Demo Discs for Tubey Magic

The Doors – Strange Days

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  • This excellent copy of Strange Days boasts Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides
  • An outstanding-sounding pressing of one of the most difficult-to-find records in the world of Hot Stampers
  • Demo Quality sound for so many classics: “When The Music’s Over,” “Moonlight Drive,” “Love Me Two Times,” and more
  • “… if The Beatles had Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club and The Beach Boys had Pet Sounds, then The Doors’ answer was Strange Days. This experimentation can be heard in the very first notes of the title track, as Ray Manzarek’s spacey keyboards set the tone for Morrison’s eerie, distorted warning, ‘Strange days have found us.’ It’s the perfect introduction to a perfectly strange album.”
  • If you’re a fan of The Doors, this early pressing from 1967 surely belong in your collection
  • The complete list of titles from 1967 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1967 Tubey Analog sound can be, this copy will can do just that.

It’s spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it. (more…)

Elton John / Honky Chateau – A Must Own Classic

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Reviews and Commentaries for Honky Chateau

  • This vintage UK import pressing boasts superb Tubey Magical British Rock sound, with excellent Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
  • A monster Demo Disc – the bottom end is huge, the top is open and extended, and the overall tonality rich and balanced
  • An amazing recording and a founding member of our Top 100 – it’s a shame we rarely find them with sound this good and audiophile quality surfaces (DJM see-through vinyl being what it is)
  • 5 stars: “The most focused and accomplished set of songs Elton John and Bernie Taupin ever wrote.”

If you doubt that Elton John was an unusually gifted Pop Music Genius for much of the ’70s, just play this record. These eleven tracks should serve as all the proof you could possibly need. There’s not a dog in the bunch, and most of these songs are positively brilliant. Drop the needle on any track, you simply can’t go wrong.

Honky Chateau has to be one of the best sounding rock records of all time — certainly worthy of a prized spot on our Rock and Pop Top 100 List. It’s a shining example of just how good High-Production-Value rock music of the ’70s can be.

The amount of effort that went into the recording of Honky Chateau is comparable to that expended by the engineers and producers of bands like Supertramp, The Who, Jethro Tull, Ambrosia, Pink Floyd and far too many others to list. It seems that no effort or cost was spared in making the home listening experience as compelling as the recording technology of the day permitted.

The sides that had sound that jumped out of the speakers, with driving rhythmic energy, worked the best for us. They really brought this music to life and allowed us to make sense of it. This is yet another definition of a Hot Stamper — it’s the copy that lets the music work as music.

Big Production Tubey Magical British Rock just does not get much better than Honky Chateau. (more…)

Elton John / Tumbleweed Connection


  • This early DJM import pressing of Elton John’s 1970 Masterpiece boasts solid Double Plus (A++) grades from first note to last
  • The sound here is richer, with much less transistory grain, and more of the All Important Tubey Magic than most other copies we played
  • An incredible recording and longtime member of our Top 100 — our pick for Elton’s very best music and sound
  • Problems in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these vintage LPs – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • 5 stars: “….[Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s] most ambitious record to date… A loose concept album about the American West… draws from country and blues in equal measures…”
  • If you’re an Elton John fan, this is a classic from 1970 that belongs in your collection
  • We consider this Elton John album a Masterpiece. It’s a recording that should be part of any serious popular Music Collection. Others that belong in that category can be found here.

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Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon

  • With seriously good Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish, this mindblowing recording is guaranteed to rock your world – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The transparency, the clarity, the energy, the power – it’s all here on these very special import pressings
  • Just listen to how clear the clocks are on Time, how breathy the vocals are on Breathe, how textured the synthesizers are and how silky the top end is from the beginning of the album all the way to the powerful finish
  • A Top 100 album (Top Ten actually) and a Rock Demo Disc to rival the most amazing sounding records of all time
  • 5 stars: “…what gives the album true power is the subtly textured music… no other record defines [Pink Floyd] quite as well as this one.”

This vintage import pressing has the presence, the richness, the size and the energy you always wanted to hear on Dark Side — AND NOW YOU CAN! (more…)

Dick Schory – Music for Bang, Baaroom and Harp

Living Stereo Titles Available Now

200+ Reviews of Living Stereo Records

  • A vintage pressing boasting INSANELY GOOD Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) Living Stereo sound from start to finish
  • Absolutely As Good As It Gets – it’s a real treat to hear such a crazy assortment of percussion instruments with this kind of amazingly clear, high-resolution sound!
  • This phenomenal copy is just plain bigger, richer and clearer than any we can remember playing – part of the reason for that is that it takes us about five years to find enough clean copies of a record like this in order to do a shootout
  • It also helps that both of these sides are in correct polarity, a subject you can read about on the blog if you would like to know more
  • If you’re a fan of percussion extravaganzas, this Living Stereo from 1958 is about as good as it gets

The hottest stamper pressings of this album are Demo Discs for three important qualities we listen for in our record auditions. Each of the links below will take you to other recordings we have found to be potentially superior in these areas of reproduction.

  1. Size and Space,
  2. Correct Timbre and
  3. Tubey Magic.

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs, and rightfully so. It certainly can be a Super Disc, but only when you have the right pressing. This is one of the Demo Discs on the TAS List which truly deserves its status when, and only when, you have the right copy. (The typical copy is quite good, but it sure doesn’t sound like this.) Nothing else in our shootout could touch it. And it’s IN PHASE. Many copies are not.

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David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust

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Reviews and Commentaries for Ziggy Stardust

  • A seriously good copy with Double Plus (A++) grades throughout – Ziggy Stardust in analog is simply a phenomenally good sounding recording
  • The stage is huge and the amount of Tubey Magic has to be heard to be believed – this is the pinnacle of sound for Glam Rock
  • Until you hear one of these killer British pressings you simply cannot know what you are missing
  • A Rock & Pop Top 100 album, and Ken Scott’s engineering masterpiece all rolled into one
  • 5 stars: “Fleshing out the off-kilter metallic mix with fatter guitars, genuine pop songs, string sections, keyboards, and a cinematic flourish, Ziggy Stardust is a glitzy array of riffs, hooks, melodrama, and style and the logical culmination of glam.”

Drop the needle on any song. We guarantee you have never heard that song sound better. The mastering is superb. There’s really no “mastering” to listen for — all you’re really aware of is the music flowing from the speakers, freed from all the limitations that you’ve had to accept over the years.

Unquestionably, this is the pinnacle of Glam Rock. Every track is superb; not a moment is less than stellar from beginning to end.

Is it Bowie’s Masterpiece?

Absolutely. No other Bowie record ranks higher in my book.

Is it amazingly well recorded?

You better believe it. This is not just Bowie’s masterpiece; it’s Ken Scott‘s as well. For BIG, BOLD, wall to wall, floor to ceiling sound, look no further. The best copies are swimming in rich, sweet TUBEY MAGIC. This is a sound we cannot get enough of here at Better Records.

Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this recording. Simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum, along with richness, body and harmonic coherency that have all but disappeared from modern recordings (and especially from modern remasterings)

The guitars on this record are a true test of stereo reproduction. Many pressings of this album do not get the guitars to sound right. On some they will sound veiled and dull, and on a copy with a bit too much top, they will have an unfortunate hi-fi-ish sparkle, the kind that Mobile Fidelity was infamous for in the late ’70s and ’80s.

The guitars may not sound “real,” they way they actually would in real life, but they sure sound grungy and GOOD!

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Ravel / Daphnis et Chloé / Monteux

More of the music of Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

  • A vintage UK Decca pressing of Ravel’s complete Masterpiece that was doing everything right, earning INSANELY GOOD Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades throughout
  • The sound is big and rich, lively and open, with TONS of depth and huge climaxes that hold together
  • The voices in the chorus are clear, natural, separate and full-bodied — this is the hallmark of a vintage Golden Age recording: naturalness
  • We know of no other recording of the work that does as good a job of capturing such a large orchestra and chorus
  • Of course, Monteux is a master of the French idiom — his performance of the complete ballet here is definitive in our opinion
  • There are about 150 orchestral recordings we’ve awarded the honor of offering the Best Performances with the Highest Quality Sound, and this record certainly has earned a place on that list.

Both sides here are BIG, with the space and depth of the wonderful Kingsway Hall that the LSO perform in. John Culshaw produced the album, which surely accounts for the huge size and space, not to mention quality, of the recording. The sound is dynamic and tonally correct throughout.

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Charles Mingus – Mingus Dynasty

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More Jazz Recordings

  • An original 6-Eye Stereo copy with superb Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • This pressing is rich and tubey, yet still clear and spacious, with a notably solid and articulate bottom end that does a superb job of captureing the beauty of Mingus’s double bass
  • Bucketfuls of studio ambience, and Tubey Magic to die for – this 30th Street recording shows just how good Columbia’s engineers were back then
  • Be careful though – a record with this kind of sound will make all your Heavy Vinyl pressing sound as washed out, lifeless and veiled as we know them to be, news that may come as quite a shock
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Mingus Dynasty is still an excellent album; in fact, it’s a testament to just how high a level Mingus was working on that an album of this caliber could have gotten lost in the shuffle.”
  • If you’re a fan of jazz from the Golden Age of the ’50s and ’60s, this Columbia from 1960 undoubtedly belongs in your collection
  • The complete list of titles from 1960 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

This is a wonderful example of the kind of record that makes record collecting FUN.

If innovative Large Group Jazz is your thing, you should get a big kick out of this one. If you like the sound of relaxed, tube-mastered jazz — and what red blooded audiophile doesn’t? — you can’t do much better than the Mingus recordings on Columbia from this era. (We’ve now done shootouts for the album before this one and the one to follow. Both are amazing, musically and sonically.) The warmth and immediacy of the sound here are guaranteed to blow practically any record of this kind you own right out of the water.

Both sides of this very special pressing are huge, rich, tubey and clear. As soon as the band got going we knew that this was absolutely the right sound for this music. 

Amazing Tubey Magic

For we audiophiles, both the sound and the music here are enchanting. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1960 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy should be just the record for you.

It’s spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it.

This is the sound of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There is of course a CD of the album, but those of us in possession of a working turntable could care less.

We played a handful of later pressings that didn’t really do it for us. They offer improved clarity, but can’t deliver the tubey goodness that you’ll hear on the best early pressings. We won’t be bothering with them anymore. It’s tubes or nothing on this album.

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The Eagles / Desperado

More Eagles

More Country and Country Rock

  • This STUNNING copy of the band’s sophomore release boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • This vintage pressing has huge amounts of Tubey Magic, a strong bass foundation, and plenty of space around the guitars and voices – man, that is our sound!
  • This is the second-best sounding Eagles record of all time, no doubt thanks to their brilliant engineer and producer, Glyn Johns
  • “A solid country-rock classic… the music stands the test of time, especially when Desperado is heard in its entirety, from start to finish.”

Acoustic guitar reproduction is key to this recording, and on the best copies the harmonic coherency, the richness, the body and simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard in every strum.

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Dave Brubeck Quartet – Time Further Out

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Reviews and Commentaries for Time Further Out

  • This vintage Columbia 6-Eye Stereo pressing has some of the best sound we have heard for the album, with both sides earning STUNNING Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • It’s bigger, richer, more Tubey Magical, and has more extension on both ends of the spectrum than practically all the other copies we played
  • It’s also graded just one half plus lower on each side than our Shootout Winner, and it has no audible marks, so you might just find that this is the best way to go for Time Further Out
  • This copy demonstrates the big-as-life Fred Plaut Columbia Sound at its best – better even than Time Out(!)
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The selections, which range in time signatures from 5/4 to 9/8, are handled with apparent ease (or at least not too much difficulty) by pianist Brubeck, altoist Paul Desmond, bassist Eugene Wright, and drummer Joe Morello on this near-classic.”

Time Further Out is consistently more varied and, dare we say, more musically interesting than Time Out.

If you want to hear big drums in a big room these Brubeck recordings will show you that sound better than practically any record we know of. These vintage recordings are full-bodied, spacious, three-dimensional, rich, sweet and warm in the best tradition of an All Tube Analog recording. (more…)