Labels We Love – Parlophone/Apple

How Can Anybody Not Hear What’s Wrong with Old Records Like These?

beatlrubbeoriginalRecord Collecting – A Guide to the Fundamentals

More of the Music of Beatles

Reviews and Commentaries for Rubber Soul

It is our strongly held belief that if your equipment (regardless of cost) or your critical listening skills do not allow you to hear the kinds of sonic differences among pressings we describe, then whether you are just getting started in audio or are a self-identified Audio Expert writing for the most prestigious magazines and websites, you still have a very long way to go in this hobby.

Purveyors of the old paradigms — original is better, money buys good sound — may eventually find their approach to records and equipment unsatisfactory (when it isn’t just plain wrong), but they will only do so if they start to rely more on empirical findings and less on convenient theories and received wisdom.

A reviewer we all know well is clearly stuck in the Old Paradigm, illustrated perfectly by this comment: (more…)

The Beatles / Help – Listening in Depth to Their Fifth Album

Hot Stamper Pressings of Help Available Now

More of the Music of The Beatles

Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

Much like we said about the Please Please Me Hot Stampers, on the top copies the presence of the vocals and guitars is so real it’s positively startling at times.

Drop the needle on You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away and turn up the volume — on the best copies it will be as if John and Paul were right there in your living room.

The best import copies of this album sound AMAZING, but the typical one is pretty mediocre. Most tend to be dull, with not enough extension up top, as well as thin, lacking weight and body from the lower midrange on down.


In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

Help! (A Number One Hit)
The Night Before

One of the biggest problems we found with this album is that the top end tends to be somewhat lacking. On the better copies, the cymbals on this track will sound correct and lively.

You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away

One of the reasons this song sounds so good is that there are only acoustic instruments being played. There’s not an electric guitar to be found anywhere in the mix, one of the few tracks that can make that claim. We love the Tubey Magical guitars and voices found on early Beatles albums, and this song is a good example of both.

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Spending More Time With The Beatles

beatlwitht_x20

More of the Music of The Beatles

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of The Beatles

To find the Hottest Stampers it helps to have piles and piles of minty British pressings. And lots of time on your hands. Fortunately we have both!

This is a tough album to get to sound right, as long-time readers of our site surely know, but on a good copy it can sound wonderful. This one really delivers, with plenty of presence and energy as well as natural, balanced tonality.

So, What’s Out There?

We’ve heard copies that were smeared, murky, muddy, grainy, or all of the above. Almost all of them had no real magic in the midrange. And of course, we heard tons of copies with the kind of gritty vocals that you’ll find all over the average Parlophone Beatles pressing.

Early or Late Pressing?

So many Parlophone copies would have you think With The Beatles is a gritty, edgy, crude recording — especially if you made the mistake of buying an early pressing.

The early pressings are consistently grittier, edgier and more crude than the later pressings we played.

So much for that old canard “original is better”. When it comes to With The Beatles it just ain’t so, and it doesn’t take a state of the art system or a pair of golden ears to hear it.

The audiophile community seems not to have caught on to the faults of the early Beatles pressings but we here at Better Records are doing our best to correct their all-too-common misperceptions, one Hot Stamper pressing at a time.

It may be a lot of work, but we don’t mind — we love The Beatles! We want to find the best sounding copies of ALL their records, and there is simply no other way to do it than to play them by the dozens.

Looking for the best sound? Try Till There Was You on side one and You Really Got A Hold On Me on the flipside.

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Mary Hopkin – Post Card

More Hippie Folk Rock

More Recordings Engineered by Ken Scott

  • This original Apple import boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound throughout
  • Rich, smooth, Tubey Magical and spacious, with wonderfully breathy vocals, this is the kind of sound you hope to get from properly mastered vinyl made using fresh master tapes, and here you do!
  • Engineered by Ken Scott, Donovan’s “Lord of the Reedy River” is simply amazing on this copy
  • A very difficult record to find on original UK vinyl in audiophile playing condition – I would not expect to see another one of this quality soon
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Paul McCartney produced this debut album of twee but pretty, romantic pop-folk… the highlights are Donovan’s “Lord of the Reedy River” and “The Honeymoon Song,” which McCartney himself had sung with the Beatles way back in 1963 on the BBC…”

The domestic pressings can sound very good but they can’t sound like this Brit original! This is clearly the master tape; all veils have been lifted, and the ambience and transparency of the soundstage are sublime on both sides. (more…)

John Lennon – Rock ‘N’ Roll

More John Lennon

More of The Beatles

  • A KILLER copy of Rock ‘N’ Roll boasting Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • And if you think the best sounding pressings are imports, you’ve got another thing coming – they’re made from dubs, and they have the dubby sound to prove it
  • These sides are doing almost everything right – rich, full-bodied, present and spacious with plenty of extension on both ends
  • Lennon’s voice sounds JUST RIGHT with lots of texture and startling immediacy – you’re going to have a hard time finding better sounding versions of these songs anywhere else
  • “Rock ‘n’ Roll, in fact, stands as a peak in his post-Imagine catalog: an album that catches him with nothing to prove and no need to try… Today, Rock ‘n’ Roll sounds fresher than the rock & roll that inspired it in the first place. Imagine that.” – All Music, 4 Stars
  • If you’re a John Lennon fan, this title from 1975 is surely a Must Own.

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The Beatles / Revolver – The Mono Recut from 1981 Is a Joke

Hot Stamper Pressings of Revolver Available Now

Reviews and Commentaries for Revolver

A great sounding record in stereo, potentially anyway, but this later reissue in mono is so awful it deserves a special place in our Hall of Shame.

My notes for side one: hard, sour, no bass.

Side two: dumbass small mono, so unclear.

We love the mono mix of For No One, but not when it sounds like this! The only Beatles vinyl we offer on our site are stereo pressings. Our reasons for doing this are straightforward enough.

The Beatles records in mono, contrary to the opinion of audiophiles and music lovers alike, virtually never have the presence, energy and resolution found on the best stereo copies. If your stereo cannot resolve all the information on the tape, sure, Twin Track Stereo (used on the first two albums, hard-panned multi-track afterwards) ends up sounding like some of the instruments are stuck in the speakers, hard left and hard right, with nothing but a hole in the middle.

But there is a great deal of information spreading into the middle when we play those records here, and nothing feels stuck in the speakers that doesn’t sound like it was supposed to be heard coming directly from one of the speakers.

It is our contention that the best audio equipment, properly tweaked, can show you a world of musical information that exists only on the stereo pressings, information that the mono mixes only hint at.

Original Vs. Reissue

We can tell you this potentially helpful piece of information about Revolver pressings: no original Yellow and Black British pressing has ever fared well in a shootout we’ve conducted. The better your stereo gets, the more bandwidth-limited, distorted, compressed and congested the originals will reveal themselves to be.

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George Harrison – All Things Must Pass

More George Harrison

More of The Beatles

  • With superb sound on all six sides, this early British box set of All Things Must Pass will be very hard to beat
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl for this set – most of the copies we see are heavily played and prone to marks that repeat
  • If you’ve struggled with domestic pressings and later imports or Heavy Vinyl reissues, your troubles are over – here is the sound you were looking for
  • 5 stars: “Without a doubt, Harrison’s first solo recording is his best. Drawing on his backlog of unused compositions from the late Beatles era, Harrison crafted material that managed the rare feat of conveying spiritual mysticism without sacrificing his gifts for melody and grand, sweeping arrangements.”
  • A Must Own Title from 1970
  • The complete list of titles from 1970 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

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The Beatles – Revolver

More of The Beatles

More Revolver

  • Here is the space, energy, presence clarity and massive bottom end you had no idea were even possible on Revolver
  • 14 amazing tracks including Taxman; Eleanor Rigby; Here, There and Everywhere; Yellow Submarine; Good Day Sunshine; Got To Get You Into My Life and Tomorrow Never Knows (!)
  • 5 stars: “Even after Sgt. Pepper, Revolver stands as the ultimate modern pop album and it’s still as emulated as it was upon its original release.”
  • If you’re a fan of the Fab Four, and even if you’re not, this groundbreaking album from 1966 belongs in your collection
  • The complete list of titles from 1966 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

Want to be blown away by Beatles sound you never imagined you would ever have the chance to experience for yourself? Drop the needle on Taxman on this very side one — that’s your ticket to ride, baby! We were knocked out by it and we guarantee you will be too. (more…)

Paul McCartney and Wings – Ram

  • This vintage pressing of McCartney’s 1971 Classic boasts outstanding sound and exceptionally quiet vinyl on both sides
  • A copy like this is a real audiophile treat – here is the rich, warm, clear, natural and lively sound you want for Ram   
  • Many of the man’s most memorable songs are here: Too Many People, Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, Monkberry Moon Delight, Heart Of The Country and more
  • 5 stars: “These songs may not be self-styled major statements, but they are endearing and enduring, as is Ram itself, which seems like a more unique, exquisite pleasure with each passing year.”

I remember this album being dismissed as lightweight back in the day and I may have even felt the same to be honest. Heck, compared to Abbey Road and The White Album, the very same thing could be said about most of McCartney’s albums.

McCartney isn’t out to blow you away with high-production value rock here, apart from Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey. He’s making some lovely pop music with his wife and sharing it with the world. And what’s so wrong with that? (more…)

Paul McCartney – McCartney

More Paul McCartney

More Beatles

  • This copy of McCartney’s Apple debut boasts killer Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from first note to last
  • Both sides are big and rich, with plenty of low end, strong midrange presence and the kind of spatiality that will fill your entire listening room
  • Record Collector highlighted “Every Night”, “Junk,” and “Maybe I’m Amazed” as songs that “still sound absolutely effortless and demonstrate the man’s natural genius with a melody.”
  • A Top 100 pick and Paul McCartney’s One and Only Masterpiece – a Must Own when it sounds this good!

The best tracks here have the quality of LIVE MUSIC in a way that not one out of a hundred rock records do. The music jumps right out of the speakers and fills up the room. (more…)