Advice – What to Listen For – Tubey Magic

Love and Forever Changes – Dreck from Sundazed

 

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Sonic Grade: F

Two Hall of Shame titles, and another two Sundazed records debunked.

We got hold of a minty original pressing of the first Love album back around 2007, so in preparation for the commentary I pulled one of the Sundazed pressings off the shelf, (Forever Changes, the only one we ever bothered to sell), cracked it open and threw it on the turntable. 

Gag, what a piece of crap. When I had auditioned them all those years ago (2002) it was — I’m not kidding — the best of the bunch. (more…)

Edmundo Ros – Ros On Broadway – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

Edmundo Ros and his orchestra don’t command much respect these days from the general record buying public. As for audiophiles, it’s doubtful that many even know who he or they is/are. But we at Better Records are going to change that, starting with this very record, because it’s one of the best sounding records we have ever heard. Stampers just do not get any HOTTER than these! 

From the perspective of a level playing field, I cannot think of a single rock record that sounds as BIG and DYNAMIC, nor one that is as spacious and clear, as is the side two of this London Blueback. As good as the best German pressings of Dark Side of the Moon may be, shockingly good in fact, this recording is clearly more exciting and lifelike, with instrumental timbres that are uncannily accurate.

Over the years we’ve played a lot of Edmundo Ros records on London — you name it, Blueback, Whiteback, Phase 4 — but I sure never heard one sound like this until we did this shootout! (more…)

Graham Nash – Songs for Beginners – Greatest “Copy” Ever

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

WHOA! We’ve paired up two FOUR PLUS sides to create this stunning 2-pack with mindblowing Demo Quality sound for the whole album. These A++++ sides will show you just how amazing it can sound: super full-bodied, rich, warm and natural. 

Please note that we award this very special grade so rarely that we don’t even have a graphic to represent it in our sonic grade box. The scale usually only goes to three pluses, but these two sides went up to four!

This is an incredible recording, and on a copy like this the sound is truly stunning. When you hear Chicago here you will not believe how CINEMATIC the sound is! It’s everything we love about ANALOG, and then some.

Most of the credit must go to the team of recording engineers, led here by the esteemed Bill Halverson, the man behind all of the Crosby Stills Nash and Young albums. Nash was clearly influenced by his work with his gifted bandmates, proving with this album that he can hold his own with the best of the best. Some songs (We Can Change The World, Be Yourself) are grandly scaled productions with the kind of studio polish that would make Supertramp envious. For me, a big speaker guy with a penchant for giving the old volume knob an extra click or two, it just doesn’t get any better than this. (more…)

Julie London – Make Love To Me

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

This outstanding original Liberty Turquoise mono pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) grades, or close to them, on both sides. Thanks to superb engineering and vintage All Tube mastering, this 1957 LP is wonderfully rich and sweet, with a breathy, intimate Julie London performing live in your listening room. It’s also pressed on unusually quiet vinyl – Mint Minus Minus, with no issues to speak of – they don’t come quieter. (more…)

The Everly Brothers – The Very Best of the Everly Brothers – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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More The Very Best of the Everly Brothers

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

This compilation contains some real Warners recordings (from after 1960, when they signed with the label) mixed with some re-recordings of their best classic Cadence material, to make an album with as many hits and great songs as a single album can hold.  

In stereo, on the original WB Gold Label, with really quiet vinyl — this is the one!

It took us about five years to find the records for this shootout. Not sure when the next one will be, but we’re pretty sure it won’t be any time soon.

Side Two

A++, lots of tubes in the 1964 mastering chain mean this one is likely to be rich and sweet, and sure enough it is. This is clearly the right sound for this music, although there is occasional evident smear and honk in the midrange. Great energy though.

Side One

A+ to A++. The sound varies quite a bit from track to track. Some songs are too thin and clean, others fare better with this EQ. Overall this side should sound good on tubier systems. Good energy and a solid bottom end are pluses here. (more…)

Dean Martin – Dream With Dean – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

This side one gets it JUST RIGHT. My notes read, “WOW! Master Tape Sound! So clear and unprocessed. Right amount of tubey magic. Dynamic and present like no other!” — hopefully that gives you a taste of just how much we loved the sound here. Side two is nearly as good but doesn’t have quite as much presence.  

This is my favorite Dean Martin record of all time; just Dean and a jazz guitar quartet behind him (featuring Contemporary favorites Barney Kessel and Red Mitchell!) doing standards. On the best copies, the immediacy is absolutely mind-blowing. It’s a shame that there aren’t more Frank Sinatra records that sound like this! (more…)

The Everly Brothers – The Everly Brothers Best – Reviewed in 2015

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More The Everly Brothers Best

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

This is only the second Everly Brothers Hot Stamper to make it to the site, and I’m sure the reasons for that are not hard to fathom. I must look at fifty EB records for every one I buy, and even with a good scrubbing most of those are not going to pass muster. 

Side One

Present and breathy vocals are the key to this side’s high rating. Note how dynamic the boys’ voices are on the second track; maybe a little bright but it sounds like that’s the right sound for the music. The third track has much the same sound.

Side Two

Tonally fine in its way, which is to say rich on the first track, thinner on the second, and correct for the third; in other words, overall it’s right. (more…)

Billie Holiday – Lady In Satin – Balancing the Vocal, Strings and Rhythm

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.

The better copies reproduce clearly what to our minds are the three most important elements in the recording — strings, rhythm, and vocal — and, more importantly, the are reproduced properly balanced with one another. 

The monos, as you might expect, balance the three elements well enough, but the problem with mono is that the vocals and instruments are jammed together in the center of the soundfield, layered atop one another.

Real clarity, the kind that live music has in abundance, is difficult if not impossible under the circumstances. Only the stereo pressings provide the space that each of the elements need in order to be heard.

Naturally the vocals have to be the main focus on a Billie Holiday record. They should be rich and tubey, yet clear, breathy and transparent. To qualify as a Hot Stamper, the pressings we offer must be highly resolving. You will hear everything, surrounded by the natural space of the legendary Columbia 30th Street Studio in which the recording was made. 
(more…)

Romantic Russia – Who on Earth Could Possibly Take This Kind of Sound Seriously?

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Borodin, Glinka & Mussorgsky / Romantic Russia / Solti

 

Sonic Grade: F

Another MoFi LP debunked.

A well-known reviewer has many kind things to say about this pressing, but we think it sounds like a hi-fi-ish version of a ’70s London, which means it’s opaque and the strings are badly lacking in Tubey Magic.

The bass is like jello on the MoFi, unlike the real London which has fairly decent bass.

More orchestral music conducted by Georg Solti

MoFi had a bad habit of making bright classical records. I suppose you could say they had a bad habit of making bright records in general. A few are dull, some are just right, but most of them are bright in one way or another. Dull playback equipment? An attempt to confuse detail with resolution? Whatever the reasons, the better and more accurate your equipment becomes, the most obvious this shortcoming will be. My tolerance for their phony EQ is at an all time low. But hey, that’s me. (more…)

The Everly Brothers – Both Sides Of An Evening

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Both Sides Of An Evening

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  • You’ll find outstanding sound on this WB Gold Label Stereo original with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the first
  • Another amazingly Tubey Magical recording from the legendary Bill Porter (which may explain why Chet Atkins plays on it) 
  • About as quiet as these early copies come – Mint Minus Minus – records pressed in the early ’60s rarely play even this quiet
  • “In some ways, Both Sides of an Evening was the duo’s most ambitious and mature record to date…”

This ’60s stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings cannot BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back. (more…)