A List of Reissues That Can Beat the Originals

Brahms / Piano Concerto #2 – Van Cliburn / Reiner / CSO – Reviewed in 2005

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

This White Dog pressing is the best sounding copy I’ve ever heard, much better than the earlier pressings! The piano doesn”t break up like it does on those, especially in the second movement. Finally the piano sounds right – solid and with the correct overtones. It goes without saying that this is an exceptionally good performance as well. One of the best of the Cliburn recordings.

Linda Ronstadt – The Stone Poneys Featuring Linda Ronstadt

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The Stone Poneys Feat. Linda Ronstadt

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  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies we played in our shootout for these later pressings – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Much more folk than pop, for the most part the sound here is tubey, rich and sweet
  • The originals from 1967 have never impressed us much – re-released when HLAW hit big, it features three great Linda solos
  • “It doesn’t have “Different Drum,” but the first Stone Poneys album is their folkiest and best, dominated by close harmonies and strong original material by the group’s guitarists, Bob Kimmel and Ken Edwards.” 

This copy was one of the better pressings we played in our shootout, but the sound varies a fair amount from track to track. The best tracks are rich, tubey and clear; the worst thin, bright and hard.

The first track on side one rarely stayed clean when loud, but here for the most part it does. It’s a good test for whether or not you have a copy with high quality, low distortion mastering. Listen for the least amount of smear and congestion and the most resolution.

The second track is richer and tubier – it proves that side one is mastered correctly.

On side two the first track is rough, the second track better, the third richer, sweeter and smoother still. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland

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Electric Ladyland

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Sides three and four of this bad boy are OFF THE CHARTS, earning our top grade of A+++. Side three manages to combine superb transparency and presence with rich Tubey Magic and a strong, rockin’ low end — not an easy balance to strike! The guitars here, obviously one of the main draws on a Hendrix album, sound phenomenal.

Side four is every bit as good, with tons of rockin’ energy and serious immediacy coupled with smooth, natural tonality. Again, most copies fail miserably at finding that balance. A+++, White Hot Stamper material all the way. Whew!

Sides one and two are excellent as well, clocking in at A++ to A+++ and A++ respectively. Side one is clear and full with a big, punchy low end and plenty of rock energy. Side two is generally the weakest side in terms of sound, and that’s true here as well, but at A++ this one blows away what we found on the typical pressings. Tubey Magical with a nice, solid low end, the music really comes across here. (more…)

Kraftwerk – Autobahn

Kraftwerk

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  • Incredible sound throughout for this fun TAS-approved album with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Forget the dubby domestic pressings — they’re disappointing in the extreme
  • The RIGHT early import pressings have richness, transparency, space and presence not found anywhere else I tell you!
  • These Vertigo pressings are incredibly tough to find with the right sound and quiet surfaces – most copies we get in from England go straight into the trade-in pile
  • “Autobahn is where the group’s hypnotic electronic pulse genuinely came into its own… the roots of electro-funk, ambient, and synth pop are all evident — it’s a pioneering album…”

This vintage British Vertigo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

The Beatles – Please Please Me – Which Is More 3-Dimensional, Mono or Twin Track?

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With all due respect to Sir George Martin, we’ve played a number of mono pressings of this album in the past twenty or so years and have never been particularly impressed with any of them. The monos jam all the voices and instruments together in the middle, stacking them one in front of the other, and lots of musical information gets mashed together and simply disappears in the congestion. 

But is Twin Track stereo any better? Yes, when you do it the way Norman Smith did on Please Please Me.

Twin Track stereo (which is actually not very much like two-track stereo, I’m sure Wikipedia must have a listing for it if you’re interested) is like two mono tracks running simultaneously. It allows the completely separate voices to occupy one channel and the completely separate instruments to occupy another with no leakage between them.

On some stereos it may seem as though the musicians and the singers are not playing together the way they would if one were hearing them in mono. They are in fact recorded on two separate mono tracks, the instruments appearing in the left channel and the singers in the right, separated as much as is physically possible.

Stuck in their individual stereo speakers, so far apart from one another, the members of the band don’t even seem to be playing together in the same room.

That’s on some stereos, and by some stereos I mean stereos that need improvement. Here’s why. (more…)

David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust – Breaking the Price Barrier in 2007

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

The following is our 2007 commentary for the best Ziggy Stardust we had ever heard

This RCA Import has DRAMATICALLY better sound than any Ziggy LP we’ve ever played here at Better Records. Whatever you think you know about the sound of this record, THINK AGAIN. The sound of this copy is so far beyond any expectation I had that hearing it was nothing short of a REVELATION. It’s TWO FULL GRADES better than any copy we played in our shootout.

Ater hearing this copy we had to lower our grades for every other pressing we had played. This was a completely new standard. (more…)

The Grateful Dead – Aoxomoxoa

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  • This original Green Label Warner Brothers LP has STUNNING Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • These sides were doing everything right — big, full-bodied and present with tons of energy and a nice extended top end
  • “When the LP hit the racks in the early summer of 1969, Deadheads were greeted by some of the freshest and most innovative sounds to develop from the thriving Bay Area music scene.” – All Music 

NOTE: This is the later remixed version from 1971. We found it far better sounding than the original 1969 mix. If you’re interested in the original mix, we have some of those copies with lower grades but if you want the best sound, this copy is definitely the way to go. (more…)

Our Favorite Tchaikovsky 1812 – The Alwyn Performance on Decca

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1812 / Marche Slave / Alwyn

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

A BEYOND White Hot Quadruple Plus side one – hear Tchaikovsky’s 1812 in Demo Disc sound. This is the most exciting and beautifully played 1812 we know of, with the best sound ever to boot on this copy. This is an exceptional Decca remastering of a superb Golden Age recording on very good vinyl.

The WHOMP FACTOR on this side one has to be heard to be believed. If you’ve got the woofers for it this record is going to rock your world!

Strings Are Key

The lower strings are rich and surrounded by lovely hall space. This is not a sound one hears on record often enough and it is glorious when a pressing as good as this one can make that sound clear to you. (more…)

Judy Collins – Judy Collins #3 – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This is a Minty Elektra Red Label LP with two AMAZING sounding sides! Typical copies are dull and thin sounding, making Judy Blue Eyes’ beautiful voice sound honky and weak like she has a head cold. This copy is the remedy! (more…)

Delibes / Coppelia & Sylvia / Ansermet – London Vs. Decca, Again

More of the music of Leo Delibes (1836-1891) 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

Once again, the right Decca reissue blows the doors off the original we played. This has lately become a pattern, but keep in mind it’s a pattern that’s reliable less than half the time, if memory is any guide. Many of the Decca reissues we’ve played over the last few years have failed badly in a head to head with their earlier-mastered and -pressed counterparts. But the ones that beat all comers are the ones that stick in our minds and show up on our site. Clearly a case of confirmation bias, but at least we know something about our own biases. 

Record collectors and record collecting audiophiles will tell you it shouldn’t happen, but fools like us, who refuse to accept the prognostications of those supposedly “in the know,” have done the work and come up with the experimental data that’s proven them wrong again and again.

Sort of. We had one, and only one, pressing of the original London (CS 6185), and boy was it a mess — crude as crude can be. It sounded just like an “old record” — we’ve played them by the thousands, so we know that sound fairly well at this stage of the game — not the Decca engineered and mastered vintage collectible we know it to be. (more…)