Advice – What to Listen For – Presence

Badfinger – Straight Up – What to Listen For

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate the album.

The best sides have the kind of PRESENCE in the midrange that most copies can’t begin to reproduce. The sound on the right pressings just JUMPS out of the speakers, which is exactly what the best copies are supposed to (but rarely) do.  (more…)

The Doors – The Doors – MoFi Debunked

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Sonic Grade: D

Another MoFi LP debunked.  

If anyone still thinks that this pressing is anything but a bad joke played on the audiophile public — so sucked out in the midrange, bass-shy and compressed to death — that person has a way to go in this hobby. A very long way. You can hear how bad it sounds from another room.

But wait a minute. I liked the MoFi just fine when it came out. I guess I had a way to go in this hobby too. That was back in the early ’80s. I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two in the last thirty five plus years. I’m pretty sure we can offer you a better record now. (more…)

Julie London – Julie… At Home in 1959

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

If you’re a fan of intimate female vocals – the kind without a trace of digital reverb – you should get quite a kick out of Julie… At Home. And unless I miss my guess you’ll be the first and only person on your block to own it! (That’s not a bad thing considering the average person’s taste in music.) 

Need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? These Liberty pressings are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience (or at least as much ambience as can be heard in Julie’s living room), dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here. (more…)

The Who – Live At Leeds

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  • A hard-rockin’ copy – this British Track pressing boasts huge and powerful Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • The recording is huge and lively with startling dynamics and in-the-room-presence like nothing you’ve heard
  • The drums are so solid, punchy and present they put to shame 99 out of 100 rock records you’ve ever played
  • 5 stars in Allmusic – a Rolling Stone readers’ poll in 2012 ranked it the best live album of all time!
  • Cited as the best live rock recording of all time by The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, the BBC Q magazine, and Rolling Stone. In 2003, it was ranked number 170 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Killer sound for this classic live album! Get ready to rock out, as this is one of the BEST SOUNDING live albums ever recorded. Young Man Blues on a copy such as this has drums that are so solid, punchy and present they positively put to shame the drum sound on 99 out of 100 rock records! Keith Moon lives on! (more…)

The Doors Debut – What to Listen For

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What to Listen For? you ask?

ENERGY and RAW POWER. Few audiophiles have any idea how well recorded this album is, simply because most pressings don’t do a very good job of encoding the life of the master tape onto the vinyl of the day, regardless of whether that day is in 1967 or 2017.

The first Doors album is without a doubt the punchiest, liveliest, most powerful recording in the entire Doors catalog.

Huh? I’m guessing this statement does not comport well with your own experience of the album, and there’s a good reason for that: not many copies of the album provide strong evidence for any of the above qualities. Most pressings are opaque, flat, thin, veiled, compressed, lifeless and sound exactly the way so many old rock records sound: like an old rock record. (more…)

The Eagles’ Long Run – Don’t Blame Bill Szymczyk If Your Copy Doesn’t Sound Good

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  • This copy has a rockin’ Long Run like you have never heard, with Double Plus (A++) sound all around 
  • The sound is full, rich and vibrant with impressive punch down low and relatively smooth up top
  • The best songs prove that the Eagles were still at the height of their powers in 1979
  • “Overall, The Long Run is a synthesis of previous macabre Eagles motifs, with cynical new insights that are underlined by slashing rock & roll. There’s a stark simplicity to the album, especially when compared with the hyperslick Hotel California. Not a collection of hot car-radio singles. The Long Run is easily the band’s most uncommercial effort.” Rolling Stone 

What these sides of The Long Run are doing better than most other copies is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl domestic pressings like this one offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1979
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the guitars and drums having the correct sound for a Bill Szymczyk recording
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now (more…)

The Awful Sound of the Heavy Vinyl Reissues Doug Sax Mastered in the ’90s

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Longstanding customers know that we have been relentlessly critical of most audiophile LPs for years, especially in the case of these Analogue Productions releases from back in the early ’90s. A well-known reviewer loved them, I hated them, and he and I haven’t seen eye to eye on much since.

Newflash!

Just dug up part of my old commentary discussing the faults with the orginal series that Doug Sax cut for Acoustic Sounds. Check it out!

In the listing for the OJC pressing of Way Out West we wrote:

Guaranteed better than any 33 rpm 180 gram version ever made, or your money back! (Of course I’m referring to a certain pressing from the early ’90s mastered by Doug Sax, which is a textbook example of murky, tubby, flabby sound. (Too many bad tubes in the chain? Who knows?)

This OJC version also has its problems, but at least the shortcomings of the OJC are tolerable. Who can sit through a pressing that’s so thick and lifeless it communicates none of the player’s love for the music? If you have midrangy bad transistor equipment, go with the 180 gram version (at twice the price). If you have good equipment, go with this one.

The following commentary comes from our catalog from the mid- to late-’90s, back when I could still find great jazz records like Alternate Takes. Note also that the AP records were in print at the time. (more…)

Aimee Mann – Bachelor No. 2 – MoFi Debunked

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Sonic Grade: D

Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

I had never actually played the LP when I reviewed the MoFi CD (my bad, apologies to all), noting that the CD sounded great and that I expected the vinyl to be even better. Was I ever wrong, sorry! The vinyl has a bad case of sucked-out half-speed MoFi mids. It’s far too polite and lifeless to be taken seriously.

The comments about the music of course still apply — it’s brilliant — but I recommend the Gold or regular CD over this audiophile Heavy Vinyl pressing.

I used to consider this Mann’s Masterpiece. It’s actually her co-masterpiece, taking its place alongside the amazing I’m With Stupid, which is more the rocker side of Mann. This is her Burt Bacharach side, prettier, sweeter and more melodic. Both are brilliant.

Aimee Mann is one of a handful of artists in the last decade or two who actually makes music that can hold its own against the best popular recordings of the last forty years. There are few albums that I prize more highly or that have provided me with more musical satisfaction than those by Aimee Mann. If you don’t know her music try one or both of the above-mentioned titles. Modern pop music just doesn’t get any better.  


TRACK LISTING:

How Am I Different
Nothing Is Good Enough
Red Vines
The Fall of the World’s Own Optimist
Satellite
Deathly
Ghost World
Calling It Quits
Driving Sideways
Just Like Anyone
Susan
It Takes All Kinds
You Do

 

 

Listening in Depth to Rickie Lee Jones

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Listening in Depth

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Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with plenty of advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of RLJ.

On the best of the Hot Stamper copies it becomes abundantly clear just how well the string bass was recorded — assuming you like the close-miked, maximum-presence quality they were after. You hear all the fingering, the wood of the body resonating; all the stuff you could never hear live unless you were ten feet from the guy. Natural it’s not, but natural is not what most hit records are all about anyway.

Credit — or blame — belongs squarely with LEE HERSCHBERG

There’s no question that he knew exactly what he was doing, he’s the pro’s pro, so let’s give him credit for making the sound of the record really POP. (more…)

Bad Company – Straight Shooter – Our White Hot Shootout Winner


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

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  • Incredible sound on both sides with each rating a Triple Plus (A+++) or close to it – size, clarity, balance, energy; it’s all here
  • If you’re playing this one good and loud you’ll feel like you’re in the room with the boys as they kick out the jams
  • This is the right sound for this album – take it from us, it is not easy to find a copy that’s this right
  • “Vocalist and songwriter Paul Rodgers wrote two acoustic-based rock ballads that would live on forever in the annals of great rock history: “Shooting Star” and the Grammy-winning “Feel Like Makin’ Love” 4 stars

See all of our Bad Company albums in stock

The sophomore jinx is nowhere to be found on this album. In fact, you could make a pretty good case that this is actually a better album than their debut. The best pressings of Straight Shooter have ROCK ENERGY that cannot be beat!

What You Want

It’s got exactly what you want from this brand of straight ahead rock and roll: presence in the vocals; solid, note-like bass; big punchy drums, and the kind of live-in-the-studio energetic, clean and clear sound that Bad Company (and Free before them) practically invented. (AC/DC is another band with that kind of live studio sound. With big speakers and the power to drive them YOU ARE THERE.) (more…)