Genre – Country & Country Rock

Buffalo Springfield – Listening for Tubey Magic Down Low

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On even the best copies there’s a bit too much Tubey Magic in the bass I regret to say. Tubbiness and bloat were par for the course. This may explain why so many copies have rolled off bass; the engineer cut the bass because he heard how tubby it was and figured no bass is better than bad bass. 

Which is just not true. Cutting the bass leans out and “modernizes” the sound, making the voices sound thin and dry. This pretty much ruins everything on this album just the way it ruins everything in practically every modern recording I hear. Having your bass under control on the playback side isn’t easy — in fact it’s probably the hardest thing to achieve in audio — but it can be done, and with good bass control the slightly wooly bass is just part of the sound you learn to accept.

It doesn’t actually interfere much with your enjoyment of the music, mostly because all the other instruments and voices sounds so magical.

Tubey Magical Midrange

The kind of MIDRANGE MAGIC on this pressing let us hear into the music in a way we (and you too I’m guessing) never imagined was possible.

Most copies have no bass, no real top, and are compressed so badly they sound more like cardboard than vinyl. But not this copy — it breaks the mold, revealing to the world (well, our world anyway, the world at Better Records) that those badly recorded Buffalo Springfield records from the ’60s weren’t so badly recorded after all.



Further Reading

…along these lines can be found below.

You can find your very own Hot Stamper pressings by using the techniques we lay out in Hot Stamper Shootouts — The Four Pillars of Success.

We have 250+ Audio Exercises you can try at home for fun and profit.

We have a section for Audio Advice of all kinds.

And finally we’ll throw in this old warhorse discussing How to Become an Expert Listener, subtitled Hard Work and Challenges Can Really Pay Off.

Because in audio, much like the rest of life, hard work and challenges really do pay off.

Johnny Cash – I Walk The Line

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I Walk The Line

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  • This Columbia 360 label pressing has KILLER Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
  • Both sides here are big, full-bodied and present with a solid bottom end and plenty of energy 
  • “Many of these songs have become American classics–“I Walk the Line,” “Get Rhythm,” and “Folsom Prison Blues” being three instantly recognizable numbers… This is another in the numerous sets which serve as helpful introductions into Cash’s voluminous output…” – All Music

This vintage Columbia 360 label 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. (more…)

Buffalo Springfield – Last Time Around

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

It’s really shocking how good this album can sound on the right pressings. When you get hold of one and know how to clean it right, some of these pressings are a damn sight better than the vast majority of audiophiles think! And the music, of course, is CLASSIC. The best side one and the best side two in our last shootout, unfortunately, were less than impressive on their flipsides. We’ve paired them up to give you the best sound we can find for the entire album! And if you want to hear exactly what you’re paying for, just turn either copy over and prepare to be underwhelmed.

(Alternatively, of course, you could leave the playing of bad-sounding pressings to the professionals.) (more…)

Bob Dylan – John Wesley Harding

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

SUPERB SOUND and UNUSUALLY QUIET VINYL on both sides — I don’t think we’ve ever had a copy this amazing! Both sides earned our Top Grade of A+++. This copy has the bass, fullness & vocal presence that are hard to come by for this album. The title track, Dear Landlord, I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, All Along the Watchtower and I Pity The Poor Immigrant are just some of the most memorable songs here.

It’s incredibly difficult to find copies that sound as good as this one does and play as quietly on even one side, let alone both.

It’s not a perfect record or a Demo Disc by any stretch of the imagination. But you’ll have a very hard time finding a copy that presents the music as well as this one does. (more…)

Eagles – Desperado

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

This Original Asylum White Label Pressing has a STRONG A++ side one backed with a KILLER A+++ side two! It’s been a couple of weeks since we finished our big shootout for this great album and I still can’t get over how amazing this copy sounded. Most copies are too compressed to ever really come to life, but this one is big, bold and dynamic with lots of energy. The bottom end is positively killer on this one. 

Side one earned an A++ grade. It’s incredibly transparent with lots of ambience and space around the various instruments. There’s loads of tubey magic; most copies just aren’t this rich, warm or sweet. Our very best side ones have a little more presence, but I doubt anyone will be less than thrilled by the sound here.

Side two has it ALL going on, which is why we gave it our top grade of A+++. The soundfield is big, wide and DEEP. The top end is extended and silky sweet, qualities that you don’t get on most copies out there. This side has all the immediacy you could ask for. I just don’t think you could find a better sounding side two no matter what you did.

On the TAS Super Disc List, Harry Pearson recommends the British SYL pressings for this album. SYL pressings can sound very good; we’ve previously found one that rated a Double Plus on both sides. But our champions for both sides were both domestic, both this time and last time. (more…)

Buffalo Springfield – Buffalo Springfield

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  • Only the first copy to hit the site in years and boy was it worth the wait — superb Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • Both sides here are big, full-bodied and present with plenty of extension on both ends
  • 4 stars on Allmusic: “… this debut sounds pretty great, featuring some of their most melodic and accomplished songwriting and harmonies, delivered with a hard-rocking punch… The entire album bursts with thrilling guitar and vocal interplay, with a bright exuberance that would tone down considerably by their second record.”

For whatever reason all the mastering engineers who cut this first album rarely managed to put any real top or bottom on the record. Why I can’t imagine. Highs and lows are on the tape; the best pressings prove it.

Listen for Tubey Magic, richness, bottom end, presence and freedom from distortion. The more copies you have tried in the past, the more astonishing the sound of this copy will be to you. (more…)

Something Phony This Way Comes

Linda+Ronstadt+-+Prisoner+In+Disguise+

Here’s what we learned when doing our most recent shootout.

Many copies sounded like they were half-speed mastered.

They had a little something phony added to the top of Linda’s voice, they had a little bit of suckout right in the middle of the midrange, the middle of her voice, and they had a somewhat diffuse, vague quality, with sound that lacked the SOLIDITY we heard on the best pressings. These hi-fi-ish qualities that we heard on so many copies reminded us of the kind of audiophile sound we decry at every turn. We’ve played literally hundreds and hundreds of MoFis and other half-speed mastered records over the course of the last twenty years, and one thing we know well is That Sound.
(more…)

Eagles – Listening in Depth

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy or copies of The Eagles amazingly well recorded first album.

The Eagles first album is without a doubt Glyn Johns’ masterpiece — rock records just don’t sound any better! It’s exactly the kind of record that makes virtually ANY Audiophile Record pale in comparison. EVERYTHING you could ask for as an audiophile is all here and more.  

The Eagles first album is without a doubt Glyn Johns’ masterpiece — rock records just don’t sound any better! It’s exactly the kind of record that makes virtually ANY Audiophile Record pale in comparison. EVERYTHING you could ask for as an audiophile is all here and more. When you drop the needle on Train Leaves Here This Morning, the opener for side two, the immediate impression you will get is “WOW”. The sound is as BIG and BOLD as any outside of the live event. The sweetness and the tubey magical quality of the vocals are virtually without equal. It’s my favorite track on the album and it KILLS on this copy!

A Top Ten Title

You may have seen our Top 100 list of the best sounding rock records elsewhere on the site. If we were to pick out a Top Ten from that list, this record would have made the cut. (more…)

Marty Robbins – More Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs

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  • Stunning sound throughout for this original Columbia Six-Eye stereo LP; Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and Double Plus (A++) on the first
  • Transparency and Tubey Magic are critical to the sound of the arrangements and you will find both are abundant here  
  • Very quiet for an early Columbia Six-Eye pressing – Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • “Robbins’ originals are authored in an authentically vintage style, interspersed with public domain titles that are the real article…” – All Music

Two superb sides, with the kind of ’60s Tubey Magical Analog Sound that’s been lost to the world of recorded music for decades — decades I tell you! Nobody can manage to get a recording to sound like this anymore and it seems clear to us that no one can remaster a recording like this nowadays, if our direct experience with more than hundred such albums counts as evidence.

Albums such as this live and die by the quality of their vocal reproduction. On this record Mr. Marty Robbins himself will appear to be standing right in your listening room, along with the other other musicians playing on the sessions of course. (more…)

Ray Charles – All Time Great Country and Western Hits

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  • A killer sounding copy with Double Plus (A++) sound or better on all four sides!
  • What was especially shocking about this shootout is that in some ways the best sounding copies of the reissue not just equal but best their original album counterparts 
  • Twenty-two songs on two LPs, including huge hits like I Can’t Stop Loving You, You Don’t Know Me, Oh Lonesome Me, Bye Bye Love, and much more – no wonder AMG gave both discs 5 stars
  • This is some big, bold, absolutely glorious Tubey Magical analog – the tape to disc transfer is Hard To Fault (HTF), making a mockery of the audiophile remasters to come

The music is wonderful. Just listen to that swingin’ horn section behind Ray on Hey, Good Lookin’. They are hot! And Bye Bye Love just plain ROCKS. (more…)