Mono or Stereo? Mono!

The Rolling Stones / Out of Our Heads – Mono or Reprocessed Stereo?

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On this London LP, even though it says the record is electronically re-processed into stereo, the songs we heard on side one were dead mono.

So much for believing what you read on album covers. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Swing Easy! And Songs For Young Lovers

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More Nelson Riddle

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  • This superb compilation of Sinatra’s two 1954 releases makes its Hot Stamper debut here with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one mated with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on side two, and the vinyl is about as quiet as we can find it
  • Drop the needle at the start of side one and you will soon find a living, breathing Frank Sinatra standing between your speakers
  • Exceptionally lovely All Tube sound from 1954, with a huge, rich orchestra conducted by the legendary Nelson Riddle
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Sinatra plays around with the melodies without leaving them behind, delivering each line with precision. It ranks as one of his most jazzy performances, as well as one of his most fun and carefree records.”

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Frank Sinatra – A Swingin’ Affair!

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More Nelson Riddle

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  • A Swingin’ Affair finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish – and the vinyl is as quiet as any we’ve heard on a late-50s Sinatra album
  • This superb pressing will put Frank Sinatra directly between your speakers, with his voice sounding as tonally correct and natural as we heard all day
  • Nelson Riddle and his orchestra back Frank with wonderful arrangements, and a copy like this lets you appreciate everyone’s hard work
  • This record plays Mint Minus Minus – about as quiet as any early Capitol pressing you’re likely to ever hear
  • 5 stars: “[A Swingin’ Affair!] exudes a self-assured, confident aura. It is a hard, jazzy album.”

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Ella Fitzgerald – Like Someone In Love

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  • With two outstanding Double Plus (A++) sides, this MONO original pressing from 1957 (the only way to fly) will be hard to beat
  • Ella’s voice is noticeably breathier, fuller, more relaxed and more musical here than it is on most of the other copies we played
  • An album that is beyond difficult to find with decent surfaces and undamaged inner grooves – most copies we get in are just trashed
  • “Most of the songs are veteran standards, Stan Getz’s warm tenor helps out on four tunes, and her voice was so strong and appealing during this era that all of her recordings from the mid- to late ’50s are enjoyable and easily recommended.”

*A mark makes 9 medium then 7 medium-light pops at the end of track 1, There’s A Lull In My Life
**A mark makes 20 very light pops near the end of track 5, What’s New

Take it from an Ella fan, you can’t go wrong with this one, assuming you can put up with some ticky vinyl. This is about as quiet as we can find them. Like Someone in Love is five times rarer than Clap Hands, and twice as likely to be noisy.

The sound is rich and full-bodied in the best tradition of a classic vintage jazz vocal album. You could easily demonstrate your stereo with a record this good, but what you would really be demonstrating is music that the listener probably hasn’t heard, and that’s the best reason to demonstrate a stereo!

The space is huge and the sound so rich. The vocals have dramatically less hardness and the orchestra — especially on side two — is not brash for once.

Prodigious amounts of Tubey Magic as well, which is key to the best sounding copies. The sound needs weight, warmth and tubes or you might as well be playing a CD. (more…)

Nat King Cole – This Is Nat “King” Cole

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  • This vintage ’50s Capitol pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • These sides are insanely good — BIG, rich and Tubey Magical, yet clear and not the least bit thick or opaque
  • Turn down the lights, gently drop the needle at the start of side one and you will soon find a living breathing Nat King Cole standing between your speakers
  • “Cole as usual gives warm, confident readings of all this material, and fans welcomed the packaging of some songs previously available only on singles…”

A wonderful copy of Nat’s classic 1957 release. It’s taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make the shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble.

The presence and immediacy of Nat King Cole’s vocals here are ’50s Capitol Recording Magic at its best. Set the volume right and Nat is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. The selection of material and the contributions of all involved (Nelson Riddle among them) are hard to fault.

The sound is big, open, rich and full, with loads of Tubey Magic. The highs are extended and silky sweet.

What the best sides of This is Nat King Cole have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
  • 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 pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1957
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre

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 discuss 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. (more…)

The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this wonderful album, a vintage pressing like this one is the way to go
  • The Beach Boys revolutionized the popular music of the day with their genius for harmony, and a killer copy like this has their voices sounding the way they should
  • 5 stars: “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.”

Important Details About This Pressing

There have been a great many versions of Pet Sounds released on vinyl over the years, and most of them in our opinion are awful. (The DCC is acceptable at best.) We’re not going to give away what pressing this is, mostly because it took us many years, a huge amount of effort, and quite a large supply of expensive, ultimately rejected pressings in order to finally figure out what version of Pet Sounds sounds the best.

In short, we ask that you please not order this copy of Pet Sounds expecting to receive an original pressing. We’ve never heard an original that sounded better than tolerable, and tolerable is simply not going to cut it for a Hot Stamper, not at these prices anyway.

What you will receive is the only version of the material that has ever sounded right to us, and naturally that means it will be made from the original mono mix. We would be very surprised to discover another pressing that can compete with it. As per our policy, if for any reason you are not happy with the sound of the album we send you (or the condition, or the cover, or absolutely anything else, that’s our policy and always has been), feel free to return it for a full refund. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Adventures Of The Heart

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  • This wonderful Columbia Sinatra album finally arrives on the site with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish on this early 6 Eye Mono LP
  • Sinatra’s voice is fuller, sweeter, breathier, and just plain less artificial here than on every other pressing we played
  • Three-dimensional space and ambience, Tubey Magic by the boatload – this All Tube recording shows just how good Columbia’s engineers were back then
  • Not an easy record to find in audiophile playing condition – it took us about ten years to find enough clean copies to get this shootout going., but this bad boy made all that effort worthwhile

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Billie Holiday – Music For Torching

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • A superb recording of jazz standards with a great lineup and Billie in top form – plenty of Tubey Magical richness and naturally breathy vocals as well
  • Great performances for classics such as It Had to Be You, Come Rain or Come Shine, A Fine Romance and too many more to list
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The overall feeling on this 1955 recording is strictly after-hours: the party is long over but a few close friends remain for nightcaps and, is that the sun peeking through the windows?”

*NOTE: On side two, a mark makes 8 light ticks at the end of Track 2, Come Rain or Come Shine.

You’d be hard pressed to find a female vocal album from the 1950s with sound comparable to this one. We just finished up a big shootout for the sublimely titled Music For Torching, and this lovely copy was clearly one of the better pressings we played. If you love smoky jazz standards the way only Lady Day can sing them, we think you’ll be blown away to hear her sound this warm, rich and present.

The formula is simple: Take one of the best female vocalists in the game, back her with a stellar crew of jazzmen and set them loose to knock out incredible versions of classic torch songs — It Had To Be You, A Fine Romance, Come Rain Or Come Shine and so forth.

The good news is that the performances turned out to be some of the best ever recorded by this extraordinary singer, and fortunately for us audiophiles, the mono sound turned out to be dramatically better than we would have expected from Norman Granz’s Verve label in 1955.

Both sides are blessed with the kind of mid-’50’s Tubey Magical Analog Sound that’s been lost to the world of recorded music for decades — decades I tell you!

Nobody can manage to get a recording to sound like this anymore and it seems as if no one can even remaster a recording like this anymore, if our direct experience with scores of such albums counts as any sort of evidence. (more…)

Miles Davis – Workin’ And Steamin’

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  • An outstanding Double Album with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on all four sides
  • 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
  • 5 Stars: “This two-LP set combines a pair of classic albums by the Miles Davis Quintet of 1956, the group that also featured John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. …the music has plenty of variety and does not sound rushed. Davis’s beautiful muted statements made these two of his most popular albums.”

*NOTE: On sides one and two, a bubble makes 6 very soft thumps on Track 1, It Never Entered My Mind (side one), and Trane’s Blues (side two). On side four, a mark makes 15 light stitches at the beginning of Track 3, When I Fall In Love.

You might be surprised that a reissue can beat the originals, but one play of this pressing should be enough to remove all doubt.

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 Yardbirds – Roger The Engineer

  • A stunning copy with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two and a solid Double Plus (A++) side one – exceptionally quiet import vinyl too
  • Here are the full-bodied mids, punchy lows and clear, open, extended highs that let this Psych Classic by the band come alive
  • Over, Under, Sideways, Down – the big hit off the album – sounds great here in MONO
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… the Yardbirds’ best individual studio album, offering some of their very best psychedelia.”

This is one of the few Mono albums that really justifies the claims made for the superiority of mono in general. Just listen to the vocals on side one: they’re right up front and centered the way they should be on any good pop song. On the stereo version, they’re off to the left and way down in level. They have no power over there! It robs the song of its focus.

Even worse, the stereo remaster by Edsel has no bass. It’s a joke next to the mono. It’s doubtful we would ever buy one again. What a waste of good import vinyl.

Edsel did a great remastering job of the mono mix here. What do we hear on this pressing that’s different from most of the early pressings? A smoother, sweeter, lower distortion midrange and top end. And really punchy solid super low distortion bass. The transparency of this pressing is clearly superior to anything we have ever played. (more…)