Sonic Grade: D-
Dead as a doornail sound. Disgraceful.
One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:
I want to express my gratitude to your long-lasting efforts with regard to music. It has fully changed my whole life as a listener of music. [emphasis added] It’s a great pleasure and I reached a complete different level of enjoyment and listening habits. To hear a Hot Stamper it’s also often a physical and emotional experience (sensation of heat, tears in the eyes, palpitations etc.). Thanks to your great Hot Stampers I might experience with so much pleasure. Meanwhile I sold out near all my pseudo-audiophile LP’s (i.e. MFSL, Nautilus, DCC, Simply Vinyl etc.) – they are useless.
And last but not least it’s very important to buy these hot LPs now and here, before deafness, tinnitus (my greatest fear) and dementia are going to kill us. All LPs are worth their price, because I can imagine how much effort it takes to do the shootouts. (I did some.)
Sonic Grade: F
As bad as the MoFi is, the DCC is even worse. Murky and bloated, to my ear it does almost nothing right, not on vinyl anyway. I’ll bet you the DCC Gold CD is better, and it’s certainly nothing to write home about.
Our Hot Stamper commentary below sorts out the DCC, the Classic Records Heavy Vinyl pressing and the MoFi Half-Speed Mastered LP, as well as British and domestic originals. (more…)
Sonic Grade: D
As I recall it isn’t very good — thick and dull and closed-in; in other words, boring — but I played it quite a while ago. If your copy sounds better, more power to you, but I bet it doesn’t. Any copy we sell is guaranteed to blow the doors off of it — as well as any other pressing you own — or your money back.
Go ahead and turn up your nose if you like, but this music is widely considered classic rock by now. I’m not going to pretend it’s on a level with After The Gold Rush or Zep II, but this album does exactly what it’s trying to do — it really ROCKS.
Sonic Grade: B
The DCC — Not Bad!
Steve’s version is very musical; it’s rich and natural sounding, which of course makes it very enjoyable. You can do a lot better but you sure can do a lot worse. Opaque, veiled, lifeless, dull sound is the norm for Court and Spark — most copies are dead as a doornail. If they’re not dead, they’re likely to be thin and gritty. The DCC is a big improvement over the average domestic pressing. (The original Brit imports are fairly competitive with the DCC; the later Brits with the K catalog numbers suck as a rule.)
The Nautilus Half-Speed is pretty but lifeless, like so many of their pressings. I would grade it about a C. Don’t waste your money. (more…)
Sonic Grade: F
Murky, opaque and compressed: yes, we can agree it has never been an especially good sounding record on anything but the most difficult to find UK pressings, but does it deserve this kind of mastering disrespect? Isn’t the idea to try and FIX what is wrong, rather than to make it worse? At collector prices no less. Don’t waste your money.
Check out our Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers.
Sonic Grade: F
Sour and opaque, a major disappointment. You can do worse but it isn’t easy.
Hot Stamper Commentary from 2008
LOW DISTORTION, TONS OF ENERGY, and AMAZING TUBEY MAGIC on BOTH SIDES! You aren’t going to believe the RICHNESS, SWEETNESS, and WARMTH of the sound. (more…)
Sonic Grade: B+/B-
The DCC — Not Bad, But…
The DCC for this album is not a total disaster. In fact, the first side of the DCC is one of the better DCC sides we’ve played in recent memory. We dropped the needle on a few copies we had in the back (pressing variations exist for audiophile records too, don’t you know) and they averaged about a B+ for sound on side one. Side two was quite a bit too clean for our tastes — no real ambience or meaty texture to the guitars, about a B- for sound. To flip something we say often: you can do worse, but you can do a LOT better. (more…)
Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the 2003 when this record came out, but here it is anyway.
The Record of the Year for 2003. I know how crazy that sounds, but it’s true! If you don’t have a smile on your face fifteen seconds after playing track one, you better check your pulse, cuz, as the famous song has it: Jack, You Dead. Amazingly good sound, courtesy of a fabulous and painstakingly difficult remix by the mastering guru himself, Steve Hoffman. This is popular music for the previous generation — but why should we be denied these long forgotten treasures? (more…)
Sonic Grade: F
Compressed, thick, dull, opaque and completely lacking in ambience, almost any domestic or British original pressing will be better in almost every way. Read our Hot Stamper review below for the full story.
Our Hot Stamper Commentary from 2008
AN EXCEPTIONAL SIDE ONE BACKED WITH GREAT SIDE ONE, both on surprisingly quiet vinyl! We just finished a shootout for this hard-rockin’ debut album and were delighted to hear how good this music can sound on the right pressing. This copy has the kind of bottom end that this music absolutely demands but is sadly missing in action from most of the pressings we played. If your Cream record can’t rock, remind me, what exactly is the point again? (more…)