_Composers – Schubert

Schubert / Symphony No. 9 on Speakers Corner

Hot Stamper Classical and Orchestral Imports on Decca & London

More Classical and Orchestral Commentaries and Reviews

Sonic Grade: B

We think this is probably still one of the better Speakers Corner Deccas.

We haven’t played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let’s call it a “B” with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the ’90s when this record came out, but here it is anyway. 

Superb sound with a great performance to match. A TOP TOP TITLE in every way. This performance has never been equaled and probably never will be (on any format I can stand to listen to!)

It definitely beats the original London pressings we have played.

But is that the standard for sound quality, the original pressing?

No. The idea that the original is the best sounding version of any album is a myth, and an easily debunked one.

To make the case, here is just a small sampling of records with the potential to sound better on specific reissue pressings when compared head to head against the best originals. We also have some amazing sounding reissues available should you wish to purchase pressings that beat the originals, any originals, or your money back.

How Did We Do It?

There are more than 2000 Hot Stamper reviews on this blog. Do you know how we learned so much about so many records?

Simple. We ran thousands and thousands of record experiments under carefully controlled conditions, and we continue to run scores of them week in and week out to this very day.

If you want to learn about records, we recommend you do the same. You won’t be able to do more than one or two a week, but one or two a week is better than none, which is how many the average audiophile seems to want to do.

When it comes to finding the best sounding records ever made, our advice is simple.

Play them the right way and pay attention to what they are trying to teach you. You will learn more this way than any other.


FURTHER READING

New to the Blog? Start Here

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Mozart / Haydn – The Best Toy Symphony on Vinyl

More of the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

  • An early EMI UK import pressing with STUNNING Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from first note to last – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • The amazingly well recorded Toy Symphony on side two (which is fairly quiet by the way) is the real reason to own this record – you will be shocked at how realistic the toys sound, and how spaciously they are arrayed in the soundfield
  • These sides are clear, full-bodied and present, with plenty of live venue space around the players, the unmistakable sonic hallmark of the properly mastered, properly pressed vintage analog LP
  • The first pressing of the album I ever played, back in about 1995, was on the Japanese Soundphile Series, and it blew my mind at the time
  • Fast forward 25 plus years and now we know that, as good as the Japanese pressing can be, the real EMI can be even better.  That’s what shootouts are for, right?

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Schubert / The Trout Quintet – Speakers Corner Heavy Vinyl

Sonic Grade: B?

One of the better Speakers Corner Deccas. We were impressed with the Speakers Corner pressing when it came out back in the day. We’ve come to learn that it is such an exceptional recording that even their second rate remastering of it was still capable of resulting in a very good sounding record. 

One of the ways you can tell how great a recording this is is simply this: as soon as the needle hits the groove you are immediately involved in the music, listening to each of the lines created by the five preternaturally gifted players, all the while marveling at Schubert’s compositional skills.

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Schubert / Symphony No. 9 / Krips – Hot Stampers Revealed!

More of the music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Franz Schubert

Looking to pick up a Hot Stamper on your own? Easy — all the best Decca copies in our shootout had the stampers 5G/7G.

I suppose it’s only fair to point out that all the worst copies had those same stampers.

There were a few others as well — it was quite a big shootout — but most of those ended up in the middle of the pack.

And here you thought I was actually being helpful. But we are being helpful. We’re sharing with you an important truth.

Stamper numbers only tell a part of the story, and they can be very misleading, in the sense that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. To know what a record sounds like you have to play it.

This is a subject near and dear to us here at Better Records, and has been for many decades.

We discuss it at length in a commentary you may have seen on the site called The Book of Hot Stampers.

FROM OUR ORIGINAL COMMENTARY

Krips’ 1958 recording for Decca is brought to life on a fairly quiet and certainly quite wonderful World of the Great Classics pressing from 1976. This copy was clearly the best we played, showing us a huge hall, with layered depth that was only hinted at on most pressings, regardless of age.

The strings are remarkably rich and sweet. This pressing is yet another wonderful example of what the much-lauded Decca recording engineers of the day were able to capture on analog tape all those years ago.

What was most striking about this shootout, our first for the Krips / LSO performance of the work, was how poorly the original London Bluebacks fared when going head to head with the best vintage reissues. In fact, they were so obviously inferior I doubt we would have even needed another pressing to know that they could not possibly be competitive.

The two we had were crude, flat, full of harmonic distortion, and both had clearly restricted frequency extremes. I remember liking the Blueback pressings I played ten or twenty years ago. Did I have better copies, or was my system not capable of showing me the shortcomings I so clearly heard this time around? Since this is a question that cannot be answered with any certainty, we’ll have to leave it there.


FURTHER READING

New to the Blog? Start Here

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Schubert / Symphony No. 9 “The Great” / Krips / LSO

More Classical and Orchestral Music

More Albums Engineered by Kenneth Wilkinson

  • We guarantee you’ve never heard this powerful orchestral masterpiece sound remotely as good as it does here
  • One of the truly great All Tube Wilkinson “Decca Tree” recordings in Kingsway Hall, captured faithfully in all its beauty on this very disc
  • The 1950s master tape has been transferred brilliantly using “modern” cutting equipment (from 1976, 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
  • Don’t expect to ever see an original on this site – the two we had were crude, flat, full of harmonic distortion, and had clearly restricted frequency extremes
  • If you’re a fan of large symphonic works from the Romantic period, this is a Top Title from 1958 that belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1958 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Krips’ 1958 recording for Decca is brought to life on a fairly quiet and certainly quite wonderful World of the Great Classics pressing from 1976. This copy was clearly the best we played, showing us a huge hall, with layered depth that was only hinted at on most pressings, regardless of age.

The strings are remarkably rich and sweet. This pressing is yet another wonderful example of what the much-lauded Decca recording engineers of the day were able to capture on analog tape all those years ago. (more…)

Every Label Made Mediocre Records – London Released This One in 1963

More of the music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904)

The copy we auditioned was opaque and veiled, much like the Heavy Vinyl reissues that are flooding the market these days. Definitely not our sound!

Looking for pressings with audiophile quality sound and mostly quiet surfaces?

These Decca/London recordings are currently available on our site.

As far as we can tell, based on this single copy, CS 6357 is not an album worthy of a Hot Stamper shootout.

We certainly can’t say that there aren’t good sounding pressings of the album though. If we hear a better one down the road, we would certainly be open to the possibility of doing a shootout and offering the best copies to our customers.

Perhaps you have one you like. If so, please let us know. You can email me at tom@better-records.com


We play mediocre-to-bad sounding pressings so that you don’t have to, a public service from your record loving friends at Better Records.

FURTHER READING

Pressings with Mind-Blowing Sound Quality

Pressings with Excellent Sound Quality

Pressings with Middling Sound Quality

Pressings with Weak Sound Quality or Music

and finally, invaluable information that can save you a fortune in record purchases:

Bad Sounding Audiophile Records – The Complete List

Strauss et al. / Dances of Old Vienna / Boskovsky

More Johann Strauss

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Wow, what a find! This is a WONDERFUL sounding record with vintage Decca / London sound. Even as late as 1968 Decca was still able to produce recordings that are tonally correct from top to bottom and full of tubey magic. There is not a trace of hyped-up sound to be found on this record. It’s unbelievably spacious and three-dimensional, with depth to rival any recording you may own.

One reason the recording is as spacious as it is is that this is a fairly small ensemble, not a huge orchestra, playing in a lively hall, exactly the kind of hall in which this music was meant to be heard. The reason everything disc sounds right is that both the sound and the music are authentic to these works in practically every detail.

And the performances are vivid and lively as well, with Boskovsky himself playing the violin as well as directing the other players. It should be noted that the solo violin parts are especially lovely sounding. There is a transparency and ease to the sound that is not often heard in vintage recordings, and that, coupled with the tubey magic, richness and sweetness found throughout, make this a very special record indeed. (more…)

Schubert – The Trout Quintet / Curzon / Vienna Octet

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  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies we played – reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • The 1958 master tape has been transferred brilliantly using “modern” cutting equipment (from 1968, not the low-rez junk they’re forced to make do with these days), giving you, the listener, sound and surfaces that are hard to fault
  • The cello does not have that “fat” sound some audiophiles seem to like – Decca knew more about recording chamber music in 1958 than practically all the audiophile labels that would come along later, the ones that managed to make a mess of the very idea of audiophile quality sound (you know who I mean)

The piano and the strings have that Golden Age Tubey Magical sound we love. It’s been years since I’ve had the opportunity to play this record; most copies are just too beat up to bother with, so I was glad to find a number in minty condition.

Now what I hear in this recording is sound that is absolutely free from any top end boost, much the way live music is. There’s plenty of tape hiss and air; the highs aren’t rolled off, they’re just not boosted the way they normally are in a recording. (more…)

Schubert / Symphony No. 9 – The Early London Pressings Are Awful

Hot Stamper Classical and Orchestral Imports on Decca & London

Reviews and Commentaries for Recordings by Decca

Sonic Grade: F

There are plenty of Deccas and Londons that we’ve cleaned and played over the years that were disappointing, and some of them can be found here.

What was most striking about this shootout for the work was how poorly the original London Bluebacks fared when going head to head with the best vintage reissues. In fact, they were so obviously inferior I doubt we would have even needed another pressing to know that they could not possibly be considered Hot Stampers.

The two we had were crude, flat, full of harmonic distortion, and both had clearly restricted frequency extremes. I remember liking the Blueback pressings I played ten or twenty years ago.

Did I have better copies, or was my system not capable of showing me the shortcomings I so clearly heard this time around? Since this is a question that cannot be answered with any certainty, we’ll have to leave it there. (more…)

Schubert / Piano Sonata in B Flat Major / Anda – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

 

This Super Hot Stamper original Large Tulips DG pressing (with stereo in red on the cover) has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling like you are sitting in a real concert hall, this is the record for you. It’s what Golden Age Classical Recordings are known for — THIS SOUND.  (more…)