Records that Sound Best on the Right Domestic Pressing

British Guy, British Pressing… Right?

More Elvis Costello
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Nope. It’s just another Record Myth.

The British pressings are simply not competitive with the best domestics. No import, from any country, can touch a good Columbia pressing from the states. The most common stampers for the Columbia pressings have never sounded very good to these ears, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some killer copies with different stampers sitting in the bins wearing the generic ’70s Red Columbia label. We’ve heard them. Wish we could find more of them but they are rare and only getting rarer.
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Audiophile Wire Testing with Jethro Tull and His Friend Aqualung

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… who seems to have a rather nasty bronchial condition…

Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

Like Heart’s Little Queen album, Aqualung presents us with a Demo Disc / Test Disc that really puts a stereo through its paces, assuming it’s the kind of stereo that’s designed to play an album like Aqualung.

Not many audiophile systems I’ve run across over the years were capable of reproducing the Big Rock Sound this album requires, but perhaps you have one and would like to use the album to test some of your tweaks and components. I used it to show me how bad sounding some of the audiophile wire I was testing really was.

Here’s what I wrote:

A quick note about some wire testing I was doing a while back. My favorite wire testing record at the time (2007)? None other than Aqualung!

Part One

Here’s why: Big Whomp Factor. Take the whomp out of Aqualung and the music simply doesn’t work, at all. To rock you need whomp, and much of Aqualung wants to rock.
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McCartney’s Must Own Masterpiece with White Hot Stamper Sound

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The best tracks here have the quality of LIVE MUSIC in a way that not one out of a hundred rock records do. It sounds like it’s recorded live in the studio, but of course that’s impossible, because Paul plays practically all the instruments himself! It just goes to show how good a multi-track studio recording can sound when done well.

What the best sides of this McCartney Classic from 1970 have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl import pressings like this one offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1970
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with the guitars and drums having the correct sound for this kind of recording
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we listed above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Looking For The McCartney Magic? Look No Further (more…)

Listening in Depth to Derek and The Dominos – Layla

More Eric Clapton and Cream

More Layla

Listening in Depth

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

The best copies of Layla are Tubey Magical, energetic, and tonally balanced. Most importantly, they sound CORRECT; you get the sense that you are hearing the music exactly as the band intended. The best sounding tracks have presence, clarity, and transparency like you have never heard — that is, unless you’ve gone through a pile of copies the way we do.

We have a special designation for such a pressing. We call it As Good As It Gets. When it finally all comes together for such a famously compromised recording, it’s nothing less than a THRILL. More than anything else, the sound is RIGHT.  (more…)

Listening in Depth to The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed

 

More Rolling Stones

More Let It Bleed

Listening in Depth

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

Love In Vain on a copy like this is one of the best sounding Rolling Stones songs of all time. In previous listings I’ve mentioned how good this song sounds — thanks to Glyn Johns, of course — but on these amazing Hot Stamper copies it is OUT OF THIS WORLD. It’s also our favorite test track for side one. The first minute or so clues you into to everything that’s happening in the sound.

Listen for the amazing immediacy, transparency and sweetly extended harmonics of the guitar in the left channel. Next, when Watts starts slapping that big fat snare in the right channel, it should sound so real you could reach out and touch it. (more…)

My Aim Is True Can Really Rock – If You Have the Speaker System to Play It

My Aim Is True Can Really Rock –

If You Have the Speaker System to Play It

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Another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

There is a line in the Hot Stamper commentary below concerning driving punk rock bass. Man, this record lives or dies by your ability to reproduce the powerful bottom end that propels this music. Pardon me for cueing up a broken record again, and with all due respect to the things they do well — they must do something well, right? People keep buying them — small speakers and screens are not going to cut it on My Aim Is True. This is precisely the kind of album they don’t do well. (more…)

160+ RCA Living Stereo Albums Reviewed

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RCA Living Stereo Albums

in Stock

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RCA Living Stereo Recordings

We’ve Auditioned

Chet’s later remixed and re-recorded version, released in 1961, seems to have the better sound overall, but the difference in the best sounding original pressing and the best sounding later version would probably not be obvious to most listeners without the two versions playing side by side.

I suppose we owe a debt of gratitude to Harry Pearson for pointing out to us with his TAS List what a great record this is, although I’m pretty sure anybody playing this album would have no trouble telling after a minute or two that this copy is very special indeed. (more…)

Led Zeppelin – Presence – Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

 


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018


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  • A stunning sounding copy with a Triple Plus (A+++) side one and a Double Plus (A++) side two; you’ll hear massive amounts of Zeppelin Rock and Roll energy on this copy
  • This is all the power, dynamics, whomp, and presence (pun only slightly intended) you could hope for
  • Featuring a stripped down, harder rock sound, Presence really benefits from the killer bottom end found on this pressing
  • “Presence has more majestic epics than its predecessor, opening with the surging, ten-minute Achilles Last Stand and closing with the meandering, nearly ten-minute Tea for One.”

See all of our Led Zeppelin albums in stock

We just finished a massive shootout for this album and were reminded just how hard this album rocks. Achilles Last Stand, For Your Life and Nobody’s Fault But Mine are all KILLER on a Hot Stamper pressing like this one. After cleaning and playing a pile of copies we are pleased to report that the best of them are full of The Real Zep Magic. The average LP may not be much of a thrill but our Hot Stampers sure are, with all the energy, dynamics, whomp, and presence (pun only slightly intended) you could hope for.

That is EXACTLY the kind of sound we love here at Better Records. (more…)

Heart – Dreamboat Annie – Our White Hot Shootout Winner


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017

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  • An amazing copy of this Heart classic, Double Plus (A++) on the first side and Triple Plus (A+++) on the second
  • Punchy and present, open and transparent, with real weight and power to the low end, nothing else in our shootout could compare to this one on side two
  • There is so much more LIFE to this recording than I ever thought possible, and only the best pressings let that energy come through.
  • A Better Records Top 100 album, 4 1/2 stars on Allmusic: “Aggressive yet melodic rockers like “Sing Child,” “White Lightning & Wine,” and the rock radio staples “Magic Man” and “Crazy on You” led to the tag “the female Led Zeppelin.”

See all of our Heart albums in stock

Not many records have this kind of big, rockin’ sound, that’s for sure! If you’re an audiophile who loves classic rock, you just haven’t lived until you’ve heard this album on a White Hot Stamper pressing. There is so much more LIFE to this recording than I ever thought possible, and only the best pressings let that energy come through. In a nutshell those are the ones that earn our top Hot Stamper grades.

We’re pretty fond of these ladies here at Better Records. Their second album, Little Queen, has been a favorite test disc around here for years. When Heart is at their best, the music is wonderful. If you’re lucky enough to own the right pressing — this one will do nicely — this band can ROCK with the best of them. (more…)

What Kind of Audio Fool Was I?

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Today’s audiophile seems to be making the same mistakes I was making as a budding audiophile more than thirty years ago. Heavy Viny, the 45 RPM 2 LP pressing, the Half-Speed Limited Edition — aren’t these all just the latest audiophile fads, each with a track record progressively more dismal than the next?

The Story Starts with One Man Dog

One Man Dog has long been a favorite James Taylor album. It didn’t catch on too well with the general public when it came out but it caught on just fine with me. I used to play it all the time. As a budding but misguided audiophile back in the early ’70s, I foolishly bought the import pressing at my local record store, The Wherehouse, assuming it would sound better and be pressed on quieter vinyl. The latter may have been true, probably was true, but the former sure wasn’t. Turns out even the average domestic original is far better sounding, but how was I to know?
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