Heavy Vinyl Disasters

Prokofiev / Love for Three Oranges Suite / Dorati – Classic Records Debunked

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Sonic Grade: F 

Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked. 

Dreadful sound. The Mercury series on Classic is a complete disaster. 

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs but is has since been replaced by another Heavy Vinyl reissue.

“Whether you prefer the fabulous bass dynamics and savage paganism of the Scythian Suite, the colorful and captivating sound-portrait of the fairy tale Love for Three Oranges Suite, Dorati’s super-charged readings of these scores are unsurpassed. Acclaimed by critics and audiophiles alike as among the very best of the best Mercury’s, this dramatic and riveting combination of Prokofiev, Dorati and Mercury Living Presence is a sure winner.” – Classic Records   

Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel (1st Album) on Classic Records Heavy Vinyl

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Sonic Grade: D

Another addition to our Hall of Shame from one of our favorite whipping boys here at Better Records, the late but hardly lamented Classic Records.

Bernie Grundman’s mastering approach for the first PG album is a disaster — brighter and cleaner, which turns out to be precisely the wrong sound for the music.

Jennifer Warnes – The Hunter – Awful on Import Vinyl (and Any Other Way)

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The Hunter

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing on import vinyl from 1992. Years ago we wrote:

This is a SUPER RARE Private Music German Import LP. The last two copies of this record listed on eBay went for over $600! 

All of which was true. We left out, however, what an awful record The Hunter is in every way. If you like your Big Production Pop to sound as phony as possible, this is the album for you. Not one instrument sounds remotely like it should, and that is surely an insult to audiophiles of every stripe. (The problem was that most self-identified audiophiles failed to notice how execrable the sound was.)

The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers – Worst Version Ever!

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Sticky Fingers

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame Pressing and another Heavy Vinyl LP debunked.

This RTI 180g copy (with the zipper cover) is one of a series of five titles Bob Ludwig cut in the ’90s. According to the man, after cutting the record he chanced upon a consumer copy and was shocked to hear how bad it sounded.   

It sounded, according to him, nothing like the record he had cut. Somehow they had botched the pressings and ruined the sound. How this could happen I can’t imagine.

Bob says that’s what they did and we’ll take him at his word, out of respect for one of the all-time great mastering engineers, RL himself. He promptly sold off all his analog mastering equipment and got out of the game.

Can you blame him? According to him they put his name all over a record the sound of which they had ruined. Guess I would stop making records too if that were the case.

By the way, the sound was dismal on every title from that series we played except for Heart’s, which was okay, certainly better than the average pressing out there, but no Hot Stamper by any stretch of the imagination. (For actual Hot Stampers please come to us.)

Emmylou Harris – Quarter Moon In A Ten Cent Town – MoFi Debunked

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Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

I comment below about the ridiculous sound of the MoFi pressing. When you have a recording that is already plenty bright, adding more top end and taking out more lower midrange is the last thing in the world you should be doing. Since that is standard operating procedure for MoFi (and other Half-Speed mastering outfits), that’s exactly the approach they ended up taking.

The sound that Emmylou and her producers were going for here is clean, detailed and low distortion, which is exactly what the best pressings, the “hottest stampers”, deliver.

Those of you who have had the opportunity to play the Mobile Fidelity pressing of this record should know what a disaster it is.

Is brighter better? Apparently Mobile Fidelity thinks so. And they did the same thing to Gordon Lightfoot’s album. His voice sounds so phony on the MoFi that you’d swear it’s a bad CD. But it’s not a bad CD. It’s an expensive audiophile record! (more…)

Verdi, Rossini, et al. / Venice – Solti – Classic Records Debunked

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Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

Classic Records remastered LSC 2313 (VICS 1119) and even the people that like the sound of Classic’s Heavy Vinyl complain about it, so you can imagine what we think.

What a piece of garbage. Smeary and shrill, it gives no indication of the beauty that is on the tape. 

Ravel / Rachmaninoff / The Reiner Sound / Reiner – Classic Records Debunked

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Rachmaninoff / The Reiner Sound / Reiner

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked. 

There is simply an amazing amount of TOP END on this original pressing. Rarely do I hear Golden Age recordings with this kind of ENERGY and extension up top. This is of course one of the reasons the Classic reissue is such a disaster. With all that top end energy, Bernie’s gritty cutting system and penchant for boosted upper midrange frequencies positively guarantees that the Classic Reiner Sound will be all but unplayable on a proper system.  

Boosting the bass and highs and adding transistory harshness is the last thing in the world that The Reiner Sound needs. (more…)

Tchaikovsky / 1812 Overture, Op. 49 / Kunzel – Telarc Debunked

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Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing.

If you want an amazingly dynamic 1812 with huge amounts of deep bass for the firing of the cannon you can’t do much better than this (or its UHQR brother). 

But if you want rich, sweet and tonally correct brass and strings you had best look elsewhere. I’ve never liked the sound of this record and I’m guessing if I heard a copy today I would like it even less. Who thinks live classical music actually sounds like this? (more…)

The Doors – Morrison Hotel – Rhino / Universal Heavy Vinyl Debunked

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Sonic Grade: D (at best)

Hall of Shame and another Heavy Vinyl LP debunked.

A few years back we played the 180 gram reissue of Morrison Hotel. Initially we thought it pretty good, but the longer it played, the more its artificiality became apparent — and annoying. Just listen to the vocals — they’re all wrong. Jim Morrison has one of the richest and most distinctive voices in the history of rock. When it doesn’t sound like the guy I’ve been listening to for close to forty years, something is very, very wrong.

The best Hot Stamper copies are nearly always the earlier Big Red label copies. There’s substantially more tubey magic on these pressings; the typical Butterfly Label copy lacks a bit of the weight that the older cutting equipment allowed. The best Butterfly Label copies can be pretty darn good though.