My Stereo

Peter Frampton – Frampton – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

More Peter Frampton

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

This is a shootout we’d been trying to do for years, but the copies we’d been playing off and on hadn’t been especially cooperative, and onto the back burner our plans would go. Maybe next year…

A bit of background: Both his first solo album and this, his fourth, were recorded by the well-known engineer Chris Kimsey, who famously worked with the Stones and others too numerous to mention. To say that the sound of his albums varies considerably would be the understatement of the year. The first album (British only, fyi) is rich, sweet, and Tubey Magical as practically anything you’ve ever heard (as well as overly tube compressed, its biggest fault).

Sonically this album tends to be none of those things. However, if you play enough copies you are sure to run into at least some that sound right.

I unashamedly confess to being a huge Frampton fan to this very day. His first album, Wind of Change, has been a Desert Island Disc for me ever since I picked up my first copy while still in high school in 1972. I’m a Big Production Rock Guy, as you may have guessed from looking at the records we rave about the most, and Frampton’s first album is a classic of Big Production Rock, in the style of Abbey Road, Dark Side of the Moon, Songs for Beginners and fifty others I could name. Make that a hundred others. Or two hundred. (more…)

Audio Cults – My Stereo from the ’70s and the Cult I Was In

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Audio Cults

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A bit of a strange coincidence occurred this week. I found an old commentary describing the speakers I used to own as part of a discussion as to why I have never wanted to settle for small speakers. At the same time I saw a fellow on Audiogon was selling the electrostatic tweeter array for the very same speaker I owned, the RTR 280DR. Let me tell you, it really took me back; I haven’t seen a pair in over twenty years. 

Here is the story from the old listing talking about the RTRs, sparked by a discussion of Demo Discs. (more…)

My-Fi Versus Hi-Fi

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We went wild recently over a marvelous copy of the Ted Heath record you see pictured. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound was positively uncanny. This was vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve upon it.

This is our kind of sound. It’s also important to keep in mind that our stereo seemed to love the record. (Stereos do that.) Let’s talk about why that might be the case.
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Our Playback System – And Why You Shouldn’t Care

Our Playback System

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Below you will find a list of most of the equipment we use to carry out our pressing evaluations,also known as Hot Stamper shootouts. Of course the old 80/20 Rule comes into play here — 80% (probably more like 90 or 95%, truth be told) of the sound is what you do with your audio system, 20% (or 10 or 5%) of the sound is the result of the components you own.

We like to say it’s not about the audio you have, it’s about the audio you do: how you set up your system, what you’ve done to treat your room, how good your electricity is and all the rest of it. Our current system is described below.

More on The Stereo (more…)

Gino Vannelli – Storm At Sunup – and The Amazing ARC SP3A-1

Gino Vannelli – Storm At Sunup – and The Amazing ARC SP3A-1

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Storm at Sunup used to be my favorite Gino Vannelli album. I played it all the time back in the ’70s. It was one of a handful of recordings that made me want to pursue audiophile equipment in the hopes that higher quality playback would allow it to sound even bigger and more exciting. It was pretty damn big and exciting already, but I wanted more. 

Right around that time I got my first audiophile tube preamp, the Audio Research SP3A-1, which replaced a Crown IC-150. As you can no doubt imagine, especially if you know the IC-150 at all well, playing this album through that state-of-the-art tube preamp was a revelation. From then on there was no looking back. I started spending all my money on better and better equipment and more and more records. That was forty plus years ago and I haven’t stopped yet.

More on The Stereo

SEE MORE OF GINO VANNELLI’S ALBUMS

This is also the kind of recording that caused me to pursue Big Stereo Systems driving Big Speakers. You need a lot of piston area to bring the dynamics of this recording to life, and to get the size of all the instruments to match their real life counterparts.

For that you need big speakers in big cabinets, the kind I’ve been listening to for more than forty years. (My last small speaker was given the boot around 1974 or so.) To tell you the truth, the Big Sound is the only sound that I can enjoy. Anything less is just not for me. (more…)

Revolutionary Changes in Audio – What Works for Us Can Work for You

Revolutionary Changes in Audio

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This listing, like the stereo itself (mine and yours), is a work in progress. Please check back for the commentary we expect to be adding in the future. 

Our reason for having this kind of commentary on a site ostensibly devoted to the selling of records is simple: the better your stereo sounds, the better our records sound, and, more importantly, the bigger the difference between our records and the copies you already own. Also those LPs recommended by “audiophile” record dealers, which tend to be on Heavy Vinyl, at 45 RPM, half-speed mastered or, even worse, Japanese pressed. We have no interest in any of them. Why? On our system they rarely sound better than second-rate.

More on The Stereo

Better Sound For You

Some of our favorite Sound Improving Devices are pictured to the left as well, products that can make a HUGE difference in the sound of your stereo, all of which are guaranteed to satisfy.

We will be adding new commentaries to this left hand column regularly, so check back to see what new and exciting discoveries we’ve made as we go about doing our Hot Stamper shootouts.

Our VPI Aries (original, not the latest model) with Super Platter / tweaked out VPI Synchronous Drive System (sitting on Stillpoints) / Triplanar Tonearm / Dynavector 17d3 Aurios(which sit on a Townshend Seismic Sink) / EAR 324P (sitting on a Magic Pillow) and the scores of hours we’ve spent setting up and tweaking this beast is at the heart of everything we do around here.

Mix in extensive room treatments, aided in no small measure by three pairs of Hallographs, twenty five years of experience and endless hours of experimentation and you have a system that can separate the winners from the losers like nobody’s business.

Exactly like nobody’s business, because nobody does it in this business but us! (more…)

Traveling Back in Time with Cat Stevens on Mobile Fidelity…

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to Hear It on Vintage Equipment

Our good customer Roger wrote us a letter years ago about his MoFi TEA FOR THE TILLERMAN, in which he remarked, “Sometimes I wish I kept my old crappy stereo to see if I could now tell what it was that made these audiophile pressings so attractive then.”

It got me to thinking. Yes, that would be fun, and better yet, it could be done. There are actually plenty of those Old School systems still around. Just look at what many of the forum posters — god bless ’em — are running. They’ve got some awesome ’70s Japanese turntables, some Monster Cable and some vintage tube gear and speakers going all the way back to the ’50s.

With this stuff you could in effect travel back in time, virtually erasing all the audio progress of the last 30 years. Then you could hear your MoFi Tea for the Tillerman sound the way it used to when you could actually stand to be in the same room with it.
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