_Composers – Vivaldi

Vivaldi / Four Concerti For Two Violins and Orchestra / Stern & Oistrakh – Ormandy

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This Columbia 360 label pressing (MS 6204) has an especially lovely side two. The extended tape hiss is a dead giveaway that this copy has the high frequencies that are going to let the violin harmonics come through beautifully, and they do! The sound is mid-hall on both sides, but side two is richer than side one, less edgy and more relaxed, which is all to the good.

Both sides feature virtuoso playing, with plenty of rosiny texture to the violins. The vinyl is also very quiet, mostly mint minus. (more…)

Vivaldi / The Four Seasons on Living Stereo

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  • After a three year wait, Tubey Magical Living Stereo sound for The Four Seasons is back at Better Records
  • Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish, this copy had the vintage analog sound we were looking for
  • The best copies are simply bigger, richer and more open, with a more extended, sweeter high end
  • If you drool over the Tubey Magical sound that RCA and others achieved in 1960, this is the copy for you

This KILLER RCA Shaded Dog has the kind of clarity, harmonic texture and freedom from smear that few Golden Age recordings can claim. Through the effort and skill of the RCA engineers, that striking openness in the recording is combined with an immediacy in the sound of the lead string players, no mean feat. One rarely hears both, except of course in live performance. (more…)

Bach / Three Organ Concerti After Vivaldi / Noehren

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  • This rare Urania recording has superb sound on both sides
  • Both sides are rich and Tubey Magical, yet clear and transparent
  • This is the right sound for these well known works for the organ
  • The performance is lively; Noehren plays these pieces with gusto

A wonderful recording of Bach concerti for the organ. Very natural sound from this vintage recording.

Side One

A+++, hard to fault really.

Side Two

A+++, with a big and very solid bottom end. (more…)

Vivaldi / The Four Seasons – A Sonic Arts Direct to Disc Recording Reviewed in 2009

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

This is a SUPERB sounding Sonic Arts Direct-to-Disc LP with Super Hot Stamper sound on both sides. I gave this one rave reviews twenty years ago (when we could still find them) and I’m happy to see that the sound has held up just fine in the intervening decades. Recorded in a dry acoustic, immediacy and clarity are the sonic strengths of this side one. This is one of the most natural Direct-Disc I’ve heard in a long time. One could easily use it as Demo Disc, depending on your taste and system.

There is wonderful chamber music throughout this LP. It comes as no surprise that it was nominated for two Grammys.

Side One

A++, with a very slight edge to the top of the strings being all that holds it back from a Triple Plus grade. The sound is accurate and real for the room that it was recorded in.

Side Two

A++, this side I liked a bit better, it’s a bit smoother and more relaxed; it sounds as though the mics are not quite as close to the performers on this side. (more…)

The Four Seasons – Tubes Versus Transistors

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In 2007 we did a shootout for this album and noted the following:

For those with better tube gear, the string tone on this record is sublime, with that rosin-on-the-bow quality that tubes seem to bring out in a way virtually nothing else can, at least in my experience.

Our experience since 2007 has changed our view concerning the magical power of tubes relative to transistors to bring out the rosiny texture of bowed stringed instruments. We have in fact changed our minds completely with respect to that common belief.

Our transistor equipment — and by ours we mean the mysterious low-powered ’70s integrated amp we use, mated with the EAR 324P phono, making no claims whatsoever for any other transistor equipment of any kind — is dramatically faster, more transparent, dynamic and resolving than any tube equipment we have ever heard.

It is, simply put, much more TRUTHFUL. It is precisely this quality that is hardest to find in all of audio. It is also the one quality of our system that, more than any other, allows us to do our job accurately and efficiently.

Our equipment lets us hear the sound of the record being played, uncolored and unadorned. It also has the added benefit of sounding to us more like live music. 

Yes, we know, we haven’t heard every piece of tube gear in the world. There may indeed be something out there with even more of the qualities we recognize in live music than we are currently capable of reproducing with our transistor equipment.

We remain open-minded as always, but intensely skeptical — a combination that has certainly served us well over the 33 years we have been in the business of selling records to audiophiles.

Yes, for a while I actually owned a pair of Mac 30 amps from circa 1954!

They were not 99.60% perfect by any stretch of the imagination. To this day they are the most Tubey Magical, most colored and inaccurate amp I have ever heard in my life, and I have heard more than my share.

If this is your idea of good sound, you are wasting your time reading this blog. Get better equipment, learn to listen to it critically, and then come back so that you can discover for yourself that what you are reading here is true.

Vivaldi / The 4 Seasons / Munchinger – Reviewed in 2011

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

This Hot Stamper London Whiteback is certainly no Demo Disc by any means. That said, the sound is quite good, with correct tonality from top to bottom. The perspective is somewhat recessed and the sound could use more top end extension, but the instruments sound natural and musical and that alone puts it well ahead of the pack in the world of classical recordings. Relaxed and enjoyable throughout.

As I recall the performance here is a bit more lively than it is on the famous RCA (LSC 2424).

Vivaldi, The Beatles – Bad Direct Disc Music & Sound (Which Used to Happen All the Time in the ’70s)

More of the music of Antonio Vivaldi

Vivaldi Ensemble / Vivaldi, The Beatles

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Sonic Grade: F

An awful Direct to Disc recording. The bad sound and pointless music — this is the kind of crap we audiophiles used to put up with back in the ’70s before we had much of a clue — means that it clearly belongs in only one place on our site: the Hall of Shame