Records that Sound Best on the Right Reissue Pressing

David Bowie – Heroes

Dear Reader,

We have just recently moved our record business to our new Shopify store. None of the links to the old site will work anymore. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to be able to rectify the situation soon. For now please check out Better Records, Mach II, home of the ultimate vinyl pressing, the White Hot Stamper.

Tom Port – Better Records

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  • An outstanding copy of Heroes with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • This import is ALIVE with musical energy and Tubey Magical Analog sound the likes of which you may never have experienced
  • Until we discovered these amazing British reissues, we had no idea the album could sound as good as it does here
  • 5 stars: “Repeating the formula of Low’s half-vocal/half-instrumental structure, Heroes develops and strengthens the sonic innovations David Bowie and Brian Eno explored on their first collaboration. The vocal songs are fuller, boasting harder rhythms and deeper layers of sound.”

It has taken us years to get this shootout going. The reason for the long delay is simple. The domestic pressings we had on hand to play were not exactly thrilling us and even the best of them are no better than acceptable, and not likely to win a shootout.

Even worse, our intuition that the British originals would sound the best also turned out to be incorrect. (In the audiophile record collecting world intuitions have a bad track record, but more than a few audiophiles — many of whom seem to be addicted to sharing their “record knowledge” on audiophile forums — seem to be unaware of this unassailably true fact.) The original UK Orange Label pressings did not sound especially good to us, so we kept looking.

Over the course of the last few years, during which time we investigated every different pressing we could get our hands on, finally some good sounding copies of the album came our way. And they were not originals. The lucky owner of this copy will be one of the few to know what label the record is on, and in what country it was pressed.

OK, I suppose we can afford to be a bit more charitable than that. Here goes: the one thing we’re pretty clear on from our efforts to date is that our best Hot Stamper offerings are sure to be pressed in the UK.

If you have a copy of this groundbreaking album and were never impressed with the sound of it, we have a potential solution to your predicament — depending on our inventory — a Hot Stamper pressing. It will show you the kind of sound you never knew could exist on Heroes. (more…)

Roy Orbison – The All-Time Greatest Hits of Roy Orbison

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

The depth, the spaciousness, the richness — this one has it all. It seems as though Bill Porter just does not know how to not make an amazing recording, whether for Monument or Living Stereo. Everything the guy touches is GOLD! Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here.

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music found here are positively enchanting. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good ’60s All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy may be just the album for you. (more…)

Cream – Disraeli Gears

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  • A KILLER UK stereo copy of Cream’s second studio album with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout
  • You aren’t going to believe how hard this pressing rocks, with all the WHOMP and ENERGY you never knew was there
  • Surprisingly good sound for classics like Strange Brew, Sunshine Of Your Love and Tales of Brave Ulysses
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…the imagination of the arrangements, the strength of the compositions, and especially the force of the musicianship make this album transcend its time.”

This amazing copy has the kind of smooth, analog sound you need for this music — warm, rich, smooth, and pretty much free of the nasty grain that gets in the way on most pressings. There’s good extension up top, and the bottom end is meaty and well-defined.

The lesson we’ve learned over the years is that when the extremes are properly transferred to the vinyl, the middle will take care of itself. Since the extremes seem to be the hardest thing to get right, at least on this record, that might explain why so many copies don’t really sound the way they should. (more…)

Roxy Music’s Debut Is a Masterpiece

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  • Andy Hendriksen’s engineering (over the course of a week!) is superb in all respects and practically faultless
  • A Top 100 album, the band’s Masterpiece, and truly a Must Own Desert Island Disc of Glamorous Arty Rock
  • “Falling halfway between musical primitivism and art rock ambition, Roxy Music’s eponymous debut remains a startling redefinition of rock’s boundaries. Simultaneously embracing kitschy glamour and avant-pop, Roxy Music shimmers with seductive style and pulsates with disturbing synthetic textures.”

Folks, this is a true Demo Disc in the world of Art Rock. It’s rare to find a recording of popular music with DYNAMICS like these. (more…)

The Yardbirds – Roger The Engineer – Awful on this Early Pressing

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing. Don’t buy into that record collecting / audiophile canard that the originals are always better sounding.

The original British pressing — true, we only had the one, so take it for what it’s worth — was a poor imitation of what was surely on the master tape, as revealed by the Edsel reissues. Maybe you have a good sounding one, can’t say you don’t. But we would be very unlikely to spend much money on an original import pressing after hearing this one. And the domestic records we’ve played were clearly made from dub tapes, so they’re a bust too.

Sibelius / Finlandia / Mackerras / London Proms

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  • Incredible Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout – a superb Shaded-Dog-beating Finlandia
  • Both sides are big, clear, transparent and dynamic – no Heavy Vinyl pressing can do what this record is doing
  • Yet another wonderful example of what the much-lauded Decca recording engineers were able to capture on analog tape all those years ago
  • Demo Disc sound and music – spectacular works played with feeling

Yet another wonderful example of what the much-lauded Decca recording engineers were able to capture on analog tape all those years ago. The 1961 master has been transferred brilliantly using “modern” cutting equipment (from the early-’70s, not the low-rez junk they’re forced to make do with these days), giving you, the listener, sound that only the best of both worlds can offer.

The brass is HUGE and POWERFUL. Not many recordings capture the brass this well. (Ansermet on London comes to mind of course but many of his performances leave much to be desired. Here Mackerras is on top of his game with performances that are definitive.)

The opening track on side two, Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, is one of my favorite pieces of orchestral music. Mackerras and the London Proms make it magical. (more…)

Who Can’t Hear Differences in Sound from Side to Side on Most Records?

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Audiophile Reissues of the Reiner/CSO Recording

Both the Chesky and Classic reissue pressings of LSC 2446 are just plain terrible. Embarrassingly the latter is found on the TAS List.

There is a newly remastered 33 RPM pressing of the album garnering rave reviews in the audiophile press. We didn’t like it either.

Please note that in many of the reviews for the new pressing, the original vinyl used for comparison is a Shaded Dog pressing. In our experience almost no Shaded Dog pressings are competitive with the later White Dog pressings, and many of them are just plain awful, as we have noted previously on the site.

The “original is better” premise of most reviewers renders the work they do practically worthless, especially to those of us who take the time to play a wide variety of pressings and judge them on the merits of their sound, not the color of their labels.
(more…)

Bill Evans – You Must Believe In Spring

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  • This outstanding copy of Bill Evans’ posthumous release boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl for this title too
  • Both sides here are lively, dynamic and full-bodied – there’s real weight to the piano, always critically important on the piano recordings we play
  • An exceptionally well-recorded album, especially the piano, thanks to Al Schmitt
  • 4 stars: “This well-rounded set (released posthumously) features the highly influential pianist Bill Evans in a set of typically sensitive trio performances… It’s a solid example of the great pianist’s artistry.”

This relaxed piano trio outing has been one of our favorite Bill Evans releases for close to a decade, in no small part because the best copies have the potential for truly Demo Disc sound. This is one of those, and it demonstrates more than anything else how natural, balanced and real the sound of a good piano trio recording can be.

Most copies of this album lack the energy and drive to keep the music from getting sleepy, but both sides here are lively, dynamic and full-bodied. There’s real weight to the piano, always critically important on the piano recordings we play.

This is the last album Bill Evans made before he died. His playing is emotional and powerful, and the other members of the trio provide fine support. (more…)

Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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This is an album that almost never sounds good. We’ve spent a ton of money over the years chasing British originals and various other pressings looking for that Pink Floyd magic, but most copies were terribly disappointing sonically. This was the best copy we’ve heard in many years — richer, bigger sounding and more solid than everything else we were able to put against it. It’s far from a Demo Disc but if you like this music I don’t think you can find better sound for it. 

Atom Heart Mother is from Pink Floyd’s early psych years, and it’s not a pop album by any means. In truth it’s fairly bizarre, kicking off with a side long orchestral piece before settling into songs on the second side. There’s a lot to enjoy here, but if you aren’t familiar with the album you may want to check it out on youtube before laying out the big bucks we charge for a copy that sounds as good as this one does. (more…)

David Bowie / Heroes – It Took Ages to Break the Sound Barrier (Because the Conventional Wisdom Turned Out to Be Wrong))

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Our intuition that the British originals would sound the best turned out to be incorrect. (In the audiophile record collecting world intuitions have a bad track record, but more than a few audiophiles — many of whom seem to be addicted to sharing their “record knowledge” on audiophile forums — seem to be unaware of this unassailably true fact.) The original UK Orange Label pressings did not sound especially good to us, so we kept looking.

Over the course of the last few years, during which time we investigated every different pressing we could get our hands on, finally some good sounding copies of the album came our way. And they were not originals. The lucky owner of this copy will be one of the few to know what label the record is on, and in what country it was pressed.

OK, I suppose we can afford to be a bit more charitable than that. Here goes: the one thing we’re pretty clear on from our efforts to date is that our best Hot Stamper offerings are sure to be pressed in the UK.

If you have a copy of this groundbreaking album and were never impressed with the sound of it, we have a potential solution to your predicament, depending on our inventory: a Hot Stamper pressing.

It will show you the kind of sound you never knew could exist on Heroes.

(more…)