Records that Sound Best on the Original

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…)

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…)

Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan – Our Shootout Winner from 2013 in Mono

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

TWO AMAZING SIDES RATING AT OR NEAR A+++ for this the MONO pressing! It’s beyond difficult to find copies of this album with good sound, but we managed to get a hold of a hot one here. This is a true solo album — guitar, vocals and harmonica — and it’s a lot of fun to hear a young (20!) Dylan playing the way he might have played in the coffee shops and folk clubs of Greenwich Village. 

The sound is richer and fuller than the average pressing; it’s also unusually lively and present. Above all the sound is natural and musical, the qualities that matter the most on a record like this.

And that’s not all! It’s also dynamic, lively, and tonally correct from top to bottom. The clarity is superb and even the harmonica sounds good. There’s tons of ambience — you can really hear the sound of the room around Dylan’s vocals. (more…)

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…)

Paganini – Kreisler / Concerto In One Movement / Campoli

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  • This exceptionally rare early London pressing features Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER and includes a wonderful performance of the Saint-Saens Violin Concerto No. 3
  • This is a spectacular recording – it’s big, clear, rich, dynamic, transparent and energetic, and is guaranteed to put to shame any Heavy Vinyl pressing of orchestral music you own
  • Campoli brings his warmth, feeling, and technical precision to these classical masterpieces
  • The Decca engineers captured the correct amount of detail in the bowing and fingering – it’s not overdone as it is in so many records that many audiophiles prefer, with the mics much too close to the strings

This is a WONDERFUL sounding violin concerto recording. It has TUBEY MAGIC as well as MUSIC to die for. What”s most interesting about the sound is how well the violin is integrated into the orchestra. On most RCAs, just to pick one golden age label to use as an example, the violin is typically hugely oversized and placed far in front of the orchestra. Not so here. The violin is of a whole with the orchestra, which makes for a much more natural and relaxed presentation.

The orchestra is a bit compressed, something engineers of the day were fond of doing. The violin tone however, as well as its dynamic contrasts, are PERFECTION. This is a Decca recording and the keyword here is NATURAL. So musical and involving too. All in all a lovely record. (more…)

King Crimson – Lizard – Our Shootout Winner from 2018

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

Incredible sound throughout with both sides of this copy winning our recent shootout and in the process earning our top grade of Triple Plus (A+++). Every bit the sonic equal of the first album, if you colorful Big Production Jazzy Prog Rock (with mellotron!) is your thing you can’t go wrong here. (more…)

King Crimson – Lizard – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

This is a SUNRAY Island Records label British Import LP with No Bar Code — an Early Pressing. We can’t imagine Lizard sounding much better than this. Both sides have sweet and open sound. It’s rich, warm, and transparent! 

The dynamics on this pressing are unlike anything we have ever heard for this title. This copy has all of that and then some. There is big-time presence accentuated by sweet highs and rich lows. When we say this record is open and spacious, we mean it! You can peer directly into the soundstage due to it’s amazing transparency and detailed texture. Rounding out the bottom end is excellent bass tone with the WHOMP we love.

This is, in our humble opinion, a better record than the first King Crimson album, which is notoriously bass shy. Finding a quiet copy of either one of those titles would be an amazing feat. We are never going to have enough clean copies of this record to do a proper shootout, but in this case I am confident calling it as close to Right On The Money as it can get.

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…)

The Doors – The Soft Parade – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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

This incredibly rare, exceptionally quiet Elektra Gold Label LP sounds AMAZING, As Good As It Gets (AGAIG)! The sound is BIG, RICH, and FULL-BODIED, exactly the way it should be. As good as the Hot Stamper Big Red E Label copies can be, and that’s very good indeed, the right first pressing is still The King. It just can’t be beat. 

The difference might only be 5%, but on a big dynamic speaker playing at loud levels that 5% can really give the sound the boost it needs to go over the top into crazy Demo Disc Land. (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…)