Advice – Record Collecting for Audiophiles – Audiophile Pressings

Bach, Mendelssohn, Widor / Discovery / Welch

More Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) 

More Bach, Mendelssohn, Widor / Discovery / Welch 

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

This is an INCREDIBLY RARE Wilson Audio LP in IMMACULATE condition, with works by Bach, Mendelssohn, Widor and others. Click on the images of the record labels for a full track listing. This is actually an amazing sounding record. I’ve owned a copy for over 20 years. It’s some of the best sounding organ music with the deepest bass I’ve ever heard.

Lincoln Mayorga – The Missing Linc – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

Super Hot, and definitely not your typical Sheffield pressing. Some of them are aggressive, many of them are dull and lack the spark of live music, some of them have wonky bass or are lacking in the lowest octave — they are prey to every fault that befalls other pressings. 

Which should not be too surprising. Records are records. Pressing variations exist for every album ever made. If you haven’t noticed that yet, start playing multiple copies of the same album, while listening carefully and critically.

If your stereo is any good at all, it should not take you long to notice how different one record sounds from another. (more…)

Jack Sheldon – Unreleased UHQR Test Pressing – Reviewed in 2007

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This is a PRACTICALLY BRAND NEW UHQR JVC Test Record. The record is virtually unplayed! The RAREST of the RARE! I’m SHOCKED at how good this record sounds. It has AMAZING live jazz sound.  (more…)

Supertramp Crime of the Century on MoFi – We Was Wrong, It Can Sound Great

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This MoFi Crime of the Century has two superb sounding sides. I have to admit I was DEAD WRONG about MoFi’s Crime of the Century — on this pressing, anyway. But I can tell you that this is one of the few I have ever played that sounded right to me.

It’s not that MoFi couldn’t cut a record that’s tonally correct. It’s just that most of they time they didn’t. This time they did. 

I’ve been telling people for years that the MOoFi was junk, and that they should get rid of their copy and replace it with a tonally correct version, easily done since there is a very good sounding Speakers Corner 180g reissue currently in print which does not suffer from the ridiculously boosted top end and bloated bass that characterizes the typical MoFi COTC pressing. (more…)

John Klemmer – Straight from the Heart

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This White Hot Stamper Nautilus Direct-to-Disc recording is an AMAZING Demo Disc, and what’s more, it’s actually REAL JAZZ — a remarkably unusual combination in the Audiophile World, in my experience anyway. This copy takes the sound of this recording — and the music along with it — to another level. YOU WON’T BELIEVE how good this record sounds  (more…)

Debussy / Ravel – Piano Works – Moravec – Reviewed in the ’90s

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Piano Works – Moravec

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

This long out of print Athena LP is one of my favorite audiophile records of all time. It was recorded in 1967 and remastered by a real mastering engineer, Robert Ludwig, a man who knows the sound of an acoustic piano about as well as anyone ever will. He did scores of Vox recordings and knows the sound of classical music inside and out. 

Athena, like Chesky, is an Audiophile BS Label of the worst kind; most of their stuff is ridiculously artificial sounding. This is the only record of theirs that I can recommend. You will have a very hard time finding these piano pieces sounding any better than they do here.

The Who – Tommy – Simply Vinyl Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: B

One of the BEST titles on Simply Vinyl! Better than the Classic version, that’s for sure. This one has the bass that’s all but missing from the new 200 gram pressing.  

The Classic Tommy Has No Bass

It could have had amazing bass, like their Who’s Next, but it doesn’t. Why I have no idea. The overall sound is thin, so thin that we immediately knew there was no point in carrying it. (The only Classic Who record we ever carried was Who’s Next; the rest of them are dreadful, some of the worst sounding reissues out there.) Not when there’s a very fine Heavy Vinyl pressing already around. You guessed it: the Simply Vinyl pressing, the one from that label that some reviewer thinks is “screwing up the market.”

Who’s Screwing Whom?

We invite all our readers and listeners to do the shootout for themselves. Both versions of Tommy are in print and widely available. [Woops, not any more, both are out of print.]

If you do find the Classic to be more to your liking, we simply ask that you send us your copy with a note as to the tracks you compared and what you found, so that we can hear it for ourselves. As you know from reading about Nirvana Nevermind, no two records, not even new audiophile ones, sound the same, so if you managed to get hold of a hot copy of the Classic, we want to hear it too! (After we have picked our jaws up off the floor we will happily send it back to you.)

Jethro Tull – Aqualung – A MoFi Disaster (But Don’t Tell This Guy)

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Sonic Grade: D

We noted in our Hot Stamper review for Aqualung that the MoFi is a disaster, with the murky bloated DCC even worse. (We didn’t like the Classic either.) 

But we used to like the MoFi and DCC just fine. What could possibly have changed?

It’s a long story, and a pretty long commentary, which we have excerpted from a customer’s letter, along with our reply.

We have edited our original commentary and his letter for the sake of brevity.

Now the letter:

To: Tom Port,

As far as “Aqualung” is concerned, I have a Mobile Fidelity issue of this album which sounds great and being pressed on some of the best vinyl in the world by people who are known for their meticulous care with records, I don’t think that there would be much difference at all in the quality of different Mo-Fi pressings of this or any of their records.

The key phrase here is “I don’t think that there would be much difference at all…”. You see, this is not something to think about, this is something to test. Thinking got this gentleman nowhere; testing might have had the opposite effect. (more…)

Mobile Fidelity and the Limited Edition Pressing

More by The Beatles

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Many audiophiles are still operating under the misapprehension that Mobile Fidelity, what with their strict ’quality control’, managed to eliminate pressing variations of the kind we discuss endlessly on the site. 

Such is simply not the case, and it’s child’s play to demonstrate how false this way of thinking is, assuming you have these four things: good cleaning fluids and a machine, multiple copies of the same record, a reasonably revealing stereo, and two working ears (I guess that’s actually five things, my bad). With all five the reality of pressing variations for ALL pressings is both obvious and incontrovertible.

The raison d’être of the Limited Edition Audiophile Record is to take the guesswork out of buying the Best Sounding Pressing money can buy.

But it just doesn’t work that way. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but our entire website is based on the proposition that nothing of the sort is true. If paying more money for an audiophile pressing guaranteed the buyer better sound, 80% of what we do around here would be a waste of time. Everybody knows what the audiophile pressings are, and there would be nothing for us to do but find them and throw them up on the website for you to buy. Why even bother to play them if they all sound so good?

I was guilty of the same Bad Audiophile Thinking myself in 1982. I remember buying the UHQR of Sgt. Pepper and thinking how amazing it sounded and how lucky I was to have the world’s best version of Sgt. Pepper.

If I were to play that record now it would be positively painful. All I would hear would be the famous MoFi 10K Boost on the top end (the one that MoFi lovers never seem to notice), and the flabby Half-Speed mastered bass (ditto). Having heard really good copies of Sgt. Pepper, like the wonderful Hot Stampers we put on the site from time to time, now the MoFi UHQR sounds so phony to me that I wouldn’t be able to sit through it with a gun to my head. (more…)

Tchaikovsky / 1812 Overture on Telarc UHQR

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Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing.

This is what we had to say about the UHQR back in 2005 or so:

Having played this record all the way through, I have to comment on some of its sonic qualities. It’s about the most dynamic recording I’ve ever heard. This was the promise of digital, which was never really delivered. On this record, that promise has been fulfilled. The performance is also one of the best on record. It’s certainly the most energetic I can remember. 

[Now that we’ve heard the best pressings of the Alwyn recording on Decca I would have to say that Alwyn’s is certainly every bit as energetic if not more so and dramatically better sounding as well.]

They only made 1000 of these, which makes it 5 times more rare than any MOFI UHQR. I had a sealed copy of this record on the site not too long ago. I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen a sealed copy, as open ones are hard enough to come by.