TAS Super Disc List

Rozsa / Music From the Film Ben Hur – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

This TAS List Super Hot Stamper pressing of one of the greatest and most famous Orchestral Blockbuster Soundtracks ever recorded more than lives up to our expectations for Decca Phase 4. This is Phase 4 done RIGHT.

As with all the best Herrmann releases, the huge size and scope you hear is the sound of orchestral music recorded in glorious ANALOG!

The sound is so clear, spacious and three-dimensional that you will feel as if your speakers have disappeared before your very eyes.

The layering of depth is really something to hear on this copy, with choirs of brass instruments located precisely in space, some further back, some off to the side of the soundstage. And what a soundstage it is, so wide and deep. Transparency – a quality you find on both sides of this copy — is what makes this all sound so REAL.

Opacity Vs. Transparency

Note that we have been especially anti-heavy vinyl in our recent commentaries for their consistently opaque character, the opposite of what is necessary in order to hear into the music, deep into the soundstage, to see and hear ALL the instruments, even the ones at the back. Try that with any Classic Record or Speakers Corner pressing. It’s records like this that show you precisely what you have been missing all these years if you have been collecting and playing releases from those labels and the others like them. (more…)

Khachaturian Conducts Spartacus

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Probably more than ten years ago we had written

The famous TAS list recording. The Decca 180 gram version is very good, but those of you who appreciate the qualities of the original mastering will want to have this one. 

We played three or four copies of the album recently and none of them quite worked for us.  The sound was a bit opaque, and not as tubey as we would have liked.

A good record, not a great one, and for that reason really not worth cleaning up and doing a shootout for.  The best copy would not pay for the labor to find it.

Tchaikovsky / 1812 Overture / Reiner – The Best Sound Here Is Everything But the 1812

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

The real stars here are NOT the 1812, but the three coupling works, which demonstrate, on this copy at least, The Real Power of the Orchestra. The remarkably rich, Tubey Magical and oh-so-rosiny Living Stereo strings and powerful, dynamic brass make this a real demo quality orchestral heavyweight. Lizst’s Mephisto Waltz, Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides Overture, and the Tragic Overture by Brahms are the Must Own 36 minutes worth of music on the record. (more…)

Shostakovich – Symphonies No. 6 & 11 – Berglund

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SLS 5177 EMI Large Dog Label LP with powerful bass — a very dynamic copy! TAS List of course. The strings are immediate, perhaps a little hot, but that’s Shostakovich for you. It’s probably in the scoring.

Schuller / Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee / Dorati – Reviewed in 2006

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

RFR1/ 2. DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND.

This record has the sound that Mercury is famous for: immediate, dynamic and spacious. This record lives up to the Mercury claim: You immediately feel as though you are in the Living Presence of the orchestra.

This is precisely the kind of record that Speakers Corner would not have a clue how to master. I’d stake my reputation on it, for what it’s worth.

As you know, I am one of the most vocal critics of the new Speakers Corner Mercury series, and I can tell you without ever hearing their version of this recording that there is NO CHANCE IN THE WORLD they will ever cut a record that sounds like this. It’s alive in a way that none of their pressings would even begin suggest. If you don’t believe me, please buy this record and play it for yourself. If you don’t agree, I will refund your money and pay the domestic shipping back.

This record also gives the lie to those who think that Vendor pressings are inferior. This is a Vendor and I would be very surprised if there’s a better sounding copy than this one. I’ve certainly never heard one.

People who like to read labels and find some sort of pattern or connection between the label and the sound of the record are living in a world of their own making. The stamper numbers are the only thing that can possibly mean anything on a record, and even those are subject to so much variation from pressing to pressing that they become only a vague, general guide.

This LP is a good example of a record that a misguided or misinformed record collector would pass up, hoping to find a better sounding non-Vendor pressing. Of course the circular reasoning that would result is that such a collector would buy the non-Vendor, possibly with the same exact stamper numbers, hear how good it sounded, and congratulate himself on the fact that the non-Vendor pressings always sound so good.

All without ever having done the comparison.

Dionne Warwick – Soulful – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

There’s a reason this record is on the TAS list, but you’d never know it by playing the average pressing. Most copies of this record just sound like an old Dionne Warwick record. You would never even know how magical this recording is by playing a copy that for all intents and purposes appears to be the pressing that Harry Pearson is recommending on his Super Disc list. The catalog number is the same; the sound is not. Unless you have at least half a dozen copies of this record — and we had more than double that — you have very little chance of finding even one exceptional side.

This has always been the problem with the TAS list. The pressing variations on a record like this are HUGE and DRAMATIC. There is a world of difference between this copy and what the typical audiophile owns based on HP’s list. I’ve been complaining for years that the catalog number that Harry supplies has very little benefit to the typical audiophile record lover. Without at least the right stampers, the amount of work required to find a copy that deserves a SuperDisc ranking is daunting, requiring the kind of time and effort that few audiophiles could ever devote to such a difficult and frustrating project.

Beyond all that, Scepter vinyl is quite problematic. A sealed copy that we cracked open for our shooutout was so noisy, it didn’t even make it past the first round. It takes a lot of work to find a copy of this (or ANY) album that’s truly a Super Disc; just picking up the titles from Harry’s list certainly can’t guarantee good sound. (more…)

Art Garfunkel – Breakaway

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  • Both sides of this hit-filled solo album from 1975 earned seriously good Double Plus (A++) grades for sound
  • Open, rich, musical and full – Richard Perry went for the Big Sound here and he got it
  • Relatively quiet vinyl for this album, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus – most copies are much, much noisier than this one

Both sides are transparent, open, and spacious, with dramatically more life and energy than the typical pressing. The bottom end on this copy is surprisingly meaty as well, with far more punch than most of the pressings we played.

The keyboards are full and rich, the guitars ring just right. This copy is killer in practically every way. You will be hard-pressed to imagine it sounding much better than it does here. (more…)

Myrow & Seagrave – Phantasm (OST)

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  • A stunning sounding copy of this Varese Sarabande TAS list record with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • These sides are clean, clear and dynamic yet still super rich and full-bodied with plenty of bottom end weight; exceptionally quiet vinyl too!
  • “The music by Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave is properly eerie and involving.” – The Hollywood Reporter
  • “Their magnificent theme is an integral component of the worldwide success of Phantasm and its several acclaimed sequels.” – Liner Notes

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Willie Nelson – Stardust – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame. 

Finding this LP after a day of searching through about twenty mostly run-of-the-mill (and frustrating) copies was nothing short of a REVELATION! Yes, we had found a handful of wonderful sounding copies, but we were holding our hopes out for something that would really knock our socks off.. Sure, there were some solid A’s and even a few A+’s — those are grades we give to records that sound right, not to records that blow our minds. When we dropped the needle on this copy, it was like lighting the fuse on the dynamite in our heads. A living breathing Willie Nelson had suddenly appeared right in front of us.

Finally, here was the sound that lived up to the hype. Veil upon veil had lifted. (more…)

Can You Imagine Sound this Bad from a TAS List Super Disc? We Can, We Played It.

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This 2-pack boasts White Hot Stamper sound on side two for the Mehta Planets. Yes, it IS possible. Side two shows you what this record is actually capable of — big WHOMP, no SMEAR, super SPACIOUS, DYNAMIC, with an EXTENDED top. It beat every London pressing we threw at it, coming out on top for our recent shootout. Folks, we 100% guarantee that whatever pressing you have of this performance, this copy will trounce it.

But side one of this London original British pressing was awful. We wrote it off as NFG after about a minute; that’s all we could take of the bright, hard-sounding brass of War.

Can you imagine sound this bad from a TAS List Super Disc record? We can, we played it. (more…)