Mono or Stereo? Mono!

Julie London – Calendar Girl

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Calendar Girl

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

This Julie London 1956 Classic makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too. Both of these mono sides have plenty of Tubey Magic – they’re fuller, more musical and more natural than most any other copy we played. Julie’s voice sounds particularly nice on this copy – intimate, rich and warm, just as the way we like her to sound.

This is a wonderful sounding record, and almost impossible to find with surfaces this quiet.

However, the original label pressing from 1956 does have better sound, at least it does on the noisy reference copy we used in our shootout. It’s the only early pressing I have ever seen in playable condition, and it’s far too noisy to be enjoyed with audiophile equipment. Julie Is Her Name survived the bad turntables and their owners from the era because they made so many of them. This album did not sell in those kinds of numbers, and the result is that the early pressings are rare and virtually impossible to find in audiophile playing condition. (more…)

Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

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The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

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  • This 360 stereo copy has outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides– exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • You’ll find this copy surprisingly spacious, full-bodied and natural, with relatively few of the problems that plague most pressings
  • It’s clear these classic songs have stood the test of time: Blowin’ in the Wind; Girl from the North Country; Masters of War; A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall; Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right and many more
  • 5 stars: “This is rich, imaginative music, capturing the sound and spirit of America… Dylan, in many ways, recorded music that equaled this, but he never topped it.”

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan is clearly our favorite of the early Dylan albums for both music and sound. We’re picking up both mono and stereo copies when we see them clean (which is rare) and both can sound out of this world.

Hearing these great songs sound so intimate and lifelike on a top quality pressing can be a sublime experience. We should know; we enjoyed the hell out of this very copy. (more…)

Delibes / Coppelia / Ansermet – A Superb Mono Pressing

More of the music of Leo Delibes (1836-1891) 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

[This is a very old commentary so take it for what it’s worth.]

DEMO QUALITY SOUND for this early London Mono pressing. 

Side one of this record sounds incredible! The sound is absolutely top notch. Check out the brass — it has the solid weight of the real thing.

This is the kind of record that the mono cartridge owners of the world worship. And for good reason. But you don’t need to have a mono cartridge to hear how good — in fact, how much BETTER — this copy sounds than the stereo pressing.

I found out about mono classical records one day when I got a mono copy of The Power Of The Orchestra, VCS 2659. It sounded better than any stereo recording of that work I had ever heard. All the instruments were so much more solid sounding, so palpable, so free from distortion, that it made me recognize for the first time what the mono record lovers of the world were talking about. That was ten years ago. Since then many high end mono cartridges have come on the market, specifically to bring out that sound. (more…)

Bob Dylan …jaw-droppingly good, and with quiet vinyl to boot…

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The Times They Are A-Changin’

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This letter comes from one of our best customers, our good friend Owais, who dropped us a line after he received his latest shipment of tasty Hot Stampers including a mono ’The Times They Are A-Changin’ and ’Bridge Over Troubled Water.’ 

Hi Tom,

Just a quick word on the last set of records that I received a couple of days ago, safe and sound. Have to agree with you – that mono of Dylan’s ‘The Times Thay Are A-Changin’ really is jaw-droppingly good, and with quiet vinyl to boot as well!

As for Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, I have bought quite a few copies of this LP and, to my ears, nothing sounded as good as the Classic reissue… that is, until I got your Hot Stamper. Again, you got this one spot-on. The Classic just doesn’t come close in terms of warmth and tonality.

All the best, 
Owais

Owais, thanks for your letter. We love beating Heavy Vinyl pressings, especially the good ones! Both those titles are quite well-mastered, and that’s precisely why we carry them. Classic and Sundazed are each responsible for a world of bad sounding LPs, but every once in a while they get one right, and those they got right, all things considered. But of course, as we never tire of pointing out, the real thing just can’t be beat, and the real thing is almost always an old record (and almost never a new one; seems like that should be the logical corollary, and by golly it is).

As for Bob, we were knocked out by that mono copy. We dropped the needle on side one and our jaws hit the floor — we’d never heard a Bob Dylan record sound so warm, rich, and sweet.

Columbia 360 Mono Mania

I was actually a big fan of the Sundazed Mono, but this has more of that tubey magic, richness, and overall naturalness that you find on old records, qualities that seem to be sorely lacking on even the best 180 gram remasterings. MOFI also did this title and ruined it in the process (shocker!).

I just don’t think you could make this record sound any better than it does here. Everything you could want from this music is here: wonderful clarity, mindblowing transparency, clearly audible transients on the guitar, texture to the vocals, full-bodied acoustic guitar sound, and so on.

The Rolling Stones – The Rolling Stones

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The Rolling Stones – The Rolling Stones

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  • You’ll find outstanding Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on this vintage pressing of The Stones’ 1964 release
  • Both sides of this Red Label British Decca Mono are doing it right – they’re big, rich and spacious with a huge bottom end
  • This is the real, honest sound of the early, early Stones – it is what it is, and trying to fix it will almost surely ruin what’s good about it
  • “Set against the dependency on covers and the inexperienced vocalist, however, is a truly cooking and imaginative band. Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman provide a brawny frame for the intermeshing guitars of Richards and Brian Jones as the ensemble lovingly deliver some of their favourite shots of rhythm ‘n’ blues.” – BBC

The best word I could use to sum up both the sound and the music on this record is HONEST. If you want to hear how early Rolling Stones records sound when they sound right, this is the ticket. This is the real sound of the early, early Stones.

Probably what any modern engineer would want to do to the album would only end up making it worse. It is what it is and that’s good enough for us. Since the tapes are now more than 60 years old, no modern reissue will sound remotely as good as this one.

The Stones wanted their stuff to sound like the old Blues albums they grew up on and revered, and with that sound in mind you can’t argue that they didn’t succeed here. (more…)

The Rolling Stones – No. 2

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No. 2

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  • This vintage Decca pressing has outstanding sound – both sides did very well in our recent shootout, earning Double Plus (A++) grades and playing fairly quietly
  • This Mono pressing (made from the mono tapes) will show you the real, honest sound of the early, early Stones 
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “…[No. 2 includes] one of the group’s best blues covers, their version of Muddy Waters’ “I Can’t Be Satisfied,” which wasn’t released in America until 1973 and features some killer slide playing by Brian Jones.”

This vintage UK Decca mono pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Bob Dylan – Another Side of Bob Dylan (in Mono)

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Another Side of Bob Dylan (in Mono)

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  • An excellent Mono copy of this early Dylan classic with surprisingly good Double Plus (A++) sound throughout   
  • We were impressed by just how clear and present Dylan’s voice sounded on this copy – this is the way you want to hear the man
  • Many classics are here: All I Really Want To Do, Chimes Of Freedom, My Back Pages, It Ain’t Me Babe and 7 more
  • 5 stars: “Another Side of Bob Dylan is a more varied record and it’s more successful, too, since it captures Dylan expanding his music, turning in imaginative, poetic performances on love songs and protest tunes alike. The result is one of his very best records, a lovely intimate affair.”

(more…)

Miles Davis – Birth of the Cool

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Birth of the Cool

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  • An incredible pressing of this Groundbreaking Jazz Classic, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and Double Plus (A++) on the second
  • This vintage mono pressing will show you just how well-recorded these 1949-50 sessions were 
  • It’s the records they made from these tapes (more often from the dubs of them) that have given everybody the wrong idea about these wonderful sounding recordings
  • 5 stars: “So dubbed because these three sessions are where the sound known as cool jazz essentially formed, Birth of the Cool remains one of the defining, pivotal moments in jazz. This is where the elasticity of bop was married with skillful, big-band arrangements and a relaxed, subdued mood that made it all seem easy, even at its most intricate.”

NOTE: This is not the quietest copy we’ve ever heard, so we’re keeping the price down. If you want to hear how amazing the album can sound and can put up with less than-ideal surfaces, this is the copy to get.

If for any reason you are not happy with the sound or condition of the album we are of course happy to take it back for a full refund, including the domestic return postage.


We’ve been trying to find copies of this classic music from 1949-1950 that really delivered the audiophile goods, but it took us years to track down the right pressings from the right era with the right stampers. We went through Monos, Stereos, Originals, Reissues of every kind… basically everything we could get our hands on.

It sure wasn’t easy and it sure wasn’t cheap, but after about ten years of digging we’re pretty sure we’ve got The Birth of the Cool’s number. This copy is proof positive. We guarantee you have never heard a version of this music that sounds remotely as good as this very record. (more…)

June Christy – The Intimate Miss Christy

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

Both sides of this 1962 All Tube Recorded and Mastered record are just as rich and relaxed as you would expect. The balance is correct, which means the top is there as well as the bottom, with good vocal presence throughout.

We are HUGE fans of this album at Better Records, but it’s taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make this shootout happen. We’re happy to say it worth all the trouble.

Get the volume just right and June will be standing between your speakers and putting on the performance of a lifetime. This is one of our favorite female vocal albums (along with Clap Hands, Julie Is her Name and a fair number of others) and this amazingly good copy will show you why – the sound and music are wonderful.

The Mono Is King

This early mono pressing is the only way to find the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from modern records. As good as the best of those pressings may be, this record is dramatically more REAL sounding. (more…)

The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds

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

We’ve obviously been at this Hot Stamper business for a long, long time. Well folks, today is the day that an amazing A+++ copy of Pet Sounds finally makes it onto the site (we’ve found a few before, but they always sold before they got a chance to be listed!). I’m not sure if you want to hear the story of how we finally found these good pressings or just snap this one up before the next man does — I think we all know this record isn’t going to last long here!

There have been a ton of Pet Sounds vinyl releases over the years and most of them are awful. I’m not going to give away what pressing this is, it took us a lot of work to figure out what the best ones are. So do not buy this with any assumption of what you might be getting, except for a great sounding Pet Sounds!

Perhaps one day we’ll do a long commentary about what the various pressings get right and wrong, which ones are worth a shot and which ones to avoid. Unfortunately, there’s no money in that for us and we are first and foremost a business here. Investing a couple of hours into telling the world what Pet Sounds versions to buy really doesn’t do us a lot of good. So for now, let’s just describe this one.

Pet Sounds in not a perfect recording and you can not expect “perfect” sound. But go ahead and play this copy against every other Pet Sounds in your collection — I think you’ll be more than impressed. Your satisfaction is of course guaranteed.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Wouldn’t It Be Nice 
You Still Believe in Me 
That’s Not Me 
Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder) 
I’m Waiting for the Day 
Let’s Go Away for Awhile 
Sloop John B.

Side Two

God Only Knows 
I Know There’s an Answer 
Here Today 
I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times 
Pet Sounds 
Caroline, No

AMG Review

The best Beach Boys album, and one of the best of the 1960s. The group here reached a whole new level in terms of both composition and production, layering tracks upon tracks of vocals and instruments to create a richly symphonic sound. Conventional keyboards and guitars were combined with exotic touches of orchestrated strings, bicycle bells, buzzing organs, harpsichords, flutes, Theremin, Hawaiian-sounding string instruments, Coca-Cola cans, barking dogs, and more. It wouldn’t have been a classic without great songs, and this has some of the group’s most stunning melodies, as well as lyrical themes which evoke both the intensity of newly born love affairs and the disappointment of failed romance (add in some general statements about loss of innocence and modern-day confusion as well)… Massively influential upon its release (although it was a relatively low seller compared to their previous LPs), it immediately vaulted the band into the top level of rock innovators among the intelligentsia, especially in Britain, where it was a much bigger hit.