Advice – What to Listen For – Transparency

Another Audio Myth Exploded – Large Tulips, Small Tulips – What Do Tulips Have to Do with Anything?

Tchaikovsky / Piano Concerto #1 / Richter / Karajan
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The original Large Tulip early pressings are the best on this record, right?

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Nope. It’s just another Record Myth, as explained in the commentary for our recent Hot Stamper 2-pack. That pair of pressings was all the proof we required to back up our contention that either label can be the best on this classic DG recording. Original is better? Again, not so much. Original can be better fits more with our experience.

To pull off this kind of Mind Boggling sound from start to finish we combined an amazing side one on the Large Tulips label with an amazing side two on the Small Tulips label. And what a finish — side two earned a grade of A+++, being a full step above even our hottest other side two, and we played a lot of copies, more than a dozen in fact. (more…)

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

More Sonny Rollins

More Analogue Productions

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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…)

Finlandia – Striving for Orchestral Clarity with Decca and Failing with RCA

 

More of the music of Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)

More of the music of Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)

 

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The original RCA Living Stereo pressings we played in our 2014 shootout were not competitive with the best Deccas and London reissues.

Original is better? In our experience with Finlandia, not so much.

 

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The record you see above is 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.
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Rockin’ the Mandolin with Loggins and Messina

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A recent White Hot Stamper pressing of L&M’s fourth release demonstrates pretty convincingly just what an amazing DEMO DISC this album can be. When Jim Messina rips into his mandolin solo half way through Be Free your jaw is likely to hit the ground. On the best copies it positively LEAPS out of the left speaker. I can’t recall another pop or rock recording that captures either the plucked energy or the harmonic nuances of the instrument better. To hear such a well-recorded mandolin on a copy of this quality is nothing less than a THRILL.
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Boston’s First Album on MoFi Anadisc

More Boston

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked. 

The MoFi Anadisc has the same problems that plague the whole series: turgid, thick, blobby, murky, mucky sound. A real slogfest. Audiophile trash of the worst kind. People still pay money for this kind of bad sound? Yes they do! Go to ebay and see the high prices these records are fetching. This is equal parts shocking and disgusting.

Check out our Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers.

 

 

Boz Scaggs and His Background Singers – How Well Can You “See” Them?

See all of our Boz Scaggs albums in stock

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This original (SD-8239) pressing has two excellent sides, which is two more than the typical cardboardy, flat, thin, lifeless copy has. If you like your music dry and clean, try the remixed version (SD-19166), the CD, or perhaps there is a heavy vinyl version out there (at one tenth the price). That’s not our sound here at Better Records.

The best recordings from the era do not have that sound, so when we find that kind of analog richness, sweetness and naturalness on a pressing such as this, we know the record is RIGHT.

What to Listen For — Background Singers You Can “See”

If you have multiple copies of the album and want to shoot them out, here’s an easy test. Listen for how clear and correct the female background singers sound. This is an excellent test because it will hold true for both sides on the album.

On opaque copies they are hard to “see”; on transparent copies they are easy to “see.” On tonally thin copies they will sound edgier and harder than they should. And on Tubey Magical copies they will sound full-bodied, solid and real.


Further Reading

Other recordings that we have found to be especially Tubey Magical can be found here.

Transparency, the other side of the Tubey Magical coin, is also key to the better pressings of this album as well as many of our other favorite demo discs.

The Rolling Stones – Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! – Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

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  • Triple Plus (A+++) or close to it for both sides of this stunningly good sounding copy
  • This shootout winning copy gives you superb energy and presence, plus full-bodied tonality and lots of punch down low
  • An essential Stones album — live rock and roll doesn’t get much more fun than this
  • Allusic 4 1/2 stars: “Often acclaimed as one of the top live rock albums of all time”

See all our Rolling Stones albums in stock

From the moment we dropped the needle on side one, we were SHOCKED by the presence, the clarity, and the energy — and that’s just talking about the sound of the audience! About a minute after the music got going, we had to collect our jaws off the floor. No other copy we had heard could have led us to believe we would hear this album sound THIS amazing. (more…)

The Moody Blues – In Search Of The Lost Chord – Listening in Depth


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

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  • This early UK pressing has a stunning Triple Plus (A+++) side two backed with an excellent Double Plus (A++) side one
  • Just full of that Moodies Magic: warm, full-bodied, rich and smooth with excellent size and energy
  • The first Moody Blues album to feature their trademark mellotron arrangements
  • “…the album on which the Moody Blues discovered drugs and mysticism as a basis for songwriting and came up with a compelling psychedelic creation, filled with songs about Timothy Leary and the astral plane and other psychedelic-era concerns.”

See all of our Moody Blues albums in stock (more…)

XTC – English Settlement – Our White Hot Shootout Winner


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017

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  • Insanely good sound from start to finish, with all four sides rating a Triple Plus (A+++)
  • You won’t believe how good this record sounds – on a Big System this is a sonic tour de force, a MONSTER Demo Disc
  • This copy has huge amounts of open studio space and that Tubey Magical, rich, fat, dense British Rock Sound we love
  • Includes the hit Senses Working Overtime – “The textural sound of the album is quite remarkable” — Allmusic, 4 stars

See all of our XTC albums in stock

This is an AMAZINGLY well-recorded album, with huge amounts of open studio space and that Tubey Magical, rich, fat, dense British Rock Sound. That sound isn’t easy to reproduce, but this copy absolutely nails it. Nothing else in our shootout came close to it!

If you have big speakers and the room to play them, this is quite the sonic tour de force. Credit Hugh Padgham, producer and engineer, who’s worked with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Genesis, The Police, Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Those bands make the kind of music that make good use of Padgham trademark sound: wall-to-wall, deep, layered, smooth, rich and stuffed to the gills. XTC with Padgham’s help have here produced a real steamroller of an album in English Settlement.

The big hit on this album is one that most audiophiles will probably know: Senses Working Overtime. Even over the radio you can hear how dense the production is. Imagine what it sounds like on an original British pressing with Hot Stampers, played on a modern audiophile rig. Simply put, IT ROCKS. (more…)

Unquestionably the Best Sammy Davis Jr. Album We’ve Ever Played

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One of the most emotionally rich and sublimely enjoyable collections of romantic ballads ever recorded.

Our Hot Stamper pressings are guaranteed to demolish the DCC CD (should you have one laying around, an admittedly unlikely proposition to be sure).

The sound is rich, warm and natural beyond expectation — assuming you’ve suffered through other of Sammy’s recordings from the ’60s, as we have, finding little of merit in the sound. On most of them, at some point in the first track the phony vocal EQ and heavy reverb dashed whatever hopes we might have had for the sound. Soon enough the record would be consigned to the trade-in pile, perhaps to find a home where bad sound is not a deal-breaker (which means pretty much everywhere). For us audiophiles, at least most of the time, it has to be.
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