_Composers – Berlioz

Berlioz / A Berlioz Orchestra Spectacular – Another Dubby Klavier Mess of a Record

Klavier Is a Label Best Avoided by Audiophiles

Actual Audiophile Quality Pressings of Orchestral Music Available Now

Sonic Grade: F

The sound is smeary, thick and opaque because, among other things, the record was mastered by Doug Sax from a copy tape, and not all that well either.

It is yet another murky Audiophile Piece of Trash from the mastering lathe of the formerly brilliant Doug Sax. He used to cut the best sounding records in the world. Then he started working for Analogue Productions and never cut a good record again as far as I know.

On this record, in Doug’s defense it’s only fair to point out that he had only dub tapes to work with, which is neither here nor there as these pressings are not worth the dime’s worth of vinyl used to make them.

Maybe the hearing-challenged Chad Kassem wanted this sound — almost all his remastered titles have the same faults — and simply asked that Doug cut it to sound real good like analog spossed to sound in the mind of this kingpin, which meant smooth, fat, thick and smeary.

Yes, this is exactly what some folks think analog is supposed to sound like.

Just ask whoever mastered the Beatles records in 2014. Somebody boosted the bass and smoothed out the upper midrange, and I don’t think they did that by accident. They actually thought it was good idea.

Harry Moss obviously would not have agreed, but he’s not around anymore to do the job right.

Here is the cover for the real EMI. No idea if the sound is any good, but it has to be better than the awful Klavier, doesn’t it?

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Berlioz – Symphonie Fantastique / Argenta

More Imported Pressings on Decca and London

More Music Conducted by Aaulfo Argenta

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  • A KILLER pressing of this classical masterpiece, performed by The Paris Conservatoire Orchestra, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides of this original London pressing
  • The sound is clear and open and wonderfully smooth and the bottom is BIG — the tympani and lower strings are powerful and dynamic
  • You will have a hard time finding better sound in the lower registers for this work — most of the pressings we’ve played were simply too anemic to take seriously

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Berlioz / Symphonie Fantastique / Monteux

More Classical 

More Living Stereo Recordings

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  • This stunning classical masterpiece finally returns with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last
  • A superb pressing, with gorgeous Golden Age Tubey Magical strings and lovely hall acoustics
  • One of our favorite performances of Berlioz’s masterwork
  • The hall is huge, the brass solid and powerful, the top and bottom extends properly, the stage is wide and clear — what more can you ask for?

One of our favorite performances of Berlioz’s masterwork returns to the site in spectacular fashion, with stunning 1960 Living Stereo sound on both sides.

This is a piece that’s difficult to squeeze onto two sides of a single LP, clocking in as it does at around 45 minutes, which means that the mastering engineer has three options when cutting the record: compress the dynamics, lower the level, or filter out the deep bass.

The RCA mastering engineer for this pressing managed to hold on to the powerful dynamics captured by the Decca (as far as I know) recording team, seemingly without doing harm to dynamics, levels or deep bass. How, I have no idea.

Maybe it’s the gorgeous Living Stereo strings and hall acoustics that let us forget about the possibility of compromises in other areas.

(Of course this was always the downfall of the Classic Records RCA remasterings. Their records had bass and dynamics, no one could deny it, but the strings were usually shrill  and smeary, and the hall practically non-existent. We found out just years ago that there was a new series of recuts coming from Acoustic Sounds. Based on their dismal track record I will be very surprised if they are much better than mediocre.) (more…)

Gresham’s Law and The State of Reviewing As Seen by Us in 2015

More Living Stereo Recordings

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Even twenty years ago reviewers noted that tracks on compilations such as this had better sound than the albums from which they were taken, proof that they were listening critically and comparing pressings.

What happened to reviewers of that caliber?

I can tell you what happened to them: they left audio, driven out according to the principle that underlies Gresham’s Law: bad reviewers drive out good ones. Which leaves you with the type that can’t tell how truly awful most modern Heavy Vinyl Reissues are. A sad state of affairs if you ask me, but one that no longer impacts our business as we simply don’t bother to buy, sell or play most of them.

Reviewer malpractice? We’ve been writing about it for more than 25 years.


This reasonably quiet RCA Shaded Dog LP has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND on BOTH sides. It is without a doubt THE best sounding copy we have ever heard*.

White Hot, with some of the best 1959 Living Stereo we’ve ever heard. Explosive dynamics, HUGE space and size, with unerringly correct tonality, this is a Demo Disc like no other. When “in -the-know” audiophiles discuss soundstaging and depth, they had better be talking about a record that sounds like this. Shockingly real – proof positive that the cutting systems of the day are capable of much better sound than we normally assume.  (more…)

Berlioz / Symphonie Fantastique / Monteux / Vienna Phil

More of the music of Hector Berlioz 

More Symphonie Fantastique / Monteux / Vienna Phil 

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

Gorgeous Golden Age Tubey Magical strings, lovely hall acoustics. The size and power of a large orchestra in Living Stereo sound. One of our favorite performances of Berlioz’s masterwork.

One of our favorite performances of Berlioz’s masterwork debuts on the site in spectacular fashion, with Super Hot Stamper 1960 Living Stereo sound on both sides. The vinyl is lightly ticky, typical for RCA from this era, with no scratches and no Inner Groove Distortion.

This is a piece that’s difficult to squeeze onto two sides of a single LP, clocking in as it does at around 45 minutes, which means that the mastering engineer has three options when cutting the record: compress the dynamics, lower the level, or filter out the deep bass. The RCA mastering engineer for this pressing managed to hold on to the powerful dynamics captured by the Decca (as far as I know) recording team, seemingly without doing harm to dynamics, levels or deep bass. How, I have no idea. (more…)

Destination Stereo – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

More Living Stereo Recordings

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Side one is White Hot, with some of the best 1959 Living Stereo we’ve ever heard. Explosive dynamics, HUGE space and size, with unerringly correct tonality, this is a Demo Disc like no other. When “in -the-know” audiophiles discuss soundstaging and depth, they had better be talking about a record that sounds like this. Shockingly real – proof positive that the cutting systems of the day are capable of much better sound than we normally assume. 

This reasonably quiet RCA Shaded Dog LP has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND on BOTH sides. It is without a doubt THE best sounding copy we have ever heard*. (more…)

Berlioz / Symphonie Fantastique / Fourestier – Reviewed in 2010

More of the music of Hector Berlioz 

More Symphonie Fantastique / Fourestier 

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

This obscure French label stereo reissue of an original Omega recording from the ’60s is SUPERB SOUNDING, without a doubt the best sound I have ever heard for the work. (The stereo is much better these days than it was years ago when we auditioned other pressings, so comparisons with those other, older records are practically pointless.)

And the performance is Top Notch as well; I know of none better. (more…)

Music Of Berlioz / Martinon

More of the music of Hector Berlioz 

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

This English Stereo Treasury pressing (on an odd lookinig Orange label, with handwritten stampers I have never seen before) has a SUPERB side two and side one is almost as good! The original release is London CS 6101 and I doubt most copies of it would sound this good.

This is Classic Old School Decca sound, rich and smooth with an exceptionally wide and deep soundstage. All the instruments are clear and have good texture, which is what one rarely hears on the most early pressings, which tend to be thick and dark. A little more top and this side two would have earned the full Three Pluses. (more…)

Berlioz / Symphonie Fantastique / Bernstein – Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Hector Berlioz 

More of the music written or performed by Leonard Bernstein 

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

And this one comes complete with the bonus 7″ entitled “Berlioz Takes a Trip” in which Bernstein explores the work “with musical illustrations by the New York Philharmonic”.

This work is difficult to fit onto a single LP, clocking in at around 45 minutes, which means that the mastering engineer has three options when cutting the record: compress the dynamics, lower the level, or filter the deep bass. On this side two it seems that none of those approaches were taken by the engineer who cut this record in the early ’80s — there’s plenty of bass, as well as powerful dynamics, and the levels seem fine. How he do it? Beats me. Glad he did though!

Side one is bass shy, however. Did the engineer filter out the lower frequencies, or is it just a case of pressing variation being the culprit. Who can say? If we had many more copies with these same stampers for side one, all with less bass, we might be able to draw a conclusion about that, one that is highly probable but of course not provable. The very next copy we might find with those stampers could have plenty of bass. Then we would be forced to say that our highly probable theory had been falsified conclusively. So much for theories.

Which is one of the main reasons we avoid them. We play the records to find out how they sound, we don’t feel the need to theorize about them much. We think the audiophile community would be better served by more critical listening and less theorizing and opining. (more…)