A customer brought up Harry Pearson in a discussion we were having about the best sounding records, which went a little something like this:
“You’re as much a pioneer as Harry Pearson ever was, and your authenticity is unchallengeable…”
Even I wouldn’t go that far! We make plenty of mistakes, and we learn new things about records all the time, so calling us “unchallengable” is way off the mark. However, we are always up for the challenge, and are happy to put our records up against any and all comers.
As far as Harry Pearson, I had this to say about the man:
Very kind of you to say. I think Harry could have been much better at his job if he had modern record cleaning technology, better playback, and a staff of people playing thousands of records every year help him discover the best sounding pressings.
No one can succeed as a one man show in audio. Audio is too complicated. It takes a team of dedicated professionals with expertise in every area of audio and record collecting to do it right.
He never understood stampers and the like because he didn’t have the research staff to get the data he would have needed to find the stamper patterns.
He was stuck at the level of labels, and also not nearly skeptical enough of the idea that “the original is better,” a myth audiophiles cling to to this very day. That, and the superiority of the Heavy Vinyl remaster, which we both know is a crock of sh*t.
Our comments for The Fantasy Film World of Bernard Herrmann have something to say about these same issues.
Decca Versus London
There’s a reason this record is on the TAS List of Super Discs — if any LP should be called a Super Disc, this one should. (With Phase Four sound you might even call it a Super-Duper-Disc.)
But Harry is, not atypically, rather misinformed about the catalog number and country of manufacture. He exclusively admits the Decca pressing to his list, and that is clearly contrary to our experience in general as well as our findings for this shootout. The best Decca pressing we played rated no better than a B+ for either side. That’s five — count them, five — sonic grades lower than the A Triple Plus sides of our best London copy.
If you are one of those audiophiles who’s been following Harry down the rabbit hole for years, discovering a little site called Better Records may just turn out to be a life-changing event. Here you can find records that live up to the hype, ours and his.
Selling the Hype
Record dealers that sell records based on their reputation — and that means pretty much all of them — are selling the hype.
If they haven’t played the record, they can’t tell you what it sounds like, TAS List or no TAS List.
The catalog number may be right, but finding the sound that lives up to the description can only be done one way: by playing the record.
Most copies of The Fantasy Film World, whether they have a Decca label or a London one (all of the ones we are selling are mastered and pressed by Decca; some get one label and some get the other) leave much to be desired.