I admit to some bias when it comes to DSOTM. I must have played more than a hundred copies over the last forty-odd years. I was sure I understood exactly which copies had the best sound, and again and again I was proved wrong.
We only found out what the best sounding versions were about five or six years ago. We did that by doing shootout after shootout with every version we could lay our hands on, starting around 2005. We even did a shootout for two different Mobile Fidelity pressings many years ago, which we think makes for some good reading to this day.
It’s especially good reading for those who don’t appreciate how dramatic pressing variations can be for even quality controlled limited editions. The comparison of the two MoFi’s centers around the idea that midrange tonality is by far the most important quality to listen for on Dark Side, and that, surprisingly to some audiophiles, but obviously not to us, there are MoFi pressings with a correct midrange and there are those without.
Is this fellow listening for midrange tonality? If you watch the video and he says he is, then you can let me know!
And if not, you can ask him in the comments why he wasn’t.
Maybe he just likes the chiming clocks and the bass of the heartbeat.
Some audiophiles have been known to ignore the fundamentals when comparing records.
And picking six random copies of six different pressings is not exactly a scientific approach to the problem either.
It is in fact a clear violation of the First Cornerstone of Hot Stamper Shootouts, to wit:
- You must have a sufficient number of copies to play in order to find at least one “hot” one.
Most of the versions of DSOTM that this individual is reviewing have never impressed us sonically. They are the pressings that most audiophiles have probably read about in the magazines and on forums. If you know practically nothing about the album going in, these might be the six pressings you would consider playing against each other in a shootout. To be charitable, I suppose you could call it a good start.
Our reviewer seems to be the type who puts a great deal of faith in so-called audiophile pressings — the Japanese Pro-Use Series, the UHQR — the kinds of records that sound more and more artificial and/or mediocre to us with each passing year.
If your stereo is not showing you what’s wrong with these kinds of records, you have your work cut out for you. This is especially true of some of the Ultra High Quality Records put out my Mobile Fidelity in the early ’80s, like this one.
Our Take on DSOTM Pressings
The domestic pressings we have auditioned over the years have never made it into a real shootout. They have always sounded far too flat and veiled to be taken seriously. There are some very good sounding Pink Floyd pressings on domestic vinyl — Wish You Were Here and The Wall can both sound amazing on domestic vinyl — but Dark Side is not one of them in our experience.
The Doug Sax-mastered Heavy Vinyl version from 2003 we played when it came out was way too bright and phony to these ears. We hated it and said so at the time.
We came across a very early British pressing about fifteen years ago, the one with the solid blue triangle label, but it was not as good as other pressings we were playing back then and we never bought another one.
We’ve liked a lot of later UK pressings over the years, but we don’t go out of our way to buy those anymore now that we have heard the really amazing pressings we like now.
As I said, we discovered the killer stampers about five years ago, and that showed us an Out of This World Dark Side we had no idea could even exist. We have a name for records like those. We call them Breakthrough Pressings, and we even sometimes used to award them a sonic grade of more than Three Pluses.
Note that we no longer give out the A++++ Beyond White Hot Stamper grade for copies that simply blew our minds, with sound so far superior to any copy we’d ever heard that they broke our grading scale.
Two Minutes Was Enough
I frankly admit I did not spend two minutes watching this video. I simply do not have the patience to watch audiophiles like this guy opine about records he thinks he knows a lot better than he really does.
That said, if there is a pressing that he thinks is the best, and you own one, we would be happy to send you a Hot Stamper to go head to head with it and let the chips fall where they may.
We are not in the opinion business. Opinions are cheap. Everybody has them, and as the old saying goes, they are worth what you pay for them.
We wrote a bit about the subject in a post entitled Explaining doesn’t work. Only hearing works.
A relevant excerpt:
All forums — whatever their benefits — cannot overcome this problem.
Next time someone posts an opinion about a record, ask yourself “What does his system sound like?”
If you don’t know the answer, why would you put any stock in his opinion? For all you know his system sucks and his critical listening skills are non-existent. He might have a pair of JBL 100s in the basement and a Dual turntable (or the modern equivalent of same).
He may hate the records whose sound you love and love the records whose sound you hate.
Rather than being in the opinion business, we prefer being in the better sounding records business, offering, as we like to say, Records for Audiophiles, Not Audiophile Records.
Our records are expensive, but they deliver the sound we describe, and we have the letters from customers to prove it.
And if we are wrong — which does happen from time to time, we see no reason to hide the fact — you get your money back.