Heavy Vinyl Reviews and Commentaries

Paganini / Violin Concertos 1 & 2 – Where Is the Outrage?

The Music of Paganini Available Now

Album Reviews of the Music of Paganini

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Had I paid good money to buy this pressing in the hopes of hearing the supremely talented Yehudi Menuhin of 1961 tear it up on Paganini’s legendary first two concertos, I can tell you one thing: I would be pissed.

Where is the outrage in the audiophile community over this kind of trash? I have yet to see it. I suspect I will grow quite a bit older and quite a bit greyer before anyone else notices just how bad this record sounds. I hope I’m proven wrong.

Screechy, bright, shrill, thin and harsh, it’s hard to imagine worse sound from this piece of Heavy Vinyl trash.

NO warmth. NO sweetness. NO richness. NO Tubey Magic. In other words, NO trace of the original’s (or the early reissue’s) analog sound. I may own at most one or two classical CDs that sound this bad, and I own quite a few. I have to wonder how records this awful get released. Then again, the Heavy Vinyl Buyer of today is not known for his discrimination; if he were Sundazed and Analogue Productions would have gone out of business many years ago. (more…)

Rachmaninoff / Piano Concerto No. 3 – Speakers Corner Remasters a Classic Mercury, Part One

More Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

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This commentary was written in 2004. We carried Heavy Vinyl back then, and for that I would like to apologize. Like the audiophiles of today, at the time I thought I knew a great deal more about records and their proper reproduction than I actually did.

Yes, I admit it: I suffered from the Dunning-Kruger effect. There is one very powerful benefit that I gained from being so mistaken. Having experienced it myself, the signs that you think you know more than you do are very easy to spot in others.  If you want to see the effect firsthand, go to any audiophile forum and start reading any thread you find there. It would be hard to miss.

Some thoughts on the new 180 gram Mercury reissues by Speakers Corner and a bunch of other record related stuff.

The Absolute Sound weighed in with their view of the series:

Speakers Corner has given these recordings the respect they deserve. The packaging is gorgeous: a black album titled “The Living Presence of 20th Century Music” and displaying the Mercury logo holds the three records with their original covers and liner notes. In addition, there are informative annotations on the music and Dorati, and a history of Mercury Living Presence…They sound at least as good and in some ways better than the originals…There are no negatives and not enough superlatives to describe these magnificent reissues. It’s rare that performance, sound, and musical value combine at this level in a recording.

Arthur B. Lintgen, The Absolute Sound, February/March 2004

Let me start by saying that I have not listened to a single one of the new Mercury titles.

Now that that’s out of the way, let me state for the record that the chances of the above statements as quoted in TAS being true are so close to zero that they cannot be calculated by anything but the latest Cray computer.

Has Speakers Corner produced a single classical record that’s better than a good original pressing? One or two. Maybe. So what are the chances they did so with these? Almost none I would say. (more…)

Crosby Stills & Nash / Self-Titled – Classic Records Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: B-

Nice enough I suppose, but where’s the Midrange Magic?

The Classic 180g version was a revelation when it came out years ago. Bernie actually cut it pretty darn right. However, his mastering chain cannot compete with the one used on the best original pressings.

The evidence for this is overwhelming. There simply is no Bernie-Grundman-cut record that is the equal of the best pressings not cut on his current chain that I have heard over the years. (His old cutting system, the one that cut Stardust and Blue and much of the Contemporary catalog, was KILLER. Wonder what happened to it?)

Having said that, the Classic version gets you 70-75% of the way there and gives you quiet vinyl to boot, so it must be appreciated for what it is: a very good reissue, maybe even the best one Classic ever made. But not the real thing. Not even close. (more…)

Elton John / Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – A Heavy Vinyl Winner!

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More Reviews and Commentaries for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Sonic Grade: B (or better)

[I think these are the labels for the copy we played, It came out around 2000-2005. It’s not Speakers Corner, Simply Vinyl or Back to Black. Those are labels best avoided in our experience.]

Hey, they really did a good job with this one. We are going to listen to it again at a later date to see if our initial impressions were correct [I guess by now it should be clear that we are never going to do that, sorry], but it sure sounded good to us when we played it recently during our big GYBR shootout. 

I’m guessing no domestic copy can beat it, and certainly no audiophile half-speed mastered pressing can hold a candle to it. Those records are pretty awful. (more…)

Letter of the Week – “I feel like a wasted a lot of money on inferior albums. I will continue to make wise purchases from you.”

The continuing story of one man’s quest to find better sounding Beatles albums. His story can be seen below. Here is the latest back and forth concerning The Beatles, a band we think we know something about.

Hi Tom
I think I have purchased 6 albums from you. Obviously I believe in your company! Could you tell e which Beatles albums that you test have the best sound.

We used to have a Top 100 Rock and Pop list on the site. We are building a new one that looks like this:

Top 100 Rock and Pop in Progress

There are six Beatles albums in our Top 100. Those are the best sounding.

I have the Sgt Pepper, White, Help, and a Hard Days Night. I have the Beatles Mono Box set which I purchased new. I agree with you that the stereo version purchased from you are superior.

That set is a bad joke played on the record loving public. Dead as a doornail. A complete ripoff. I have the stereo version and it is just as bad. Here is my review.

I am not impressed by the MOFI pressings. I am still checking each day hoping I won’t miss out on a good Abbey Road pressing.

They are hard to come by these days but some will come on the site before too long.

I always get great info and service from you. I feel like a wasted a lot of money on inferior albums. I will continue to make wise purchases from you. I am trying to spread the word around here to check out Better Records.

Thanks for your kind thoughts and for spreading the word. Perhaps someone you know will be saved the expense of buying inferior Heavy Vinyl pressings. We review the worst of them here, so just point him to this blog and perhaps you will be able to help a fellow audiophile get Better Records.

And of course the best way to help your fellow audiophiles is by letting them hear your Hot Stamper pressings. That’s the only surefire way we know of to convince the skeptics. One listen to your Sgt. Pepper should be all it takes.

Tom

Below is Edward’s original conversation with us. (more…)

VTA Adjustment on Crosby Stills and Nash – Using the Classic Records Heavy Vinyl LP

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More VTA Adjustment

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This commentary from way back when (2005!) describes how to go about adjusting your VTA for 200 gram vinyl, using the CSN track Helplessly Hoping from the first album.

Helplessly Hoping is a wonderful song with plenty of energy in the midrange and upper midrange area which is difficult to get right. Just today (4/25/05) I was playing around with VTA, having recently installed a new Dynavector DV-20x on my playgrading table (a real sweetheart, by the way), and this song showed me EXACTLY how to get the VTA right.

VTA is all about balance. The reason this song is so good for adjusting VTA is that the guitar at the opening is a little smooth and the harmony vocals that come in after the intro can be a little bright. Finding the balance between these two elements is key to getting the VTA adjusted properly. (more…)

Stevie Ray Vaughan Box Set – One Customer’s Take on the Analogue Productions 45 RPM Remaster

A good customer bought some SRV Hot Stampers from me a while back. He then told me he was going to spend $400 on the AP SRV Box Set

Hey Tom,

For kicks on this issue of heavy vinyl vs. hot stampers, I’m tempted to order the ‘Texas Hurricane’ box set — 45rpm, 200g etc. — and shoot it out against the SRV records I’ve got from you.

Would you be interested to know how that goes?

In the admittedly unlikely event that the heavy vinyl smoked the hot stampers, would you take them back? Easy to sell the heavy vinyl on without losing money, but not so much the hot stampers.

Just an idea… I’m delighted with what I have from you, but so curious to learn more by comparing etc. Could be fuel for a cool blog post in due course…

CF

I replied:

Oh, I think you are in for quite a shock, and of course we would take our copies back, but I would give you very good odds that that will
never happen as long as you have two working ears.

A few weeks go by.

Tom,

So the results are in … after listening to Texas Hurricane (at 45rpm) and comparing to the White Hot Stamper versions of the same albums I can say… as a musical experience it’s incomprehensible. It just doesn’t rock, doesn’t uplift, and it’s veiled, so you lose the whole meaning of this music, the energy, soul, life.

I wasted $400 to find this out. Any chance you have another customer who’d like to relieve me of it to do their own shootout?

I’ll never doubt you again : )

CF

Good to know you will never doubt me again! Always think back to the sour taste in your mouth and the painful throbbing in your brain from playing this heavy vinyl garbage and perhaps you will never be tempted again. If you feel the urge to cross over to the dark side, please email me and I will do my best to talk you out of it. That way lies madness (and audio frustration).

TP

Here’s the $32,000 Question

Is this a bad sounding record? I don’t know, never played it. Is it worth it to you to spend $400 to find out? Does Analogue Productions have a pretty good track record to rely on in these matters? Or are they, as I have been saying since 1995, one of the worst labels of all time. In another commentary I wrote: (more…)

Little Feat – Dixie Chicken – Hard to Find on the Green Label

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TWO AMAZING WHITE HOT SIDES for one of Little Feat’s best-loved albums! This music is tons of fun, but the typical pressing is so flat and lifeless that the music is basically ruined. When you find a copy that’s been properly mastered, like this one, it’s a whole ‘nother story. Richer and fuller, clearer and more transparent, this Green Label will absolutely DESTROY any later pressing!

This album may never be a Demo Disc, but it certainly doesn’t need to sound like a piece of cardboard, and this copy is the proof! As soon as we dropped the needle, there was no doubt in our minds that this was the winner of our shootout. It’s a huge step up in every way.

Most copies of this album sound like cardboard, especially the later pressings on the palm tree and tan labels. To get the best sound you need originals of this album, and Warner Brothers green label originals are getting pretty darn hard to find as more and more collectors and audiophiles are coming to the realization that the unending stream of heavy vinyl reissues flooding the market leaves a lot to be desired. (Our desire for them is at zero as we no longer bother to order the stuff.) (more…)

Vince Guaraldi – A Bloated Mess at 45 RPM from Acoustech

More Bad Sounding Pressings from Analogue Productions

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We played an amazing Hot stamper copy that got the bottom end on this album as right as we’ve ever heard. The contribution of the bass player was clear and correctly balanced in the mix, which we soon learned to appreciate was fundamentally important to the rhythmic drive of the music.

The bass was so tight and note-like you could see right into the soundstage and practically picture Monte Budwig plucking and bowing away.

This is precisely where the 45 RPM pressing goes off the rails. The bloated, much-too-heavy and poorly-defined bass of the Heavy Vinyl remaster makes a mess of the Brazilian and African rhythms inherent in the music. If you own that $50 waste of money, believe me, you will not be tapping your foot to Cast Your Fate to the Wind or Manha de Carnival.
(more…)

Axis: Bold As Love – More Heavy Vinyl Trash from Classic Records

More Jimi Hendrix

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Sonic Grade: F

One of the worst things the dummies at Classic ever did. Flat and dry with no Tubey Magic whatsoever. It positively screams “CHEAP REISSUE.” That description reminds me of this record, although to be fair the sound is quite a bit worse on the Hendrix.

MORE CLASSIC RECORDS REVIEWS

Classic Records – Classical (26)

Classic Records – Jazz (11)

Classic Records – Rock and Pop (45)

and here is the most important section of them all, one that might help you avoid wasting lots of money on audiophile records that don’t sound good:

Bad Sounding Audiophile Records – The Complete List (272)