereo magic. Excellent performance from Reiner as well. On a work like La Mer the timbre of the instruments is critical to the enjoyment of the piece, as they often play solo and in small groupings. This record captures those qualities perfectly.
This record also includes Strauss’ Don Juan, which never sounds good on this title and is best left unplayed.
White Hot on Side One! Big brass, so full-bodied and dynamic. The solo violin is present and so real you will not believe it. The highest resolution we have ever heard for this performance. Hard To Fault (HTF).
This copy is huge in every dimension, just as all the best ones always are, with maximum amounts of height, width, and depth. The transparency is also superb — you really hear into this one in the way that only the best Living Stereos (and other golden age recordings) will allow.(more…)
We dropped the needle on side one of this lovely and quite rare Shaded Dog pressing and heard very good Living Stereo orchestral sound. We ended up giving it a sonic grade of A+ to A++.
When we flipped it over and heard the sound on side two, our jaws hit the ground (simultaneously? Can’t say for sure). WOW! It’s clearly one of the BEST piano concerto recordings we have ever had the pleasure of placing on our turntable. It puts to shame 98% of the piano recordings we’ve played over the years. Who knew LSC 2601 could sound so good?
No one besides us it seems. No audiophile reviewer seems to be impressed by it, as far as we can tell after a quick search. Is it the only copy in the world that sounds this good? Who’s to say? Side one won’t win any awards, but side two sure will. It sets a standard not many other recordings of piano and orchestra are going to be able to meet.(more…)
There is simply an amazing amount of TOP END on this original pressing. Rarely do I hear Golden Age recordings with this kind of ENERGY and extension up top. This is of course one of the reasons the Classic reissue is such a disaster. With all that top end energy, Bernie’s gritty cutting system and penchant for boosted upper midrange frequencies positively guarantees that the Classic Reiner Sound will be all but unplayable on a proper system.
Boosting the bass and highs and adding transistory harshness is the last thing in the world that The Reiner Sound needs. (more…)
This Mahler work is very accessible and enjoyable. Lovely, smooth, sweet string tone. This, along with the 1st Symphony, are my favorites.
Comparing the Classic Reissue with the white dog above reveals that Bernie Grundman got the tonal balance right (not a common occurrence), but the magic of the RCA string tone has mysteriously been replaced by the thick, glossy strings you might expect on a Phillips record. Consider that the same effect could probably be achieved if you were to buy a Crown amplifier and hook it up to your speakers. I had a Crown DC-300A in 1973 and I don’t want it back.