Advice – What to Listen For – Tubey Magic

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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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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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. 
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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…)

The Everly Brothers – The Golden Hits of The Everly Brothers

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  • A superb early WB Green Label Stereo LP, with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • Our early pressing here showed us a wonderfully Tubey Magical midrange for the Everlys that most audiophiles have never heard
  • So much good material here – Cathy’s Clown, Crying In The Rain, So Sad, That’s Old Fashioned, Lucille, etc.
  • “There are few sounds in American popular music more thrilling and sublimely satisfying than the harmonies of Don and Phil Everly…”

In stereo, on the early WB Green Label, with really quiet vinyl — this copy will be tough to beat!

It took us a long time to find enough records to do this shootout. How many extremely popular 50 year old records survived into the present era in such clean condition? We can’t be sure when the next shootout will be, but we can be pretty sure it won’t be any time soon. (more…)

Carly Simon – Another Passenger – 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 your copy of the album. 

There’s one quality in particular that added immensely to our enjoyment of the music — gobs and gobs of Tubey Magic. The copies that were opaque, dry, flat and “modern” sounding — which pretty much describes practically every Heavy Vinyl record we’ve played in the last five years — bored us to tears, not surprisingly in the very same way that most Heavy Vinyl does.

This is 1976, they were still making good records then. You would hardly know it by playing the average pressing of the album, but when you hear one like this, there is no mistaking the richness, sweetness and freedom from artificiality.

These are qualities for which good tube equipment is rightly revered. (We no longer use tube equipment ourselves, preferring to be guided by the approach of reproducing the Tubey Magic of the records we play, assuming there is some, unadorned.)

Most pressings get Carly’s voice all wrong — gritty, edgy, hard and strained, but not this one. Carly’s singing on this copy is smoother, sweeter, more immediate and clearly more emotionally compelling than we heard on any other copies in our shootout. We call this Master Tape Sound; you hear it on those rare pressings so far beyond the norm that the music seems to come to life right in front of you, right there in your very own listening room. (more…)

Peter Frampton – Wind of Change

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  • Incredible Demo Disc sound throughout: Triple Plus (A+++) on side two and close to that (A++ to A+++) on side one 
  • This British original is the very definition of TUBEY MAGIC, with sound so rich and sweet it will make you want to take all your CDs and dump them in the trash (now that record stores don’t even want them anymore)
  • The best copies like this one keep what’s good about the recording while letting us hear into the soundfield with glorious transparency
  • “The sound is crisp, the melodies catchy, and Frampton’s distinctive, elliptical Gibson Les Paul guitar leads soar throughout… “

This is some of the best High-Production-Value rock music of the ’60s and ’70s. The amount of effort that went into the recording of this album is comparable to that expended by the engineers and producers of bands like Supertramp, Yes, Jethro Tull, Ambrosia, Pink Floyd, Elton John and too many others to list. It seems that no effort or cost was spared in making the home listening experience as compelling as the recording technology of the day permitted.

The best song Peter Frampton ever wrote (and performed) is on this very record, in White Hot Stamper sound no less: All I Wanna Be (Is by Your Side). It has the Tubey Magical sound WE LOVE here at Better Records. (more…)