Mono or Stereo? Stereo!

The Everly Brothers – The Very Best of the Everly Brothers – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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

This compilation contains some real Warners recordings (from after 1960, when they signed with the label) mixed with some re-recordings of their best classic Cadence material, to make an album with as many hits and great songs as a single album can hold.  

In stereo, on the original WB Gold Label, with really quiet vinyl — this is the one!

It took us about five years to find the records for this shootout. Not sure when the next one will be, but we’re pretty sure it won’t be any time soon.

Side Two

A++, lots of tubes in the 1964 mastering chain mean this one is likely to be rich and sweet, and sure enough it is. This is clearly the right sound for this music, although there is occasional evident smear and honk in the midrange. Great energy though.

Side One

A+ to A++. The sound varies quite a bit from track to track. Some songs are too thin and clean, others fare better with this EQ. Overall this side should sound good on tubier systems. Good energy and a solid bottom end are pluses here. (more…)

Offenbach / Gaite Parisienne – Fiedler – Reviewed in 2005

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

Superb sound! The top end of this record is PERFECTION. When you hear all the percussion instruments, the tambourines, triangles, wood blocks they just sound so lovely. The overall sound is rich and sweet, just like a good vintage RCA should sound. Some may find the sound colored, but I find it enchanting.

Side two, however, sounded fairly unpleasant when I first played it. As I listened more and more, I came to the realization that the absolute phase was probably inverted. The orchestra, rather than being back behind the speakers where they belong, was coming AT me, a sure sign that something is funny. One way to think about it is the sound stage becomes convex instead of concave.

So I switched my headshell leads and sure enough everything got much better — the orchestra now had depth and the strings became less forward and shrill, and the horns took on more body and had less of that blary quality they sometimes do. (more…)

Offenbach / Gaite Parisienne / Fiedler – Our Shootout Winner from 2004

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

Hot Stamper Copy! 11S/ 10S are the best stampers for this amazing DEMONSTRATION QUALITY record!

M-/ E+++. Side 1 plays nearly NM without a pop! Side 2 opens with a half inch scratch. But think about it — isn’t one side about the right amount for this kind of music? Do you really need to play side 2 after hearing side 1? This copy gives you a good portion of the music with AMAZINGLY GOOD SOUND.

This 1954 2-track recording is RCA’s first stereo recording of the work. 1954. Can you believe it? Two mics and two channels and it blows away 99% of all the classical recordings ever done! Some old record collectors and tube equipment lovers (like me) say classical recording quality ain’t what it used to be. This record proves it.

Dean Martin – Dream With Dean – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

This side one gets it JUST RIGHT. My notes read, “WOW! Master Tape Sound! So clear and unprocessed. Right amount of tubey magic. Dynamic and present like no other!” — hopefully that gives you a taste of just how much we loved the sound here. Side two is nearly as good but doesn’t have quite as much presence.  

This is my favorite Dean Martin record of all time; just Dean and a jazz guitar quartet behind him (featuring Contemporary favorites Barney Kessel and Red Mitchell!) doing standards. On the best copies, the immediacy is absolutely mind-blowing. It’s a shame that there aren’t more Frank Sinatra records that sound like this! (more…)

Bill Evans – Village Vanguard Sessions – Live and Learn

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A classic case of Live and Learn. Many years ago we had played copies of the record and thought the sound was fine, shootout material in fact. Flash forward to 2015 or 2016. Now it sounds thin, flat and opaque. Worse, it’s actually in MONO.

A stereo recording reissued in mono for no apparent reason? What were they smoking over there at Milestone?  (more…)

Ornette Coleman – Tomorrow Is The Question

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  • An outstanding copy of Coleman’s sophomore release, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • Our Contemporary Yellow Label Stereo LP here has have breathy, full-bodied brass and lots of tight, well-defined bass 
  • The top end is nicely extended, which results in excellent space, transparency and clarity
  • 4 stars: “…this is one of the things that came to define Ornette — his willingness to let simplicity and its bright colors and textures confound not only other players and listeners, but also him too.”

The drum sound is OUT OF THIS WORLD — Roy Du Nann always seems to get amazing sound out of Shelley Manne’s kit. Listen to the interplay between Ornette and Don Cherry — they really drive each other to insane levels over the course of the album. (more…)

Deja Vu in (Awful) Mono Sells fror $1200 and People Complain About Our Prices?

 

A mono copy of Deja Vu (which no doubt sounds terrible; I had one once) went for $1200 on ebay a few years back!

Oh, but it’s an auction, so I guess that makes it all right. The seller didn’t set the price, the market did.

But the market sets our prices too. We can’t sell a record for more than what the customer is willing to pay. What exactly is the difference?

Man, I sure would love to get $4k+ for one of our killer Hot Stamper pressings of Deja Vu. I guarantee our copy sounds a whole lot better. And the music is the same, right? So what did you get for your additional three thousand dollars?

A nice record to put on the shelf.

Which you could get from us for three thousand dollars less.

 

 

Martin Denny – Forbidden Island – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This original looking Liberty Black Label Stereo LP has White Hot Stamper WONDERFULLY EXOTIC SOUND. This copy is so super spacious and sweet it’s positively dripping with ambience. It’s EXACTLY the kind of sound you expect from Denny and his Island bandmates.  

We played a big pile of Martin Denny records during our shootout, not having enough clean copies of any one of them to do it the way we would with rock or jazz records, and this pressing was CLEARLY the best of the bunch.

Picture yourself on a beautiful South Pacific island. Now imagine you’re in a jazz bar on the mainland. Combine the two moods into one glorious sound and you have the music of Martin Denny! (more…)

Miles Davis – In Person – Friday Night – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

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

Normally our notes for the sound of the records we are shooting out against each other fall into two categories: what the record is doing right and what the record is doing wrong. You’ll note that in this case there was nothing wrong about the sound to write about.

The secret is TUBES – they work their magic on this music like nothing else can.

I could have picked some nits, but when a specific pressing is so clearly superior to its competition, what’s the point?

Allow me to transcribe my notes:

Side One

The right sound — big, rich, tubey and real. No need to pick nits.

Side Two

Transparent. Rich, smooth, balanced. Horn gets huge and loud the right way. Piano is full. Solid bass.

Over and out. (more…)

Love – Love

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

A classic from 1966, a combination of proto-punk and psychedelia featuring My Little Red Book, Hey Joe and more. The first Love album is without a doubt the punchiest, liveliest, most POWERFUL recording in the Love catalog. Engineered by none other than Bruce Botnick, here is the kind of massive bottom end weight and energy that we like to call WHOMP.

Some of you may not know this music, but it’s a true Must Own Psychedelic Gem from the ’60s, a record no rock collection should be without, along with other groundbreaking albums from the ’60s such as Surrealistic Pillow, The Doors’ debut, the first Spirit album and too many others to list. (more…)