Advice – What to Listen For – Polarity

Kansas – Leftoverture – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

This copy of Kansas’ most consistent album, their masterpiece I might venture to say, has an OFF THE CHARTS A+++ side two! This is the ROCK album they recorded; the average copy of Leftoverture only hints at the power of the band.  

Side two just KILLED from start to finish, with the deepest, punchiest bass, moving up the frequency ladder to the clearest sweetest mids, and following it all the way to the top with the most extended grain-free, silky highs.

Most copies, like so many rock records from the era, are veiled and smeary. Often they lack extension at one or both ends of the frequency spectrum, more often than not up top, which results in harshness and shrillness, not the sound you want on a Kansas record! (more…)

Offenbach / Gaite Parisienne – Fiedler – Reviewed in 2005

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

Superb sound! The top end of this record is PERFECTION. When you hear all the percussion instruments, the tambourines, triangles, wood blocks they just sound so lovely. The overall sound is rich and sweet, just like a good vintage RCA should sound. Some may find the sound colored, but I find it enchanting.

Side two, however, sounded fairly unpleasant when I first played it. As I listened more and more, I came to the realization that the absolute phase was probably inverted. The orchestra, rather than being back behind the speakers where they belong, was coming AT me, a sure sign that something is funny. One way to think about it is the sound stage becomes convex instead of concave.

So I switched my headshell leads and sure enough everything got much better — the orchestra now had depth and the strings became less forward and shrill, and the horns took on more body and had less of that blary quality they sometimes do. (more…)

Brahms / Sonatas #2 & 3 / Rubinstein and Szeryng – Reviewed in 2010

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

3S/ 4S RCA Shaded Dog. The sound is actually quite decent when you INVERT the ABSOLUTE PHASE. If you cannot or will not do that, this record will not sound good — it’s somewhat hard and bright. It will never be a Top Shaded Dog but it is a good one with the absolute phase inverted.

This record is third in a series of masterpieces for violin and piano.

Franck / Piano Quintette & Brahms / Heifetz, Piatigorsky et al. – Reviewed in 2013

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More Piano Quintette & Brahms / Heifetz, Piatigorsky et al.

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

A stellar reading of the Franck from this formidable group. Side one of this Shaded Dog is Super Hot: rich, smooth and sweet. The piano is exceptionally well-recorded, with real weight. The Brahms is very good if you can reverse your polarity.    (more…)

Dick Schory – Music for Bang, Baa-room and Harp – Check Your Polarity!

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More Music for Bang, Baa-room and Harp

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises .

An amazing discovery from Better Records. Many copies of this album are REVERSED POLARITY on side two (the side with Buck Dance, one of the better tracks on that side and great for testing). Yes, once again you heard it here first, folks. We had two 4S copies of the album and both of them had side two out of polarity.  

NEWSFLASH: 7s on side two is out of polarity too. Just played one today. There’s practically no real top end extension until you reverse the polarity.

Reversing the absolute phase on this record today was a REVELATION. There before me was all the ambience, openness, sweetness, silkiness and warmth I had come to expect from the best pressings of this longtime member of HP’s TAS List of Super Discs, a record that really is a Super Disc when you hear a good one, and this is a very very good one indeed, on side two anyway. (more…)

TAS List Thoughts about Festival – Harry, This One Is Out of Phase, Man!

More orchestral music conducted by Fritz Reiner (1888-1963)

TAS List Thoughts about Festival

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Harry Pearson put this on his list of the best Classic Records RCAs.

If you can reverse your absolute phase this record actually sounds fairly decent. Do you think Harry knows to do that, or even how to do it? I have my doubts. [He’s gone now so the point is moot, but I maintain it’s the rare reviewer who grasps these kinds of issues with anything approaching the depth and understanding required to be informative and accurate.) 

Dick Schory – Music for Bang, Baa-room and Harp – Our Shootout Winner from 2016

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More Music for Bang, Baa-room and Harp

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

This one is absolutely As Good As It Gets on side one. It’s a real treat to hear such a crazy assortment of percussion instruments with this kind of amazingly clear, high-resolution sound! It’s just bigger, richer and clearer than any side we can remember playing. 

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs, and rightfully so. It certainly can be a Super Disc, but only when you have the right pressing. This is one of the Demo Discs on the TAS List which truly deserves its status when, and only when, you have the right copy. (The typical copy is quite good, but it sure doesn’t sound like this.) Nothing else in our shootout could touch it. And it’s IN PHASE. Many copies are not.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Top end, plain and simple. It’s the RARE copy that really has the incredible extension of this side two. The space, the clarity, the harmonic complexity — perhaps one out of ten copies will show you a side two such as this. (more…)

The Heifetz-Piatigorsky Concerts

More of the music of Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

The Heifetz-Piatigorsky Concerts

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This is one of the pressings we’ve discovered with Reversed Polarity.

This IMMACULATE set has dry, edgy, screechy sound — until you reverse your absolute phase! Then it sounds pretty good! It certainly will never win any awards, but it’s practically unlistenable without the phase reversed. 

Now I can’t say that’s true for all six sides. I play graded all six sides — they range from M- to slightly worse, about as quiet as these Soria pressings ever are — but I only reversed the phase on side one after dropping the needle on the other sides and suffering through the brittle sound. (more…)

Offenbach & Chopin / Gaite Parisienne & Les Sylphides – Reverse Your Polarity

More Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880)

Reverse Your Polarity

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This is one of the pressings we’ve discovered with Reversed Polarity.

Amazing in every way! The top end of this record is clear, clean and correct. No other copy sounded like this one on the first side. When you hear all the percussion instruments — the tambourines, triangles, wood blocks and what-have-you — you know instantly that they sound RIGHT.

The overall sound is very different from many of the other recordings of the work that we have offered in the past. Rather than smooth, rich and sweet, the sound here is big and bold and clear like nothing we have ever played.

This is Front Row Center sound for those whose systems can reproduce it!

And this is truly a top performance by Fistoulari and the Royal Philharmonic. I know of none better. For music and sound this is the one!

Side One

The Triple Plus sound makes this THE Gaite Parisienne to Own.

If you have a hot copy of LSC 1817 consider yourself very fortunate. If your copy of LSC 1817 has never thrilled you, then this pressing will beat the pants off it, as it is pretty darn THRILLING. Even if you do have a great 1817 I would still put this up against it and expect it to win the shootout.

It’s clear, clean and above all, TRANSPARENT. This is a claim no modern remastered record, in our opinion, can make. The energy is spectacular on this side. Not only that, but listen to the bite of the brass — that’s some high-rez sound! (more…)

Dave Grusin – Discovered Again – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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More Discovered Again

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

This Sheffield Direct to Disc pressing has AMAZING SOUND! Out of the six copies we played, this was the White Hot Stamper WINNER of our shootout with the kind of life and musical energy simply not to be found on the average Sheffield copy.

The typical direct to disc pressing of Discovered Again leaves much to be desired. Two areas are especially lacking as a rule: the top end tends to be rolled off, and there is a noticeable lack of presence, which can easily be heard in the drum sound: the snare sounds like it’s covered with a towel on most copies of this album. Wha’ happen?

Who knows? Even though the mastering is fixed at the live event, there are many other variables which no doubt affect the sound. The album is cut on two different lathes — M (Master) and S (Slave), and pressed in two different countries: Japan and Germany. Many mothers were pulled from the acetate and many, many stampers made from those mothers. (I saw one marked stamper number 15!)  (more…)