Records that Sound Best on the Right Domestic Pressing

Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel (Security) – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

More Peter Gabriel

More Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel (Security)

xxx

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

Our first Hot Stamper shootout for Security is finally here, and man does this album sound better than I remember it from back in the ’70s when I first played a copy. Stereos have come a long way since then, along with a host of other things that help records sound better, such as cleaning fluids, room treatments and all the rest. 

Now you can really hear INTO the soundfield in a way that simply was never possible before, picking out all the drummers and counting all the layers of PG’s multi-tracked choruses.

For all you PG fans it’s been a long time coming. We’ve wanted to do this album for years but kept running into a roadblock we could not find our way around: the fact that most copies are thick, opaque, turgid, veiled — pick your favorite adjective for mud, most copies fit the profile. Nice clean copies would come in, sound murky and get filed away, as if aging them would bring out the transparency we were hoping to find but never could. Until now. Now we can clean them and play them better, and like we always say, if you clean and play enough copies, something good will come of it. (more…)

Tom Petty – Hard Promises

More Tom Petty

Hard Promises

xxxxx
xxxxx

  • An impressive copy of this 1981 release, with KILLER nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Recorded at Sound City, home to some of the greatest analog sound ever recorded
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…filled with great songwriting, something that’s as difficult to achieve as a distinctive sound… The Waiting became the best-known song on the record, but there’s no discounting A Woman in Love, Nightwatchman, Kings Road, and The Criminal Kind, album tracks that would become fan favorites… it has a tremendous set of songs and a unified sound that makes it one of Petty’s finest records.”

Two stunning sides for one of our favorite Petty records! This one is a huge step up from most, which tend to be bright, thin, edgy, pinched and gritty — radio friendly, maybe, but not especially audiophile friendly.

We hate that sound but we are happy to report that some copies manage to avoid it, and this is one of them. Is that richer, fuller sound the sound of what’s on the master tape or did the mastering engineer “fix” it? We’ll never know, now will we? What we can know is the sound of the pressings we actually have to play, and this one is killer.

Recorded by Shelly Yakus at Sound City, Van Nuys and at Cherokee Studios, Hollywood, CA. (more…)

Jethro Tull – Thick As A Brick – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

More Jethro Tull

Thick As A Brick

xxxxx

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

This A++++ Beyond White Hot Stamper copy of Thick As A Brick has the best side one we have ever heard! This copy is operating at A WHOLE NOTHER LEVEL.

Side one has HUGE, room-filling, hi-definition sound, with levels of Tubey Magic one would simply never expect to hear coming from a run-of-the-mill domestic Reprise pressing such as this. But here they are; there’s no denying the transparency, size and rock and roll energy of this mind-boggling side one. It’s truly a Demo Disc of the highest order.

We cannot avoid awarding freakishly good sound such as this our rule-breaking Four Plus grade, limited to those rarefied pressings that take the sound of familiar records beyond what we’ve heard before. (more…)

The Rolling Stones – It’s Only Rock N’ Roll

More Rolling Stones

It’s Only Rock N’ Roll

xxxxx

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

It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll is no slouch if you get hold of a good one. It can be a bit gritty and grainy at times, but you gotta believe that’s the sound the Stones heard in the booth and were totally cool with. Andy Johns engineered and he’s made as many super-tubey, super-rich and super-smooth recordings as anybody this side of Bill Porter. 

The Stones didn’t want that sound this time around. The Stones wanted this sound.

This album may have some of The Rolling Stones best music on it, but those looking for the best sounding Stones album should look in the direction of Beggars Banquet, Sticky Fingers or Let It Bleed. They’re simply better recordings. (more…)

Badfinger – Straight Up – What to Listen For

More Badfinger

xxxxx

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

The best sides have the kind of PRESENCE in the midrange that most copies can’t begin to reproduce. The sound on the right pressings just JUMPS out of the speakers, which is exactly what the best copies are supposed to (but rarely) do.  (more…)

Queen – Hot Space

More Queen

More Hot Space

xxxxx

  • With Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two, this copy of Hot Space took top honors in our recent shootout
  • The best pressings – like this one – have plenty of bass and are smoother and fuller than the rest
  • Disco, funk, rhythm and blues, dance and pop music all found their way onto this 1982 release -the monster hit Under Pressure with none other than Mr. David Bowie closes out side two
  • “Hot Space is an essential cog for Queen completists… [it] has invention and ideas to spare.”

Queen albums in general are notoriously hard to find good sound for, and Queen albums from 1982 are probably even harder.

We’re guessing this album’s appeal is probably limited to fans of the band, but for those of you who want something different, or to hear Under Pressure sound good, we offer Hot Space with White Hot Stamper sound. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Houses of the Holy

Houses of the Holy

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom,   

The domestic copy you sent me of Houses of the Holy trashed my UK pressing. Side 1 is so engaging. What a difference a good Stamper makes; to be engaged by the music not just entertained. Thanks again.

Mark H.

The Doobie Brothers – Best Of The Doobies Volume II – Our Shootout Winner from 2005

More The Doobie Brothers

More Best Of The Doobies Volume II

xxxxx

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

This Warner Brothers LP has exceptionally good sound — you would never know you are listening to a greatest hits compiliation. I bought a promo pressing recently and decided to shoot it out with two copies that had been sitting on the shelf for a long time. The Promo was not particularly impressive; neither was one of the other copies but this one stood head and shoulders above them. It’s full of ambience; the sound is rich and sweet; the vocals are tonally correct and not spitty; and the more you play it, the better you like it — the shortest definition of a Better Record I know of. 

Cat Stevens – Mona Bone Jakon

More Cat Stevens

More Mona Bone Jakon

xxxxx

  • With Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second, this copy of Cat Stevens’ brilliant third album will be very hard to beat
  • So transparent, open, and spacious, nuances and subtleties that escaped you are now revealed as never before 
  • When you play I Wish I Wish and I Think I See The Light on this vintage pressing, we think you will agree with us that this is one of the greatest Folk Rock albums of them all
  • “A delight, and because it never achieved the Top 40 radio ubiquity of later albums, it sounds fresh and distinct.”

So many copies excel in some areas but fall flat in others. This one has it ALL going on — all the tubey magic, all the energy, all the presence and so on. The sound is high resolution yet so natural, free from the phony hi-fi-ish quality that you hear on many pressings. (more…)

David Bowie – Let’s Dance (2008)

More David Bowie

More Let’s Dance

xxxxx

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

This Let’s Dance may look like an ordinary record, but it sure doesn’t sound like one. The sound is OUT OF THIS WORLD! You’re looking at THE Big Beat Demo Disc of All Time. What the Hot Stamper copy of Back in Black was to Super-Fidelity HARD Rock, this White Hot Stamper of Let’s Dance is to Super-Fidelity FUNKY Rock. In other words, this is the FREAKISHLY HOT STAMPER copy that gives you As Good As It Gets, Demo Disc, Mind Altering Sound. (more…)