Labels We Love – RCA Living Stereo

Debussy / Clair de Lune / Agoult

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  • A KILLER sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides 
  • These sides are incredibly rich, sweet and full-bodied yet still very clean, clear and spacious; Demo Disc sound throughout!
  • I can’t imagine a more beautiful record, both in terms of the programme and the sound; this record is a wonderful example of what the Decca recording engineers (Kenneth Wilkinson in this case) were able to capture on tape
  • This is the exact same recording as the famous Living Stereo Clair De Lune, LSC-2326, but with a couple of extra tracks included

Transparent and spacious, wide and naturally staged, clean yet rich, with zero coloration, there is nothing here to fault. Nearly Triple Plus all the way. So relaxed and natural you will soon find yourself lost in the music. (more…)

Henry Mancini – The Music From Peter Gunn – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

This early White Dog pressing (4s-6s) has plenty of the Living Stereo Magic RCA was justly famous for back in 1958. Both sides earned a sonic grade of A+ to A++. (The best Hot Stamper copies of More Music from Peter Gunn show you just how well this kind of music can be recorded.)

Listen to all that crazy reverb on the piano and drums — it may not be the most natural sound in the world but it’s pretty cool when it’s done this well.

Both sides here had excellent brass as well. So often the pop records from this era have smeary, blary, shrill brass reproduction, but this copy managed to avoid that problem. The brass could use a bit more weight on side one and on side two it sounded a bit more crude than we had heard previously.

There was plenty of 3-D space on both sides, although the overall sound was a bit more distant and dark than we would have liked. (more…)

Offenbach / Gaite Parisienne – Fiedler – Reviewed in 2005

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.  

Superb sound! The top end of this record is PERFECTION. When you hear all the percussion instruments, the tambourines, triangles, wood blocks they just sound so lovely. The overall sound is rich and sweet, just like a good vintage RCA should sound. Some may find the sound colored, but I find it enchanting.

Side two, however, sounded fairly unpleasant when I first played it. As I listened more and more, I came to the realization that the absolute phase was probably inverted. The orchestra, rather than being back behind the speakers where they belong, was coming AT me, a sure sign that something is funny. One way to think about it is the sound stage becomes convex instead of concave.

So I switched my headshell leads and sure enough everything got much better — the orchestra now had depth and the strings became less forward and shrill, and the horns took on more body and had less of that blary quality they sometimes do. (more…)

Offenbach / Gaite Parisienne / Fiedler – Our Shootout Winner from 2004

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

Hot Stamper Copy! 11S/ 10S are the best stampers for this amazing DEMONSTRATION QUALITY record!

M-/ E+++. Side 1 plays nearly NM without a pop! Side 2 opens with a half inch scratch. But think about it — isn’t one side about the right amount for this kind of music? Do you really need to play side 2 after hearing side 1? This copy gives you a good portion of the music with AMAZINGLY GOOD SOUND.

This 1954 2-track recording is RCA’s first stereo recording of the work. 1954. Can you believe it? Two mics and two channels and it blows away 99% of all the classical recordings ever done! Some old record collectors and tube equipment lovers (like me) say classical recording quality ain’t what it used to be. This record proves it.

Henry Mancini – The Pink Panther – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

Both sides are rich, sweet, and smooth. We didn’t hear any other copies that could keep up with the presence and energy on BOTH sides here. The overall sound is airy, open, spacious, and SUPER transparent. The brass sounds AMAZING. You’re not going to believe all the ambience, especially around the drums! (more…)

(Royal Gala) Ballet Favorites / Ansermet (VICS-1066) – Reviewed in 2011

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

This RCA Plum Label Victorla has an AMAZING SOUNDING side one — it’s unbelievably spacious and three-dimensional with depth that goes on for DAYS. 

Side one earned its two pluses with the kind of spacious, rich, sweet sound you’ve come to expect from Super Hot Stampers. Note the correct sounding tape hiss — a dead giveaway that the highs are going to be correct. (Funny tape hiss is the hallmark of Classic Records and Mobile Fidelity, a dead giveaway that their highs will be phony and boosted.)

Side two would earn an A++ grade for the Delibes work that starts out the side. The strings are ever so slightly steely compared to side one, but in most respects the two sides sound quite similar. Giselle, the other work on side two, is not as good. It suffers from compressor distortion in the loud passages. It would earn about an A+ grade if we graded the two works separately. (more…)

Beethoven/ ’Kreutzer’ Sonata & Bach/ Concerto… / Heifetz – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven 

More Beethoven/ ’Kreutzer’ Sonata & Bach/ Concerto… / Heifetz 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

This beautiful 1S/1S first pressing in excellent condition has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND — on both sides!

This is the kind of record on which the RCA reputation is based. They’re not kidding — this is truly LIVING STEREO SOUND at its best.

The immediacy and clarity of the violin are state of the art. I don’t know of a better sounding violin recording. And on this copy both sides are out of this world. (more…)

Berlioz / Symphonie Fantastique / Monteux / Vienna Phil

More of the music of Hector Berlioz 

More Symphonie Fantastique / Monteux / Vienna Phil 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

Gorgeous Golden Age Tubey Magical strings, lovely hall acoustics. The size and power of a large orchestra in Living Stereo sound. One of our favorite performances of Berlioz’s masterwork.

One of our favorite performances of Berlioz’s masterwork debuts on the site in spectacular fashion, with Super Hot Stamper 1960 Living Stereo sound on both sides. The vinyl is lightly ticky, typical for RCA from this era, with no scratches and no Inner Groove Distortion.

This is a piece that’s difficult to squeeze onto two sides of a single LP, clocking in as it does at around 45 minutes, which means that the mastering engineer has three options when cutting the record: compress the dynamics, lower the level, or filter out the deep bass. The RCA mastering engineer for this pressing managed to hold on to the powerful dynamics captured by the Decca (as far as I know) recording team, seemingly without doing harm to dynamics, levels or deep bass. How, I have no idea. (more…)

Henry Mancini – Our Man In Hollywood

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

This Minty RCA Living Stereo LP (LSP 2604) has AMAZINGLY Three-Dimensional Tubey Magical Living Stereo Sound on on both sides. Most original LSP pressings, of this or any other LSP title, do not begin to recreate the Studio Wizardry found on this pressing. This wonderful recording rivals the best Chet Atkins and Bob and Rays in all their delicious Cinerama glory.  

Thank Al Schmitt for delivering top quality sound on this all tube 1963 recording! (more…)

Debussy / La Mer / Reiner – Reviewed in 2005

More of the music of Claude Debussy 

More La Mer / Reiner 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame  from 1961.

1S RCA Shaded Dog. This is an exceptionally good sounding copy, full of that RCA Living Stereo magic. Excellent performance from Reiner as well. On a work like La Mer the timbre of the instruments is critical to the enjoyment of the piece, as they often play solo and in small groupings. This record captures those qualities perfectly.

This record also includes Strauss’ Don Juan, which never sounds good on this title and is best left unplayed.