Labels We Love – EMI/Harvest

Shostakovich – Symphonies Nos. 6 and 11 / Berglund

More of the music of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

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  • This stunning double album makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on all FOUR sides of this original EMI pressing
  • The notes on every side say practically the same things – big, solid, weighty, punchy, dynamic, clear, musical, balanced
  • We don’t always hear those qualities on the TAS List Super Disc records we play in our shootouts, but we sure heard them on this one! (It has been off the list for a long time now, but back in the ’80s this is the pressing audiophiles were after.)
  • With sound this good, your ability to suspend disbelief will require practically no effort at all

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Set-up Discs, Part Two – Dialing in the Anti-Skate

More of the music of Georges Bizet (1838-1875)

More Turntable Setup Advice

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I once adjusted my anti-skate while playing this very album, at the time dialing it in to a “T”. Over the years I’ve found that the best test for fine anti-skate adjustment is massed strings, and not just at the end of a side but right at the beginning too.

When you have all the rosiny texture, the high-end harmonic extension, the least shrillness and the widest and deepest staging, you are there, assuming that tracking weight, azimuth and VTA are correct as well.

Four variables to mess with is admittedly a bitch, but having the right record to test with is absolutely critical as well. Maybe we should call it five variables.

And if I only had one record to bring to someone’s house in order to evaluate their equipment, this would certainly be a top choice. If you can make this record sound the way it should, your stereo is cookin’. If you are having problems, this record will show them to you in short order. (more…)

Pink Floyd – Meddle

More Meddle

More Pink Floyd

More Recordings by Robin Black

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Want to find your own shootout winner? Scroll to the bottom to see our advice on doing just that.

  • An outstanding British copy of this shockingly well recorded album with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides
  • These sides have presence, size and space we guarantee you have never heard on this album in all your born days
  • An audiophile Demonstration Quality Recording on a par with Dark Side of the Moon, which is really saying something!
  • A mark plays during the opening “pinging” on side two, but find me a good sounding copy with a quiet intro for side two and I will eat it
  • 4 1/2 stars:”Pink Floyd were nothing if not masters of texture, and Meddle is one of their greatest excursions into little details, pointing the way to the measured brilliance of Dark Side of the Moon and the entire Roger Waters era.”

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Lalo / Tchaikovsky – Symphonie Espagnole / Serenade Melancolique / Kogan

More of the Music of Edouard Lalo (1823-1892)

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

Hot Stamper Pressings Featuring the Violin

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  • This wonderful classical recording finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
  • This is some Demo Disc sound as long as you can reverse your polarity – if you can’t do that, don’t buy this record, because it won’t sound right
  • This is one of the pressings we’ve discovered with Reversed Polarity.
  • Here is sound that is both tubey and real, with much more space and a much bigger and more realistic presentation of the hall than any performance of the music you have ever heard
  • “The Symphonie Espagnole is one of Lalo’s two most often played works, the other being his Cello Concerto in D minor.”

My notes for side one read:

  • Big and Lively! Rich and Balanced.
  • Violin surrounded by lots of space.
  • Exciting performance.

The Lalo on side two is clear and spacious but could use a bit more warmth. The Tchaikovsky piece that finishes out the side is richer and smoother than the Lalo. Listen for it!

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Saint-Saens – The Best Danse Macabre on Record

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)

More of the music of Paul Dukas (1865-1935)

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894)

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This White Hot EMI pressing has some of the loveliest orchestral music reproduction we’ve ever heard. Man, this copy sure has it going on: it’s super clean and clear, tonally correct from top to bottom, with all of the weight of the orchestra down low on both sides.

If you want a classical record to TEST your system, if you want a classical record to DEMO your system, you will have a hard time finding a better pressing than this very copy.

Debussy – Prelude A L’apres-midi D’un Faune is excellent here as well – it’s a piece we rarely have on the site. (more…)

Deep Purple – Made In Japan

More Deep Purple

More Recordings Engineered by Martin Birch

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Want to find your own shootout winner? Scroll to the bottom to see our advice on doing just that.

  • This outstanding UK pressing earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades for sound or BETTER on all four sides 
  • Surprisingly clean, undistorted sound for a live album, yet every bit as big and lively as a Hard Rockin’ Live Album should be
  • In terms of Tubey Magic, richness and naturalness, Made In Japan might just be The Best Sounding Live Album of All Time
  • Rolling Stone: “They’ve done countless shows since in countless permutations, but they’ve never sounded quite this perfect.”

Having just played a stack of copies of Made In Japan I’d put the album right up there with the best of the best. In terms of Tubey Magic, richness and naturalness — qualities that are usually in very short supply on live albums — I would have to say that the shootout winning copies of Made In Japan would be very likely to take Top Honors for Best Sounding Live Album of All Time.

Yes, the sound is that good.

Machine Head Live? That would not be far off, and the fact they brought Martin Birch along with them all the way to Japan in order to engineer a live album that was only supposed to sell to the Japanese market (!) could not have been more fortuitous for us audiophiles. (more…)

Expanding Space Itself on The Dark Side of the Moon

More Breakthrough Pressing Discoveries

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A few years back we played a copy with all the presence, all the richness, all the size and all the energy we ever hoped to hear from a top quality pressing of Dark Side of the Moon. It did it ALL and then some. The raging guitar solos (there are three of them) on Money seemed to somehow expand the system itself, making it bigger and more powerful than I have ever heard. Even our best copies of Blood Sweat and Tears have never managed to create such a huge space with that kind of raw power. This copy broke through all the barriers, taking the system to an entirely new level of sound.

Take the clocks on Time. There are whirring mechanisms that can be heard deep in the soundstage on this copy that I’ve never heard as clearly before. On most copies you can’t even tell they are there. Talk about transparency — I bet you’ve NEVER heard so many chimes so clearly and cleanly, with such little distortion on this track. (more…)

Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon – 2003 Heavy Vinyl Reviewed

Pink Floyd Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

Reviews and Commentaries for Dark Side of the Moon

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Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and a Heavy Vinyl Disaster if there ever was one (and oh yes, there are plenty).

The 30th Anniversary Heavy Vinyl pressing is TOO BRIGHT. There is a boost in the top end, probably right around the 12K region, which is a very poor mastering choice the late Doug Sax apparently made, a choice that is surely not doing this recording any favors. In the case of this new pressing in fact, it’s positively ruinous. (more…)

Be-Bop Deluxe – Futurama

More Be-Bop Deluxe

More Titles Only Offered on Import Vinyl

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  • The band’s sophomore release, Futurama, makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Balanced, musical, present and full-bodied throughout – this early UK pressing was a big step up from every other copy we played
  • “… where other bands lose their musical impetus in fussy artsiness, Be-Bop Deluxe is redeemed by the brilliance of its playing, and particularly Mr. Nelson’s guitar playing. Mr. Nelson’s music and his guitar playing lift Be-Bop Deluxe out of the ordinary. The music sounds something like the febrile eclecticism of Roxy Music and Queen and Mr. Nelson admits the kinship.” — The New York Times

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Queen / News Of the World – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

More Queen

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This EMI import LP has TWO SUPERB DEMO DISC QUALITY SIDES! Each received an A+++, making this BY FAR THE BEST SINGLE COPY we have ever heard. This copy set a new standard for the sound of this album; we’ve never heard anything like it! 

Both sides boast rich, lively sound, with some of the sweetest vocals we’ve ever heard on ANY Queen album. In a world filled with ridiculously compressed, lifeless sounding pressings, this album blasted out of the speakers that made all other Queen albums sound anemic in comparison. MASTER TAPE SOUND? You better believe it. (more…)