Digital – CDs, Digital Recordings, etc.

Tears for Fears – The Hurting

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  • This outstanding British pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Classic tracks like Mad World, Pale Shelter, and Change have stood the test of time – they’re played in TFF’s concerts to this day (we saw them not that long ago)
  • Forget the dubby domestic pressings – with top quality Hot Stamper sound, this copy is sure to trounce anything you’ve ever heard
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…powerful pieces of music, beautifully executed in an almost minimalist style…an exquisite sonic painting sweeping the listener up in layers of pulsing synthesizers, acoustic guitar arpeggios, and sheets of electronic sound…”

Folks, take it from us, it is not every pressing that can manage to get rid of the digital harshness and congestion that so many copies suffer from, and then go on to open up its soundstage to be as wide, deep and tall a presentation as you will hear on this very copy.

When you have at your disposal a pressing like this one — notably richer, smoother and sweeter than many– the minor shortcomings of the recording will no longer interfere with your enjoyment of this groundbreaking music. (more…)

Jennifer Warnes / Famous Blue Raincoat – Listening in Depth

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Reviews and Commentaries for Famous Blue Raincoat

I’m a huge fan of this music. It’s the only album Jennifer Warnes ever made that I would consider a Must Own record or a Desert Island Disc.

In my humble opinion it’s clearly her MASTERPIECE.

Key Test for Side One

Listen to the snare drum on Bird on a Wire. On most copies it sound thin and bright, not very much like a real snare. Let’s face it: most copies of this record are thin and bright, and that’s just not our sound here at Better Records. If the snare on Bird sounds solid and meaty, at the very least you have a copy that is probably not too bright, and on this album that puts it well ahead of the pack.

While you’re listening for the sound of that snare, notice the amazing drum work of Vinnie Colaiuta, session drummer extraordinaire. The guy’s work on this track — especially with the high hat — is GENIUS.

Key Test for Side Two

Listen to the sound of the piano on Song of Bernadette. If it’s rich and full-bodied with the weight of a real piano, you might just have yourself a winner. At the very least you won’t have to suffer through the anemically thin sound of the average copy.

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

First We Take Manhattan

Don’t expect this song to ever be tonally correct. It runs the gamut from bright to too bright to excrutiatingly bright. Steve Hoffman told me that he took out something like 6 DB at 6K, and I’m guessing that that’s the minimum that would need to come out. It’s made to be a hit single, and like so many hit single wannabes, it’s mixed bright. (more…)

Every Label Made Bad Sounding Records – Columbia Released Mariah Carey’s Debut in 1990

More Bad Sounding Digital Recordings on Vinyl

Very digital sounding, with way too much sizzle on the top end. Best to give this one a pass if you are looking for audiophile sound. If you are looking for audiophile sound quality, this site is full of the best sounding records ever made.

We play mediocre-to-bad sounding pressings so that you don’t have to, a public service from your record loving friends at Better Records.

You can find this one in our Hall of Shame, along with more than 350 others that — in our opinion — qualify as some of the worst sounding records ever made. (On some records in the Hall of Shame the sound is passable but the music is bad.  These are also records you can safely avoid.) (more…)

Ten Years After – A Killer Audio Fidelity Gold CD

A Space in Time

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Our old commentary:

A Great CD Is Born

By the way, the BGO Import CD of this album is excellent. No match for a Hot Stamper of course, but dramatically better than the average classic rock CD, and quite a bit better than the domestic CDs we’ve auditioned.

Newsflash (3/2014)

The Audio Fidelity Gold CD mastered by Steve Hoffman is even better. If you don’t want to buy a Hot Stamper LP, that CD is your best bet (assuming it sounds as good as mine, something one cannot assume but that’s a story for another day).

Fleetwood Mac – Tusk

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  • This outstanding copy of Tusk boasts solid Double Plus (A+) sound or BETTER on all FOUR sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The best sounding tracks are killer here – clear, rich, warm, full-bodied, with all the hallmarks of high-production-value analog throughout
  • This vintage pressing has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s surely missing from whatever 180g reissue has been made from the 40 year old tapes (or, to be clear, a modern digital master copy of those tapes)
  • 5 stars: “McVie and Nicks don’t deviate from their established soft rock and folk-rock templates, and all their songs are first-rate… Because of its ambitions, Tusk failed to replicate the success of its two predecessors, yet it earned a dedicated cult audience of fans of twisted, melodic pop.”

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Stevie Wonder – Hotter Than July

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More Soul, Blues and R&B

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  • A KILLER sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it from start to finish
  • 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 this wonderful album, a vintage pressing like this one is the way to go
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Wonder naysayed the trends and continues to do what he did best. Solid songwriting, musicianship, and production are evident in the majority of Hotter Than July… It is the portrait of an artist who still had the Midas touch…”

*CONDITION NOTES: On side two, the last 2-3 seconds of Track 5, Happy Birthday, are somewhat crackly.

Most copies lack the presence, energy and bottom end weight to let these funky songs work their magic, but a copy like this will let you appreciate the music without the mediocre sonics of the average pressing getting in the way.

This album was recorded right at the beginning of the digital era (1980) and most pressings won’t let you forget that. So many copies we played were just too sterile to get into — clean and clear bit lacking richness and fullness. We’re huge Stevie Wonder fans around here and we’ve fallen in love with Innervisions and Songs In The Key Of Life over and over again because of their lush, analog sound on the best pressings. It took a ton of work (and a whole lot of copies) to find a Hotter Than July that we could get excited about. I don’t think there’s a copy out there that can compete with his earlier recordings sonically but at least the Hot Stamper pressings present the music in a way that audiophiles can enjoy. (more…)

Every Label Made Bad Sounding Records – Ryko Released This Awful Bowie Set in 1989

David Bowie Records with Audiophile Sound

The sound of digital mastering at its worst. Best to give this one a pass if you are looking for high quality sound.

We play mediocre-to-bad sounding pressings so that you don’t have to, a public service from your record loving friends at Better Records.

You can find this one in our Hall of Shame, along with more than 350 others that — in our opinion — qualify as some of the worst sounding records ever made. (On some records in the Hall of Shame the sound is passable but the music is bad.  These are also records you can safely avoid.)

Note that most of the entries are audiophile remasterings of one kind or another. The reason for this is simple: we’ve gone through the all-too-often unpleasant experience of comparing them head to head with our best Hot Stamper pressings.

When you can hear them that way, up against an exceptionally good record, their flaws become that much more obvious and, frankly, that much more inexcusable.

Orff – Carmina Burana on Telarc – A Very Old Review

More of the music of Carl Orff

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This IMMACULATE Telarc Double LP with Virtually No Sign Of Play is one of the greatest audiophile records of all time and Telarc’s greatest recording! No recording gets more realism with this work … depth, dynamics, colors & performance!

Why don’t more of their recordings sound like this? Telarc is not a label I would normally associate with good sound but you have to give them credit here: they knocked this one out the park. They have made good records in the past — this one is proof enough, and some of the Fennel titles are quite good — but most of their catalog leaves much to be desired and is hard to recommend. (more…)

Peter Gabriel – Security

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  • A stunning copy of Security with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the first
  • One of the most important records in the Peter Gabriel canon, original and influential on so many levels
  • With the benefit of today’s technology, on a copy this good you hear into the soundfield in a way never possible before, picking out all the drummers and counting all the layers of multi-tracked choruses
  • “Security remains a powerful listen, one of the better records in Gabriel’s catalog, proving that he is becoming a master of tone, style, and substance…”

Man does this album sound better than I remember it from back in the ’80s when I first played it. Stereos have come a long way since then, along with a host of other things that help records sound better, such as cleaning fluids, room treatments and all the rest. Now you can really hear INTO the soundfield in a way that simply was never possible before, picking out all the drummers and counting all the layers of PG’s multi-tracked choruses. On the best pressings, both sides are huge, and the music jumps out of the speakers. The balance is perfection. (more…)

Fleetwood Mac – Tusk – Some of Our Favorite Twisted Melodic Pop

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Tusk For Sale

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  • A MONSTER pressing that simply cannot be beat – all four sides (well, almost) earned our highest sonic grade of Triple Plus (A+++)
  • Staggering Demo Disc Quality sound on the more highly produced tracks, of which there are plenty spread across these two discs
  • The power of the bottom end is especially impressive on all the sides (and John McVie kills it on bass as usual)
  • 5 stars: “Because of its ambitions, Tusk failed to replicate the success of its two predecessors … yet it earned a dedicated cult audience of fans of twisted, melodic pop.” Twisted melodic pop? Sign me up!

This copy is absolutely KILLER, with the kind of transparency, space and openness you simply cannot find on most copies. When the soundstage is as wide and three-dimensional as it is here, it’s amazing how much more SENSE the music starts to make.

And the clarity is not the phony “audiophile” kind that’s the result of too much treble. The tonality is correct throughout, and there’s no lack of richness or warmth to the sound. They just don’t get any better. (more…)