Records that Sound Best in Mono, Not Stereo

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.

June Christy – Fair And Warmer!

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Fair And Warmer!y

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  • An incredible sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last – reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • If you want to hear just how good an All Tube Capitol recording, in mono, from 1957 can sound, this record is guaranteed to do the trick
  • All the top West Coast Cool School jazz vets are here: Shelly Manne, Bud Shank, Bob Cooper, and the arrangements are by the wonderfully talented Pete Rugolo
  • “… the cool-toned singer is the main star. Highlights include a definitive “I Want to Be Happy,” “Imagination,” “When Sunny Gets Blue,” and “It’s Always You.” All of June Christy’s Capitol dates are well worth picking up.” 

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Holst / British Band Classics Vol. 1 / Fennell – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

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

This RARE Super Hot Stamper Mercury Mono original pressing has the kind of BIG, LIVELY, tonally correct sound that not one out of fifty mono records we play can lay claim to. If more mono records sounded like this one I wouldn’t be so down on mono all the time.

But they don’t. Most mono records sound SMALL. When you have big speakers, set far apart and far from the back wall, in a pretty good sized room, small is just not the sound you want to hear! Especially when it comes to classical music. I want a front row seat, and this record is a first class ticket to one.  (more…)

Miles Davis – Workin’ And Steamin’ – Our Shootout Winning Mono

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

A MONSTER Double Album that simply could not be beat – three of the four sides earned our highest sonic grade of Triple Plus (A+++). The best sounding tracks here can hold their own with ANY Miles Davis vinyl we’ve ever heard, and that’s a whole lot of Mile Davis albums. You might be surprised that a reissue can beat the originals, but one play of this pressing should be enough to remove all doubt.

This pressing is WAY off the charts. You will find Demo Disc Quality Sound of the Highest Order on the best tracks, of which there are many. The extension high and low sets these sides apart. The presence of the instruments and the space around them just cannot be beat.

To the Jazz Fans of the World, we here present one of the BEST sounding jazz recordings we have ever had the PRIVILEGE to place on a turntable. I cannot ever recall hearing a better sounding Rudy Van Gelder recording, and I have a theory as to why this tape is as good as it is: it’s MONO. It also sounds like it’s recorded completely LIVE in the studio, direct to one track you might say. As good a recording as Kind of Blue is, I think the best parts of this album are more immediate and more real than anything on KOB. (more…)

The Kinks – The Kink Kontroversy

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The Kink Kontroversy

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  • Here’s a rare one — a wonderful copy of an early Kinks album, in mono no less, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • Both sides here are clean, clear, full-bodied and dynamic with excellent bass and tons of energy 
  • Till the End of the Day was the big hit, and Where Have All the Good Times Gone is also a classic 
  • Allmusic raves, “The Kinks came into their own as album artists — and Ray Davies fully matured as a songwriter — with The Kink Kontroversy…

We discovered the hard way that mono is the only way to go for The Kinks’ third album. The stereo version may in fact be the worst sounding stereo record compared to the mono that we have ever played. (more…)

The Kinks – Kinks Kinkdom

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Kinks Kinkdom

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  • This outstanding pressing of The Kinks excellent third album boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout 
  • This Reprise Pink and Green original mono pressing is lively, balanced and vibrant, with a healthy dose of the Tubey Magical Richness these tracks need in order to sound their best
  • Fairly quiet vinyl for a vintage Kinks record – they don’t come much quieter or sound much better than this one
  • “There are some terrific numbers here — not just ‘A Well Respected Man’ and ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion,’ but the exuberant ‘Who’ll Be the Next in Line’ and ‘I Need You,’ the menacing ‘I’m Not Like Everybody Else,’ and the haunting ‘See My Friends.'”

This original mono pressing has the kind of Midrange Magic that modern records cannot begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it ain’t 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 Tube Analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

The Kinks – Kinda Kinks

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Kinda Kinks

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  • This outstanding copy of The Kinks’ sophomore release has Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the first
  • This Pink and Green Reprise original MONO pressing is lively, balanced and vibrant, with a healthy dose of the Tubey Magical Richness the Kinks’ recordings need in order to sound the way they should
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…this album showcased a much more sophisticated sound… it also put them right in the front of the British Invasion pack for seriousness and complexity, out in front of where the Beatles or almost any of the competition were in early 1965…”

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Miles Davis – Miles Davis

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

To the Jazz Fans of the World, we here present one of the best sounding jazz recordings we have ever had the privilege to place on a turntable. I cannot ever recall hearing a better sounding Rudy Van Gelder recording, and I have a theory as to why this tape is as good as it is: it’s MONO.

WAY off the charts. Demo Disc Quality Sound of the Highest Order on the best tracks. The extension high and low sets these sides apart. The presence of the instruments and the space around them just cannot be beaten.

It also sounds like it’s recorded completely LIVE in the studio, direct to one track you might say. As good a recording as Kind of Blue is, I think the best parts of this album are more immediate and more real than anything on KOB.

Talk About Timbre

Man, when you play a Hot Stamper copy of an amazing recording such as this, the timbre of the instruments is so spot-on it makes all the hard work and money you’ve put into your stereo more than pay off. To paraphrase The Hollies, you get paid back with interest. If you hear anything funny in the mids and highs of this record, don’t blame the record.

This is the kind of record that shows up audiophile BS equipment for what it is: Audiophile BS. If you are checking for richness, Tubey magic and freedom from artificiality, I can’t think of a better test disc. It has loads of the first two and none of the last.

Better than the Originals?

The record combines two Miles Davis albums recorded in 1956: Cookin’ and Relaxin’. The ’70s remastering here by Rudy Van Gelder is excellent. Since RVG probably would have mastered these tapes himself for the original pressings, I’m going to guess that this album sounds better than any original, for two reasons.

One, modern cutting equipment did not exist in 1956. As good as the best tube cutting equipment may have been, not many records from the era do not suffer from bloated bass and a lack of extension on the top end. Starting in the ’70s record mastering equipment got a whole lot better. Most of the best sounding pressings in our Top 100 for example were cut on these modern cutters. The sound is dynamic with very low distortion, with higher highs and lower lows, as well as transparency and openness far beyond anything that had come before.

Don’t get us wrong, we love that classic tube-mastered sound — warmer, smoother, and sweeter than the pressings that would come later, with wonderful breath of life. But, sometime, like all colorations it comes at a price. That’s not what’s on the tape. What’s on the tape is what you hear on this amazing reissue, on the best of the four sides anyway. (more…)

John Coltrane – The Stardust Session

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

Superb sound quality courtesy of Rudy van Gelder (1958) and the brilliant mastering of David Turner (1972). The combination of old and new works wonders on this title as you will surely hear for yourself on these incredibly Hot sides.

We were impressed with the fact that these pressings excel in so many areas of reproduction. What was odd about it — odd to most audiophiles but not necessarily to us — was just how rich and Tubey Magical the reissue can be on the right pressing.

The record takes its material from three John Coltrane albums: ‘Bahia’, ‘Stardust’ and ‘Standard Coltrane.’ We would be surprised if the originals of any of them can beat the sound of this reissue. (more…)

Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan – Our Mono Shootout Winner from 2016

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

This is a 2-pack of two Mono pressings, each with a killer Triple Plus (A+++) side. The White Hot sides are amazingly spacious, full-bodied, natural and clear with great presence. We greatly prefer the best Mono pressings to the best stereo copies, but they are very hard to come by.

This is 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) but the best mono copies truly take this music to a whole new level. (more…)