TAS Super Disc List

Bernard Herrmann – The Mysterious Film World of Bernard Herrmann

More Bernard Herrmann

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

Reviews and Commentaries for Soundtracks and Soundtrack Music

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  • This superb release finally returns to the site with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
  • An outstanding recording with a huge three-dimensional stage, open, clear, extended up top and down low — the sound on this pressing is nothing short of amazing
  • 4 stars: “The sound glitters, some of the brightest and richest audio of its period (attested to by the album’s being part of Decca/London Phase 4 Stereo), and the performances have a dignity and intensity that makes the music — drawn from the key parts of Herrmann’s scores for the Ray Harryhausen-created fantasy films The Three Worlds of Gulliver, Mysterious Island, and Jason and the Argonauts — seem even more serious and profound than it originally did.”

Side one boasts some wonderful material from Mysterious Island and Jason and the Argonauts. Who else but Herrmann could have orchestrated such phantasmagorical goings on?

The Three Worlds Of Gulliver Suite takes up all of side two. The complete score from which the suite is taken can be found on the original Herrmann album The Three Worlds of Gulliver, a long-time and extremely rare member of the TAS Super Disc List.

This vintage London Phase 4 Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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 as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for —this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds. (more…)

Saint-Saens / Piano Concerto No. 2 / Rubinstein – Living Stereo Magic

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

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  • This superb TAS List Piano Concerto recording finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound and vinyl that’s about as quiet and scratch-free as we can find it
  • With huge amounts of hall space, weight and energy, this is DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND by any standard
  • Some old record collectors (like me) say classical recording quality ain’t what it used to be – here’s all the proof anyone with two working ears and top quality audiophile equipment needs to make the case

Harry Pearson put this recording on his TAS List of Super Disc LPs, and with good reason — the sound is wonderfully relaxed and natural. This Shaded Dog pressing is exceptionally lively and dynamic. The sound is BIG and BOLD, enough to fill up your listening room and then some. The piano is clean and clear, and the strings are rich and textured.

The great Artur Rubinstein’s performance of these wonderful works is superb.

Our Shaded Dog pressing here offers plenty of Living Stereo Magic. This wonderful record boasts a natural orchestral perspective and superb string tone. It also presents the listener with a correctly-sized piano, which is fairly unusual for Rubinstein’s recordings. (more…)

Selling Your TAS Super Disc List LPs? – Say It Isn’t So!

[This listing is from more than ten years ago. Please to enjoy!]

We ran across a website years ago that confirmed our worst prejudices regarding Audiophiles and their apparent desire to rely on gurus such as Harry Pearson to tell them which records sound good and which don’t.

This flies in the face of everything we stand for here at Better Records.

  • Since no two records sound the same, a list of so-called Super Discs is practically meaningless. “Practically meaningless” hits the nail right on the head as far as we are concerned. Picture yourself standing in your local record store with a record in your hands, one you happen to know is on the TAS List. This knowledge makes the record slightly more likely to sound better than any other record you might have randomly picked up in the store. Insignificantly, trivially more likely. In other words, as a practical matter, no more likely. Why is this? Three reasons: one, many Super Discs are not on the TAS List; two, some of the records on the TAS List are not deserving of Super Disc status; and most importantly, three, most pressings of titles on the TAS List don’t sound good — only the right ones do.
  • But that’s not even the point. Ask yourself this: Why on earth would anyone want to collect the records on The TAS List, when most of these records contain music that appeals to a very small circle of people outside of Harry and his friends? The purpose of having an audiophile quality music system is that it allows you to hear your favorite music sound better than it would otherwise sound. It’s not for playing someone else’s favorite records; it’s for playing your favorite records.

This is why we do our Hot Stamper shootouts for records nobody in his right mind would think of doing. Toto IV? Zuma? Toulouse Street? You’ve got to be kidding.

No, we’re not. We love those albums. We sincerely want to find great sounding copies of them for those of our customers who love them too. It’s as simple as that.

Nobody else on the planet seems capable (or interested) in doing the kind of work it takes to find superior pressings of these albums, so if we don’t do it, who will? Nobody, that’s who.

But I digress. The website we ran across is no longer active.

Had you gone there back in the day, the page you would have seen first is a list of Marty’s Audiophile Vinyl Collection, which he introduces this way:

I have been a reader of The Absolute Sound since issue 33, (1982) one of the great journeys of my life. (I still have those old issues.) I was always an avid follower of the “Super disc list” that Harry Pearson had put together, a “Holy scripture” that I followed in earnest. I have amassed many of those titles knowing full well that I would be rewarded by sonic treats they lay ahead.

Thanks Harry !!

Holy scripture? Sonic treats? I think I just threw up in my mouth.

What followed was the TAS List, in all its vainglory, with Marty’s links to the copies he has been “fortunate” enough to acquire.

Just for fun you might have wanted to click on the Rock & Pop section. Here you would have found some of the worst sounding audiophile pressings ever made.

Mobile Fidelity Magical Mystery Tour?

Abbey Road and Rubber Soul on Japanese vinyl?

This is some real garbage. 

The more I browsed the more I had the feeling that my head was about to explode. Records like these positively disgust me. They pretend to be audiophile records, when in fact they universally sound phony and wrong. They fool audiophiles easily enough, that’s pretty clear, but any music lover would recognize their junky qualities in a heartbeat. (more…)

Various Composers – Balalaika Favorites

More Balalaika Favorites

More TAS Super Disc Recordings

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  • This delightful collection, a longstanding member of the TAS Super Disc List, finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • Both sides here are wonderful — clean, clear and present with tons of energy and lots of space around all of the players
  • “For what it is, it doesn’t get any better than this. What it is, of course, is a collection of Russian folk music played with astonishing artistry by the Ossipov State Russian Folk Orchestra…”

What do you hear on this pressing that you don’t hear on others? It’s very simple: the Balalaikas are delicate and sweet. There’s air all around them.

They have the kind of midrange magic that you hear on the best pop guitar records, the Tea For The Tillerman’s and the After The Gold Rush’s of this world. When you hear that sound there’s no mistaking it. It’s what we audiophiles live for. (more…)

Holst / The Planets – Blockbuster Sound

More of the music of Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

Reviews and Commentaries for The Planets

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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…)

Debussy / Iberia on Classic Records – What, Specifically, Are Its Shortcomings?

The Music of Claude Debussy Available Now

Album Reviews of the music of Claude Debussy

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

The Classic of LSC 2222 is all but unlistenable on a highly resolving, properly set-up hi-fidelity system.

The opacity, transient smear and loss of harmonic information and ambience found on Classic’s pressing was enough to drive us right up the wall. Who can sit through a record that sounds like that? Way back in 1994, long before we had anything like the system we do now, we were finding fault with the “Classic Records Sound” and said as much in our catalogs.

With each passing year — 26 and counting — we like that sound less.  The Classic may be on Harry’s TAS list — sad but true — but that certainly has no bearing on the fact that it’s not a very good record.

MORE RECORDS GOOD FOR JUDGING THESE QUALITIES

Ambience, Size and Space

Smear

String Tone and Texture

Transparency Vs Opacity

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An Astoundingly Bad Sound Show – If This Is Your Idea of a Reference Record, You Are in Real Trouble


Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and a Half-Speed Mastered Disaster if there ever was one.

Mastered by none other than Stan Ricker. RR-7 also appears to still be on Harry Pearson’s TAS List!

My recent notes can be seen below. (The 1 in the upper left hand corner is my abbreviation for side one, which seems to be the worst side of the two here.)

Track two, the Red Norvo selection, is a real mess, highlighting the problems typically caused by Half Speed Mastering, especially at the hands of one of the most notorious “Audiophile” Mastering Engineers of All Time, the late Stan Ricker. Who cut as many bad sounding records as SR/2 himself? No one I can think of comes close.

His records, with few exceptions, suffer from bad bass (probably bloated and poorly defined in this case, my notes don’t say but after playing these records for thirty years I doubt I’m very off with this guess) and phony, boosted highs, which cause the striking of the mallets to be emphasized in an especially unnatural and unpleasant way.

Arthur Lyman had dramatically better sound in the ’50s. How come none of the audiophiles at Reference Records bothered to figure out how he did it?

(more…)

Miles Davis – Sketches of Spain

More Miles Davis

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  • This outstanding Columbia 360 Stereo pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • The good copies capture the realistic sound of Davis’s horn, the body, the breath and the bite (and not a little of the squawk as well)
  • Balanced, clear and undistorted, this 30th Street recording shows just how good Columbia’s engineers were back then
  • A couple of marks play, so this copy is being offered at a much lower price than it otherwise would have been for those of you who can tolerate the pops
  • 5 stars: “Sketches of Spain is the most luxuriant and stridently romantic recording Davis ever made. To listen to it in the 21st century is still a spine-tingling experience…”

*NOTE: On side two, two marks make 24 moderate pops one-quarter inch from the end of Track 2, Saeta, and 15 moderate pops one-quarter inch into Track 3, Solea.

On the best pressings of this masterpiece, the sound is truly magical. (AMG has that dead right in their review.) It is lively but never strained. Davis’s horn has breath and bite, just like the real thing. What more can you ask for? (more…)

Was It Even Possible for Harry Pearson to Create a Meaningful Super Disc List?

A customer brought up Harry Pearson in a discussion we were having about the best sounding records, to wit:

You’re as much a pioneer as Harry Pearson ever was, and your authenticity is unchallengeable…

Even I wouldn’t go that far! We make plenty of mistakes, and we learn new things about records all the time, so calling us “unchallengable” is way off the mark. However, we are always up for the challenge, and are happy to put our records up against any and all comers.

As far as Harry Pearson, I had this to say about the man:

Very kind of you to say. I think Harry could have been much better at his job if he had modern record cleaning technology, better playback, and a staff of people playing thousands of records every year to discover the best sounding pressings for him.

No one can succeed as a one man show in audio. Audio is too complicated. It takes a team of dedicated professionals with expertise in every area of audio and record collecting to do it right.

He never understood stampers and the like because he didn’t have the research staff to get the data he would have needed to find the stamper patterns.

He was stuck at the level of labels, and also not nearly skeptical enough of the idea that “the original is better,” a myth audiophiles cling to to this very day. That, and the superiority of the Heavy Vinyl remaster, which we both know is a crock of sh*t. (more…)

Pink Floyd – The Wall

More Pink Floyd

More Top 100 Rock and Pop Albums

Letters and Commentaries for The Wall

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  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades on all FOUR sides, this copy of The Wall is guaranteed to blow the doors off any other pressing you’ve heard
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of Floyd’s magnum opus from 1979, this is the way to go
  • The Wall demands big, bold, explosively dynamic ANALOG sound, and here is a copy that delivers on that promise
  • Grungy electric guitars, breathy vocals, HUGE punchy drums, earth-shaking bass and room-filling ambience are all here like you’ve never heard before
  • One of the best sounding rock recordings of all time – here is a copy that will make our case

We spend a ridiculous amount of time cleaning, playing, and comparing copies of this classic double album for our shootouts and let me tell you, there are a lot of weak copies out there.

What do these kinds of top grades give you for The Wall? Top-notch clarity and transparency, mind-blowing immediacy, weight to the bottom, extension up top, HUGE open soundfields, real texture to all the instruments, TONS of energy with serious dynamics, BIG punchy drums and loads of natural ambience.

Pink Floyd tends to be an amazingly well-recorded band, and this album is certainly no exception. If you’ve taken home one of our Hot Stampers for Dark Side of the Moon, Meddle, or Wish You Were Here, then you certainly know what we’re talking about. (more…)