Records – When Louder Is Better

These records sound much better when you play them good and loud.

Heart – Dreamboat Annie – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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Dreamboat Annie

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

MASTER TAPE SOUND and QUIET VINYL on BOTH SIDES! If you’re an audiophile who loves classic rock, you just haven’t lived until you’ve heard Magic Man and Crazy On You on a Hot Stamper pressing, and they don’t get ANY hotter than this copy! We play dozens upon dozens of these every year, and based on that experience this Hot Stamper will be virtually unbeatable for EITHER side. (more…)

Bloomfield-Kooper-Stills – Super Session – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

Man’s Temptation, track 3 on side one, has got some seriously bright EQ happening (reminiscent of the first BS&T album), so if that song even sounds tolerable in the midrange you are doing better than expected.

Clean Cutting

What you get with this copy is some of the most transparent, lowest distortion, cleanest cutting we’ve ever heard. This copy is high-rez like you will not believe, with an unusually extended top end on both sides.

Turn It Up

Most copies are far too bright and phony sounding to turn up loud; the distortion and grit are just too much at higher volumes. On a copy like this, with more correct tonality and an overall freedom from distortion, you can TURN IT UP and LET IT ROCK.

Season of the Witch sounds amazing at loud levels on this copy, with its big build-ups and quiet breakdowns. It is nothing less than a thrill to just let it blast away at the levels we were listening at. The band is RIGHT THERE.

Side One

A++, big and clear with absolutely ZERO smear! The bass is solid and tight, and there’s more transparency here than on the typical pressing. So good!

Side Two

We awarded this side a rare A++++ grade, reserved for the kind of sound that makes us completely rethink the possibilities of a recording! Super spacious and three-dimensional with an amazingly extended top end, this absolutely blew away everything else in our shootout. Rich and Tubey Magical with incredible energy and no smear at all, this is doing everything we want it to. AMAZING! (more…)

Crack The Sky – Crack The Sky – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

This White Hot Stamper pressing of the first and best album by the legendary-but-now-mostly-forgotten American Prog band Crack The Sky shows just how amazingly well recorded their debut really was.

This is Big Production rock that pulls out all the stops and then some, with a massive Beatlesque string section, horns, synths, backward guitars and every other kind of studio effect that they could work out.

Much like Ambrosia’s debut (another unknown band on a small label), such an ambitious project was clearly an effort to make a Grand Musical Statement along the lines of Sgt. Pepper, Crime of the Century, Close to the Edge, The Original Soundtrack and Dark Side of the Moon, all albums I suspect this band revered, having played them countless times.

In the ’70s I was a huge fan of those albums too. (Still am of course; check out ouTop 100 if you don’t believe me. They’re all in there.) I played them more times than I can remember, with Crack The Sky’s albums spending plenty of time — heavy rotation you could say — on the turntable in those days. To my mind, speaking as a fan and an audiophile, the first Crack the Sky album succeeds brilliantly on every level: production, originality, songwriting, technical virtuosity, musical consistency and, perhaps most importantly for those of you who have managed to make it this far, Top Quality Audiophile Sound.

This is simply a great album of adventurous, highly melodic proggy rock. If you like the well known bands that made the classic albums cited above, there’s a very good chance you will like this much less well known band’s first album also. (more…)

Eagles – The Long Run – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

This copy had sound we never would have expected to hear on this record. Believe me, not too many sound like this one! Most copies have a smeary, veiled, stuck-in-the-speaker quality that makes for some painful listening. Cardboard drums. Non-existent ambience. No energy. The average copy of this album just sits on the turntable with nothing to say.

What’s Szymczyk’s problem anyway? Can’t the guy record an album any better than this after being in the studio for all these years?

Yes he can! Don’t make the mistake of judging his work by the typical bad pressing of it, the kind that Elektra was churning out by the millions back in the day. Believe me, the master tape must be AWESOME if the sound of some of the records we played is any indication. And of course that’s exactly how we know it is — by the pressings we heard. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – The Jimi Hendrix Concerts – Huge, Powerful Live Rock Sound

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The Jimi Hendrix Concerts

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

This live album, taken from concerts recorded from 1968 to 1970, is wonderful sounding on the best tracks. If you’re in the market for live Hendrix on a Hot Stamper, you’ll be hard pressed to do any better. The bass on this recording is huge, which is exactly what this kind of music needs most. At the levels we were playing this album it was really rockin’.

That’s the true test of a good live rock record — the louder you play it the better it sounds! (more…)

Billy Joel – Songs in the Attic- Listening in Depth

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Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

You know how you can tell when you have a Hot Stamper? It’s the side you play through to the end. When the sound is right you want to hear more. Since the opening track of this record is one of the keys to knowing whether it’s mastered and pressed properly, once you get past the sibilance hurdle on track one, the next step is to find out how the challenges presented by the rest of the tracks are handled on any given LP. Some advice follows.  (more…)

Boston – Boston – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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More Boston – Boston

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

MASTER TAPE SOUND! We just finished another big Boston shootout; stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but most copies are pretty darn mediocre. If you want to deal with grainy highs, hooded mids, leaned-out bass and on overall lack of enthusiasm on the part of the band, I suppose that’s your prerogative, but this music is a heckuva lot more fun when it sounds like it does on this White Hot Stamper!

When you drop the needle on More Than A Feeling or Peace Of Mind you’ll quickly see why we gave this side one our top grade of A+++. The sound is rich and full with a silky sweet top end and incredible power to the bottom. There’s lots of ENERGY and the kind of presence you need to free this music from the confines of your speakers.

Side two is nearly as amazing. The sound is BIG, BOLD and LIVELY with an excellent bottom end. Side one opens up just a bit more and is a bit sweeter up top, but side two was definitely impressive enough for an A++ grade.

If more records sounded like this we would be out of business (and the CD would never have been invented). Most people don’t have the time or resources to play twenty copies of Boston to find one that sounds like this, but that’s our metier here at Better Records. (more…)

Eagles – Hotel California – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

TWO SUPERB SIDES — super transparent, super hi-rez, with tons of energy and tubey magic! We just finished a mega-shootout for this title, dropping the needle on more than a dozen copies, and this bad boy earned Best In Show. Side two earned our top A+++ grade while side one was just half a plus behind. Most copies out there won’t come even close to this one on EITHER side.  

Both sides have superb, mind-blowing, Demo Disc Quality Sound. Drop the needle on any track on either side to hear what we’re talking about. The highs are silky and delicate, the bottom end is tight and punchy, and the vocals sound AMAZING. The bass is PERFECTION, which really brings out the reggae feel of the song Hotel California. It’s so deep and loping, the effect is practically narcotic. (more…)

Weather Report – Heavy Weather – Finding the Rare Pressing with an Actual Top End

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

It has been our experience that the copies with high frequency extension and the clarity, space and percussive energy that results from it are consistently the best sounding. You may have read elsewhere on the site that what separates many of the best Columbia LPs from their competition is an open, extended top end. For some reason Columbia, more than most labels, had a habit of making slightly dull records. Dull does not work for this album.   

When the highs on the record are right, it all comes together. Unfortunately, most copies don’t have those highs. There’s more to it than that of course: some copies lack bass, some are a bit grainy and gritty sounding — the normal problems associated with vinyl records are all here.

But when you have good highs you are about 80 to 85% of the way toward a Hot Stamper. Complete the picture with bass, dynamics, etc. (and a big speaker system) and there’s a good chance the sound will blow your mind.


Heavy Weather is a classic case of yet another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

This is music that doesn’t make any sense unless you play it LOUD. This is a BIG SPEAKER recording. I know this because I was playing it too quietly, which is to say at normal listening volumes, and it just wasn’t thrilling me. As soon as I turned it up, it really started to work, both as a piece of music and as a recording. So much gets lost in a mix as dense as this one at moderate levels. Everything comes out into the open when you give it the volume it needs. Trust me on this one; without a big dynamic speaker this music is never going to do what it wants to do — which is to ROCK YOUR WORLD. (more…)

Eagles – On The Border – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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More On The Border

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

TWO STUNNING SIDES on this British SYL pressing. You Never Cry Like A Lover and The Best Of My Love have SUPERB Glyn Johns Demo Disc Sound. The LIFE and ENERGY of this copy are going to knock you out of your seat! Most copies left us with a headache, but this one had us begging for more! 

You Never Cry Like A Lover and The Best Of My Love have SUPERB Glyn Johns Demo Disc Sound. I’m a HUGE fan of the material on this album. I find it to be some of the most sophisticated and enjoyable music these guys ever wrote, and that’s saying a lot. As audiophiles, many of you have probably never taken the time to appreciate how good the album is, because the typical domestic copy barely hints at the kind of magic you’ll hear on a British SYL Hot Stamper pressing. (more…)