Mono or Stereo? Stereo!

Joan Baez – Vol. 2

More Joan Baez 

More Pure Folk Recordings

  • This vintage copy of Baez’s sophomore album boasts incredible Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from first note to last – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • Tonally correct, Tubey Magical, clear and present – here’s a copy that can put a living, breathing, 20-year-old Joan Baez right between your speakers
  • Richer, smoother yet still very clear and highly resolving in precisely the way so few copies are
  • 4 stars: “[Vol. 2] is a hearty helping of folk masterpieces that give ample evidence to exactly how she was established as a leader of the contemporary folk scene of the day.”


Miles Davis – Quiet Nights

  • This oh-so-spacious Miles Davis / Gil Evans classic finally returns to the site with INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides of this original 360 Stereo pressing
  • Rich, warm, smooth and clear throughout, this 30th Street Studios recording is another engineering triumph from the legendary Fred Plaut
  • Produced by Teo Macero, the album is the fourth and final collaboration between Davis and Evans
  • In the Saturday Review, Quiet Nights received praise for Davis’ “wonderfully songful trumpet in a Latin-American vein,” set against “piercingly lustrous curtains of tone and discreet Caribbean rhythms.”


Dave Brubeck – Time In

More Dave Brubeck

  • Boasting superb Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last, this early 360 Stereo pressing will be very hard to beat
  • Big, full and lively, with bottom end weight and plenty of space around all the members of Dave’s classic quartet, this pressing of Time In (the last of the albums recorded in Brubeck’s “Time” series) proves that the engineering skills of all concerned at Columbia in 1966 were as strong as ever
  • This copy allows you to hear the clean, clear, solid, lively, smear-free piano that makes Brubeck’s records from the era such a delight for the analog devotee
  • 4 stars: “Though it is seldom celebrated as such, this is one of Brubeck’s finest moments on Columbia.”

This vintage Columbia 360 stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the audience at the live show, this is the record for you. It’s what Live Jazz Recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

The Command All-Stars – Reeds and Percussion

More Jazz Recordings of Interest

More Records That Sound Better Loud

  • This original Stereo Command pressing was doing pretty much everything right, with both sides earning excellent Double Plus (A++) grades
  • Take the best sound you ever heard from the best authentic Mercury classical record and translate it into pop arrangements for clarinets, flutes, saxes, oboes, bassoons, and what do you have? Sound that leaps out of the speakers with absolutely dead on tonality
  • But what is most shocking of all is how vivid and accurate the timbre of every instrument is
  • Kudos to the exceptional skills of both Robert Fine (recording engineer) and George Piros (mastering engineer), two of the All Time Greats
  • If you appreciate exceptionally well recorded reed and percussion instruments, and what audiophile doesn’t?, this title from 1961 clearly belongs in your collection

This is one of the most phenomenal sounding records I have ever heard in my life. 

Yes, it’s multi-miked, and sometimes the engineers play with the channels a bit much (especially at the start of the first track).

That said, if you have the system for it, it’s very possible you have never heard most of these instruments sound this real, as if you were standing right in the studio with them. It’s that crazy good.

Which brings up a question: Who but Better Records is finding incredible Demonstration Quality recordings like these nowadays?

Harry Pearson used to. Jim Mitchell did back in the ’80s.

Are the Audiophile Reviewers of today picking up the baton that the giants of the past have dropped at their feet? I see little evidence of it. They seem more interested in discussing the newest Heavy Vinyl mediocrity to be released.

Is it really that much of a bother to look back to the Golden Age of analog recording and actually find a good sounding record to recommend? Apparently.

Not to worry. We are happy to fill the shoes of the greats who have passed, and here is a record that proves we have the chops to succeed in our endeavor, chops that no one else alive today seems to have.


The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night

  • With killer sound throughout, we guarantee you’ve never heard the 14 tracks of A Hard Day’s Night sound remotely as good as they do here
  • Both sides are big, spacious and absolutely jumping out of the speakers, with relatively rich, smooth sound
  • This one gets the heart of the music right – the lad’s voices – and that’s what makes The Beatles FUN to listen to
  • 5 stars: “Decades after its original release, its punchy blend of propulsive rhythms, jangly guitars, and infectious, singalong melodies is remarkably fresh.”

Drop the needle on any song on either side to see why we went crazy over this one. The emotional quality of the boys’ performances really comes through on this copy. They aren’t just singing — they’re really beltin’ it out. Can you imagine what that sounds like on the title track? We didn’t have to imagine it, we heard it!


Bob Dylan / Blonde on Blonde – A Joke on Sundazed in Mono

More of the Music of Bob Dylan

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Bob Dylan

Flat as a pancake and dead as a doornail, sounding like most of the Sundazed records we used  to play all those years ago (and, shamefully, we even sold a few of their titles too).

Is it the worst version of the album ever made? Hard to imagine it would have much competition.

Sundazed is clearly a label that should be avoided by audiophiles looking for high quality sound. Their incompetent remastering hack work on Blonde on Blonde is just more evidence to back up our low opinion of them.

There is an abundance of audiophile collector hype surrounding the hundreds of Heavy Vinyl pressings currently in print. I read a lot about how wonderful their sound is, but when I actually play them, I rarely find them to be any better than mediocre, and many of them are downright awful.

Music Matters made this garbage remaster. Did anyone notice how awful it sounded? I could list a hundred more that range from bad to worse — and I have!

Audiophiles seem to have approached these records naively instead of skeptically.

(But wait a minute. Who am I to talk? I did the same thing when I first got into audio and was avidly collecting records in the Seventies.)

How could so many be fooled so badly? You would think that some of these people have good enough equipment to allow them to hear how substandard these records sound.

Apparently that is not the case. The embrace of one third-rate Heavy Vinyl pressing after another by the audiophile community has rendered absurd the pretense that their members ever developed anything beyond the most rudimentary critical listening skills, with stereo systems that are much better at hiding the faults of these records than revealing them.

Sadly, the Dunning-Kruger effect, the best explanation for the sorry state of audio these days, means they simply don’t know how little they know, and therefore see no reason to doubt their high opinions of their equipment and their audio acumen.

Progress in audio is possible, but only if you know that you are not already at the top of the mountain. For the vast majority of audiophiles, a lot of serious climbing remains to be done — but only if you want to hear your records right.


Donovan – Wear Your Love Like Heaven

More Donovan

  • A seriously good copy of Donovan’s 1967 release on the Epic Orange Label with Double Plus (A++) sound throughout – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • This pressing was a big step up from most of what we played – it’s guaranteed to put Donovan right in the room with you
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… one of the brightest, most pleasant works Donovan ever recorded… Donovan’s voice is better than ever, playful and unassuming…”
  • If you’re a Donovan fan, this vintage pressing from 1967 surely belong in your collection


Edmundo Ros / Ros On Broadway

More Exotica

More Easy Listening

Edmundo Ros and his orchestra don’t command much respect these days from the general record buying public. As for audiophiles, it’s doubtful that many even know who he is. But we at Better Records are going to change that, starting with this very record, because it’s one of the best sounding records we have ever heard. Stampers just do not get any HOTTER than these! 

Update 2023

We thought we were going to change that, but our customers had other ideas and didn’t seem interested in his records.

From the perspective of a level playing field, I cannot think of a single rock record that sounds as BIG and DYNAMIC, nor one that is as spacious and clear, as is the side two of this London Blueback. As good as the best imported pressings of Dark Side of the Moon may be, shockingly good in fact, this recording is clearly more exciting and lifelike, with instrumental timbres that are uncannily accurate.

Over the years we’ve played a lot of Edmundo Ros records on London — you name it, Blueback, Whiteback, Phase 4 — but I sure never heard one sound like this until we did this shootout.

We’ve played a lot of Ted Heath records too; few know or care who he is anymore either. And, like Ros on Broadway, there is a Ted Heath title on London that has mind-blowingly good sound, comparable to this amazing Ros record. Watch for it down the road because it’s coming. It’s another Demo Disc destined to give the rest of your Demo Discs a run for their money.

I suspect it was this one, but this review was written a long time ago so I would not want to say for sure that it was.


Bob Dylan – Blonde On Blonde on the 360 Label

More Bob Dylan

More Vintage Columbia Pressings

  • These early 360 Stereo pressings were doing just about everything right, with all FOUR sides earning outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them – remarkably quiet vinyl too
  • You won’t believe how rich, full and lively this album can sound on a copy this good (particularly on sides two and four)
  • Includes tons of quintessential Dylan classics: “Rainy Day Women,” “I Want You,” “Just Like A Woman,” and more – they all sound phenomenal
  • 5 stars: “Blonde on Blonde is an album of enormous depth, providing endless lyrical and musical revelations on each play… It’s the culmination of Dylan’s electric rock & roll period — he would never release a studio record that rocked this hard, or had such bizarre imagery, ever again.”


Mussorgsky / Pictures at an Exhibition / Ansermet

Hot Stamper LPs that Need to Be Played on Big Speakers at Loud Levels

Recordings that Sound Their Best on Big Speakers at Loud Levels 

I used to think Ansermet’s reading was ponderous, but this copy from 2013 is making me want to change my mind.

Is it more lively than others? Is the stereo that much improved since I last heard one of these Londons?

We have no way of knowing. All we do know is that we were enjoying Ansermet’s performance more than we ever had before.

The darker brass instruments like tubas, trombones and french horns are superb here. Other Golden Age recordings of the work, as enjoyable as they may be in other respects, do not fully reproduce the weighty quality of the brass, probably because of compression, limiting, tube smear, or some combination of the three.

The brass on this record has a power like practically no other recording of the work we know.

It’s also tonally correct. It’s not aggressive. It’s not irritating. It’s just immediate and powerful the way the real thing is when you hear it live. That’s what really caught my ear when I first played the recording.

There is a blast of brass at the end of Catacombs that is so big and real, it makes you forget you’re listening to a recording. You hear every brass instrument, full size, full weight. I still remember the night I was playing the album, good and loud of course, when that part of the work played through. It was truly startling in its power.

Some of Ansermet’s recordings with the Suisse Romande are absolutely the best I’ve ever heard. It was a magical combination of the right hall, the right engineers, the right orchestra and the right technology — the pure tube ANALOG technology of the ’50s and ’60s!