Conductors

Another Fine Entry for Our Hall of Shame (Now Nearly 300 Strong)

Hot Stamper Pressings of Pictures at an Exhibition

More on Mussorgsky’s (and Ravel’s) Masterpiece – Pictures at an Exhibition

 

Sonic Grade: F

Classic Records Repress at 33, 45, or any other speed

A Hall of Shame pressing and a Heavy Vinyl Disaster if there ever was one (and oh yes, there are plenty).

The shrillness, the hardness, the sourness, the loss of texture to the strings, the phony boosted deep bass — this is the kind of sound that makes my skin crawl. After a minute or two I’ve had it.

HP put this on his TAS List? Sad but true.

What do you get with Hot Stampers compared to the Classic Heavy Vinyl reissue? Dramatically more warmth, sweetness, delicacy, transparency, space, energy, size, naturalness (no boost on the top end or the bottom, a common failing of anything on Classic); in other words, the kind of difference you almost ALWAYS get comparing the best vintage pressings with their modern remastered counterparts, in our experience anyway. (more…)

Overtures and Dances / Reiner

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This RCA Pink Label TAS List LP plays Mint Minus. Side one of this record sounds AMAZING, especially the Dvorak piece.

Here are the comments for the copy we recently sold on the site:

Superb string tone. This is one record that deserves to be on the tas list, and you have to give harry credit for going against the audiophile tide and recognizing a cheap, thin pink vic! Side one sounds incredible. I never recall hearing sound like this on this victrola! It’s demonstration quality sound!

Classic Records remastered this record not long ago and ruined it. This is what it’s supposed to sound like. (more…)

Wagner – Ansermet Conducts Wagner / Ansermet

More of the music of Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883)

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  • Another stunning classical release makes its Hot Stamper debut, here with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound throughout – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • Our first Hot Stamper for a recording of Wagner’s music – it took us a very long time to find a recording of his music that had the audiophile goods that this one does
  • Clear and transparent, with huge hall space extending wall to wall and floor to ceiling, this is a sound that the Modern Reissue fails to reproduce utterly
  • If you don’t have an amazing sounding Wagner record — the low brass is to die for here — this record needs to find a home in your collection
  • Some old record collectors (like me) say classical recording quality ain’t what it used to be – if you need proof, here it is

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Tchaikovsky / Symphony No. 4 in Living Stereo – What Does It Sound Like Now?

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Years ago we wrote:

This is a 1s / 5s Shaded Dog. TAS List (or at least it used to be). Probably the reason HP likes this LP so much is that it has a very wide soundstage. It also has good solid weight. A little soft on top, but that comes with the territory.

This is a very old review, probably from about 15 years ago. I don’t think I could recommend this record today. It probably belongs on this list, but I cannot truthfully say one way or another. As I recall, the copies I’ve played more recently were not impressive.

If I played it today, would I find it to be as bad as this Living Stereo pressing? Who knows? That experiment has not been run.

Some Advice

We much prefer Mravinsky for the symphonies, but good sounding copies of his records are just too hard to find, so we have never actually done a shootout for them.

Eric Rodgers’ Slaughter on Tenth Avenue – How is this title not on the TAS List?

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This copy was so good on side two it almost left me speechless. How is this title not on the TAS List?

Why is it not one of the most sought-after recordings in the RCA canon? Beats the hell out of me.

But wait just one minute. Until a month ago [now years ago] I surely had no idea how good this record could sound, so how can I criticize others for not appreciating a record I had never taken the time to appreciate myself?

Which more than anything else prompts the question — why is no one exploring, discovering and then bringing to light the exceptional qualities of these wonderful vintage recordings (besides your humble writer of course)?

HP has passed on. Who today is fit to carry his mantle into the coming world of audio? Looking around I find very few prospects. None in fact. But then again, I’m not looking very hard. I could care less what any of these people have to say about the sound quality of the records they play. They all seem to like records that don’t sound very good to us, so why put any faith in their reviews for other records?

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

But I digress. (more…)

Bartok – Music For Strings Percussion And Celeste / Marriner

The Music of Bela Bartok Available Now

Album Reviews of the Music of Bela Bartok

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  • This wonderful Decca Argo release makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • We surveyed a large group of pressings containing this work, and in the end Marriner’s reading from 1970 had the best sound and the best performance of any we played
  • Wonderfully textured string tone and huge hall space extending wall to wall and floor to ceiling – everything you want in a top quality orchestral recording is here, and more
  • To keep beating a horse that has been dead for years, this is precisely the sound that the modern reissue fails to reproduce well
  • “… one of the best-known compositions by the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók.”

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Offenbach / Gaite Parisienne / Fiedler

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  • Stunning sound on both sides of this Shaded Dog pressing from 1954 with each earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This is a true Demo Disc quality recording – both sides are big, full-bodied, clean and clear, with huge amounts of energy and tons of space around all of the players
  • This 2-track recording is RCA’s first stereo recording of the work from all the way back in 1954 – can you believe it?
  • Two mics and two channels and it blows away most of the classical recordings that followed it
  • Some old record collectors (like me) say classical recording quality ain’t what it used to be – this record proves it
  • In the ’90s I was regularly selling this title for $1000+ and people were happy to pay it!

NOTE: *There is a mark about 1″ from the end of the side that plays 10 times at a light to moderate level.

In a listing from a while back we wrote:

I love Fiedler’s performance and the 1954 two track RCA Living Stereo sound but finding an original Shaded Dog pressing in clean condition under $500 with the right stampers (something above 10 as I recall) is all but impossible nowadays. If you want to go that way more power to you.

Well we found one! With the right stampers! There are other good stampers for this album, but none that sounded as good as these in the shootout. And the vinyl is exceptionally quiet for a pressing from circa 1958 (the first year that stereo pressings were available; before that you had to buy the music on reel to reel to hear it in stereo). (more…)

Schumann and Grieg – Piano Concertos / Lupu / Previn

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  • This wonderful classical masterpiece makes its Hot Stamper debut with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Both sides boast full brass and especially clear, solid, present piano, one with practically no trace of vintage analog tube smear
  • It’s an extraordinary recording, and so amazing on this pressing that after playing it, you may agree with us that few other classical Demo Discs are in its league
  • Dynamic, huge, lively, transparent and natural – with a record this good, your ability to suspend disbelief will require practically no effort at all

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Ansermet’s Scheherazade – Yes, Sometimes There Is Only One Set of Magic Stampers

More Scheherazade

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In 2015 we wrote:

There are certain stampers that seem to have a consistently brighter-than-it-should-be top end. They are tolerable most of the time, but the real magic can only be found on the copies that have a correct or even slightly duller top. Live classical music is never “bright” the way recordings of it so often are.

It’s rarely “rich” and “romantic” the way many vintage recordings are — even those we rave about — but that’s another story for another day.

We recently did the shootout again, and now with a much more clear, accurate upper midrange and an even more extended top end, the stampers that we used to find “brighter than they should be” are now just too damn bright, period.

We was wrong and we don’t mind admitting it.

Which leaves one and only one stamper that can win a shootout. Another stamper we like well enough to offer to our discriminating customers, but after that it is all downhill, and steeply.

Of course the right stampers are the hardest ones to find too. All of which explains why you rarely see a copy of the album for sale on our site.

Reviews and Commentaries for the music of Rimsky-Korsakov

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Every Label Made Bad Sounding Records – RCA Released This Awful Living Stereo with Reiner in 1958

More of the Music of Tchaikovsky

Some audiophiles buy albums based on their labels. For example, this Shaded Dog pressing from the Golden Age of RCA Living Stereo might appeal to a certain kind of audiophile who treasures LSC’s on the original label.

More than that, he might limit himself to 1S Indianapolis pressings. Hoorah! What could be better?

However, many records from this era simply do not sound good, and this is one of them. We have never heard a good sounding copy of LSC 2216, and we’ve played plenty of them over the decades we’ve been in the business of selling Golden Age Classical records.

A copy came in just last week and I figured it was time to give it a spin and see if there was any reason to change my opinion. Hey, maybe this one had Hot Stampers! Can’t say it wouldn’t be possible. Unlikely, yes, impossible, no.

So here’s what I heard. No real top above 6k, hardly any bottom, dry and thin, but with a very wide stage – the textbook definition of “boxy sound.”

If you are a fan of Living Stereo pressings, have you noticed that many of them – this one for example – don’t sound good?

If you’re an audiophile with good equipment, you should have. But did you? Or did you buy into the hype surrounding these rare LSC pressings and just ignore the problems with the sound?

There is plenty of hype surrounding the hundreds of Heavy Vinyl pressings currently in print. I read a lot about how wonderful their sound is, but when I actually play them, I rarely find them to be any better than mediocre, and most of them are downright awful.

Music Matters made this garbage remaster. Did anyone notice how awful it sounded? I could list a hundred more that range from bad to worse — and I have! Take your pick: there are more than 150 entries in our Heavy Vinyl Disasters section, each one worse sounding than the next.

It seems as if the audiophile public has bought completely into the hype for these modern Heavy Vinyl pressings. Audiophiles have made the mistake of approaching these records without the slightest trace of skepticism. How could so many be fooled so badly? Surely some of these people have good enough equipment to allow them to hear how bad these records sound.

Maybe not this guy, or this guy, but there has to be at least some group of audiophiles, however small their number, with decent equipment and two working ears out there, right? (Excluding our customers of course, they have to know what is going on to spend the kind of money they spend on our records. And then write us all those letters.) (more…)