Heavy Vinyl Mediocrities

The Who – Our Old Review of the Classic Records Pressing

More of the Music of The Who

Reviews and Commentaries for Who’s Next

Below you will find our review from 2005. After doing our next shootout for Who’s Next in 2007, and replaying the Classic afterwards, we changed our minds about Classic’s version of the album.

Apparently, a surprising amount of audio progress was made from 2005 to 2007, reflected in this review as well as dozens of others.

Looking back, 2007 seems to have been a Milestone Year  for us here at Better Records, although we certainly did not know it at the time.

Later that same year, we swore off Heavy Vinyl (prompted by the less-than-enchanting sound of the Rhino pressing of Blue) and committed ourselves to doing record shootouts of vintage pressings full time. To accomplish this we eventually ended up doubling the staff. (Cleaning and playing every record you see on our site turned out to very time consuming. No one man band can begin to fathom the complex and random nature of the vinyl LP, which explains why the audiophile reviewers of the world are right about as often as the proverbially stopped clock.)

Much of the review you see below indicates we had a much more limited understanding of Who’s Next than we do now, but we obviously have no problem admitting to it, a subject we discuss in some detail here.

Live and Learn is our motto, and progress in audio is a feature, not a bug, of record collecting at the most advanced levels. (“Advanced” is a code word for having no interest in any remastered pressing marketed to the audiophile community. There is nothing advanced about these deceptively-packaged mediocrities if you have the stereo to reveal their shortcomings. After spending forty plus years in audio (1975-2023, we do. )

Sonic Grade: B-

At one time we did not recommend this record, but now we do!

Without going into the sordid details, let’s just say this record sounds pretty good.

The acoustic guitars are especially sweet and silky for a modern reissue. The sound is better than most of the pressings of Who’s Next I’ve ever played.

Clearly this is is one of the better Classic Records rock records.

(It’s the only Who record they’ve done that we carried. The others are awful.) 

The Best Bass Ever!

In our Hot Stamper commentary for Who’s Next we noted this about the sound of the Classic pressing:

It’s actually shockingly good, better than it has any right to be coming from Classic Records. The bass is PHENOMENAL; no British Track pressing had the bass punch and note-like clarity of the Classic. It shows you the kind of bass you had no idea could possibly be on the tape. It reminds me a bit of the Classic pressing of the first Zep album: in the case of the Zep, it has dynamics that simply are not to be found anywhere else. The Classic Who LP has that kind of bass — it can’t be found elsewhere so don’t bother looking. (Don’t get me wrong; we’ll keep looking, but after thirty plus years of Track Who LPs, we kinda know when we’re beaten.)

Hot Stampers Ain’t Cheap

We’ve found Hot Stampers of Who’s Next in the past, and they are still the ultimate versions. This goes without saying.

But Hot Stamper copies are not particularly quiet, and they are never cheap, which is in marked contrast to Classic Records’ heavy vinyl pressings, which are fairly quiet and also fairly cheap. Some of you may think $30 is a lot of money for a record, but we do not. It’s a fair price.

When you buy Crosby Stills and Nash’s first album or Tapestry or Bridge Over Troubled Water on Classic for $30, you are getting your money’s worth.

Don’t Kid Yourself

But don’t kid yourself. You are not getting anything remotely close to the best pressing available, because the best pressings are hard to find. We do find them, and we do charge a lot of money for them, because they sound absolutely AMAZING in a direct head to head comparison to the Classic version and anything else you may have heard.

A Benchmark

We recommend you use the Classic version as a benchmark. When you find something that beats it, you have yourself a very good record. Until then, you still have a good, quiet record to enjoy. You win either way.

Further Reading

Classic Records 45 RPM Recut – This Is Your Idea of a Great Firebird?

More of the music of Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)

Reviews and Commentaries for The Firebird

Sonic Grade: D

Many years ago, a customer alerted me to a review Wayne Garcia wrote about various VPI platters and the rim drive, and this is what I wrote back to him:

Steve, after starting to read Wayne’s take on the platters, I came across this:

That mind-blowing epiphany that I hadn’t quite reached with the Rim Drive/Super Platter happened within seconds after I lowered the stylus onto the “Infernal Dance” episode of Stravinsky’s Firebird (45 rpm single-sided Classic Records reissue of the incomparable Dorati/LSO Mercury Living Presence recording).

That is one of my half-dozen or so favorite orchestral recordings, and I have played it countless times.

This is why I have so little faith in reviewers. I played that very record not two weeks ago (04/2010) against a good original and the recut was at best passable in comparison. If a reviewer cannot hear such an obvious difference in quality, why believe anything he has to say?

The reason we say that no reviewer can be trusted is that you cannot find a reviewer who does not say good things about demonstrably mediocre and even just plain awful records. It’s the only real evidence we have for their credibility, and the evidence is almost always damning.

I want a reviewer who knows better than to play such an underwhelming pressing and then waste my time telling me about it. He should tell us what a good record sounds like with this equipment mod. Then I might give more credence to what he has to say.

Reviewer malpractice? We’ve been writing about it for more than 25 years.


This is one of the Classic Records titles on Harry Pearson’s TAS List of Super Discs (!).


Allow me to quote a writer with his own website devoted to explaining and judging classical recordings of all kinds. His initials are A.S. for those of you who have been to his site.

Classic Records Reissues (both 33 and 45 RPM) – These are, by far, the best sounding Mercury pressings. Unfortunately, only six records were ever released by Classic. Three of them (Ravel, Prokofiev and Stravinsky) are among the very finest sounding records ever made by anyone. Every audiophile (with a turntable) should have these “big three”.

Obviously we could not disagree more. I’ve played all six of the Classic Mercury’s. The Chabrier, Ravel and Prokofiev titles are actually even worse than the Stravinsky we reviewed.

This same reviewer raved about a record we thought had godawful sound, Romantic Russia on MoFi, a label that never met an orchestral string section it didn’t think needed brightening.

Find me a Mobile Fidelity classical record with that little SR/2 in the dead wax that does not have bright string tone. I have yet to hear one.

What is it with audiophile record reviewers? They seem to be taken in by the most unnatural sounding pressings. The world is full of wonderful vintage pressings that have no such problems. If you are an audiophile who feels himself qualified to write about records, shouldn’t you at least be able to hear the difference between a phony audiophile pressing and the vintage pressings it supposedly improved?

The Absolute Sound is a good example of this kind of malpractice. Most of the records on the old list were vintage pressings, and most of the classical titles set a high standard (the popular titles not so much). Now it’s full of second- and third-rate heavy vinyl recuts that are about as far from Super Discs as you can get.

We went to some pains to show the audiophile community exactly what is wrong with this famous audiophile favorite, and how they could learn to spot one of its most objectionable shortcomings.

The fact that one of the “bad” versions of the album is on the TAS List, side by side with the Living Stereo, is a sign that the standards currently in effect over there have fallen about as far as they can fall.

One of the greatest piano concertos ever recorded is on the list, but so is this unbelievably bad heavy vinyl repress of it. Surely somebody at The Absolute Sound can hear the difference. It’s not subtle.

But maybe it is to them. And that’s a sign that they should stop promoting the equipment they write about. Judging by their inability to tell a good record from a bad one, it must not be very good.

Further Reading

Below you will find our reviews of the more than 200 Heavy Vinyl pressings we’ve played over the years. Feel free to pick your poison.

And finally,

A Confession

Even as recently as the early 2000s, we were still impressed with many of the better Heavy Vinyl pressings. If we’d never made the progress we’ve worked so hard to make over the course of the last twenty or more years, perhaps we would find more merit in the Heavy Vinyl reissues so many audiophiles seem impressed by.

We’ll never know of course; that’s a bell that can be unrung. We did the work, we can’t undo it, and the system that resulted from it is merciless in revealing the truth — that these newer pressings are second-rate at best and much more often than not third-rate and even worse.

Some audiophile records sound so bad, I was pissed off enough to create a special list for them.

Setting higher standards — no, being able to set higher standards — in our minds is a clear mark of progress. Judging by the hundreds of letters we’ve received, especially the ones comparing our records to their Heavy Vinyl and Half-Speed Mastered counterparts, we know that our customers see things the same way.

Steely Dan / Can’t Buy Much of a Thrill – Now with Notes!

More of the Music of Steely Dan

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Steely Dan

At least some of the thrills are here, and for any record on Chad’s label, that is really saying something.

Sonic Grade: B+ to A-

A few comments for the UHQR have been added since this went up on 4/4, now that I’ve had a chance to see the notes in full. I’ve noted the additions in brackets and sectioned some off as well.

Word from the listening panel is in, and they say the new Bernie Grundman mastered UHQR is actually not bad! [Not good, but not bad.]

The tonality is much closer to correct than a lot of the Heavy Vinyl LPs we’ve played recently. Oddly enough, instead of the EQ being overly smooth, in the way that appears to be all the rage these days, the tonality instead errs on the side of somewhat thinner and brighter than ideal. (One could also use the term “correct.”)

This should not be especially surprising. Bernie Grundman has been remastering Heavy Vinyl records since the mid-’90s. Overly smooth titles that he cut are hard to find, on the hundreds of titles he did for Classic Records or anywhere else. The more of his recent work I play, the more I have come to see his disastrously dull Giant Steps as an outlier.

The instruments where these tonality issues are most easily recognized are two that we have written a great deal about on this blog: pianos and snare drums.

The snare sound on the Brothers in Arms that Chris Bellman cut at Bernie Grundman Mastering has the same problem as this new Can’t Buy a Thrill. (Review with specifics coming, sorry for the delay, it has only been two years.)

The thin sounding piano on the Cisco pressing of Aja is likewise a common shortcoming we notice on many of the modern recuts we play.

With links to 29 titles to test for a correct piano sound, and 13 for the snare, the critical listener should be able to find some records in his own collection that will shed light on the problems we heard on Chad’s UHQR.

If your system errs on the side of fat and dark, Chad’s repress has what you need to “fix” the sound of the album. Instead of a murky piano, now you have a clear one. Instead of a too-fat snare getting lost in the mix, now you have a clear snare that you can more easily separate out from the other instruments.

Added 4/5

Note that we did not play all four sides. We felt sides one and three were enough to get an idea of how thrilling this pressing was going to be. We don’t get paid to play Heavy Vinyl pressings. We play them to help audiophiles understand their strengths and weaknesses. We hope that some audiophiles will hear what we have described and perhaps consider that there is a better way. That other way can be found in the bins of their local record store or, for those with deeper pockets, on our site. Either way, settling for the kind of sound found on these modern reissues is the one choice no one should be making.

We played the following four songs, and heard the sonic qualities described below:

  • Do It Again
    • Slightly sandy on the vocals and percussion. [Sandy typically refers to transistory, dry, grainy, or gritty sound.]
    • Has space though.
    • Not too congested and smeary. [A backhanded compliment, that.]
  • Dirty Work
    • Cymbals are bright.
    • Vocals are a bit sandy.
    • Has space.
  • Reelin’ In The Years
    • Voice is thin.
    • Not very natural up top.
  • Fire in the Hole
    • A bit bright.
    • Not harsh but missing some body.

The new version of Can’t Buy a Thrill is not a bad record. In fact, it’s the best ever released by Analogue Productions, as far as we know.

In the Washington Post video, I upset a lot of people by remarking that Chad has never made a good sounding record.

Let me now amend that to “Chad has made exactly one good [not actually good, more like decent] sounding record to our knowledge.”

That’s not really fair though. Maybe his version of Countdown to Ecstasy is good [or decent], can’t say it isn’t.

Our advice: Chad should fire all the other engineers he’s been hiring lately and just work with Bernie from now on. (The guy who cut this record should definitely not be rehired. When’s the last time he mastered a record that’s any better than passable?)

And if it takes six tries to get side one sounding right, then that’s how many times that side will have to be cut.

Matrix / Runout (Side A runout, etched): Bernie Grundman APP 134-45-A (RE-6)
Matrix / Runout (Side B runout, etched): Bernie Grundman APP 134-45-B (RE 3)
Matrix / Runout (Side C runout, etched): Bernie Grundman APP 134-45-C (RE 3)
Matrix / Runout (Side D runout, etched): Bernie Grundman APP 134-45-D (RE 3)

(Once Bernie figured out the kind of thinner, brighter sound that Chad liked for side one, sides two, three and four were a snap. They only took three tries.)

Allow me to make a point about that.

Bernie’s first five versions of side one might have been more to our liking; they might have been less thin and less bright. Whether they were or not is a mystery, and Bernie is certainly not going to be telling any tales out of school.

Added 4/5

Chad is clearly a guy who could be fooled by a thinner, brighter sound. The tonality of his records over the years has been, to be charitable, less than consistent. He doesn’t seem to be able to make up his mind what kind of colorations he prefers.

He used to like super-fat and tubey jazz records, and he hired Doug Sax to make some of those for him. For a while he liked MoFi-like records, and he hired Stan Ricker to make some of those for him. He hired Kevin Gray to make mediocrities like Quiet Kenny (review coming, but you can watch the Washington Post video to get the idea), and he hired George Marino to make a mess of Tea for the Tillerman.

If he’s hiring the best, as he likes to say he is, why all the second-rate and third-rate and just plain awful sounding records?

Of course Bernie has made more than his share of bright records, too. Who is to blame for the shortcomings of Can’t By a Thrill? We’ll probably never know.

Translating Our Grading Scale

The A Minus grade we awarded this UHQR is the highest grade we have ever given to a Heavy Vinyl pressing.

[No longer true: see here and especially here.]

How does that compare to our Hot Stamper grades, you ask? The best way to look at our grades is to compare them to the grades you might have gotten in school, assuming you got some A’s.

White Hot is A Triple Plus. That would be the equivalent to a normal grade of A+, something like 97 or better out of 100.

Super Hot is A Double Plus. That would compare to a normal grade of A,  94 to 96 out of 100.

Hot is A with One Plus or One and a Half Pluses. That would compare to a normal grade of A-,  90 to 93 out of 100.

We stopped listing One Plus pressings years ago. The lowest rated records you can find on our site these days are Hot Stampers with One and a Half Pluses, graded A+ to A++.

This UHQR would be close to, and perhaps even the equal of, a Hot Stamper of this grade, assuming you have the cleaning machinery and fluids that we use. (If not, the sonic grade would have to be lowered by half a plus at least, maybe even a full plus. We discuss that here.)

[This UHQR, with grades that averaged less than One and a Half Pluses, would not be a record we would want to offer our customers.]

However, we have played some records that might make the cut.

I would give the Bellman cutting of Brothers in Arms about the same grade [probably a better grade], and the Zep II Jimmy Page put out in 2014 as well [ditto].

This Coltrane record cut by Bernie would also probably earn that grade. [Again, a better grade than the UHQR.]

All of this assumes that the copy you buy sounds as good as the copy we auditioned, of course, something that cannot be assumed but could be tested, I suppose, by buying more than one copy of the UHQR. Anybody want to give that a try?

Added 4/5

Here’s a better idea. Buy every black label ABC copy you see that looks good. No record club copies. No imports. Just original domestic pressings. Clean a bunch of them up and play them. They will show you what is missing from the UHQR.

For some reason, UHQR stands for Ultra High Quality Record. It’s a classic case of an audiophile label overpromising and underdelivering. Does nothing in the world of records ever change?

Yes, something in the world of records does change. Something has changed. Better Records and their Hot Stampers came along. They guarantee to sell you a dramatically better sounding copy of Can’t Buy a Thrill than anything you have ever heard, and if for any reason you are not happy, any reason at all, they give you all your money back.

Or you can get a fancy box with a pair of mediocre pressings of Can’t Buy a Thrill in it from Chad.


Ravel / Concerto in G on Classic Records

More of the music of Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

LSC 2271 is one of the great RCAs. Classic Records did a passable job with this title, which is about the best they ever do. It’s a far cry from the sound heard on our Hot Stamper pressings but for those of you who do not want to spend that kind of money, or insist on quiet surfaces, the Classic is not a bad record.

The performance is excellent as well, and of course the Ravel Concerto is a piece of music that belongs in any serious collection.

This record also includes d’Indy’s Symphony on a French Mountain Air.

What do you get with Hot Stampers compared to the Classic Heavy Vinyl reissue?

Dramatically more warmth, sweetness, delicacy, transparency, space, energy, size, naturalness (no boost on the top end or the bottom, a common failing of anything on Classic); in other words, the kind of difference you almost ALWAYS get comparing the best vintage pressings with their modern remastered counterparts, in our experience anyway.

Now if you’re a Classic Records fan, and you like that brighter, more detailed, more aggressive sound, our Hot Stampers are probably not for you. We don’t like that sound and we don’t like most Classic Records. They may be clean and clear but where is the RCA LIVING STEREO Magic that made people swoon over these recordings in the first place? Bernie manages to clean that sound right off the record, and that’s just not our idea of hi-fidelity.

Our Hot Stamper Classical Pressings will be dramatically more transparent, open, clear and just plain REAL sounding than practically any record Classic Records ever made, if only because these are all the areas in which heavy vinyl pressings tend to fall short in our experience with the hundreds we’ve played over the years.

Advice – What to Listen For on Classical Records

Classical – Best Performances with Top Quality Sound

Classical – Demo Disc Quality Recordings

Grieg / Peer Gynt – Speakers Corner Reviewed, with Handy VTA Advice

More of the music of Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)

Reviews and Commentaries for Peer Gynt

Sonic Grade: C+

The Fjeldstad has long been one of our favorite performances of Peer Gynt here at Better Records. 

This record is handy for VTA set-up as well, a subject discussed below in our listing from 2010.

The sound is excellent for a modern reissue*, but in the loudest sections the orchestra can get to be a bit much, taking on a somewhat harsh quality. (The quieter passages are superb: sweet and spacious.)

So I adjusted the VTA a bit to see what would happen, and was surprised to find that even the slightest change in VTA caused the strings to lose practically all their rosiny texture and become unbearably smeared.

This is precisely why it’s a good heavy vinyl pressing for setting up your turntable.

If you can get the strings to play with reasonably good texture on this record you probably have your VTA set correctly.


Correct VTA adjustment for classical records (as well as all other kinds of records) is critical to their proper reproduction. If you do not have an arm that allows you to easily adjust its VTA, then you will just have to do it the hard way (which normally means loosening a set screw and moving the arm up and down until you get lucky with the right height).

Yes, it may be time consuming, it may in fact be a major pain in the ass, but there is no question in my mind that you will hear a dramatic improvement in the sound or your records once you have taken the time to correctly set the VTA, by ear, for each and every record you play.

We heard the improvement on this very record, and do on all the classical LPs (and all other kinds of records) we play.

The Big Caveat

As for the asterisk (*) in the first line above, it concerns the caveat “…for a modern reissue…” What exactly do we mean by that? Allow us to reprint what we wrote about another Heavy Vinyl classical pressing, one that we used to like.

We cracked open the Speakers Corner pressing of Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tale of Tsar Saltan in order to see how it would fare against a pair of wonderful sounding Londons we were in the process of shooting out a while ago. Here’s what we heard in our head to head comparison.

The soundstage, never much of a concern to us at here at Better Records but nevertheless instructive in this case, shrinks roughly 25% with the new pressing; depth and ambience are reduced about the same amount. Similar and even more problematical losses can be heard in the area of top end extension.

But what really bothered me was this: The sound was just so VAGUE.

There was a cloud of musical instruments, some here, some there, but they were very hard to SEE. On the Londons we played they were clear. You could point to each and every one. On this pressing it was impossible.

Case in point: the snare drum, which on this recording is located toward the back of the stage, roughly halfway between dead center and the far left of the hall. As soon as I heard it on the reissue I recognized how blurry and smeary it was relative to the clarity and immediacy it had on the earlier London pressings. I’m not sure how else to describe it – diffuse, washed out, veiled. It’s just vague.

This particular Heavy Vinyl reissue is more or less tonally correct, which is not something you can say about many reissues these days. In that respect it’s tolerable and even enjoyable. I guess for thirty bucks that’s about the most you can hope for.

But… when I hear this kind of sound only one word comes to mind, a terrible word, a word that makes us recoil in shock and horror. That word is DUB. This reissue is made from copy tapes.

Copies in analog or copies in digital, who is to say, but it sure ain’t the master tape we’re hearing, of that we can be fairly certain. How else to explain such mediocre sound?

Yes, the cutting systems being used to master these vintage recordings aren’t very good; that seems safe to say. Are the tapes too old and worn? Is the vinyl of today simply not capable of storing the kind of magical sound we find so often in pressings from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s?

To all these questions and more we have but one answer: we don’t know. We know we don’t like the sound of very many of these modern reissues and I guess that’s probably all that we need to know about them. 

If someone ever figures out how to make a good sounding modern reissue, we’ll ask them how they did it. 

Until then it seems the question is moot.

Back in 2011 we stopped carrying Heavy Vinyl and other Audiophile LPs of all kinds. So many of them don’t even sound this good, and this is the kind of sound that just bores us to tears.

This record is disappointing in a number of ways that we believe are important to the proper presentation of orchestral music.

If you own a copy, listen for the things we’ve identified in the sound that came up short.

Here are some of the other records that we’ve found are good for testing the specific qualities that the Speakers Corner pressing lacks.

Gershwin / Concerto in F – String Tone Is Key

More of the Music of George Gershwin

More Orchestral Spectaculars with Hot Stampers

Sonic Grade: C-

I must admit Classic Records did a passable job with this one. The two things that separate the good originals from the Classic reissue are in some ways related. Classic, as is their wont, boosted the upper midrange, and that, coupled with their transistory mastering equipment, makes the strings brighter, grittier, and yet somehow lacking in texture and sheen compared to the originals (a clear sign of a low-res cutting chain).

Once you recognize that quality in the sound of a record, it’s hard to ignore, and I hear it on every Classic Record I play. (This commentary has more on the subject.)

RCA is more famous for its string tone than anything else.

If the strings on the Classic Records LPs don’t bother you, you can save yourself a lot of money by not buying authentic RCA pressings — and get quieter vinyl to boot.

Here are some other records that are good for testing string tone and texture.

Further Reading


Sergio Mendes / Look Around – The Speakers Corner Pressing Had Us Fooled

More of the Music of Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66

Sonic Grade: C

We were very impressed with the Speakers Corner pressing of this album when it came out on Heavy Vinyl in 2001. We simply could not find a vintage pressing that could beat it. I actually took it over to a good customer’s house so that he could hear how much better the album sounded on Heavy Vinyl when played head to head with whatever vintage pressing he might have.

I’m sure you can see where this is going. I Could Not Have Been More Wrong. His copy smoked mine right from the get-go. I wiped the egg off my face, wrote down the stamper numbers for his copy, and proceeded to get hold of some good early pressings so that I could hear the album sound as good as his copy did.

Eventually — eventually in this case being at least five years and maybe more —  we felt we had this album’s number and knew which pressings tended to have the goods and which ones didn’t. All that was left was to do the shootout so that we could actually be sure, or sure enough, keeping in mind that all knowledge about records is provisional.

The Speakers Corner pressing is decent, not bad, but by no stretch of the imagination would it ever be able to compete with any Hot Stamper pressing found on our site.

Most pressings of this album are grainy, shrill, thin, veiled, smeary and full of compressor distortion in the louder parts.

This is hardly a recipe for audiophile listening pleasure.

But there are good sounding pressings. You must have to work to find them.


David Crosby – Another in a Long Line of Classic Records’ Mediocrities

More of the Music of David Crosby

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of David Crosby

What do you get with our best Hot Stampers compared to the Classic Heavy Vinyl reissue?

On high quality equipment, you can expect to hear improvements in all of the following areas:

  • Dramatically more warmth,
  • Dramatically more sweetness,
  • Dramatically more delicacy,
  • Dramatically more transparency,
  • Dramatically more ambience,
  • Dramatically more energy,
  • Dramatically more size (width and height),
  • Dramatically more correct timbres (without the boost to the top and the bottom end that the Classic suffers from).

in other words, the kind of difference you almost ALWAYS get comparing the best vintage pressings with their modern remastered counterparts, if our first hand experience with thousands of them can be considered evidentiary.

The Classic is a decent enough record. I might give it a “C” or so. It’s sure better than the Super Saver reissue pressing, but that is obviously setting a very low bar. No original I have ever played did not sound noticeably better than Bernie’s recut.

A Hot Stamper of an amazing recording such as this is a MAGICAL record. Can the same be said of any Classic Records release? None come to mind.

By the way, the remastered CD that came out in 2011 (I think that’s the one I have) is excellent, with a surprising amount of the Tubey Magic that is on the original tape. On a good CD player it would be clearly superior to the Classic vinyl, and for that reason, we say buy the CD.

Here are some records we’ve reviewed that are lacking in the same qualities as this pressing of David Crosby’s first album. If you own any of the titles that we’ve linked to below, listen for their shortcomings and see if your copy doesn’t sound the way we’ve described the copies we’ve played.

Further Reading

New to the Blog? Start Here

There is an abundance of audiophile collector hype surrounding the hundreds of Heavy Vinyl pressings currently in print. I read a lot about how wonderful their sound is, but when I actually play them, I rarely find them to be any better than mediocre, and many of them are awful. (Some, of course, are good, and we don’t mind saying so.)


Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim on Bad Rhino Heavy Vinyl

More of the Music of Frank Sinatra

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Frank Sinatra

Sonic Grade: C-

The Rhino 180 gram LP mastered by Kevin Gray is passable, but the real thing is the real thing and just can’t be beat by some wannabe reissue.

There is a richness, a sweetness and a relaxed naturalness on the best early pressings that are virtually never found on modern remasterings.

Rhino Records has really made a mockery of the analog medium. Rhino touts their releases as being pressed on “180 gram High Performance Vinyl.” However, if they are using performance to refer to sound quality, we have found the performance of their vinyl to be quite low, lower than the average copy one might stumble upon in the used record bins.

Mastered by Kevin Gray, this record has what we would call ”modern” sound, which is to say it’s clean and tonally correct, but it’s missing the analog qualities the better originals have plenty of, most notably Tubey Magic. [1]

In other words, it sounds like a CD.

Who can be bothered to play a record that has so few of the qualities audiophiles are looking for on vinyl?

Back in 2007 we put the question this way: Why Own a Turntable if You’re Going to Play Mediocrities Like These?

[1] Some records are so completely lacking in Analog Warmth, Richness and Sweetness that they sound like CDs, and bad ones at that. They have so little Tubey Magic that you might as well peg the figure at ZERO.

This is decidedly not our sound. No Hot Stamper pressing could possibly lack Tubey Magic — it’s one of the things that sets our records apart from the modern mediocrity known as the Heavy Vinyl LP.

Borodin on Speakers Corner – You Say the Budget Stereo Treasury Has Better Sound?

More of the music of Alexander Borodin (1833-1887)

Hot Stamper Pressings of Orchestral Recordings Available Now

A decent enough Speakers Corner Decca.

The Heavy Vinyl reissue of this title is not bad, but like a number of reissues, it lacks the bottom end weight found on the early London pressings.

(Classic Records pressings rarely had that problem. Just the opposite in fact. The bass was boosted most of the time, especially the deep bass, but for some reason the lower strings are never rich the way the best vintage pressings can be.)

I remember this Speakers Corner pressing being a little flat and bright.

Since I haven’t played it in years, there is some chance that I could be wrong. I have never had trouble admitting to the possibility, a fact that makes us practically unique in the world of audiophile reviewers.

The glorious sound I hear on the best London pressings is not the kind of thing I hear on 180 gram records by Speakers Corner, or anybody else for that matter.

They do a good job some of the time, but none of their records can compete with a vintage pressing when that vintage pressing is mastered and pressed properly. 

The best pressings of this UK London Stereo Treasury from the Seventies will beat the pants off of it. That ought to tell you something, right?

A budget reissue that is clearly superior to the best that modern mastering has to offer?

It happens all the time. It’s the rule, not the exception.

The second symphony is a work that audiophiles should love. It shares many qualities with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, which you will surely recognize.

It also has some lovely passages that remind me of the Tale of The Tsar Saltan, another work by the same composer.

If you like exotic and colorfully orchestrated symphonic sound, you will be hard-pressed to find better.