Sonic Grade: F
Check out our Rock and Jazz Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers.
This killer copy features some of the more intense prog rock sound to hit our table in quite some time. This is a true Demo Disc LP, one of the most dynamic and powerful rock recordings ever made.
The organ captured here by Eddie Offord (of Yes engineering fame, we’re his biggest fans) and then transferred so well onto our Hot Stamper pressings will rattle the foundation of your house if you’re not careful. This music really needs that kind of megawatt reproduction to make sense. It’s big Bombastic Prog that wants desperately to rock your world. At moderate levels it just sounds overblown and silly. At loud levels it actually does rock your world. (more…)
If you’re a fan of the band, you know what these guys are about — big-time technical prowess, dizzying effects, powerful solos and so forth. Many copies we played didn’t let you hear just how hard these guys are shredding… and then what’s the point? If the musicianship gets lost in the mastering, why bother with this band at all? We were looking for copies that didn’t let us forget who we were listening to. (more…)
This Island British Import LP has amazing sound! It’s super full-bodied with excellent clarity and transparency. The low end has real weight and heft, so when Emerson really lays into the organ it’ll rattle your walls! (more…)
Is that where the music is — in the details? Brighter ain’t necessarily better; most of the time it’s just brighter.
This album isn’t about clarity. It’s about the sound of a live Rock and Roll concert. It’s about the raw power of one of the most phenomenal rhythm sections to ever be captured in performance.
Next time you try out some audiophile wire or a new tweak play this record to make sure you haven’t lost the essential weight and power of the sound. It doesn’t care about your love of detail. It wants you to feel those bass notes going right through you. If the new wire can’t get that right, it’s got to go.
Our Hot Stamper Commentary for 801 Live Circa 2007
This is a one of my All Time Favorite records — a Desert Island Disc if there ever was one. I treasure this album. And I just now finally figured out how to tell the good ones from the not-so-good ones. I confess I was listening for the wrong things in the shootouts I was doing over the last few years, and in that I have the feeling I was not alone. I think this is a fairly common Major Audiophile Pitfall that we all get stuck in on occassion.
In this case I was trying to find a more transparent copy, one with more shimmer to the cymbals and air around the instruments. The first track is a little opaque and I wanted to be able to hear into the music better. I tried many import and domestic copies, but none of them seemed to have the particular qualities I was looking for. They all sounded different, but I could not for the life of me find one that sounded clearly better. (more…)
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the album, Pink Floyd managed to record one of the most amazing sounding records in the history of rock music. The song Wish You Were Here starts out with radio noise and other sound effects, then suddenly an acoustic guitar appears, floating in the middle of your living room between the speakers, clear as a bell and as real as you have ever heard. It’s obviously an “effect,” but for us audiophiles it’s pure ear candy.
In-Depth Track Commentary
Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Pts. 1-5
Right from the dynamic intro you can tell this is going to be a wild ride. David Gilmour’s haunting guitar line that comes cutting from out of the abyss should be warm with tons of room for his phasers to do their phasing.
After the band comes in and the vocals begin (listen for the man chuckling in the left channel) you should pay attention to the balance of the mix. Most copies tend to be very midrangy which can make the guitars aggressive and harsh, often times taking emphasis away from the vocals. The good copies have lots of transparency and allow everything to sit in their respectively places. This is probably most noticeable during the saxophone solo.
The tenor that starts off this section needs to be breathy, full-bodied, and sitting delicately in the center of your speakers. It does NOT need be be honky and hard sounding without any top extension. As the solo slowly crescendos, notice the guitar line spread across the soundstage that actually bookends the saxophone. The more dynamic copies really let you hear the intricacy and delicacy of his picking that foreshadows the time signature shift about to come. (more…)
Over the last five years or so we have been prepping for this shootout by buying and trying lots of different pressings. Right from the start we could hear that no domestic pressing was, or was likely to ever be, remotely competitive with the best Brits.
Most later reissues — domestic or import — were as flat and lifeless as a cassette, although we admit that some were clearly better than others. (more…)
This British Polydor pressing of Level 42’s BEST ALBUM makes a mockery of most of what’s out there — who knew the sound could be this good? Punchy bass, breathy vocals, snappy drums; it’s all here and it reallyl comes JUMPIN’ out of the speakers on this pressing.
What was striking this time around was just how smooth, rich and tubey the sound was on the best copies. It’s been a few years since we last did this shootout and it’s amazing to us how much better this title has gotten in that short span of time.
Of course, the recording very likely got no better at all, but our system, set-up, room, electricity and who-know-what-else sure did. (more…)
It’s not easy to find great copies of this album. This kind of prog rock demands big, bold sound, and not all copies have the size or low end weight to pull it off. Keith Emerson’s organ needs to extend all the way down, or it just doesn’t work. Both sides here have a great bottom end, and some real texture and space up top. (more…)
Sonic Grade: F
Of course our Hot Stamper pressings are going to be better than the Anadisq LP from the mid ’90s. How much better? Words fail me. The MoFi was an out and out disaster. Perhaps some of the MoFi collectors didn’t notice because they had nothing to compare it to. God forbid they would ever lower themselves to buy a “common” pressing such as one of our domestic Islands.
Had they done so what they would have heard is huge amounts of musical information that is simply missing from the MoFi pressing. (more…)